Easy Ways to Extend Your Post-Exercise Endorphin Rush

The post-exercise rush of endorphins that leave you feeling happier, less stressed, and generally more at ease may be called a “runner’s high,” but can be achieved through any cardiovascular exercise.  We need those feel-good endorphins more than ever right now, so before your next FitClub workout, plan to achieve and extend that positive, happy feeling through the rest of your day.mgy8mld1xrlekvx45ve8

What are endorphins?

Endorphins are naturally occurring hormones in your body that are released when your body is under physical stress.  You can think of endorphins as a sort of “natural painkiller” that reduces aches and pains both physically and mentally.  Unlike cortisol, which is the hormone released when you’re under mental stress, endorphins counteract discomfort, make your challenging workout feel more comfortable, and leave you with a positive mood and decreased mental stress. This feeling can be so enjoyable that many people compare it to a “high” and report that it makes the body and mind crave the next workout to enjoy that feeling again. 

How do you achieve an endorphin high?

Endorphins can be triggered through any cardiovascular exercise that raises your heart rate and leaves you feeling short of breath.  Adding speed or intensity to your workout through circuit training, sprints, or high-intensity-interval training (HIIT) can cause your body to release endorphins.  When you’re chasing endorphins, less may be more!  A shorter, more intense workout can often provide more endorphins than a long, steady workout. Check out FitClub’s HIIT group exercise classes to get started!

Allowing yourself to mentally zone out during your workout can help, too.  Instead of worrying about your day-to-day stress while you go through the motions, allowing your mind to focus solely on your movement can open you up to a more relaxed, stress-free state.  Being fully present in your workout allows you to actually enjoy your endorphins as they occur!

Make it last!

Just because your workout has to end doesn’t mean your endorphin high has to go, too.  Once you experience that post-exercise endorphin rush, you will want to extend that feeling for as long as possible.  To maximize your positive vibes, take time to refuel your body with the nutrients it needs to restore itself.  High quality nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins release an added boost of dopamine—another feel good hormone—and extends the positive mental boost of your exercise session. Taking time to reward yourself with a gentle stretch, short meditation, and a good night’s sleep will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to chase tomorrow’s endorphin rush!

How do you maximize the mental and emotional benefits of exercise?  Leave your tips in the comment section to encourage FitClub friends that want the same benefits!

How Healthy is a Nap?

The world is more stressful than normal right now, and it may leave you feeling constantly tired or run down.  You might be experiencing unusual or interrupted sleep patterns, boredom, stress, or any number of emotions that can leave you feeling exhausted from day to day.  A nap might be in order, but before your next snooze, read FitClub’s tricks for enjoying a healthier nap.ALT TAG

1.  Is a nap healthy?  Naps do have some health benefits when done correctly, according to both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mayo Clinic.  When you’re unable to otherwise achieve seven to nine hours of quality sleep at night, a short nap early in the day can improve your performance at work and leave you feeling more alert.  The American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session in 2019 found that a midday nap can even lower your blood pressure.  

2.  Nap the right way for better results.  Mayo Clinic warns against napping if you experience difficulty falling asleep at night and maintaining a consistent nighttime routine.  Naps can’t replace high quality nighttime sleep, but rather can provide a reset during the midday. Keeping your naps short (i.e. 15 to 30 minutes) can cause your body to benefit from the first and second stages of the sleep cycle, while warding off grogginess you might feel after a longer nap. When you nap matters, too.  Napping too late in the day or too close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep more than a midday nap prior to 3:00PM.

Experts also agree that how you nap matters as much as when and for how long you nap.  Laying down to nap can allow you to rest better and fall asleep more quickly than dozing in an upright position.  If your habit is to doze while watching television in the midday hours, you might experience a higher quality of nap if you take the time to lay down and shut out external distractions. 

3.  Napping as self care.  Taking care of your physical and emotional needs during this unprecedented pandemic is more important than ever.  Integrating a midday nap as a form of self-care when you have the time, can allow you to shut out the outside world and improve your mood.  Coupling a short nap with physical exercise and meditation can allow you to take time for yourself amid stressful news cycles and uncertainty. 

Taking time to ease back into your day can make your nap seem more restful and beneficial, too.  Allowing time to wake up and resume your normal activities can make the concept of napping more peaceful and enjoyable.  Don’t rush, take your time!

Do you nap?  How do you ensure that your nap will benefit you instead of slowing you down or causing you difficulty sleeping at night?  Leave your tips in the comment section!

Is Your Timing Right For Success?

