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Fitness experts recommend a triad of exercises we should incorporate into our lifestyle in order to achieve optimum fitness. These exercises include cardio-respiratory activities, flexibility exercises and resistance training. Cardio-respiratory activities such as walking, cycling, running, and swimming help with our overall health, while flexibility exercises, such as stretching, help with range of motion around the joint. Lastly, we should all participate in some form of resistance training regardless of our age or gender, whether with free weights, machines, resistance bands or even your own body weight.
If you feel you do not have time to incorporate all the various exercises into your busy schedule, according to the American Council on Exercise, "significant fitness and strength gains can be made in just two strength training sessions per week when you target all muscle groups."
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One morning, Saunya woke up, readied herself and her young daughter, and headed off to work. She was tired, and she was frustrated.
She was overweight and tired of being tired and unhappy. She searched for diet and workout ideas for busy people and found SparkPeople. She immediately joined.
So far, she has been a member for less than two months, and she's already making changes. She's walking during her lunch breaks and trying to say no to food when she's not hungry.
Still, she says she needs help. She saw a call for tips and ideas on the dailySpark, and while she didn't have one to share, she was desperately in need of one. She wrote:
"I honestly really don’t have a tip or idea. I need some help. Read More ›
Victory Gardens were a popular thing back in the early 1940s. Some referred to them as 'war gardens' while others called them 'food gardens for defense'. In 1943 due to the rationing of canned goods for families, these gardens produced up to 41 percent of all the vegetable produce consumed across the nation.
Several years ago, churches in my area started victory-type gardens to provide fresh produce to food pantries. Not only did this provide a healthier option for folks that were in need of food compared to high sodium canned vegetables, it also renewed an interest in backyard gardening in our suburban area.
Today victory-type gardens are becoming popular once again but with a different goal. Today, self-reliance has become a motivating factor behind home gardening. When you grow your own food you increase the ability to control how it is grown, what you pay and how much will be available. With the hint of spring in the air, now is the time to begin garden planning, planting designs and preparation. Here are some simple ideas to help you plan a victory-type garden for your family.
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Like many of you, I'm a busy mom who tries hard to balance work, family life and my own priorities. One of my personal goals is to stay healthy and fit. That's not easy, especially on those days when I barely have enough time to brush my teeth, much less find time for a long workout. That's why I was excited to check out the DVD our friends at SqueezeItIn.com sent us to try. It sells for $14.99 and can be purchased on their website.
SqueezeItIn.com is a website full of exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere. The exercises don't require equipment and often use everyday movements to create a workout. For example, countertop push-ups can be done while making dinner, and hot squats can be done while blow drying your hair. The program suggests dividing your workout into three 10-minute segments throughout the day. The DVD contains many of the exercises that are found on the site, as well as a longer workout and more tips for how to fit exercise into a busy day.
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By Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)
Being disabled or having chronic pain or illness makes exercise difficult if not impossible. Some days I wake up and just want to stay under the covers in bed, where the pain is at its best level of control. That's no kind of life and led me to weighing 460 pounds.
After joining SparkPeople, I learned that short bouts of fitness add up. I started my fitness journey by going to my doctor/nurse practitioner, and they set me up with in-home physical therapy. There are plenty of physical therapy options depending on your insurance coverage. I've done pool exercise, mild gym exercise, total gym exercise, and table exercise. You should see your doctor or health-care professional before considering which option might be best for your disability. Together, you can decide whether you might be able to do some of the exercises at home.
If cost is a concern, it would definitely be cheaper to get a gym membership with a pool than to pay physical therapy bills. A few sessions might give you the basics and you could go from there. Some gyms have very well-trained water aerobics instructors, so do some research before signing any papers. Another way to save money is on the mild gym and table exercise area. A few sessions of therapy can give you the basics, and you can continue to exercise at home. Generally, physical therapists use equipment like exercise bands, stability balls, and very light weights. These sessions also use various standing poses and the table exercises use laying poses to help stretch the muscles. Physical therapy helps you gain strength, flexibility and endurance to go to the next level.
There are indeed other ways to get moving without therapy. The little gadget in the photo above (called an arm cycle or arm ergometer) can be used for arms or legs while sitting. When I had physical therapy, it was one of the machines they had me use to reap the benefits of cardio using only my arms. There are machines of various grades out there, so read the reviews. Some are cheaply made pedal machines, while others are made to give very intense aerobic workouts for people who are undergoing rehabilitation. It's a great way to get aerobic exercise without having to stand.
Amazon.com also has DVDs of bed and chair exercise including aerobics, yoga, tai-chi, and other things to keep workouts interesting and off your feet.
At 460 pounds, these are the workouts I created to get stronger and ready to walk again: Read More ›
A few months ago, I had the amazing opportunity to interview Leslie Sansone for the dailySpark. Sure, I knew who she was and that our members love her, but I had never actually tried any of the "Walk Away the Pounds" DVDs that made her the famous fitness guru she is today.
