A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Back to Basics: Non-running workouts

on September 26, 2013

As part of Brooke’s Back to Basics challenge, each week we focus on one of the core tenets of healthy lifestyle changes. This week, the focus was on getting activity each day. I’ve already talked about how much I love and use my pedometer every day (One Step At a Time) but today I thought I’d also touch on some of the non-running activities I’ve tried. Some of these I’ve liked and stay in my weekly rotation – some have been experiments I haven’t repeated.

I try to run 3-4 times a week and do other activities on the other days of the week to get my physical activity in. This helps me to both decrease the chance I’m getting a running injury from over use and also to use muscles I don’t use in running. Plus, I just enjoy some things (like dancing!) and don’t want to give them up all together!

My favorite and most frequent non-running exercise is definitely walking. It’s easy to fit a walk anywhere in my day and is definitely the cheapest and most accessible way to start exercising if you’re new to physical activity. Start small, even if it is just to the end of the driveway, and work your way up slowly. You don’t even need particularly fancy shoes to walk (or shoes at all some days, although I certainly wouldn’t recommend it routinely!).

Barefoot walk during the work day 9.4.13
I walk in my neighborhood at least once a week and also occasional walk on the treadmill if the weather isn’t great, playing with hills and speed intervals.

I also really enjoy yoga and find it helpful from both a stress relief perspective and a flexibility/muscle strengthening perspective. The first time I was able to run 20 minutes without stopping to walk was actually right after an intense lower body yoga class. I like the yoga videos and routines on SparkPeople and use those when I travel. I’ve also done classes at my gym when my schedule allows (seemed intimidating at first, but once I got over the fear of stepping in the door I realized it was really not that scary). There’s a DVD I started using when I was very overweight that I still use today call HeavyWeight Yoga. I really like the instructor’s approach to modifying movements based on what your body needs and the routine itself feels very thorough.

The one big piece of exercise equipment I have at home is a stationary bike. When I first started exercising, this was a nice low impact way to get in my physical activity. I also have a bicycle (currently with a flat tire) that my husband and I used to ride together before we had O. I honestly still find the real bike a little terrifying (worried about not being able to stop!) and a little rough on certain parts of my anatomy, but will use the stationary bike on rainy days or days I’m home on kid duty and can’t get outside. It’s a nice to get some activity in while catching up on TV. I definitely don’t feel like I push myself as hard on the bike as I do with other forms of exercise, personally, but it is easier on my knees and joints.

I first tried Zumba when I was going to Curves and they had a special workout when you did a few Zumba dance moves between the pieces of weight equipment. It was fun, but a little slow paced. I tried a Zumba class at my gym after I started losing weight and really loved it! For those who haven’t done Zumba before, it’s a dance-based aerobics class, frequently using Latin or latin-inspired music. The nice thing about Zumba is that it really just about movement. In the classes I’ve attended, there are women of all different skill levels and no one really seems to care if you’re off the beat or doing the steps wrong as long as you’re having a good time. They present modified versions of the steps so that you can do it as high or low impact as you’d like. It’s a really intense workout, but really fun and the time flies. I’d definitely recommend trying it if you’ve never done it – it attracts people of all ages and fitness levels, so it is definitely the least intimidating fitness class I’ve ever done.

I have lots of workout DVDs at home, but a few favorites that I keep going back to. In addition to HeavyWeight Yoga, which I mentioned above, I like the Walk Away the Pounds DVDs and the Punch! Weight Watchers DVDs. Walk Away the Pounds is a series of workout DVDs by Leslie Sansone that is basically walking inspired low impact aerobics that you can do in your living room. It’s modifiable for your skill and intensity level and a really good place to start if you’re intimidated by the idea of exercising out in public where someone could see you. I still like to do them because they include some side-to-side movements, which are good for stabilizing my hips as a runner. I confess, I usually do these with the sound off because I find the talking annoying, but the workout itself is great.

I have another set of workout DVDs from Weight Watchers that I don’t really enjoy much (the set of 5 different workout DVDs) but I do use and enjoy the Punch! set. This was a DVD and weighted glove combo pack, where you do kickboxing inspired moves while wearing the weighted gloves. Like most of the DVDs I’ve liked, it presents modifications for several different intensity levels and has different levels of workouts on the DVD itself. Even now that I’m a lot fitter and stronger, this can give me a good workout so it will definitely grow with you without being insanely difficult. (I am not into insanely difficult workouts.)


Lastly, we have several different Wii games that are active and a good way for us to get in some activity as a family without feeling like a “workout”. I particularly like the Walk It Out game, where you put the controller in your pocket so that it measures your steps while you walk in place (or in circles) in your living room to the beat of the music. As the songs change, so does your pace, which keeps things interesting. With each step on beat, you accumulate points that you can use to build things on the virtual island you’re walking around in the game (like windmills, trees, flower fields, etc).

Wii Walk It Out
We also have a couple of dancing games, including Zumba and Just Dance. I find the Zumba game a little frustrating because unlike Zumba classes, which are all about fun and not about hitting the specific hip motion exactly right, the Zumba Wii game is a little specific & judge-y for my taste. Just Dance is a lot more fun and I always end up sweating. My little boy loves to do it with me and my husband loves to pick the songs for us. Definitely consider things like Just Dance in addition to your traditional workout games – if you’re moving, it counts!!

Wii Just Dance
A couple of other random things I’ve tried include a trampoline based workout class (seemed easy at the time, but I was so sore it was hard to walk the next day!), a stripper class (requires you to really let go of some inhibitions, but I learned some new skills and definitely used some different muscles) and a ballet-fusion class at my gym. I also spent some time with a personal trainer, which helped me learn appropriate form for strength training and build up a decent base of strength.

Keep an eye out for opportunities for physical activity beyond the typical gym stuff. I love running, but also love having a wide variety of activities to choose from. It keeps me from getting bored and also keeps me from making too many excuses to avoid a workout. I always have a back-up plan – if I work late and can’t go for a run, I can do a DVD or ride the stationary bike or even just walk in place while I’m watching TV. Having lots of options helps me to keep this as part of my daily journey, which I know is good for keeping this weight off, good for my heart, good for my blood pressure and good for my insulin resistance. It is okay to start small and don’t feel like you have to run 5 miles in order for your workout to count. Every step counts!

What are your favorite workouts?

Brooke: Not on a Diet

**None of the products referenced here are anything I’ve been sponsored to promote – just things I personally enjoy.


7 responses to “Back to Basics: Non-running workouts

  1. Jaime says:

    whoa, i have walk it out!! i have recommended it to so many people, some are able to find it some do not. 🙂

  2. […] Start Walking site here and my prior posts on getting started walking with a pedometer and non-running workouts […]

  3. […] which I also like as a way to make exercise a little more fun and rewarding (I talked about that one here). While I appreciate going for a walk just for the chance to move and the mental relaxation of it, […]

  4. […] – Get 7,000 steps a day, a continuation of my goal from last month and hopefully one I am more successful with this month! If this means pacing in front of the TV, so be it. Break out the Leslie Sansone moves! […]

  5. […] Walk Away the Pounds workouts (cheesy but effective) and the Wii Walk it Out game (both discussed here in more […]

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