Easy Ways to Add More Cardio to Your Day, Whether You Love it or Hate It

Whether you love cardio or hate it, it’s essential to a balanced, healthy lifestyle.  Fortunately, if spending hours on the treadmill to meet your cardio exercise requirements isn’t appealing to you, FitClub has easy ways to add more cardiovascular activity to your workout regimen.

Why does your body need cardio?
Maybe your ideal workout regimen includes only strength training or only Yoga.  It’s nice to imagine a healthy lifestyle built only on the activities that we prefer, but one hundred fifty minutes of cardio exercise each week is essential to preventing certain medical conditions like heart disease and stroke.  It’s also crucial for building endurance and burning calories and an effective way to manage or lose weight.

How can you add more cardio without spending hours on the treadmill?
If you’ve avoided cardio in the past or you’re new to exercise, you might be surprised to learn that cardio exercise can be any activity that raises your heart rate to such a degree that your body will burn fat and calories.  To get to that target heart rate zone during your workout, you need at least ten minutes of cardio activity.  If long runs on the treadmill don’t appeal to you, FitClub has you covered with easy ways to add more cardio and maximize your results.IMG_1541

  • Keep it simple. Cardio doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective.  Adding a brisk walk, a short ride on a stationary bike, or a series of sprints on the treadmill to your strength training warmup can help you hit your cardio goals without adding tons of time to your workout.  Your effort in doing the activity counts far more than the complexity of the activity.  When you’re introducing your body to cardio, keep it simple and judge your workout by your effort and intensity, rather than the activity, speed, or miles.
  • Break it up. Don’t let the magic number of one hundred fifty minutes scare you away from trying to add more cardio to your workout.  Cardio doesn’t have to be done in huge blocks of time to be effective. You can break up a strength training workout with ten to twenty minutes of cardio between sets and maximize your results without adding hours to your workout routine.  Breaking up your workout may also help to break up the monotony of strength training, allowing you to stay more mentally engaged in each part of your workout.
  • Hire a personal trainer or try a FitClub group exercise class. Working with a professional can take the guesswork out of adding cardio to your workout and you might be surprised at how easily a professional can transform a strength training exercise into a cardio workout.  Personal trainers know how to build compound sets or vary your recovery time between sets to increase your heart rate while you perform the moves you already love.  Group exercise classes, too, bring an advantage in letting you feed off the motivation of others in the class.  With FitClub’s varied group exercise class schedule, you can easily find something that sparks your interest in a time and location that’s convenient for you.

Do you have interesting, easy ways to add more cardio to your workout? Share your tips with your fellow FitClub members in the comments!

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Simple Ways to Help You Cope With Daylight Savings Time

If you’re still feeling the effects of losing an hour of sleep due to Daylight Savings, you’re not alone.  Many people feel the effect of “springing ahead” for up to one week. Losing only one hour of sleep and introducing your body to a new circadian rhythm with longer days can affect your mind, body, and overall health.  You might find it more difficult to fall and stay asleep, manage your appetite, or regulate your mood while your body adjusts to a new cycle as we head into spring.feeling-sick-and-tired

How daylight savings time may affect your health.

Losing just one hour of out of your day may not seem like something that will complicate your health for a week or more, but the changing light cycle by which you sleep and wake disrupts your body’s natural circadian rhythm which regulates body functions like sleeping and producing hormones.

While your body struggles to reset its circadian rhythm, you might find that you have difficulty falling or staying asleep, leaving you feeling more fatigued than usual.  If not properly handled, fatigue can lead to an increase in accidents, stress, and moods swings.

Simple ways to cope with the change.

