Monday, October 21, 2013

One Great Fitness App, When It's Hard to Get Moving

Dancing in the window
If you pass my house at certain times of day you may catch a glimpse of a small blonde person, dancing carefree, arms moving to a beat, uninhibitedly past the living room windows. 

This is not because I have gone completely out of my mind. 

More that I have finally got my mind around a great method to get moving. 

Six years ago, I was running up to 15 miles a week, doing yoga and  taking step and weight classes at the JCC. I was very focused on fitness.

Then life interrupted my workouts....

 Serious family illnesses, a new desk job, heart and brain surgeries all took turns in throwing my exercise routine into a tailspin.

Often, I couldn't get out the house, never mind keep an exercise routine going.

What brought it to a complete halt was the six months I spent by my husband's side as he went through an incredibly debilitating illness, long hospital stay, brain surgery and recovery. I spent a long time pondering on our porch watching people come and go, but not moving myself.

I had all the excuses wrapped up -I couldn't leave him and I was bone tired.

My friends tried to encourage me to walk with them. I trailed along, my mind elsewhere and my body wanting to be home. After twenty minutes I would get anxious to return and we would retrace our steps.

Today I think many of us are suffering from sitting syndrome! And the medical evidence from the National Institutes of Health is scary about what it is doing to our bodies. 

It could be that our jobs require us to look at a computer screen for long lengths of time, completely unaware of the hours that have passed.

It could be because we are caregivers tied to our homes and families and unable to find that half an hour for ourselves.

It could be that we can't afford or do not want to spend the money on gym membership and it's hard to take a walk outside due to the weather or the lack of an appropriate walking environment.

Whatever the reason I knew I needed to find an answer that worked with my unpredictable, sit-down life and I am thinking will fit with yours.

As I have been sitting long hours to write, I realized that making the effort to get up, needed to be more regimented. 

Then I saw a review of a free app for iphone and ipads aptly named STANDAPP in the Boston Globe on-line. This was a review for people working in office jobs but I think this app has a far greater reach than that.

This is how StandApp explains its rationale:

StandApp promotes healthy living by providing an alarm reminder to stand up and take a break from your desk.

StandApp includes 15 easy exercises anyone can perform at their desk during their standing breaks. 

You can set the reminder interval to a custom time, we recommend a break at least every hour. 

Experts say avoiding the sedentary life is mostly about remembering to be active. Even people who work a desk job for 60 hours each week can still work movement into their days — getting up for a cup of water instead of keeping one at your desk, walking down the hall to talk to a colleague rather than sending an email.

 StandApp keeps you accountable to this task.

What I love about StandApp is that it reminds you to get up out of your chair, over and over. I prefer to be dancing than doing specific exercises, so I have found songs on YouTube that are 5 minutes long -It's Raining Men is a favorite of mine. 
Pick a reminder time

I play it on my iphone and dance round the house.Hence the sightings of that crazy blonde person I mentioned earlier. 

When five minutes are up, the App tells me to "get back to work!" 6 five minute sessions -give me a half-hour workout if I can't get out the house. 

I wish I'd known about this app when my husband was sick. I could have kept moving without leaving home, in short bursts, motivated by an ifriend focused on self-care, on a regular basis. 

Five minutes is doable even if you are tired and if you want to do ten, you can reset the timer for another 5 minutes. 

I think this app is
A caregiver's friend,
A recovering patient's strength builder.
A parent's in-house exercise reminder, 
An office desk worker's reprieve. 

As much as possible, I try to walk for at least half an hour a day as well as using this app. But there are days when it is impossible and that's when StandApp really comes in to its own and saves me from becoming a couch potato. 

If you want to join me for a quick dance, come on over!

How do you remember to stand up and take moving breaks in the day? 
What prevents you from doing so?
Leave me a message and tell me how you motivate yourself to exercise below.

Happy Dancing!


PS. StandApp did not ask me to endorse their product! I just like it.

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  1. Great remi.der, Gilly! Thanks!!

  2. Amelia and I have our dancing shoes on and are ready when you are!!

    1. Excellent! On the hour -I'll be dancing-come join me! Which other good dance songs are there that play for 5 mins?

  3. Nice post! Even though I don't have a workout schedule (I have always hated exercise), I build "inefficiency" into my day to get more activity. Even though it's more efficient to go to the basement one time to get laundry or items from the second fridge, I make a lot of trips, up and down, up and down. I certainly know how to be efficient, but it dawned on me one day that this is my (only) exercise. I like the idea of using an app though.

    1. Well, all the up and down steps are great and the general advice is to add little extras into your day like parking your car further from your destination point to walk more, taking stairs instead of the elevator and going to see a co-worker instead of calling or emailing them.So your planned inefficiency is a great strategy.

      I also try to walk around my house when I'm on the phone...and since I seem capable of very long calls this can be a nice little bonus. The app is great at formalizing those breaks and doing it 6 times really adds up. Let me know what you think, if you try it. Thanks very much for commenting.

  4. Great way to get moving! Dancing is wonderful on many levels, including improving your mood! We know how feeling happy is good for body and soul! From now on, if you go by my windows, you're likely to see a small brunette dancing around the house! Thanks, Gilly!

  5. Yes, that's such an important point. It's not only good for your body but good for your spirit. Caregivers and others in stressful situations really need that endorphin rush exercise provides and this is a great way to get it. I'm imagining you dancing! Which song would you choose?
    Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Love the idea of short dancing breaks!