Man running in the city against the sunset

9 Reasons to Give Running A Try

Running is one of the oldest and most effective forms of exercise, and many people today use it as their primary workout source or as a cardio-boosting addition to a more elaborate routine.

There are many reasons why running as exercise can be great: it increases stamina, tones the body and blasts calories. 

Furthermore, its benefits for mental health are not negligible either – running can help balance stressful schedules and help you center your thoughts.

Moreover, it’s practically free and can be done pretty much anywhere!

If this intro hasn’t made the case for running yet, let’s dive into all the reasons why this type of exercise might just be the ideal fit for you.

It Lowers Stress Levels

If you tend to exercise on the regular, you might already be aware of the fact that workouts can do wonders for your mood.

When we’re breaking sweat, our body releases endorphins, neurotransmitters which are incredibly beneficial in reducing stress and pain levels.

Even as little as 20 or 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise can trigger the release of endorphins and contribute to an overall improved mood.

And running is a great way to squeeze in that precious endorphin-boosting session into your day-to-day routine.

Not only will running activate your muscles and get the blood flowing through your veins, it will also give you an opportunity to be focused on nothing but yourself and your thoughts.

This will help you clear your mind and re-balance yourself.

Moreover, if your daily schedule tends to be hectic and your sleeping pattern is all over the place, running can contribute to a more regulated sleep-wake cycle, due to release of serotonin and other sleep-facilitating hormones.

Finally, the more you exercise, the physically fitter you’ll get. Watching your body transform for the better will increase your confidence and make you feel more comfortable in your skin.

It Increases Your Productivity

Our day-to-day lives are riddled with all kinds of stressful situations.

Whether you are worrying about your job, studies or other obligations, sometimes it’s hard to focus and keep your priorities straight.

When your mind is frazzled, it’s easier to slip up and fall behind on your schedule.

With running, you will not only feel more energized and physically fit, you will also improve your concentration and sharpen your mental abilities.

You will feel revitalized and ready to take on whatever challenge is presented before you.

Moreover, if you turn running into a regular habit, you will feel motivated to arrange the rest of your schedule around it and stick to your routine.

It’s no wonder that so many great minds of our time were also enthusiastic runners.

It Will Make You Go Outside

Very few modern-day jobs require being on your feet or spending prolonged periods of time outdoors – the majority of people go about their day sitting behind screens in stuffy offices and cubicles.

This can greatly affect your mood and make you feel sluggish and devoid of energy.

And if you don’t often come up with an excuse to venture outdoors, running can be a great tool for readdressing this issue.

By exercising out in the open, you will find a way to reconnect with nature, which will instantly make you feel more happy and fulfilled.

woman running outside with dog

How is this the case?

Well, being out in nature is closely linked to feelings of accomplishment and happiness.

Moreover, running outside will also replenish your body with Vitamin D, which tends to decrease during dark winter months.

Vitamin D can also contribute to strengthening your bones, soothing your nerves and improving your overall immune system.

And when you mix the benefits of being out in nature with a body-boosting workout, it becomes clear why this combination can be so beneficial for your overall wellness.

It Doesn’t Cost a Thing

One of the main reasons why people are hesitant to take up exercising is the potential cost.

These days, even the most basic gym membership can put a strain on your wallet, not to mention the dizzying prices of tailored workout routines and personal trainers.

Furthermore, once you fall down the rabbit hole called the fitness sphere, you might start feeling that you’re not doing exercise right unless you’re shelling out big bucks for all the right equipment, workout gear, and state-of-the-art accessories.

It’s no wonder that the financial aspect of exercising turns people off physical activity.

Luckily, this is not the case with running.

To start running, all you need to do is get out of the apartment and get your two legs going.

OK, perhaps a pair of good running shoes might make your life easier.

Of course, if you want to enhance your running experience at a later date, you can always do so with various workout-facilitating accessories.

However, none of this is absolutely essential if you’re just looking to set your body into gear – which is what makes running one of the cheapest forms of exercise.

You Can Do It Anywhere

Sometimes, the hardest part about exercising is actually dragging yourself to the gym.

This is especially the case if you don’t live close to it.

And if you exercise at home, sometimes you’ll find this isn’t the ideal setting either, especially if your living space is cramped or if you share your apartment with other people.

If you decide to go running, you won’t have to worry about any of this.

And yes, while running on treadmills is very convenient and requires the least amount of effort (especially during cold winter months), going outside to run is even better and more beneficial for your mind and your body.

Is there really that big of a difference, you ask?

The answer is yes! Whether it’s in nature or an urban environment, trail running activates more muscles than running on a treadmill, since your legs and feet move at different angles, depending on the surface and incline.

