5 Healthy, Easy-to-Make Breakfast Ideas for Kids!

We’re writing one more blog dedicated to parents and their children!

How many times have we been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Yet, it can be difficult to find nutritious, low sugar options for breakfast that children enjoy. We’ve pulled together some ideas for you to try in order to get those mornings off to a happy start.

It’s incredible how most kids’ breakfast foods contain massive amounts of refined sugar. The meal ideas we suggest do have sweeteners, but are way healthier than those Frosted Flakes or Pop-Tarts. Not to mention — these ideas are tasty, too!

1. Fruit and Yogurt Smoothies (use fruit, yogurt, and either milk or 100% fruit juice). Who doesn’t love a good breakfast smoothie? Here are a few of our smoothie ideas. Another great one (and simple) that kids love, and can even help you make, is this banana berry smoothie. Also, be sure to sneak in some extra nutrients by adding spinach to those smoothies! With its neutral taste and blender friendliness, spinach makes an excellent smoothie ingredient.

2. Homemade Whole Grain Muffins that can be sweetened with fruit and honey or even a touch of maple syrup. We love these Toddler Muffins that can also double as a healthy lunch or snack. Another one to try are these Yogurt Muffins. This muffin recipe is packed with nutritious ingredients such as carrots, apple, greek yogurt, and oats.

3. Homemade Whole Wheat Pancakes or Waffles. Don’t scroll by this one! We know what you’re thinking… pancakes and waffles from scratch are time consuming. Yet, hear us out — they only require a few ingredients, you have control over what goes in them, and you can make a huge batch at once and freeze the extras for the weekday meals. Encourage your child to eat them plain with maybe a little butter melted on top. Or maybe add a few drops of honey and spread with nut butter, or top with fruit. This Healthy Banana Pancakes recipe has only have four ingredients and is delicious!

4. Breakfast Sandwiches. Say no to the drive-thru! Here’s another idea you can make in advance and freeze. Then when you need a tasty breakfast for your on-the-go child, just pop them in the microwave. Whole wheat english muffins or toast, plus egg, turkey bacon, and cheese is what we like best. Here are a few other recipes your kids might like.

5. Plain Oatmeal flavored with Peanut Butter and Bananas. Sure, plain oatmeal is boring. BUT if you add peanut butter, things liven up quickly. Feel free to sprinkle in some cinnamon or add a drizzle of honey. If your kids can’t get on board with plain oatmeal and love the microwaved flavored instant oatmeal packets instead — try stirring in some plain oats as well to dilute some of the sugar content. Gradually, add more and more plain oats until your kids no longer crave the sweetened version.

In conclusion
Choosing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein while low in added sugar has been linked to improved kids’ attention span, concentration, and memory. Also, if you do choose to go the cereal route, make sure you select a cereal with 5 grams of sugar per serving or less. Cereals we suggest are Kix, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Crispix, Kashi Heart to Heart Warm Cinnamon Oat Cereal. Be sure to add fruit and a milk or milk alternative to those low-sugar cereal bowls as well.

5 Milk Alternatives for Your Child

Having your child diagnosed as lactose intolerant can be tough. Especially since dairy is such a valuable part of a balanced diet. We get most of our calcium and vitamin D from dairy products — which are essential to bone growth. Milk is also packed with other nutrients such as protein and potassium making it excellent for those young, growing bodies.
The good news for parents is there are several wonderful milk alternatives that leave the lactose and allergens behind while offering essentially the same nutrients contained in milk. It is unlikely you’ll find an option with the same amount of protein as milk, but still try to select varieties that contain around four to nine grams of protein per cup.(1) Also, you want to stay clear of varieties with added sugars in the ingredients such as corn syrup, cane juice, or words ending in “-ose.”

So if you’re looking for a healthy milk substitute for your child that still tastes great, here are 5 milk alternatives:

1. Lactose-Free Milk
Lactose-free milk contains an enzyme to help breakdown the lactose in milk. Aside from that, it’s essentially the same milk your family has always enjoyed. Thus, before considering other milk substitutes, try starting with lactose-free milk. Lactose-free might be your best solution if your child doesn’t have a milk protein allergy. Also, lactose-free milk is virtually indistinguishable from regular cow’s milk and contains the same amount of fat, protein, carbohydrate, and caloric content. This option also matches “regular” milk’s calcium and vitamin D.(2)

2. Soy milk
Since soy milk’s nutritional content closely resembles that of cow milk, this soy-based option has been used as a milk substitute for years. Also, most soy milk brands are fortified with calcium and vitamin D making it a great milk alternative.(3) But be careful when choosing a soy milk brand because not every brand included extra fortification. Double check the ingredient list and make sure there are no added sugars and flavors.

