Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Workout Wednesday - Interval Training

One of the best workouts that I love/hate to do is interval training.  Interval training is a great way burn extra calories in your workout compared to steady state cardio training.  Basically think of your body firing up the way your car does when you first start to accelerate.  You and your car both burn through extra fuel until you get to a steady speed or state.  So extra calories burned for you (and extra gas for your car).  

If you push yourself effort wise for a period of time and then drop to a slower speed or reduced effort and repeat that whole process again, you use a lot of extra calories to power your body.  In addition, you work to improving your VO2 max improving your overall running speed.  From a mental perspective, when you push yourself physically to a level of discomfort and know that you are going to be able to recover from it, you build more confidence into your running.

You can do interval training running outside or in or biking or rowing.  All you need is a watch and a relatively flat surface.  

Start by warming up throughly, for at least 10 minutes.  
Then choose your interval time.  Typically 1 minute at 90-95% of my maximum effort followed with 1 minute of rest.  
Repeat 5-6 times.
Followed up with a10 minute cool down.  

This is an intense workout but again really effective for boosting metabolic and mental performance related to running or any other endurance sport.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Unplugging and Reconnecting

My family has a really busy schedule this year.  Like a lot people I know we are busy most week nights with activities and our weekends are pretty full as well.  When I saw how our weekly schedule was playing out with at least one of us being out every week night I proposed that we make Friday nights family night.  With the idea that we could add some flexibility.  If there was something going on a Friday night we could move our family night to Saturday or Sunday.

During these nights we would have a fun dinner - pizza, at home pub night, appetizer dinners - you get the point.  We also do activities together, playing board games, a movie we all watch together or a dance party.  Everyone has been on board so far, and we plan in advance the movie we'll watch or what we'll make for dinner together.  These family nights are a chance to wind down from the week and relax together.

The other key thing with our family nights is that no one is allowed to have their electronic devices.  Not one of us.  I've watched my kids isolate themselves playing Minecraft or watching videos on their phones and iPads, plugged into their headphones and then I look at both my husband and I checking our twitter feeds, Facebook and Instagram accounts and realize how none of use are relating to each other even while we are sitting in the same room.  I think that many people and families are like that.  We do have a rule, no devices or TV during any meal.  But I wanted the chance for us to reconnect a bit more.

So Friday nights all of us unplug even my husband and I.  We've been doing this for three weeks now and I admit the first few hours I found myself reaching for my phone when I was  looking for a bit of a break.  But after the first little bit, I don't miss it.  It is interesting to watch the shift that happens in our family dynamic without the distraction and isolating nature of our devices.  The biggest thing that happens; we actually talk to each other.  Even if we're watching a movie, we talk about the movie.  We discuss our days and the upcoming week.  Removing the device in our hand gives us a chance to connect.

It has made me think though, how many times has the distraction of our phones take from where we are and prevented us from being truly present with those around us?  I've gone for dinner with people and had the other people I'm with check their phones constantly and I do find it frustrating.  But I've also been that person as well.  I try to explain if I need to check in why I'm doing.  But still checking for texts or emails takes from where I am and who I'm with.  

It really is all about finding balance with our priorities.  I love my phone.  It is a number of things to me; my watch, my camera, how I communicate with other people, a source of entertainment, how I check in with my clients for work and I don't see myself going without my phone for an extended period of time in the near future.  But what I'm going to work toward over the next little while is making sure when I'm using my phone I'm not missing out on what is going on around me.  Instead of taking a picture of a sunset and immediately tweeting it, I'm just going to enjoy the moment.  When I'm with people, I'm going to be with them and not checking what is going on the in the digital world around me.  Ultimately, I'm going to be present with where I am and those I'm with.  

Friday, 25 September 2015

Fun Food Friday - Berry Beet Smoothie

Another gloriously sunny and warm day.  I'm loving this weather for running before we head out for our days.  I have increased my distance and activity level lately and have noticed a little muscle soreness.  For me that is a bit of an indication to take it easy for a day or two and focus on eating foods that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Beets are a perfect food to help with inflammation especially when combined with ginger.  These two root plants go perfectly together.  In addition to helping reduce inflammation, beets support the liver during phase 2 detoxification and provide other forms of antioxidants. 

I chose to cook my beets first and peel them to help reduce the earthy beet flavour.  I wanted something a little sweeter today.  This smoothie is very similar to a beet ginger juice  but thicker because I haven't just extracted the juice, so I get a bonus with a bit of extra fibre.