  • Start adjusting immediately. The sooner you begin to cope with the effects, the sooner your body can return to normal.  If you’ve been relying on naps, caffeine or sleep aids to offset the fatigue this week, start by returning to your normal bedtime and your normal wakeup.  If you tend to sleep in on weekends, now is the time to try to maintain a regular sleep schedule every day.
  • Refresh your diet with healthy foods. One of the hormones impacted by the disruption to your circadian rhythm is ghrelin, the hormone that makes us feel hungrier.  Coupled with less sleep, the hormone can make it difficult to deal with unhealthy cravings and lead to overeating.  Starting your day with a healthy breakfast not only provides a nutritious boost to your health, but it also tells your body that it’s time to wake up and start the day.  Steering clear of sugar in the morning can also help you manage mood changes you might be suffering from.
  • Stick to your workout. Exercise gives you a natural energy boost and healthy endorphin rush no matter what time you prefer to exercise.  Staying consistent and maintaining your FitClub schedule can help you return to a normal sleep and wake cycle quickly.  Exercise also helps to ward off the stress and changing moods that you might be suffering while your body adjusts.

Does the time change bother you?  If you managed the time change successfully, tell us how you did it!

How Healthy is Your Social Circle? Three Tips to Stay Healthy Despite Outside Influences

Your social circle impacts every decision, big and small, that you make through the course of a day.  Your social circle includes everyone that you come into contact with on a regular basis, including your colleagues, family, and friends. Does your social circle motivate you to maintain your healthy lifestyle or does it hold you back?  If your social circle doesn’t share your healthy goals, you don’t have to find a completely new social circle, but you should consider following FitClub’s three tips below.friends-eating-meal

  • Consider being the change your group needs. If you find that your time with your group too often revolves around junk food and alcohol, you can be the one to suggest a healthier alternative. Volunteering to prepare dinner at your house, suggesting an activity instead of a night in, or inviting others to join you for a Zumba class or in training for a 5K might be an easy remedy to your problem.  You might even be surprised at the positive response you receive for suggesting a healthier alternative to your normal group outing.  Perhaps even among your social circle is someone that is just waiting for a gentle push to a healthier lifestyle.
  • Stay focused on your own goals. Of course, not everyone in your social circle may be open to change and incorporating healthier foods and activities into your time together.  Some might even resist your personal attempts to live a healthier lifestyle.  It’s unavoidable that your social circle likely includes at least a few people that don’t share your passion for healthy living.  If that’s the case, you have to create your own opportunities for a healthy balance when you’re together.  Opening a dialogue with your peers can help you explain why your goals are important to you and how your lifestyle needs to change to achieve those goals. Even if your friends won’t join you in chasing your goals, they can at least offer support and help keep you accountable while you spend time together.
  • Create new social connections. Ultimately, whether or not we receive the support we need from our social group can’t be an excuse for not pursuing our goals.  If your social circle can’t manage to offer either change or support, you may need to look to expand your circle to incorporate more people that have the same goals and healthy lifestyles.  FitClub is full of likeminded people all interested in living a healthier life and getting fit.  Group exercise classes, personal trainers, and even the member on the treadmill next to yours can be a great source of support and accountability. You can’t change a social circle that doesn’t share your goals, but you can expand it by getting to know your fellow FitClub members and spending time among healthy peers.

How supportive is your social circle?  Do you find that some people are better able to help you succeed than others?  What solutions have worked for you?

Can You Ever Really Catch Up On Sleep?

Sleep is indisputably important to a healthy lifestyle and finding the right amount of sleep for your own individual needs can be challenging.  Even with the best intentions, we all find that we lose sleep from time to time.  Is the phrase, “catch up on your sleep,” just a cliché, or can you actually make up for lost snooze time?Overweight Woman Asleep In Bed

The reality of catching up on sleep.

Sleep experts at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine agree that catching up on sleep is nothing more than a cliché.  Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that attempting to catch up on a lack of sleep by sleeping more than usual over a short period of time can actually be more harmful  to your health.  Sleeping more to make up for lost sleep can even negatively impact your health and work performance.  Catching up on sleep during the weekends, for example, can wreak havoc on your natural circadian rhythms, making it more difficult to fall asleep at your standard bedtime.

Researchers at the University Colorado Boulder also found that those that attempt to catch up on sleep during weekends have an increased tendency to gain weight and are at higher risk of developing diabetes. It may be that any disruption to your normal sleep cycle disrupts hormones that control your appetite and reduces your ability to control your impulses when tempted with unhealthy foods.