3. Almond Milk
Over the last few years, almond milk has become a really popular milk alternative. As with soy milk, most brands fortify the milk with calcium and vitamin D. The only drawback is almond milk has less protein and saturated fat than cow’s milk.(4) Yet, as long as your child is getting enough protein and saturated fat from other sources, then this can be a great choice. Also, as with soy milk — be sure to check for any added sugars and flavors.

4. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk has many positive attributes making it a true contender for your child’s milk substitute. Coconut milk is rich and creamy, and provides as much saturated fat as whole cow’s milk — which is very important for toddlers. The milk also contains 30 percent of your daily value of vitamin D and 50 percent of your daily value of vitamin B12.(5) The caveat with coconut milk, however, is it falls short of matching cow milk’s calcium and protein per cup. Thus, if you opt for coconut milk for your child, you will have to make up for those nutrients in other ways.

5. Rice Milk
The biggest benefit of rice milk is it is extremely non-allergenic and has a neutral taste. Though parents should understand that rice milk is higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein and fat than cow’s milk.(6) If your child has a significant amount of dietary allergies, this might be the right choice for you. If not, coconut, soy, and almond milk are recommended over this.

In conclusion
Overall, these alternatives can be used just as you would regular cow’s milk. Your child can drink them straight from a cup, poured over cereal, or added to smoothies. Though, we only recommend soy milk as a substitute when baking.

In addition, to keep your little one free of the unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms that come along with lactose intolerance, make sure everybody in your child’s life, from teacher to babysitter, knows that dairy products can upset his or her stomach. And if your child is younger than two-years-old, make sure to consult with your pediatrician regarding what his or her right option might be — often fortified formula might be best alternative for the very young.

Sources:
1) https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/much-protein-milk-have-5319.html
2) https://www.nutritionix.com/food/lactose-free-milk/1-cup
3) https://www.livestrong.com/article/430019-is-silk-soy-milk-good-or-bad-for-you
4) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/almond-milk-health-benefits#section9
5) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323743.php
6) https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/2458525/2?print=true

7 Ways to Increase Your Child’s Vegetable Consumption

How to go from “yuck” to “yummm.”

The struggle is real.
Are you like most parents (and by most we mean nearly all) battling to get your child to eat those nutritious veggies each day? Or at the very least take a few bites? Sure, there’s the age old “you can’t have dessert until you finish your broccoli… ” bribe. And sure, a bribe may work to some degree, but what if you actually want your child to actually enjoy nutritious foods?

Why the big deal?
Encouraging healthy eating habits early in life has been a proven way to prevent the onset of diet-related diseases.1 Also, exposure to fruits and vegetables in infancy and toddlerhood have been associated with acceptance of these foods as they grow older.2

At BootCampSF, we’ve been researching ways to help parents build their child’s love for veggies, and here are some ideas for you:

1. Believe in butter
Babies are born with a preference for sweet and salty taste.3 This predisposition means sweet and salty foods are much more likely to being accepted by infants compared to bitter flavored foods — such as certain vegetables. So what does this mean for you? You will be more successful in the long run if you disguise rather than bribe.
To help your kid get passed his sensitivity to bitter foods, consider masking that bitterness with butter. Yes, we said “butter,” and more specifically the grass-fed variety which contains vitamins A, E, and D3. These vitamins are important to a growing child, plus the added fat helps their bodies absorb them.4 Try adding 1 tablespoon of butter per half cup of broccoli, green beans, mashed sweet potatoes, etc.

2. Go fresh food shopping together
Teach healthy eating choices by letting your kid help you select the fresh produce. Try making a game out of selecting different colors of fruits and vegetables. Also, a visit to your local farmers’ market can be lots of fun. Not only will you be teaching your child how to select high quality produce, you’ll be more successful come dinnertime when serving the foods you discovered together.

