Tag Archives: exercise

Three Quick Morning Workouts

Most people wake up in the morning dreading the heavy workload they may have. Whether it’s getting the kids out the door for school, a big deadline that’s due, or the everyday tasks that cause us stress, we tend to wake up stressed. That can all change when you wake up and start your day with a quick workout. These mini workouts will get your blood flowing to help wake you up, feel more energized throughout the day and make you feel like you’ve already accomplished something before the day even begins.

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15, 15, 15

Perform three sets of 15 of each of the following three exercises: air squats, push-ups and sit ups. Each of these exercises works a large muscle group and gives you a full body workout. Make sure to focus on your form and perform each exercise and repetition correctly. It’s better to perform the exercises the right way instead of fast and risk causing an injury.

Jog or Walk Around the Block

Nothing wakes your senses up better than getting outside. Pick a path that’s conveniently located around your home and just walk or run for 10 minutes. You will get vitamin D from being outside and also get to unplug and enjoy the outdoors before being locked down to technology all day. Unplugging for an hour a day helps you to focus more and helps you to appreciate the finer things in life such as the beauty of nature. Aim for a mile and you’ll have a good start towards reaching your 10,000 steps a day goal.

Bike to Work

Change up your routine every once in a while and try biking to work. Getting out of traffic can relieve stress and biking is a great cardiovascular workout. Plan accordingly when biking into work. Make sure you wear the right clothing and map out your route. Plan to leave your work clothes and lunch at the office the day before so you have fewer things to carry on your ride. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water too!

How to Use a Foam Roller

Maybe you’ve heard of using a foam roller before, or maybe you’ve even given it a try a time or two. Whether you’re a seasoned foam roller or a newbie to this technique, let this information guide you towards improved rolling and muscle healing!

What is Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) stretching technique used by many to decrease the muscle soreness that often follows exercise sessions. Some of the benefits achieved through rolling include:

  • Reduced muscle imbalances
  • Improved muscle relaxation
  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Faster and more effective muscle recovery

*Some evidence suggests that when combined with your body weight, a foam roller can be as effective as a post-workout massage.

A foam roller is simply a cylindrical piece of extruded hard-celled foam. They are generally available in one and three foot lengths and are available in soft and high density foam. Note: The denser the athlete, the more dense the roller should be.

Recommended Muscle Groups
  • Calves
  • Thighs (Inner & Outer)
  • Hamstrings & Glutes
  • Hips
  • Buttocks
  • Lats & Back (Along the spine)

For those that have never tried foam rolling before, it may be awkward or a little painful at first. Just know that by focusing on proper positioning and consistency, you will become more comfortable—so stick with it!

How Does it Work?

The pressure you place on your muscles during the rolling technique aids in the release of fascia adhesions (connective tissue knots, which limit function and circulation of the muscles). Rolling will help to “untangle” these knots and stretch out the targeted muscles.

When to Foam Roll:

There is no definite timeframe on when to use, however, it is suggested to begin with using before and/or after a workout. Rolling before will aid in decreasing muscle density and promoting a better warm-up. Rolling after a workout may help the muscles to recover sooner and decrease soreness.

How to Foam Roll:

By slowly rolling onto the targeted area, you should be able to feel the most tender spot of the chosen muscle group. Using your arms for balance and support, hold on this spot while relaxing the targeted muscles for 30-90 seconds, while keeping your core stable. Relax your breathing to ensure your muscles are given your full attention. Once you feel the release of the connective tissue, slowly roll to a comfortable and neutral position, where you can safely stand or move onto the next muscle group as needed.

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KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER

  • Foam rolling is not appropriate for everyone—individuals with congestive heart failure, kidney failure, or any other organ failure, as well as, those with bleeding disorders, contagious skin conditions, severe physical injuries, should avoid this technique. If you are pregnant or nursing, please speak with your physician before foam rolling. If you have mobility issues and find it difficult to lie on the floor, please avoid this technique. If you have a medical issue, please seek the advice of your medical provider before engaging in foam rolling activities.
  • It is important to take your time to learn the proper techniques with foam rolling to prevent injury and to get the greatest benefit. Much like other physical activities, practice makes perfect and patience is key!
  • Fun fact: Similar to foam rolling, rolling a tennis ball under the ball and arch of your foot can help to ease foot pains!

