All Entries For cardio
It's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of the treadmill. I love to run, hike and even walk with my pup, but I do it all outdoors all year round. Rain, snow, wind, heat—almost nothing can keep me from my outdoor workouts. For me, a treadmill is a "last resort" when I have no other option to get outside.
But I know that not everyone is as gung-ho about outdoor exercise as I am. Many people hate running in the cold or the heat. (Nothing wrong with that.) Others have no other option to work out, especially if they have to be at home with kids or don't live in a safe neighborhood for walking or running. And still some prefer the slightly cushioned surface of a treadmill, which takes away some of the impact of running, making it easier on the joints and even the spinal discs.
Whatever your reason, we've all turned to the treadmill from time to time. And the best way to prevent boredom and get great results from your treadmill workout is to incorporate intervals. Here's a simple workout I developed to help you torch calories with your trusty treadmill. Read More ›
Yoga has seen a steady rise in popularity over the past few years. According to a 2008 report released by Yoga Journal, 15.8 million American adults were practicing yoga. In 2010, that number grew to 21.9 million. The majority reported that they practice yoga for a number of health benefits, stress reduction and relaxation. Yoga is a great complement to a well-rounded exercise routine, no matter what your fitness level. It offers a variety of modifications (as needed), styles and intensities, giving it a wide appeal among exercisers of all fitness levels and goals.
But one of the questions I get most about yoga isn't whether I recommend it (I do), but whether it counts as a cardio workout. Could yoga replace one or more of your weekly treadmill or elliptical dates? Read More ›
The information on cardio machines can be deceiving. The "fat burning zone" is a myth that is based on a fact, but taken out of context.
It's true that higher intensity exercise uses more glucose and glycogen (the form of energy your body gets from foods) in proportion to fat, but remember that "high intensity" in this context means exercise that you can only maintain for a couple of minutes before becoming exhausted (i.e. anaerobic exercise). It’s also true that low intensity exercise uses more fat as fuel; moderate intensity exercise that you can maintain for 20 minutes or more is aerobic exercise, and will burn both fat and glucose.
You're better off exercising in the aerobic zone as much as you can because exercising at higher intensities burns more total calories. The "fat burning zone" business is very misleading. You will burn a larger percentage of fat in relation to glucose when you are working at a lower intensity, but you will also burn fewer total calories and less total fat.
Bottom line: The relative percentage of fat burned has nothing to do with weight loss—it's the total amount calories burned that counts. So just ignore the machine and continue to exercise aerobically. As a bonus, aerobic exercise also strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, and improves cholesterol levels.
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Whenever friends or family see me running around our neighborhood, they know it’s me right away. I have a very distinct run, or as I like to joke, a distinct “shuffle”. Over the years I’ve tried to adjust the way I run, because I think it could help me get faster. So far, that has been totally unsuccessful. I blame my dad for the problem because he runs exactly the same way I do. It must be genetic.
My problem is that all of the movement in my legs comes from the knee down. My feet don’t come very far off the ground and I don’t have any lift in my knees. I know if I could get my knees up and my quads working a little more, I’d have additional power and potentially, additional speed. I’ve worked with a running coach to try and correct the issue, but at this point, it’s hard to change something I’ve been doing for so long. Perhaps if I would have tried much earlier in my running career, I would have had more success. A new study proposes that people naturally become better runners, just by running more. Although I can’t say the same applied in my case, the results are pretty interesting.
The study, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, followed 10 women on a 10-week, self-paced program for new runners. Each woman visited a lab before started the program to have their aerobic capacity, running form and running economy assessed. “Running economy, also known as running efficiency, is a measure of how much oxygen a person uses to run at a particular pace — in essence, how hard it is to run at that speed. Efficiency is considered one of the determinants of running success. A more economical runner requires less energy than others and presumably should be able to run farther or faster.” It’s no surprise that the new runners were not very economical in the beginning, but that improved as the 10-week training program progressed.
Additional tests over the 10-weeks found that the women improved their speed and endurance, and also improved their running economy (their ability to use oxygen increased by about 8.5%.) There were also changes in running stride which ended up making running easier. For example, their legs became more flexed as they left the ground which allows for a quicker turnover and increased speed. They also increased stability in their feet as they struck the ground, which indicates becoming more comfortable with the movement of running.
