cardiovascular health

How To Stay Fit And Active Outside The Gym

Many folks do not like to go to the gym and other folks like to mix their fitness routine up with going to the gym and engaging in exercise outside the gym.  Here is a great article entitled “How To Stay Fit and Active Outside the Gym” by Eric Bogy, content manager at Fit&Me.

Keeping your fitness levels up and staying active will require a little more than simply working out in the gym. Even if you go to the gym every day, that’s only about 7 hours per week that you are exercising. What are you doing for the other 161 hours?

Then when you take into account working late, running the kids around town, and other things that alter your schedule, counting on the gym to get all of your exercise may not be efficient. Good thing there’s a lot of practical options that can keep you fit and active outside the gym. Here is a list of activities that show you how to stay fit and active outside the gym. 

Join A Team

Don’t think that playing sports is just for youth and younger adults. Most sports for adults have age divisions and some of them go all the way up to 60 and over. Softball, soccer, basketball, Olympic weightlifting, martial arts, and dodge ball are all great choices to keep you active.

Joining a sports team also lets you kill two birds with one stone. Not only are you adding some more physical activity to your day, but it doubles as a social event. Camaraderie is always high in sports, so don’t be surprised if you become good friends with your teammates and coaches.

Training Apps

Once again, technology can help us stay fit just about anywhere. Try downloading one of the hundreds of fitness apps that are available. People who use fitness apps are more likely to stay active compared to those who don’t.  

They can assist with things like finding training partners, designing workouts, getting you ready for races, losing weight, and much more. Some of the top fitness apps for 2017 can be found here.

Walking/Hiking

You may not consider walking to be a way to get fit but think again. Going for a brisk walk is one of the best ways to stay in shape and keep your body weight down. It may be even more efficient than running when you take into account how easy it is on your joints.

Walking is easily accessible and only requires 22-35 minutes per day to lose weight. Walking in hilly areas is a good way to add some extra challenges to your ventures.

If you really want to take your walking to another level, try going on a nice long hike this weekend. Hiking on a trail may not be as accessible as walking, but it’s a more vigorous activity. It will require you to constantly adjust your pace and output to compensate for the changing terrain.    

Hiking down a trail will give you some great scenery and fresh air. This also has some added fitness benefits, including stress relief.

Cardio Equipment

Getting a quality piece of cardio equipment for your home is a great way to keep your activity levels up. Especially if your main reason for going to the gym is to use their equipment anyway. Cardio equipment that is ideal for home use includes ellipticals, Max Trainers, and rowing machines.

Using any of these pieces of equipment combined with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) will give you a great workout in a short amount of time. Performing a HIIT workout burn calories, boost your metabolism, improve endurance, and promote heart health.

Follow this example below for an effective in-home HIIT workout using a Max Trainer:

  • 25 seconds of work
  • 80 seconds of rest
  • Repeat 7 more times

 

While this is a super simple and effective workout, Max Trainers are not quite as common as other pieces of cardio equipment. On the other hand, there’s a good chance that you already own an elliptical machine.

It makes no difference what type of cardio machine you have, HIIT can be performed on just about anything. An example of a great HIIT workout on an elliptical would be:

  • 20 seconds max effort
  • 10 seconds moderate effort
  • 20 seconds max effort
  • 10 seconds moderate effort
  • 20 seconds max effort
  • 10 seconds moderate effort
  • 20 seconds max effort
  • 60 seconds rest and repeat 1-2 more times

 

Yard Work

Getting outside and pulling weeds, trimming trees, and mowing the lawn are all good ways to add some activity to your week. In particular, mowing the yard is an effective way to burn calories. Only 30 minutes of lawn mowing can be enough to improve fitness levels.

These benefits are for push-mowing only. Sorry, but riding a lawn tractor doesn’t have the same positive health effects.

Just because you’re not going to the gym today, doesn’t mean that you can’t stay fit and be as active as ever. The options that were mentioned are only a fraction of the activities available. There are effective ways to exercises all over the place and you don’t even have to look hard!

 

 

Outdoor Exercise improves your health

Outdoor Exercise

Hiking

Outdoor exercise is becoming more popular and for excellent reasons. Outdoor exercise brings healing and energy to all your bodies: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It also stimulates and enlivens all your senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and even taste, if you bring some food, which is usually the case on long hikes, walks, or bike rides. 