When we do things might matter more than we think.  If you’ve hit a plateau or just want to see more consistent results, reorganizing when you eat and workout may make a difference.  How does the timing of your healthy habits impact your progress?  Read on for FitClub’s answers:videoblocks-woman-starting-workout-on-treadmill-using-fitness-app-on-smartwatch_hzxoq1o8ce_thumbnail-180_08

1. For peak performance.  If you don’t love being up before the sun for a challenging morning workout, you’re in luck.  If your goal is to improve your performance through physical exercise, 4:00PM to 8:00PM should be your target workout time.  Experts found that late in the afternoon, the body’s circadian rhythms and energy levels are best primed for a workout at your peak performance level.  After 8:00PM, that same circadian rhythm wants your body to start winding down and preparing for sleep and you might feel your energy level naturally tapering off.  While experts found that for most people, 4:00PM to 8:00PM were peak energy times, a workout when you are generally benefiting from the most energy is the right time for your workout.

2. For improved mental health.  If you crave the mental health benefits of your workout, studies have shown that anxiety is most common in the morning hours, while depression is most common in the evening hours.  Scheduling your workout to coincide with your mental health needs might help you release endorphins through exercise to ease the most difficult part of your day.  Of course, anxiety and depression impact everyone differently.  If you notice that you are most anxious or depressed at the same times every day, a workout or short meditation might help you prevent the uneasy feelings.  Being able to ease anxiety and depression with preventative exercise might take some experimenting until you find the right time and combination of physical exercise and meditation that works best for you.  Fortunately, at FitClub, you can get your physical workout and meditation in the same place!

3. When to eat for weight loss.  If your goal is to lose unwanted weight, when you eat might matter, too.  If you crave carbohydrates, scheduling your carbohydrates around your workout ensures that the carbohydrates get where they can do the most good and help your muscles refuel.  Aiming for a diet rich in lean proteins, vegetables and healthy fats the rest of the day will help you avoid excess carbohydrates turning to sugar.  Night-time snacking can be a struggle for many people.  Experts agree that it’s not necessarily when you eat your last bite, but what you eat that may be holding you back.  Generally, people prone to a late-night snack are more likely to having an unhealthy late night snack, resulting in unused calories that will turn into unwanted weight gain.  If you must eat late at night before bed, aim for healthier options that will satisfy your hunger without disrupting your sleep or digestion.

How do you fuel and work your body for best results?

Making a Happier Decision

From time to time, any one of us may find that we are not quite as happy as we’d like.  While depression may require medical intervention, minor discontent may ultimately be improved by making a decision to be happier.  If it sounds too easy or too good to be true, read on for FitClub’s advice on deciding to make yourself happier.Flattered Woman Smiling

1. Know what happiness is—and what it is not.  Beginning in 1990, psychologists began studying the science of happiness.  A key element in determining how a person can become happy is defining what happy means.  Researchers agree that happiness is a state of being, rather than a mood or emotion, that indicates a person’s sense of overall contentment.  A happy person still experiences discomfort, loss, grief, and challenging times.  What sets a happy person apart, though, is the willingness to engage in the pursuit of contentment rather than live in the angst of a difficult experience.

2. Connect with others.  Social interaction is a key contributor to the level of a person’s happiness.  It is, of course, difficult to maintain the social interaction you may have enjoyed pre-pandemic, but opportunities abound for social interaction.  Even with physical distancing guidelines in place, you can still choose to surround yourself (even remotely) with happy people.  Interacting with happy people increases your own likelihood of attaining happiness.  Think about the people that you see at FitClub.  The personal trainers are engaged in helping people live better, healthier, longer lives and it shows in their attitudes.  Surrounding yourself with people experiencing endorphins, runners high, and the satisfaction of pursuing a fitness goal can give you a boost that can last all day.

3. Practice meditation.  While part of our happiness-makeup is attributed to genetics, researchers estimate that you can improve your natural happiness set-point through meditation.  Not only does meditation act in a way that calms you when you’re stressed, researchers have found that it actually shifts your brain activity from the portion of the brain charged with depression and worry to a lobe associated with happiness and joy.  Whether you’re experienced in meditation or interested in starting, FitClub can help!  FitClub has a meditation class and meditations on the FitClub app that can set you on the path to consistent happiness.

4. Say “no” more often.  How many items on your to-do list today do you really want to do?  Probably very few!  Look a second time at your to-do list and allow yourself to say “no” to anything that doesn’t absolutely have to be done today.  There will always be obligations that we’d rather not do, but you may find that other items can wait or even be removed entirely.  Prioritizing your happiness means creating room for doing what you want to do, rather than what you have to do.  Why not start now by simply saying “no” to the tasks that take time away from pursuing happiness?

Are you a generally happy person?  What has helped you in your pursuit of happiness?

