Bust out the elbow and knee pads, it is time for some skating! While rollerblading is often given up after years of trips, falls and bruises as a teenager, this fun and active pastime is not only an enjoyable way to maneuver around your city, but can provide your body with an amazing and extensive workout. Here are just a few of the ways rollerblading a few times a week can help boost your figure back into shape this summer:
Tone that muscle
Gliding through the streets, weaving your legs faster and faster while guiding your body with your arms seems like quite an exercise when you really think about it. All of these fluid movements while propelling yourself around on rollerblades is also great ways to help build a little muscle.
First off, the constant motion of thrusting and extending your hips is able to tone your quadriceps as well as your glutes. Your glutes are what helps stabilize your body's balance, and consistent rollerblading helps strengthen them and create some tone. Hamstrings are also receiving quite a bit of exercise throughout all of this, with each lift of your foot as you push yourself harder. Then there is your abdominal muscles, which work as the core of your body, orchestrating which leg goes forward as your hips rotate in dictation. Who knew that simply rollerblading could work out all of these muscles at one time?
Get your aerobics going
Rollerblading also works out the most important muscle you have - the heart. Just 30 minutes of actively rollerblading can get your heart rate up to 148 beats per minute, while also helping you burn more than 300 calories. This can equate to just about the same from cycling, while you are also working out all of those muscles, something that can not be replicated through biking.
Sailing around on a fresh new pair of rollerblades is not only a snazzier way to get somewhere instead of running, but it is also easier on your bones. Every time you take a step while sprinting, added pressure is placed upon your ankle and foot joints, which over time can generally lead to occasional pain and fractures. Rollerblading eliminates all of this because you are never adding pressure on your ankles and feet. Instead, you are maintaining an even amount of stress that is minimal and healthier for your body in the long run, no pun intended.
Add some excitement!
Where is the fun in running on a stationary treadmill? Put some thrills into your exercise routine and get back on those rollerblades! They are a great way to get around, fly past some scenery and even walk your dog. Better yet, they require no gasoline or fuel, just a little drive and determination which is always better for the environment. So, the next time you need to go out to run an errand, leave the keys at the house and pop on a pair of rollerblades, one of the more entertaining times you can have while staying active.
By the looks of it, this winter is not going away any time soon. If you're lucky enough to live in the Midwest, on the East Coast or anywhere else that experienced an abundance of snow this winter, you might be saying "Enough already!" But why not have a little fun in the snow while getting an excellent cardio workout to boot?
Grab an old-school toboggan, a plastic saucer or an ultra-slick tube and venture to your local sledding hill for some family fun racing down the hill. Naturally, you'll want to go down again and again, but that will require climbing the hill over and over as well. However, this is actually an excellent aerobic workout and a great way to tone your leg muscles. In fact, if you're on a medium-height and sled and climb for just 30 minutes, you'll burn between 200 and 300 calories.
Take a break from the sledding to build a snow fort or have a snowball fight before heading home to warm up with hot cocoa. Who says you can't get excellent cardio exercise in the winter?
Many of us who love getting in an intense workout often wonder – "Does more sweating equal more health benefit?" It sure does feel like it. Working up a great sweat during running, kickboxing, hot yoga or even giving the house a thorough deep clean feels even better than an intense workout where we don't sweat as much.
However, there's no evidence that sweating – in and of itself – is better for your health.
"There's this entrenched idea that it's good to 'sweat things out,'" said Dr. Oliver Jay, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Ottawa in Canada, in a recent New York Times article. In fact, said Jay – who is also the director of the Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory – "sweating, per se, provides no health benefits."
More sweat is only beneficial to the body in that it equals more exercise. The reason we sweat more when the air is humid is because the perspiration doesn't evaporate from our bodies as it otherwise would, and evaporation is the mechanism that cools our bodies. Perspiring is how the body naturally regulates its temperature. Thus, in a humid situation, we sweat more, but it does not have extra health benefits over doing the same exact workout routine in a less humid environment.
And sometimes, more sweat can actually be dangerous if you don't stay hydrated. The more you sweat, the more water you should drink to stave off dehydration. Aside from during exercise, sweat is normal and common when people, are anxious, have low blood sugar, eat spicy foods or are in warmer environments.
If sweating can't be explained or is accompanied by chest pain, pressure, fever, rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath, make sure to see a doctor.
There will definitely be days where it's too cold to run outside or you just don't feel like hopping in the car, trekking to the gym and fighting for a parking spot. But that doesn't mean you can't get a work out if you really want one!
