Tag Archives: exercise

Staying Motivated to Exercise During Cold Weather

The weather is starting to get colder and the days shorter, which can make exercising the last thing you want to do. When it’s dark outside, it’s easy to stay snuggled in your warm bed and skip your morning workout, but with all of those holiday treats right around the corner, this is no time to slack off. How can you stay motivated to exercise in the colder months?

Set goals and make a plan.

Don’t wait for New Year’s resolutions; set goals for yourself now and make a plan to meet them. Whether your goals are to get fit, lose weight, or de-stress, or all of the above, schedule your workouts on your calendar just as you would a work meeting or doctor’s appointment. Treat these appointments just as you would any other important appointment, and then get the satisfaction of marking it off your “to do” list.

Move indoors.

If it’s too cold to do your regular run, walk, or bike ride outdoors, move your workout inside. You don’t need to belong to a gym to work out indoors. There are plenty of things you can do at home to stay fit: use workout DVDs or get free workouts on YouTube. If you have the space and it’s in your budget, invest in a treadmill or stationary bike to use at home. You can also try out fitness classes at places other than a standard gym—yoga studios, dance studios, and recreation centers. They offer all types of classes that often don’t involve a monthly contract.

Enlist a partner.

It’s always harder to skip a workout if someone else is depending on you. Partner with a friend to work out together this fall and winter. Bundle up and head out for a walk or run together, or find something else active you can do together such as playing indoor tennis, swimming indoors at a local YMCA, or trying out a new fitness class.

Ward off winter blues.

Remind yourself why working out, even when you don’t want to, always makes you feel better. Exercising on dark, cold days can help you keep away the winter blues by boosting your body’s endorphins. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is real and affects 10 to 20 percent of people, and exercise is one way to prevent or lessen its symptoms.

Reward yourself.

Staying motivated to exercise throughout the colder months is challenging. Reward yourself for staying active by treating yourself to a soak in a hot bath or a relaxing massage for sore muscles. Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep.

Finding Time to Exercise for Busy Parents

Now that kids are back in school, and you’re back in your daily routine, finding the time to exercise can be a challenge for busy parents. Whether you’re working full-time or part-time along with taking care of a newborn, chasing after a toddler, or chauffeuring older kids to and from school and activities, it’s easy to go for days without fitting in a workout. Add in a hefty dose of guilt for not spending your free time with your kids, and it’s a recipe for abandoning regular exercise altogether.

With such busy lives, we have to schedule in time to exercise every week, or it may never happen. Think of it as another way to stay healthy for your family. Even if you get in 10-minute increments throughout the day, just moving more will make a huge difference in your overall health, outlook, and well-being, which in turn, will only make you a better parent.

Make exercise a priority by using these tips for finding ways to sneak it into a busy lifestyle:

Strollercize!

Got a baby or toddler? Take advantage of nap time by loading your little one(s) into a jogging stroller and take a walk, or run for 30 minutes.

Find a buddy

Enlist a friend to share workouts. You’re less likely to skip a workout if you’ve promised to meet a friend at the gym or at the park for a walk. Or you can also trade babysitting duties while the other works out.

Play with your kids

Spend time with your kids and exercise at the same time. Kick around a soccer ball with your kids in the yard; go on a bike ride together; walk the dog, or take them to the playground, and join in a game of chase or tag.

Download it

There are endless workout videos available for download as well as on DVD. Especially when it’s raining or the weather turns cold, working out at home to a video is an easy way to fit in exercise. You can even have your kids join you to make it a fun, family affair.

Hit the gym

Join a gym that offers childcare or offers a children’s program your kids can participate in while you and your spouse or partner work out.

Lunch break

If your office allows, eat lunch at your desk, and use your lunch break to go to the gym, or walk or run outdoors a few days a week.

Rise and shine

Get up early before the rest of your house, and get your workout out in before your family’s hectic morning routine starts. You’ll start the day energized and won’t have any excuses later in the day when things like a sick child or schedule changes could derail your workout plans.

Recognizing the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Summer may be winding down, but the weather outside is still hot. With fall just around the corner, you may be dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters, but in many parts of the country, September is still one of the hottest months of the year, so exercising outdoors should still be done with caution to prevent heat exhaustion.