Leslie was kind enough to send me a free copy of her newest title, Leslie Sansone Walk At Home: Walk Your Belly Flat, a 3-mile walk you can do from the comfort of your living room. I busted it out on a cold day that I didn't want to head outdoors for a walk. Want to know what I thought about it? And more importantly, whether it'll help you lose that stubborn fat around your midsection? Read More ›
When it comes to my health and fitness efforts, the start of a new year is usually not a big deal for me any more. It used to be--I have a long history of new years that started with lots of resolutions to eat healthy, exercise, and lose weight. But those good intentions never lasted very long, and I ended most of those years weighing more than when I started, getting myself up to about 400 pounds in the process.
Then something changed. I’m still not sure what it was, exactly—maybe I just got tired of feeling miserable all the time, or scared about what I was doing to my health. Anyway, in 2003, something clicked, and I finally started getting serious about changing my lifestyle, not just my weight. 18 months later, I had lost 170 pounds and gotten myself into pretty good shape for a 55 year old guy. And thanks to Sparkpeople, I was able to keep that weight off for almost 5 years.
But then came 2009…
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Winter has officially just arrived but there have already been countrywide weather related issues that have changed plans, caused need to rush to the store as well as panic. At the same time, the unemployment rate is high, budgets are tight, and there is constant talk about the need to eat healthier.
Recently I have seen ads for special companies and services to buy long-term emergency food insurance or shelf stable emergency food kits to help your family be prepared for whatever may come. Building a stockpile takes time but the right approach can get you started in a cost effective and health conscious manner. Here are some basic tips to help as you start a stockpile in the New Year.
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You want to be a fit person, right? That's why I'm sharing my own habits for keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.
Here's one that works for me: Shooting for a fun fitness goal. So why does something like this matter?
Sure, exercise itself can be fun, especially when you really enjoy doing something so much that it doesn't even seem like a workout (for me, that's tennis). But to keep at it day after day, week after week, year after year…you see where I'm going here. Over time, what was once fun can seem monotonous and your motivation to exercise can drop faster than a skydiving elephant!
All of this changes when you set a fun fitness goal. I'm not talking about "exercise 5 times a week" either. Set a goal that inspires you to train so that you can reach it. This way, your desire to reach your fun fitness goal will motivate you to keep exercising consistently. So what kind of fitness goal is fun and motivating enough to help you stick with a workout routine? Read More ›
A growing number of people are overweight and obese, but you wouldn't know it by flipping through a magazine, watching TV or going to the movies. Thin is still "in" when it comes to models, actors, advertisements and yes, even exercise. We've known for a while that you can be overweight and fit at the same time, and certainly, many overweight men and women work out and live active lifestyles. Unfortunately, the world doesn't cater to the overweight. Airplane seats are too small; fashionable clothes are harder to come by; and most fitness programs don't offer the specific instruction and welcoming environments that many full-bodied people need in order to be successful. It's no wonder that 1/3 of SparkPeople members felt the need to lose weight before joining a gym in the first place!
Research from 2007 found that people who follow workout videos that prominently feature the instructor's thin or toned physique feel worse about themselves. Talk about low motivation to continue a program! Another recent study found that women who read fitness-related magazines while on an exercise bike exercised for a shorter duration than those who read general interest magazines that focused less on body shape. Apparently, all of this "thinspiration" isn't very good for us. So wouldn't it make sense that we'd all be more successful if we worked out with trainers or exercise instructors who looked more like us (and less like a seemingly unattainable ideal)? I think so.
A few fitness pioneers are paving the way for people of all sizes and ability levels to get fit without pressuring them to change or making them feel out of place or bad about themselves. We recently told you about Debra Mazda, founder of Shapely Girl fitness DVDs, which feature curvy women (including 165-pound Mazda herself) and back in June, I had the pleasure of reviewing Abby Lentz's DVD, HeavyWeight Yoga, which is specifically designed for overweight and obese individuals. I immediately fell in love with the DVD and everything that Abby represented. Soon after, she sent me her newest DVD, HeavyWeight Yoga 2: Change the Image of Yoga. I had the opportunity to try her new title a couple weeks ago. Want to know what I thought about it? Read More ›
Faster than a speeding bullet, there's a new approach to healthy living can make you fit as a fiddle. And it's as easy as 1-2-3!
It's called "stealth health" and it's a philosophy that's gaining ground among experts, food manufacturers—and people who want to live a healthier life. Even if you haven't heard of it (I hadn't either), you're probably already using these principles into your life. The concept, as explained in this WebMD article is nothing new to most of us at SparkPeople. It's about taking small actions every day to improve your health, nutrition and fitness levels in BIG ways. We've been advocating a small-steps approach for years, whether in the form of 10-minute workouts or fast break goals. We believe that doing something is always better than doing nothing. And yes, that 10 minutes on the treadmill or that single serving of vegetables DOES make a difference.