Household chores can definitely burn calories and function as a good source of cardio – think of how sweaty and tired you feel after doing some heavy duty deep cleaning, like a good bathtub scrubbing or washing the floor by hand. So rather than looking at your household chores as, well, chores, try to look at them as an alternative but excellent form of exercise.
Calories burned per chore
Here are some common chores as well as how many calories you might burn doing each one:
- Washing the dishes: If you want to get a great work out washing dishes, it will be the one time you ever think "The bigger dirty heap of pots and pans, the better!" Doing some heavy duty scrubbing will burn about 80 calories in just 15 minutes of continuous dishwashing.
- Mopping: Mopping is a great upper and lower body workout. Additionally, in just 30 minutes of mopping, you will burn around 120 calories.
- Painting: Have you been thinking of giving your bedroom a touch-up coat of paint for awhile?Talk about a good reason to stay home from the gym. Painting can be an excellent workout, burning up to 300 calories per hour and building lean muscle mass in your arms and core.
- Cleaning the gutters: This might be one of the best calorie-burning household activities you can do. It turns out that cleaning the gutters requires shoulder, upper back, arm and leg muscles – not to mention the core muscles are engaged to help you balance on the ladder. You can burn 320 calories in one hour of gutter cleaning – just be careful not to fall.
- Vacuuming: Depending on how difficult it is to lug your vacuum around the house, you'll likely banish at least 80 calories per 30 minutes of vacuuming.
- Window washing: Give those streaky windows a good cleaning, inside and out, and exercise your arms and back at the cost of 200 calories per hour.
- Scrubbing floors: If mopping just isn't clean enough for you, get on your hands and knees instead and give the floors a good scrubbing. You'll burn a whopping 175 calories in just 30 minutes!
If you've ever been downhill skiing, you know that it can be quite good exercise. You work up a sweat and use muscles in both your legs and core that aren't always exercised. Here are some of the specific ways that downhill skiing is good for your health:
Building muscle strength
The knees-bent, squatted posture of skiing is similar to a lunge, albeit a lunge you don't notice because you're too busy having fun. Anyway, this posture and the movements necessary for downhill skiing help to tone the glutes, thighs and other lower body muscles. The core muscles are also activated to help the body maintain balance, and even your arms get a work out through using poles to push yourself. If you want to prepare your muscles so they aren't aching after a day out on the slopes, do squats regularly for a few days beforehand.
Skiing can aid in flexibility of the lower body, but it's also important to first stretch before going out on the slopes so that you avoid a sprain or muscle strain. Do the superman stretch to prepare. Lay on your stomach with arms and legs stretch straight out. Raise your arms up as far as possible, lift your head and look up and raise your feet up at the same time. Hold the position for 10 seconds – you'll feel the stretch in your lower back, upper thighs and core.
Getting a cardio workout
You might notice that skiing can make you quite out of breath after awhile. The physical energy required to walk and carry your ski equipment, pull yourself along flatter slopes, moving to maintain your balance and skiing itself is enough to elevate the heart rate, providing a great cardio workout.
Aside from cardio, muscle strength and flexibility, downhill skiing is good for your health because – as a sport – it provides you with adequate exercise. Skiing can also elevate the mood through the release of adrenaline and endorphins into the bloodstream, which is good for emotional health.
Your life couldn't get any busier, right? But then you go and decide that one thing you're missing is more fitness, especially after those holiday calories make your pants fit just a bit too snugly. If you're a busy person trying to fit some cardio into your life, don't fret because recent research has shown that quick bursts of high-intensity energy are just as – if not more – beneficial for burning calories and fat than a more sustained cardio workout. Here are some excellent moves for a 15- to 20-minute burst of cardio that will leave you sweating:
- Warm-up bridges: Lie on your back with your feet planted directly under your knees and your hands at your side. Use your glutes – without pushing off with your hands – to lift your hips up. Lie on the floor (mat optional) with your feet directly below your knees. Keep your hands by your sides and engage your glutes and hamstrings to lift your hips off the ground. Slowly lower yourself to the floor again, making sure to keep your back and neck relaxed. Do 15 reps.
- Squats with arms overhead: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your arms straight up and your palms facing each other. Bend your knees and sit back as if you are in a chair. Use your glutes to stand again. Do 10 reps.
- Star squats: With your feet together and your arms at your sides, squat down and put your palms flat on the floor in front of your feet and directly under your shoulders. In one move, kick your feet out behind you, putting yourself in a push-up position. Squat low, placing palms on floor in front of your feet, directly under shoulders. Keep your abs tight and your back straight, holding the position for two seconds before jumping back into the starting position. Do 10 reps.
