Couple jogging during winter.

How to Boost Your Winter Workout

The benefits of exercising outdoors in the fresh include things like more energy, less tension and lowered rates of depression. However, when it’s freezing outside you may be tempted to just stay indoors and cuddle up under your blanket. Fitness expert Sean Burch says that winter might actually be a better time for outdoor workouts than summer. “The heat and humidity in the summer can drag you down and tire you faster, but cold weather is invigorating. It stimulates your senses, tunes you into your surroundings – it makes you feel alive.” We’ve got three ways to boost your winter workout so it is most effective and so that it is also safe for you to complete outdoors.

Play it Safe
In warmer months with less dangerous weather hazards, choosing challenging terrain for your outdoor exercise is often beneficial to your health, but when the temperatures dip it’s best to play it safe. For outdoor winter workouts, you want to stay closer to home than you normally might so that if you do slip and fall or overexert and exhaust yourself, you’re close to the warmth and protection of the indoors. If you exercise early in the morning or in the evening after the sun has gone down, you’ll want to look for areas near your home that are well-lit and plowed. Lighting is important so that you can spot potentially icy areas and steer clear of them to avoid injury. Additionally, it’s not just important to you that you have light, you need to be positive that you are visible to motorists who may have difficulty stopping quickly. Wear reflective or colorful clothing and use bike or flashlights to remain as visible as possible.

Warm Up and Cool Down
Before you head out the door, experts advise that you spend some time indoors preparing your muscles for your cold weather workout. Jog in place for five minutes before you plan to go outside to get your muscles revved up. The freezing temperatures can be an incredible shock to your muscles, so once you do step out the door, experts suggest taking short 30 second breaks during the first few minutes of your workout. This allows them to acclimate to the climate and helps prevent damage or discomfort.

Winter workouts also require a cool down period. Three to four minutes before you plan on stopping your workout, slow your pace down. Do your stretching indoors and remove any extra layers of clothing after you’re done. Walk around for another four to five minutes before showering for the most effective cool down.

Know Your Limits and Have Some Flexibility
In the summer, you may be able to run six or seven miles without a problem. During the winter, although you may be able to do the same amount of miles, it takes a much larger toll on your body. When the temperatures are freezing, your body is working overtime to keep you warm and overexerting yourself subjects your body to unnecessary stress. Experts recommend starting the winter slowly and then building up to a longer workout. For example, instead of running six miles, start with three and gradually add a bit more mileage each day.

If you enjoy working out as part of your routine and you keep to a certain schedule, winter can be a very frustrating time for your outdoor exercise. By taking necessary precautions, you can safely work out first thing in the morning, but experts suggest being a bit more flexible with your routine. If possible, stick to late afternoon hours for outdoor exercise when the temperature is at its peak and the roads have been attended to. It’s noble to believe there is no such thing as weather that is too bad to stop you from working out, but trainers and athletic experts remind you to put your safety first. Ice, snow, sleet, hail, unplowed roads or extreme darkness are all serious challenges and it’s best to know when to say no to your outdoor routine.

According to Dr. Kevin Plancher of Plancher Orthopaedics and Sports Medicines, NYC, exercise can help in increasing endorphin (feel good hormones) levels, but since the body has to work harder due to the cold, the endorphin production is further boosted, leading to an even more happier state of mind. Exposure to natural light, of which there is a shortage in the winter, is also proven to help alleviate depression. Your winter workout provides so many benefits, and using these three tips, you can be sure that you’re working out effectively and safely.

Woman doing crunches

Workouts to Transform Your Body

Getting the fit, lean and toned body you desire may seem impossible, particularly if you are just beginning an exercise regime. However, we promise that results are totally possible, and will come, if you stick with exercise and make it a regular habit. When it comes to diet and exercise there is always a new fad or trend circulating that promises the most amazing results in the shortest amount of time possible and some of these have components that truly do work, but it is still important to know that there is no magic cure-all that will give you instant health and the body you’ve always wanted. It will take work and discipline, but if you strive for progress not perfection, you will see your hard work pay off. That said, there are some workouts that truly can transform your body when you dedicate time in your day to exercise and use the techniques. Here are some of our favorite workouts that can help transform your body:

Yoga.

Yoga
Preconceived notions of yoga may have you questioning how yoga could help with weight loss and transforming your body, but bear with us. There are multiple research studies focusing on the health benefits of yoga and they include things such as encouraging weight loss and reducing obesity, decrease in risk of heart disease, relief from chronic pain and fighting fatigue. Although yoga may look like a bunch of stretching, there are multiple forms of yoga, each one with a targeted benefit. Hatha is perfect for beginners as it focuses on form, balance and flexibility, creating a great foundation on which to build. If you’re looking to drop pounds, check out a vinyasa class. Bikram, or hot yoga, is a great way to increase your flexibility since the heat loosens your muscles. Yoga will increase your health while transforming your body into a toned, lean body.

