Tennis – Life Long Health

I personally identify as being  a “runner”  I understand both the positive and negative consequences that running has on our bodies. While running is an incredible exercise for overall long term health it can be hard on joints, particularly the knees. Running is a sport that is difficult to perform regularly for  the duration of your life due to the beating it takes on your body. Contact sports administer even more of a beating, and are extremely hard on your body when played over numerous years. Knowing this I have been searching for enjoyable lifetime sports.  Lifetime sports, as defined by LiveStrong.com are:

…physical activities that people can enjoy throughout their lives. In contrast to contact sports such as football, ice hockey, boxing and wrestling, less strenuous sports such as tennis, badminton, archery and fly fishing are suitable for people in all stages of life and can serve as physical and social outlets. Another aspect of lifetime sports is that you can continue to develop mastery and skill as you get older, with wisdom and experience helping to make up for reduced reflexes and physical abilities.

One lifetime sport I recently began playing is tennis.

Tennis is the epitome of a lifetime sport. It is well suited for all age level because of its low impact nature.  It has tons of other benefits as well, from physical and mental to social. Tennis is a great social activity to play with friends and family member but is also a tremendous way to meet new friends. It helps reduce stress and promotes getting outside under the sun and breathing fresh air. It can increase your strength, agility, flexibility and reaction time.  It’s a cheap and convenient game to play, rackets range in price from $20 to about as much as you want to spend, and the courts are littered all over every city in many parks. Most importantly for me though, tennis is a fun and exciting sport.  It is what you make of it, it can be an incredibly competitive match or a relaxing enjoyable time to catch up with an old friend. Make it whatever suites you and get out there and play!

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3e/Tennis_Racket_and_Balls.jpg
Photo by Vladsinger

For other resources on the benefits of Tennis, check out the links below.

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/tennis-health-benefits

https://www.usta.com/Improve-Your-Game/Sport-Science/114688_Health_Benefits_of_Tennis_Why_Play_Tennis/

www.active.com/tennis/articles/5-health-benefits-of-playing-tennis

Fitness Tracker

If you are anything like me then you love working out and you love gear. Fitness trackers combine these two loves. Fitness trackers are devices that monitor your daily activity. Most trackers will count your steps (via a pedometer) and compare it to a goal, as well as estimate the number of calories burned, keep the time and some even monitor your sleep. Fitness trackers are certainly not necessary to live a healthy active lifestyle, but it can be fun to look at analyze your own personal fitness data, and they can certainly be useful to help motivate yourself to stay active.

 

 

Compare Activity Trackers
Some of today’s most popular fitness trackers via Smart Watch News

I have used or had close friends that have used many of the popular fitness trackers on the market today. Some of the most popular makers are: Garmin, Fitbit, Jawbone and Nike. Each model offers something unique that the others don’t. PC has an excellent article that can be used to help select the perfect tracker for your particular needs and wants.

I recommend fitness trackers for two main reasons: 1) They are a constant reminder (the fact that it is on your wrist all day) to stay active and 2) They help track progress towards fitness goals using data (they can record each workout over time online for you to review and track your progress). A cheap alternative to a wearable fitness tracker is to get an app on your smart phone, many of these apps are significantly cheaper than a tracker and some are even free. An upgrade to your fitness tracker is to get a GPS watch that tracks your workouts via GPS instead of a pedometer. The GPS watches can track elevation gain and loss as well for a more complete analysis of your fitness activities.

Go get your perfect tracker today, and start measuring your fitness goals a little more scientifically.

 

Easy Oats

Easy Oats, also called Overnight Oats, are a healthy way to ensure you eat a nutritional breakfast with little hassle in the morning. These are great for those morning when you need to grab something on the go. Some mornings it seems difficult to find time to make a healthy breakfast, this alternative is an easy way to ensure you always have time in the morning to eat a healthy nutritious breakfast which is critical for your overall health and well being. Easy Oats are oats that are soaked in liquid overnight. The oats absorb the liquid and become soft, eliminating the need to cook them.  This makes for an extremely quick and easy, yet nutritious, breakfast. The base of easy oats is milk, yogurt and oats. Any yogurt and milk can be used to create different flavors, based on personal preferences. I chose to use almond milk and Greek yogurt for a slightly more healthy variety. Any toppings can also be added to the oats both the night before or the morning of. My personal favorite easy oats recipe is blueberry banana.

Blueberry Banana Easy Oats
Blueberry Banana Easy Oats

Blueberry Banana Easy Oats

My favorite Blueberry Banana Easy Oats recipe is extremely easy to make. Simply combine and mix all the below ingredients into a medium size bowl. Put the oats into a mason jar and refrigerate overnight. Enjoy in the morning.

