What’s Hot—Bikram Yoga

woman yogaYoga is a good way to be physically active because it promotes increased flexibility, muscle strength, and tone, as well as improved respiration, energy, and vitality. Yoga can also help with weight reduction and circulatory health. There are more than 20 different types of yoga! One variation gaining in popularity is Bikram yoga, often referred to as “hot yoga” because this style specializes in using a heated environment.

Bikram yoga is 90 minutes long and consists of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises, and takes place in a room 104 degrees with 40% humidity. The caution with hot yoga is the room temperature and the potential health risks it poses. Hot yoga may increase the risk of heat exhaustion if your body is no longer able to regulate its usual temperature. Heat exhaustion can lead to heavy sweating, dehydration, decreased blood pressure, and increased heart rate. These effects on your body may make you feel weak, dizzy, or nauseated.

Before starting hot yoga, or any physical activity program, it’s always a good idea to consult your health care provider to make sure it is safe for you to do so, especially if you are pregnant or have a serious health condition. For more information, visit http://www.berkeleywellness.com/fitness/injury-prevention/exercise/article/hot-yoga-scary-or-good-you.

Top Fitness Trend for 2015—Getting Back to the Basics

group push ups fitnessThe American College of Sports Medicine has named bodyweight training as the top fitness trend for 2015. Dr. Walter Thompson states, “These kinds of exercises provide the benefit of requiring little to no equipment and are incorporated into many fitness programs that are currently popular.”

Bodyweight training involves exercises where the body is used as resistance. This type of training uses little equipment, making it a very affordable option! Below are some bodyweight training exercises you can try at home. Click on the highlighted ones for instructional videos or visit http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_exercise_library_list.aspx?equipment=10.

Push-up, Plank, Pull-up, Squat, Single leg stand, Wall sit, Mountain climber

Sources: http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2014/10/24/survey-predicts-top-20-fitness-trends-for-2015

http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2014/11000/WORLDWIDE_SURVEY_OF_FITNESS_TRENDS_FOR_2015_.5.aspx

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/tipsandtricks/a/basictraining.htm

Increase Your Physical Activity Level with Tai Chi

woman tai chi figureTai chi is a martial art developed in ancient China that is now practiced for health improvement. Tai chi combines slow, graceful movements flowing into the next with focused mental concentration.

Tai chi requires very little in terms of equipment or props. This slow and gentle movement of body weight and deep breathing requires nothing more than comfortable clothes and flat, flexible shoes. It is suitable for all ages and can be done indoors or outdoors, alone or with a group. The whole family can learn and practice tai chi together.

People who practice tai chi several times weekly may experience several health benefits such as improved balance (which helps to reduce risk of falling), flexibility, strengthened muscles, stress relief, lower blood pressure, better sleep quality, and improved sense of well-being, to name a few.

Before beginning tai chi, as with any exercise program, consult your physician if you have a chronic health condition.

Sources: www.extension.org/pages/32340/tai-chi:-movment-for-health-benefits/print/ and http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi/introduction.htm

Activity Trackers—Are They for You?

activity fitness trackerExercising can be hard, but tracking your progress doesn’t have to be. A fitness tracker counts your steps and provides motivation to exercise more throughout your day without drastic lifestyle changes or fad diets. By simplifying the process of monitoring with a fitness device, you will increase the likelihood of reaching a healthier weight and improving your overall health.

Fitness trackers are lightweight and wearable, and they can track steps, distance, heart rate, and calories used. Some even monitor sleep. The best activity trackers monitor your activity and display information about your daily routine on your smartphone or on the screen of the device itself.

Look for ones that will calculate your total minutes of activity, steps taken, heart rate, and goals for you. Some may even remind you to get up and move when you have been sitting for too long. Choose one that works with your lifestyle and habits. PC magazine has a good review of features and costs for some of the more popular wearable activity trackers.

The Safety of CrossFit

fitness workout class stretch gymHigh-intensity workouts such as CrossFit are popular workouts, but are they for everyone? CrossFit combines gymnastics, endurance exercises, speed training, and strength training into one intense and short workout called workout of the day. These exercises are done with very short breaks in between. There is limited research about the safety of CrossFit in comparison to other types of exercise.

