Top 3 Ways to Stretch For Better Health & Fitness

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Top 3 Ways to Stretch For Better
Health & Fitness

The importance of stretching cannot be over emphasized.

Stretching improves flexibility of muscles and connective tissue. It helps joints as well. Stretching is also a prime and important element to avoid injuries. The purpose of stretching is to achieve your individual range-of-motion for your skeletal muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. It is also good for your heart muscle.

Yoga and Pilates are based on stretching groups of muscles and providing them with the necessary oxygen and red blood cells. Your workout can be aerobics, running, walking, bike riding or swimming. You can play tennis, golf, volleyball, basketball or any other sport after carefully stretching muscles.

Saw Mill Club in Mount Kisco offers 200 group exercise classes each week including kickboxing, spinning, aerobics and Zumba. All of the classes start with a warm-up that includes extensive stretching.

Before a workout

The warm-up is actually raising your core body temperature a couple of degrees, according to the MIT How to Stretch program on preparing for sports. A general warm-up should start with joint rotations starting with fingers, wrist, elbows and shoulders moving on to neck, trunk, waist and hips. Then move down to knees, ankles and toes. The rotations should be slow and comfortable, never forced.

Static or passive stretching is next. Hold a position such as standing mountain in Yoga to carefully stretch your back. You may want to do the runner’s leg stretch. Move slowly to the next positions to work the muscles you will be using primarily in your workout or game. Slow, fluid movements should be used for all stretching.  The amount of time you spend stretching depends on your personal needs.

Yoga classes start with easy, basic stretches and move on to more complex postures. Students are always instructed to set their own pace.

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The workout or game

Dynamic stretching is the recommended way of working into the reach or speed of movement you want. This may involve repetitions of a stretching movement. This is the usual procedure for low-impact aerobic exercise, Pilates, dancing and some martial-arts classes. Dancers often do their stretches holding on to a bar. Competitive swimmers do some stretches on deck before moving into the water. Then they stretch in the water, swim laps slowly and eventually work into their competition times. This is a procedure during practice sessions and before races.

Swimming is a good stretching exercise. A runner does not hit the track without a complete joint and muscle-stretching warm-up routine. Ballistic stretching is a form of using jerking movements that work muscles too hard. This might cause injuries. Once muscles reach their stretch limits, they do not work at full capacity without a substantial rest period.

The weight machines at Saw Mill Club require fluid, continuous movement, not jerking motion, to stretch and contract various muscle groups.

Contact Fitness Director Billy Goda for more information:

Phone: (914) 733-4029
Email: bgoda@sawmillclub.com

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Low Impact Workouts: They’re safer and more effective than you think

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Low Impact Workouts:

They’re safer and more effective than you think

The American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic exercise three to four times each week in order to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. That exercise doesn’t have to be high impact activity, as low impact exercise can still provide you with a good workout, while reducing the risk of injury to your joints. Here are some reasons why you should consider a low impact workout over a high impact routine, if you live in Katonah, Mt. Kisco or Bedford.

Low Impact is Suitable for Everyone

Not everyone is capable of handling the additional stress a high impact workout brings. If you currently have joint problems, arthritis, stress fractures or sports injuries, you may experience pain while performing high impact exercise; you also increase your risk of strains and sprains considerably. If you are significantly overweight, are pregnant or have just started exercising, low impact exercise is recommended at least temporarily.

Target Heart Rate

Just because you are performing low impact exercise doesn’t mean you can’t still reach your target heart rate zone, which is between 65% and 85% of your maximum heart rate. (Check out new technologies like MyZone to assist better understanding your target heart rate zone.) You can still reach this level by moving faster and over­-exaggerating some of your movements. When walking, you can also vary your routine to include hills or inclines­­readily available here in Westchester­­ in order to make your heart work harder. Adding hand or ankle weights will increase the intensity as well. On an exercise bicycle or elliptical machine, you could also choose an interval program to help build endurance and elevate your heart rate a bit.

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No Lack of Activities

When it comes to low impact workouts, you never have to be bored with your training program. A few of the activities you can participate in are:

  • Bicycling
  • Roller or ice skating
  • Swimming
  • Cross country skiing
  • Rowing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Tai Chi

Best of all, weight training, Yoga and Pilates can all be included in any one of these workouts to help build strong muscles and increase your range of motion without placing undue stress on your joints. As such, you’ll never have to tire of a routine, because there will always be something new for you to try.

When done properly, low impact workouts can be just as intense as high impact routines, but are much safer to do. Even if you’re not currently experiencing joint problems, you could still benefit from making the switch by preventing future problems from occurring.