3. Let him be your sous chef
Even younger children can help in the kitchen. Of course, we don’t mean chopping vegetables, but instead let them try simple tasks like tearing the lettuce for a salad, stirring the pot, or measuring ingredients. As with the food shopping, you’re creating a sense of ownership with their food which is a proven technique for encouraging healthy eating.5

4. Grow your own
Research shows children have a more positive attitudes toward vegetables after gardening.6 This should come as no surprise since freshly picked vegetables are so much tastier than those sitting on the grocery store shelves. If you don’t have the means for your own garden, then take a visit to a vegetable farm where your child can pick her own. Growing or picking your own foods ties back into the sense of ownership discussed above.
Healthy Eating for Kids

5. The secret is in the smoothie
Pureeing vegetables is possibly the easiest way to getting kids to consume more fresh foods. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that children ages three to five nearly doubled their consumption of vegetables on days when they were served pureed vegetables instead of whole.7 An ideas for creating a nutrient dense smoothie includes blending: half a cup of spinach, half an avocado, half of a small banana, ¼ cup canned pumpkin, and ½ cup of either almond milk or water.8

6. Create a copycat
Invite a friend over for dinner who you know has healthy eating habits, or send your kid to the older cousin’s house who loves his spinach. The peer pressure of watching the other kids devour their vegetables might provoke yours to give them a taste at the very least.

7. Set a Good Example
No doubt, you already know this one. Yet, knowing what you should do doesn’t always mean it’s easy to do it. For example, you may love Diet Coke. But if you’ve banned drinking sodas for your child, it may be confusing for him to watch you guzzle that Diet Coke during dinner. Also, what is your own relationship with food? Are you trying healthy recipes or complaining about your weight after eating junk food? Bottom line: if you are willing to try new healthy food choices, your kid will be more likely to as well.

In Conclusion
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try creative ways to encourage your child to eat healthily. Though at times it might be frustrating, trying new ways to prepare vegetables and being positive are vital to getting your child to enjoy them… for a lifetime.

1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21651929
2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2678872/#R35
3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2678872/#R27
4) https://www.verywellfamily.com/
5) https://www.eatthis.com/
6) http://gardening.cals.cornell.edu/program-tools/benefits-and-research/key-findings/
7) https://www.sciencedaily.com/
8) https://eatthisnotthat.com

Benefits of Sports Massage for Bootcamp Athletes

At BootCampSF we train you the way coaches train athletes. Each day is a different workout, and includes a combination of cardio training, cross-training, and strength training. BootCampSF workouts are designed to constantly challenge your body in unexpected ways, and this can often result in sore muscles — especially if you’re new to training. So before you reach for the medicine cabinet to ease your aches, consider soothing those muscles with a sports massage.

What is a Sports Massage?
Sports massage is a systematic manipulation of your body’s soft tissues and geared toward individuals who are physically active. A variety of movements and techniques are used in a sports massage. These techniques include: the Swedish style massage, stroking, kneading, rhythmic striking, stretching, and trigger points, among others.(1) This kind of massage can relieve pain, as well as help athletes recover from workouts and injuries more quickly. Even non-athletes can reap the physiological and psychological benefits of sports massage therapy.

Why are Sports Massages Beneficial to Bootcamp Athletes?
Reported benefits include:

Increased:
○ Sense of wellbeing
○ Blood flow
○ Flexibility
○ Joint range of motion (ROM)
○ Elimination of exercise waste products (lactic acid)

Decreased:
○ Muscle tension
○ Neurological excitability (nerves more relaxed)
○ Chance of injury
○ Recovery time between workouts
○ Muscle spasms

Heavy exercise can often result in muscle microtraumas. Meaning, minor swelling may occur due to small tears in the muscle. Sometimes the swelling and tears create delayed onset muscle soreness. According to the American College of Sports Medicine(2), delayed soreness can develop 12 to 24 hours after strenuous exercising, and may produce the greatest pain within 24 and 72 hours. Sports massages help lessen the swelling associated with the microtraumas thereby easing the muscle soreness. In addition to that, sports massages can relieve soreness because they promote blood flow to the muscle which removes lactic acid and waste buildup.
Also, increasing blood flow keeps the muscle tissues loose, so that different layers of muscle slide easily over each other. You can also reduce the amount of scar tissue while increasing flexibility and range of motion.

