Create an online objective
“Periodically setting new goals is essential to any successful health and fitness program,” says Allison Chopra, MS, of Indiana University in Bloomington. But in this busy world, everyone needs an occasional nudge to stay on track. These free online resources can help.STICKK. Place a wager on yourself, promising to meet a certain goal. If you don't make it, Stickk makes you ante up to a friend of your choosing or donate the money to charity.
SPARKPEOPLE. Name your fitness or weight-loss goal, and Sparkpeople will offer tips for how to meet it. The “fitness minutes” section helps you keep track of how much time you've exercised during a given month.
THE DAILY PLATE. Track your weekly food intake and exercise, and The Daily Plate will help you manage your calories, achieve your fitness or weight-loss goals, and network with other members.
“Doing yoga promotes physiological and psychological well-being, which lay down a wellness foundation as we age,” says Roberta Newton, PhD, PT, professor of physical therapy at Temple and one of the study's researchers. She recommends Iyengar, in which practitioners often use props — such as rolled-up towels, foam blocks, and straps — to move comfortably into poses, which they hold for a minute or longer. Particularly good for beginners, Iyengar teaches physical and kinesthetic awareness.
To prep for your first class, try practicing a calming breathing technique called abdominal or “belly” breathing. Lie on your back and place your hands on your abdomen. Inhale and expand your belly, making it full and round. Focus on expanding your abdomen in all directions. As you exhale, completely empty your lungs and your belly so your abdomen becomes concave. Then slow down the pace and find a comfortable rhythm, breathing in for five counts and out for five counts. After a few breaths, try to make the exhalation last one or two seconds longer than the inhalation. Repeat up to seven times. New to yoga? Log onto yogafinder.com to find a class that suits your style, or try an at-home video such as Yoga for Beginners (Element, 2007).
Writer Dana Sullivan lives in Reno, Nevada, and is currently boosting the number of steps she takes every day by training to walk the Seattle Marathon in November.