Tabata Interval Training
Interval training is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to quickly transform your body and with good reason. Research on Tabata Interval Training suggests that completing a round of these quick bursts of cardio with brief rest periods can make your body burn calories for up to 36 hours after you complete the workout! Maybe the best part of Tabata is that it takes only four minutes. Tabata consists of doing 20 seconds of intense cardio exercises followed by a 10 second rest period before moving on to the next burst of cardio. Keep your workout interesting by switching up the cardio exercises you do every so often.

Pilates

Pilates (The Plank)
Pilates is not the same as yoga, though there are some principles that are similar such as the focus on form, flexibility and breathing. Performing a Pilates routine requires concentration and engages your entire body from the core. The plank is one of the greatest exercises you can do for you waistline no matter how much you may hate the exercise when you first begin. Planks are better for your waist than traditional sit-ups or crunches because they utilize muscles deep in your stomach that have the most impact on your musculoskeletal health. There are plenty of variations to the plank that keep the exercise challenging. In addition to switching the plank you perform, you gradually add time to the length of your plank. For instance, beginners may want to start at 10 to 15 seconds and move to 20 to 30 seconds the following week.

The only workouts that will transform your body are the ones that you actually do consistently, so it may take a bit of trial and error before you find a workout that makes you excited about making changes in your body. Keep a positive attitude and trust that your body will transform if you remain dedicated to the change.

Woman working out in a gym.

Change How You Think – Make Working Out a Habit

You think about heading to the gym and working out. You may even plan out your exercise routine or when you are going to hit the gym. But somehow, those plans seem to fall by the wayside when it comes time for you to actually get moving. It doesn’t help that you have friends or know gym-goers that show up without fail every single day. Even more frustrating is that these fitness junkies actually like the process of exercise and look forward to this part of their day. While you mentally curse them for their dedication, you probably also wish that you could be more disciplined and more excited about your own exercise and now you can. A recent study published in the Health Psychology journal suggests that there really is a difference between those who consistently exercise and those that struggle with merely making time to head outside or to your gym, but don’t lose hope yet. Just because there is a difference between you and faithful gym-goers doesn’t mean that you can’t become one of the latter. The study suggests that you can learn to make exercise an essential part of your day.

What Sets Regular Exercisers Apart
The answer to what makes regular exercises different is frustratingly simple and you have probably heard it before. Those that workout without fail do not dread exercise and they don’t think of exercise as a chore that has to be done. It’s that difficult and that simple. Rather than thinking about exercise as one more thing that you have to cram into the day, consistent exercisers get active almost automatically; it is just a part of their daily routine. Those that exercise regularly receive cues, either internal or external, that signal it is time to get up and move. Some may respond to external sources, like the alarm going off in the morning, while others respond to an internal cue “I’m stressed from work and home obligations, it’s time to relieve some stress at the gym.”

In the study, the researchers referred to this tendency as the “instigation habit.” The researchers set out to find out whether the instigation habit would be indicative of people being able to stick to an exercise regime, and they definitely proved their hypothesis. In fact, the instigation habit was the only predictor that people would stick with exercise and that the more time spent exercising (for example going from the first month to the third), the stronger the instigation habit became. Why? Because it seems that exercisers with a high instigation habit do not think only of the work that awaits them when it’s time to exercise. They associate exercise and gym time with specific parts of their day; they hear their alarm in the morning and know it’s time to lace up the gym shoes. It isn’t only the exercise that the consistent gym-goers think of, they think of the entire experience of exercise, including that awesome post-workout high, as a habit they have cultivated, not as a chore that they have to cross off their to-do list.

Why it Matters
It seems like a great excuse (“I don’t intrinsically have a strong instigation habit so I shouldn’t even bother”), but it’s actually the reverse. If you weren’t blessed with a high instigation habit, it takes a bit more work on your part, but you absolutely can strengthen it. Beginning an exercise routine after a long break in physical activity (or a lifetime or inactivity) is by no means an easy task, but stick with it. The longer that you make regular exercise a part of your routine, the more you condition your mind to think of exercise as an essential part of your day.

The temptation to hit the snooze button or drive past the gym after a super long day at work is definitely great, but sticking to your exercise routine in the beginning makes it easier to make working out a lifelong habit. Physical activity is incredibly important for a healthy life and right now, it may not be your favorite thing to do. But if you can shift your thinking from “I hate this chore” to “oh, my alarm is going off, time to hit the gym,” you will be able to make exercise an essential part of your day, and your body will thank you.

