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Make most of holiday workouts

By Reggie Palma

LAST UPDATED: 2:35 a.m. HST, Nov 16, 2010

The time for festivities and gift-giving is here. Ah, yes, the holidays are upon us.

During this time our schedules can get hectic, and routines, especially exercise routines, can get disrupted if not ignored. While contemplating your list of holiday gifts for loved ones, do not forget to put yourself on the list. Gift yourself presence -- presence of mind to your health and well-being, presence of mind to nurture and take care of yourself while you are taking care of those around you.

Planning and budgeting time for exercise will be hard -- it's always hard, particularly in the holiday season. When you do plan for it, make sure to make the most of it. Focus solely on the task at hand and pay attention to your body. Pay attention to how it feels when the muscles contract, how it feels to take your fullest stride and the exhilaration of pushing your body.

Pay attention to the expansion of your lungs and the way the clean Hawaii air feels as oxygen rushes in to nourish your cells. Be present in your exercise and enjoy the feeling of doing something good for yourself. Enjoy the physical expression of living. Leave your stress and worries at the door and on the floor. When you come back to them again, you might just find they are lighter and easier to handle.

It's hard to do at times, but always remember to stay focused on yourself. When you find it hard to keep up with the class or you just can't seem to nail that shot, here are some techniques to try:

» Breathe. A great trick to focus concentration is to actively focus your breathing. Start first by counting your breaths, paying close attention to the length of your exhalations. In other words, extend the length of your exhalations to a point just beyond your natural comfort range for the intensity of exercise on hand. By effectively slowing down your breathing without slowing down the intensity, you are now free to focus on the next step.

» Visualize. Once controlled breathing is achieved, visualize your movements and what the muscles look like as they are moving. Imagine how the muscles contract and pull on the bones to move in the direction you want them to. Focus on the movement of each exercise rather than the exercise itself.

Through correct focus on breathing and visualization, you will be present for yourself, and your workout hour will fly by and deliver a respite from holiday stress.

Reggie Palma is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer. See his website at

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