If you can’t catch up on sleep, how can you recover from a bout of lost sleep?

The only healthy way to rebound from a recent lack of sleep is to resume your normal sleep schedule as soon as possible.  This means both going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time.  Maintaining a consistent sleep routine, even during weekends, is the most effective way of optimizing your quality of sleep and reducing the risk of sleep interference.

If you’re a fan of naps, you should try to nap for no more than twenty minutes and always before 3:00PM.  A longer nap or a nap that extends past 3:00PM may make you feel better in the short term, but will disrupt your sleep at night, leaving you with an increased risk of extended sleep loss.

Balance and consistency are essential components of a healthy relationship with sleep.

For some, sleep is often the first to go when competing priorities make demands on our time.  Sleep, though, is when the body repairs itself physically and mentally for the demands necessitated by our busy lifestyles.  Skimping on sleep is not only unhealthy, but can be dangerous to our health and an insurmountable obstacle to living a healthier lifestyle.  Staying balanced and consistent with your approach to sleep, just like you do with your fitness and diet, can remove the barriers to a healthier lifestyle, leaving you far more productive during your waking hours.

Do you struggle with sleep or does a regular sleep schedule come easily to you?

How to Choose the Diet That’s Right For You?

Keto or paleo?  Low carb or vegan?  It’s impossible to keep track of the most popular diets all promising radical lifestyle changes and health benefits.  Choosing the diet that’s right for you, though, is far easier than you might expect.

  • D985_21_663_1200Forget the way you’ve defined “diet” in the past. The word “diet” has a negative connotation, but let’s stop thinking of it as a calorie-restricted, temporary endeavor, to drop a few pounds or look a particular way.  “Diet” is simply how you eat.  Thinking of the way you eat consistently, long-term, can change the way you feel about the word “diet”.  If you can’t sustain a pattern of healthy eating long-term, the crusade you’re on probably isn’t the right fit for you.
  • How does your diet make you feel? If the way you’re eating makes your digestive system feel sluggish, leaves you feeling lethargic, or generally makes you miserable, it’s not working for you. Every body is different and every body needs different fuel depending on the demands you place on that body through the course of any given day.  If you’re training for a marathon, for example, a low-carb diet is probably not going to give you the fuel you need to get through the day.  If you’re eating fat laden foods for lunch and can’t get through your afternoon, you’re not fueling your body properly.  The right diet should leave you with more energy, regular digestion, and make you happy.
  • Are you afraid to eat certain foods? If you’re eating the right foods for your body consistently, there’s room for small indulgences from time to time.  If you find that you fear birthday parties or holidays because you’re afraid of straying from your diet, your restrictive diet may not be right for you. If your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and your body feels good, there’s no reason to be anxious or feel like you’ve failed because you allowed for a small indulgence. Food is a major part of our lifestyles, celebrations, and traditions.  Creating room for joy in your diet makes it easier to eat in a healthy way consistently and in a way that gets you to your goals.
  • Do you allow room for creativity? Maybe your diet needs more vegetables but you can’t think of a single vegetable you want to eat consistently.  Maybe you want the health benefits of adding spinach or kale to your diet, but can’t figure out the best way.  Allowing for creativity in the kitchen can make you healthier and happier. Adding a handful of spinach or kale to your morning smoothie can give you the nutrient punch without eating another salad.  A serving of fruit may satisfy your sweet tooth after a meal or swapping plain Greek yogurt for sour cream can improve your diet.  Even spending an extra minute in the produce aisle may introduce you to a new favorite, healthy dish that boosts your attitude and your health!

How does your diet make you feel?  Do you practice healthy eating or have a particular diet that works for you?  Share your tips in the comments.

