The Rainy Day Plan

Active Life: April 2010 – The snow has melted and the temperatures are rising slowly. Spring is definitely here, and with it comes that need to emerge from winter hibernation. That first nice day brings people outside in droves. Iowa City’s bike trails are filled with a constant traffic of walkers, joggers and bikers. But just as we get that glimmer of hope, it starts raining. Oh April, you tease us so.

April showers can put a damper on that spring need to get outside, but instead of moping around on the couch, get active in your own house. Not everyone has a treadmill in their living room, but that shouldn’t be a barrier to being more active! Using your own body and a few things around the house, you can get a workout in and be ready for action next time the sun is shining.

Here’s a 20-minute Rainy Day Plan to try:

There are four categories for activities: Power, Legs, Arms and Core. Power activities are meant to get your heart pumping, while the legs, arms and core activities are meant to be more strengthening.

Since the first activity is a Power activity, select one of the four Power activity options and do that activity for three minutes. Each time segment works the same way. For each activity category, pick your favorite activity from the ones listed or mix and match. For example, you can choose to do push-ups for the first Arms activity and Dips for the second Arms activity.

Power activities should be at a pace that you can maintain for the entire time segment and get the heart going. The shorter the time segment, the harder you should work during this activity. If you decide to run stairs, make sure to focus on running hard up the stairs and jogging back down (also, focus on your footing–don’t slip!). Feel free to jazz up the other activities as well. For jumping rope, try different kinds of jumps like alternating a wide jump and a narrow jump. Do jumping jacks in a circle, and see how many revolutions you can get in a minute. Instead of running in place, run laps around a couch, or chase your dog around the house. Make it fun and the time will go quicker!

When performing a leg activity, never allow your knees to move in front of your toes. Aim to get your thighs parallel to the floor, not past that point. If you choose to do lunges, alternate sides or walk around the room doing lunges.

To perform the arm activities, you may need a few props. Dips are best done on a sturdy chair, allowing you to hold onto it securely, while you lower your body up and down working your triceps. If you choose to perform either a bicep curl or a shoulder press, try holding soup cans for a little extra resistance. Performing push-ups on your feet is something that many people need to work up to, so if that’s too tough at first, start on your knees. Just remember that it is very important to keep your body in a straight line when doing push-ups or the planks from the core exercises.

Core exercises are great for really strengthening your back and abdominals, key muscles for stability and balance in everyday life. Have a better workout by engaging your core throughout every activity (not just the core activities). This keeps them working throughout the workout, and they will help you get stronger and exercise safer.

Just like any workout, you will get out of it exactly what you put into it, so the intensity is up to the exerciser. Start slow and ease into it if you are just getting started. Ideally this workout would move seamlessly between activities, but it is important to listen to your own body and go at your own pace. Take breaks if you need to. And though it may be gloomy outside, have some fun with your workout indoors!