Consequently, you burn more calories and become firmer in a shorter amount of time.

Moreover, you’ll be more mentally stimulated due to constant changes in your surroundings – as opposed to the faceless interiors of gyms and exercise studios.

It’s Great For Losing Weight

If weight loss is the primary reason why you have decided to take up running, then you’ll be pleased to hear that this type of exercise is extremely effective at burning those extra layers of fat.

Even a simple, slow-paced jog can speed up your metabolism and help you shed the pounds faster.

But if you take it up a notch and start doing high-intensity runs, your body will be able to melt those calories away even faster.

Another great thing about running is that your muscles have to keep on working even after your workout is over in order to recover. This is called “the afterburn effect”.

Even better, combine your running routine with a couple of weekly strength training sessions, and your muscles will turn into bona fide fat-blasting machines.

And if you want to fully maximize on the weight loss potential of running, try to maintain a balanced diet. Processed sugars and fats may slow down your calorie-burning journey, so it might be best to switch to a diet packed with whole grains, veggies and nuts.

It Tones the Body

So, we learned how running can be extremely helpful in shedding excess weight.

But this type of exercise can also be efficient in sculpting your body and firming your muscles.

When you run, your legs tend to do most of the work. With time, you will notice how your calves, your thighs and your hamstrings are becoming more defined.

If your workouts involve running on diverse terrain with plenty of inclines, you can also rest assured your glutes will become toned as well.

However, firming your body through running doesn’t end with legs.

If you work out continuously, you will develop a strong and resilient core, which will result in more sculpted abdominal muscles.

A stronger core will improve your posture and prevent the occurrence of injuries during future workouts.

If your main fitness goal is to tone your body, you should make the most of your running sessions.

The best way to do this is to keep them varied and interesting. Combing long-distance runs with high-intensity sprints; try to run on all kinds of surfaces with different inclines.

This type of exercise will activate a good chunk of your muscles and enhance your performance. Plus, you can rest assured your workouts will never be boring!

It Clears Up the Skin

Some benefits of running are skin deep.

But hey, who’s complaining? If you can achieve a glowing complexion in addition to a healthy, toned body, then all the better.

There are many ways in which running helps improve your complexion.

For one, running boosts your circulation, which increases the delivery of oxygen and other nutrients into your cells. This increases collagen production, which then results in plumper, firmer skin.

Moreover, when your skin cells are feeling energized, they are then motivated to shed your body of all the toxins and pollutants that can cause a host of different skin woes.

Moreover, when we exercise, the levels of stress hormone cortisol become gradually lower. And with lack of tension and stress, you lower the chances of developing stress-caused skin conditions, such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.

However, in order to maximize on all the perks running has for your skin, you need to take a couple of precautionary measures.

For one, when possible, try to avoid wearing makeup when running.

A combination of thick product and sweat may cause breakouts. A lightweight, salicylic acid-enriched cleanser should give you a clean canvas and reduce the chances of spots and blackheads.

If your skin is prone to breakouts, be that on your face or your body, you might want to invest in quality workout gear. Avoid anything that’s too tight and opt for nature-derived fabrics like cotton or hemp. This way, your skin will be able to breathe and you won’t have to worry about pimples caused by sweat-drenched clothes.

It’s Social

Exercising can often feel solitary.

Between the unfriendly hours and drab gyms, it’s hard to look forward to a good workout when you know you’ll be alone with your thoughts for the entirety of the time.

This doesn’t have to be the case with running, though!

If you find yourself an exercise buddy, you’ll never have to worry about your runs feeling dull or lonely.

Moreover, when you set plans to run with another person, it makes it harder to bail out on workouts. Plus, having someone to talk to and catch up with will definitely make you excited for every running session.

social running group

Also, running with friends might awaken your competitive streak – by comparing yourself to another runner, you might feel extra motivated to do better with each running session.

And if you don’t have any friends who are willing to jog with you, you can always join a local running club. Not only will you have company during your sessions, you might make some new friends!

Finally, a great way to boost your performance is to join a race in your area. Half-marathons, marathons and charity races will inspire you to achieve better results and become a more accomplished runner.

Has this list convinced you to finally go for a run? With all the benefits running will provide for your body, you’d be foolish not to. Now it’s time to put on your best pair of trainers and hit the ground running!

Woman doing crunches on blue exercise mat

20 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Try at Home

Unlike many other workout types, bodyweight exercises do not actually require any special equipment, and can easily be carried out at home. By using nothing else but the weight of your body and the power of gravity, these 20 bodyweight exercises will help you to build muscle and burn fat, while giving yourself such a satisfying workout.

