Stability Ball Exericse

Squats with a Stability Ball

  1. Stand with the exercise ball propped between your lower (lumbar) spine and a wall, pressing slightly into the ball. With hands at your sides or on hips, check that your feet are hip-width apart and slightly in front of you.
  2. Bending at your knees and hips, slowly move into a sitting position with your knees over your ankles. Keep the ball in contact with your back as you move.
  3. Return to standing position, keeping the ball in contact with your back as you move. 

Repeat 8-15 times.

Make it Challenging!!! Lift one foot 1 or 2 inches off the floor and try doing the exercise with one leg at a time. Switch and repeat with the other leg.


Germ-Proof Your Office

You swear by the office bathroom drill: Wash hands, dry hands, use paper towel to open door, maneuver elbow and leg to move door, and return — skin untouched by germ threats — to your desk. Where, on average, about 21,000 germs per square inch await you — or 400 times more than the toilet seat you were so worried about. Your workspace needs some sanitation love, too. Our disinfecting tips will get you started, with less effort than it takes you to exit the bathroom.
Know Thy Enemy
Germs thrive on human touch, so anything that gets regular contact — telephone, mouse, keyboard — is a threat. “You’re touching about 30 objects per minute in your workspace” says germ guru Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist from the University of Arizona, who recently conducted a study of germs in the workplace. Among his findings: The humble cubicle is the germiest place in the office.
Grab a Wipe
Wipe down your space daily with a disinfectant — a chemical agent that kills microorganisms (plain ol’ water won’t deep-six germs). Handy dispenser wipes like Clorox Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol Sanitizing Wipes run only about 10 cents a sheet.
Play Defense
Don’t just wash your hands in that bathroom ritual; scrub ’em, says Jack Brown, Ph.D., author of Don’t Touch That Doorknob! How Germs Can Zap You and How You Can Zap Back. “The scrubbing motion dislodges the organisms from the surface,” he says, adding that a thorough wash should take about 45 seconds.
Use Alcohol
If you’re desk-confined, disinfect your hands with a sanitizer that contains alcohol, such as Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer. “Alcohol is a drying agent,” Dr. Brown says. “It tends to pull water away from the organisms, and that harms them.”
Avoid the Crowd
Shared space like the office kitchen is a germ magnet. “About 20 percent of the office cups contain coliform bacteria, which is related to fecal contamination,” Dr. Gerba says. Opt for a paper cup, or keep your own mug and wash it regularly with dish soap and a paper towel. And when possible, pass on control of the PowerPoint remote in the conference room — the gadgets registered some of the highest bacteria levels in Dr. Gerba’s study.

Ways to Boost Wintertime Energy & Happiness

Take a jog. While just the act of being outside can boost your vitality, using that time to exercise can also do wonders to improve your health and boost your mood. Exercise creates the release of natural mood-enhancing chemicals and reduces your risk of many chronic diseases. But if you run outdoors this winter, be sure to heed these cold-weather running rules from the experts at Runner’s World magazine:

Stay dry. You risk hypothermia when your body loses more heat than it can produce, and moisture, including your own sweat, can increase that risk. To keep dry, opt for wicking clothing that pulls moisture from your body (just avoid anything advertised as MicroBan or antimicrobial—they contain harmful chemicals), and wear a waterproof and windproof jacket that you can take off if you become warm but slip back on when you slow down and cool down. If it’s below freezing, make sure you wear a hat, gloves, and a mask to protect your skin.

Don’t blow it. Avoid blowing on your hands to create warmth; the moisture will actually make you colder.

Figure in the chill factor. If the temperature reads 30 but there’s a 10-mph wind, it’s going to feel like 20 degrees. Run into the wind at the beginning of an out-and-back run so the tailwind will warm you on your return. Or, carry an extra layer to pile on when you head back.

Be well lit. Winter days are short, so make sure you’re visible if you’re running in the dark, using reflective gear or lights.

Befriend birds. Many people reserve bird-watching for the spring and summer months because family favorites like bluebirds and robins are in abundance. But winter is a great time to step outside with a pair of binoculars and scan the bare trees for life. On the East Coast, you’re likely to see bright red Northern cardinal, tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadee, and white-breasted nuthatch species. On the West Coast, you might spot Western Scrub-Jay, California Towhee, or Anna’s hummingbird species. Because many trees are bare in the winter, you can also look for last summer’s bird nests—many birds are creative in what they use to make them! If you put up a bird feeder, make sure it’s either within three feet of your window or 30 feet away, to lower the chance of window collisions. Buy reflective bird decals for the outside of your windows, and place them a hands-width apart to really reduce the chances of collisions. See our Backyard Birding Tips story for more.

