Get Moving Monday: How to Stay on Track

You’re busy, you’re stressed, it’s chilly out … so why not just take a break from your fitness program until the New Year?

Sure, you can always come up with an excuse not to exercise. But slacking off on your fitness program during the holidays will only leave you with more pounds — and more stress — come New Year’s. Fitness experts recognize that this time of year is difficult for many people trying to stick to an exercise program, so they have some suggestions to keep you motivated and disciplined.

The first step, says lifestyle coach April Masini, is acknowledging the holidays probably will affect your exercise program to some extent. Then you can make adjustments that will help you stay fit during the season. For example, if you usually take exercise classes only offered at a certain time, skip the classes and take a hike or a swim at an indoor pool instead.

“Take an honest look at your schedule, and instead of trying to squeeze exercise into your schedule, take other things out,” Masini suggests. “The goal is not to do more (as we all have a tendency to do this time of year), but to do less, but do it all well.”

It’s also important to keep fitness a priority in your schedule, says Rich Ray, chairman of the Kinesiology Department at Hope College in Holland, Mich.

“Whether or not you already have well-established exercise habits, make sure you actually schedule time into your day for your exercise,” he says. “There’s nothing like having an entry in your Palm Pilot for exercise.”

Indeed, maintaining a workout schedule is even more important this time of year because most of us tend to eat more than usual, says Michael Thurmond, author of the 6 Week Body Makeover and resident fitness guru on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover.”

As such, Thurmond recommends not only keeping to your same schedule, but striving to add an extra workout session or two whenever possible.

“Not only will this make a difference physically, it will mentally remind you that your No. 1 objective is to lose weight and stay healthy,” he says.

Be Flexible and Mix It Up

Here are some more expert tips for staying fit during the time-crunched, temptation-packed holiday season:

  • Be flexible when your days get busy, Ray advises. Instead of simply blowing off your 5 p.m. trip to the gym in favor of an office party at the same time, wake up an hour early and walk or jog before work. Or fit a brisk walk into your lunch hour.
  • Mix up your routine to avoid boredom. “If you usually run four days a week, try running once, swimming once, and lifting weights twice,” Ray says. “The novelty of the new exercise will hopefully be a stronger motivator than the ‘need’ to do something else during your normal exercise time.”
  • To save time, Ray recommends combining exercising and family commitments. For example, hauling the kids up a hill a few times can make a sledding trip as beneficial as a jog. Taking the family snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or on a backpacking trip will provide exercise as well as quality time with loved ones.
  • New York-based exercise physiologist and personal trainer Louis Coraggio advises his clients to book a long weekend getaway at a warm destination for January or February, This will motivate you to keep exercise a priority. When you’re tempted to slack off, envision yourself looking good on the beach.
  • Create a holiday wish list for one or more improved body area(s), Coraggio suggests. Expect this to take a certain amount of sacrifice. Keep your discipline constant.
  • Be ready for the mistletoe, says Coraggio. People are attracted to a strong, healthy body. Your confidence will show if you’ve been keeping up with your eating and exercise habits.
  • Coraggio recommends creating a home workout routine for those times you can’t make it to the gym. Crunches, push-ups, and many other exercises can be done without any gym equipment.
  • Increase your time management skills over the holiday season. Organize your day the evening before. Prioritizing your tasks beforehand will help you find time to exercise. Each week, make it a priority to fit in three exercise sessions.
  • Walking is an exercise that can go anywhere, from the woods to the mall, says health and lifestyle coach Jackie Keller, author of Body After Baby: The Simple 30-Day Plan to Lose Your Baby Weight. “Always have a pair of running or walking shoes with you, along with a set of light, hand-held weights, and a clean pair of socks,” Keller suggests. “If all else fails, you have the minimum equipment necessary to get in a walk.” Another Keller suggestion: add a heavy book to a backpack to make your walk more challenging.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-holidays-8/holiday-fitness?page=4

Get Moving Monday: 20 Minute Holiday Workout

Realistically speaking, your goals this time of year should be to fend off the dreaded holiday bulge (the average weight gain is about a pound), hold on to your hard-won endurance (women can lose up to 20 percent of their cardiovascular fitness if they quit exercising cold-turkey between Thanksgiving and New Year’s), and put a dent in the inevitable stress of the season (so the stuff that’s supposed to be fun actually will be).Fortunately, you can accomplish all those things (and even lose a few pounds!)—and you don’t need to carve out a huge amount of time to do it. Adding short bursts of intense effort can fire up your metabolism and fast-track results. In an Australian study, women who cranked out high-intensity interval training three days a week for 20 minutes (for 15 weeks) shed more fat than those who exercised for 40 minutes at a lower intensity over the same period.

And quickies aren’t just good for your waistline: Studies have suggested that small doses of regular exercise—we’re talking 10 to 20 minutes at a time—can result in temporary mood improvement or anxiety reduction. So just imagine how much mall stress you’ll be spared! Exercise raises levels of serotonin, a feel-good hormone, while reducing your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormone levels. “You may think a workout is the last thing you have time for during the holidays, but you’ll actually feel calmer and more confident if you can fit it in,” says Jasper Smits, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University.

With our uberefficient plan, created by New York City personal trainer Hannah Davis, you can do just that. The routine uses supersets—back-to-back exercises that work opposing muscle groups—which torch calories and tone all over in less than half an hour. And don’t think you’re cutting corners by slashing your gym time: A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that participants burned just as many calories in a 30-minute superset circuit (like ours) as they did in a longer weight-training workout, and even more calories after they finished exercising. Ready to get yourself some of that? Let’s go!