1. Squats

squats

Squats are not only one of the most effective of bodyweight exercises, but are also the most natural, as this is the same way in which a baby would sit down.

While this may seem like a simple exercise, a squat works out all of the muscles in the lower body, and gives your core a boost as well, since you will be using your abdominal muscles to keep yourself upright.

However, make sure that your technique is correct when doing this exercise, otherwise you may cause more damage than good…

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and then bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Use your heels to help you to stand back up straight again, squeezing your buttocks in and keeping your core tight while you do so.

 

2. Burpees

While burpees are quite intense, many would argue that this is the single most effective exercise in the world, as it works out almost every muscle group, combining cardio and strength into one exercise. 

To do a burpee, these are the four steps that you must follow:

  • Stand with your feet together, and then drop into a deep squat position with your hands on the floor
  • Kick your feet backwards so that your body is in a plank position
  • Jump your feet back into a low squat position
  • Jump back up, with your arms reaching overhead

If you want to make this exercise a little easier to begin with, take out the last jump, and simply stand up at the end instead.

Or, if you want to make this exercise a little harder, add in a tuck jump just before the squat.

 

3. Push-Ups

push ups

Push-ups are great as they work out just about every muscle group in the upper body, from your back to your arms to your abs.

They are also easy to do, but you need to ensure that your position is correct…

Your shoulders should be lined up with your wrists, while your elbows should be tucked in towards your side. You should also be trying to get your hips and chest as close to the floor as possible while doing this exercise, without actually touching the floor.

 

4. Calf-Raise

The calf-raise is an extremely simple exercise, but can be adapted to suit your needs.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Stand up straight and slowly rise up on your toes, until your heels are off the floor, but make sure that you keep your knees straight
  • Hold the position briefly before coming back down and repeating

Wondering how to make this exercise a bit more challenging?

Try standing on a step while doing it, or bounce up and down quickly so that you get more reps in.

 

5. Step-Up

This is an exercise that requires a raised surface, such as a step, low chair or bench.

All you need to do is place one foot onto this surface and then step up on it, until your front leg is straight.

Hold this briefly before returning to your starting position, making sure that you step down rather than jump down.

 

6. Plank

plank

When it comes to defining the core, the plank has become one of the most popular exercises.

Here are the steps to follow to correctly carry out a plank:

  • Lie face down with your forearms touching the floor and your hands clasped
  • Extend your legs behind you and rise up on your toes
  • Tighten your core, and hold this position for as long as you can, making sure that your back is kept straight

 

7. Feet-Elevated Plank

Once you have mastered the standard plank, you can then move on to trying some of the many plank variations that are out there.

The feet-elevated plank is one of these, and is basically the same as a standard plank, but is carried out on a raised surface to make it more challenging.

Try it on something like a chair or low table first, as you do not want the surface to be too high.

 

8. Side Plank

side plank

Another plank variation, the side plank requires you to lie on your side, with just one foot, and one forearm, touching the floor.

Once you have done this, raise your body up slowly, making sure to keep it in a straight line.

Hold this for as long as you can before gently lowering yourself back down. Make sure that you do this exercise using both sides of your body.

 

9. Handstand Push-Up

Handstand push-ups will give your body a great workout, and are especially effective at building up the shoulders.

Haven’t yet mastered the handstand?

Use a wall to help you, placing your feet against this.

Once you can do this for 60 seconds, you can then begin incorporating push-ups into this.

 

10. Donkey Kicks

donkey kick

The donkey kick, also known as the back kick, works out a number of different muscle groups:

  • The core
  • All three muscles in the buttocks
  • The lower back
  • The legs

Here is what you need to do:

    • Begin on the floor on all fours
    • Bring your right knee in towards your chest, keeping your foot flexed
    • Kick your right leg up behind you, and then bring it back down, keeping your knee bent while doing so
    • Repeat this with the other leg

 

11. Crab Walk

The crab walk targets your triceps, glutes and your core, while also improving your coordination. While it may take a few days to master this move, it will not be long before you are speeding across the floor…crab-style, of course!

All you need to do is sit on the ground in a comfortable position, with your palms behind your hips. Then, pull your body up off the ground, so that your weight is resting on your hands and feet.

Use your left foot, and your right hand, to move yourself one step forward or backward, before repeating with the other hand and foot.

TOP TIP: Make sure that you keep your abdominal muscles engaged, and your hips lifted off the floor for the entire duration of the exercise.