- Mountain climbers: Get in the plank position with your hands directly beneath your shoulders, your stomach pulled in and your back straight, forming a straight line from the base of your neck to your ankles. Then, lift your right foot and push your knee up to the center of your body. Switch quickly to your left leg, pushing it up toward your body. It's important to keep your hips level and your wrists directly below your shoulders. Do the mountain climbers for one minute as quickly as possible while still maintaining proper form.
- Broadway shuffle: Stand with your arms in jogging position with enough space to move at least five steps on either side of you. During the broadway shuffle, you will run to the side, bringing your knees up in a marching position – as high as you can go – as you move. Do the exaggerated marching movements side-to-side for one minute, moving as quickly as you can.
- Skier jumps: Stand as straight as you can and keep your feet, ankles and knees together. Jump from side to side as quickly as possible, making sure to keep your chest lifted so you aren't hunched over and to land softly so as not to harm your knees. Height isn't important – just the speed at which you move. Do the skier jumps for one minute.
Do one circuit and then repeat after a short (two minutes or less) break. The key to this quick cardio workout is to move through the exercises as quickly as possible while keeping proper form for each one and taking no breaks if possible. This will keep your heart rate up and also allow you to get a high-intensity workout in a very short window of time.
It's time to answer that perennial question: Which is better: yoga or Pilates? But of course, as in most things in life, the answer isn't so clear cut. Instead, it depends on your end goals. Additionally, it also depends on exactly what type of routine you're considering, whether it be Hatha yoga, Bikram (hot) yoga or even piloxing – a Pilates and boxing fusion. Here's a bit more information about each so that you can decide whether yoga, Pilates or the delightfully named Yogalates is right for you:
Yoga is a centuries-old meditative practice that has foundations in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism in India. Yoga is focused on the connection between the mind, body and spirit. It's meant to be therapeutic but to also improve physical wellbeing through strengthening of the muscles and flexibility of the body. There are so many different types of yoga traditions, practices and positions that it's hard to say definitively which parts of the body they are best for. But in general, because the positions are so varied and can be combined in various ways, they strengthen muscles throughout the body. If you want stress relief and a slow, stretching workout for your entire body, yoga is your best bet.
Pilates is a much more recent practice. It was developed in the 1920s by a man of the same name. It was originally meant as a low-impact rehabilitative routine, but today, this series of resistance exercises is used to build muscle flexibility and strength without the bulk. Similar to yoga, Pilates hinges on proper breathing and includes improved coordination and balance as some of its benefits. However, Pilates mostly centers around the core – strengthening and building up stable abdominal muscles for proper posture, stabilization of the spine, balance and overall strength. Pilates is ideal for people who want to strengthen their abdominal muscles, which might potentially reduce chronic back pain. Most Pilates positions can be adapted depending on individuals' differing physical abilities, as is the case for yoga as well.
In summary, you will gain strength and flexibility through both yoga and Pilates, though Pilates is more targeted at the core muscles. Also, Pilates is typically a more structured class so you will know what to expect when you walk in, while yoga positions can be arranged in hundreds of ways. You can definitely benefit from both routines and might enjoy doing a fusion workout of the two.
Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease that affects people worldwide. However, if you are at risk of developing it, there are many steps you can take to prevent diabetes
What is diabetes?
In Type 2 diabetics, the body either cannot produce enough insulin or the cells do not recognize the insulin produced. The problem with this is that insulin is necessary to transport glucose – formed from the foods we eat – to the cells throughout the body. When there isn't enough insulin or the body ignores it, glucose can build up in the blood, leaving your cells energy-starved, you tired and lead to serious health problems like kidney failure or heart disease.
What are the risk factors?
Type 2 diabetes has some hereditary factors, but there are lifestyle and other issues that can make your risk higher. Here they are:
- Having high blood pressure
- Being overweight or obese
- Having low HDL (good cholesterol) and/or high triglycerides
- Not getting enough exercise
- Being 45 or older
What you can do to prevent it
Many of the risk factors leading to the development of diabetes involve lifestyle choices. Here are some things you can do to lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes:
- Get enough exercise. This is especially vital for people in sedentary jobs. Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day. This can help you lose weight, cut your blood sugar levels by boosting the body's sensitivity to insulin. Do a workout regimen that includes both cardio and strength-training.
- Eat healthier. Start including more fiber and complex grains in your diet. Fiber is found in whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and seeds. Add more of these foods to your diet. One place to start is by eating an apple, rather than drinking the juice, because the fruit itself has soluble fiber. Another easy thing to do is substitute whole grain bread for whole wheat or white bread. Fiber and whole grains help control blood sugar, leaving you fuller longer. They also can boost your good cholesterol and lower the bad cholesterol, also known as LDL.
