Eat This Not That

Eat this not that blog pic 2Are you looking for a few great ideas for living healthy? How about five healthy alternatives for some of the most common junk foods. By changing the way you eat, you can achieve your goal of healthier living. These five alternatives will get you started on the right track.

Trade out those potato chips and dip. Instead of greasy chips and fatty dips opt for multi-grain pita chips and hummus. This alternative is also better than tortilla chips and salsa. Whole-grain pita ships tend to have less saturated fat than regular chips. And hummus makes for a protein-rich dip. Hummus comes in a variety of flavors which will satisfy most any craving. You can find spicy hummus flavors, classic hummus, and hummus loaded with tomato just to name a few.

A delicious alternative to making pizza. Everyone loves pizza and it is an easy fix to create a healthier version. Start with a whole-wheat dough and top it with a healthier cheese option such as skim mozzarella. As far as meats go, chicken is a great alternative. Or you can try a tomato and basil topped pizza, vegetables are always an option for pizza. You can make a small individual pizza by using pita bread in place of the dough.

Replace candy and still satisfy a sweet tooth. Most of us have a bit of a sweet tooth. Sometimes you just have to have something sweet. Candy is usually the first thing you think about eating in order to satisfy that craving. But before you grab for that candy bar try eating fresh fruit or dried fruit.

  • Simple strawberries or blueberries can easily curve that craving for sweets.
  • Apples are also a great healthy treat and you can add yogurt and cinnamon to boost the taste.
  • Dried fruits are a great treat on their own or accompanied with a trail mix of nuts and chocolate chips and you’ll get high-quality carbs and fats.
  • Bananas are good, increase the pleasure with a drizzle of caramel and shaved almonds.

Skip the french fries. Sweet potato fries are becoming easier to find even in the fast food restaurants. So instead of french fries try baked sweet potato fries or yams. These alternatives have less bad fats and you can get a boost of beta-carotene which is great for promoting healthy eyes. If you are baking them at home drizzle them with a little olive oil before you set them in the oven.
Alternatives to ice cream. Ice cream is a very popular dessert but there are healthier alternatives that will be just as tasty. Try yogurt instead, it comes in a large variety of flavors. Yogurt is a great healthy choice and the best part is you can add to it just as you may add to ice cream.

  • Toss in some dry oats and your favorite berries to make your yogurt sweet.
  • Blend yogurts to create a yogurt smoothie.
  • Add baked maple pairs and granola for a sweet and savory treat.

You can also add in yogurt as a replacement in some recipes. Some items you can replace include sour cream, heavy cream, or buttermilk. So be on the look out for opportunities to adding yogurt for a healthier ingredient for your recipes.

Calling All Runners

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Spin Class: An Alternative to the Treadmill

Senior Woman Cycling In Spinning Class In GymSpinning is a type of indoor cycling in which programs are offered by trained instructors. Most classes do not take long and may last for about 40-60 minutes. It is an indoor aerobic workout set to music and the workouts are led by a certified instructor. Spinning is great for those who need a motivating workout yet do not want to be extremely vigorous and prefer to set their own pace. This can be enjoyed even if you are not an enthusiast of fitness programs as there are no complex moves. The average participant of a Spin class burns about 400 to 600 calories which is the same amount of fat a person running will lose.

While many people consider treadmill as a good workout, a Spinning class can help you burn more calories with less bodily strain. Treadmills can often be hard especially on your joints. An exercise on a treadmill is weight- bearing. As you move on the machine, your entire body weight is suppressing your knees and ankles. This can often lead to injury. In contrast, Spinning is not weight-bearing and is considered a low-impact exercise therefore there is minimal pressure on the ankles and knees. There is less chance of injury while spinning even in repeated use as compared to treadmills. Below is how a spin class compares to working out on a treadmill;

  • Treadmills can get boring– When workouts are monotonous, it is hard to get motivated to go to a gym. However a spin class is hardly boring since you have the support of others who keep you motivated.
  • Relaxation– Spin classes promote a relaxing mood with the inclusion of different music and this is not the case with the monotony sessions experienced while working out on treadmills.

Benefits of spinning

In addition to burning calories, spinning helps you build strength. The different muscles used like the calves, quadriceps and hamstrings help you build resistance and strength. It is a great exercise for your core and this is especially true if you are new to the sport. A spin class ensures you get a great workout regardless of how fit you are.