 

12. Bicycle Crunches

bicycle crunches

Unlike regular crunches, bicycle crunches require deeper abdominal rotation and stabilization, which gives your core an intense workout.

They are also easy to do, with only a few steps to follow:

  • Lie on the ground with your knees bent and hands behind your head
  • Lift your legs off the ground and slowly make a pedalling motion, just like riding a bicycle
  • Keep your hands behind your head, and, as each leg comes towards you, bring the opposing elbow over to meet it

 

13. Dragon Flag

Looking for a serious challenge?

Then the dragon flag is the exercise for you.

If you have not heard of this one before, here is what you need to do:

  • Lie on your back and hold on to something behind your head
  • Keeping your upper back on the floor, raise the rest of your body off of the floor
  • Brace every muscle that you can in order to keep your body in a straight line

 

14. Side Lunges

side lunge

When it comes to the majority of bodyweight exercises out there, these tend to move your body in one of two ways; up and down, or forward and back.

This is exactly why the side lunge is such a good exercise to incorporate into your workout, as it gets your body moving in a different way. This means that it will challenge your muscle fibers, ligaments, and tendons in a way that the rest of your workout does not.

To do this exercise, begin by standing with your feet apart, and then take a large step out towards your right. Bend your knee and push your buttocks back, while keeping your core tight and your chest lifted.

Return back to your starting position and then repeat on the other side.

Want to give your core even more of a challenge?

Try adding in a side leg lift with each lunge.

 

15. Sit-Up

Sit-ups are quite a popular exercise, and this is because they are also one of the most challenging of bodyweight exercises.

Why?

Since you are not able to use your arms or legs to help you to sit up, you end up using a far greater amount of abdominal strength.

Simply lie on the ground with your knees bent, and then contract your abs to lift your body up off the ground. Make sure that you limit the amount of movement that your lower back does.

Finding standard sit-ups too challenging?

Try doing a crunch variation instead, until you build up some abdominal strength.

 

16. Twisting Sit-Up

twisting sit up

If you are bored of regular sit-ups, try giving the twisting sit-up a try instead, which is an advanced form of the standard version.

For those of you who are already familiar with sit-ups, this exercise will be easy to do. The only difference with this one is that at the top of each movement, you need to bring the opposite elbow towards your knee.

Make sure that you do not over-rotate your body, as this can cause quite a bit of damage over time.

 

17. Jumping Jacks

When it comes to the different types of exercise out there, jumping often gets a bad reputation. However, there is nothing quite like it when it comes to increasing bone density, so, if this is one of your aims, you may want to give this exercise a try. 

Here are a few of the other benefits that jumping jacks can bring:

  • One of the best plyometric exercises there is
  • Provides a great cardio workout
  • Will improve your speed and quickness

Ready to give it a go?

Simply jump up, spreading your legs to the side while lifting your arms at the same time. Once you land, jump back up and do it again.

Jumping jacks are also a great one to warm up with, so consider adding this to the start of your workout.

 

18. Squat Jacks

jumping jack before squat

Squat jacks take jumping jacks to the next level, by throwing a squat in there too.

Here are the steps to follow:

    • Stand with your feet together and your hands at your chest
    • Jump so that your feet go outwards, but sit into a small squat at the same time
    • Jump your feet back together to bring yourself back into your standing position
    • Repeat

 

19. Tuck Jumps

Everyone has their own individual goals when it comes to working out, and if yours include improving your agility and power, while working on jumping higher, then tuck jumps are the way to go.

This is a powerful, yet fun, exercise that has been proven to strengthen just about every single part of the body, and is especially beneficial when it comes to heart health.

To begin with…

Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent, and then jump as high as possible.

Now for the tricky part…

While you are in the air, bring your knees in towards your chest, while extending the arms straight out, almost as though you are tucking your knees in.

Bend your knees slightly as you land, and then repeat the exercise.

 

20. Wall Sit

wall sit

The wall sit works out a number of different muscle groups, including your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and your core. 

To do this exercise, follow these steps:

  • Slide your back down a wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground, and your knees are directly over your ankles
  • Keep your back straight, and hold this position for 60 seconds, before returning to standing position.
  • Try to repeat this five times, although you may need to build up to this gradually.

If you want to give yourself an extra challenge, try adding in some bicep curls while you are “sitting”.

 

When it comes to working out, it is important to make sure that you do not push yourself too hard to begin with, as this may only end up deterring you. Instead, set yourself some realistic goals, and take the steps necessary to ensure that you stick to them. 

