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Everyday Exercise:

In the office, people are answering phone calls, sending e-mails, writing memos … and on a treadmill! A new product has got 9-to-5ers out of their leather desk chairs and burning calories during the work day. It is called the Trek Desk—a la the Treadmill Desk.

Depending on the model, the desk’s flat surface can accommodate a laptop, planner, portfolio, etc., all on top of a working treadmill. Walking at a slow, even pace racks up burned calories at the end of the day, especially since it replaces hours of remaining stationary. Shea, the encore editor, will actually be working on one by the end of January—thanks to her dad’s handy skills at building one. Her excitement had me thinking about useful, practical ways to incorporate exercise and healthier choices into our daily routines.

While working around a tight schedule to pencil in gym time sometimes proves problematic, slight more activity within our daily lives can also help strengthen muscles and zap belly fat. Household chores will bore no more, and the results from these easy tricks are surprising! Here are several helpful tips in making 2011 the year we actually keep our resolution to get in shape.

Everyday Activities:
A watched pot never boils, so the saying goes. Instead of standing lifelessly above a pot of lukewarm water or cleaning the kitchen with little effort afterward, a handful of easy exercises will help pass and invigorate the wait.

Counter push-ups: Use the kitchen counter as an aid in doing push-ups while dinner is heating up or cooling down. Foodies should place both hands firmly on the edge, and lower their bodies to the height of the counter. Add metabolism, stir, and repeat.

Dishwasher squats: Rather than solely using arms and hands to load the dishwasher, try squatting to the level of the machine with each dirty dish. When the rinse cycle is complete, squat to remove the clean bowls and plates.

Store wisely: Do not take the easy way out by keeping the extra virgin olive oil at arm’s reach. Items that are used frequently should be placed on the highest and lowest shelves, to increase the physical difficulty in retrieving them.

Stir it up: Avoid using an electric mixer, as people who whisk on their own will develop more arm strength with each meal.

Why miss “How I Met Your Mother” just because beach season is coming up? Try these simple steps to go from couch spud to total stud. TV watching just got a little healthier.

Exercise ball: While the show is on, sit on an exercise ball instead of a La-Z-Boy. Complete sets of crunches in between belly laughs.
Commercial break: During the obnoxious advertisements, do jumping jacks for cardio. Jogging in place, doing squats and stretching are also options.

Commute and contract: Squeeze glutes (butt), quads (thighs), and abs (belly) while in a car or on the bus while commuting to work. Contracting the muscles in this way actually tightens them in the long run. Also, try squeezing while walking through the mall or grocery store to get the same effect. The action isn’t noticeable to others, but the results will be.

Waiting for shower to heat: Do crunches and push-ups on the bathroom rug. Use all free time wisely!

Folding laundry: It’s repetitive and uninteresting. Plus, if it’s the whole household’s laundry day, it can become time-consuming. Add some exercise to the routine by marching in place.

Parking: Choose further spaces. The few extra steps will add up, and it’s safer to be away from the headache of front-row in a Walmart parking lot anyway.

Heating Up Fitness Routines
Fitness doesn’t have to be boring; in fact, it shouldn’t be. If weight-lifting and kickboxing cause more dread than motivation, go the alternative route. There are endless activities that create fun, healthier living.

Dance classes: Babs McDance Dance Studio offers classes for varying levels of dancers or those seeking a more entertaining form of exercise. “[When dancing], people exercise their bodies and their brains because they’re learning something new,” Babs McCullen-Welker, owner of the studio, says. She suggests taking the Zumba fitness class or a swing class.

“Zumba is good for most levels,” she says. “We have the best Zumba instructor in Wilmington: Karson Reed creates her own choreography and sets it to popular music. Swing is very high energy, [too.] It’s got lots of bounce, and it’s a great workout.”

Hiking and biking: There are a lot of trails in Wilmington and surrounding areas that make for a scenic break from a regular walk in the neighborhood or casual bike ride. The Blue Clay Road trails made tripleblaze.com’s list of 100 Best Places to Hike in North Carolina. Considering the area’s flat terrain, the trails are worth checking out, and they are good for beginning mountain bikers. The trails are located on Juvenile Center Road, off of Blue Clay Road at Blue Clay Road Park.

Dog Walking: Perusing the sidewalk with a pooch makes running much more entertaining. People who do not own a dog probably have friends that do and may be willing to loan the animal. Unlike running with a human pal, it’s not necessary to keep a conversation, and there are no shameful feelings if one partner can’t keep up. Make sure to run with a well-trained dog, though, to avoid any potential danger from biting or embarrassment from barking.

Another option is to visit a local animal shelter, like New Hanover Humane Society at 2405 N. 23rd Street. The shelter has a large fenced-in yard where people can play with the pups up for adoption. There are plenty of balls and chew toys to be thrown, which is a different way to stay active while having fun.

Snack Better:
Though movement is important, appropriate diet also should be considered when embarking on healthy betterment. Still, it doesn’t mean forgoing all the good stuff. A few minor changes in eating habits can pay off big time.

Yogurt: This snack is great for keeping active, bodies healthy. There are lots of flavors, with some as sweet as strawberry cheesecake, as offered by dessert lines of many name-brand yogurts. Many will be fruit flavored, which are delicious, but stay away from fruit-on-the-bottom packs. The preservatives in the fruit and syrup will negate any positive effect from the yogurt.

Almonds and avocados: These foods work great at burning belly fat. Individually, avocados, although high in fat, will actually help lower cholesterol because they contain monounsaturated fat. Almonds can also discourage weight gain, as shown in a study conducted by Purdue University researchers, which shows how the fat and calories of almonds are not absorbed during digestion. Almond butter, which is much like peanut butter, and guacamole are delicious alternatives to eating the foods whole. Just remember: moderation.

Grapefruit: This pink produce is a natural diuretic, which reduces bloating. Plus, it only has 70 calories. Try eating the tart fruit by itself, but if the taste is too sour, sprinkle it with a low-calorie sweetener.

Veggies: Experiment with new vegetables. Especially hit up area farmers’ markets and specialty produce stands that work directly with local farmers. The taste of a locally grown, fresh [fill in the blank with favorite veg here] will excite the taste buds. Hummus spread on strips of bell pepper is delectable, as well as sliced tomato with fresh mozzarella and basil.

Soup: It’s a comforting meal, especially in the months when Jack Frost runs rampant. Make sure to prepare soups that are broth-based, have only 100 calories per cup, and contain neither cream nor butter. If making a pot from scratch, use reduced-sodium boxed broths. It adds more flavor, and when packed with vegetables and lean proteins, nutrients abound.

Chocolate Milk: Yes, chocolate milk! Drink some of what seems like a diet disaster after a workout. It rebuilds muscles and improves exercise recovery better than sports drinks or water.

Important to remember: Include regular breathing exercises or even meditation into your day, and consider that exercise should be more fun than a chore. Shift the focus away from counting calories, repetitions, minutes and miles per hour. Instead, focus on the stress relief that comes from regular activity; an improved lifestyle will eventually make it a natural habit.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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