According to John Porcari, PhD, head of the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse Clinical Exercise Physiology program, CrossFit is safe for an active person but may not be safe for a 45-year-old with heart disease risks. Dr. Porcari adds, “We’ve seen with a lot of these workouts people go flat-out as fast as they can, but then their form falls apart. You really need to be technically correct with a lot of these exercises or else you’re going to get hurt.”

Take these steps to make sure you stay injury free:

1. Consult a health care professional before starting a workout routine if you are not physically active.

2. Find a certified personal trainer who can teach you proper techniques. Ask about their credentials and references, and look for a trainer that is concerned about form and safety. Certifications to look for include NSCA, ACE, ACSM, and NASM.

3. Don’t overexert yourself, watch your form, and gradually increase the intensity of your workout.

http://www.acefitness.org/prosourcearticle/3542/crossfit-sup-tm-sup-new-research-puts-popular

A 10-Minute Run Does Your Heart Good

man and woman running outside fitnessYou don’t have to be a marathoner to reap the health benefits of running. A recent Iowa State University study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that running for just 5 or 10 minutes a day can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Researchers followed more than 55,000 adults for 15 years to measure the benefits of running, according to DC (Duck-chul) Lee, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University. Lee stated “runners were 45 percent less likely to die from heart disease or stroke than non-runners, regardless of their running distance, duration or speed.”

“Most people say they don’t have time to exercise…but I think most everyone can find 5 to 10 minutes per day to run for the health benefits,” Lee said. For more about the study, watch the video at www.news.iastate.edu/news/2014/07/28/runningmortality.

Looking for other quick ways to get fit? Check out ISU Extension’s “Quick Fit,” a program of exercises you can complete in only 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week: store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/EDC247.

Cool Off While Working Out!

fitness active pool water workoutStay cool in the summer, yet still break a sweat! There’s more to do in a pool than swim laps. You burn as many calories walking or jogging in the water as you do on land if you move your arms and legs at the same pace. You also can burn calories in shoulder deep water while using a kickboard or while performing push/pull movements with a pool noodle. The water resistance exercises your muscles but reduces stress on your joints.

Find more exercises you can perform in the water. Watch this video for other pool workout ideas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBy0xZPoWzM.

Iowa Games – A great way to get moving this summer

gold silver bronze medalWhat are the Iowa Games? The Iowa Games offer statewide competition in some 50 sports. The Iowa Games provide Iowans with recreational opportunities through Olympic-style events.

Who can compete? All Iowans! There are events for athletes of all ages and abilities! Athletes in all competitive events vie for Iowa Games gold, silver, and bronze medals with neck ribbons.

When and where are the Games? The Summer Games are scheduled the last three weekends in July. Events take place in central Iowa with most events in Ames.

How do I register? Go to: www.iowagames.org/Register.aspx

Which sports are included? Whether you compete in golf, handball, fishing, Zumba, or any of the more than 50 events, you’ll find them described at: www.iowagames.org/Sports/SummerGames.aspx

Be Active, No Matter Your Age!

diverser mature group fitness activeExercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active. Go4Life was designed to help adults 50 and older incorporate more exercise and physical activity into their daily lives. Learn about this exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging by visiting their Go4Life® website at: http://go4life.nia.nih.gov/

You can order a free video/DVD (Go4Life Everyday Exercises from the National Institute on Aging) from: https://order.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/order/MS033

Designed for older adults, the DVD features strength, balance, and flexibility exercises that can be done at home, at work, at the gym—almost anywhere. The video is a companion to the popular exercise book, Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging, available in English and Spanish. This 120-page book can be ordered free by going to: https://order.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/order/BK004

Get Motivated to Move

letsmoveGetting bored with your workout? Want new ideas on how to get active? Check out Let’s Move! at http://www.letsmove.gov/.

February 2014 marked the fourth anniversary of Let’s Move!, an initiative to inspire families and communities to help children grow up healthy and reach their full potential. First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated the anniversary by encouraging people of all ages to show her how they move (through an everyday fitness routine, by making better food choices, or by moving their community toward a new norm) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc., using #LetsMove.

Be inspired to take your own physical activity up a notch by following Let’s Move! on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/letsmove and follow the Let’s Move! blog at http://www.letsmove.gov/blog

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