Workouts That Help You Get Well

Sure, we all know that physical activity can shape you up and boost your well-being. But if you suffer from high blood pressure, IBS, migraines or gum disease, new research shows that exercise can do so much more for you, improving symptoms or relieving them completely. Don’t suffer from these conditions? Well, certain types of workouts can lower your risk of ever getting them. So here’s how to plan for your next workout. (Of course, always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.)

If you suffer from … Irritable bowel syndrome
Try … Yoga

A whopping 1 in 5 Americans suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the accompanying stomachaches, cramping, bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea. Stress and anxiety make the symptoms worse. There’s no cure for IBS, but new research from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver shows that yoga can lead to major improvement. In the study, subjects were taught how to do yoga and were then given an instructional DVD and told to practice for one hour daily. After just four weeks, their symptoms -- and their anxiety -- were both significantly reduced, and all the subjects said they would continue to do their sun salutations and downward-facing dog regularly.
Exercise Rx: One hour daily

If you suffer from … High blood pressure
Try … Hiking

Any kind of walking is good for your health. But hiking on uneven, rocky terrain or cobblestones can bring high blood pressure down, according to a new study from the Oregon Research Institute. The researchers theorize that the stones stimulate accupoints on the soles of the feet that reduce hypertension. Hiking also brings on other benefits, including improved balance control and greater feelings of well-being.
Exercise Rx: 30 to 60 minutes, three times a week

If you suffer from … Gum disease
Try … Aerobic exercise

Along with brushing and flossing, you can now add distance-walking, dancing, biking and swimming to the list of ways to keep your gums and teeth healthy. When researchers from Case Western Reserve University examined data on more than 12,000 individuals, they discovered that those who did frequent cardio exercise and maintained a healthy weight were 40 percent less likely to experience gum disease. Another Japanese study published in the Journal of Periodontology came to similar conclusions. According the American Academy of Periodontology, this is just more proof of the connection between oral health and general health, and another good reason to stay in shape.
Exercise Rx: At least 45 minutes, five times a week at a moderate pace, or three times a week at a more intense pace

If you suffer from … Migraines
Try … Biking

Migraine sufferers are often less active than other people because some types of exercise can trigger the blinding headaches. But a recent Swedish study published in the journal Headache found just the opposite. When migraine sufferers were put on a program of indoor cycling for 12 weeks, their headaches were reduced by an amazing 90 percent. In fact, of all the subjects in the study, only one had a migraine during the entire three months.
Exercise Rx: 40 minutes, three times a week


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3-minute Moves to Get You in Shape

Don’t you dare tell Valeri Orsoni that you don’t have time to exercise. The fitness coach, founder of LeBootCamp, and author of Le Personal Coach: A French Trainers Simple Secrets for Getting Fit and Slim Without the Gym, will tell you nicely -- and in a French accent -- that you are full of it.

“A study that came out in 2011 showed that cardiovascular-wise people who are active all day -- who take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk to see their colleague at the end of the hall instead of emailing -- have hearts that are in better shape,” she points out. “There are plenty of people who go to the gym twice a week and are couch potatoes the rest of the week.”

In other words, consider your life one big gym. Orsoni recommends sneaking in a few great toning exercises while you’re doing other things, like these:

While you’re filling up your tank: Try the gas station stair-stepper. “When I’m filling up my tank, I’m not sitting on my butt in the car,” says Orsoni. “I’m stepping up and down on the island. I had my Dad with me one day and he was making fun of me, but I did about 800 steps. That may seem like nothing, but as someone who is toned, I can tell you I felt it!”

While sitting at your desk: Get your butt in gear and avoid what used to be called “secretary spread.” “When you’re on the phone, contract and release your glutes nonstop,” advises Orsoni. You can do this move while sitting or standing.

While standing at the kitchen sink: “Suck in your abs when you’re washing the dishes,” she recommends. You can also do pushups -- or to be more precise, push-aways. Put your hands on the counter about shoulder-width apart, take a couple of steps back and push away. You’ll feel this one in your shoulders and upper arms.

While emptying the dishwasher: Don’t bend over -- squat, says Orsoni. With your knees and feet pointed outward instead of forward, slowly squat down plie-style to remove plates and utensils and slowly rise up. This exercise will save your back and do wonders for your buns.

While you’re brushing your teeth: Improve your balance. Lift the right leg while you brush one side of your mouth for 60 seconds, and then lift the left while you brush the other side for another 60 seconds.

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The Ultimate Mood-boosting Workout Routine

In a bad mood? We’ve got a smile-inducing workout routine for you! Studies show that exercise really improves your mood. All you need is 10 or 20 minutes.

Got 10 Minutes? Kick Some Booty!

“If you’re in a bad, mad-at-the-world kind of mood, you need a workout that lets you blow off some steam, like boot camp,” says trainer Ellen Barrett, creator of the Barefoot Cardio DVD. Try doing each of these drills in two minutes or less, 20 reps each, alternating sides when appropriate.