Woman jogging in the morning.

How Long Does it Take to Get Out of Shape

Advertisers selling everything from fake tans to bikinis all welcome the summer season by telling you that you need to “get your body beach-ready.” No matter what that phrase may or may not mean to you, exercise is an important aspect of your overall health and well-being. The terms “in shape” and “out of shape” are relative depending on genetics, age and health. You probably won’t have the same definition of being  in shape or beach ready as the co-worker next to you, but in general you know that getting in shape requires a nutritious diet and regular exercise.

In a perfect world, you would fit your daily workout in with no problem, but your life is hectic and busy and sometimes chaotic. So you take a day off from your fitness routine, no big deal. But how many days off does it take before your body is out of shape again?

Fitness Levels
As previously mentioned, the amount of time that passes before you get “out of shape” is dependent of several things and one of these is your starting level of fitness. Again, it is impossible to pinpoint an exact scale of how fit you are, but the components that go into your fitness level include:

  • Cardiovascular endurance – This refers to what many people associate with general fitness, how well your cardiovascular and respiratory systems endure periods of vigorous activity without becoming winded.
  • Muscular strength and endurance – These areas of fitness are pretty much exactly what they sound like. Muscular strength refers to your ability to use your muscles to their maximum capacity while muscular endurance indicates how well your muscles perform repetitive tasks over time.
  • Flexibility

Woman catching her breath while jogging.

In Shape to Out of Shape
Just as it takes varying periods of time for people to get in shape, it takes different people different periods of time to become out of shape. Craig Rasmussen, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist in California, states that after taking a period of two weeks off, “we will probably start to see a decline in general fitness levels.” He adds that “these can occur at different rates in the muscular and cardiovascular systems.” Typically it is your cardiovascular endurance that declines first due to the fact that your muscle memory helps retain a certain level of strength and endurance.

Rasmussen notes that after two weeks it is still probably safe for you to get right back to your normal fitness routines without risking serious injury or damage to your health. However, the longer you remain inactive and the further out of shape you get will determine what intensity you can safely do when you return to working out. The longer you stay away from your fitness activities, the longer it will take to get back to your in shape state. Health professionals recommend at least three to five days a week that include vigorous exercise in order to maintain a level of health and fitness.

Happy fitness woman lifting dumbbells smiling cheerful, fresh and energetic. Mixed race Asian Caucasian fitness girl training isolated on white background.

The Resveralife Life Well Guide: Boost Your Workout 

Haven’t you gone for a workout with the intention of putting in a lot of effort, only to feel exhausted within the first 15 minutes? Anyone who has ever gone to a workout class has been there and it can be really depressing. The simplest way to enjoy your exercise and ensure that it doesn’t feel like a chore is to improve your endurance levels. This Resveralife Live Well Guide helps you to learn how to build up your endurance levels with the help of 5 simple exercises that can be combined to create a circuit-training routine to boost your strength, speed and stamina. To follow this routine, you need to perform one set of all 5 exercises without any breaks, rest for about 30 seconds and repeat the process two more times. You might feel tired and jaded when you start off with this routine, but as time progresses, you should be able to fly through the circuit. And once this circuit becomes easy, your workout classes will be simpler and more enjoyable.

Exercise # 1 – Knee Tuck

This exercise always starts from the top-of-a-plank position. Your hands should be wider than shoulder width and you need to keep your arms straight. The next step is to perform a single pushup by placing your toes on a glider. You can use a paper plate or a washcloth for the glider. The next step is to pull your knees towards the chest and hold the posture when the knees are about 3 inches in front of the hips. Before doing this, don’t forget to ensure that you place your weight in the balls of your feet. Hold the posture for a second and allow your legs slide back to the top-of-a-plank position. Repeat the entire set for about 30 seconds.

Exercise # 2 – Frog Jump

This exercise always starts in a squat position or a sumo position. Bring your palms next to each other in front of the chest, turn your toes outwards at a 45 degree angle, put your feet wider than hip-width and ensure that your quads are parallel to the floor. Jump up and land back in the sumo-squat position. Repeat the jump, only to land back a few inches. Continue jumping backwards and forwards for about 30 seconds.

Exercise # 3 – Crouching Push Ups

This exercise always starts in a push-up position. Place your hands wider than shoulder width, lower the chest towards the floor, bend the knees and press back to bring the knees right under your hips. Lift the hips to straighten the legs and round the spine so as to articulate each vertebra. Once this is done, move back into your starting position. Repeat the entire process for about 30 seconds.

