Leap Year Exercises

Mary Tweed
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Happy Leap Year Day! Yes, it is 29th February once again and the papers are full of explanations as to why an extra day is inserted into the calendar every four years, as well as stories of women deciding that this is their only chance to propose to their laid back loved one. For Nordic Walkers the day holds special significance, as it highlights a couple of advanced exercises that we, at Nordic Walking East Anglia, incorporate into our Walking for Fitness and Walking for Sport groups.

The Leap

The name “leap year” derives from the fact that in a normal, or “common” year, a fixed date advances by just one day a year; e.g. 1st March 2014 was on a Saturday and in 2015 it was a Sunday. However, in a leap year the date “leaps” over a day - in this year’s case a Monday - so that 1st March 2016 will fall on a Tuesday. In our classes, we often introduce a leaping exercise, whereby you push off hard from one foot, are momentarily suspended in the air, before landing down on a spot that would have taken you at least two, if not three, normal paces to reach, before repeating the whole manoeuvre over again several times. In other words, you will have leapt over at least one of your normal steps. In fitness terms, if you maintain this high cardio vascular exercise for just four minutes, this is classed as a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and can be extremely effective in weight loss programmes and also leads to an improvement in oxygen uptake (a good measure of fitness). It must be noted that HIIT is not for everyone and if in doubt, it always worth checking with your doctor first.

The Lunge

With all that extra proposing going on today, I am sure that there are many women out there dropping to one knee - in a classic lunge position - in order to pop the question. No doubt their minds will be focussed on the answer of their intended rather than the numerous benefits of lunges, and so I thought that I would highlight some of those benefits and, who knows, maybe inspire a few procrastinators out there to take the plunge (or lunge…..!). As well as working the quads, lunges also provide an effective workout for hamstrings, glutes and the core. So long as you don’t remain on one knee, but work one leg followed by the other, as we do in our classes, then you are undergoing a symmetrical workout, which will bring your weaker side closer in strength and ability to your stronger side. Lunges are great for improving your balance; depending on how confident you are you can use the poles to aid you in this. The lunge is also a brilliant stretch to combat tight hip flexors, which are prevalent in our sedentary lifestyles. Finally it is a brilliant way to tone the buttocks, so if the answer to your question on bended knee turns out to be the positive “Yes”, then hopefully your other half will never find himself in an awkward position when faced with the inevitable future question of “Does my bum look big in this?”

See also: Love Is In The Air

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