Woman running outside

Get Your Workout Without Hitting the Gym

If a tree falls in the forest with no one to hear it, does it make a noise? The same can be applied to real life situations. If we eat at home alone, did we really eat? If we drink at home alone, did we really get drunk? And if we exercise at home alone, did we really work out? Doing things publicly seems to affirm that they really happened, but they usually involve extra expense, extra energy, and, of course, leaving the house. Sometimes there can be advantages to eating without a restaurant, drinking without a bar, and working out without a gym. Here are some ways you can do the last, and when you see the results, there will be no doubt you had a great workout.

Running
You definitely don’t need a gym to take off running. And no one will deny the results. You’ll get fabulously toned legs and burn tons of calories. Plus, there is no shortage of places to do it. There are running and jogging trails all over the place, or you can run along the street to change up the scenery.

Walking
If running is too brutal for you, walking may be more your thing. You’ll get in your cardio and your calorie burn. You can join a walking club if you need some people to motivate you, or start your own.

Woman exercise to video

Exercise Videos and TV Shows
Videos are great because they provide you with a structured exercise that you can do in the privacy of your home at a time most convenient for you. They also cover every type of workout known to man, from yoga to high intensity, to step aerobics, so you can find the one best suited to your abilities and preferences.

At Home Exercise Equipment
Stationary bikes, treadmills, and stair masters are all great ways to workout without the gym. They can cost a pretty penny but are well worth it when considering what you may be saving in time and gym membership fees.

Woman swimming

Swimming
Swimming is an excellent way to burn calories without damaging your joints, and you don’t even have to break a sweat. While you may not have the luxury of an Olympic sized pool in your back yard, there may be a community center or park nearby that does.

Bicycling
Bikes are functional as well as beneficial to your health. You can get a quick workout while running an errand, or take a more intensity focused ride. Neighborhoods are making their streets more bike friendly, and, biking is a good way to exercise your environmental consciousness while you exercise your body.

Woman playing with pug

Play With Your Kids Or Pets
You’ll get a workout and your family will love you for it. See who lasts longer, you or the kids. Plus, it’s more entertaining than walking on a treadmill.

Public Courts
Public courts are ideal for cool summer nights and lazy summer Saturday mornings. Many parks offer tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts to the public. It’s BYO on the equipment, but space is free.

Are you working out without a gym this summer? Good for you? Let us know what you do when the gym is not an option?

Woman exercising in the gym

The Importance Of Choosing An Exercise Routine You Enjoy

Looking for a long term love connection is serious business. After all, this is the person you’re thinking of spending the rest of your life with, waking up next to every day, allowing to see you without your makeup. These things can’t be taken lightly; you need to find someone for the long haul. The same can be said of your exercise routine. When it comes to your workout, you need to find something you can see yourself doing on a regular basis; something built around you. The last thing you need is another short-lived fling. Here are some ways to help you pick the right one when it comes to the long haul.

Determine Your Goals
Give yourself a routine that will get you where you want to go. You don’t need to run several miles a day if you’re not planning to run a marathon. Think in terms of what it will take to get you to where you will be healthy and comfortable.

Train Your Whole Person
People tend to get so focused on muscle development that they forget about coordination, breathing, and circulation, even though these are really more important for long term health. Make sure you keep your perspective on achieving larger goals as well as immediate ones.

Separating Weight Loss From Fitness
If you try to equate burning calories directly with weight loss, you may end up very frustrated. According to science, you need to burn off 3,500 calories to lose one pound. Good luck jogging for six hours. Unrealistic goals of burning off a certain number of calories may motivate you to take on routines that are too demanding and may not even accomplish your weight loss goals. A pure recipe for disaster when it comes to formulating a comfortable routine.

Friends working out together

Fit Your Schedule
Remember, exercise is supposed to reduce stress, not create it. If getting to the gym is a problem, exercise at home. if you don’t have two hours to devote toward exercise, a focused twenty-minute workout in the living room is better than an interminable hour or more at the gym. Exercise too boring? Find a buddy to workout with. It may provide the fun and motivation your need to keep at it.

Look for Something With More Than One Training Benefit
Western thinking is often categorical. It ends to separate workouts into categories. Some are done for strength, others for meditation, others for cardio. Eastern disciplines, such as yoga, are more focused on whole person development. You may find that a workout that engages your whole person, mind, body and nervous system, may be more rewarding and stimulating.

Do Something That Fits Into Your Life
There is no reason for extreme exercise unless you’re lifestyle demands it. You don’t need a heavy weight lifting program or intense cardio if you’re not planning to fight in the UFC. Remember, your main goal should always be to live a happy and healthy life.

Have you found the right one? Let us know your exercise love story. We love happy endings.

