Author Archives: John MacKenzie

4 Reasons to Take Your Workout Outdoors

Spring is right around the corner, and that means moving some of your workouts outdoors. Sunlight, fresh air, green trees – an outdoor workout sounds just like a vacation! And we promise that your treadmill won’t get offended if you ditch the incline and hit a natural hill every once in awhile.

Running, biking or even bringing your dumbbells to your deck does a body (and a mind) quite a bit of good. Here are four reasons to feel the breeze on your face and take your workout outdoors:

Improve Mood

Feeling blue? Then go green. Just five minutes of exercise in a “green space” like a park can boost mood and self-esteem, according to UK researchers. Bonus: Go blue, too! The biggest mental health booster was found when the “green space” contained a lake or a river.

Natural Caffeine 

Swap your morning cup of Joe for a sunny sweat session. A study from the University of Rochester found that just 20 minutes outside can have the same pick-me-up effect as a cup of coffee. Put that $4 toward a new pair of running shoes!

A Free Dose of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for bone health, cancer prevention, hormonal problems and a strong immune system. Now get this – exercising in the great outdoors is an easy way to get your Vitamin D … for free. Experts suggest 10 minutes of unprotected sun three times a week. Just make sure to apply that sunscreen at minute 11!

Habit-Maker 

If you want to see physical results, consistency is the key. And an outdoor workout might just make that easier! A 2011 survey found that outdoor exercises “declared a greater intent to repeat the activity at a later date” than those who only worked out inside.

Do you need any more reasons to get fresh air? Didn’t think so. Now, shut down the computer and go!

 

Six Tips For Running in the Cold

For those of us not fortunate enough to live in a tropical paradise, we’re forced to brave the winter cold each time we step outside. For some, this conflicts with our fitness goals.

Running in the cold is an uncomfortable environment. Your hands and lips get chapped, your body tightens up, and inhaling frosty air can sometimes leads to an uncomfortable soreness in your throat. We know you want to nail your fitness goals, so we developed a list of measures to make your cold weather run more tolerable than it was last winter.

• Wear layers. The base layer (closest to the skin) should be a moisture wicking piece, followed by another layer that traps heat, creating a warming environment. Depending on the elements, a third layer may be needed to shield from rain, sleet, or snow.  Gloves and hats are just as important. If you’re worried about chafing, look for running-specific accessories to preventing rubbing and irritation during the run.

• Consider the right footwear. A lot of brands have weather-proofed footwear that can endure the elements, like water proofed uppers and no slip outsoles.

• Consider your pace. Colder weather won’t allow your body to move as quickly or freely as it could in the summer. Think about taking it a little slower in the beginning so your body can warm up.

• Breathe through your nose. Breathing in cold air isn’t all that fun, but it won’t seriously hurt your lungs. Our bodies are equipped with a nose that warms and humidifies the air we breathe in better than our mouth does. In addition to breathing through your nose, experts say to wear a scarf, neck warmer or ski mask around your mouth and nose. The material will help trap the warm, moist air you exhale, automatically making your next breath more comfortable. But stay indoors if the weather is below zero degrees Fahrenheit because your body can’t adequately warm that air.

• Drink plenty of water. Even if it’s cold, your body still sweats from physical activity, meaning you need to hydrate!

• Stretch. It’s important to take time to warm up your muscles for the run. Cold weather running makes you more susceptible to pulled muscles. Take a few extra minutes to warm up and stretch before and after your run.

Winter Workout Gear

As the temperature outside gets colder and the rain turns to snow, most people head indoors to keep up with their exercise routine. What easier way to stay fit all year long than to build an awesome home gym? Options for home exercise equipment may seem limitless. Take a look at our Buyer’s Guide to find out what type of exerciser you are, and what type of fitness equipment best fits you and your style.

At Life Fitness, we (of course) love running on treadmills, but sometimes braving the elements is worth it for a little fresh air and sunshine. With the right layers and accessories, there is nothing keeping you from sticking to your outdoor exercise, so we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites.

Your base layer needs to keep you warm but also wick away sweat to prevent you from getting cold later.

