Monday marks the first day of the free Fit for Fall Charity Challenge. Its mission is to get you to conquer 100 miles (160 kilometres) of cardio in eight weeks. It may sound like a lot, but it breaks down to just 30 minutes of cardio a day, which is pretty doable.
Aside from helping you shed any unwanted summer pounds, the challenge can also benefit your favourite charity. All you have to do is download the Charity Miles app and for every mile you complete, a sponsor will donate to a charity of your choice on your behalf.
The team behind the initiative, Tone It Up, will also choose five participants every week and donate $200 to their chosen charities.
Those who sign up will have access to fitness tips and recipes, as well.
If a fitness challenge isn’t your thing, there are still simple steps you can take every day to get in better shape. Walking is an easy start.
“You don’t need any equipment. Park your car further away. Take the stairs,” said Toronto’s Harley Pasternak, who has trained countless A-list celebrities like Halle Berry, Rihanna, Megan Fox, and Kim Kardashian.
The important thing is to just get moving. The Canadian physical activity guidelines for those aged 18 to 64 are “at least 150 minutes of moderate-to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.”
Pasternak is of the belief that Canadians are overexercising but underactive. For the most part, many of us lead very sedentary lives which consist of lying in bed for eight hours, then sitting in as we commute to work, where we sit some more for another eight hours.
READ MORE: 4 ways to combat sitting disease
A spin class twice a week (where you sit again) isn’t going to cut it, Pasternak stressed.
“Stop thinking of exercise as workouts and start thinking of it as activity, as movement.”
If you have a Fitbit, which Pasternak endorses, aim for 10,000 steps a day.
The device can help track your heartrate, as well as your sleep and diet — both of which Pasternak said are crucial.
His word of advice?
“Eat less Timbits. All the ab exercises in the world aren’t going to make up for a bad diet.”
Aim for protein, fibre and healthy fat in your meals. You should have three of them a day plus two snacks, added Pasternak, who’s also big fan of blending.
As for the portions, his rule of thumb is:
Your snacks should be one-third the size of your meals.
“Move more, sleep better, eat properly,” Pasternak said. “Then if you want to do a work-out, do a workout. That comes after.”
Want washboard abs? Don’t waste your time on sit-ups. They can create poor posture, according to Pasternak, and actually injure your lower back and neck.
Try planks instead.
And contrary to what you may have heard, you don’t need to feel pain to have a good workout, nor do you need to sweat a lot. Working out in the heat is also not better than doing it in the cold.
“You burn significantly more fat in a cold climate. When it’s cold outside, your body has to create heat, and it creates heat by burning calories.”
That’s good news for Canadians, especially as we approach our colder months. So don’t be afraid to take a walk in the brisk weather — just make sure you warm up beforehand.
Here are three of Pasternak’s top exercises to try.
How to do it: Keep your head straight up, do not look down at the ground; look where you are going. Make sure your leading knee does not go past the laces of your leading foot.
How to do it: Try to draw your right knee to your right elbow; then return to the start position and do the same on the left side.
The TRX Row
How to do it: Make sure your body is a rigid plank. Your nose, chest, knees and toes should all be on one plane. Try not to curl your wrists in as you draw your hands into your chest. Make sure you pull your hands and forearms high to your torso.
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