Pregnant woman stretching

Exercises That Keep Your Pregnant Body In Great Shape

There was a time when pregnancy was thought of as the ultimate “get out of exercise-and-dieting free” card. Being with child entitled you to nine months of lying on the couch with your swollen ankles propped up surrounded by gallons of ice cream and jars of pickles. Well, that was all well and good until women began realizing that the more time they spent engaging in that behavior, the less likely they were to return to anything resembling their original shape. Although pregnancy should be a time to avoid strenuous activity, it is important for most pregnant women to remain moderately active to maintain healthy vital conditions. Here are some exercises to keep your pregnant body in great shape.

Stretching Exercises

Pregnant women in fitness class

Neck Rotation
Neck rotation can be helpful in relieving neck and shoulder tension. Drop your head forward and slowly rotate it toward your right shoulder. Bring it back to the middle, and then over to the left. Repeat four times slowly in each direction.

Thigh Shift
It is important to keep legs flexible to maintain balance during pregnancy. Start the thigh shift by standing with one foot about two feet in front of the other with your toes pointed forward. Lean forward supporting your body weight with your front thigh. Change sides and repeat, doing four stretches on each side.

Shoulder Rotation
Rotating your shoulder helps to maintain range of motion. Bring your shoulders forward, rotate them up toward the ears and back down again. Reverse direction pulling shoulders back up toward the ears and back down. Do four rotations in each direction.

Ankle Rotation
Ankle rotation is a good way to minimize swelling of the foot and ankle associated with pregnancy, increasing circulation and decreasing fluid buildup. Sit with legs extended. Rotate feet in large circles using your entire ankle and foot. Rotate four times on your right and four times on your left.

Leg Shake
Leg shakes are helpful in maintaining circulation in your lower body. Sit with legs and feet extended and move legs up and down in a shaking motion.

Swim
Swimming motions can help you to remain flexible while reducing tension. Begin with your arms at your sides. Bring your right arm up, stretching your body forward while twisting slightly to the side, as if you were swimming. Repeat using your left arm, completing the entire sequence 10 times.

Kegel Exercises

Pregnant Exercises

Tailor Sit
Sit on the floor in a cross legged position. Lean forward keeping your back relaxed and straight. Assume this position throughout the day as often as possible.

Tailor Press
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together. Hold ankles and pull feet toward your body gently. Put your hands under your knees and inhale. Press knees against your hands while pressing hands up against your knees to create counter pressure. Hold for a five count.

If you’re pregnant, congratulations! And let us know how your exercising to keep your pregnant body beautiful and healthy.

Couple running

Exercise Keeps Couples Together

When you think of things you want to do with your new partner, sweating like a pig in the gym is probably not on the top of your list. In fact, you probably would prefer to have your partner believe that you don’t work out at all, and that you’re just genetically flawless. After all, most of us would prefer to spare our potential love interests the less than attractive image of an ungraceful attempt to straighten our legs over our heads.

However, if the two of you are thinking of taking things to the next level with, eventually, you will have to reveal the fact that you do not possess a metabolism that allows you to eat like a horse while looking like a supermodel, and neither does your partner. In fact, you might even find yourselves adding exercise to your list of bonding activities. Here are some reasons you might want to include your significant other in your workout routine.

You’ll increase Your Happiness As A Couple
Studies show that couple who join in participation of physical activity, report greater satisfaction in their relationship. (Aron, Norman, Aron, and Heyman, 2000.) After all, exercise has positive effects, why not share them? According to a 2004 study, the physiological arousal of the activity, rather than the challenge, is conducive to attraction. Date night at the gym, anyone?

Improve Your Workouts
It is a long-held psychological belief that the mere presence of another person can affect your ability to accomplish an activity. A 1983 Bond and Titus study, shows that another person’s company can improve speed and energy output. However, if you are grappling with a new activity, you may want to leave your partner home, as they may hinder your ability to deal with more challenging tasks.

Couple running outdoors

Make Your Partner Fall For You
Exercise brings on the same symptoms as physiological arousal- accelerated pulse, shortness of breath, sweaty hands. It’s little wonder people tend to mistake physical arousal for romantic attraction. (Duton and Aron, 1974) Let’s call this a happy mistake, shall we?

Make It Easier To Achieve Fitness Goals
When your partner cares about your fitness, it makes it easier for you to care about yours. A 2013 study of couples showed that husbands who care about staying in shape are more likely to engage in physical activity when their wives offer supportive comments. (Skoyen, Blank, Corkery, and Butler.) Although joint participation in physical activity offers perfect context for such support, studies caution against heavy reliance on a partner when it comes to achieving personal fitness goals. According to Fitzsimons and Finkel, “outsourcing” mental effort needed to maintain fitness goal can decrease your own.