 

Heat exhaustion happens when your body overheats. This condition is caused by exposure to high temperatures, especially when there is a combination of high humidity and strenuous activity. It is usually accompanied by dehydration. If not treated quickly and properly, heat exhaustion can progress to a more serious, life-threatening condition known as heatstroke. That’s why knowing the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and how to treat it is so important.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion

  • Excessive sweating
  • Feeling faint or weak
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Rapid pulse
  • Muscle cramps

Anyone can experience heat exhaustion, but infants, children, and the elderly are especially at risk during hot weather. Don’t forget that dogs and other pets can also get heat exhaustion and heat stroke, so never leave your furry friends outdoors for extended periods during hot weather, and never leave a pet, child, or infant in a hot car.

Treatment for heat exhaustion

If you experience any of the symptoms of heat exhaustion when exercising or spending a lot of time outdoors in the heat, the first thing to do is stop the activity and move indoors to a cooler place. Rehydrate your body with water or a sports drink to replace important electrolytes that are lost when your body overheats. Applying ice packs or cold, wet towels to your forehead, back of neck, and wrists can also help. With prompt treatment, your symptoms should resolve in a couple of hours, but if they do not or you feel worse, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

If you do not get out of the heat and properly treat heat exhaustion, symptoms can quickly progress to heatstroke, which is a life-threatening emergency. Signs of heatstroke include confusion,  odd behavior, agitation, high fever, and seizure. If you or anyone you are with are displaying signs of heatstroke, always call 911 immediately.

You can prevent heat exhaustion by being aware of symptoms anytime you are outdoors in hot weather and staying hydrated by drinking fluids before, during, and after any activity.

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Running on the Beach

If you’re an avid runner, the thought of running on the beach may sound glorious. The sand is soft and inviting, the view is gorgeous … but don’t be fooled, running on sand is far more challenging than you may think.

According to active.com, several studies have found that running on sand consumes more energy than running on asphalt—burning as many as 1.6 more calories per mile. There’s also much less impact force when you run on sand, but with the added resistance, your heart rate rises faster, and your muscles have to work harder.

If you’re planning to run on the beach while on vacation, or if you’re lucky enough to live close to the beach, take note of these tips before trading in the pavement for sand.

Run at low tide

Check local tide reports to see when low tide will be before you head out for a run. It’s best to run at low tide or within an hour or two around the lowest point. As the ocean recedes, it leaves hardening sand behind that creates a hard-packed surface perfect for running.

Shoes or barefoot?

For your first few beach runs, wear your regular running shoes. It may be tempting to ditch the sneakers and go barefoot, but running without them on new terrain could end up being too much for your feet and cause pain or injury. Sand can also be hard on your ankles, and sneakers will help provide stability. After you do a few runs on the sand and your body gets more used to it, if you want to go barefoot, your feet should be able to adapt. Just be aware of sharp shells, glass, or other debris on the beach that could cut your feet.

Slow your pace

Don’t expect to run your average pace on the beach. The change of terrain and lesser impact of the sand will make it feel like your legs are heavier than normal and will become unbearable if you try to run at the speed you’re used to. Slow down and enjoy the view.

Slather on the sunscreen

Protect your skin while running with an SPF30 water-resistant sunscreen, and be sure to bring a water bottle to stay hydrated.

Beach running can be a challenging workout. Be sure to take a rest day in between beach runs to let your body recover from this new work out.

 

 

Incorporating Exercise During Your Vacation

It’s July and many people are heading out on that much-anticipated summer vacation: a time to relax and recharge, whether it’s at the beach, lake, mountains, or sightseeing in a new city.

While vacation is definitely a time to unwind and indulge, it’s also easy to indulge a little too much and get off-track with exercising regularly. Finding ways to stay active while on vacation is easy to do; it just takes a little forethought and planning.

One of the best tips is to remain consistent: If you regularly work out three times per week at home, plan to do the same while on vacation. That can be hard for some folks to even think about because most people perceive exercise while vacationing as taking away from the fun parts and also the desire to avoid anything that resembles everyday chores. The good news is that exercise can be a fun part of any vacation and can be easily incorporated without having structured exercise time.

Here are some tips to keep you on track with your fitness routine while on vacation:

– Set realistic expectations – If you don’t work out daily for an hour a day at home, don’t think you can do it while on vacation. Decide how much and what type of exercise you can incorporate into your trip; for example, taking a walk on the beach at sunset counts as exercise.

Pack your workout shoes and clothes. Don’t forget to pack your gear so you’ll be more likely to exercise while away.

Get outdoors. No matter where you’re headed on vacation, getting outside will get you moving.  Whether it’s a morning swim in the hotel pool, a walk on the beach, a hike in the mountains, or sightseeing in a new city—all of these activities are easily incorporated into your vacation.

