Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

There are many kinds of spring training.

We often associate the term “spring training” with baseball. The teams all head to warm-weather camps in late winter and work hard to strengthen muscles and work on injured tendons, muscles, ligaments, and joints so that another season of baseball can begin with flexible, strong, and uninjured players.

There are more than a few women who look at spring training in a slightly different way. We want to tone the arms for sleeveless dresses and to work-work-work to get the belly flatter and the legs toned so that we feel better in the first game of the season—going into a dressing room with a mirror and choosing a summer swimsuit. Here are five easy ways to create a spring training regimen for busy women—exercise that doesn’t require taking the time to go to a gym.

  1. Climb the stairs. Begin with 3 flights; as your aerobic capacity improves, increase the number of stairs you climb at a time.  Consider 25 flights your Everest, unless your weight or medical condition prevents so high a climb. Do this simple exercise every other day. Stop and stretch every 10 flights.  Place the forepart of each foot firmly on the edge of a stair and gently press down, holding to the count of 10. Release and do this again. Climbing stairs does wonders for untoned winter legs; a very few weeks of stair-climbing will shape and slim the legs and add tone to the glutes and thighs. Drink a bottle of water after each 15  flights of stairs. Time for 25 flights of stairs: 10 minutes.
  2. Buy three-pound barbells to use for toning the arms.  Go to YouTube to find free exercise videos for triceps, biceps, shoulders, and that recalcitrant bra fat area. Do three series of 15 of these exercises that target each aspect of the upper body every other morning.  Time: 10 minutes.  Then lie on a foam roller, letting the arms fall to the side, and gently stretch the shoulder and upper-back muscles.
  3. For abdominal exercises you will need a mat and the personal experience of having done basic abdominal core exercises; otherwise you will need to download a YouTube video for these. A strong core will be not only tighter but will improve posture and decrease back pain. Time: 5 minutes daily.
  4. Walk 20 blocks to work and 20 blocks back: Get out of the taxi or off the subway or bus so that you can get this daily training in. Walk briskly. Buy walking shoes that have good support and that are the right shoe for your walking style and the shape of your feet. Some shoes are best for high arches, others for flat feet. Many stores that cater to serious athletes now have technology that evaluates your rapid-walking style using a small video camera that is placed at the level of the feet.  After one minute of your walking on the treadmill, the trained salespeople can give you good advice about the shoe that will be best for your feet. Use a backpack that is well designed and positioned on the upper back comfortably, rather than carrying a briefcase and handbag; wearing the backpack will decrease shoulder pain while you’re walking.  Drink a bottle of water during each walk.  Muscles need hydration and stretching.  Simple stretches after the walk will prevent muscle pain. Time: 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon.
  5.  Correct your posture.  Ask a friend to photograph you with a simple phone camera when you aren’t looking, and do the same for her. It is often a big shock to see how we look when we are just standing or walking around, not conscious of where our body parts are in relation to each other!  Hold that head up, look straight ahead, lift the chest, pull the shoulders back and down, pull the abdominal muscles in tightly while you think of lifting the abdominal muscles up toward the chest at the same time. Then tuck the buttocks in tightly and walk with authority and grace. You will have less back pain, and less neck and upper back pain as well. Time: All the time!

It would be terrific if we could remain motivated enough to do these easy and time-friendly exercises all year round. But at least many women are more likely to start an exercise program in spring in order to look better in more revealing clothes.


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  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. March 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm


    I know that your first career as a dancer gave you great muscle memory and that your work now as a landscape architect who actually does the work to install all those beautiful gardens burns calories and is another kind of spring training for a non-athlete.

    Thanks for reading and reminding us that it is really about what we put in our mouth that makes so much difference when it comes to those extra pounds that land on the most unattractive places.


    Dr. Pat

  • andrew grossman March 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Dr Allen has posted some terrific advice for getting into shape. I always take the stairs whenever possible. As I’m nearing 50 my metabolism has finally started to slow down a bit. Coupled with a terrible sweet tooth that has led to high blood glucose, I’m cutting back on sugars and carbs. It’s amazing how removing bread, pasta, and chocolate cake from my daily diet has helped me shed a bit of winter weight.