By now, we’ve learned that exercising is integral to a healthy lifestyle along with a well-balanced diet of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, adults need about 2 ½ hours of aerobic exercise per week along with strength-building workouts, such as push-ups, squats and sit-ups.
When our bodies undergo physical exertion, we produce free radicals, and there is evidence linking free radical production to the process of aging and DNA damage. “When free radicals overwhelm your antioxidant defenses, your cells are damaged. This damage is called oxidative stress.” (http://evidencemag.com/exercise-oxidative-stress/)
A study by scientists at Edinburgh Napier University and Ulster University found that subjects who consumed watercress daily before working out, experienced less DNA damage than their non-consuming watercress counterparts. Want to see watercress “flex its antioxidant muscle”? Check out this Nutritionfacts.org video on how eating the green superfood can combat exercise-caused DNA damage.
Though your body may experience oxidative stress from exercise that doesn’t mean you should skip out on your next session—no matter how busy you are. According to evidencemag.com, “if you train in a progressive, intelligent manner, with adequate recovery between workouts, you can build up to extremely high training loads and still be protected against potentially dangerous levels of oxidative stress.”
New York-based personal trainer Garnet Henderson shares three routines you can do at home or on the road. “You can do this series once if you’re pressed for time, or repeat 2-4 times to get a complete workout,” says Henderson. “Doing the exercises back to back with as little rest as possible in between will add a cardio punch to the routine.”
Don’t forget to throw a handful of our Live Gourmet brand Living Upland Cress or Grower Pete’s Organic brand Living Watercress into your morning smoothie or in your sandwich or salad at lunch before you hit the gym or go to your favorite fitness class!
Garnet Henderson’s Go-To Exercises
- Stand on your right leg with a slight bend in the knee. The left knee should be bent as well, so that the left foot is held a few inches off the floor. Keep your abs engaged throughout the exercise by drawing your bellybutton in toward your spine.
- Keeping your back flat and maintaining the slight bend in the knee, hinge at the hips to reach your left hand down toward the floor. Reach over as far as you can and then return to standing, keeping your back long and squeezing your butt.
- Repeat 6-10 times on each side.
- Begin standing in a neutral position, with feet hip distance apart.
- Bend over until you can place your palms on the floor, bending the knees as much as needed.
- Walk the hands out until you are in a plank position. Your body should be in a straight line from your head down to your heels – make sure you aren’t lifting the hips too high or letting them sag toward the floor. Draw your bellybutton in toward your spine to support the lower back.
- Perform one push-up.
- Walk the hands back in toward the feet and then stand up.
- Repeat 6-10 times.
- Stand with your back against the wall, with your feet a few inches away from the wall and knees bent slightly.
- Make sure to maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise: your upper back and head should rest against the wall, and your lower back should curve away slightly. Keep the bellybutton drawn in toward your spine to prevent the lower back from arching excessively.
- Place your hands against the wall at about the level of your ears, elbows bent. Keeping as much contact between your hands and the wall as possible, extend the arms up into a “Y” shape and then lower down to the starting position. You may find it hard at first to keep the hands against the wall the whole time – that’s ok.
- Repeat 10-12 times.