01/08/18 — Exercise Your Way to Health

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Exercise Your Way to Health

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on January 8, 2018 12:02 PM

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Regina Burston-Valley leads an exercise class. She combines lunges, a balancing exercise, with hammer curls, a strength-building exercise.

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Theresa Flynn and others in the Boom class at the Goldsboro Family Y do a dance called "the pony" with several variations that work the upper body as well as the lower body.

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Sandra Mooring dances between two lines of people during the freestyle portion of her exercise class at the Goldsboro Family Y. Instructor Regina Burston-Valley keeps the class moving for 55 minutes to help class members improve their endurance.

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Annie Brinson turns sideways so that she can stretch lower to cool down. Stretching to warm up and cool down is always a good idea in order to avoid any injuries.

Exercise is not just for bodybuilders or fitness buffs, but for anyone of any age who wants to have a healthier lifestyle.

Regina Burston-Valley, Family Y group fitness instructor and personal trainer, said exercise should really start as soon as a baby starts kicking and continue throughout life.

"As soon as they start kicking, get them excited about it and keep them moving," she said. "When they are crawling around, throw a ball and let them crawl to get it. When they can run, play ball with them."

As they get older, exercisers need to start working on correct posture when working out.

"Posture is everything with any kind of exercise," Burston-Valley said. "Roll the shoulders up, back and down for good posture."

Stretching before and after exercising is necessary.

"You always warm up first," Burston-Valley said. "You can rotate your ankles to warm them up. Even when people just walk, they don't really warm up, they just get out there and walk. Take the time to warm up. Rotate your foot. Flex and point your toes to really warm up that part of your body."

You can also pull your arms down in back of you, pulling the shoulders back for a good stretch.

Flexibility exercises are another important part of any fitness routine.

"For flexibility, we often use yoga exercises such as cat/cow, child pose, gluteal pose, along with stretches for the chest, upper arm, back, thighs, lower back and torso," Burston-Valley said.

"We work against resistance using muscle groups to develop strength and endurance. At the Y, we use different weight machines, hand weights, various balls, resistance tubes, bands and bars, body weight and more. However, at home, one can use water bottles, can goods and body weight for resistance."

Burston-Valley said when she trains a client, she has the client perform more repetitions with lighter weights to build endurance. To improve muscle strength, she has the client perform less repetitions with more weight.

"I like to have the client use light, mid and heavy weights, which is called a pyramid, to increase endurance and strength," she said.

Balance training is another important part of exercising.

"As we get older, we're falling, tripping and stumbling a lot," Burston-Valley said. "We are all getting older and some are going through operations and can't keep our balance. It helps build strength in the legs so we can stay on our feet."

One balance exercise is to stand up, lift your leg off the floor and turn it to the side and back then put it back down on the floor. Or you could opt for a tightrope balance exercise, putting the right foot in front of the left on the floor in a straight line, going heel to toe.

And don't forget about your abs and core.

You can do some of these exercises on a mat when first starting out, then progress to using a bosu (which looks like half of a big ball), which challenges you more.

One exercise is to lie on your back on a mat, putting your arms under your gluts. Then lift your straight legs and head up just a little and hold that pose for however long you can.

You could also do a flutter kick from that position, which works the lower abs. Or you can do a scissors kick.

To tone your legs, abductor (outer thigh) and adductor (inner thigh), use a weighted bar or ankle weights. Lie down on your side, bend the bottom leg and left the top leg, remembering to keep your foot flexed. Then bend your top leg back and lift your bottom leg straight up. Then turn over and do the other side.

Planks are good for core work, the back, belly, legs and upper body. Lie down on a mat, come up on your hands and toes. Make sure your elbows are right up under your shoulders and hold the pose as long as you can.

"A plank strengthens your core and also helps to tighten up your abs and glutes," Burston-Valley said. "You can do a plank with your feet together or apart. And there are variations of the plank."

She also warned exercisers not to hold their breath when exercising.

"When you start holding your breath, you will eventually lose your form," Burston-Valley said.

Aerobic exercises can be anything from jumping jacks to raising your knees high to dancing and everything in between.

Exercise doesn't have to be done all at one time. It can be done in intervals throughout the day, Burston-Valley said.

You don't have to be at the gym to exercise. While at work, move your legs under your desk if you work at one. While sitting, squeeze your glutes. Extend and flex your legs at your desk to help your knees. If you work at a computer, take time throughout the day to stretch your neck and buy a small ball to squeeze to exercise your fingers and hands.

Even couch potatoes can get some exercising in, Burston-Valley said.

"Sit on the edge of the couch, lean back and kick your legs," she said. "Or if you're in bed and want to get  up and need to get your adrenaline pumping, just start moving your whole body, waving your arms and legs and bouncing."

Exercising not only works your body, but is also good for your mind and spirit.

"I play Christian and gospel music in my classes to feed the soul, too," Burston-Valley said.

"Exercising makes you feel overall good and fit. It keeps sickness and aches and pains away. And doing it with others is a social aspect of it that motivates and encourages you. It also helps put you in a better frame of mind."

Burston-Valley said to always check with your doctor before starting any kind of exercise.

Then, work out and have fun.

"Have fun when you exercise," Burston-Valley said. "Play some music that you enjoy. So many people get so serious about getting fit when you should make fitness fun."

Burston-Valley makes fitness fun, encouraging and motivating.