Archive for Sunday, May 9, 2004

Fitness is a beach

The setting helps relieve stress, reduce impact on the body

May 9, 2004


Jon Moon enjoys swimming, the occasional bike ride and long walks on the beach.

Actually, his life pretty much revolves around 50- to 60-mile bike treks, seven-mile runs at J.P. Luby Surf Park in Corpus Christi, Texas, and 10-mile swims. The retired chemical company president is training for his second Ironman triathlon.

"Exercise was a great stress relief. I always found time for it," said Moon, 57. "Now, it's a full-time job."

Although many might struggle to keep up with the rigorous five or six hours of training Moon puts in six days a week, the beach's soft sand, cool breeze and ocean view can provide a welcome change to even the most low-intensity summer exercise routine.

To create a beach-friendly routine, combine stretching with cardiovascular and resistance exercises, said Wade Spenst, fitness center owner in Corpus Christi.

Doing a few stretches using a beach towel for resistance works the shoulders, back, arms and legs. Later the towel can be used as a mat when doing abdominal work or yoga.

Incorporating cardiovascular work, such as running, walking or biking, is the next step.

Spenst recommends doing a five-minute warm-up, increasing speed for one minute and then returning to a slower pace for one or two minutes. Repeat speed intervals throughout the activity

"This is very effective because it maximizes calorie burning per time spent on the activity," he said.

"At a steady pace, your body is more efficient. When you surge and recover, the body has to react. It is less efficient, so you burn more calories."

The benefits of hitting the sand is that sand is easier on the joints than hard concrete.

"It's really nice right on the beach," Moon said. "It's about 10 degrees cooler, and I can run in the heat of the day."

Kristen Larrick, a fitness instructor, also heads to the beach when she goes running.

"I love to do cardiovascular workouts like walking or running," she said. "There's so much vast area out there, and there's definitely some scenic benefits."

After finishing the cardio portion of the workout, try some resistance weight training, such as squats, crunches and lunges.

With resistance, Spenst says, the most important thing is to start slow. He recommends starting with 10 to 20 repeats of each exercise, and one or two sets.

"Your body will react very quickly," he said. "Be cautious, and see how your body reacts."

Go early in the morning or at dusk for prime meditation opportunities.

"You could do yoga or pilates as the sun comes up," Spenst said. "It's a more tempered climate."

For resistance

Lunges: Place right foot on a rolled towel. Bend legs into a lunge. The towel shifts body weight into heel, hitting butt muscles. Do 15 repeats, switch legs; repeat.

Biceps balance: Stand, holding weights. Cross right ankle over left knee. Curl weights toward shoulders. Do 15 repeats, then switch legs and repeat.

Frog crunch: Sit tall, knees bent, and shift weight back, extending legs off ground, soles of feet touching. Bend knees to chest, keeping balance. Repeat.

Zipper squat: Stand with toes turned out. Hold weights, ends touching, in front of thighs. Squat, lift-ing weights to chest level. Slowly return to start.

Balance lift: Stand holding weights at sides. Pressarms behind you, palms up, lifting right leg. Return to start. Do all reps, then switch sides. Repeat.

Bicycle: Lie on back. Bring left elbow to meet right knee. Repeat to other side. Do 15 repeats on each side. Don't rush.

For flexibility

Triceps teaser: Stand holding a towel in your left hand with your left arm raised and bent behind you so your palm rests between your shoulder blades. Grasp the other end of the towel with your right hand and gently pull down until you feel a stretch along the underside of your left arm. Stretch for two seconds, release, repeat.

Hamstring sling: Lie back with left leg bent, foot flat,right leg extended straight up over hip. Wrap a towel around the back of your ankle and grasp an end in each hand. Keep your leg straight, use the towel to gently pull your right leg toward you. Stretch for two seconds, release, repeat five times, then hold for 10 seconds. Switch sides, repeat

Side bend: Stand with feet two to three feet apart, one end of a towel in each hand. Inhale and reach as high overhead as you can. As you exhale, slowly lean to the right until you feel a strong stretch up your left side. Pull down on the towel with your right hand to accentuate the stretch. Stretch for two seconds, then hold for 10 seconds. Release, repeat five times. Switch sides.

- Source: Self Magazine

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