Get ready, start moving

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As we warm up and get into the prettier time of the year, this is a great time to get back into your exercise routine. You don’t have to join a gym or even change into exercise clothes to have free access to a fine piece of exercise equipment: stairs. There’s no question that climbing stairs regularly can improve cardiovascular fitness and strength. Let’s go through the steps: Climbing stairs is primarily an aerobic activity – that is, it gives your heart and circulatory system a workout. It will improve leg strength, too. Start with 25 steps or so and gradually increase the number you climb. Keep your back erect or bend slightly forward from your hips. Climbing two steps at a time is good exercise for major leg muscles (notably the quadriceps) and buttocks (gluteal muscles). But people with knee problems should be wary of trying this, and if your legs are short, you may risk injuring groin muscles. Going down stairs is also good exercise. It uses the thigh muscles – quadriceps and, to some extent, the hamstrings. Be careful not to overextend or lock your knees as you go down. If you go down stairs (or downhill) a lot, you may put excessive strain on the knees and/or develop sore quadriceps (though the soreness will decrease with practice). To boost fitness, alternate stepping at a moderate pace with brief intervals at a faster pace.

If you do go to a gym, stair-climbing machines are a good option. You can increase the resistance to boost your workout. Some machines also give you an upper-body workout – via moving handles. Leaning on the console or hanging onto the handrails will reduce the intensity of your workout. If you don’t have stairs at your work or home, remember that you can get a simple small step stool and do some stair steps on your own. And this is something great to do at a mall or community building instead of taking the elevator. If you can’t get steps in with the stairs because of your knee or no access to them, then simply think about increasing your walking by walking around your office, parking in the back of the parking lot at your work or even the grocery store. We are lucky here in Person County to have several parks with tracks that you can walk around or even some walking trails located around the community. This is also a great way to make sure that your entire family and even your pets, such as dogs, get their daily exercise.

Enjoy this recipe from University of Arkansas Extension at http://www.uaex.edu and for more Food for Thought programs, activities and recipes, check us out online at http://facebook.com/personcountyfcs.

Garden Skillet

Serves 4

10oz. (2 1/2 cups) bowtie pasta, uncooked

2 Tbsp butter

1 tsp minced garlic

2 zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 red onion, sliced into thin wedges

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

8 oz. package Cheddar cheese, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare bowtie pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Melt butter in a 10” skillet. Saute’ garlic until golden brown. Add zucchini, red onion and basil. Heat over medium heat until tender, about 4-6 minutes. Stir in pasta and heat through. Add cheese, salt and pepper. Toss gently and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: 238 calories, 5g fat, 10mg cholesterol, 14mg sodium, 42g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 8g protein

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