Try new activities. Vacation is the perfect time to try new recreational activities, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, hiking, surfing, and more. You can also join a walking tour to explore local sights and landmarks.

Enlist your travel partners. Vacation is about spending time with family and friends, so grab your travel buddy and go for a run on the beach or rent bikes and hit the trails.

 

 

Making Fitness a Regular Part of Your Day

You’ve heard the exercise recommendations before—at least 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. But with our increasingly busy lives, sometimes it’s hard to  find that small chunk of time to dedicate to working out every day. The most important thing is just to move more. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean 30 minutes of jogging or lifting weights in a gym or an aerobics class. Exercise can be any activity you enjoy that gets you moving, that gets your heart rate up, and makes you feel good.

Working fitness into your daily routine is easier than you think. Try not to think of exercise in the traditional sense. Things like working in the garden, walking your dog, hiking with your kids, or even just mowing the grass are activities that get you moving and count toward your daily activity. The key is to change your mindset about exercise: once you do, you’ll be surprised how you will begin to look for more opportunities to move.

Here are five simple ideas to incorporate exercise into your daily routine:

  1. Take your dog for a walk, or go to a dog park to play frisbee, or throw a ball.
  2. Play with your kids. Get outside and play tag, throw a ball, go on a nature walk, jump rope, run through the sprinkler, and just have fun.
  3. Work in the yard. Gardening, mowing the lawn, and raking leaves are hard work!
  4. Always take the stairs. And always park your car far away from your destination.
  5. Clean your home regularly. Vacuuming, mopping, sweeping, and other chores can be a great workout, especially if you have a larger home.

The most important point is to find something active that you enjoy doing—if you’re having fun, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

 

April Is National Walk to Work Month

National Walk to Work day was during the first week of April… when most of the Eastern Seaboard saw rain, snow, and record low temperatures. Since spring appears to be on a delay this year, let’s extend this celebration for the rest of the month—and enjoy the health benefits that walking brings.

National Walk to Work Month

It should be no surprise that walking gets its own national holiday. Walking has many proven benefits, including these, according to the Arthritis Foundation:

  • Improved circulation
  • Better bone density
  • Extended life expectancy
  • Improved mood
  • Weight loss
  • Stronger muscles
  • Better sleep
  • Joint support
  • Better lung function
  • Improved memory retention and lowered risk of Alzheimer’s

You may not be able to actually walk to work, whether because of distance, safety, or  the amount you have to carry. However, for National Walk to Work Day, Week, or Month, you can walk at work. Aim for 30 minutes a day; that may seem like too long a break to take, but how about six breaks of five minutes each? This has the added benefit of improving your concentration and staving off the back pain that results from excessive sitting.  Add an alarm to your smartphone or computer to remind you to walk, or set your fitness tracker to vibrate a reminder.

If you have to hold a meeting with only one or two co-workers, why not have it while walking around the building a few times? Or build time into your lunch break to walk before and after eating; it will improve your digestion as well as your after-lunch productivity. To make sure you are set up to walk at work, leave a pair of good walking shoes at your desk, so you’re always ready to get some steps.

The goal of National Walk to Work Day is to encourage people to make walking a habit: not just for one day, but every day. Let this April be the month you start a lifetime of walking.

 

Are You Ready for a Holiday Fitness Challenge?

Commit to a short daily fitness routine to help you stay healthier this holiday season.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, an endless succession of family dinners, office parties, and edible gifts can derail even the healthiest eaters. Combined with the colder weather, ‘tis the season to pack on the pounds like a Christmas goose.

Holiday Fitness Challenge

To counteract the seasonal splurges, why not try an office exercise challenge? For yourself or for a group of colleagues, these workplace exercises can be a fun way to keep fit.

Day One: Stairs

Once an hour, run up and down a flight of stairs at least once. Advanced/ambitious team members can do several flights each hour.

Day Two: Desk Pushups

Every two hours, stand up and place hands on desk, about shoulder-distance apart. With your arms straight, walk your feet backwards until your body is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Keeping your body straight, do 10 pushups.

Day Three: Superman/Banana

For core strength, you have to hit the floor, so you may want to bring a towel. First, lie face-down on the floor, with your arms above your head, pointing straight in front of you. Then lift your arms and legs a few inches off the floor; you’re Superman! Hold for 30 seconds, then rest. Flip onto your back, with your arms extended over your head. Carefully, making sure your lower back doesn’t arch; lift your arms and legs so that your body forms a wide V. You’re a banana! Hold for 30 seconds, then rest. Do three times during the day, and try to lengthen the time you hold each pose.