Easy Oats Base
Easy Oats Base Ingredients

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt

1/2 Cup Almond Milk

1/2 Cup Oats

1/2 Cup Blueberries

1 Banana (sliced)

1 Dash of Cinnamon

1 Splash of Vanilla Extract

Remove the oats from the refrigerator in the morning and you have a complete breakfast ready to go. Try experimenting with different base ingredients or different topping for unique flavors. BuzzFeed has a good article with many different recipes to try.

Make some Easy Oats tonight, and let us know in the comments section below how you enjoyed them.

Pull-Ups, the single greatest exercise?

If I could only perform one upper body strength training exercise for the rest of my life, I would without a doubt chose the pull-up. In my mind the pull-up is the single greatest, and possibly the most difficult, strength training exercise for overall health you can perform. Pull-ups have tons of benefits that make them an incredibly simple and convenient exercise that strengthen almost your entire upper body.

Pullup
Photo by Diesel Crew

Compound Exercise

Pull-ups are considered a compound exercise, which means they target multiple muscle groups at the same time. Compound exercises help improve functional strength and coordination by making separate muscle groups work together to perform a single move. Pull-ups target many muscles in your upper body, primarily your back and biceps, but also secondarily your shoulders, chest, abs and more. Pull-ups being a compound exercise also burn more calories than typical exercises. For the perfect pull-up form visit bodybuilding.com.

Convenience

Pull-ups are one of the most convenient exercises there is, they require no gym equipment. The only equipment required is a bar or ledge that will support your body weight. You can also buy a pull-up bar that fits in your doorway for about ten bucks online. A good quality pull-up workout can be performed in as little as fifteen minutes. With the ability to do pull-ups in any doorway and in such a short amount of time you can literally do them almost anywhere anytime.

Variation

The variations you can perform with pull-ups are incredibly diverse. You can increase or decrease intensity as well as target specific muscle groups. To decrease intensity you can perform assisted pull-ups, lower quantity performed, or do lat pull downs (these are not technically pull ups, but are a good beginner exercise to work up to pull-ups). To increase the intensity you can increase the number of pull-ups performed or perform weighted pull ups. By widening or narrowing your grip on the bar you can easily target different groups of muscles as well. You can also modify your grip to perform chin-ups which puts more of an emphasis on your biceps and less on your back than a traditional pull-up.

Overall between how convenient and easy the exercise is the perform, and how simple it is to modify, coupled with the vast benefits associated with pull-up they are in my opinion the single best upper body strength exercise one can perform.

Go to 50pullups.com now and find the perfect pull up routine for your current fitness level!

Climbing to Better Health

There are many benefits of maintaining a healthy life style and one of the major keys is consistently staying active.  Consistency can be a challenge and a drag when you feel like you are doing the same repetitive activities over and over.  Cross training can help alleviate this boredom and keep you excited and energized about staying active.  As well as providing an exciting alternative to your typical workout, cross training has many other benefits, the most widely recognized of which is injury prevention. One of my person favorite forms of cross training is rock climbing.

https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1420393000485-4697383da9ec?ixlib=rb-0.3.5&q=80&fm=jpg&crop=entropy&s=9d11e076c1d8027b104098ba084e3f1c
Photo by Vincenzo Di Giorgi 

Rock climbing has tons of physical and mental health benefits and it an exhilarating and rewarding sport. Just of few of my personal favorite benefits are below:

Cardio

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify rock climbing as a vigorous activity meaning you burn greater than than 7 kcal/min which makes it an excellent fat burning activity. Harvard Medical School found that a 185 pound person would burn about 488 calories during 30 minutes of climbing, this is roughly equivalent to running a 5k at a 9 minute mile pace.

Full Body Workout

After your first day of rock climbing you will find sore muscles that you didn’t even know existed. Climbing is truly a full body workout that works your upper body, lower body and core simultaneously. Climbing will strengthen your upper arms, forearms, shoulders, back, neck, abs and legs, it will increase grip strength and flexibility all the while improving hand eye coordination and balance.

Problem Solving

Climbing is a unique sport in the sense that each climb (or “problem” as the pros call them) is a different puzzle that must be solved. Finding a path that allows you to ascend the route can prove to be challenging and helps develop problem solving skills, patience and concentration. Many novice climbers will problem solve on the wall and try to plan their next move one at a time after they have executed their previous move. Advanced climbers will begin to visualize the entire assent and plan and conceptualize their body positions, balance and weight distribution to determine what moves to make in order to successfully ascend the entire route on their first attempt.