Outdoor exercise brings balance to your hormones and neurotransmitters: Dopamine, Cortisol, Gaba, Melatonin, Norepinephrine, etc., and it releases endorphins, morphine-like chemicals produced by the body that help diminish pain while triggering positive feelings. They’re released from the pituitary gland of the brain during periods of exercise. Endorphins help relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria. YAY to outdoor exercise. 

The best outdoor exercise is whatever makes you feel the best. These days, there are many outdoor classes and activities: yoga, cross fit, boot camp, Tai Chi, hiking, walking, biking, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing cross country skiing, skate boarding, in-line skating, and more. 

There is also that sense of peace and connection to the divine when you are in the beauty of Mother Nature. To fully get into the healing powers of Mother Nature, the best outdoor exercises are hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. With these three activities, you can really soak in the beauty of Mother Nature and in some respect, become a part of Mother Nature. 

On the whole, we have lost our way with the Earth and Mother Nature. By engaging in outdoor exercise, you can start to become more connected with the Earth and the healing powers of Mother Nature.

Here is a short video of my hike at Elk Meadow Park in Evergreen, Colorado.  

YAY to Hiking!

Need Motivation? There’s an App for that!

Smart Watch for Motivation

Motivate with a Smart Watch

It seems like there is an app for just about everything; and fitness is no different. Many of the latest fitness apps combine things like GPS technology with being able to connect with friends in real time to not only improve your workout but also give you a boost in motivation. Give one of these apps a try the next time you need a bit of a push to get through your next workout.

Runkeeper

This app can be found at the top of many runners’ lists as far as their go-to running apps are concerned. Not only can you use the GPS data to map out a route anywhere, the app collects data including times for each route so you can track progress. One of the most motivating features of Runkeeper is the fact that your friends can send you virtual kudos during your run to encourage you.

FitStar

As with many of the apps, the basic service is free, but the subscription services are where the best advice comes from. The app helps to build workouts based on your personal health and fitness levels so you are the star of your own workout. One of the bonus features as a paid user is the coaching and pep talks from none other than former NFL star Tony Gonzalez.

Charity Miles

This app allows you to find a wonderful motivation to run or log in miles of walking. You can earn real rewards in the form of donations to a charity of your choice. Imagine being able to watch a donation add up during a long run; or tracking each month just how much your efforts have contributed to a great cause.

Endomondo

For basic subscribers, the app can help gather, track and organize data about each workout and the progress made over the course of each month. For those who pay for a subscription, the app turns into a virtual coach you carry with you while you work out. The premium service gives users valuable tips and motivational goals on demand.

Zombies, Run!

Nothing motivates you to keep running than something chasing you! This app turns your daily run into a top-secret mission as you dodge zombies and push your skills to pass the next level. This app shot to the top of the charts as far as the best new fitness apps and it continues to be one of most downloaded fitness apps for the entertainment factor alone.

Spotify Running

The right playlist can be just the boost you need to get through a tough workout or to finish the last mile of a run. As a member of the popular Spotify family, this app takes workout soundtracks to the next level. Instead of searching endlessly for songs to mix into your own playlist, the app uses your own pace and heart rate to match you with songs of the same pace to keep you going.

Freeletics

If you are looking for new workouts that can be done anywhere and that only require you to use your own body, this is the perfect app. It has hundreds of workouts on demand that go from the most basic to advanced. Many find motivation is being able to exercise in unique ways on the go, which this app encourages

Pact

Money and competition can be very motivating for some users. If that is you, then this is the app for you. The basic idea is you make a commitment to go to the gym a certain number of times each time period and the app tracks your progress towards that commitment via a GPS feature that also measures the time you spent at the given location. The catch is if you follow through with the commitment, you win cash rewards, but if you do not follow through the cash goes to other users. This is competition at its best.

Motivation comes in a variety of forms. You may find it in an app that has zombies chasing you through an afternoon run or via miles adding up to a donation to your favorite charity. No matter what the motivation for you is, there more than likely is an app for that too.

This article was written by Paige Johnson with LearnFit.   She can be reached by email: p_johnson@learnfit.org

 

 

 

Mother Nature is healing!

Mother Nature is just outside waiting for you to embrace her healing benefits. Too many people have lost their way with connecting with Mother Nature. Getting outside and moving your body has many health benefits such as vitamin D production from the Sunlight, improved cardiovascular health, improved mental health and improved joint and muscle health. Spending time with Mother Nature triggers a good balance in various hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and cortisol. When your hormones and neurotransmitters are in balance, you feel wonderful, in body and mind.

