By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM
Complementing your cardio workouts with strength and flexibility training will make sure you get the most from your home fitness routine. Using your treadmill, elliptical, or recumbent bike will help you to burn calories and keep your heart in great shape, but adding strength and flexibility training to the mix let's you keep your body healthier longer and better able to meet your goals. For an efficient workout, consider adding a mind-body routine, such as yoga, to your schedule at least twice a week. While mind-body workouts have been a hot fitness trend for some time, tailored yoga offerings (think yoga for runners or yoga for strength) have recently become more popular and will give you a workout that is customized towards helping you meet your specific goals.
If you think yoga is all about flexibility, think again. Most yoga practices use your body weight for strength training, giving you a little- to no-equipment workout that allows you to functionally train your body in movements you'll use both in your workouts and daily life. In addition to the flexibility and strength training benefits, yoga will help you improve your concentration and mental outlook through its emphasis on mindfulness and effective use of your breath.
Starting your at-home practice can be as individual as you are. If you're shy about heading into a classroom, use a DVD to become familiar with yoga and to provide a convenient way to practice in your home. For a guide to choosing the right DVD for you, check out prevention.com, which offers a review of recent releases. You can also use on-line resources, such as those offered by Yoga Journal, to create an individualized plan for home practice. For an alternative to weight lifting, check out this strength training workout.
Feeling adventurous? The availability of yoga classes has become more wide-spread in recent years and, regardless of your location, you can probably find an offering near you. Check out the calendars at your local hospitals and medical clinics, as well as health clubs, community centers and (of course) fitness centers for likely venues. Consider dropping in on a few classes or booking some one-on-one time with an experienced yoga instructor to get personalized instruction on your form and approach.
Weigh In: Are you using mind/body workouts to complement your home fitness equipment workouts? What has been your experience?