Smoke necessitates changing workout | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Smoke necessitates changing workout

Rhonda Beckham

Columnist’s note: Because of the Angora fire, I have substituted the second part of exercising away from home for this column.

We breathe more air during exercise or strenuous work, and that is obviously a problem right now with all the smoke in the air.

While exercising we draw air more deeply into the lungs. And when we exercise heavily, we breathe mostly through the mouth, bypassing the nose – the body’s first line of defense against pollution.

We breathe in an estimated 15,000 liters of air, approximately 6 to 10 liters every minute. Oxygen is inhaled from across 600 to 900 square-feet of surface area in tiny sacs inside the lung.

Oxygen is necessary for our muscles to function. In fact, the purpose of exercise is to improve the body’s ability to deliver oxygen. As a result, when we exercise, we may increase our intake of air by as much as 10 times our level at rest.

The interaction between air pollution and exercise is so strong that health scientists typically use exercising volunteers in their research.

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Exercising in this smoky climate has prompted Barton Memorial Hospital to issue a health advisory. Trust me: Your strenuous, outdoor workouts can and should take a backseat until the air clears.

Most of those who live here, one of the world’s most beautiful places, love being physically active outdoors. And we love the clean, pristine air. It will return.

Until then, it’s time to think about staying active indoors.

With the tragedy of the Angora fire, most of us are in a funk. Even my loyal dog Xena has suffered because her outdoor activity has been limited to brief “necessity” walks. We all feel pent-up and need to release some of this stressful energy without first having to drive out of the smoke zone.

Here are a few ideas to keep you moving:

Watch TV

That’s FIT television available to those with cable. They feature some great group aerobic shows that will get your mind off our local worries. Do what you can and rest when necessary.

Listen to music

Put on your favorite CD and move. You can walk, dance, march or jog around the house or in place. Children love to play follow the leader. They need activity just as much as adults. Stair-climbing is one of the most efficient forms of exercise; so use them if they’re available. For more of a challenge, carry hand weights (canned food works well before you deliver them to the local emergency shelter). Or buy wrist/ankle weights from Ross or Kmart.

Traditional calisthenics

Calisthenics is a type of exercise consisting of a variety of simple movements usually performed without weights or other equipment that are intended to increase body strength and flexibility using the weight of one’s own body for resistance. Perform 10 to 20 repetitions of two to four sets each.

Sit-ups/crunches: Start with your back on the floor, knees bent, bottoms of feet against the floor. Place fingertips at base of skull with elbows open wide. Inhale to prepare and lift shoulders off the floor by tightening abdominal muscles bringing your chest closer to your knees. Lower rounded back to the floor with a smooth movement.

Push-ups: Start face down on floor, palms against floor slightly wider than and under shoulders, toes curled up against floor. Push up with arms keeping a straight line from head through toes. Lower to within a few inches off floor and repeat. You should keep your head tilted upward, your back straight. Do not rest on your shoulder blades, even when you feel fatigue.

Modifications: hands placed on wall with toes 3-4 feet away from wall or try it on the floor on your knees instead of toes.

Squats: Imagine you are outdoors camping for a “necessity” walk. Stand with feet shoulder width apart (you may turn toes out slightly). Squat down as far as possible, always being able to see your toes by keeping knees back and bringing your arms forward parallel to the floor. Return to standing position.

More challenging: lift one leg off the floor in front of you, putting both arms in front of you for balance, and squatting. This is a one-legged squat or pistol.

As always, stay well hydrated. Be sure all windows are closed and indoor air stays clear with a nearby fan.

– Rhonda Beckham is a nationally certified personal trainer, with teaching certificates in Pilates and kickboxing.

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