For further information or to schedule a Free Personal Training session, contact East Fitness Director Kris Geier:

Phone: (914) 242-9760
Email: kgeier@sawmillclub.com

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How to get your cardio in without running on a treadmill

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How to get your cardio in without running on a treadmill

Cardio is an important part of any exercise program, and you should include between  30-90 minutes of blood pumping movements three to five times a week. Benefits of cardio workouts include weight loss, heart and lung health, increased bone density, better sleep, reduced stress and anxiety, and more energy.  Your cardio training should be supplemented by mobility work and strength training in order  to see maximum results, and you can vary the type of cardio you do to keep yourself motivated. While the treadmill is often the “go to” piece of equipment at the gym, there are plenty of other ways to get that heart rate up without running. Here are four ways you can mix up your cardio routine:

Group Classes
Spinning, Zumba, TRX, boxing, and even power yoga will elevate your heart rate and help you burn calories. Group fitness classes are great ways to stay energized and motivated. Whether you want to dance away your calories or take out your aggression on the punching bag, trained fitness instructors have created programming designed for maximum results and fun. If you’re new to the class, take a moment to introduce yourself to the instructor and let him or her know of any injuries or issues you might have. Don’t feel frustrated if you miss a step or have to scale some movements, a little time and a lot of sweat will have you racing to the top of the class in no time.

Bikes and Stair Climbers
If the treadmill has you feeling like you’re on the road to nowhere, try a new piece of equipment. Bikes, stair climbers, and cross trainers all give you a great cardio workout, and focus on other areas of the body. Adding some variety to your cardio programming gives other muscles a chance to do some work, and keeps you heart rate elevated. By changing your routine and throwing in some new equipment every once in awhile, you can stave off the dreaded plateau, and shave some time off your PRs next time you hit the treadmill.

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Swimming
Swimming is a a great full body workout and  is easier on your knees than running. Swimming laps not only gets your heart rate up, it engages your core, back, shoulders, and arms in a  way other cardio exercises can’t. Not ready to swim laps? Give water exercise a try. Whether you swim laps on your own, join the swim team, or explore H20 Exercise, you’ll get all the aerobic and cardio benefits without the joint pain and stress.

High Intensity Workouts
If you’re pressed for time or are wary of equipment, a body weight, high intensity workout will get you fit, fast. Combining short bursts of activity, like squats, lunges, burpees, jumping rope, push ups, and situps, with brief rest periods keeps your heart elevated and your body moving.

Knowing you’re working hard for a short period of time allows you to give your workout 100%. You’ll feel this workout in the morning, and you’ll see results quickly.

Even if the treadmill is your tried and true equipment, you and your workout can benefit from additional cardio work. By incorporating new cardio routines into your fitness plan, you can avoid burnout and stay motivated.

For further information or to schedule a Free Personal Training session, contact East Fitness Director Kris Geier:

Phone: (914) 242-9760
Email: kgeier@sawmillclub.com

Find out more about how Saw Mill Club East can help you Live Better!

TechnoGym: It’s Lifestyle Management

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TechnoGym: It’s Lifestyle Management

When you were in high school and college, life seemed easy. No matter how much class work you had to do, there was always plenty of time left in the day. It was easy to look at working adults and say that you would never get so focused on work that you neglected to exercise. It was also really easy to blame them for not making time for things outside of work. Once you get out into the work world you find out that it is not at all what you expect, from the schedule to your energy levels. You were right about one thing though: it is about making the time for yourself.

What you know now that you didn’t know back then was how easy it was to think that you are doing enough to stay fit. You think that you’ve done enough jogs for the month only to realize that it’s the end of the month and you haven’t worked out at all for two weeks.

It’s not just about time management; it’s about life management.

With Technogym, you now have the tools necessary to learn to manage your time and workouts. While it doesn’t feel like it when you are young, if twenty or thirty minutes are all you have to spare that is enough. It’s about lifestyle management.

The equipment can help you determine your current fitness level so that you can safely get back into a workout regiment. It is far too easy to over-estimate your abilities when you start to take your workouts more seriously. This can not only cause you physical harm, it could mean that it will be even longer before you will be able to resume a regular workout.

Here are a few of the different programs and technologies that can really help you get back into a healthy, more fulfilling lifestyle.

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One of the most comprehensive programs is in the cloud. With UNITY, every piece of equipment that you use records what you do and stores the information in the cloud. This means that workouts you do at home or that you add manually, your entire workout regimen is stored in one place. If you want to see what kind of progress you are making, you won’t have to coordinate between what you do at the gym versus what you do at home or with friends.

VISIOWEB, also available in the cloud, lets you personalize your workout. This lets you plan if you want to get outside to workout (if the weather is nice) or plan to hit the gym. You can setup the programs you want to watch or music you want to listen to as you exercise. It even lets you share your experience over social media if you had a particularly good workout.

Both the Personal Wellness Solution and Coach Solution can act as a personal trainer to help you create a schedule that will meet your goals. With Coach Solutions you can setup timetables and locations so that you can plan ahead.

Ultimately, your health and wellness are your responsibility, but that does not mean that you have to treat it like a chore. Technogym makes it easy to establish the workouts you want based on your skill level and goals. From there, it will handle all of the logging and tracking so that you can focus on getting in shape and staying healthy.

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SMC Information Series… 5 Great Lower Back Exercises

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5 Great Lower Back Exercises

The lower back is one of the easiest parts of the body to injure, whether at the gym, at play or at work. So when it comes to this particular body part, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. These guidelines will help to strengthen the lower back with minimal risk of injury, but as always, ask a physician before engaging in any new exercise program.

First, Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises are a good idea before the start of any physical activity, especially a workout, but the lower back isn’t the easiest party of the body to stretch. Sometimes we have to get creative.
Lay on your back on the floor with your buttocks pressing against a wall and your legs flat against it pointing up. This stretch relaxes the lower back and drains excess fluid from the knees, ankles and feet.
Now lay on your back with your knees bent toward your chest. Put your arms out straight against the floor in a T form for balance and lower your knees, legs still bent, to the floor next to your left arm. Hold this post for a minute or two and then repeat on the right side.
Finally, lay on your stomach, legs straight behind you while propping yourself up on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders. Press forward with your pelvis while pressing down with your palms and the tops of your feet. Your pose will resemble the Sphinx. If you are doing it right, you will feel the sensation in our lower back. Hold this pose for as long as it feels comfortable and remember to breathe.

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Get on the Ball

These dynamic stabilization exercises will help to strengthen the secondary muscles of the spine.
Lay on your stomach over a large exercise ball. Raise one arm at a time over your head and then lift one leg at a time a few inches off the floor. Do not arch your lower back during this exercise.
Now walk your hands out until the ball is under your legs instead of your stomach, then walk back till the ball is back under your stomach.
Advanced users can do a few push-ups while the ball is under their legs.

Walk the Plank

The side plank is a great way to build strength for the core muscles that support your lower back.
Lay down on your left side, leaning on your elbow with your body in a straight line. Tighten your stomach while lifting your hips from the floor and keep your body in a straight line. Hold this position for half a minute and lower your hips back down. Complete three sets and then repeat on your right side.

Bridge the Gap

Lay on your back again with legs bent up and feet level against the floor about as wide apart as your hips. Tighten your buttock muscles while you lift your hips for a slow count of a few seconds. Do ten reps. Once you need more of a challenge, lift one leg straight up toward the ceiling while holding the pose. This is very challenging.

Don’t Forget to Work on Your Core

Exercises that strengthen your stomach, back and leg muscles will make you less vulnerable to back injury. It is most important to trust your body. If you are feeling back strain, it is best not to do straight or bent-let sit-ups, leg lifts or lift heavy weights above your waist until you feel better.

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SMC Information Series… 5 Lean Foods for Weight Loss

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Losing weight, attacking the body composition, is largely about focus, habits and knowledge. Losing weight involves a combination of regular exercise and eating the right foods. A plan which incorporates both of these elements will not only help you achieve your weight loss goals, but it will also dramatically increase your energy levels. Lean proteins and complex carbohydrates are especially beneficial in that they keep you feeling full and have high nutritional value.

Here are some excellent foods which will help with weight loss:

Egg Whites
For years, eggs have been wrongly dismissed as unhealthy because of the saturated fat in the yolk; however, the fact remains that they are an excellent source of protein. A boiled egg contains only two grams of saturated fat but if you want to eliminate saturated fat from your diet, you can have the egg whites, which are fat free. Whole eggs or egg whites for breakfast can help you to feel full for longer.

Lentils
A single cup of lentils provides 35 percent of your iron for the day; that iron content helps to provide energy for exercise since iron is an important component of the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Their fiber also helps to lower your blood sugar. Aside from that, lentils are fat free and contain complex carbohydrates that slow down digestion and prevent your body from storing fat.

Apples
In addition to being compact and portable, apples come with a number of benefits for those seeking to lose weight. In addition to being low in fat and carbohydrates, one study published in the journal Appetite found that apples can suppress appetite due to their pectin and soluble fiber content.

Tuna
Along with offering a variety of important nutrients, tuna has a lot of protein. As with egg white, the protein in tuna helps to keep you feeling full for longer. Tuna also contains much less fat and calories compared to other protein sources like beef or chicken. One serving of tuna packed in water contains 73 calories but beware of adding mayonnaise; a single tablespoon contains more calories than the serving of tuna.

Oatmeal
Along with its cholesterol-lowering benefits, this super food has a lot of fiber, which can help you to feel full. Because oatmeal contains complex carbohydrates, it does not spike blood sugar as high as foods with refined carbohydrates. The result is that insulin levels do not spike as high either; this can help to keep your body from storing fat.

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Weight loss can often be a challenging event and people will spend years struggling unsuccessfully to attain their goals, improve their life. What I ALWAYS suggest (quite vehemently at times) is working with a personal trainer for a minimum of 6 months. During this period of time you will not only drastically improve your health but there are 4 other essential benefits:

1. You will gain a physical skill set which will always allow you to be comfortable in any gym.

2. You will have nutrition knowledge about what foods to eat and when to eat these foods.

3. Accountability – “Yes, I will be at the gym…”

4. Forming habits – Eating well and going to the gym become the norm instead of the exception to the rule.
This 6 month commitment with a personal trainer will be the best thing you can do for yourself. It will improve your quality of life for all your days to come (and hopefully there are a lot of them).

Find out more about how Saw Mill Club can help you lose weight!