The Breakfast Club Blog

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More from the Lean Plate Club ...

From today's DMN via The Washington Post. I'll just cut to the good part. In a nutshell, these are isometric exercises you can do at your desk or in the car.

Here's how you can turn tedious commutes, traffic jams or hours spent sitting in the office into opportunities for some isometric exercises and a few stretches. Except where noted, do these exercises three to five times every 15 to 30 minutes.

Start at the top. Do a posture check to counteract the driver's slump (which also occurs at your desk). In the car, sit up straight, trying to "grow an inch" taller by bringing your shoulders back. Lift your head so that your upper spine is erect and in more of a straight line. Retract your chin so that your ears are directly in line with your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds while breathing in and out. Do a set of five to 10 reps.

Open your heart . Roll your shoulders up and then back while holding the steering wheel. (At your desk, you can let your arms and hands follow.) Gently pull your shoulder blades down and back toward your tailbone and your back pockets. "This movement helps reawaken those middle back muscles," Hagan says. It also helps loosen shoulder muscles, which tighten during stress.

Let your navel kiss your spine . Tighten your abdominal muscles to scoop up your belly and pull in your waistline so that your navel moves toward your spine. "This takes the stress off the lower, lumbar spine," Hagan says.

Grab a ticket. No, not a traffic ticket, and don't use your hands. Imagine that you have a winning lottery ticket. Grasp it and hold it tightly between your cheeks --"and I'm not talking about your face," Hagan says with a laugh -- while counting to 10. "You will get rich in posture even if you are not winning the lottery." Doing this exercise helps counter the numbness in the large gluteal muscles in your posterior that can result from prolonged sitting. She also advises men to remove wallets from their back pockets since sitting on them can add to the numbness and increase the risk of painful sciatica.

Grip the wheel . Clench as tightly as possible, then release. At the same time, try to relax your shoulders and sit up straight. Repeat about one second on, one second off about 10 times. "Most people don't realize how hard they are gripping the wheel," Hagan says. "This helps them relax and is also good for stress management."

Heel-toe presses. During long drives on cruise control, lift your heels and push up on the toes, raising your knees a little. Then lower your heels and raise your toes slightly toward the roof of the car. Do three reps on each leg every 30 minutes. For city driving, perform this exercise at stop lights.


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