 

Sources:

Clark, M. (n.d.). Self Myofascial Release Techniques. Retrieved from http://www.performbetter.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PBOnePieceView?storeId=10151&catalogId=10751&pagename=91

Foam rolling as a recovery tool after an intense bout of physical activity. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24343353

Kuhland, J. (n.d.). What Is a Foam Roller, How Do I Use It, and Why Does It Hurt? Retrieved from http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/what-is-a-foam-roller-how-do-i-use-it-and-why-does-it-hurt

 

Healthy Holidays Tip 3: Incorporating Activity Into Your Day

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With work, house guests, holiday get-togethers and all the work that comes along with hosting or traveling, it can be difficult to stick with your regular exercise routine. Staying active over the holidays is especially important because you will most likely be consuming more calories than normal. Just because you can’t make time for your regular workout in the gym, doesn’t mean you can’t work activity into your day.

Traveling? Here are a few ways to stay active. And running to the gate to catch your flight does count!

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Check out the Healthy Holiday Calendar for more tips on sticking with healthy eating habits and managing your portions at parties.

Isometric Exercises: Build Muscle Without Moving

It can be a struggle to find the time and equipment to fit in weekly resistance training workouts, but we aren’t going to let that stop us! Resistance training is one of the most effective ways we know to build lean muscle, burn body fat, ramp up our metabolism and keep our bones strong. But, what if I told you that in the midst of your busy week you could do your resistance training without any movement? That’s right!  These types of exercises are called isometric exercises, or isometrics. They are efficient, subtle and so convenient that you can perform them anywhere, even while sitting in traffic!

First, let’s take a few steps back and review the types of muscle contractions.

1. Concentric contraction is a muscular contraction that occurs when the muscle is shortening during exercise. The bicep is concentrically contracted when lifting the dumbbell during a bicep curl.

2. Eccentric contraction is a muscular contraction that occurs when the muscle is lengthening during exercise. The bicep is eccentrically contracted when lowering the dumbbell during a bicep curl.

3. Isometric contraction is a muscular contraction that occurs when the muscle in a static position, so no lengthening or shortening. The bicep is isometrically contracted when holding the weight in a static position at a 90 degree angle.

Concentric and eccentric contractions are utilized daily by lifters. The third kind, isometric, is often overlooked. By engaging in isometric contractions, you can develop leaner muscles, improve joint stability, and improve core strength without the need of equipment. You will even have a lower risk of injury when compared to traditional dynamic exercises. In addition, the effort it takes to align, stabilize, and elongate your body while maintaining a still posture is incredibly mindful and boosts cognitive function.

If you are a beginner to exercise, then pick a few isometric exercises from the list below and try to hold the contraction for as long as you can with good form. A goal is to complete 2-3 repetitions, holding for 30 seconds or longer, resting for 45-60 seconds between reps. Remember that you can do these exercises anywhere, so get creative!

1. Hamstring Bridge

Hamstring bridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent on the floor. Keep your toes facing forward and your ankles directly below your knees at hip width. Stretch your arms straight beside you. Press through your heels to lift your hips off the mat to create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Contract your hamstrings and squeeze your buttocks together.

2. Plank

Plank

Place your forearms under your shoulders and extend your legs behind you so you’re flat like a board from toes to head. Continue to engage your core by squeezing your abs in and thinking of pulling your belly button to your spine.

3. Wall Push

Wall push

In a lunge position, place your hands on the wall at about chest level. Lean forward into the wall and keep your core engaged while you push as hard as you can through both hands evenly.

4. Wall Sit

Wall sit

Stand with your back against the wall and feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees, bringing the top of your thighs parallel to the ground and rest your arms to the side. Avoid leaning forward by keeping your back straight and core engaged. Think of pressing through your heels and squeezing your feet together to engage the inner thighs.

5. Palm Push

Palm push

Stand with your back straight, chest up and core engaged. Bring your palms together in front of you at chest level with elbows out wide. Push your hands together with as much force as possible engaging chest and arm strength.

6. Wall Extensions

Wall extensions

Stand with your back against the wall. Bend over at the waist and place the outer edges of your fist against the wall. Try to push the wall back behind you with all your strength!

7. Push-up Hold

Push up hold

From plank position, extend your arms into a pushup position and keep the elbows in and head down to align the spine. Continue to engage your core by squeezing your abs in and thinking of pulling your belly button to your spine.

 

Resource: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/an-introduction-to-isometrics-how-to-build-strength-without-even-moving/#axzz3iWbNcmCj

5 Ways to Relieve Knee Pain

If you suffer from knee pain during physical activity, you are not alone. One study from Gallup-Healthways found that 26% of the adult population in the US suffers from knee pain. Don’t let your bad knees limit you from reaching your full weight improvement potential. Instead, start implementing the strategies below to build your knees back up stronger for a leaner and pain-free future self!

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1. Engage in low-impact cardio

High impact cardio, like running and jumping, can cause a lot of unnecessary stress on the body and has potential to lead to muscle and joint injuries. For safe knees, incorporate different methods of low-impact cardio to your workouts. Some examples of low impact cardio include the stair climber or step-ups, swimming, speed walking, dance classes, elliptical machines and biking.