Stress and Pain Reduction
Possibly the best benefit that comes from a sports massage is its ability to reduce and manage stress. When you receive a sports massage, your body releases the neurotransmitters called endorphins.(3) According to Touch Research Institute endorphins are released by two centers of the brain known as the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. This release becomes a natural pain reliever. Endorphins that are released due to having a sports massage help to lessen anxiety, improve mood, provide pain relief, and enhance your overall state of wellbeing.(4)

In Conclusion
Sports massages help speed your recovery time and alleviate pulls, strains, and soreness. They have also been linked to reducing stress putting you in a better mood.

Consult a primary care physician before attempting any form of massage therapy. If your doctor advises that a massage is right for you, find a licensed massage therapist who is nationally certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork or the American Massage Therapy Association.

Sources
1) Massage Today: https://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=10712
2) American College of Sports Medicine: http://smiweb.org/
3) Touch Research Institute: http://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/AdultMassage.html
4) Prevention.com https://www.prevention.com/life/a20461789/how-massage-helps-with-depression-and-anxiety/

Sports Drinks vs Water — Which is better for you?

Fitness experts remain undecided about the effectiveness of sports drinks after exercise. Some experts believe they’re too full of sugar to do any good, while others claim they’re an effective way to replace bodily fluids lost while working out. What do we think? Well, it depends. Let’s dive deeper into what sports drinks are and let you decide what’s right for you.

Sports Drink Defined
What is defined as a sports drink? A sports drink, or “energy drink,” is any beverage meant to rehydrate, boost energy, and replenish electrolytes lost in sweating. All sports drinks contain water, sugar, salt, carbohydrates (sugar), and potassium. Some drinks contain extra ingredients (like amino acids) to help build muscle mass. (1)

Side note: Beware of the hundreds of “energy” drinks on the market. Many of those drinks claim to be sports drinks, but actually contain more sugar and caffeine than is necessary for anyone trying to lose weight through a workout.

What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are essential to ensuring that your body’s cells are working properly. In the world of nutrition, we use the word “electrolyte” to refer to minerals dissolved in the body’s fluids, creating electrically charged ions. The electrolytes that are the most important in nutrition are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. (2)

Unless you’re exercising vigorously, you lose only a few electrolytes when you sweat. Normal electrolyte loss can be replaced by drinking plenty of water and eating a balanced diet. Yet when you have a really hard workout and sweat a lot, you may lose too many electrolytes. If you are doing moderate exercise in a very hot environment, you may also lose electrolytes that can’t be replaced by drinking water alone. This is where sports drinks come in.

Since sports drinks contain sugar, they can help replenish electrolytes lost during a workout, and can also give you a boost of energy. But that doesn’t mean you should guzzle them down before and after each exercise, because like we said above, one concern with sports drinks is that they deliver unneeded calories. Some contain 150 calories, the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar.(4)

Conclusion
Experts recommend drinking up to three cups of water for every pound of weight lost while working out. But that may be difficult for some people because they don’t like drinking large quantities of water at once. So if you’re one of these people, opting for an energy or sports drink is going to lead to better hydration.

But you don’t need a sports drink to recover from a workout. Drinking water along with edible sources, like energy bars or fruit, contain just as many carbohydrates as sports drinks. If you choose this option, you can drink plain water to hydrate.

Sources:
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sports_drink
2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-are-electrolytes/
3. https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/sports-drinks-and-exercise.aspx
4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/trade-sports-drinks-for-water-201207305079

Importance of sleep after BootCampSF wakes those muscles up!

BootCampSF utilizes a wide variety of exercises resulting in a satisfying total body workout. This means you will need to take special care in training-recovery which includes getting a good night’s rest. Sleeping well after you exercise makes your muscles and tissues stronger and helps prevent fatigue and injury. Your muscles learn to adapt to training, but rest is actually when those adaptations are taking place. Plus, with adequate sleep, you’ll perform better as an athlete. And on the flip side, there is solid evidence that exercise helps you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality.

To get more out of your sleep, try these tips:

Power Down the Electronics
The glow from electronics pass through your eyes and delay the release of melatonin which is the sleep inducing hormone.

