Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fit Tip: Couples Who Sweat Together, Stay Together

Valentine’s Day might be in the rear view mirror, but you don’t have to stop planning fun dates with your loved one, like sweating it out together at the gym. Exercising with a special someone is not only a way to partake in some friendly competition, but a way to stay accountable to your training goals.

Lift and spot. Whether at the gym or at home, strength training is an important part of a healthy workout routine and is often more effective when done in pairs. Lifting weights with a loved one should reflect the strengths of your relationship, too, because the best weight lifting partners are trustworthy, accountable and motivating. You can spot each other with the heavy weights, help each other with form and encourage each other to reach your goals.

Set the pace. Go for some interval training, partner style. Whether indoor on treadmills or outdoor on the road, map out the number of intervals, time of each workout and breaks for recovery. Then, cheer each other on. Interval training in pairs is a great way to stay motivated and improve cardiovascular fitness levels.

Stay by each other’s side. Pick a cardio machine, such as the elliptical or treadmill, and work out side by side. But work at your own speed, intensity, desired incline and resistance level, so you can enjoy the company and a workout individualized just for you.

Class it up. Take turns signing each other up for classes to take together. Trying various classes can help push past your comfort zones, work different muscles groups and keep your workout routines interesting. Plus, classes allow for different fitness levels with modifications and the freedom to choose an appropriate intensity level.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fit Tip: Elevate Your Mood with Exercise

Did you know that regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress, boost self-esteem, improve sleep and ward off anxiety and feelings of depression? While exercising, the body releases chemicals called endorphins that reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body that can make you all smiles. Often referred to as a “runner’s high,” the euphoric feeling can energize you and provide mood-boosting benefits long after a workout has ended.
Go for moderate exercise that you enjoy. To make sure you reap the most mood-boosting benefits, work out regularly instead of sporadically.  If you begin working out with exercises you enjoy, you are less likely to skip your workouts. Try biking, dancing, power walking or jogging on the treadmill to start. More good news: weight training can be as effective as an aerobic exercise in elevating your mood. Aim for two to three days a week of resistance training using machines, cables or dumbbells.  
Raise your mood with health benefits. The endorphin release isn’t the only thing about exercise that will get you smiling. Exercise strengthens the heart, increases energy levels, lowers blood pressure and improves muscle tone and strength. Just glancing in the mirror and seeing results will keep a pep in your step all day.  
Build healthy relationships. People who exercise regularly say they are less stressed, nervous and tense. Sounds like a great group of people to get to know. Joining a gym or group fitness class provides an opportunity to connect with people in a positive, active environment. Take time to build these relationships, in addition to your workout routine, for a happier, healthier life. 

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Fit Tip: Fall in Love with your Personal Trainer

You’ve decided to seriously invest in your health and hire a personal trainer.  It’s a great idea to have a dedicated fitness expert in your corner that can give you advice, keep you honest and produce results. Picking a trainer that can help you overcome your physical and emotional obstacles isn’t always easy. Be smart about your investment and take the time to choose your trainer wisely with these tips:
Do the research.  Don’t settle for the first trainer you see when walking through the gym door. Chemistry, education and skill set is important. The trainer you choose should meet your needs in motivational style, training techniques and price.  Referrals can be a good assessment of a trainer and always make sure they are certified by an National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCAA) accredited organization. 
Make it a two way street. Like any relationship, communication is important so let him or her know your goals and discuss your weaknesses and strengths.  Give your trainer the opportunity to push you and test the limits without pushing you over the edge. Be willing to work hard and follow their advice, but also be open about your lifestyle and schedule so he or she can make realistic recommendations. 
Schedule a review.  After the first month, take time to evaluate your progress.  Are you happy with the environment?  Do you find the trainer’s advice and expertise helpful? Are you dreading every session or do you come ready to take the challenges ahead?  Do you feel comfortable asking your trainer questions about your body and health? Truthfully answer these questions and discuss issues with your trainer before continuing the program.
Take a look in the mirror.  A trainer is there to motivate and teach, but you have to do the work.  Sometimes lack of results or motivation can be due to internal issue that need sorting. Like all good relationships, if you carry too much baggage, it will be hard to sustain. Take a look inside for things holding you back from success before giving up on a trainer.   