2. Strengthen leg muscles, especially the gluteus maximus

Knee pain or injury can occur when large muscles in the hips and legs are weak.  When the largest muscle in the body (gluteus maximus) is weak, it causes an imbalance of additional stress in the hip, knee and ankle. By strengthening your hips and leg muscles, you can safely stabilize the knee joint during activity. My favorite glute exercise is slow and controlled squats.

3. Strengthen core muscles

If your core muscles are weak, it causes an imbalance of stress in the pelvis, low back and legs. You might notice that if your posture is poor then your pelvis starts to tilt forward, which creates a low back curvature causing your legs to shift inward. Strengthening core muscles helps keep your back in a neutral spine position and places the lower extremities in the best possible position for movement without joint compression.

4. Stretch the hamstrings, hip and calf muscles

Since our hamstrings and hip adductors (inner thigh muscles) are taking on additional stress from a weak gluteus maximus, unnecessary force is placed on the knee. The imbalances can be magnified for those that sit at a desk all day, which is why we recommend taking stretch and walking breaks at work. By stretching and staying active, you decrease the chance for muscle imbalances.

5. Wear supported shoes

When you can, choose to wear supported flats.  High-heeled shoes increase the compressive force on your knee joints by 23%. Wearing heels also encourages tight calf muscles, which can pull the foot and leg inward causing unnecessary stress to the ankle and knee.  It is also recommended to replace your workout shoes every 300 to 500 miles to avoid injury.

 

Participating in the Weigh and Win program and improving your lifestyle habits will benefit your knees as well. New research shows that a 10 percent decrease in weight will result in a 28 percent increase in knee function (such as climbing stairs and walking). Another study found that for every 11 pounds a woman loses, there is a remarkable 50 percent decrease in the risk of knee arthritis. The point is if you have knee pain, it doesn’t have to be permanent. If you have any questions, please email the Weigh and Win Health Coaches at [email protected].

 

8 Reasons You Should Lift Weights

Oftentimes people think if they lift weights their body is going to instantly transform into the body of a body builder. Weight lifting is a great way to improve your health and slim down.

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  1. You will burn more calories… while you’re sitting on the couch!
    After strength training, your metabolism is elevated for many hours after you finish your workout in order produce energy to repair your muscles. Therefore, you are burning additional calories even after you have finished your workout.
  2. You will have improved memory and productivity
    Those who strength train have been shown to have better short- and long-term memory, improved verbal reasoning, and a longer attention span. Researchers also found that workers were 15% more productive on days they exercised compared to days they didn’t.
  3. You will reduce the chance of injury
    Lifting weights helps to increase bone density and joint flexibility which leads to less chance of injury and decreased body pains along with preventing conditions like osteoporosis. Naturally, with decreased body pains you will also see your quality of life increase.
  4. You will look great…without having to spend hours on the treadmill
    Cardio training is great but if this is the only type of exercise you are doing you might actually be hurting your progress. When you limit yourself to only cardio training, you will see a decrease in fat mass AND muscle mass. Strength training will also decrease fat mass but it will INCREASE muscle mass. This results in more muscle tone and muscle is also more efficient at burning calories from fat so the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn.
  5. You will be happier
    Those who exercise regularly have lower levels of stress hormones than those who are less fit. Strength training has also been shown to reduced anxiety and depression symptoms.
  6. You’ll live longer
    Researchers from the University of South Carolina determined that strength training is linked to lower risks of death from heart attack, stroke and cancer.
  7. Increased confidence and self-esteem
    As we mentioned above, one of the side effects of resistance training is decreased fat mass and increased muscle tone. This often results in fitting into those skinny jeans you have had your eye on for months now! Along with looking great, you can also become more self-sufficient i.e. carry your own luggage, yard work etc. which will leave you feeling powerful and independent.
  8. You can do it with little to no equipment/space
    You actually don’t need a gym to strength train. There are plenty of body weight exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home while still achieving noticeable results! Contact [email protected] if you need some assistance coming up with some strength training exercises to do at home.

 

Sources:
http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/12-reasons-you-should-lift-weights
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/12/benefits-of-lifting-weights_n_6432632.html

 

Sync your Fitbit with Weigh and Win!

Did you know you can sync your Fitbit Activity Tracker with your Weigh and Win dashboard? You can track your health progress, weight loss and physical activity in one simple spot!

Here’s how you can sync your Fitbit with Weigh and Win:

 

Learn more about Fitbit on their website. Want more information on Weigh and Win? Head over to our website!