Turn In a Little Earlier
Get as many hours of sleep before midnight as you can (there’s an empirical belief that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight).

Stretch Those Muscles
In addition to relaxing you, stretching releases built-up tension which is great before trying to get some shuteye. Stretching can help you fall asleep fast, as well as help prevent sore muscles in the morning.

Enjoy a Hot Shower
Taking a hot shower 90 minutes before bed can help you sleep better reports Men’s Fitness. After you’ve been in the hot water, your body temperature then cools down which is a signal to sleep.

Create a Sleep Routine
Get in a regular sleep-wake cycle. In other words, go to bed and wake up the same time every day. Then keep to it! When you change this pattern, even if you actually get more sleep, it can negatively affect the impact on recovery.

In Conclusion
World renowned sleep expert, Dr. Mark Rosekind, says, “There are lab studies that show that if you’re an eight-hour sleeper and you get six hours of sleep, that two-hour difference can impact your [athletic] performance so that it equates to how you would perform if you had a 0.05 blood-alcohol level.”

To get the most out of your BootCampSF workouts, the proper amount of recovery and sleep is imperative. Along with a balanced diet and our intense exercise program, getting the right amount of sleep may be the last ingredient to help you decrease body fat or increase muscle mass and strength. We suggest you strive for seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

Importance of Good Balance

We’re all searching for balance in our lives. Balanced minds. Balanced diets. Balanced work lives. But have you thought about the importance of having a balanced body? A good sense of balance is critical to preventing injuries and accidents.

At BootCampSF, we carefully consider the types of exercises used in our programs to make sure your muscle groups stay in balance. We also build core strength which is crucial to good balance. In addition to the abdomen, core strength includes strong hips, ankles, and gluteal muscles.

Sometimes you may not be aware you have weak balance, so in addition to BootCampSF classes, we also recommend you doing balance and core exercises a few times a week.

Flamingo Stretches

Hold back one leg and balance on the other foot for about 30 seconds, then switch. Repeat three times. Try moving as little as possible while doing this stretch. Focus your eyes on an object in the distance while standing on one leg to help keep you balanced.

Leg Swings

Stand on left leg and raise the right leg three to six inches off the floor. Then swing your right leg forward and backward, while keeping your arms at your sides, touching the floor for balance, and keeping your upper body straight. Next, repeat without allowing your foot to touch the ground. Lastly, swing the right foot to the right side while extending the left arm. Switch legs and repeat.

Keep Up The Core

You can do sit ups, crunches, and other ab exercises to keep your core in shape. By doing so, it will support your weight when you’re trying to hold still and balance.

Watermelon: Post Workout Muscle Soreness Prevention

Oftentimes, BootcampSF is a high intensity workout and you may feel the effects a few days after the workout is over. Muscle soreness is common, but with proper rest, recovery and nutrition, it can be eased and sometimes eliminated.

Watermelon is an excellent choice to help relieve muscle soreness due to the high content of the essential amino acid L-citrulline. It is also found in garlic and onions; however, watermelon is our top choice, as the high water and electrolyte content hydrates the body and helps flush out toxins.

“Lactic acid builds up in muscles when intense exercise necessitates energy production faster than oxygen can be delivered” (Riva, 2013). The amino acid L-citrulline is able to remove lactic acid faster than at the normal rate, which means faster recovery time. The amino acid has also been noted to improve blood flow throughout the body, rid the liver of ammonia and other toxins and lower blood pressure.

Watermelon helps replenish glycogen, which is what your body relies on during exercise. “According to a U.S. Sports Academy article by Gregory Tardie, PhD, there is a two-hour window after exercise that is optimal for carbohydrate replenishment, after which glycogen synthesis slows to about 2 percent per hour. However, Tardie suggests that consuming 50 g of carbohydrate every two hours after intense exercise raises the rate of replenishment to 5 percent per hour. Four cups of watermelon contain about 50 g of carbohydrate, perfect for post-exercise glycogen replenishment” (Matte, 2017).

We recommend simply blending watermelon and a bit of ice with a splash of water if needed in a high speed blender to create watermelon juice. Consume within 2 hours post workout to reap the benefits mentioned above.