Exercise # 4 – Squat Jumps

This exercise always starts in a squat position. Place your knees in line with your ankles and allow your butt to sink back. The posture should be as if you are just about to sit down in a chair. Clasp the hands in front of your chest and jump. Land with your right leg in front in a lunge position. Repeat the jump and land in a squat position. Repeat the jump and land with your left leg in front in a lunge position. Keep repeating the entire set for about 30 seconds.

Exercise # 5 – The Bridge Exercise

This exercise always starts by lying on your back with the knees bent and the feet placed on gliders. You can use paper plates or washcloths for the glider. Place your weight in your heels, straighten your arms by your sides with the palms facing downwards and lift your hips so that your body resembles a bridge. While the hips are lifted, push the gliders until your legs almost become straight and then pull back your heels to come back to the starting position. Repeat this entire set 20 times.

Couple drinking water outside

Live Well: How to Get in Shape in 2015

Getting that pre-holiday body back is something that is on most people’s agendas in the first month of the new year. This is the month that most people tend to make resolutions and promises to themselves and their loved ones that they will once again get in shape, get healthy, eat right and develop healthier habits. Getting in shape is sometimes easy for some, and more difficult for others. Here are a few fool proof ways to kick start yourself into gear in 2015 and lose that unwanted weight and those unwanted inches, guaranteed.

drinking waterDrink More Water

Drinking more water rather than opting for soda or sugary sports drinks can really make a huge difference in your overall health, and will certainly make an impact on weight loss. Reaching for water over other beverages gives your body the chance to rehydrate, eliminate waste and toxins which could be causing bloating and excess weight retention, and also kickstart your metabolism into gear.

Incorporate Cardio Workouts Three Times Per Week

Not many people who are just beginning to work out will look forward to a full blown cardio workout, but it’s exceptionally important to get yourself into ultimate shape. It helps to speed oxygen through the blood, which improves circulation, skin cell rejuvenation, mental health, and even metabolism. Cardio also allows you to lose more weight than any other form of exercise. Doing 30-40 minutes of high impact cardio three times per week will allow you to lose weight quickly – the healthy way. Don’t be surprised if you see inches lost from your waist, as well!

Shopping basket with assortment of unhealthy food on white backgroundDo Away with Refined Sugars and Salts

Refined carbohydrates will undoubtedly turn into sugar, which will also add weight gain and cause you to become tired and lazy. Doing away with all refined sugars, carbs, and excess salt will allow your body the opportunity to get out of a bloated zone, and back into a somewhat normal place, where it can begin actually burning the calories you eat rather than storing them. Do your best to stay away from pasta, bread, pies, cakes, cookies, and all things laden with sugar. On the same note, do your best to stay away from salty chips, snacks, and adding additional salt to your food. We consume plenty of salt with the foods we eat on a daily basis. Adding additional salt will only cause weight gain, bloat and potential health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

Stop Eating Fast Food

Fast food has been known to pack more weight on an individual than any other food in existence. These types of foods are the furthest thing from healthy, and it would be better to go hungry than to indulge yourself in a fatty, salt laden, greasy cheeseburger from your local McDonalds. These foods contain high salt content, high fat content, and are the lowest grade meat products available. Note, we said meat products and not meats due to all of the additives they put in their foods. We won’t go into what else has been found in fast food items, but we will say this: do yourself a favor, and steer clear of the monster that is fast food.

A large variety of whole foods focused on produceEat More Raw & Whole Foods

Eating more healthful foods such as raw vegetables, fruits, and more lean meats will provide your body with the healthy nutrition it needs to function properly and naturally, as was intended for us from the beginning. No man or woman was ever created to tolerate processed foods. By incorporating more of these healthy options into your daily diet, you are increasing your fiber intake, meeting your dietary guidelines for each individual day, and are warding off heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol to the best of your natural ability through diet. That’s powerful! Aside from that, you are also giving yourself a natural energy boost throughout the day with natural, healthy foods.

Get Rid of Junk Food

We have a challenge for you. Go through your pantry, and freezer, and refrigerator, and throw every single thing away that contains processed meat, cheese, excess salt, and sugar. See what you have left. It just might be time to go shopping! By eliminating these foods from your house, you avoid temptation. And when the temptation arises, and you want something sweet, opt for something healthy – like a fruit smoothie, which has all the sweetness you could want, or if you want something salty, have a slice of low fat cheese or vegetables with some low fat or fat free ranch, which has a salty kick to it. There are always ways to meet your palate’s needs – the healthy way.