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The Hidden Exercise Risk No One Talks About


I thought I knew a thing or two about diet and exercise. For example, I knew how to do a squat, and that avoiding carbs altogether wasn’t necessarily a wise thing to do.

Then I enrolled in personal training school and realized just how much I didn’t know.
To be perfectly honest, I had never really given any thought to the subject of exercise safety – and it took getting a formal education to bring it to my awareness.

When you want to lose weight and get in shape, you focus on the important things: what foods to eat, which fitness program to follow and how to balance your calories in vs. calories out. Of course these factors are normal and helpful, but when it comes to exercise—an activity designed to bring you optimal health and well-being—there are hidden dangers lurking beneath the surface if you aren't paying attention.
Posted 5/14/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 76 comments   80,197 views
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8 Signs Your Cardio Workouts Are Doing More Harm Than Good


Aerobic exercise (think running, biking, and jumping rope) is good for your health, helps with weight loss and generally makes you feel good.  But believe it or not, you can have too much of a good thing—even exercise.  It's important to find the balance between challenging yourself, making exercise a regular part of your daily routine, and doing more harm than good. But where exactly is the line where a healthy amount becomes too much?
Posted 3/19/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 9 comments   54,460 views
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Beat the Heat During Your Summer Workouts


Summer is almost here, which means the temperature will continue to rise. Some of you may have already experienced some early summer-type heat and are already starting to get acclimated to it. As we change over to summer weather, we need to remember to take precautions when exercising in the heat.

Our bodies do a great job at cooling off in general, but it does take time for them to get acclimated to the heat as the season changes. Depending on your age, current health condition and your activity level, your body can take 2 or more weeks to acclimate to the heat. This is something to keep in mind, especially if you are feeling like your workouts are getting harder during this time of year and/or you have humidity to deal with on top of the heat.
Posted 6/14/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 21 comments   22,203 views
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The Top 5 Exercises You're Doing Wrong


For some people, safety and form during a workout is a huge priority. For others, it's an afterthought. If you work out without the careful eyes of a trainer or instructor watching your every move, it can be difficult to know if you are exercising with proper form—even when you're really trying to.
 
Learning how to move with correct alignment isn't just about looking good; it can mean the difference between muscle activation and joint strain—or even injury.
 
Here are five exercises that are common—and may even seem simple—but are most often performed incorrectly by people of all fitness levels.
Posted 5/13/2013  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 40 comments   163,570 views
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10 Tips to Stay Safe and Comfortable in a Hot Yoga Class


Last month I subbed a couple of hot yoga classes. Confession: I am not a fan of hot yoga, as a teacher or a student. In addition to being hard on the environment (think of how much energy we use to artificially heat a room--thanks to one of my favorite teachers, Wendy Green, for instilling that in me!), hot yoga can be downright dangerous if you're not prepared. Some studios crank the heat above 100 degrees--and increase the humidity, too. (You want hot yoga, just come to Cincinnati!)

At the studio where I practice, the temperature frequently tops 85 degrees in summertime--that's with minimal air conditioning. If you pack a room full of people who are moving, sweating, and breathing, you'll create heat.

By the end of a practice, the windows are foggy, we're all soaked through, and our mats are dripping with sweat. That's my kind of hot yoga!

Hot yoga is a hot trend in the practice these days. Almost every studio offers a hot class of some variety, from Bikram to Moksha, vinyasa to yin. (One of the studio owners I work for confessed to me that she doesn't like or believe in hot yoga, but it's what students have requested.) And in summertime, almost every yoga practice can feel like a hot one.

Why hot yoga? Advocates say hot yoga facilitates stretching, increases range of motion, removes toxins, and promotes weight loss. It's true that it is easier to stretch warm muscles (and you should never stretch "cold" muscles), but whether hot yoga will lead to greater weight loss depends on the type of yoga you're practicing.

According to the American Council on Exercise, Hatha yoga (in the West, this has come to refer to slower-paced classes) burns about 150 calories an hour (and does not raise your heart rate enough to be considered a form of cardio), while vinyasa (faster-paced, flowing yoga) burns about twice that much. If you're losing pounds after each hot yoga class, it's likely water weight. (More on that later.)

Whether you practice naturally hot yoga as I do or practice at a studio that cranks up the heat, you'll want to be safe. (You might also want to read: "I Tried Hot Yoga" before you take a class.) Here are some tips to help:  

Posted 4/24/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 56 comments   158,402 views
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7 Fitness Accessories for Safety and Visibility


One of my favorite times of day to run is in the early morning before the rest of the world wakes up.  It’s quiet and gives me time to think before the craziness of my day begins.  I prefer to run when the sun is already up, but at certain times of the year, that becomes more difficult.  When I do head out in the dark, my first priority is safety.  Although I never assume that cars can see me, I try to make myself as visible as possible.
 
I hear of too many runners, walkers and bikers out with no lights, no identification, wearing dark colors and expecting that everything will be fine and that cars will gladly move out of their way.  Accidents happen all the time, but you can reduce the chances they will happen to you.  Here are some of the products I recommend to help you stay safe and visible when exercising in the dark.
Posted 2/11/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 15 comments   10,535 views
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We Tried It: A Self-Defense DVD for Women


I previously blogged about the importance of self-defense and I still feel very strongly about it being something that every person should know. Because of this, I was very excited that I had the chance to review "Stilettos and Self Defense with Jennifer Cassetta." While this isn't a fitness DVD, which is what we typically review, this DVD does have a lot of valuable information and can help prepare you for possible attacks.
 
Jennifer Cassetta, a third-degree black belt in HapKiDo and certified personal trainer, is the instructor in this DVD. According to Jennifer's profile information, her HapKiDo experience helped her early on in her training when she was "grabbed on a NYC street, dressed in her highest heels and used her martial arts training to scare off her attacker." So Jennifer has not only been trained in self-defense, but she has also experienced the need for it and is passing along her knowledge to other women on how to defend themselves.
 
