Summer walking

Tips For Starting A Summer Walking Routine

To some, high-intensity internal workouts are the most efficient way of exercising; to others, they are a bizarre three-minute self-torture ritual. Although at times it may seem like the world is being overtaken by the overachieving and impossibly healthy, there are some who still prefer to keep their exercise routines a bit more humane.

Most of us learn to walk by the time we’re eighteen months – so let’s talk about an exercise routine so easy that even a baby can do it. Here are some tips for beginning a summer walking routine.

How To Start
The first thing you need for walking is a good pair of shoes and some comfy clothes. Start out slow. Head out the door, walk for ten minutes and walk back. Repeat every day for a week. If you find yourself building stamina, add five minutes to next week’s walk. Keep increasing as is comfortable.

Posture
Keep good posture in mind when you walk. Walk tall. Keep your mind on elongating your body. Your head should be up, your eyes focused forward, Keep your shoulders down, relaxed and back, with your abdominal muscles and buttocks tight.

Preparation
Make sure to have water handy at all times. Be sure to get enough to drink before you walk, and take the water bottle along for mid walk hydration. Try adding stretches to your routine. For example, you might start at a slow pace and stop to do a few warm up drills for flexibility. Slow down your pace at the end of the walk and take some time for a few more stretches. This will help you to feel better while preventing injury.

Sticking with It
The toughest thing for most people starting a fitness routine is making it routine. You should try to walk daily, aiming for a minimum five days of exercise per week. Walk fast enough to increase your heart rate, but not so fast that you find yourself short of breath.

Three friends walking

How Much Should You Do?
Speed and distance should not be a priority in the beginning, but once the habit starts to stick, you may want to start developing goals. Here are some general health guidelines:

People walking for general health benefits should try and get in a half hour minimum each day, most days of the week, keeping to “talking pace,” or a comfortable pace at which you can still hold a conversation.

For improvement of cardiovascular fitness, three to four days a week are recommended, doing 20 to 30 minutes at a very fast pace. You will find your breathing is elevated, but you should not be gasping for air. Warming up and cooling down time should be additional to the time spent walking.

Those walking to lose weight should probably aim to do 45 to 60 minutes five days a week at a moderate to brisk rate. The faster you walk, the more calories you will burn. However, make sure to increase pace and mileage gradually to prevent injury.

Tips For Walking Faster
Once you become comfortable with your routine, you may want to speed it up a little. Here are some guidelines for walking faster:

  • Use good posture. Walk tall, keep your gaze forward, focused about 20 feet ahead of you, chin level and head up.
  • Your chest should be slightly raised with your shoulders down, back and relaxed.
  • Your arms should be bent at an angle slightly less severe than 90 degrees. Gently cup your hands and swing arms front to back. The faster you swing your arms, the faster your feet will go, but do not swing elbows higher than your breastbone.
  • Tighten abs and buttocks; keep back flat and pelvis slightly forward.
  • Visualize yourself walking in a straight line.Take smaller faster steps to go faster, trying not to elongate your stride.
  • Push off with your toes, concentrating on landing on your heel and rolling through the step. Use the spring of your calf to propel you.
  • Take deep rhythmic breaths to get the maximum amount of oxygen. Your breathing should be heightened, but not strained.

Have you started your summer exercise routine? How are you staying hot this summer? Let us know!

Woman elliptical

Kickstart Your Heart With These Cardio Staples

There is such a variety of exercise tapes available today, it is sometimes difficult to determine which ones are meant to be taken seriously. Since Joanna Rohrback created a sensation with her much spoofed “Prancercise” video, the health conscious public has been confused by an assortment of bizarre aerobic tapes ranging from the “Dixie Carter Country Hiphop Workout” to the “Japanese Poodle Workout” to the “Exorcise” video. With all this insanity, it is sometimes hard to define what is meant by cardiovascular exercise.

Cardiovascular exercises are so called because they improve the function of the heart, build muscle mass, and enhance consumption and transportation of oxygen. They also strengthen bones, increase joint support and improve cholesterol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a weekly exercise routine consisting of 2 and a half hours of moderate cardiovascular activity or 75 minutes of more vigorous cardio per week. Here are some tried and true examples of cardiovascular staples to help kickstart your health.

In the Gym
The elliptical trainer, which features footpads that require a pedaling motion to operate. is one of the most comprehensive pieces of gym equipment for cardiovascular activity. This, along with the stairclimber and the treadmill, provide their users with opportunities to build endurance and lung capacity while toning the lower body and burning fat.
If instructed gym classes are more your speed, spinning, exercise dancing, and water aerobics are all challenging options. Looking for something more traditional? Step aerobics are an age old way to work the lower body, while jumping rope provides for full body workout, sharpening coordination and boosting lateral movement.

Couple running

Walking and Running
You can burn 180 calories by speed walking at moderate intensity for 30 minutes, while running can double that number. Although body weight can affect the number of calories burned while running, speed has little to do with cardiovascular benefits. Therefore, you can enjoy perks of lower blood pressure, decreased risk of heart attack, and increased lung capacity while still working at a relatively low intensity. However, more vigorous activity has the added benefits of greater calorie melts and metabolism boosts which can last for days after working out.