Stress Relief

Climbing can be an incredible source of stress relief. All exercise in general has been shown to alleviate stress but climbing has some qualities that make it even more suited for relieving stress. Climbing can have many clear tangible goals (making it to the top of a route for example). This clear goal setting allows for a great sense of accomplishment which has been show to alleviate stress. Climbing also requires a great deal of concentrated focus.  Strict concentration has been shown to also relieve stress, much in the same way that meditation does. When climbing it is almost impossible to not become absorbed in the activity. This focus on your body and the next move does not allow for all the daily stresses life to creep into your mind and continue to nag you.

Go find the climbing gym nearest you and begin climbing your way to better health!

5 Steps to Your First 5K

Its about that time of the year again, the weather is getting warmer and you are beginning to hear about your local 5ks and fun runs. Now is the perfect time to start training for your next 5k. If you plan to run your first 5k ever or just your first of the year, follow these five steps to tackle your next race like a pro.

Starting line for the 2015 Reno Journal Jog

1) Commit to a Race

The first step to completing a 5k is committing to run one. Find the perfect 5k near you and sign up for it in advance. Typically you will get better pricing by signing up early and you will also be fiscally committed to it.  You can add it to your calendar and begin mentally and physically preparing for it.

Running in the USA, Active and Runner’s World are all good resources for finding races near you.

2) Train

This is possibly the most important step and usually the most dreaded. If you are not competing in the 5k for time then don’t let training stress you out. While training, focus on consistency and consistency alone. Don’t stress out about times or distances while training just make your goal to complete a certain number of runs per week.  Three runs per week would be perfect for a beginner runner. Just train at your own pace, enjoying each run.

3) Fuel Your Body

Make sure to properly fuel your body the day before and the morning of the race. Everybody’s body is different and handles running on food differently. Use your training runs to experiment with eating. Maybe eating a full meal before running, or just eating a small snack like a banana is your ideal fuel source to feel good while running. Test it out and do what works for you.

4) Warm Up

On race day be sure to warm up, in a 3.1 mile race it could easily take you the first third of the race to get warmed up if you do not do it before hand. Try this warm up if you aren’t familiar with how to properly warm up before a race.

5) Have Fun

Last but not least, have fun! Running events typically support a good cause and are filled with like minded people with positive attitudes and healthy lifestyles. Stick around after the race and chat with some of your fellow runners, you never know where you will meet your next running partner. Post race events are some of my favorite events, you are surrounded by a whole herd of people who are high on endorphins and are excited about life, relish the moment.

Go sign up for a race now and leave a comment below letting us know what 5k you plan on participating in!

 

 

 

20 Minute Track Work

Track workouts are an excellent way to supplement any training program. Whether you are lifting weights or training for your next marathon a track workout, like the one described below, can be an excellent form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  HIIT workouts are awesome for elevating your metabolism both during and for a prolonged period of time after the workout is completed. It is likely that this 20 minute workout will blast more calories throughout the day than a typical 60 minute distance run. For more information and other benefits on HIIT check out this presentation from the American College of Sports Medicine. This workout is awesomely efficient as well, you will get incredible health and fitness benefits packed into a mere 20 minutes.

The workout consists of running repeat 400 meter dashes.  This means repeatedly running 400 meter intervals at an uncomfortably fast pace (if you can talk while running then increase your pace until you can no longer hold a conversation). 400m is exactly one lap around any standard track. The goal of this workout is to exert a high level of energy for a short time then take a break and repeat. The workout as described is for intermediate to advanced runners but can be modified easily for any fitness level.

Track.jpg
Starting Blocks at Vacant Starting Line Before Event – Photo by Tableatny

The Workout

1) Warm Up

Always begin with an adequate warm up to get you muscles loose. I would recommend about 15 minutes of light physical activity, Runners Connect has a good dynamic warm up routine that I recommend.

2) Exercise

Run ten 400m laps on two minute intervals. Start your clock and begin running a lap, you will begin a new lap every two minutes on the two minute mark. You will complete a total of ten laps in the 20 minutes, one lap every two minutes. This is intended to be a high intensity workout so be sure to run at a fast pace, your one mile pace is a good reference if you do not know where to start (for example if you run 1 mile as fast as you can at a 6:00 minute pace then running each lap in 90 seconds would be a good starting point). The amount of time between finishing the lap and the full two minutes elapsing is your break.  A good target is to run the lap in 75 to 90 seconds and rest for 45-30 seconds.  If you you are not resting for at least 25% percent of the interval then increase the interval time to 3  or 4 minutes depending on your current speed and fitness level.

3) Cool Down and Stretch

After the workout be sure to properly cool down and stretch. I recommend jogging lightly for two laps then stretching your whole body for at least ten minutes.

This workout can be challenging but is extremely rewarding and an excellent workout to improve your speed for longer distance running. Good luck and comment below on how you enjoyed the workout!