By Tammy Smith
Healthy activity comes in many forms beyond walking, running and jogging. And let’s face it — when it’s cold outside, it’s hard to get motivated to go out there. Why not try some different activities that add variety while benefiting you physically and mentally?
Whether you’re just starting your exercise journey or seeking ways to expand or vary your routine, yoga, Pilates and Zumba are all options that are advantageous to anyone at any level. A bonus: All three are mood lifters, perfect for those dreary winter days.
Yoga is a mind and body practice that goes back thousands of years. Traditional disciplines combine a series of controlled stretches with a strong emphasis on meditation. More recently it has gained enormous popularity as a physical exercise emphasizing flexibility, strength and breathing through a series of physical postures or poses.
There are several styles of yoga, including hatha yoga, which is probably the most familiar; Bikram yoga, or “hot yoga,” practiced in hot, humid rooms; and power yoga, a more intense, athletic form of yoga. Find the one that’s right for you.
Joseph Pilates developed his namesake fitness regimen in the early first half of the 20th century. These exercises were developed to help strengthen the mind as well as the body. With an emphasis on core strength and muscle balance plus body alignment and endurance, Pilates is low impact, which means there is minimal strain on your joints.
There are usually two types of classes, mat and reformer. In a mat class, you work resistance with your own body while on a mat; in a reformer class, you use a machine that provides resistance.
The benefits of Pilates include improved flexibility and muscle strength, especially in the “core” area – ab muscles, lower back, hips and buttocks. Posture also improves, and Pilates is considered a cardio workout.
Have you heard friends mention Zumba classes, but you worry you might not fit in if you’re not a dancing queen? Yes, Zumba is a dance workout, but this isn’t training for “Dancing with the Stars.” Think of it as an exercise class disguised as fun set to music. There are intervals of high intensity and low intensity activity set to Latin and world rhythms.
The benefits of Zumba include improved balance and flexibility, muscle conditioning and increased energy, all in a fun cardio workout