What to wear

The rules of a workout outfit also apply in a spin class. Flat shoes and padded cycling shorts are comfy and make your workout more effective. Avoid long and baggy pants as these can get entangled in the pedals or wheels. These are some of the things you should not forget to bring with you to a spin class.

  • A bottle of water to quench your thirst after the workout
  • A towel for wiping out the sweat
  • A gel seat just to ensure you stay comfortable
  • A heart rate monitor to help you monitor your exercise intensity and know on which areas you need to improve.

5 Hidden Health Benefits of Tennis

Tennist blog pic 6Ah, tennis. Hot, sweaty courts, tanned shoulders and the “Pop!”of a solid serve. No matter what level you play at, tennis provides a fun, active way to release stress and stay fit. But did you know that there are more benefits to tennis than meets the eye? Engaging in regular tennis matches or lessons offers many hidden health benefits.

Physical Benefits of Tennis

  • Increased Brain Capacity: When you play tennis, you must be alert and ready to make split second decisions on where to place the ball. Some studies show that this type of thinking while playing tennis promotes new connections within the brain.
  • Superior Caloric Burn: Playing tennis at a competitive level burns more calories than other sports including inline skating, aerobics or cycling. Burning all those calories helps maintain your cardiovascular health.
  • Improved Balance and Agility: Tennis requires short, quick movements including multiple starts and stops in just a few seconds. Performing these movements repetitively improves gross motor control, balance and agility.
  • Improved Bone Density: Tennis can be played at various skill levels, making it an ideal sport for children up to senior citizens. The impact tennis forces onto your bones increases bone density, strengthening your entire body.
  • Increased Hand-Eye Coordination: If you take your eye off the ball for a split second while playing tennis, the results can be less than desirous. All of that tracking and coordinating with your swinging arm results in improved hand-eye coordination.

Psychological Benefits of Tennis

  • Better Work Ethic: There’s nothing like a challenge or goal to keep you motivated. Regular bouts of tennis, whether lessons or games, keep you motivated to achieve fitness and sport-specific goals in a healthy way.
  • Improved Mood: It is a proven fact that staying physically active improves your mood, allows you to release stress and teaches you to cope with life better.
  • Improved Coping Skills: Everyone makes mistakes in life and on the court. Practicing tennis helps you learn to cope with the mistakes you make and carry on.
  • Experience with Teamwork: Life often requires teamwork, whether with your spouse or family, at work or on a sport court. Doubles tennis helps you learn the value of working with a partner and the skills required to do it successfully.

The bottom line is that tennis offers a lot more than a fun way to burn off energy. It produces other benefits that perhaps you never even considered. Go ahead and lace up your sneakers, grab a can of balls and hit the courts. Do it in the name of fun, fitness and overall wellness.

How to Improve Your Reaction Time on the Tennis Court

Tennist blog pic 5Looking to improve your reaction time on the tennis court?  From drills to visualization to specialized workouts, there are plenty of ways to do it.

Speed

As a tennis player, you know that being able to move quickly is essential.  Moving from one sideline to the other demands agility and speed, and to be successful you must also have a quick reaction time. It only takes a second for the ball to get past you.

You will want to add both cardiovascular training and strength training into your workouts, but another essential way to boost your reaction time is to add specialized drills.

The Three-Ball Drill

One of the best drills to practice is the Three-Ball Drill.   This drill improves your reaction time because it helps you learn to read and respond to shots even better than you already do. Keeping good form is essential with this drill.

Have your partner stand in the middle of the tennis court, right inside the baseline.  He or she should face you, holding two tennis balls.  You will stand behind the baseline and face the net.  Have your partner feed a ball underhand to you, on one side.  Slide over to catch the ball, off just one bounce with one hand. Toss it back and go to your original position.  As you return the first ball, your partner will throw the second, but in the opposite direction. Two balls should be in motion at the same time, at all times.  Keep this up, doing about ten throws per set.  Once you get good at this, have your partner vary the location of the ball.

Workouts

There are also some specialized workouts that you can do to improve your reaction time on the court.  One of those is simply running!  To get faster, at anything, you need to practice.  And quick reactions involve fast feet.  Try running in nature, because your body will have to react to unpredictable terrain while you run.  The key is to run faster and faster each time you go out.

