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HIIT Is a HIT!

February 26th, 2014

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has listed High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as its top fitness trend for 2014. HIIT involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. These exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes. Research suggests HIIT can boost metabolism and accelerate weight loss.

Although many people can safely participate in HIIT, it is not for everyone. This type of training does come with increased risk of injury and may not be safe for some. Michael Bracko, Fellow of the ACSM, recommends always warming up for five to ten minutes before starting intervals. If an individual has an injury or has not been cleared for exercise, he advises that those issues be resolved before beginning HIIT.

Once you have consulted with a physician and been given the green light to try HIIT, you might want to try it at home. Bracko does sprint intervals with his dog. “I throw a stuffed duck, she chases it, and I chase her. It’s a blast!”

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Beat the Winter Blues

January 29th, 2014

As the short days and long nights of winter roll into February, we begin to feel like we are stuck in a rut. A little sunshine and fresh air bowlingwould do us good, but the frigid weather may seem like a good excuse to avoid workouts or outdoor play. Evidence shows that people are less physically active during winter months and tend to eat more “comfort” foods, increasing their potential to gain weight.

Being active can help with more than just weight control. Those who can maintain or increase their level of physical activity may feel happier and more energetic as well as feel better about themselves physically, and be better able to control their weight. Beat the blues by planning an activity for family or friends. Here are a few examples:

  • Bundle up children for cold weather and let them play outside for short periods of time. Sledding or making snow angels, snowmen, or snow forts are great activities to enjoy.
  • Allow children to play actively indoors if the weather is bitterly cold. Parents and children can dance or practice aerobics together. Parents may designate a space in the house where it is fine to wrestle and roughhouse.
  • Share a competitive round with exergames on the Wii or Kinect as a family or set up a family “Olympics” with a variety of sports activities.
  • Provide lots of challenge and vigorous exercise through ice skating. Many ice rinks are open to the public.
  • Go bowling. It offers friendly, fun-filled competition.

A little imagination and a lot of flexibility are all that’s needed to pass the time until spring.

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Enjoy the Fall Colors in Iowa’s State Parks

October 22nd, 2013

October is a glorious month of the year to enjoy outdoor activities in Iowa. The cool, crisp air is ideal for invigorating hikes or bike rides. The trees Fall walkare ablaze with orange, red, and yellow leaves. You can spot hawks gathering in the sky for migration. And there are no mosquitos!

Adults should have 30 minutes of moderate activity five days weekly and youth should have 60 minutes daily. When was the last time you visited your local state park?

Most Iowa state parks offer miles of scenic trails for hiking, birding, and mountain biking through woodlands and prairies or along river bluffs.

Visit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks site to plan your next fall outing. Here you can download trail maps and read about the scenic delights and wildlife each park has to offer.

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Gardening Counts as Physical Activity

August 20th, 2013

mowingGardening is a great way not only to enjoy some fresh air and grow your own vegetables and fruits, but also to get some exercise.

Gardening activities—such as pulling weeds, removing rocks, trimming shrubs, digging, planting, and raking—require you to expend energy (burn calories). Physical activity can help strengthen bones and joints, lower blood pressure, and help manage stress.

Gardening is a fun, creative, and healthy activity with positive health benefits.

Activity
(30 minutes for 150 lb person)
Energy Expenditure
(kcal)
Digging/pulling weeds, removing rocks 200-250 kcal
Trimming trees and shrubs 150-170 kcal
Mowing (using push reel mowers) 200-230 kcal
Raking 120-150 kcal
Walking (slow to fast) 150-230 kcal

Want to grow your own vegetables or herbs? Check out the many Yard and Garden publications at the ISU Extension and Outreach Online Store.

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Iowa Launches Healthy and Happy Outdoors

July 23rd, 2013

Healthy and Happy OutdoorsHealthy and Happy Outdoors (H2O) is a new initiative designed to connect Iowans with the outdoors as a means to reduce stress and improve health.

The H2O website provides information on more than 30 types of outdoor activities at over 1,600 state and county parks and recreation areas. Each time you complete an outdoor activity, you can have your name entered into a drawing for recreational prizes, including bikes, binoculars, and vacation getaways.

This is a great way for families to enjoy Iowa outdoors while being physically active.

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Got 10 Minutes? Then Exercise!

