All Entries For reasons to try

7 Good Reasons to Try a Trail Workout

One thing I love about spring weather is the opportunity to spend more time outdoors. While I run and walk my dog outside in rain, snow and even ice, it sure is a lot more pleasant when the temperature is moderate, the sun is shining, the flowers and trees are blooming, and other people (not just the equally crazy runner you occasionally see at 6 a.m. in the winter) are out and about, too.

Perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy the spring weather and scenery is to hit the trails and take a hike. My dog loves heading to our nearby park with an elaborate trail system. She gets a chance of scenery, meets many other four-legged friends (cautiously and only when on-leash, I'll add!), and gives her nose a workout, too. I love the trails because they get me away from the traffic and pavement I normally exercise on, but also provide a great workout.

If you haven't taken up hiking (or trail running, another of my favorites) yet, here are seven good reasons to put on your trail shoes and get closer to nature this weekend.

Posted 6/11/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 71 comments   33,014 views
Read More ›

50 Good Reasons to Run

I started running several years ago and could barely handle 10 minutes of it. But I kept at it—and I'm sure glad I did.  Three-and-a-half years, countless races, and thousands of miles later, "runner" is now a big part of my personal identity.  I run in rain, snow, sleet, wind. I run through every season and at every time of day. I run for doughnuts and even through muddy obstacles—for the fun of it. Some may think that's crazy, but other members of this special club understand. When you choose to join (we're always welcoming new members), you'll understand it, too.
To celebrate the upcoming National Running Day (June 5, 2013), I created this list of all the reasons why I (love to) run.
Posted 5/29/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 126 comments   324,233 views
Read More ›

You Asked: Why Should I Warm Up before a Workout?

On those days when time is at a premium, it can be tempting to skip your warm-up and jump right into your workout.  Is that a smart use of your time, or is it asking for trouble?  Even though the warming up won't burn hundreds of calories or get you those six-pack abs you've always wanted, it still has a very important place in your workout routine.  Why warm up?  Here are 10 good reasons.
Posted 4/23/2012  5:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 1 comments   74,656 views
Read More ›

4 Good Reasons to Sign Up for a Race

Whether you’re a runner, walker, cyclist or participate in other sports, you might have thought about signing up for a race.  Maybe you’re not sure how to find one in your area, which one would be right for you, or if it’s really worth the effort.  Why would I pay to walk or run with a bunch of strangers when I can do it for free in my own neighborhood?  Well, there are lots of great reasons to try a race.  You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it!
Posted 3/13/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 23 comments   13,931 views
Read More ›

6 Good Reasons to Work Out in Wool

It was my five-days-without-a-shower (TMI?) trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon that taught me about the amazing properties of wool.
Most of us think of wool as the fabric for our winter sweaters or hats, but as I shopped at outdoor and camping stores for my trip, wool was everywhere. Wool underwear, wool hiking socks, wool base layers, wool running tights, wool everything. "What's with all this wool?" I wondered?
Since then, I've learned (and experienced) what an extremely versatile material wool really is. Beyond winter fashion, wool is one of the best materials for exercise clothing—and not just in the winter.  I now have a wool neck gaiter, wool base layers for running, and socks, which are not only the socks I wear every day but also the only socks I'll wear while running.
Still not convinced? Allow me to share the six amazing reasons you should be adding more wool to your workout wardrobe (plus tips for choosing the right wool).
Posted 2/17/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 45 comments   33,733 views
Read More ›

Go Nuts for Walnuts!

I grew up with a native black walnut tree in my back yard. Its ugly green corrugated round fruit would ripen and eventually fall in our yard each year serving as a routine lawn-mowing hazard. My brothers liked to use them to practice their baseball pitches. As they ripened on the ground, they would become yellow-black in color. When they looked like that, you knew not to touch them because their black dye would stain your hands. A great natural dye option perhaps but as a child I didn't have too many uses for that.

English Walnuts were first cultivated in the United States in California in the late 1700's.Today, 99 percent of the U.S. commercial supply of this type of walnut comes from California. A new report last week suggests that walnuts are the healthier nut choice.

Posted 4/4/2011  6:04:01 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 26 comments   12,958 views
Read More ›

4 Good Reasons You Should Pair Up to Work Out

According to a recent dailySpark poll, 75% of you do not work out with a buddy. I'm more of a solo exerciser myself, but sometimes—especially when I need a little entertainment or motivation—I like working out with a friend. I don't strongly take one side or the other on this issue. I think different things work for different people. But some new research is showing that pairing up to work out might have more benefits than you realized…
Posted 2/25/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 48 comments   14,456 views
Read More ›

7 Good Reasons to Try Interval Training

What if I told you there was an exercise technique that could burn more calories—and fat—in less time that was also fun? You may think that I was hawking some fitness gadget in an infomercial, or simply lying to you, but neither of those theories hold true. The amazing workout is called interval training. During interval training, exercisers alternate between high-intensity efforts and low-intensity recovery efforts during a single cardio (aerobic) workout session. It can be as simple as sprinting between two telephone poles and then walking for the next two, or a regimented plan using a stopwatch and specific training schedule. Either way, adding just a couple sessions of interval training to your workouts each week is sure to boost your fitness level, accelerate your fat loss and help you beat boredom.