Wall Bounces

Today you can buy something called a ‘reaction ball’ that has an odd shape and gives you an uneven bounce each and every time you bounce the ball.  Throw the ball against the wall and catch it.  Each time it bounces back, you will really have to react and pay attention in order to catch it.

Increase the velocity of your throws, and vary how close you stand to the wall to make this even more challenging.

Visualize

And finally, simply visualize your success on the court. Picture yourself returning every serve, and winning the match.  Visualization exercises have been proven to increase athletes’ success in every sport, so spend a few minutes every day picturing just how quickly you will return those serves!

What Is Zumba?

Dance fitness groupZumba is a fitness program in which fast and slow rhythms dance moves are incorporated into Latin music. Resistance training is emphasized in this aerobic training. However, you are cautioned not to get so caught up in the dancing and forget how to maintain proper technique. If you are new to this aerobic training, you might wonder what to expect to Zumba classes. The classes begin with a dynamic warm up by all the participants and end with cool moves and static stretching. Each song introduces a workout portion and is characterized by a different dance routine. Zumba instructors may sometimes add their own flair and dance steps especially if it is their favorite tracks although most of times they are pre-choreographed. Some of the common moves include v-steps with exaggerated hip movements and side touches.

Zumba mainly uses a particular phrase or sound, which is the basis of its choreography.  It is also unique in that the instructors do not speak much. Although it may be frustrating for first timers, you will get used to it especially after learning of its various benefits, which are;

  • Weight loss– One of the most important aspects of this fitness program is spectacular weight loss achieved. A lot of routines improves cardiovascular system and ensures more shedding off of unwanted calories. The best part of it is that you will not need vigorous effort to do this.
  • Body toning– You will be able to tone your body within a short time with Zumba training. Body movements like squats and twists engage your muscles more and as such, rhythmic movement’s helps to tone your body.
  • Make new friends- Every time you attend a class, you will be able to interact with interesting and fun new people. Even if you limit your sessions to twice per week, you could still make a lot of new friends regardless of whether you are shy or outgoing. Such friends also share their experiences with you and how they met some of the challenges faced by workout participants.
  • Stress eliminator– In this fast paced world, we daily accumulate stress brought about by numerous factors. Zumba is the perfect stress reliever and is recommended for stimulating release of hormones known as endorphins responsible for lightening up the mood. By joining a Zumba class, you will notice a significant change in your attitude and feel less worried as you move to the beat. Some people have admitted that it is more effective in reducing stress than therapy.
  • Improved coordination– It is extremely important to have good body coordination especially if you are advanced in age. The consequences of poor coordination are often very frustrating even at times life-threatening, for instance, in the event of operating machinery or driving. Zumba training dance moves helps to improve bodily ordination.
  • It works for every age– Since the workout combines all forms of fun elements and energetic movements, it is suitable for all age groups. In fact, there are programs dedicated to children, which help them to appreciate the importance of exercising from a tender age. It also helps keep older people active and healthy while staying strong. It is also a fun and exciting way to exercise and does not include vigorous or strenuous physical activity.
  • Fights depression– As a leading social problem, depression can quickly take a toll on someone’s emotional and physical health. Research has proved that participation in cardiovascular exercise helps to release high amounts of endorphins in the body to fight negative emotions and feelings. Zumba involves a lot of dancing and therefore the best way to beat depression.

Try Something New in Yoga

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How to Incorporate Swimming into Your Workout

swim blog pic 1Did you know that swimming can help to shave off pounds while providing a great cardiovascular workout? In fact, swimming can also help build endurance by the sheer fact that time in the pool is more easily sustained by most athletes than time on the track. This means that you can burn calories by working out for longer periods of time, and have more fun in the process!

Swimming, regardless of experience level or age group, can be your primary workout or year-round complement to your regular, physical-fitness regimen. Aside from the cardiovascular and endurance benefits that swimming offers, most pools are open year-round, which translates to staying in shape during the off-season and avoiding any unsightly, post-holiday weight gain.