Can You Cheat to Win at Weight Loss? The Psychology of Scheduling a Cheat Day

If you’ve been devoted to a healthy lifestyle and a diet rich in lean proteins and vegetables, you might still find yourself craving the occasional pizza, sweet treat, or salty indulgence.  Cravings are a completely natural part of any healthy lifestyle and every time you power through a craving and make a healthy decision, you grow mentally stronger.  If you’ve been considering adding a cheat day to your healthy lifestyle, FitClub has the facts about the value of a cheat day, the science behind it, and how to make it work for you.2d274905754803-win-at-weight-loss-1024.social_share_1024x768_scale

1. What is it?  A cheat day or a cheat meal is simply deciding in advance that for either one day or just one meal, you’ll allow yourself to eat whatever it is you might be craving without any guilt.  The strategy is based on the idea of rewarding yourself for an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle.  Cheat days or cheat meals can allow to you enjoy that slice of birthday cake, have a pizza with family and friends, or otherwise indulge to beat the feeling of deprivation you might feel if you strictly avoided unhealthy foods all day every day.

2. Does it work?  The research behind cheat meals and cheat days implies that there may be a temporary boost for your metabolism by adding calories infrequently to an otherwise well-regulated, healthy diet.  If cheat days work for you, it’s more likely due to the motivation factor.  It is easier for some people to maintain a healthy diet knowing that they have set aside a day for an indulgence.  Perhaps you’re more motivated to eat a strict diet of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins if you know that on Fridays you will order your favorite pizza.  For those that can make the motivation factor work to their advantage, the key is limiting the cheat to one day or one meal, and having the self-control necessary to not let the cheat ooze into one more day, snack, or binge.  Using the pizza as an example, if the Friday night cheat meal is pizza, don’t let the leftovers be your breakfast and lunch on day two!

3. What to watch out for.  Losing weight really is dependent upon how many calories you consume and how many calories you burn.  If losing or maintaining weight is your goal, one cheat day could set back an entire week of healthy workouts and meals.  If, for example, you’re able to healthfully create a calorie deficit of 200 calories each day through both consistent exercise and healthy meals, and you schedule one cheat day each week, you’ll have a net calorie deficit of 1,200 calories (not quite ½ a pound worth of calories) heading into your cheat day.  It is incredibly easy to eat an extra 1,200 calories in one day!  One trip through your favorite fast food restaurant can easily add those calories right back into your week.

Do you use cheat days or meals as part of your healthy lifestyle?  What works for you and what warnings would you give others?

The Psychology of Hitting Restart On Your Fitness

If the last several months halted your healthy lifestyle, now is the perfect time to hit restart and recommit to your goals.  Instead of focusing on added weight or loss of muscle tone, shifting your focus to renewed goals and a renewed purpose can help you achieve the results with renewed spirit.  Ready to get started?  FitClub has easy tips for hitting restart on your healthy life and beginning again.73c34c2d272268d2ff1e16a2b6004551

  1. Reboot your purpose.  Everything needs a reboot every now and then, and your purpose for wanting a healthy lifestyle is no different.  Maybe your goal started to feel stale or it no longer fits your priorities.  Perhaps, like a lot of people, the last several months were overwhelming and you had to homeschool children while also working from home and the days—and your fitness—just slipped away.  Think of your fitness reboot as restarting your computer.  Keeping your focus on all that can be gained from a reboot, rather than what might have been lost while you were as frozen as a computer screen can help you lock into the real purpose behind your health motivations.  Given the changes that we have all had to make recently, focusing on your mental and physical health may be the most compelling purpose we have.  
  2. Look for progress.  Restarting any habit can be difficult and certainly a healthy relationship with food and fitness is no different.  Some days, progress may just be showing up at FitClub and that’s okay!  Everyday that you step into FitClub is a day closer to reaching your goals.  If you’ve been away from your routine for awhile, start slowly and let your body build back up any strength or flexibility you might have lost.  Progress may look different right now, and that’s okay.  Building consistency and avoiding injury is progress in itself right now.  
  3. Make a plan and start now.  That’s right, as soon as you’ve finished reading this article, start making a plan for your workout.  Schedule time on your calendar that cannot be interrupted or overlooked, lay out your favorite workout clothes, and even jot down a few workouts you’ll do when you step into FitClub.  Lacking a specific plan of action can derail even the best of intentions.  Knowing when you’ll workout and what you’ll do when you walk through the doors of FitClub can alleviate any anxiety you might have about starting fresh.  If you worry you might talk yourself out of a workout when the time arrives, move your clothes and shoes to a place that you can’t avoid.  The kitchen counter next to the coffee pot works well for a morning workout, or throw everything you need in the car so you eliminate any post-work excuses that might keep you from your evening workout.