Berry Beet Smoothie

by Denise Boyd Dunlop
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Keywords: blender gluten-free vegan
Ingredients (serves 1)
  • 1 medium beet cooked and peeled
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 apple cored and chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
  • water as needed
Place all ingredients in blender and blend. Add water as needed until desired consistency is reached.
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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Workout Wednesday - Take it Outside

Happy Fall Equinox!!  It is a beautiful fall day here and I've been enjoying the weather as much as possible today.  Beyond pumpkin in absolutely everything fall is perfect for running or walking outside.  The humidity of summer is hopefully gone, the temperatures are cool but not too cool and trails are dry.  The leaves are changing colours and the air has that fall smell.

Lately my favourite running spots have been in a conservation area close to where I live.  I can run there from my house and the distance is less than 8k.  It is a perfect run for me right now.  And what I love about running in this place is that it is outside, not too crowded and the terrain makes for some pretty interesting challenges.  It is amazing to me how running on uneven ground works your core.  Did I mention the views were spectacular??

Trail running is somewhat new to me.  I typically run on sidewalks, roads or stone dust rail trails but it is exciting to change my workout and add some new challenges.  I have hiked and snowshoed through this space as well but running as added a new intensity.   

Regardless whether you run or walk the surface you choose makes a huge difference.  Outside sidewalks are the hardest surface causing your body to absorb more of the impact when your foot hits the ground.  Asphalt roads are slightly less impactful.  Trails and 'natural' surfaces carry the least impact.  Treadmills also absorb a great deal of the impact from your foot stroke compared to paved surfaces.  If I have a choice of where I will run, inside or out, I will always try to choose outdoors.  Not only is it better for you mentally and emotionally to be outside, the way your body moves running on the ground is much different than a treadmill.

When you run on the treadmill, you are keeping up with the speed the belt is moving at.  Your hip flexors work pretty hard to power your legs through this repetitive movements.  Compare that type of work to either running or walking outside, the ground beneath you is not moving, you are.  In outside running, you are propelling yourself forward using the muscles in the back of your legs.  This movement targets your glutes, hamstrings and calves more than your hip flexors.  This isn't to say your hip flexors won't get tight while running outside, just not as tight compared to strictly treadmill running.  When you add in uneven terrain and rises in elevation, you add an additional core component to your run or walk.  

That being said, there are times when running on a treadmill is better than not running at all.  But during those workouts it is important to pay extra attention to stretching those hip flexors, increasing the treadmill's incline to 1.0 and adding a couple sets of squats to the end of your workout to balance the work done by the front of your legs.  I know in the winter I will be back on my treadmill a bit more and posting some indoor workouts but for now I'm hitting the trail!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Finding Your Space

I am fortunate to have a place like this to visit on a regular basis.  My husband's family owns a beautiful cottage on Lake Huron  and we get a chance to share this place among Aunts, siblings and cousins.  At this cottage, like most vacations spots you have the opportunity to slow down, sit and just be still for a while.  There is no phone; cell reception is spotty so technology distractions are minimal.  A huge part of what makes this cottage so relaxing and  allows you to escape from everyday distractions is that you are surrounded by nature.  In my case at this cottage, it is one of our Great Lakes.  But anytime we are outside around trees, water and plants feeling the sun and breeze on our skin we can remind ourselves of the calming effects of nature and the importance of immersing ourselves in it.

At the cottage the sound of the waves, sometimes stronger than other times constantly lapping the shore can always be heard.  There are the sounds and sights of birds and plenty of places to sit.  When I'm here I do exactly that, sit, listen to the waves and watch the birds.  I walk on the beach with my daughters searching for treasures from the sea and just slowing down.  Of course in among finding time for quiet reflection and relaxing, there is always picture taking.  I think a lot of people, take photos on our phones.  I know I am certainly one of them.  This constant connection can be both a blessing and a curse.  We are always available unless we turn our phones to airplane mode but the pictures we take while on vacation are easily accessed when we're home.  More importantly these pictures can help us reconnect to the feeling we have while on vacation.
I've been thinking about how important it is for all of us to slow down beyond our vacations.  Sometimes we need a place to escape to just to shut down for a bit.  It doesn't have to be as far away as my family cottage (although it is nice).  The escape can be to a park, your back deck, front porch or even your phone - yes I said phone.  The idea is that this is your time and place to just shut down for 30 seconds to 5 minutes and just sit in quiet or as much quiet as possible focussing on sights of nature.