Incinerate extra calories with one of these 20-minute cardio interval sessions as often as your crazy schedule permits.

On the road or at home. . .
No equipment or gym required! Do as many reps of each exercise as you can in one minute, moving from one to the next without stopping. Rest 90 seconds, then repeat the circuit a total of three or four times.

1. Jumping Jacks
2. Squat Jumps
3. Side-to-Side Hops: Keeping your knees slightly bent and feet together, imagine you’re jumping back and forth over a line on the floor.
4. Burpees: Squat to place your hands on the ground, jump back into a plank position, and do a pushup. Reverse the move to return to standing, jumping off the ground to finish each rep.

At the gym. . .
Try this interval workout on any cardio machine. To up the effort, increase the incline, resistance, or speed.

0-5 minutes: Warmup (easy effort—you can sing at this pace)

5-7 minutes: Moderate effort (you can carry on a conversation)

7-10 minutes: Hard effort (you can speak a few words at a time)

10-12 minutes: Moderate effort

12-14 minutes: Recovery (easy effort)

14-16 minutes: Very hard effort (you’re huffing and puffing too much to talk)

16-20 minutes: Cooldown (easy effort)

Source: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/holiday-weight-loss

Get Moving Monday: Sitting for too long is bad for your health!

We all know that regular exercise is good for our health and too much sitting isn’t ideal. If you’re like most people, you spend a vast majority of your day sitting down—in your office, commuting to and from work, watching TV in the evening. Research shows that the average American spends nine to 10 hours of their day sitting. Certain occupations, such as telecommunications employees spend an average of 12 hours sitting each day. And, the more sedentary you are at work, the more sedentary you will tend to be at home as well.

Now a new study suggests it’s not just the length of time we spend sitting down but the number of times we get up during that time that can influence our health. The evidence shows that prolonged sitting actively promotes dozens of chronic diseases, including overweight and type 2 diabetes, even if you’re very fit. This is really highly counter-intuitive as it would seem physically fit people could get away with sitting.  However, research shows that maintaining a regular fitness regimen cannot counteract the accumulated ill effects of sitting eight to 12 hours a day in between bouts of exercise

The study, published online in the European Heart Journal, examined the total length of time people spent sitting down and breaks taken in that time, together with various indicators of risk for heart disease, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, and inflammatory processes that can play a role in the blocking of arteries.  When you sit for lengths of time, disease processes set in that independently raise your mortality risk, even if you eat right, exercise regularly and are very fit; even a professional or Olympic level athlete.

The most recent systematic review looked at 47 studies of sedentary behavior, and discovered that the time a person spends sitting each day produces detrimental effects that outweigh the benefits reaped from exercise. Sitting was found to increase your risk of death from virtually all health problems, from type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease to cancer and all-cause mortality. For example, sitting for more than eight hours a day was associated with a 90 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Other research has found that those who sit the most have a 112 percent increased Relative Risk of diabetes, and a 147 percent increased relative risk of cardiovascular events compared to those who sit the least.

The Australian research found that long periods of sitting down, even in people who did a lot of exercise otherwise, were associated with worse indicators of cardio-metabolic function and inflammation, such as larger waist circumferences, lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and higher levels of C-reactive protein (an important marker of inflammation) and triglycerides (blood fats).

However, the study also found that even in people who spent a long time sitting down, the more breaks they took during this time, the smaller their waists and the lower the levels of C-reactive protein. Genevieve Healy, MD, from the University of Queensland led the study. “The most significant differences were observed for waist circumference,” she says. “The top 25% of people who took the most breaks had, on average, a 4.1 cm smaller waist circumference than those in the lowest 25%.”

The dangers of being too big around the middle are well-documented. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, high-risk waist circumferences are:

  • Over 40 inches for men.
  • Over 35 inches for women.

Healy and her colleagues analyzed earlier U.S. data from nearly 5,000 people aged 20 and over. The participants wore a small device called an accelerometer, which monitored the amount and intensity of walking or running. It gave researchers information on sedentary time and breaks in sedentary time. It suggests that plenty of breaks, even if they are as short as one minute, seem to be beneficial.

“The potential adverse health impact of prolonged sitting (which is something that we do on average for more than half of our day), is only just being realized,” Healy says. “Our research highlights the importance of considering prolonged sedentary time as a distinct health risk behavior that warrants explicit advice in future public health guidelines.”

Amy Thompson, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, says in a statement, “This study was a very interesting read and adds to well established evidence that long periods of inactivity are not good for the heart. If you’re sitting for long periods it’s really important you take regular breaks by getting up on your feet. Regular physical activity is essential to protect cardiovascular health.”

To counteract the ill effects of prolonged sitting, the authors of the featured review suggest that you:

  • Keep track (with your phone or pedometer) of how much you’re sitting each day, and make an effort to reduce it, little by little, each week until you are moving more than you are sitting
  • When watching TV, stand up and/or walk around during commercial breaks or pause a movie and go for a brisk five minute walk

The study suggests even small changes in your office or home could help, like standing up to take phone calls, walking to see a colleague rather than phoning or emailing, and centralizing trash cans and printers so you have to walk to them.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20110112/sitting-down-too-long-bad-health

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/02/06/effects-prolonged-sitting.aspx#!