Kick and clap:

1. Stand with feet together, arms by sides. Kick right leg in front of you and clap hands under thigh; release.

2. Kick left leg in front of you and clap hands under thigh.

Plyo skier squat:

1. Stand with feet slightly apart, elbows bent by sides, fisted hands in front of chest.

2. Squat, bending both knees 90 degrees, keeping knees behind toes, and hinge forward slightly from hips (as if skiing). Return to standing position and repeat.

3. On the 20th squat, jump straight up and land softly with knees slightly bent.

Alternating lunge lift:

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms by sides. Lunge left leg behind you -- bending both knees 90 degrees -- as you lift arms overhead, palms up.

2. Lower arms and step back to start. Switch legs and repeat.

Side kick:

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and elbows bent at your sides, fisted hands in front of chest.

2. Lean torso slightly to left as you kick right leg straight out to side at hip level.

3. Return to center; switch legs and repeat.

Jumping jack:

1. You know the drill!

Got 20 Minutes? Unwind With Yoga
“When you’re feeling blue, sometimes all you need is an easy, stress-free workout to open things up,” says Barrett. Perform this whole sequence on one side, holding each pose for two minutes. Switch sides and repeat moves. Breathe evenly and calmly during each pose. A yoga mat is optional.

Seated hamstring stretch:

1. Sit on mat with legs crossed, back tall, and abs engaged.

2. Extend right leg diagonally in front of you (half-V) and bend left knee, bringing sole of left foot to inside of right thigh.

3. Place right palm on floor beside right hip and lean torso forward, reaching left hand to outside of right foot (or as far as you can without clutching the knee).

Reverse dancer stretch:

1. From the seated hamstring stretch, sit upright and swing left arm back over to left side. Plant palm on floor behind you, with your fingers pointing away from your body.

2. Inhale as you point right toes and reach right arm straight overhead, palm in. Then slowly lean back, pressing into left palm, as you lift hips off floor and reach right arm behind you, forming a line from right toes to right fingers.

3. Look up toward right elbow.

Simple twist:

1. From the reverse dancer stretch, exhale as you lower hips to the floor and sit upright.

2. Keeping left leg still, bend right knee and bring right leg over left leg, so right foot is beside left knee.

3. Place right palm on floor behind right hip, and inhale as you lengthen spine. Exhale as you twist torso to right, placing left elbow outside of right knee and looking over right shoulder.


1. From the simple twist, rotate torso back to center and bring soles of feet together, bringing knees out to sides.

2. Grab feet with hands and hinge forward from hips, keeping your back straight.

3. Press knees toward the floor.

Straddle bend:

1. From the butterfly, extend legs diagonally in front of you, forming a V.

2. Reach arms as far forward in center as possible. Bend knees slightly, if needed.

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4 New Workout Routines for All Fitness Levels

No matter how big a fitness buff you might be, sticking with the same workout routine week after week can turn exercise into a chore. Re-energize your workout with one of these new calorie-blasting fitness trends so you can stay in shape in 2012 and beyond.

New Workout Routine 1: Hula Hooping

Perfect for: Kids at heart, who don’t want to feel like they’re working out

. Any hoop works -- even the one collecting dust in your garage right now.

Try it out: Sample a hula-hooping class (Gold’s Gym offers them) or buy the Jane Fonda Workout Cardio Hoop ($24.25, for a hoop and DVD routine you can use at home.

New Workout Routine 2: Urban Rebounding

Perfect for: High-energy types who dislike high-impact activities

Another new workout trend that feels more like fun than fitness is urban rebounding, during which you bounce on a mini-trampoline to work all of the major muscle groups, improve balance and burn calories. The martial arts-inspired routine was developed more than 30 years ago as a low-impact exercise for use in rehabilitative centers, but urban rebounding is now picking up speed in the mainstream.

Try it out: Gyms nationwide such as Bally Total Fitness and Equinox offer classes.

New Workout Routine 3: Kettlebells

Perfect for: Those who want to tone up fast -- and are willing to work for it

You’ve probably heard of kettlebells, the cannonball-shaped weights that come with handles attached so you can swing them as you lift.  However, if you’re not using them in your workout, you’re missing out on an opportunity to sculpt a beautiful bod in record time. The weights have been shown to incinerate about 20 calories a minute -- that’s what you would burn if you were running six-minute miles. The key is to use the kettlebells for interval training with total-body movements.

Try it out: If your gym doesn’t have a designated kettlebell class, hire a personal trainer for one session to learn moves you can incorporate into your solo routine.

New Workout Routine 4: TRX

Perfect for: Serious exercisers looking to test themselves with a tougher workout

TRX tools were developed to help Navy SEALS achieve several fitness goals at once: improved strength, balance, flexibility and core stability. Now, the anchored suspension bands, which use gravity and your own body weight to give you a great workout, are popping up at gyms across the country.

Try it out: Crunch has several classes that use the equipment, and we’ve also spotted TRX equipment at some Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness locations.

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