We can find our own personal spaces to take a breather.  I have spots in some of the parks in my neighbourhood and on both my front porch and back deck.  Sometimes in these spaces I can hear the sounds of the neighbourhood or my children playing but for those brief few minutes I'm in my own little zone until reality calls me back.  And on cold or rainy days, I always have pictures on my phone or computer to remind me of the amazingly beautiful spot that is at the cottage.  

Although being in a truly natural setting is ideal. For the times when we just can't get away from our desks or go outside to take that deep breath, the images on your phone will help.  So for those times when you feel a little harried and when you feel like you need a break, remind yourself why it is important for you to take some time - even 30 seconds if it is all you can afford time wise.  Sit in as quiet of a space you can find and look at something peaceful.  

Friday, 18 September 2015

Fun Food Friday - Roasted Ratatouille

We've been having a glorious week of late summer weather.  I've been outside on my kayak a few times and running soaking up the last of the heat before fall officially makes its mark.  Another week of my crop share and another load of vegetables. I have really been enjoying all of the wonderful veggies that are making their appearance in my pick up each week.  This week I received a ton of tomatoes along with some onion, peppers and a cute little eggplant.  I thought what a perfect combination to throw together and let roast slowly so all of their yummy flavours can combine.  The eggplant melted into that soft caramel like texture that offset the softness of the tomatoes perfectly.  I served this on top of some zucchini noodles along side some turkey meatballs.

Tomatoes are high in lycopene at powerful antioxidant.  Lycopene is a carotenoid which gives many fruits and vegetables - especially tomatoes - their red colour.  Cooking tomatoes concentrates the amount of lycopene being consumed, increase the amount of antioxidants ingested.  Antioxidants are key to helping our bodies offset damage caused by  free radicals.  

Roasted Ratatouille

by Denise Boyd Dunlop
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 1 quart tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 peppers
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
  • juice from 1/2 lemon

Chop all of the vegetables and mince garlic. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. If using fresh basil, wait until the end of cooking to add to dish.
Roast vegetables in oven preheated to 325 for one hour or until vegetables are soft and beginning to caramelize. Season with fresh basil and lemon juice at the end of cooking.
Serve as is or over noodles of your choice.
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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Workout Wednesday - Plank It Up

Planks - I know nothing too exciting in the workout world.  Workouts include planks all the time, tons of variations - elbows, knees, reaching out with hands or feet.  Planks are a fantastic whole body exercise.  This summer I was focussing on strengthening my core in preparation for my paddle board workshop and to help my kayaking.  But we all know a strong core helps our bodies function much more effectively through all of our daily activities so it can always use some extra attention.

While I was working my core I found a way to modify my move ever so slightly but I achieved an amazing integration of those deep core muscles that often take a number of reps in order to feel some results.  What was really cool about this slight adjustment to my plank was I felt the work being done immediately and I have notice both increased strength and definition through my core.  And the biggest bonus is that I'm not holding this plank for  more than 30-45 seconds.

So here is how you achieve that deep abdominal engagement?

  1. Come up into a high plank position, on hands and feet.
  2. Bring feet hip width apart, heels pushing back and a micro bend in the knees.
  3. Ensure wrists are below your shoulders, the fingers spread out and elbows slightly bent.
  4. Think about creating space between the shoulder blades, opening the back, using the muscles of the upper back to help support you.
  5. Bring your hips into line with the rest of your body, check in a mirror or have someone spot you.
  6. Here is the engagement part - without moving them, pull your hands toward your feet and your feet toward your hands.  Hold for up to a minute.

Thats it.  If you do that one simple adjustment to your plank it puts a whole new spin on it!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Turning it Around

Have you ever been in a bad mood for no apparent reason?  Everything is fine, the weather,  your plans for the day but you are just in a funk.  And then it spreads.  The next thing you know you are short with your husband, children, person at the coffee shop.  Or it happens to you.  You're in a fine mood and then - boom -  someone for no reason is rude.  Cuts you off in traffic, snaps at you when you ask a simple question.  

Of course you have.  It happens to all of us and no one is perfect with their interactions with others.  It is human nature.  My husband and I have tried really hard though to make our home neutral territory.  Naturally we have disagreements and get frustrated with each other.  But we do our best to resolve things civilly and quickly.  What we have really tried to do though in our home is to create a space for us and the kids to come to and decompress from the outside world.  