Cut back on the sugar, and rather than doing a fad diet, focus on making healthy food choices every day!
Winter is the perfect time to jump on the kettlebell bandwagon. In case you haven't heard of it or aren't very familiar with it, a kettlebell is a weight that is shaped like a cannonball with a very thick handle attached to the top. This interesting-looking weight has been used by Russian weightlifters for a few hundred years, but they are just catching on in the U.S. in no small part due to their ability to provide a total body workout.
While regular dumbbells and hand weights allow you to concentrate their weight in your fist, the shape of kettlebells means that the weight is suspended unevenly below your grip, requiring you to work your stabilizing muscles as well. The swing – a signature move – gives you both a cardiovascular and a full-body strength workout at the same time because it works every major muscle group in the body.
People are increasingly using kettlebells because they tone the body and fight fat: In just a 20- to 30-minute workout, you can burn around 300 calories!
Here are the top reasons to try this new exercise trend:
- You only need one kettlebell to do the workout. It's compact and easy to take with you if necessary.
- A kettlebell's weight is off-center, so your muscle have to work hard to balance it and go through a wide range of motions.
- You can use the kettlebell anywhere – even while watching TV at home.
- The workout lets you easily combine strength training and cardio.
- A kettlebell workout burns fat and builds lean muscle, rather than bulky muscle.
- You'll improve stability, strength and mobility.
- These exercises are a form of high-intensity interval training, which is good for building resistance and stamina.
- The workout is not repetitive and boring, as weight training and cardio machines can be.
Indoor kettlebell workout
While some of the moves are pretty extreme, it is still possible to do a kettlebell workout indoors during the winter. In fact, winter is probably the best time to do a kettlebell workout as it's pretty hard to will yourself to run or do other outdoor sports in below-freezing temps. Thankfully, you can purchase soft versions of these bowling ball-like weights that are safer to use indoors.
Here is an indoor circuit workout for beginners. Do 10 to 15 reps of each workout to complete a circuit, and then do a second circuit to complete your workout.
- Around-the-body: This is a great starter position. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and the kettlebell in both hands. Move the kettlebell to your left hand, bring both hands behind you and pass it to the right hand. Do this again in the front to complete one rep. Switch directions halfway through your reps and make sure to keep your hips still and your core engaged the entire time.
- Swing: Holding the kettlebell with both hands, squat so your thighs are parallel to the floor and the kettlebell is between them. Then stand quickly and swing the weight up to shoulder height. When the kettleball starts coming down, bend and squat again, swinging it between your legs. Make sure to control the weight's movement. You can try the same exercise with one arm at a time.
- Front squat: Do a standard squat. Beginners can hold the weight underneath, rather than by the handle. Don't forget to keep your back straight and chest up!
- Dead lift: Put the weight on the floor between your feet, which should be hip-width apart. Squat and grab the handle, squeeze your glutes, brace your abs, keep your back flat and stand slowly. Make sure to keep your arms extended.
- Figure-eight: With feet shoulder-width apart, squat halfway with your knees soft, keep your chest high, back straight and core tight and pass the kettlebell through your legs from front to back, bringing it from hand-to-hand in a figure eight movement.
Dietary fat gets a bad rap, but there are several different types and not all are bad. The key to eating healthfully is knowing which fats are good, and to eat them in moderation while avoiding the unhealthy ones. Saturated fats are unhealthy and should be minimized, while unsaturated fats are very good for the cells. Here's some more information to help you make healthy food choices and keep your cholesterol in check:
These "bad" fats raise both total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein – or unhealthy cholesterol – levels. They clog up the arteries by sticking together in the bloodstream and forming plaques, which can cause heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Saturated fats stay solid at room temperature and are found in animal products like eggs, meat, dairy and seafood. Palm and palm kernel oils are two very common saturated fats used in processed foods, so if you see these on the label, avoid them.
Another type of fats, which are even more unhealthy, are trans fats. Most trans fats are artificially created by partially hydrogenating unsaturated fats. If you see the words "partially hydrogenated" on a package, avoid eating that food ingredient because it contains trans fats. These artificially produced fats can increase levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood and lower the levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol.
In contrast, unsaturated fats are the "good" fats when, in eaten in moderation, are very important for heart and overall health. They fall into two categories: polyunsaturated fats, which are found in sunflower and fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids, and monounsaturated fats, which are found in almonds, walnuts, avocados and olive oil. Unsaturated fats can actual lower the body's levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. Unsaturated fats are easy to recognize because they are liquid at room temperature.