Shape Up and De-stress: A program for every body

It?s that time of year when many of us resolve to get in shape and stay that way. Below are various exercise programs to help you do just that while helping you to de-stress. Choose a program that you will enjoy.

Aerobic lessons. Martial arts, kickboxing, aerobics, step, power yoga, any kind of dance and gymnastics provide a great physical workout. Other benefits are hand-eye coordination, mental focus and enhanced proprioceptive skills, which is the ability to sense the location, position, orientation and movement of the body in relation to others in a given space.?

Pilates. Pilates uses deep, concentrated rhythmic breathing to move through isometric, yoga-like postures, producing a body that is strong, toned and flexible. A good Pilates instructor need not be certified, but a background in teaching human movement, anatomy and mechanics is recommended.???

Running. The cardiovascular benefits of running are tremendous. Good fitting running shoes are key. Stretch before and after to prevent injury. Running is generally not good for individuals suffering from joint conditions.

Swimming. Provides cardiovascular benefits. Knowing how to swim also is a great confidence builder. Some organizations offer aqua-therapy for individuals with special needs.???

Weight resistance training. Using weights in a safe, correct manner produces a body that is strong and toned. Begin with light weights. Nothing should feel forced or strained.

Tai Chi Chuan. Uses deep, focused rhythmic breathing for the same benefits as in Pilates and yoga. It imparts terrific hand-eye coordination and trains the practitioner to move with a sense of ?weight? and ?intention,? as if shadow boxing with an imaginary opponent. Executed with slow, rhythmic and deliberate focus, the moves give the practitioner strength without strain, flexibility and a deep sense of well-being. Tai Chi has been designated a weight bearing exercise by the New York State Osteoporosis Prevention Education Program.??????

Walking. Good for all ages, walking can be done in an easy tempo or as a brisk ?power? walk. If you walk for more than 20 minutes, do not carry unbalanced weight, such as a shoulder bag, which can lead to strain in your shoulder, back and hip. Do not wear high heels.

Yoga. Uses deep, focused breathing to initiate movement, hold static postures and build concentration?to energize and yet calm the body. This breathing also produces beneficial effects on the nervous, glandular and neurological systems. Lessons range from gentle yoga to power yoga for the more athletically inclined. There is a spiritual?not religious?aspect to yoga that gives many of its practitioners great peace of mind. ??? ?

Lao-Shir (Veteran Teacher) Cindy Ming is a certified Tai Chi/Kung-Fu instructor and personal holistic fitness trainer. She may be reached at