We have a saying when tension builds in our house - Let's turn it around.  

That statement gives all of us pause in my family to refocus.  No single situation is going to last forever.  And our attitude is what makes it seem pleasant or unpleasant.  If my kids are getting short with each other or with me while we are getting ready for school or to head out I will quickly say - Let's turn it around and 99% of the time the overall mood improves.  It is as though we are wiping away the feelings from the previous few minutes and starting again with a clean slate.

What is interesting to me is that my kids will say it to my husband and I when we seem frustrated.  That is a moment that causes me to pause.  First because I can see how my mood affects them and secondly those four words have made a difference to them.  They now apply the idea of hitting reset and starting the day from that point and share it with others.  We can have bad moments in a day, but the idea of turning things around prevents the feeling of one bad moment leading to a series of bad moments creating an entire bad day.  

I'm not saying that it will guarantee that you will always have sunshine and roses if you try the turn around concept.  But it may give you temporary pause to reconsider how your current mood affects your overall outlook.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Fun Food Friday - Swiss Chard Salad

Ok, so swiss chard salad may not exactly sound fun but I think this recipe makes it pretty lively.  I've received yet another bunch of swiss chard in my veggie box this week and wanted to try something different.  Swiss chard is one of those greens that can transform itself into many different flavours and textures.  It can be steamed similar to spinach, the stems cut out and used as a wrap, added to soups and stews.  

Nutrient wise swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and the mineral manganese, and a good source of the mineral zinc. Swiss chard is also high in antioxidants including phytonutrient antioxidants,  phytonutrient antioxidants in chard also act as anti-inflammatory agents. Inflammation is important to help offset because chronic low level inflammation (especially when coupled with excessive oxidative stress) has repeatedly been shown to increase our risk of obesity, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and several forms of arthritis.  So foods such as swiss chard with antioxidant enzymes are beneficial to incorporate into your diet regularly.

I wanted to try chard as the all star and raw in this recipe. I thought I'd also add a few other ingredients to brighten up the flavour.  Because no matter how good for you something is nutritionally, if it doesn't taste good you won't enjoy eating it.

Swiss Chard Salad

by Denise Boyd Dunlop
Prep Time: 30 min
Ingredients (Serves 4)
    For the Salad
    • 1 bunch swiss chard trimmed,washed and finely chopped
    • 3-4 green onions finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup artichoke hearts roughly chopped
    • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    For the Dressing
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes chopped
    • 2 teaspoons honey
    • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • 1 teaspoon dried orgegano
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
    Add dressing ingredients to a jar, shake until well combined. Let sit for 20 minutes to allow flavours to combine. Mix salad ingredients together. Shake dressing again to mix ingredients. Pour over salad and toss.
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    Wednesday, 9 September 2015

    Wednesday Workout - Quick and Dirty Cardio

    Sometimes, like everyone else, I am pressed for time.  But it is important to still get in a workout.  On ideal days, I try to exercise for a minimum of an hour - usually more. But there are days were that amount of time to dedicate to a workout is an absolute luxury.  Time that I don't have.  On those days, I have my go-to cardio workout that combines plyometrics with  some body weight exercises.  In total this workout depending on how intense I feel like working out takes about 7-8 minutes.  That's it, but it is intense so pacing is key as is taking breaks when needed.

    I also like to use this segment in between weight lifting or trx sets for a bit of additional cardio and to add some variety to my workout.  And the great thing about this combination is that it requires no equipment and can be done anywhere - your basement gym, hotel room, back yard (you get the idea).

    So here is the breakdown.  After a warm up such as this....

    1 squat
    1 jumping jack
    1 burpee
    1 push up

    2 squats
    2 jumping jacks
    2 burpees
    2 push ups

    and so on all the way to 10 of each exercise

    If I'm feeling really up to pushing myself, I will count back down.  But that rarely happens as I'm pretty tired by the end of this.  

    Sunday, 6 September 2015

    New Thing September - SUP Yoga

    This has been my view for the past two days...

