Exercising in Senegal

Today’s post comes from guest writer Angie in Thies. You can read her first posts on this topic here and here. You may also be interested in this post on running clothes in a Muslim context.

Find something you enjoy (or at least tolerate!) and do it. Get out there and shake what your momma’s given ya!

  • Make a commitment to work out consistently. Make a date with yourself and keep it. “But what about my little ones?” you may say. You know that maid you pay $1-2/hour to clean your house? Pay her to watch your kids for an hour so you can keep that date. How many of your friends in the West wouldn’t give an arm and a leg for a $1-2/hr babysitter? I may not have access to all the gyms and equipment they do, but I’ve got my sweet housekeeper Germaine, and I couldn’t have done this without her!
  • Build up gradually to avoid injury or discouragement. When I first started my weight loss journey this time around, I began with a fairly easy workout video I got from a friend. I transitioned from that to Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo workouts. Then, for a real challenge, I decided to “dig deeper” and put my body through the most physically challenge exercise program I’ve ever known, Insanity (Preview) . If you’re up for a serious challenge, check out the link.
  • Incorporate resistance training into your workouts. Walking is good, running is better, running while doing weights is best (not simultaneously, unless you want to fall on your face, Khady!). This doesn’t require you go out and buy weights. You can make your own body weight work for you (see, all those pounds are good for something!). Push ups, squats, tricep dips, etc. You can find moves online, or you can look for workout DVDs that are right for you.
  • Once you’ve been working out consistently for a while, try to increase the intensity of your workout in spurts. If you run, I recommend interval training. If you do workout videos, choose ones that push you to the max, for shorter lengths of time, rather than exercise videos that have you going at a moderate pace for a long period of time. Studies show that high intensity intervals are the most effective weight to strengthen your heart and your muscles.
  • Find a buddy or coach to work out with, or at least to keep you accountable. Get your husband on board, too. Even if he’s not exercising with you, he can at least help you exercise self-control by keeping temptation away from you as much as possible (especially if he’s a junk food junkie!).
  • Next time you or a friend go to N. America, consider investing in a variety of workout DVDs, a heart rate monitor, a pedometer, and some workout gloves. Tile floors here are so slippery that it makes any floor exercises difficult to complete otherwise. You may also want to bring back a yoga mat, although I’ve always used the cheap foamy “nattes” made out or rice sacks.
  • Move around as much as possible throughout the day. Studies show that working out rigourously for one hour a day, but maintaining an otherwise sedentary lifestlye, may not provide the health benefits we might think. So, if you work at an office job, consider using an exercise ball instead of a traditional office chair (to work your core). Even better would be a standing desk. If you’re at home with the kids, make it a point to do as much physical activity with them as possible – that way you will both benefit!

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