Try this Nike long sleeve tee:

These North Face running tights are made for temperatures below 25 degrees:

In the winter, it’s important to wear shoes that have as little mesh as possible or are built for all weather conditions.

Try the Brooks Adrenaline, which is ready to handle any type of weather:

Hats, ear bands and gloves protect frequently exposed skin areas from the elements. Try accessories made of fleece or wool to stay warm and comfortable.

Asics Thermopolis gloves also allow you to wipe your forehead and nose with ease:

And don’t forget the water! Grab yourself a lightweight Fuel Belt to stay hydrated in brisk temperatures.

 

THE ULTIMATE MEDICINE BALL WORKOUT

One medicine ball. Five moves. 22 minutes. That’s the equation for a killer total body workout that will leave you sweaty, satisfied, and a good kind of sore.

Medicine balls offer a great alternative to dumbbells. They prepare your body for realistic motions because you’re not fixed to a single plane of movement. You can add throwing, swinging, and rotational movements whenever possible.

Do each exercise for 1 minute and rest for 30 seconds. Do three of these intervals and immediately start the next exercise after you finish the last 30-second rest.

1) Forward Lunge with Arc
Hold the ball overhead and lowering it the right side of your body (to about shoulder height) while the right leg lunges forward. As you push back and switch legs, arc the ball over your head so that when you lunge forward with the left foot the ball lowers to the left side of your body. Keep alternating.

2) Overhead Slam
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and knees slightly bent. Lift the medicine ball overhead with both hands, bend at the hips, and slam the ball on the ground directly in front of you. Keep slamming at a high speed for the full minute.

3) Rolling Push-Up
Get into plank position with your right hand on top of the medicine ball and your left hand on the floor. Lower into a push-up until your chest is as close to the floor as possible. Press back up to plank and then roll the ball across to the left. Place your right hand on the floor and your left hand on top of the ball and do another push-up. Keep alternating.

4) Russian Twists
Start seated with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, holding a medicine ball with both hands in front of your chest. Keeping the spine long and the abdominals tight, lean back slightly and lift the feet a few inches off the floor. Slowly twist the torso to the left and bring the medicine beside the left hip. Return to center, and then slowly twist to the right and bring the weight beside the right hip to complete one rotation.

 5) Plank To Chair Squat
Start standing with the ball at your chest. Squat down, place the ball on the floor, and quickly jump your feet back into plank position with your hands on top of the ball. Then, jump your feet back and stand up into a squat position. End the rep by pressing the ball overhead.

Time Crunch? Go For 30 Minutes

“But I don’t have enough time in the day to workout.” Have these words ever come out of your mouth? We know it can be a challenge to fit every task and chore into your day, but what are you truly using your time for where exercise could go? Here’s the thing: you don’t have to carve out two hours for a workout. Here’s how to get a heart-pumping workout in 30 minutes.

Work Out Harder, Not Longer

Research shows that shorter, high-intensity workouts can do more for your health than longer, more leisurely workouts. You can improve your heart health and significantly reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome and a cluster of cardiovascular risk factors, including obesity, high triglycerides, low levels of HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

HIIT It 

If you really want to fire up your metabolism in just 30 minutes, try a heart-pumping, high intensity interval workout (HIIT). Go with a Tabata-style HIIT workout where you do eight rounds of all-out effort for 20-second intervals and then have 10 seconds of recovery. That’s four minutes. Rest a minute before moving onto a new interval. Do six rounds of Tabata for a total of 30 minutes, and you’re done for the day.

Strength and Cardio Combo

No time to fit in an hour-long boot camp class? No worries. Be your own fitness instructor! Pair 15 minutes of your favorite cardio (biking, running, jump roping, etc.) with 10 minutes of strength training and finish with five minutes of core exercises. We suggest mixing up the exercises each day. Just remember, less time doesn’t give you a free pass to slack. Each minute needs to count. Be quick with rests and intentional with each exercise!

Here’s the good news about short workouts: you know it’s over in 30 minutes! Plus, it’s your exercise for the day, so you can bring your A-game and give it your all!