    Lucky me, I've been in Muskoka at a three day yoga retreat doing (or attempting stand up paddle boarding yoga) with Muskoka Yoga Studio.  This is a huge first for me; probably the biggest new 'thing' that I've attempted since taking on one new thing a month.  This retreat was actually three firsts in one.  First I've never done stand up paddle boarding - ever.  Second obviously I've never done yoga on a stand up paddle board.  And third and probably the biggest, I've never gone to a yoga retreat; I've never left my husband and kids for more than one night in a row for anything non-work related.  So this was huge.

    How'd things go?  When I arrived I was told that there was only one other person besides me who had come on their own, everyone else was with a friend.  Nice, only one loner besides me... but truthfully it really didn't matter to me about being on my own, I get along well with others and can make friends so I really wasn't worried about that.  And more importantly the introvert in me was looking forward to some time alone.  I was however, terrified about getting on and moving around on that paddle board.  Would I fall, get my hair wet, look like and idiot?  All of the above?  And I knew the answer was an infinite 'Yes'.

    The first evening, after everyone attending the retreat finished getting settled we went out for our first paddle.  We were instructed on safety - pfds, ankle straps, how to hold the paddle, how to paddle, how to get on. And then we were off. I have never felt so wobbly in my life.  I literally was shaking from the knees up.  My quads were killing me in the first five minutes, then I remembered to engage my core.  Tara, our fearless leader told us that once we got out on the water, everything would change for us because there would be nothing besides the water.  The minute we let our attention shift to something else was when we'd struggle for control.  That coaching sunk in for me, I focussed on the horizon and just simply what my body was doing.  While we were out on the water the first night a heron flew overhead and loons were calling a perfect setting for the last weekend of the summer holidays.  More importantly, I stayed on my board.

    The next morning when we headed out the feel on the water was completely different.  We were all much more stable and confident.  That feeling wasn't going to last long, today we were attempting yoga.  I love yoga but have never done it on a moving surface.  This practice was like no yoga I've ever done before.  The most basic poses felt intimidating and unstable.  But I found my focus and did my best.  I wasn't the first person to fall in the water but I think I fell in the most.  It wasn't bad after the first fall, in fact as it was getting quite warm practising yoga and the water felt great once you submitting to the fact that you were going to get wet.  It was almost a relief to laugh at yourself and cheer as others fell off their boards and got back on.  There was no expectation of perfect in the poses.  We were just trying to find our focus and our balance.  And truly in falling off, it meant that your had actually put yourself out there and tried.

    This weekend was amazing.  There was such a wonderful group of women at this retreat and such fantastic energy.  Tara lead a super chilled retreat while teaching us so much about movement on the water and in our practise.  We paddled out later on in second the evening for a sunset paddle and mediation on our boards and I haven't felt that peaceful in a long time.  The last morning we did another yoga session and I was amazed again at how much more confident I felt after a second time of a SUP yoga practice.

    Paddle boarding for me was a lot of fun.  I did also get out on a kayak and swam with a mermaid flipper tail thing.  As a result I have worked A LOT of core this weekend which is awesome for a weekend away.  I would definitely paddle board again it is a complete body workout and a great way to explore the water.  As for the yoga bit, I would do that again too if I could find an instructor close by and the guarantee of warm water.  

    I'm really happy I attended the yoga retreat and took some time for myself.  I met some amazing people and learned some fun skills.  I also realized that all of us are strong and powerful in so many ways that we never truly give ourselves credit for.  If you open yourself up to the opportunity, things like paddle boarding and yoga make perfect sense when you aren't trying to do anything besides be in the moment.  I am truly thankful for the opportunity to have participated in this weekend on so many levels and feel a great deal stronger for it.

    Friday, 4 September 2015

    Fun Food Friday - Roasted Salsa

    We signed up for a crop share or CSA (community supported agriculture) this summer.  I had been doing the crop share for a few years and then took a break because my summer holidays didn't jive with the pick up dates.  But this year I decided to try it again.  I'm at week 13 and now that we're into September, there is quite bit of variety.  Toward mid and the end of July there was quite a bit of kale, chard and other leafy greens.  Normally I'm very fond of leafy greens, but it was a bit daunting looking for ways to include greens into breakfast lunch and dinner.  So this week's range of colour has been very exciting.

    I decided to make a salsa out of the tomatillos, but there wasn't quite enough for a full batch so I included the tomatoes that were in the share as well.  I decided that it would be fun to roast everything over the grill in my barbecue to give the mix a smokey flavour and I added some smoked paprika to enhance the smokiness.  This turned out to be a pretty liquidy salsa but I served it over rice so it worked out.  The level of liquid depends on the tomatoes used, but any excess can be drained off. Also if tomatillos aren't available another tomato may be added.

