One of the great things about life is the ability to continue to learn as you get older and this also holds true when applied to your own personal health and fitness. After more than 25 years in the fitness industry I have learned a few tricks of the trade along the way and here are a few of them that I focused on this past year, give them a try.
Challenge Mind and Body with New Activity. You may be into yoga, running, biking, swimming or taking exercises classes and whatever it is that’s great because they all help you clear your mind, burn calories and keep you moving. The key is to stimulate your mind, body and spirit each day with one of my favorite eight letter words: movement, activity or exercise. A few activities that I seem to have gravitated towards during the past year were stand-up paddle board, walking or running stadium stairs and snow-shoeing (with poles). I highly recommend you try them or find a new activity that will engage your mind and challenge your body.
Start Wearing a Pedometer. A pedometer is ideal for helping you increase your daily activity. I have been wearing a Fitbit pedometer since 2009 and really enjoy it. Your goal is to find out what your daily average steps are over the course of 3-5 days, then add 500 to 1000 steps a week (or 10-20% of your average determined from baseline) until you progress to 10,000 steps each day (this is about 5 miles). The average Fitbit user records about 6000 steps a day. Research by Tudor-Locke and Schuna recommend that adults avoid averaging less than 5,000 steps a day and strive to average greater than 7,500 steps a day, of which about 3,000 steps (about 30 minutes) should be taken at a cadence of 100 steps or more a minute. Stanford University researchers looked at 26 different studies and summarized the results in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Their synopsis showed individuals who use a pedometer take 2,000 additional steps each day compared to nonusers and had significant decreases in body mass index and blood pressure while overall physical activity level increased by 27%.
Get Strong with Stadium Stair Workouts. Whether you walk or run the stairs it doesn’t matter because in the end the stairs always win. Stair workouts are ideal for improving cardiovascular health and building hip and leg strength. It is also a great supplement with you’re weekly strength training. It engages most of the muscles in your body and the caloric expenditure is high especially if you run. Look for an area high school or college near-by and if you’re in the Boston area give Harvard Stadium a try and don’t forget to wear your pedometer, you won’t be sorry.
Understand Strength Training is for Life. Some things in your training bag will come and go but when it comes to strength training it should be done for the rest of your life! Be consistent, challenge yourself and make it progressive. According to one 1992 study women who did not strength train lost about 7 pounds of muscle every 10 years and a by-product of this was a reduction in their metabolism by about 50 calories a day.
Bring Interval Training into Play. No matter what you’re doing on the cardio side of things add interval-based cardio sessions into the mix on a weekly basis. You can find this type of exercise at a Koko FitClub near you. Here are two FREE (audio-based) cardio sessions to try. You can find interval-based workouts like Tabata and Stadium Stair intervals for all ability levels at Koko FitClub.
You Are What You Eat. All the exercise is great but if you don’t fuel up optimally it will eventually catch up with you. Try this one tip, watch your added daily sugar. If you’re a male eat no more than 150 calories a day (38 grams/day) and if you are female make it no more than 100 calories (25 grams/day). Do this for the next month and see how better you look and feel. A recent study found a correlation between high sugar consumption and type 2 diabetes rate across various countries.
Lengthen Tight Muscles. Perform a quick needs analysis on your body with a goal in mind of finding out what’s weak and what’s tight. Once this is determined, you need to strengthen what’s weak and lengthen what’s tight. I know it sounds easy but most people do not do this and invariably end up compounding any problems they may have had. In regard to the tight muscles, add some of these modalities or activities to your current routine: add a dynamic warm-up prior to exercise, try a yoga class, use a foam roller, get regular massages or relax in a hot tub. If muscles are either too tight or too weak they are basically an accident waiting to happen. Maybe this is one of the reasons why you have low back pain. If nothing else, at least try the foam roller and “roll out” to a new you for the new year!
Michael Wood, CSCS, has been Chief Fitness Officer of Koko FitClub since 2005. The Koko digital gym currently has more than 130 franchise locations in 28 states.