Sports
If you enjoy competitive sports, racquetball is considered the most heart healthy sport and can burn more than 400 calories in the course of a vigorous 30 minute game. Rowing, skiing and climbing follow hot on its heels, turning in similar figures. Swimming weighs in at a whopping 500 calorie burn in thirty minutes and is known to stimulate circulation, increase endurance and flexibility, and provide stress relief, while strengthening the heart.

Indoor and Outdoor Activities
Biking can be done outdoors or from the comfort of your home and can burn up to 500 calories in a period of 30 minutes. A hilly terrain can increase resistance outdoors for an even greater calorie burn and an increased test of stamina, while stationary bikes include manual intensity adjustments. Equipment free cardio options include unweighted squad, jumping jacks, lunges and squat jumps.

How do you like to kickstart your workout? Let us know how you get your 2 1/2 hours in. We love to hear it!

Woman exercising on stairs

Switching Up Your Cardio Routine

In Dante’s Inferno, the Sixth Terrace of Purgatory is devoted to the gluttonous, or those who have spent their lives overindulging on food, drinks and comforts of the body. As punishment, they are starved in the presence of trees whose fruit they can never reach. Some would argue that a more apt punishment for these gluttons might be endless cardio. Many refer to cardio as the most monotonous form of exercise, comparing treadmills and stationary bikes to hamster wheels, yet few would ever argue its myriad of benefits. The American Heart Association suggests 40 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times weekly to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. So what can you do to switch up your cardio routine to keep things interesting?

Supersets
Supersets are great for combining weightlifting with cardio. Supersets usually consist of two or more exercises done in sequence with no rest in between. You might want to try, for example, a workout of 10 push ups, followed immediately with 10 squats, and then move onto shoulder presses, into bicep curls and ending with 10 trip extensions. You could consider his one set, and complete it three times, with a two to three minute rest in between. Certainly no hamster wheel there!

Cardio Rounds
Sure, you might get bored with the seemingly eternal sets on the elliptical, treadmill, and bike, but how about doing all three for a short amount of time, one after another? Pedal for a minute, run for a minute and use the elliptical for one minute. After five times, you should be anything but bored!

Stairs
Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator to earn some cardio points during the day. If you want an extra challenge, try taking them two at a time.

Take a Class
Sign up for a zumba, kickboxing, or hip-hop dance class. Muay Thai is a martial art from Thailand, similar to kickboxing and you can burn up to 1200 calories per class. Also, exercise in a group setting can raise motivation and improve performance while adding an element of camaraderie.

Do Cardio Between Sets
Try jumping rope or jogging between weight lifting sets or pilates routines to develop lean muscles and get your heart pumping and your blood flowing.

Timed Exercise
Another way to switch things up is by using the clock. Pick an exercise and give yourself 30 seconds to perform as many reps as you possibly can. Have a friend time you for an added incentive. See if you can increase your reps weekly or lengthen the set for some real calorie burn.

Still bored? One would think not. Let us know how you get through your cardio. We always love to hear from you!

Pre-Wedding Weight Loss Tips

It’s easy to get caught up in all the glamor, perfectionism, and stress tied to a wedding ceremony, and it’s easy to fixate on how many eyes will be on you, how there will be no way to prevent them from seeing your “bad” side, etc, etc, etc.

Try not to focus on all that too much. There are better reasons to want to revamp your diet and exercise, like staying healthy and starting positive life habits now that can last the rest of your life, and make your marriage happier and healthier too.

So let’s talk about pre-wedding health ideas, including but not limited to weight loss.

Reconsider Your Diet
No, we don’t mean that kind of diet, but rather the literal meaning of the word “diet,” which is quite simply, what you eat. Strict diets are very rarely a good idea. Instead, just try to eat plenty of dark, leafy greens and some fruits, and make sure you get complex carbohydrates, not just simple ones. Lean protein is also desirable in moderation, and limit your high-fat, high-sodium, high-carb snacks. Don’t cut them out entirely, just indulge sparingly, maybe a small portion a couple times a day at most. And that bag of potato chips? Don’t take the whole bag with you to the bedroom to snack, pour a small amount into a bowl to regulate yourself.

Further, keep water handy all the time and sip whenever thirsty. Monitoring how much you drink isn’t actually necessary as long as you keep it close by at all times, meaning when you feel the need to take a sip, you can. That makes a huge difference in preventing dehydration.

Cardio

Start a Cardio Routine
It’s recommended you get 20 or more minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day, or at least several times a week. We recommend aiming for 20 minutes a day for three days a week, with the eventual goal of reaching a half-hour of exercise five times a week (though it is worthy of note, cardio, unlike weight training, is safe to do seven days a week if you want to). Every week, add a day, or five minutes, or both, until you hit the target of 30 minutes five days a week.

The possibilities here are nearly endless. Jog around the block, use a treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, or other cardio machine, go for a bike ride, swim laps, take up a martial art, there’s so many ways to go about it. Pick the one that suits you best and stick with it!

Remember to Love Yourself
Last, but most definitely not least, don’t forget to love yourself. This is more important than anything else, to be perfectly honest, because if you love yourself and cultivate your inner beauty, it can take a huge load of stress away from the need for everything to be “perfect.” You WILL look great in that dress no matter your shape, size, or weight, and anyone who disagrees can shove it, so focus less on meeting a socially imposed standard of beauty and perfection, and focus instead on loving yourself. With your wedding day coming up, it’s important to realize that loving yourself is just as important as loving others, and while you and your spouse may love each other to death, loving yourself is equally necessary.