Lets get physical
We recently passed Blue Monday on Jan. 18, the day that has been designated the most depressing day of the year. Around this time of year, the cold weather begins to wear you down, your debt is mounting and you’ve already failed your new year’s resolutions.
But rest assured that you still have plenty of time to work through all of those things – who says you can’t modify your new year’s resolutions to suit you better? If you’re one of many who promised to hit the gym, here are some alternatives to a traditional workout.
Alena Downs wasn’t ready to give up her pole when she retired from the stage at 35.
“I was an entertainer. And when I retired from the stage I didn’t want to let go of that pole. It was the one thing that I loved doing, it was the one thing about work that I thoroughly enjoyed,” Downs explained as she took a break from her Pole Junkies studio located in Killarney.
To keep up the level of fitness she had as an entertainer and to continue to express herself and have fun, Downs took up teaching other entertainers to pole dance. Soon she had other ladies asking her about pole dancing.
“Just everyday women – moms, housewives, legal assistants, they just all of sudden though ‘How do you do that? That’s kind of neat,’ and they got brave enough to ask,” Down said. “I guess people started understanding that pole has absolutely nothing to do with nudity. It has to do with dance, sport and art.”
For Pole Junkies, pole dancing is first and foremost meant to be fun, said Downs and while fitness is the byproduct of having fun, proper training and safety are Downs’ top priorities. All of the instructors are certified fitness instructors and each class begins with a warm-up and ends with a cool down. From introduction to advanced classes, each progress at levels suited to the participants’ abilities.
Like most dance styles, pole dancing works the whole body. “It’s a phenomenal way to keep in shape because you utilize so many parts of your body,” said Downs.
While she and the other instructors incorporate floor movements and squats to work the lower body, the nature of pole dancing works the upper body and core, keeping the things lean, not bulky.
“And it’s a great way to lose weight,” Downs added.
What began as a form of entertainment for men has now become a self-esteem booster for women looking to gain confidence. And confidence works wonders in the bedroom.
Sex as exercise
Michelle Fodemesi is a personal trainer at Mount Royal Recreation who, while learning and studying about fitness and the body, has come to realize the many health benefits of sex.
“While you’re having sex, it’s a good cardiovascular workout because your heart rate is going,” Fodemesi explained. “About a half an hour of sex is equal to burning 85 calories, which is good. So if you can add that up hopefully you’re having more than half an hour of sex at a time.”
Looking at other sports, an hour of sex is the equivalent to an hour of light stationary bike riding, canoeing and bowling, according to nutristrategy.com.
When you compare the calories burned having sex to the calories burned playing a high exertion sport like hockey, the numbers change a little with an hour of hockey burning 472 calories for a 130 lbs. person.
WebMD, an online health information resource, lists 10 surprising health benefits to having sex. A recent research study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of a fatal heart attack by half for men, compared to those who had sex less than once a month. Your increased heart rate during sex is a benefit to both men and women in decreasing your chances of heart disease and stroke, Fodemesi added.
Other benefits listed on WebMD include the tightening of pelvic floor muscles for women. Try doing the Kegel exercise during sex (tighten the muscles and hold for three seconds then release.)
For men, WebMD refers to two studies in which researchers have found that if a man in his twenties ejaculates five times a week it can help prevent prostate cancer. Even if you’re out of your twenties, you can still benefit from ejaculating multiple times in a week, around 21 times a month (to prevent prostate cancer of course).
WebMD lists three benefits the love hormone, oxytocin has to your health. Oxytocin helps partners bond, you get better sleep and it reduces pain (including headaches, arthritis and PMS symptoms).
It’s also a stress reliever by lowering your blood pressure and it protects against colds by boosting the antibody immunoglobulin A.
So what’s the final word? A healthy sex life leads to a healthy you.
“There’s a lot of benefits to having sex, really, it’s weird,” Fodemesi concluded. “It’s a good sport.”