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Corrective Exercise and the Fight Against Inactivity

The technology revolution is not the only force impacting the future of fitness. There is another factor contributing to the changing needs of exercisers: evolution.  Our bodies have been changing since the dawn of human kind. The athletic, hunter-gatherer-nomadic lifestyle has given way over time to a more sedentary and unregulated life for most. A life comprised of largely unilateral movements. The effects of our current day-to-day activity (or lack thereof) have shaped the growing fitness trend known as corrective exercise and postural training.
Corrective exercise techniques can be utilized to help relieve pain and some even claim it can reverse improper posture. 
While corrective exercise is an area of training with many different philosophies, the foundation for these techniques is built around four core methods: massage, stretching, muscle strengthening and deep breathing.
Massage is a treatment meant to relax muscles and restore elasticity to the tissues. Posture-specific massage focuses on small knots and tension points that develop in a muscle when it is overloaded or has suffered trauma, causing joint pain, decreased range of motion, and even chronic stiffness. Combined with corrective exercise, massage techniques, such as foam roller, trigger point therapy and deep tissue work, can release adhesions have been shown to improve posture and enhance mobility .
Stretching is used to impart suppleness to our muscles. Advanced stretching techniques, like Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, are often performed with the aid of a corrective exercise specialist. Among the most effective methods for postural stretching, the Mézières method combines numerous muscle groups and promotes better total body posture.
Deep breathing exercises, particularly diaphragmatic breaths, can be incorporated into stretching and massage programs to augment their effectiveness. Expanding and contracting your diaphragm facilitates the simple benefit of stretching your chest muscles and some studies have shown even more comp lex effects like alleviating panic disorders and digestive diseases.
Strengthening your muscles can also help improve your posture, especially when you focus on your core. Use equipment designed to intentionally throw off your balance, like a Bosu ball, to tighten up your core, which will strengthen and lengthen your spine.
These core methods just touch the surface of corrective exercise and there is much debate around what methods are effective. We want to hear from you. What are your experiences with corrective exercise?

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fit Tip: Active Date Ideas to Get the Heart Pumping

Thinking of skipping your workout for a hot date tonight? Think again. Step outside of your sedentary dinner-and-a-movie comfort zone and go for an active date instead. Not only is it great for your health, it can be great for your relationships, too. The next time you’re making plans with your significant other, try one of these active date ideas:
Try something new. Choose an activity that is both new and physically challenging to you and your partner; the fun is often in the unknown. For example, try indoor rick climbing, ice-skating, kayaking or snowboarding. You might just discover a new workout you both enjoy. 
Play a game built for two. If you pick an activity designed for pairs, you’ll be up and moving all evening long. Schedule a game of tennis, badminton, squash or even table tennis (it is an Olympic sport). Even a game of pool or darts will get you moving more than posting up at the bar.   
Train together. Sign up for a race together and schedule training walks/runs as you would a date night. Working towards a common goal is a great way to develop a relationship. You can cheer each other on, keep each other motivated and plan for race day together.
Put on your dancing shoes. Dance the night away at a club or concert for a great cardio workout. Better yet, take a ballroom dance or swing class to really step up the heat.
Skip the pay per view. Staying in for a romantic evening at home doesn’t have to equal laziness. Go out for an evening walk or take the dog to the local park. Get off the couch and try an active video game like Wii Kinect or Dance Dance Revolution.

This Fit Tip was brought to you by  LifeFitness

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Guide to Common Running Injuries

As a runner, I’m not a stranger to some aches, pains and even injuries now and then. If you’re experiencing the same or are a new runner looking for tips, check out this Guide to Common Running Injuries from the team over at Up & Running. The great part is it's interactive.

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