    Roasted Salsa

    by Denise Boyd Dunlop
    Prep Time: 15 min
    Cook Time: 45 min
    Ingredients (2 cups)
    • 1/2 cup tomatillos
    • 3/4 medium sized tomatoes
    • 1 onion
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 pepper (red, orange, or green)
    • 1 banana pepper or 1/2 jalapeno pepper
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    •  juice of 1 lemon
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon honey (or to taste)
    Preheat oven or barbecue to 375. Chop tomatillos, tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic. Toss with olive oil and spread evenly in a pan. Either roast on grill or in oven for 45 minutes or until tomatoes and peppers are soft and onions are beginning to caramelize. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Pour into blender or food processor and process until the desired level or smoothness or chunkiness is achieved. Stir in lemon juice and paprika. Add salt and honey to taste.
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    Wednesday, 2 September 2015

    Workout Wednesday - The Simplest Way to Warm Up

    There is a great deal of talk in the fitness industry both as participants and as instructors about the importance of a proper warm up and stretching prior to working out.  When I teach a class or work with a client, I always ensure that my students slowly begin their workouts gradually building their heart rates before jumping into their workouts whether cardio or strength training.  If I can build dynamic stretching into the warm up, even better.  

    Dynamic stretching is working the muscles though range of motion movements continually moving the muscles rather than moving into a stretch position on holding the stretch which is static stretching.  The concept behind dynamic stretching is that when your muscles are cold, as in prior to exercise you may risk injury to the muscle by holding or forcing a stretch that the body isn't ready for.  When you have warmed up and have blood flowing to the muscles, you can statically hold the stretch and work to lengthening and relaxing the muscle.  

    The most beneficial time to do static stretching is at the end of your workout when the muscles are warm to reduce muscle tension that may have occurred during the workout, potentially reducing delayed muscle tension or soreness.  Dynamic stretching is ideal prior to the workout, not only does  it help increase blood flow to the muscles allowing the body to gradually increase the range of muscle movement, dynamic stretching also begins the production of synovial fluid in the joints.  Synovial fluid is important to help support the joints through any type of activity but is very important in high impact exercises.  

    For myself, my workout of choice is running.  I love it, it's quick, simple, the end of my driveway is my gym. That being said, I do not always warm up.  For years I would wake up, throw on my running clothes, drink a glass of water and head out the door.  As a personal trainer and fitness instructor I know how tough that is on my body to begin my workout so close to waking and without proper warm up.  But I would create a million excuses specially time related why I could warm up. 

    Over the past year I have had health issues that have offset may ability to exercise and over the past six months I have been slowly working to regain my fitness.  Running and yoga have been the two key components of my exercise routine during this time.  I love my early morning runs but noticed my usual habit of literally running out the door wasn't working so I decided to actually put into practice what I teach others.  Warm up before running.  I went through a variation of legs swings, pretending to walk over logs and so on before my run but the flow didn't feel right.  Then it hit me... yoga.

    I've been doing sun salutations with a low lunge before not only my runs but all of my workouts and have found it to be one of the best ways to warm up for both running and strength training.  The flow of sun salutations is almost meditative and allows me to tie my breathing into my movements.  Subconsciously I carry the association of breathing into my running and I've noticed less muscle soreness and a more relaxed gait in my running.

    Here is my sun salutation flow...

    Standing at the top of your mat, hands in prayer take a few deep breaths focussing on balancing evenly on both feet.
    Inhale sweep the arms up.
    Exhale forward fold.
    Inhale come halfway up.
    Exhale fold forward, bending the knees if needed.
    Inhale step the left foot back.
    Inhale sweep the arms forward stretching from the knee to the tips of the fingers.
    Exhale bring both hands to the mat and step back into plank. Lower the whole body to the mat, dropping to the knees if needed.
    Inhale come up into cobra.
    Exhale to downward facing dog, peddling out the heels.
    Inhale step the right foot forward.
    Exhale drop the left knee to the mat.
    Inhale sweep the arms overhead.
    Exhale step the left foot beside the right in forward fold.
    Inhale come partway up.
    Exhale forward fold.
    Inhale come all the way up sweeping the arms overhead.
    Exhale hand to prayer.

    Repeat on the other side.  

    I usually do both sides at least twice and here is my favourite place to practise.