When you start small, you feel accomplished. That initial success inspires you to make additional positive changes in your life. So you continue, getting healthier, fitter, and leaner over time—all by starting with a few small changes. Ask some of your SparkFriends, and I'll bet they'll say that this approach has worked for them.
As I read the article and tips about stealth health, I started to think about the ways I sneak a little bit of health into my days. I'm a big believer that small steps—in fitness, nutrition and motivation—really do make a difference, no matter where you are in your lifestyle journey. I use them all the time myself! So I came up with a short list of small things I do to affect my health in a positive way. Read More ›
A few years ago, you would have been more likely to find me in the weight room than on a treadmill. I loved strength training; I would have done it daily (in lieu of cardio) if possible. But something changed more recently that has me enjoying cardio more and strength training less. Maybe I'm getting bored with the weights, machines and same-old exercises after doing some variation of the same moves since I was a teenager. After all, there are only so many ways you can work your biceps.
But there is one mode of strength training that I almost always enjoy, even when I don't feel like spending time at the gym. It's the cable cross (or cable "crossover") machine. (It's pictured above.) Most gyms have this universal piece of equipment, but I'd venture to guess that most people aren't sure what it's for or how to use it. In fact, the cable cross may be the most intimidating machines at the gym. Don't let this big machine fool you, however; it's deceptively easy to use. Here are seven reasons you should try it yourself, plus tips and workouts you can start with. Read More ›
September is National Yoga Month, so there's no better time to summon the courage to give it a try. You've heard all about how yoga can help increase flexibility, decrease stress and even relieve minor back pain. You've dispelled the myths that all yogis are human pretzels who wear skimpy clothes and patchouli.
Now it's time to find a yoga studio or a class at your gym and head to class.
In my classes, I always try to approach new students before class begins to ease any apprehension they might have and answer questions. Here's a primer to help you feel right at home on the mat! While yogis are known for their kindness and compassion, no one wants to make a fitness faux pas!
Yoga is practiced barefoot, so be prepared. There's no need to get a pedicure for the occasion, but I like to give my feet a quick rinse before class, especially if they've been cooped up in closed-toe shoes all day. You spend a great deal of time focusing on gripping your feet, spreading your toes and evenly distributing your weight over your entire feet. Sweaty, dirty feet stick to yoga mats, and if you have lotion or cream on your feet, you can slip.
Wear whatever shoes you'd like to the class, but take your shoes off before entering the yoga room. Most studios have shelves for shoes either just inside the door or in the lobby. At a gym, most people take off their shoes as they enter the room.
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Hiking on a wooded trail. Riding a bike down the street. Doing crunches on a stability ball. Hitting the slopes. Walking up the stairs with ease. These are more than simple pleasures you can enjoy by living a healthy lifestyle. They're also proof that your body's ability to balance while doing a variety of things is pretty amazing. Even when you're not thinking about it, your body is balancing—in everyday life, when you exercise, and during your active pastimes.
Most people don't spend any time thinking about their balance until it's too late—when they actually fall or injure themselves. But balance isn't just a concern for the elderly who are more prone to falls (and the serious complications those falls can cause). Balance training is important for everyone, from athletes to casual exercisers.
Good balance and a strong core go hand in hand, and a strong core usually means better posture, less back pain and improved performance during exercise and athletics. Plus, the better you balance the less likely you are to fall or injure yourself. If you haven't thought much about maintaining—or enhancing—your balance, now is as good a time as any to start.
You've probably seen lots of fancy fitness gizmos that are designed to help you improve your balance—everything from a simple stability ball to balance boards, inflatable balance discs, BOSU trainers, foam rollers and more. While these items certainly add challenge to your workout, you really don't need ANY fancy equipment—not even a Wii Fit—to improve your balance. In fact, you can turn just about any standard strength-training or flexibility exercise into one that does double duty by improving your balance while you work your muscles. With multi-tasking moves like these under your belt, that means you won't have to spend more time exercising just to improve your balance. Find out how! Read More ›
I don't know what it's like to be obese. I've never been inside the body of a very overweight or obese person. Although I know a lot about fitness and do my best to lead workouts that are suitable for people of many levels of fitness and mobility, I can truly never know how it really feels to do that workout while carrying excessive weight. But like many of you, Abby Lentz (that's her in the photo to the left) knows what it's like. A certified yoga instructor, who also happens to be obese, she's been sharing her knowledge for the past four years by leading overweight and obese exercisers in Austin, Texas through classes just for them: HeavyWeight Yoga. Recently, she released a DVD by the same name so that overweight men and women can enjoy the many benefits of yoga at home. She doesn't think you need to lose weight or tone up before you try yoga. In fact, she says that everyone can—and should—practice yoga starting with the body you have today.
I first learned about Abby Lentz in Fitness magazine's "Fit 50" list of tips, trends and trendsetters, and thought, "How refreshing!" I personally contacted Abby to request a DVD to review for our readers, and finally had a chance to test it out over the past week…and I was blown away! Read More ›