This study was done on a very small, specific group of people. The results won’t necessarily translate to all runners, but the study’s author feels it can lead to some important takeaways: “You can optimize your gait naturally,” she says, “by becoming more conscious of your running movement and how it feels.” Your body, at least in the early stages of becoming a runner, can be a fine and knowledgeable coach.”
My advice is to stick with what feels comfortable. I know I’ll never have the long stride and leg lift of an Olympic sprinter. But as long as I can stay injury-free and enjoy what I’m doing, that’s what is most important to me.
Have you considered becoming a runner but don’t know where to begin? Check out SparkPeople’s Running Center, where you can find articles, training programs, virtual races to join and much more!
What do you think?
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You don't need any fancy equipment to get a good work out. You don't even need a lot of space!
I teamed up with my friend Cassey from Blogilates.com to create this simple cardio workout to help you burn lots of calories in just a few minutes. As an added bonus, it's super quiet! You can do this if you have sleeping kiddos at home or even if you're trying to be quiet for your downstairs neighbors.
Are you ready to try it? Read More ›
Having a job that requires sitting most or all of the day doesn't mean that you can't fit in extra calorie burning activities throughout the day. For me, I work from home and am on the computer a lot of the day, however, I take breaks as often as I can to get up and walk around to stretch my legs, which also gives my eyes a rest from the computer screen. Some of my favorite exercise breaks include walking around the house at a fast pace, walking up and down the stairs, dancing around the living room (my dogs really love this!), or taking the dogs for a quick walk around the neighborhood. Before working from home though, I worked in a conventional office and would do everything I could to get up and move. I would walk to my co-worker's office/cubicle rather than email them, take the stairs as much as possible and go for walks during my lunch hour. Even though I'm not in a conventional office now, I still make sure to work in ways to burn extra calories (in addition to my formal exercise) throughout the day.
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We all have our own cardio personalities. Some swear by sweating in the great outdoors. Others prefer the air conditioning. You might prefer exercising solo, while your best friend lives for the contagious energy in a Spinning class.
Whether you're a diehard gym-goer, or (like me) only set foot in the gym when the weather hits unbearable extremes, we all have a few things in common:
We want our workouts to be more fun than boring. We want to get the best possible results for our efforts. And we want to feel like the time is speeding by—not dragging.
Well, good news! This simple workout technique will help you reach all three goals above, whether you love cardio machines or only use them as a last resort. Read More ›
When I first set out to lose weight, I didn't know much about exercise. I had spent most of my teen years and early 20s finding ways to avoid exercise, instead choosing to control my weight by restricting calories and other, unhealthy methods. I thought sweating was gross, running made my lungs burn, and I didn't like sports.
So I walked. At first just the two miles home from work, then to work, then longer routes… it felt good to move, then time outside allowed me to clear my mind, and the weight did start to come off. Eventually I joined a gym and started integrating different cardio into my workouts, usually the elliptical. Cardio back then was just something I did to burn calories, not something I particularly enjoyed.
It wasn't until I joined SparkPeople as a member and an employee that I found my two primary forms of cardio: running and Spinning. I love challenging myself in a tough Spinning class, adding resistance until my legs burn and pushing myself to complete the sprints, jumps, and other killer moves. (That Coach Nicole is one tough Spinning teacher! She loves jumps on the bike!) And running gives me time to think, or not think. It's a moving meditation for me, and it allows me to shed stress while getting a great workout. Read More ›
If you attend workout classes regularly, then you probably know how a good instructor can help you get a really great workout. One of the things I love about fitness classes is that I tend to work harder, try more things and get a better workout than I would if I was working out on my own. I've always thought that way about Spinning, for example. I love to teach it (and take it), but if I had to make myself exercise on a stationary bike in the middle of the gym for an hour, I'd lose interest and probably wouldn't push myself very hard. On top of that, I'd probably find a way to cut my workout short out of boredom.
But what if you can't always make it to a class? Or you just don't feel comfortable in that group environment? What about the times when you're in a rut with your elliptical or treadmill routine and just need a little boost?
