I read a book by a New Zealand author Sam Pease: "Eat Less Crap, Lose That Fat". Sam easily lost 28kgs in five months, by not only changing her diet, but also relying on 10 minute increments of activity through out her day, like cleaning, standing, dancing around, to achieve her weight loss.
So how does this work? It seems that doing movement here and there throughout the day, uses up a lot of calories, sometimes up to 500, and this definitely helps with keeping our metabolism ticking over, and halting excess padding depositing itself on our body. If you have been unwell, get up & move, walk around the house, then progress to walking to the letterbox. Then, as you start to feel better, start moving briskly here and there. The moving briskly bit, really is the key.
Then we mentioned functional fitness: well enough to do tasks, but actually it's more than that. It's also having the strength to lift and carry, too. After our early thirties, our muscle tone deteriorates. All by itself. And correspondingly, we start to store more fat. And, if we don't do anything to maintain the twenties status quo of more muscle, less fat, then sadly, the muscle to fat ratio just gets worse and worse. And we get weaker, by having less muscle.
And, muscle uses up more calories than fat! So, doing some muscle things are highly beneficial. A friend has a stretchy band attached to a window catch in her kitchen. This is for her to use regularly throughout the day for a shoulder injury. She showed me the moves that she was to do each day, and I could see how it was strengthening around that area. And that is such a great idea. Stop and do some pushups on the kitchen bench whilst you wait for the kettle to boil. Do some squats or lunges whlie you are on the phone. Think of the possibilities here, and how you can sneak in some body toning throughout the day.
Muscle tone gives us strength, so that we can lift and carry. And endurance. Endurance means able to endure - or, to keep going. To halt, or even just to slow down the increasing fatty deposits, we need to keep moving!
We need to, somehow, keep the muscle tone, and stop it from continually shrinking. Even simple walking helps with this. And so do basic movements like: push-ups, squats. Planks. Other suggestions are here here and here.
But when we need to restore our body, reduce the "padding" and build up some muscle, a bit more of an effort is needed. It is important to build up the muscles. Muscles help our bones keep strong, they keep us standing erect, and in this way are important to stop us stooping as we get older.
I know that there is lots of fantastic advice regarding all this. Telling an overweight person to do burpees, or someone who is weak with poor muscle tone to do, say, power yoga , or any strong gym work- it doesn't make sense to me. I always imagine badly out-of-condition bodies quivering with fear as they endeavour to do strong forms of exercise. I recall teaching in a yoga in a gym, and outside I could see a lovely girl, who was overweight, being given strong, hard exercise. It did work, she started to slim down, but I suspect that ten or twenty years on, it would have just been too hard for her.
What we can do, for the rest of us who may not be able to do extreme exercise, is to use muscle memory. Our muscles have memory! Yes. They remember movement that you have consistently done in the past. And they respond quite quickly when we return to doing that same type of exercise. So, if you learnt ballet as a child, your muscles remember that, and if you started doing some ballet moves regularly, like plies in the various ballet positions, you would see rapid results.
My muscles have memory for yoga. Not the yoga were you hold poses forever, nor the type where you jump backwards and forwards with exquisite slow motion control and strength. My muscles respond to salute to the sun, done quite quickly, and floor poses. I suppose that's why I'm always rabbiting on about Sun Salutes, in my yoga (and clairvoyance) blog.
(with this version, from plank, you can go to lowering yourself flat onto the floor, to make it easier. Or, plank > child > cobra)
My other muscle memory is for brisk walking. I wish it was for swimming, surfing, skiing, or something else glamorous, but no, it's for walking. So, for maintaining, or for getting back into shape - what would be your muscle memory exercise?