Break out the pruners. Winter can be a real bummer for gardeners who miss getting their hands dirty. But not all outdoor plant projects should be put on hold during the cold. In fact, winter is the best time to prune deciduous trees and shrubs because their sap retreats as they go into a dormant state. For top-notch pruning advice, visit our pruning tips story.

Start a fight. A friendly snowball fight, that is. A playful 19-minute battle will help you burn 100 calories while enjoying the elements of the great outdoors. (Just make sure you don’t pack the snow so tightly that it forms into potentially painful ice balls.) If packing snowballs isn’t your thing, opt to build a snowman. You’ll burn a cool 100 calories during a 22-minute building session, and improve your mood in the process. And what the heck—make a snow angel while you’re at it!

Watch the sun set. This time of year, it’s not too often we take the time to go outside without a scheduled task to complete. But this winter, take some time to go out and just absorb the sounds and sights of nature, whether it’s in your backyard or at a local park. Watch the sun set. Listen to the birds. Collect pine-cones. Breathe.

Leah Zerbe,
Tue, Jan 18, 2011

Cure Your Soda Addiction

Warning: You need to run two miles to burn off that bottle of Coke. Tempted to switch to water yet?

People are less likely to indulge in unhealthy beverages when caloric contents are translated into physical activity equivalents, a new American Journal of Public Health study found. In the study, teens were less likely to buy a sugar-sweetened beverage—soda and fruit drinks—if its physical activity equivalent was displayed than if it’s calories or percentage daily values were posted.

“Americans don’t have a good sense of how many calories they need in a day, so translating calories into easy-to-understand physical activity equivalents may be more meaningful to consumers than calorie counts,” said study author Sara Bleich, Ph.D., an assistant professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Unfortunately, we can’t control what’s printed on your soda nutrition label, but we can do the math for you. Your 20-ounce bottle of soda is roughly the same as:

  • Washing dishes or grocery shopping for 76 minutes*
  • Unicycling or cleaning gutters for 35 minutes
  • Jazzercising or chopping wood for 29 minutes
  • Shoveling or skiing for 25 minutes
  • Boxing or fast jump-roping for 15 minutes

Men’s Health News,by Maren Kasselik, January 2, 2012


Chili-Lime Chicken

*Marinate 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in ¼ cup lime juice, 2 Tbsp Thai red chili paste, and 1 Tbsp olive oil in zip-top bag for 30 minutes. *Broil chicken, turning, until cooked through, 10 minutes. *Serve with rice.

4 Short Workouts to Stay Fit During Winter

You have 10 minutes  Warm up with one to two minutes of brisk walking, then alternate two minutes running with 30 seconds walking. If you feel good, gradually increase the speed of your run segments. Repeat three times. Jog easy for one minute to cool down. If you’re stuck in the house, walk briskly from room to room and up and down stairs. Every minute, jog in place for 20 steps.

You have 15 minutes  Walk gently up and down a flight of stairs two or three times to warm up. Then run up one flight and walk back down. Repeat four times, take a one-minute walk break on a flat surface, then continue the sequence as time allows. If you’re in a stairwell, run up two flights of stairs, walk down, repeat, and then take a walk break.

You have 20 minutes  On an out-and-back route, walk for one minute, then alternate 30 seconds walking with 30 seconds running for three minutes. For the next six minutes, run/walk using any ratio you wish. At the 10-minute mark, turn around. For the next nine minutes, run/walk whatever ratio you’d like, but pick up the pace during the run portion. Cool down for one minute.

You have 30 minutes  Walk for two minutes, then alternate 30 seconds walking with 30 seconds running for six minutes. For the next 20 minutes, alternate jogging for one minute, running a faster pace for one minute, jogging one minute, walking one minute. Repeat the sequence five times. Walk or jog two minutes to cool down.

Walking Up Stairs

Five Minute Fat Burners

*Jump rope as fast as you can: 68 calories* *Do walking lunges down the hallway: 45 calories* *Run around the block: 62 calories* *Shovel snow: 34 calories* *Switch on the Wii for some Zumba® action: 45 calories* *Pick up the pace while grabbing a few things at the grocery store: 22 calories* *Vacuum the biggest room in your house: 20 calories* *Rock out to your favorite song while waiting for the pasta water to boil: 26 calories* *Challenge your guy or kids to a snowball fight: 34 calories* *Power through a few sets of jumping jacks: 45 calories* *Walk up and down the stairs: 36 calories* *Speed clean your kitchen: 23 calories* *Jog in place while waiting for your nails to dry: 45 calories* *Go for a quick sled run down the nearest hill: 40 calories* *Bounce on a stability ball during the commercials: 58 calories* *Sample one of the free workouts on the New Pilates app you downloaded from iTunes: 20 calories* *Take on any challengers for a game of Ping-Pong: 23 calories* *Do as many push-ups as you can: 45 calories*

Health Magazine, December 2011