March 20th, 2013

According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity-aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, OR 75 exerciseminutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging, every week. This may sound like a lot of time, but research shows that physical activity can still be beneficial if broken up into smaller chunks, as long as you are doing the activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes.

The chart below demonstrates the benefit of exercising at a moderate intensity for 10 minutes during lunch. Although preventing a 3 pound weight gain over the course of the year may sound minimal, this is the typical weight gain Americans experience annually that contributes to the 30 pound weight gain per decade of adult life.

1 day 2 days/week 3 days/week 4 days/week
1 week 50 100 150 200
1 month 200 400 600 800
3 months 600 1,200 1,800 2,400
6 months 1,200 2,400 3,600 4,800
1 year 2,400 4,800 7,200 9,600
Pounds/year .685 pounds 1.48 pounds 2.0 pounds 2.74 pounds

The amount of calories burned is based on a 150-pound person.

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Dance Like the Stars!

February 26th, 2013

Have the dance competition television shows inspired you to get up and move? You don’t have to be a professional dancer, a celebrity, or even someone who knows how to do dancing any special dance moves to get health benefits from dance.

Dancing provides a workout for both the body and the mind. Researchers have learned that regular physical activity generally can help your body, including your brain, stay healthy as you age. Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals that encourage nerve cells to grow. And dancing that requires you to remember dance step sequences boosts brainpower by improving memory skills.

Research suggests that ballroom dancing at least twice a week made people less likely to develop dementia. It also has been shown that some people with Alzheimer’s disease are able to recall forgotten memories when they dance to music they used to know.

Other benefits of dance include:

  • strengthen bones and muscles without hurting your joints
  • improve your posture and balance
  • increase your stamina and flexibility
  • reduce stress and tension
  • burn calories (150-pound person burns 150 calories in 30 minutes)

So, tonight when you consider settling down for a little television, do a little boogie instead!

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Take Your Cycling Indoors

November 26th, 2012

When the weather is too cold and the roads are snowy and icy, try indoor cyclincyclingg. Many gyms and fitness clubs offer indoor cycling classes that are free with a gym membership or can be paid for per class. A benefit of indoor cycling is that, although you have an instructor guiding you through a workout, you can go at your own intensity and won’t be left behind. With indoor cycling you can keep the resistance low and go for an easy ride or increase the resistance and practice “climbing hills.”

If you like to work out at home, you can purchase a stationary bike or a bike trainer to set your road bike on to do indoor cycling. There are also indoor cycling DVD’s available that take you through workouts, just like at the gym.

For information on bike trainers and indoor cycling DVD’s, visit CycleOps or SPINeRVALS.

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Family Fitness – Get Healthy Together

October 31st, 2012

Today we go everywhere by car and sit for hours in front of the TV or computer. This sedentary lifestyle has been tied to obesity and other health-familyrelated problems.

Family exercise can improve the health of your loved ones, be fun, and at the same time develop stronger connections among all of you. The goal is to get youth active with 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day; adults need 30 minutes every day.

So, how do you find a way to make it work for everyone?

  • Combine exercise and household chores by having the entire family walk the dog, rake the lawn, or weed the garden.
  • Engaging the entire family in household chores/activities makes the workload lighter for everyone and builds a sense of teamwork.
  • Designate one evening as family fitness night and take turns designing the family workout you will all do together.

Eventually, all family members get to do their preferred workout activities and all will benefit from a workout that will never be dull. In the process, you’ll teach your children not only about health, but also family connection. Most importantly, make it fun for everyone!

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Time to S-T-R-E-T-C-H

September 26th, 2012

Cats do it, and it’s good for people, too! Stretching is good anytime, but especially…stretch

  • First thing in the morning—wake up your muscles
  • After sitting or standing—relieve muscle tension and work out the kinks
  • Before exercise—reduce the risk of joint and muscle injury
  • After exercise—prevent muscle shortening and tightening; improve flexibility
  • During or after driving—improve your alertness
  • When you feel tense or stiff—relax your mind, reduce your stress level, and
    promote circulation throughout the body

Remember these guidelines when stretching—focus on slow, smooth movements; remember to breathe; hold a stretch for 8 to 10 seconds; move only as far as you can without experiencing discomfort (stop if you feel pain). Bouncing to stretch farther can cause injury; remember that frequent stretching is more important than trying to stretch so far that it hurts.

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