Are you ready to hit restart on your health and fitness?  If you’re hitting restart right now, tell us what works for you!

Not a Swimmer? How to Get a Great Pool Workout Without a Single Lap

It’s hot!  There’s no better way to cool off than jumping into the pool and burning calories.  Whether you need to protect your joints, rehab from an injury, or you just need to try a fresh, new approach to fitness this summer, the pool is the place to burn calories and strengthen every muscle.Screen Shot 2020-07-20 at 12.08.20 PM  

If laps aren’t for you, FitClub has tips on water workouts that will have you burning calories in the water all summer long.  Ready to dip your toes into a new workout?

1. Take a walk.  Instead of fighting the heat and humidity, get your steps in the pool this summer.  Walking in the water provides the cardiovascular exercise you need, as well as added resistance to strengthen and tone while you walk.  Not only is the pool easier on your joints than concrete, you’ll also avoid the dangers associated with exercising outdoors in the dangerous heat and excessive sun.

2. Tone up.  Take your body weight strength training exercises to the pool this summer, by simply modifying your favorite moves for a water workout.  Try push-ups, squats, or lunges using the pool this summer to freshen up your favorite moves.  While the moves will have less impact on your joints in the water, don’t be fooled! You’re getting a great workout because the water provides more resistance than air.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends body weight exercises in the water for anyone suffering from common joint conditions like arthritis or joint injuries.

3. Isolate muscles for a better workout.  Even if you don’t have a graceful swimming technique, using a kick board to support your upper body while you kick your way to stronger legs can help you isolate large muscle groups for a better workout.  Kick board workouts are used for both well-trained, elite swimmers and children just getting started.  A few laps with a kick board will raise your heart rate and provide resistance to tone and strengthen your legs.

Ready to jump into a water workout?  Getting started is easy!  In addition to your swimsuit, a cap and goggles may make you more comfortable while you splash your way to better fitness.  You will also need to bring your water bottle.  You may not notice the sweat you’re producing during your water workout, but the risk of dehydration is just as real in the water as on land.  Be sure to hydrate before, during, and after for the safest and most effective workout.

Are you already a devoted aquatics exerciser?  Share your tips and tricks in the comments to encourage members ready to jump in!

Meditation for Total Wellness

Even if you’ve been eating healthy foods and consistently knocking out intense workouts, you may be missing out on a key component of total wellness if you haven’t tried meditation.  Meditation is exercise for your brain and is available at FitClub and in your own home.  Let FitClub convince you that meditation is the key to better overall health!5ee7e8e6aee6a81feb35ac40

Why meditate?

  1. Meditation is for everyone.  If you see images of gurus sitting cross-legged in tropical paradises when you think of meditation you may be surprised to find out that some of the best athletes in the world use meditation to improve their athletic pursuits.  High-performing athletes experience higher levels of both relaxation and performance when they add meditation to their health and fitness repertoire. Quietly visualizing how you will perform in your workout, interact with your family, or conquer a job interview can have lasting effects and help set the tone for how you will perform when the opportunity arrives.  
  2. Bored?  A lot of people are bored right now while we are still sorting our way through the COVID19 pandemic.  Meditation enhances creativity which may help open your mind to creative endeavors you can enjoy safely during this crazy time.  Researchers believe that the increase in creativity after meditation likely occurs because meditation draws your attention inward.  When was the last time you had time to sit quietly and process how you think and feel, and focus on yourself?  In a busy world with too many competing demands, our energy is rarely shifted inward, allowing space and time to focus on our own silent needs.  Allowing your mind this space to clear away any negativity and noise can help open up creativity that may not make it through in the course of a typical, busy day.
  3. Scientifically supported.  Meditation isn’t just a feel-good-concept, it’s backed by science.  Even the American Heart Association recommends meditation for better cardiovascular health!  According to the American Heart Association, a consistent meditation practice lowers stress and high blood pressure and improves quality of sleep—all necessary ingredients for better heart health.  
  4. Where to start.  If meditation is a completely new practice for you, you can find plenty of support for a meditation practice right at FitClub!  The FitClub app has video meditations you can practice from the comfort of your own home and an in-person class you can check out whether you’re a complete beginner or a practiced meditation veteran.  Start your week with Andrea’s meditation class on the app or in person to provide balance for the days ahead.  There really is no right or wrong way to meditate, but for questions and guidance, FitClub can help put you on the right track to better mental and emotional health today!

Let us know how meditation works for you in the comment section.  We’re all in this journey together and starting your morning with a FitClub meditation class will provide lasting benefits all day!