Here are 7 reasons to try interval training yourself, plus tips and workouts to get you started.
Posted 11/10/2010  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 62 comments   140,990 views
Read More ›

Don't be a Quitter! Try Every Workout More than Once

You probably remember your parents' relentless requests for you to keep trying those lima beans or Brussels sprouts despite your protests that you hated them. They probably even told you that your tastes can change and you might change your mind about them. ("Yeah right!" you'd say.) Maybe you begrudgingly at them over the years, but they always encouraged you to keep trying. I scarcely ate a vegetable or fruit as a kid, but not I love almost every single one of them as an adult. Whether it's eating vegetables, riding a bike, or interviewing for a job, now that we're grownups, too, we understand the importance of trying things more than once—and not giving up.
Posted 6/23/2010  7:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 76 comments   14,360 views
Read More ›

5 Good Reasons to Make Your Own Baby Food

When I was pregnant with my first child, I read all of the books new moms are "supposed" to read: the ones about sleep, discipline, eating, and anything else that could possibly happen during their first year. I really wanted to be the mom who used cloth diapers, never used a pacifier, and had their child on a schedule within the first two weeks. Those things did not happen for a variety of reasons. But one thing I was serious about was making my own baby food. It's something I was successful with for both of my kids, but why did I want to go to all of that trouble? It's not really as much trouble as you might think, and there are definitely some good benefits.

Posted 4/27/2010  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 110 comments   17,291 views
Read More ›

7 Good Reasons to Use the Cable Cross Machine

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.
Posted 9/11/2009  6:56:33 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 47 comments   33,307 views
Read More ›

6 Good Reasons to Try a Spinning Class

As long as I can remember, I was into fitness. I was an active child, athletic and competitive, always trying new sports. Even as a teenager, I loved lifting weights, trying challenging workouts and pushing myself physically. I remember when I was about 17 years old, I read a small blurb in a fitness magazine that talked about this workout called Spinning. It mentioned that it was a major calorie burner (somewhere near 600 calories per hour, if I remember correctly), and that it was a great workout. "What is this Spinning thing," I wondered. Whatever it was, I was definitely going to try it.

By the time I moved away to college a few months later, I got my wish. Not wanting to gain the notorious freshman 15, while trying to maintain a good level of fitness (without the aid of the after-school sports practices I was accustomed to), I started going to the university rec center and tried Spinning for the first time.

That magazine was right. It was intense and challenging. But they didn't tell me that I'd be so sore for a few days (from sitting on that rock hard seat known as the "saddle") that I'd barely be able to sit on my cushioned desk chair in my dorm room—ouch! Despite the challenge (and the discomfort), I made it to Spinning class three times a week and I was hooked. Fast forward a few years later, and I became a certified Spinning instructor myself so that I could share my love of Spinning with others.

I believe that Spinning, which is an indoor group cycling class, is something that people of all ages and fitness levels can benefit from—I've seen it myself and in my students. If you think Spinning isn't for you or tried it and didn't like it, here are 6 reasons to try Spinning that will change your mind.
Posted 6/24/2009  3:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 109 comments   173,232 views
Read More ›

6 Reasons to Visit a Pick-Your-Own Farm this Summer

Last week, my good friend blogged about going strawberry picking with her husband and two kids. They visited a "pick your own" farm and picked 20 pounds (yes, POUNDS) of strawberries. All it cost them was 2 hours of their time and about $30.

If you're familiar with how much strawberries cost at the supermarket—and I surely am, since they are my favorite fruit in the world and I wait ALL YEAR for strawberry season—then you know how expensive they can be. One quart of strawberries (approximately 2 pounds of fruit) at the store can cost up to $4 to $8, depending on the season and region where you live—especially if you buy organic, since strawberries are one of the most heavily sprayed crops).

But monetary cost is only one part of the food equation. In truth, these berries often travel hundreds or thousands of miles from the farms where they were grown to the shelves in your supermarket. That has a high environmental cost—but even if you don't care much about that, it still affects the flavor, freshness and nutrient levels of your food. The longer any fruit or vegetable goes from farm to table, the more vitamins are lost along the way. And I won't even get into the taste! When was the last time you ate a vine-ripened, sunshine-warmed strawberry—or any fruit or vegetable for that matter—straight off the plant? If you said "Never," or that you "Can't remember," then my friend, it is time for you to make like a farmer and head to the fields pick your own.
Posted 6/12/2009  11:46:49 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 171 comments   19,720 views
Read More ›

6 Good Reasons to Try Pilates

I never thought Pilates was for me. I saw the videos, infomercials and classes at the gym, often full of older women in leotards, lying on their backs, moving their legs around in the air. It sure didn't look hard. Where was the challenge, resistance, or weights? And it didn't look very fun either, just lying on the floor for so long. I decided that it wasn't for me and that was that…or so I thought.

After I had been teaching fitness classes for a few years, I started to get bored with my usual strength and cardio classes. I needed something new to keep my interest and enthusiasm. What started as a weekend Pilates workshop for inexpensive continuing education credits (necessary for every certified trainer or instructor) turned into a new passion for me. While I took the training course just for credits, I found out that I really liked this Pilates business, and the more I trained, the more benefits I experienced.

I believe that every person can benefit from Pilates—men, women, athletes, couch potatoes. People of all body shapes and weights. People of all levels of fitness and coordination. It truly does offer something for everyone.

In a new dailySpark series, I'll give you plenty of good reasons to try a variety of fitness endeavors that you may have never considered before. First up: 6 good reasons to try mat Pilates.
Posted 5/20/2009  11:15:18 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 192 comments   64,934 views
Read More ›