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Body By Simon: How Shopping Can Give You A Healthy Low-Impact Workout That’s Fun And Productive.

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

There’s an old adage that states that: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. In recent years that sentiment has been altered to state that: When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping”. While that may not be entirely true (in every situation), it may very well be true for those who want to shed those tough to get rid of extra few pounds. In fact, some say that the mall is the “ideal”, “cost-effective” (if you can keep spending under control), low-impact workout for fitness (and shopping) fans of all ages. And while experts say, that it’s no substitute for weight and cardio training, it is a favorable alternative to hitting the gym especially when you don’t have time, plus you can accomplish two tasks (shopping and exercising) at once…AND, for many of us, the experience is truly fun.

1. Once Upon A Time In A Mall Far, Far Away: My husband and I have a very close friend who NEVER parks near the entrance of any establishment because he “saves” the space for someone less capable of going the distance from the car to the door. Well, besides exhibiting common courtesy, walking is an excellent form of cardio. In fact, experts suggest parking as far from the mall as possible and literally stepping up your workout a bit. If you live close enough, and there’s a safe route (along sidewalks and during the daytime, etc.), you may even want to consider walking ALL the way to the mall and back.

2. Learn To Take Advantage Of The Ups And Downs Of Shopping: Unless you’re physically unable, pushing a stroller, or in a serious rush, try to take the stairs (instead of the elevator or escalator) as often as possible. Sometimes you may have to walk to the other end of the mall to find a set of stairs. Experts say, “Go For It”, even if it means that once you’re up or down, you have to walk all the way back to the other end again. And, if you opt for the escalator, try walking up as it’s also hoisting you up (to the next level)….your legs, your gluts, and your heart will thank you.

PS. If you can’t go fast but are in no rush, take your time, a little exercise is better than none at all.

3. Become an XTREME Shopper: Sure taking your time and window shopping is extremely enjoyable, but it does your body, heart, and often wallet little good (the faster you walk past stores, the less likely you’ll stop to purchase something, and the less you’ll spend). Consider picking up the pace as you plow through the mall from one end and one level to the other. And experts say, make sure to go even faster past the food court.

4. Healthy Spending: Part of the whole mall experience is the ability to indulge in sitting and enjoying some pre or post shopping fare. But steer clear of the fried food and sensational sweet treats that are trying to lure you in. Instead consider bringing your own snack (such as a fruit, yogurt, bag of veggies, etc.) and simply purchasing a cup of tea or coffee. Even a pretzel is better than a burger and fries.

Still courting the idea of hitting the food court? Consider these “healthy” alternatives instead:

1. Check out the assortment of fruits, flakes and nuts: No we don’t mean the kind walking around the mall, we mean the kind you can consider a healthy snack sold inside the mall. Many malls these days have stands that sell dried fruits and nuts, as well as apples, bananas, yogurt, even some healthy muffins, breads, etc.

2. Downsize (Instead of Supersize): Experts emphasize that while it may not be the first in healthy choices, regular size burgers, roast beef, chicken, and other kinds of sandwiches contain two servings of grains and three ounces of protein, the recommended amount for a meal. Avoid large portions (such as double-bacon cheeseburgers) that offer extra everything including calories, cholesterol, fats, etc., And don’t forget to skip the (white) bread and the fries. Want to go the extra mile; you can do it while staying seated. Simply split a small portion between two.

3. Maintain A Healthy Fear Of Frying: Grease (in this case) is NOT the word. In fact, it’s a word you should steer clear of. Fried foods are dunked in hot oil and allowed to sit there (for hours) soaking up the fat and the calories. So, next time you think you’re making the healthier choice by choosing the fried fish sandwich, think again, you’re better off with a small burger or grilled chicken sandwich.

4. Veg-Out: Experts say, that in this case, the bigger the better. Most food courts, restaurants, etc. have some kind of vegetable or salad. Make sure to give yourself the green light to dig in (as often as you’d like). They are delicious and nutritious, packed with a multitude of vitamins, fiber...and it helps you fill up so a small side (sandwich or piece of meat, chicken or fish is more than enough), and antioxidants that do your heart, mind, and body good. Avoid veggies that are not broiled or boiled or that are smothered in sauces. Consider instead plain veggies with a little garlic and oil. And, don’t be afraid to carry your own (healthy) dressing in a small container in your purse.

5. If You Must Drink And Shop: Professionals point out that your best beverage of choice is skim milk, lower in fat than regular milk and loaded with vitamins including calcium, vitamin D and riboflavin. One percent milk is your next best choice, and if you’re inclined to stick with good ole’ H2O, then make sure you buy bottled varieties or bring your own. Most of all, abstain from sodas and other sugary drinks, besides taste (and lots of empty calories) they have nothing to offer.

6. Make Favorable Fast Food Options: One of the reasons people choose fast food in the first place is because of convenience and often because of cost (though if you consider how much it’s costing your health and your waistline, you may be more inclined to apply the theory of you get what you pay for).

If time and ease are an issue consider choosing among the following:

· Establishments in which your sandwiches are made to order so you can control the amount of meat, veggies, condiments, etc. Experts suggest to ask for less meat and extra veggies, and to be conscious of the condition of the food, which is often left sitting out all day.

· Restaurants with salad bars (make sure veggies, etc. are fresh, and skip the high calorie, creamy dressings), and those that offer a variety of different (fresh) fruit, salad or veggie plates.

· A great quick pick-me-up that filling and healthy is a fresh squeezed veggie juice (or fruit juice).




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