 
From the DVD cover:
 
Posted 10/18/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 24 comments   15,801 views
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I Won't Be a Victim: The Importance of Self-Defense


After living in the state of California all of our lives, five years ago my husband and I decided we were ready for a change, and we moved to Missouri. We have enjoyed the change that we experienced with that move and decided that it was finally time for us to purchase our first home. We purchased our house in mid-July and have been enjoying being homeowners. We honestly couldn’t ask for a better first home as we both love it very much. It feels great, and we both feel quite accomplished that we were able to become homeowners much sooner than we ever thought was possible.

Our new house is located in a neighborhood only a few miles away from the house we were renting. Now, this is generally a safe and quiet neighborhood. However, last week we learned an important lesson, that bad things happen even in "safe and quiet" places.
Posted 8/30/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 33 comments   9,186 views
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Pets and the Summer Heat: How to Keep Them Safe and Cool


It’s no secret that there has been a lot of extreme heat in many of the states this summer and it doesn’t seem to want to let up. Where I live, it has been extremely hot and humid, which has put a big damper on some of my daily walks with my 9 month old puppy, Zoe. Neither of us has been enjoying the heat, but she loves being outside and going for walks. However, when she is panting quite a bit by the time we get to the top of the driveway, I know there is no way to get her to go for a walk and not have her be overheated.

Dogs and cats don’t sweat like humans do, so they have a harder time trying to cool themselves off. Some signs that your pet may be overheated may include excessive panting, increased heart rate, and in extreme cases – vomiting and diarrhea.

Coach Tanya recently shared some tips for helping us stay cool and healthy during extreme heat, but what’s a dog or cat to do in this type of extreme weather? Well, there isn’t much they can say or do about it, but there are plenty of things we, as responsible pet owners, can do to help them stay cool and healthy.
Posted 8/12/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 37 comments   18,422 views
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Have Fun and Stay Safe in the Summer Heat


We live in South Florida. It's summer. And it's hot.

This time of year, it's 80 degrees at 7 a.m. with 80 percent humidity. It can get to be 90 degrees in the shade by noon.
 
I've stopped complaining about it, and my kids, born into this sweltering subtropical region, believe the freezing point to be 50 degrees. Yet, even they protest that it's too hot to play outside during the summer, which is fine by me since I'm constantly worrying that they'll collapse of heat stroke from running around the ''bases'' in our backyard.
 
Still, it's summer, and the kids can't be cooped up all the time. We've discovered a few ways to stay active–and safe–in the heat.
Posted 6/26/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 18 comments   8,655 views
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10 Things to Take On a Spring Hike


Last Sunday, I reveled in the first day of spring by going for a hike at a nearby park. It was sunny and 60 degrees—perfect hiking weather! I'm always a little nervous when I hit the trail by myself because you never know what could happen. That's why it's best to come prepared. Here are 10 essentials for any hike, whether you're heading out for a few hours or a few days.
Posted 4/25/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 60 comments   33,369 views
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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   17,997 views
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4 Reasons to Stop Stretching Before You Exercise


By now, you probably know how important it is to warm up before you work out. Warming up prepares your body for the increased demands of physical activity, reducing your risk of injury and complications. Beyond sending more oxygen and blood flow to your muscles, a proper warm up also prepares you mentally for what's to come—a workout that may take concentration, coordination and a little motivation.

The one thing you shouldn't do at this time is the very thing that most people do: stretch. So why is stretching before a workout a bad idea?
Posted 4/23/2012  12:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 152 comments   94,854 views
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VIDEO: Shocking Before and After Transformation Photos in 5 Hours


How many times have you seen a product that promises great results for weight loss in a short amount of time? Too many, if you ask me! Not only do they make these great promises, but they have "fabulous before and after photos" to show consumers how their product can help you see such amazing results too. Of course, the photos that they show make their product look like it really works, but are they true before and after photos? I'm sure most people have heard about photos being manipulated in Photoshop, which some may be, but below is a video that shows some interesting insight into how some before and after photos for "weight loss" can be done in the same day (within 5 hours of each other, without Photoshop).
 
Posted 2/23/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 64 comments   43,994 views
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Enter to Win 1 of 2 Prizes from Road ID


Coach Nancy is a woman who knows her running gear. You can always count her for advice on the latest and greatest shoes, accessories and clothes. For a few years now, she has been raving about something called a Road ID.

Last year, I started attending my boyfriend's bike races, where, it seemed, all the cyclists wore one. I decided to learn more. The co-founder of the company, it turns out, is an avid cyclist, and it was while training for a marathon that he was inspired to start Road ID with his father.

The back story is here
.  They say: If you can’t speak for yourself, Road ID will speak for you.

Though they have several products, most of them are bracelets that you wear while exercising.  They also have shoe pouches and anklets.  With Daylight Saving Time coming up this weekend, and shorter, darker days just around the corner, we thought it was a perfect time to host a giveaway with Road ID!

They say: If you are a runner, cyclist, triathlete or just a person who doesn't sit on the couch all day, Road ID is for you. This awesome piece of gear not only looks good but it could save your life. In the event of an accident, if you can't speak for yourself, your Road ID will. Available in 6 different styles. It's not just a piece of gear - it's peace of mind.

After discovering that Road ID is not only a company that's focused on healthy living, like SparkPeople is,  but also one that's based in nearby northern Kentucky, I reached out to them. Road ID agreed to let several SparkPeople employees try their products--and my co-workers and I were thrilled with our Road IDs! (Psst, Road ID is giving some away to you as well!)
Posted 11/4/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 78 comments   17,727 views
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