Cardiovascular Workout 

Swimming consistently and using the proper technique provides an unparalleled balance between a sustainable cardiovascular workout and endurance training. Swimming is such a good cardiovascular and aerobic workout because it requires a constant supply of oxygen to the body’s muscles vis-a-vis long exercise times. Because swimming can usually be sustained for longer periods of time than running or other higher-impact workouts, staying active in the pool can help burn more calories and sidestep the harmful effects of stress, per any sustained aerobic activity.

Physique and Cross Training

Swimming is said to promote the growth of lean, long muscles. These lean, long muscles actually complement dense and compact muscles that are created through weight training. Aside from building both muscle systems, coupling swimming with other forms of cardiovascular exercise helps ensure that you keep your figure while keeping your metabolism high – the lean, long muscles bolstered through swimming can keep metabolism and the body’s calorie-burning mechanisms high.

Working out in the pool increases muscle strength and allows for a year-round cardiovascular workout. In addition, swimming can give your body a break from higher-impact workouts, such as weight training or distance running. By crafting a workout regimen that couples different muscle systems and levels of impact, you can be assured of improving your physique and even sidestepping injury. Athletes who grind away on the track all day are more prone to injury and exhaustion than athletes who incorporate swimming and other low-impact exercises into their routine.

Increased Core Strength and Flexibility 

Swimming helps to enhance core conditioning as it uses different muscle systems at the same time. That said, about three-fourths of a swimming workout comes via the muscles in the upper body, so incorporating a fin or kick-board regimen can ensure that you’re using both upper and lower muscles during your time in the pool. Also, just the fact that swimming involves an upper and lower workout sets it above running in some respects; swimming can usually be sustained longer than running, which suggests swimming could burn more calories over the long haul.

Working out in a heated pool relaxes muscles and facilitates stretching and flexibility. As an added benefit, swimming after a weight-training regimen that burns lactic acid at a high rate can ensure that toxins are flushed out of your system. Flushing out toxins can help prevent next-day soreness, which means you can be back in the pool and burning calories in record time!

How to Get Back Into a Fitness Routine

running couple closeMany people find themselves suddenly realizing that they have lost themselves. Life gets hectic, children are born and you become busy. One thing that suffers is your health and fitness, unfortunately. Making sure that you take care of yourself is an important part of taking care of those that you care about. Getting back into a fitness routine is one of the toughest tasks you might face and it may require a little work. There are several things that you can do to ease back into a fitness routine without feeling like you are climbing up a mountain.

Find Time

The first thing you want to consider is how much time you have to devote to a fitness routine. This will help you find a routine that fits your lifestyle and prevent you from failing by trying to cram a fitness routine where it simply won’t fit. Even if you are going to devote one hour every other day, you can be on your way to a fitness routine that will give you excellent results.

Find Motivating Choices

Remember that a fitness routine doesn’t have to mean weight lifting or riding an exercise bike. You might find that there are other forms of exercise that fit your needs and will be exciting for you at the same time. You might want to consider signing up for a fitness class where you can build relationships while you are working out. This is a good way to develop an accountability plan. It is often easier to go to class and work out if you know someone else might be looking for you. It is also easier if you are doing some exercise routines as a group and experiencing the ups and downs together.

Exercise for Stress Release

Many people find that using their workout time or fitness time as an escape and stress reliever is the best way to commit to doing it each day. Making your fitness outing a reward instead of making it something of a chore is the best way to get yourself into the routine of getting the job done. Look forward to your routine so that you can get the benefit while making sure that you don’t feel like you are punishing yourself for being out of shape.

Make Commitments

Another important part of getting back into a fitness routine is making sure that all of those around you, such as your children, your friends and your spouse, realize that you are going to be doing this. Mark it on your daily planner and on the calendar on your refrigerator. Write it in ink so that everyone knows you are unavailable during these times and this is not a time when you will work out if you have nothing else to do. It is an appointment that you are responsible to keep.

Reward Yourself Positively and Consistently

Rewarding yourself for every step you take, especially in the first 30 days, is vital to sticking with it and getting a routine going. The first week will be the most difficult and will be when you are making the workout a regular part of your routine. Take the time to appreciate every step forward you make, whether it is going through your fitness routine for another day or losing another pound. Every bit of progress forward is going to help build the momentum you need to stay strong.

Easing back into a workout routine is not an easy task, but you will be rewarded for the effort. Find the time, make the commitment and refuse to give up.