The following article goes into more detail about the benefits of spending time with Mother Nature. Here is the link to the article. Get Outdoors! Here is the link to the Author, Amy Whitley. 

Here is the full article about getting outside and spending time with Mother Nature.

The mental health benefits of exercise are well documented, known to reduce stress and increase “feel good” hormones like dopamine. But many of us seeking better mind-body heath overlook the benefits found in simply spending time outdoors. It turns out the age-old adage is correct: fresh air is good for you! While outdoor physical activities such as jogging, trail running, and hiking combine both physical exercise and the outdoors for a mental health boost jackpot, according to both the National Institutes of Health and Harvard Medical School, simply spending time in nature in any form can improve your mental outlook, in addition to providing physical benefits. How refreshing!

Ways in Which the Outdoors Boosts Mental Health

Getting outside and taking a stroll truly can clear your head while also boosting your immune system and elevating your sense of well-being. If you can get outdoors regularly, you can trade seasonal light therapy boxes and artificial indoor lighting for natural light, which floods your body with vitamin D and immediately improves your mood. Just 15 minutes of natural sunlight per day is known to reduce depression and anxiety levels. Perhaps even more importantly, vitamin D and all that natural sunlight helps you sleep better at night. A study out of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine noted that natural sunlight helps set our body’s internal clocks. And the better rested we are, the better our mood and mental state.

But stepping outside does more than offer sunshine. Studies show that those living in urban environments have to contend with sensory overload on a daily basis, causing what researchers call cognitive fatigue. Finding green space or stepping into a park or garden can give the brain a break from urban stimuli. A recent epidemiological study has shown that people who move to greener urban areas benefit from sustained improvements in their mental health, according to Frontiers in Psychology. In fact, a recent Scandinavian study found that office workers with even views of trees or nature had lower stress levels than those who had city views.

Nature improves concentration as well, helping both children with attention deficit disorders as well as elderly citizens combating dementia or Alzheimer’s. Without the rush of man-made stimuli, the human mind is freed up to be more creative, and having lower stress levels allows us to focus on the task at hand better. This is why you might get your best ideas during a day fishing on the lake, or make that breakthrough on a work-related problem while on a walk in the woods.

How to Make it Happen: Getting into Nature

Getting your daily dose of nature doesn’t have to involve traveling long distances or taking up extreme outdoor sports like backpacking or kayaking. While a daily walk or bike ride is ideal, any green space can boost your mood and lower your stress and anxiety levels. Even sitting outside on a patio or balcony can give you access to sunshine and, at the very least, a skylight over your work or living space can provide natural light. Consider walking or biking to work each day, taking a new route through a green space or park instead of along city streets, or opting for the scenic commute instead of the freeway.

While outdoor sports such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, and skiing successfully combine exercise with outdoor stimulation, any form of outdoor living will elevate your mental health. Simply walking through a forest has been proven to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reduce blood pressure and heart rate. So take a daily walk, try your hand at fishing, or simply sit and read in a garden to see benefits.

Attention Restoration Theory

Capitalizing on the restorative properties of peaceful outdoor settings doesn’t mean city life is all bad. Living in an urban environment is a happy reality for many who have chosen to live and work in urban centers, and has many upsides. This is where Attention Restoration Theory (ART) comes in.

The thinking behind ART is that urban settings can have an excess of stimuli (car horns, sirens, people) that demand our attention whether we are consciously paying attention to them or not, whereas natural settings require our attention but also reward us with feelings of pleasure and help restore our attention. For urban dwellers, visiting a setting such as a park can feel like an oasis, in that it provides the feeling of “getting away” even though you may only be minutes away from your office.

Getting outdoors to feel happier and healthier is both intuitive and backed by medical science! Make yourself a promise to spend just 15 minutes or more in a natural environment per day to reap the rewards.

High Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

High cholesterol and blood pressure can be serious health issues and these two markers of health affect millions of people around the world. Modern medicine keeps churning out the pharmaceutical drugs without looking at the root cause of high cholesterol and blood pressure. Modern medicine either blames the body or blames high fat foods and cholesterol rich foods, like butter, eggs, grass fed beef, coconut oil, etc. These foods do not cause high cholesterol and blood pressure. In fact, these foods can actually lower high cholesterol and blood pressure and maintain the proper cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels. The main reason for high cholesterol and blood pressure is the overconsumption of carbohydrates.

A great book to read about cholesterol is entitled: “The Cholesterol Myths” by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD