Tag Archives: fitness

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.

HR Focus: Recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Every October, the entire country turns pink. While it may be pretty, wearing pink or offering pink products does little to educate employees about breast cancer or raise money for the cause. In October, which has become the nation’s annual observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, your company should develop a plan to provide information and education to employees on breast cancer prevention and early detection, as well as to find meaningful ways to raise funds for breast cancer research. Participating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month can help align your company with a worthy cause if done properly.

Here are some impactful ways your company can get involved this October:

Provide breast cancer prevention information and educational materials to employees and clients and their families.

Advocate for the cause by being proactive in helping employees take charge of their health. Connecting your company to breast cancer prevention can bring good will to your brand while providing useful information for women. Create a handout (with breast cancer facts, risk factors, mammogram information, and how to perform a self-exam) that employees can take home and use. Or add your logo to these pocket sliders (small interactive slide charts in which you match up the bullet point and view information and tips in the cutout window) available at  https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/2317504/Pinktober%20Promos.pdf?t=1537766091314.

Share breast cancer facts and prevention tips on your company’s social media.

Get creative on Facebook and Instagram by sharing photos and memes with prevention tips and breast cancer facts for the entire month of October.

Share breast cancer and nutrition facts.

There is a lot of misinformation about the causes of breast cancer, especially when it comes to diet. As a food service company, clarifying the connections of breast cancer and diet can have a big impact. Share the facts through educational materials, blogs, newsletters, and social media. A good place to start is https://breast360.org/topics/2017/01/01/breast-cancer-and-nutrition-facts-and-myths/.

Share survivor stories.

Sharing breast cancer survivor stories and photos is also a powerful way to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you have employees or clients who are willing to share their breast cancer stories, include their photos and stories in your company’s blog and/or newsletter with links to your social media.

Organize a company team for a Breast Cancer Walk/Run or other event.

There are numerous Breast Cancer Walks/Runs and other fundraising events happening in October all over the country. Find a local event and organize a company team to get involved by fundraising and participating the day of the event. At the event, your team can wear t-shirts with your company name and logo and give away promotional products to promote your partnership.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Decoding Different Types of Sunscreen

Daily sunscreen use is the best way to protect your skin from both the short-term and long-term effects of the sun. Yet choosing the right sunscreen can be confusing with all of the different products on the market.

Which sunscreens are best for your skin? Understanding the differences among sunscreen products can help you make the best choice for you.

Chemical vs. physical

To put it simply, there are two types of sunscreens: chemical blockers and physical blockers.  Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays while physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and reflect harmful UV rays.

Chemical sunscreens are the big-brand products that you can easily find on most drugstore shelves. They usually contain ingredients such as octylcrylen, avobenzone, and octinoxate. While they may be widely available, they can also be more irritating to your skin, especially for those with sensitive skin, skin conditions, or acne-prone skin.

Physical sunscreens use natural ingredients like zinc and titanium oxide to block the sun’s rays. They have become more popular recently with consumers’ increasing concerns about chemical safety, but still aren’t as easy to find as chemical sunscreens, though they do have a longer shelf life. Physical sunscreens are more gentle on the skin and are recommended by dermatologists and pediatricians for those with sensitive skin or skin conditions, as well as for children and babies.

UVA vs. UVB rays

Both UVA and UVB rays can be harmful to your skin, but not all sunscreens block both types of rays. UVA rays are the ones that cause sun damage such as premature wrinkling and age spots. UVB rays are the ones that cause those red, painful sunburns. Too much long-term exposure to either UVA or UVB sunscreens can cause skin cancer. For the best protection, chose a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, which will be labeled “broad spectrum.”

SPFs

A sunscreen with SPF30 protects against 97 percent of the sun’s UV rays while an SPF50 blocks 98 percent : beyond that, the amount of extra protection is negligible. Higher SPF sunscreen products only add more chemicals that can irritate your skin and are usually more expensive. There are no products that offer 100 percent protection. That’s why all sunscreen labels remind you to reapply every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.

The bottom line

So which sunscreen is the best? Dermatologists recommend one that is broad-spectrum, contains SPF30, and is water-resistant. The brand or whether you choose a lotion or spray are personal preferences—what is most important is that you choose one that you will use on a regular basis.

 

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.

 

HR Focus: Yoga in the Workplace

The connection between workplace wellness and employee productivity is well documented. In an effort to both boost employee health and improve employee retention in a tight job market, more and more companies are offering nutrition, fitness, and other wellness programs.

One offering whose popularity keeps growing is workplace yoga. Studies have linked the mind-body connection of yoga to better body image, more mindful eating, and improved fitness outcomes, among many other benefits. It turns out that when it comes to workplace wellness, yoga has some very specific benefits that increase employee productivity. Employees who participate in workplace yoga programs report:

  • Increased energy
  • Decreased pain
  • Stress relief
  • Better concentration
  • Heightened creativity
  • Improved morale

The practice of yoga is relatively simple; it requires only a mat and some room to move around. This relatively low barrier to entry—not requiring any special equipment or a specially-designed room—makes yoga programs among the easiest to set up. For just the cost of some mats and a certified yoga instructor, HR departments can offer lunchtime, morning, or evening yoga classes for employees. Evidence indicates that employees flock to these programs and even demand more.

A study from the National Business Group on Health estimates that around 50 percent of corporate healthcare costs are related to “lifestyle issues.” The World Health Organization counts stress and depression as major factors in reducing corporate employee wellness, citing “long hours, multi-tasking, stiff competition, rigorous commute, irregular eating habits, sedentary desk jobs, and bad sitting postures as the prime offenders contributing to poor employee states of mind.

Once a company has established a yoga program for employee wellness, the employees themselves often take it upon themselves to pursue their own individual yoga practices. Again, since yoga is such a fundamentally simple exercise, it lends itself to self-guided, self-paced practice that employees can do for 10 or 20 minutes on their own.

If you’re considering setting up a yoga program at your workplace, Workforce magazine has some tips:

  • Survey employees to gauge interest level, determine what type of yoga to offer, and identify the most popular times for classes.
  • Talk to several certified yoga instructors with experience creating and teaching workplace yoga programs.
  • Schedule classes several months in advance so employees can plan their schedules.
  • Educate employees the benefits of relaxation and stress management through yoga.

 

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.