That's where MotionTraxx comes in. What started as a free music podcast (available on iTunes) has expanded to feature some expert-created workouts that you can listen to while you work out. These trainers have created workouts for the treadmill, elliptical, bike—and even your own body (no equipment needed). MotionTraxx recently shared a few of these workouts with us. Find out what they're like—and whether they're right for you. Read More ›
I try a lot of workout DVDs. But few really meet my standards for delivering a good workout with good cueing that's easy to follow and safe. But every workout DVD I've ever tried by Amy Dixon has been a winner.
I was SO excited to receive her newest titles ("Breathless Body Volume 2: The Edge" and "Give Me 10: Core Cuts"), but my busy schedule prevented me from trying them sooner—which is too bad. Because when I made the time, I adored these workouts just like I had previous her previous titles. What's more, I think YOU will love them, too. Here's a rundown on what to expect in each one. Read More ›
After being a member (and now an employee) of SparkPeople, I have learned that having an all-or-nothing attitude about healthy eating and exercising isn't something that is advised or healthy overall. With that type of attitude I would sometimes feel that if I didn't have time to exercise for at least 30 minutes or more, that I was wasting my time and effort, which is far from the truth. This is something that I also see members post on SparkPeople's message boards once in a while as well, so I know I was not alone with those thoughts.
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I heart Amy Dixon. She's a veteran fitness instructor, master trainer and creator of many wonderful workouts you've probably seen in fitness magazines and DVDs alike. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year at the IDEA World Fitness Convention and she is a real treat: super sweet, super fit and down to earth. It makes it hard for me to hate her when she kicks my booty in her DVDs, which she always does (in a good way).
Amy's latest DVD "Breathless Body: The Ultimate Calorie Burn" ($14.99, amazon.com) capitalizes off the trendy "Tabata" style interval training, which involves 20 seconds of intense effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for four minutes. Tabata training is touted as one of the most efficient ways to boost aerobic endurance and fat burning, and although I had read about it, but hadn't experienced it until I tried this DVD. I have to admit, I was a little scared. So how did I fare? And is this DVD right for you? Read More ›
As the days get shorter, it gets dark earlier and cold temperatures become the norm, my opportunities for exercising outside start to dwindle. I get out as much as I can and I’m fine with bundling up if I have to, but I’m not crazy about running in the dark in an area with limited sidewalks. Often I end up heading to my basement for a run on the treadmill, but it really never gives me the same amount of satisfaction. Now a study shows that the physical benefits might be the same, but the mental benefits between an outdoor and indoor run might be different. Read More ›
So you think you CAN'T dance?
Do you feel like most workouts don't work for your size or physical limitations?
Or maybe you simply don't like to follow structured workouts like classes or DVDs?
I promise you that this DVD will change that. It's the most innovative workout I have ever seen. Ever. I don't use those words lightly, and I've never used them before today.
Misty Tripoli's Body Groove: Delicious Dance DVD belongs in every exerciser's collection. Whether you love to dance or hate it. Whether you're super fit or just starting out. Whether you have mobility issues, physical limitations, or are the epitome of health. Every single person can enjoy and benefit from this DVD. Find out why everyone who has tried it at SparkPeople loved it so much—including one tester who (formerly) hated dancing and workout DVDs in general! Read More ›
I've been really bad. You see, there's this new DVD—actually set of DVDs—that I tried months ago and loved. I mean L-O-V-E-D. And even though I continue to work out with these DVDs and still enjoy them, I haven't shared them with you. I know, it's completely unforgiveable. But I'm finally finding the time to share my this secret now, and the good news is that you, too, can now benefit from this fitness trifecta by Andrea Metcalf called "Keeping Fit" (Acacia, 2010). These were sent to the SparkPeople offices and I've been keeping "Keeping Fit" all to myself, and I don’t plan on giving up these DVDs any time soon.
The set ($32.49 at amazon.com) contains three distinct titles: Strength, Cardio and Pilates. Each DVD has 60 minutes of total workout time that can easily be split up into multiple 5-minute segments.
Based on the description on this box, it's actually geared toward middle age exercisers, designed to help "build lean muscle, increase bone mass, and enhance balance and flexibility so you can remain active." So I was actually expecting a pretty easy workout when I first popped in the DVDs. Boy was I surprised! Read More ›