Four Reasons Exercise is Imperative for Seniors

If you’re familiar with FitClub’s schedule of classes, you already know that FitClub has a wide variety of exercise programs designed for seniors.  While exercise has major benefits for every age group, exercise for seniors has proven benefits that extend far beyond weight loss.IMG_8682

  • Disease prevention. Conditions like arthritis tend to disproportionately affect seniors. Regular and consistent physical activity can reduce the symptoms common to arthritis and prevent obesity, a common risk factor for arthritis.  Exercise also helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one quarter of all deaths are the result of heart disease.  A consistent exercise program helps people manage blood pressure, cholesterol and stress, lowering the risk of heart disease at every age.
  • Minimizes symptoms of depression and loneliness. FitClub’s inclusive atmosphere also plays a role in reducing the feeling of isolation and loneliness sometimes experienced by seniors. At FitClub, many seniors find a supportive atmosphere of like-minded individuals with the same goals.  Experts have found that participation in group exercise classes can be attributed to a thirty percent reduction in symptoms of depression among older adults. If you haven’t already experienced one of FitClub’s Silver Sneakers programs, you can find the schedule of group exercises classes here to find one that fits your interests and schedule to try it for yourself.
  • Improved mental cognition. Scientists have been actively studying the effects of exercise on the mental cognition of older adults and have found promising results.  Some researchers have found that just six to twelve months of exercise produces improved cognitive ability and reduced symptoms of dementia.  Even modest amounts of moderate exercise makes it easier for older adults to successfully carry out daily tasks, walking from task to task, and reducing the risk of falls.
  • Reduced fall risk. The risk of falling presents a serious concern for older adults, often times resulting in hospitalization or the sudden inability to live alone.  The United States Preventive Services Task Force issued a recommendation that those over sixty-five years old with a risk of falling participate in exercise programs to reduce that risk.  Balance exercises and strength training reduce the risk of falls.  FitClub’s personal trainers and experienced group exercise leaders provide for balance and strength training for seniors in a supportive, safe atmosphere allowing older adults to build strength and balance safely.

It’s never too early or too late to begin reaping the benefits of a consistent exercise regimen.  Whether you’ve been exercising consistently throughout your life, or you’re interest in learning more about how exercise can improve the aging process, FitClub has the personnel and resources you need to exercise in a safe and productive way that best fits your needs.

If you’re already active in the Silver Sneakers programs that FitClub offers, what advice would you offer to those that might be curious about joining FitClub?

Find Balance in Your Life for Better Health

No matter what your workout goals are, if your life feels out of balance it will be difficult to maintain the lifelong consistency that you are likely striving for.  Demanding jobs, family obligations, and the constant feeling of being connected to technology can leave us all out of balance and fighting to find more time for our priorities.  If you struggle with balance, FitClub has tips to get you back on track to living a happier, healthier, more balanced life.AM0A3037

  • To find balance, you have to check in with yourself daily. Balance isn’t something that you can find in a long weekend or on a Sunday morning while you’re checking off household chores. Like a healthy workout routine, balance is a fluid concept and may look very different for you than it does for your friends and family.  If you feel that you’re not able to find time for healthy relationships and proper rest amidst your competing demands, your schedule is likely out of balance.  That feeling may come and go through the course of any week or month, but taking time each day to practice balance in your lifestyle will help you recognize what works for you and what you need to meet your needs.
  • Learn to say “no”. Prioritizing your goals and needs is easy when you’re eliminating tasks that don’t feel important to you.  Learning to say “no” to competing interests can be more challenging.  Too many competing priorities can ultimately leave you with a feeling that you’ve accomplished nothing.  To find balance and time, you have to keep asking yourself what is most important to you on that day, in that hour, until you can narrow down what matters most over the long term.  Often, taking time to reflect on priorities forces you to delegate, defer, or just say “no”.  As difficult as that may seem in the moment, the result may be a more balanced lifestyle, complete with the things that matter most.
  • Make time for yourself. Our lives can feel out of balance when we spend more time attending to the needs of others and neglecting our own needs. By making an appointment with yourself to workout at FitClub, you can prioritize your physical and mental health with time that is meant only for you.  Losing yourself in a group exercise class or with a strenuous workout can leave you mentally refreshed and able to take on your other obligations.  You’ll also likely find that you have more energy and a better attitude about completing your tasks if you make time for yourself and balance a busy, stressful lifestyle with a stress reducing workout.

Do you struggle with finding balance in your life? What helps you throw your life back into balance?