Is Stress to Blame? How Stress Impacts Your Physical Health and Fitness

There’s a significant amount of stress in the world right now.  No doubt, you’ve probably suffered your fair share of stress caused by recent events, as well. We know that physical exercise can alleviate stress and protect our bodies, but do you know how stress can impact your health and fitness?  Stress impacts nearly every major system in our bodies and to function at its best, we need to recognize when stress attacks and take active measures to push back.woman-at-desk-fingers-on-bridge-of-nose-768

1. Stress can negatively impact your fitness goals.  Have you been working out during the shut-down only to find that you’re not seeing the results and gains that you normally see?  You’re not alone.  Stress can make it more difficult to lose weight, improve muscle tone, and concentrate on the moves to avoid injury.  When we fail to see the improvements we crave, we can become less motivated to keep pushing forward toward our goals.  If you’ve noticed this happening to you, rest assured that you are not alone. This is your body’s natural response to dealing with an uptick in stress.  You’re still making gains even if you don’t see the level of improvement you’re accustomed to.  As the physical exercise alleviates stress from the body, the body can more easily begin to challenge itself to get you closer to your goals.  Keep moving forward!

2. Stress can make you ill.  Chronic stress can literally make you feel physically ill.  Even if you never suffer the major threats of stress on the body like heart attacks and strokes, you may still suffer from a less robust immune system, report less energy, and feel aches and pains that you don’t normally experience.  Making time for physical exercise and meditation to combat the ills of stress is critical for remaining healthy during these unprecedented times.  By allowing for your workout to be a priority in your day, you make time to step away from whatever may be stressing you and counteract any negative emotions with the feel-good endorphins enjoyed after a great workout.  A good workout can also make it easier to fall asleep at night, which not only helps you stay physically well, but also mentally rested and prepared to take on new challenges.

3. It’s okay to slow down.  If you’re feeling a tremendous amount of stress right now, this may not be the time to jump into any major, new physical fitness goals.  Maybe right now, your goal should be to maintain your current level of fitness and a healthy weight.  As you pursue total body wellness at FitClub, it’s important to remember that working towards balance is a form of wellness.  If you feel as though you have too much on your mind and chasing your huge goal has become a stressor, it’s okay to dial it back and focus on preserving your current level of fitness until you start to feel the benefits of a renewed fitness program.  

Welcome Back, FitClub Members!

Whether you spent the last several months curled up on the couch or working on your fitness plan with the FitClub app, FitClub is ready to welcome you back!  No matter how you spent the last several months, you can easily jump right back into your fitness routine and implement FitClub’s tips for returning to total wellness!IMG_3585

1. Reconsider why you started.  Over the course of the last several months, many of us having been thinking more about our health and wellness.  Perhaps you faced challenges dealing with stress or had trouble finding the motivation to fit in a workout.  How you handled the last few months may cause you to reconsider your “why” when it comes to your fitness goals.  Did you find yourself eating or sleeping poorly?  Was your stress level significantly higher than usual?  Everyone responds to unprecedented events differently. By recognizing how you responded and how you might like to respond, you can come to terms with your own motivation for wanting to live a healthier lifestyle.

2. Ease back into a challenging regimen.  If, during the shutdown, you weren’t challenging yourself as much as your trainer or favorite group exercise class generally challenges you, you might need to ease back into fitness for a few days before you ramp up.  By taking the time to properly warm up, cool down and stretch, you can quickly make up for lost time without injury or extreme muscle soreness.  The most important thing is that you get started again sooner rather than later.  Don’t let your fitness wait another day!

3. Practice healthy habits.  As FitClub reopens, it’s more important than ever that we all commit to promoting healthy habits and exceptional personal hygiene.  We have laid out the details of what FitClub and its staff are doing to keep us all safe and healthy, but you have a role to play too.  As much as we all want to get back into shape and put the last several months behind us, please do stay home if you feel unwell.  While at FitClub, please be courteous of other members and mindful about social distancing, hand washing, and thoroughly cleaning any used equipment between use.  As FitClub members, we’ve always known that we are all on this journey together, but now more than ever we need to take care of ourselves and each other.  To better understand what FitClub is doing to keep its clubs open and safe, check out the FitClub phase 4 information page!

4. Take time to care for your mental health.  There are many challenges that we’re all facing right now.  In addition to your physical health, be sure to take care of your mental health.  If you’re new to meditation, FitClub’s meditation class is a great, healthy way to protect yourself from stress and negativity while you live your happiest, healthiest life!

How are you approaching your fitness now that FitClub is reopened?  Share your experiences with us in the comments.