Sources: https://www.medicaldaily.com/watermelon-juice-amino-acids-could-help-prevent-post-workout-muscle-soreness-248103
https://www.livestrong.com/article/441460-watermelon-after-a-workout/

The benefits of circuit training: torch calories without getting bored

Circuit training, much like we practice in boot camp, is an excellent way to keep your workout interesting while maximizing calorie burn and fat loss. We work outside during our BootcampSF workouts, which gives you the added benefit of soaking up the sun’s rays to boost Vitamin D and put you in a good mood.

There are other important benefits to circuit training; we’re able to achieve intense results in a relatively short amount of time. Our workouts last an hour, which is an optimal amount of time to combine cardio, resistance training and flexibility. You’re able to challenge your entire body during a class, and it’s proven that high-intensity interval training combined with lifting increases metabolism and leaves you with an awesome after burn effect that causes your body to torch calories for hours after the workout has ended.

According to the European Journal of Applied Physiology, circuit training workouts “prompt a higher degree of post-exercise excess oxygen consumption, or EPOC, than traditional cardio workouts. EPOC refers to the metabolic boost your body retains in the hours and days after your workout, and it can be a significant source of additional calorie burn.”

This type of training is also proven to burn more fat by improving insulin sensitivity – this type of training helps keep insulin levels low so that fat can be mobilized and burned.

As with any high intensity workout, post workout nutrition is key to recovery and reaching your fat loss and strength goals. It’s important to consume a source of carbohydrates such as a piece of fruit within 45 minutes of completing your work out. Be sure to replenish with a 3:1 ratio of carbs and protein for ideal muscle repair.

We recommend a super food packed green smoothie as a satisfying post workout meal. The raw cacao is full of antioxidants and may help lower bad cholesterol and decrease inflammation. Try out the recipe below and let us know in the comments what you think:

Post Workout Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients:
2 handfuls spinach and/or kale
½ banana
1 Tbsp. raw almond butter
12 oz. almond or coconut milk, unsweetened
1 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
Water as needed
Ice, optional

Directions: Add all ingredients to blender, blend until smooth & enjoy!

3 Core Moves to Relieve Lower Back Pain

Did you know that lower back pain is quite common? According to a study conducted by the UNC School of Medicine, more than 80% of Americans will suffer an episode of low back pain in some time in their lives. However, there’s no need for alarm – lower back pain can be relieved and prevented by strengthening the core muscles.

Core muscles are the support system for your spine and lower back, and if the muscles are weak, your posture may be misaligned causing too much pressure to be placed on the lower back. If there is weakness in the core, hops, gluten and/or hamstrings, the body is thrown off balance and the lower back may be forced to pick up the slack.

Generally speaking, three types of lower back pain may be experienced, and may be temporary or ongoing. The first is a muscle spasm, which appears as pain that comes on suddenly. The muscles will feel ‘locked up’ so to speak, and it may be hard to move. Second is a shooting pain in the lower back and down one or both legs, indicating sciatica. There are no spasms associated with this type of pain, as a pinched nerve is normally to blame. Finally, a general aching across the entire lower back may be caused by arthritis, which is a form of inflammation, or weak muscles from a lack of activity.

One of the best low impact core strengthening exercises that can be practiced is the plank. There are many variations of the exercise, including a forearm plank, a plank done on the hands with the arms extended straight and a side plank variation. If you are new to the exercise, start with a :20 second hold and gradually increase by at least :5 seconds with each practice.

Back extensions are also an excellent way to target the core – specifically the lower back portion. The exercise may be completed on a back extension machine, but, if you’re like us, you prefer to work outside in the sunshine! We recommend lying on the ground on a mat or towel (or the grass, if you prefer) and reaching the arms and legs out as far as you can stretch. Slowly lift the arms and legs up and away from the body simultaneously and then lower back down. You’ll feel the entire back side activate to complete the exercise. These may also be referred to as the “superman” exercise.

Our third choice is the bridge, or hip raises. Lie on your back on the floor with knees bend and feet flat on the floor. Engaging the glutes and hamstrings, raise the hips up toward the sky, pausing for a few seconds before lowering back down. If you have tight hip flexors, this is an excellent stretch to practice.

And as always, keep moving! Getting a workout in at least a few times per week will help you easily increase your core strength and ease any lower back pain you may experience. Sign up for one of our classes and join the fun!