Aerobic exercise also helps relax blood vessel walls, lower blood pressure, burn body fat, lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, boost mood, and raise "good" HDL cholesterol. Combined with weight loss, it can lower "bad" LDL cholesterol levels, too. Over the long term, aerobic exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer, depression, and falls.
Take the stairs. You know, some people pay to use stairs (read: they buy a stair stepper machine), so if you work or live above the first floor, consider using your stairs as a privilege. Using the stairs is great cardiovascular exercise, and also tones your calves, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and abs. Next time you're about to take the elevator or escalator, take the stairs instead. If you have some time to spare, take an extra trip up and down. Or, try a stair-based workout like this one.
Alexander shared the main goal of other MMB pioneers, to harmonize normal functional movements; however, he differed in his approach of teaching the movements. According to the Alexander Technique, the development of nervous system control precedes the functional improvements, unlike other MMB schools in which the nervous system control is developed secondarily by doing the exercises in the proper manner.21 Pilates and Alexander [Internet]. Macy JA. Alexander Technique and the Pilates method of movement re-education: A biomechanical perspective. 2010 Dec 6 [cited 2015 Aug 30]. Available from: http://pilatesandalexander.com/articles/macy/. [Google Scholar] In 1914, Alexander expanded his teaching in New York and returned to England in 1925. By the end of his career, he had cultivated a long list of loyal second-generation teachers who preserved the Alexander Technique legacy and widespread acceptance until today.19,21 Staring J. Frederick Matthias Alexander 1869-1955. The Origins and History of the Alexander Technique. A medical historical analysis of F.M. Alexander’s life, work, technique, and writings. Nijmegen: Radboud Universiteit; 2005.
The link between physical health and exercise (or lack of it) was further established in 1949 and reported in 1953 by a team led by Jerry Morris. Dr. Morris noted that men of similar social class and occupation (bus conductors versus bus drivers) had markedly different rates of heart attacks, depending on the level of exercise they got: bus drivers had a sedentary occupation and a higher incidence of heart disease, while bus conductors were forced to move continually and had a lower incidence of heart disease.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology has published "The Canadian Physical Activity, Fitness & Lifestyle Approach", which details fitness assessment protocols. One such protocol, the mCAFT, is designed to give information about the aerobic fitness of a person, while using minimal equipment. The subject works by lifting its own body weight up and down double steps (40.6 cm in height total) while listening to set cadences from a compact disc. The end-stage of the age and gender specific stepping rate requires 85% of the age-predicted maximum heart rate. The heart rate increases approximately in a linear fashion from 50% to 100% of maximal oxygen intake. The heart rate does not decrease significantly during the first fifteen seconds of recovery. Thus, one can predict an aerobic fitness using the heart rate right after exercise of a known sub-maximal rate of working.
A number of medical reviews have indicated that exercise has a marked and persistent antidepressant effect in humans, an effect believed to be mediated through enhanced BDNF signaling in the brain. Several systematic reviews have analyzed the potential for physical exercise in the treatment of depressive disorders. The 2013 Cochrane Collaboration review on physical exercise for depression noted that, based upon limited evidence, it is more effective than a control intervention and comparable to psychological or antidepressant drug therapies. Three subsequent 2014 systematic reviews that included the Cochrane review in their analysis concluded with similar findings: one indicated that physical exercise is effective as an adjunct treatment (i.e., treatments that are used together) with antidepressant medication; the other two indicated that physical exercise has marked antidepressant effects and recommended the inclusion of physical activity as an adjunct treatment for mild–moderate depression and mental illness in general. One systematic review noted that yoga may be effective in alleviating symptoms of prenatal depression. Another review asserted that evidence from clinical trials supports the efficacy of physical exercise as a treatment for depression over a 2–4 month period.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Lift right leg straight back and up; at same time, hinge at waist and bring hands or fingertips to floor in front of left foot. Bend both knees, bringing right knee behind left knee. Press back up through left foot to return to previous position. Do 15 reps, keeping leg raised, then switch sides and repeat. Do 3 sets.
Toning the upper back is the fast track to better posture. This move uses the reformer with an accessory called a long box. Lie on your stomach with your chest just past the edge of the long box. Grab the straps in front of you with straight arms. Lift the head and chest as you pull the straps down toward your hips. The long box will slide forward, with you on top. Release the arms back to the starting position. Do five reps.
Start in a low lunge position with right foot forward, left foot back, and fingertips touching the ground for balance. In one smooth movement, bring left foot forward and, as you stand on right foot, continue to lift left knee toward chest and hop up on right foot. Land lightly on right foot and immediately slide left foot behind you to return to starting position. Repeat for half the time then switch to the other side.
"You will never get bored," said one tester, with the push-yourself workouts in the 21 Day Fix—seven 30-minute sessions ranging from high-intensity cardio-strength circuits to Pilates. Each routine "amps up familiar moves" to crank your calorie burn. Another tester was wowed that "so many different modifications and options were shown to help me switch up my workout." There's an included diet plan for those on a mission to trim.
Environmental approaches appear promising: signs that encourage the use of stairs, as well as community campaigns, may increase exercise levels. The city of Bogotá, Colombia, for example, blocks off 113 kilometers (70 mi) of roads on Sundays and holidays to make it easier for its citizens to get exercise. Such pedestrian zones are part of an effort to combat chronic diseases and to maintain a healthy BMI.