Strengthen Your Emotional Bond
Working out together can help you to coordinate with one another. You may notice you’re matching running paces or lifting weights in rhythm. This leads to “nonverbal mimicry.” (Stel and Vonk, 2010) Nonverbal mimicry helps partners become more attuned emotionally with one another and report feelings of ‘”bonding” with each other. Good for both of you individually and communally!

Tell us how you and your partner bond over workouts! We love to be inspired!

Woman dancing

Fun Ways To Move More

If you saw the episode of America’s Got Talent, featuring Al, the Human Knot, then you know there are some people who have original ways of staying in shape. Ditto, if you saw limbo dancer Shamika Charles or the Summerwind Skippers, jump rope team. As the pressure to stay in shape increases, so too, it seems, do the original ways of doing it. Celebrities embrace the “Insanity” Workout and others go for Prancercise. Fitness is important, and so is doing something you love. It’s all about finding the right exercise for you. If you still haven’t found your perfect fit for fitness, here are some fun ways to keep moving.

1. Doga
Sometimes it takes man’s best friend to keep you active. Dogs is yoga for dogs, but classes require human participation. Sometimes, dogs help their owner to achieve a deeper stretch, while other exercises involve humans supporting their dogs to hold them in position.

2. Pole Dancing
Watchers of “America’s Got Talent” will probably be no stranger to this new exercise phenomenon. Although pole dancing may be inspired, and even choreographed, by strippers, in these, classes, women leave their clothes on (or most of them.) An excellent way to tone and strengthen the muscles, pole dancing may be the newest answer to sexercise.

3. Circus Workouts
Another “America’s Got Talent” staple, and also a favorite of pop singer, Pink, the circus inspired workout includes a mixture of juggling, tumbling and trapeze work. The gym version should feature circus equipment modified for greater safety and ease of use, toning your core and strengthening your abs.

4. Karaoke Workout
This is a novel idea. How bout a stationary bike with a karaoke screen attached? Cardio workouts combined with karaoke are one of the newest ways of staying in shape while having fun. And if you’re not a fan of pop, you can always find spinning classes set to Broadway musical selections and even gospel.

5. High Heel Workout
How’s this for a kick? These classes, usually led by professional dancers or podiatrists encourage women to strengthen their lower bodies by performing lunges and squats in high heels. Wearing high heels shifts the body’s center of gravity to the front. Apparently, these classes teach women to regulate their posture to avoid damage to their feet and lower back while strengthening foot and lower leg muscles.

6. Thug Workout
If you’re looking to keep it real, this one’s for you. This workout teaches you how to transform picnic tables, construction scaffolding, playground equipment and whatever other features the urban landscape may offer, into gym equipment. You may already have the tools for your next workout literally in your own backyard.

7. Pogo or Trampoline
Fun and low impact! Hopping on a pogo stick will give you 34 percent less of a jolt than higher impact exercising. Rebounding, performed on a trampoline is another way of getting the benefits while avoiding the impact. You can jump up and down, or get more creative, incorporating you core muscles and abs.

How do you get more fun when you move? We want to know your secret for staying slim and keeping happy.

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!

Woman working out

Setting Realistic Workout Expectations

If you work out regularly, you will know that exercise is not about punishment. Pushing yourself too hard will only make you less likely to want to return to the gym. Here are some tips for setting realistic workout expectations that you will want to stick to.

SMART Goals
If you have tried to do any kind of goal setting, you have probably heard of SMART goals. SMART is an acronym which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. To find a goal that will work for you, ask yourself:

  1. What you want to accomplish? Do you want to lose weight? Build Muscle? Feel better?
  2. Is your goal realistic?
  3. Do you know how to reach your goal? Are you going to do a half an hour of exercise a day? Run three times a week?
  4. Do you have a time line for reaching my goal?
  5. How will you reward myself when you get there? (most important!)

For example, if you set out to lose 50 pounds in 6 months, it may be possible but it may require eating well and exercising every day, a commitment you may not be able to make. Weight loss usually takes longer and requires more effort than we think. Experts advise aiming to lose no more than 1 or 2 pounds a week, but it is more common for people to lose .5 to 1 lb on a productive week.