Day Four: Walking Challenge

This one works best if you’re doing a fitness challenge with a group. Once an hour, write a note—an encouraging quote, or a joke, or a bit of good-natured gossip—to a colleague. Walk to that person’s office in the most roundabout way possible.

Day Five: Wall Sits

Standing around waiting for the coffee to brew? Sit instead… against the wall. Wall sits work your legs and core, and they’re harder than they look. Stand straight, with your back against the wall. Slowly slide your back down the wall, bending your knees until they are at a 90-degree angle. Now hold it for as long as you can. For fun, get other colleagues to join you, and see who can hold it the longest. Get someone to take a picture; there’s your company photo! The company that stays fit together stays together!

Setting up a Workplace Wellness Challenge

Get Fit As A Team!

Uh-oh! With the holidays lurking around the corner and the cold weather making people want to hunker down and eat comfort food, it can be especially difficult to focus on nutrition and fitness. HR departments can make a big difference by creating a health and fitness challenge to help keep employees focused on staying healthy during the holidays. Read on for some tips and tricks for setting up a wellness challenge that works.

Workplace Wellness Challenge

What is a workplace wellness challenge? It’s a fun, community-oriented activity where colleagues compete against each other in a friendly contest. It’s a way to hold each other accountable toward a shared goal of better health, and it can provide that extra boost to help people stay motivated—especially during the holiday season.

Most workplace challenges have users self-report their activities or results, as regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prevent companies from requiring this kind of information. However, wellness challenges work best when participants want to join, not when they’re forced to, so the regulations shouldn’t impact the success of the challenge.

Challenges can tackle any aspect of nutrition and fitness—from avoiding snacks to walking up the stairs every day. Technology can help with organization, communication, and tracking: for instance, people who use fitness trackers can easily connect and compare number of steps or miles covered. People who use the USConnectMe app can easily get access to nutritional data for all the food they purchase, making it easier to track data for calories, fat, protein, fiber, and important nutrients.

Challenges are also a good way to bond with coworkers while promoting a healthy lifestyle. Try organizing monthly healthy potluck lunches or group activities like walking around the building several times a day. Challenges can last a week, a month, or even longer. You may even hold a “pop-up” challenge for one day, challenging co-workers to go a whole day without eating any added sugar (for instance).

The point of wellness challenges is to have fun and stay healthy, not to win a large monetary prize. However, it’s nice to offer an incentive whenever possible. Team t-shirts are a great reminder of the group goal, and gift cards for healthy activities or food are always welcome. For more information, check out these resources from the Society for Human Resource Management, and start your challenge!

Tips for Beating the Heat This Summer!

Exercising in Hot Weather

The southeast’s mild climate makes it possible to exercise outside year-round. Now that winter’s cold and spring’s rains are gone, summer and the warm weather is enticing people outside in droves. However, that warm sun that loosens your muscles and feels so good on your skin can actually be doing serious damage. Heat and sun can be as dangerous as cold and ice when it comes to exercising outdoors, so read on for tips on how to beat the heat.

Tips for Beating the Heat This Summer!

  1. It’s all about the timing. In the winter, lunchtime is an excellent time to take a walk, run, or ride a bike outside. In the summer, not so much. The sun is at its zenith at noon—making it the worst time of day for being outside. If possible, avoid the sun’s rays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. With summer’s longer days, prework and postwork are the best times for exercising outside.
  2. It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity. The high humidity of the southern summer climate can raise the heat index, making a hot day feel even hotter. The Mayo Clinic warns that exercising in the heat can raise your core body temperature, resulting in heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. If you experience headaches, lightheadedness, confusion, nausea, or muscle cramps, stop exercising immediately and take steps to cool your core temperature. On extremely hot days, you might do better to exercise in the gym or to even run up and down the stairs in the office.
  3. Despite (or because of) the humidity, don’t forget to hydrate. Exercising in hot weather produces extra sweat, which makes it more important than ever to stay hydrated. As discussed in our post on sports drinks, water is usually the best form of hydration. For prolonged exercise in hot weather, however, the electrolytes and sugar in sports drinks may provide important replenishment for your system.
  4. Stay protected. When you head outside to exercise, don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun. Even during non-peak hours or cloudy weather, harmful UVA rays can still cause sun damage and skin cancer. Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, and when feasible, cover your skin with lightweight, breathable fabric.