What You Need To Know About Losing Weight

  • The more you lose, the harder it will get. When your body has less weight to carry, it will burn less calories moving it around.
  • When you get closer to your goal, it will get harder to reach There are a variety of reasons why people have a hard time losing those last few pounds, but it is important to be aware that this may happen so that you can manage or avoid frustration.
  • The weight you maintain may not be your desired weight. We all have an exercise thresholds, or the amount of exercise that we can do comfortably each day. While it is possible to stretch that boundary, it is a good idea to have a realistic concept of where it is and how far we can push it.
  • The scale isn’t always the best measure of progress. When fat turns to muscle, it may result in an increase in the reading on your scale, as muscle weighs more than fat. Try and use other tools to track progress.
  • It can’t be all about weight loss. If weight loss is your sole motivation, you may be in danger of becoming unhealthily obsessed with decreasing your size rather than increasing your well-being.

Sticking With Goals
In order to ensure that you stay with the program, it is important to find out how to make it happen. Here are a few tips:

  • Schedule workouts
  • Set weekly goals and reward your successes
  • Prepare for times when you feel like ditching the gym
  • Always have your workout bag with you
  • Keep a journal of the food you eat and the time you spend working out
  • Keep track of your measurements
  • Workout with friends and family for more fun and extra incentive

Good luck with your workouts and let us know your secrets for reaching your goals this year. Keep it real and keep your expectations down to earth.

Woman at the gym

Stay Safe At The Gym

If you are like most children, you have grown up being taught that sharing is a beautiful thing. We share our toys, we share our food, we share our houses. However, as time has gone on and science has gotten more advanced, we have learned that with sharing comes a not so pretty consequence. It turns out that when we share our things, we share our germs as well. Sure, Suzy was nice enough to give Jimmy her extra Twinkie, but she gave it to him with her bare hands. Did Suzy wash her hands after she went to the bathroom?

As we grow up, we are still expected to share, only our toys have gotten a little more adult. Our jungle gyms have been replaced by gym equipment, but, unfortunately, the threat of germs is just as real. According to a December 2014 study found in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 25 different types of bacteria were found on handrails, toilet handles and equipment at four gyms in Memphis. The most common category of bacteria found were Staphylococcus or staph, a species known to be a cause of skin infection.

Why are Gyms a Breeding Ground for Skin infection?
Although it is easy to see how a virus may spread from one treadmill to another, it may be more difficult to imagine how skin infections are transferred. Fungi, bacteria and viruses that lead to skin infections thrive in warm, moist areas. Therefore, the sweat left on towels and exercise equipment provides the ideal tropical location for bacteria. The germs are also quite comfortable in a nice warm shower, sauna, or swimming pool deck. Not only that, but because staph infections are resistant to a variety of antibiotics, they can live on mats exercise machines and locker room benches for days.

Amber Marie Vasquez, MD and spokesperson for the CDC says, ” Skin infections…are most commonly reported in athletes engaged in sports that involve skin to skin contact, such as football or wrestling, but transmission can also occur…before and after participation-in locker rooms, for example. Open wounds, poor hygiene, and the sharing of towels and equipment all increase your risk.”

Sizing Up a Gym for Cleanliness
If you are checking out a new gym, it may be a good idea to check with the management about the cleaning routine. Make sure that the locker rooms and gyms are cleaned at least once a day with disinfectants and detergents registered by the EPA. Make sure disinfectant sprays and wipes are easily accessible and that equipment is well maintained with no damaged surfaces that make equipment more difficult to clean. “Also, bathrooms and locker rooms should be stocked with liquid soap or alcohol based hand sanitizer,” says Vasquez.

Lowering Your Risk

  • Protect Your Skin. Make sure cuts and scrapes are kept clean and covered with a bandage. Keep a towel or item of clothing between exercise equipment and your skin and always wear flip flops or jellies in the shower.
  • BYO Exercise Mat. Since yoga and gym mats may not be cleaned between classes, it is safest to bring your own.
  • Partake in Good Hygiene. Always wash your hands before and after using equipment and playing sports. Although a wash in good old soap and water is your best bet, the CDC advises utilizing a sanitizer that has an alcohol content of at least 60% if soap is not available. Disinfect fitness equipment with sprays and wipes before and after use and shower after you exercise, or use a swimming pool or hot tub.
  • Wash Your Stuff. Vasquez says, “Evidence shows that the numbers of skin bacteria build up each time we wear a piece of clothes without washing it.” Sweaty clothes, used towels and swimsuits should be stashed in a plastic bag separate from the rest of your stuff and washed after each use. Since heat kills bacteria, wash and dry items at the warmest temperature level possible.
  • Be Stingy. It all comes back to no sharing, especially when it comes to items that touch you, like razors.

So the next time you forget your towel and no one is eager to lend you one, don’t take it personally! Let us know about your experiences sharing (or not sharing) at the gym. We love to hear from you!

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