One of the many great things about life is that we continue to learn as we advance in age. This is especially true when it comes to finding new health and fitness tips and I’m sure this applies to your own personal health and fitness routine too. After close to thirty years working in the fitness industry, I have learned a few tricks of the trade myself and here are a few fitness tips that I focused on this past year that you may want to follow as well.
1. Challenge Your Mind, Body and Spirit with New Activities. Your thing may be yoga, running, biking, swimming or taking the 10,000 step challenge and if it’s something else that’s great too because these types of activities will get your body stronger, give you more energy and keep your mind clear. The key, however, is to stimulate your mind, body and spirit each day with either one of these eight letter words: movement, activity or exercise. For example, a few activities that I gravitated towards over the past year were stand-up paddle board, walking or running stadium stairs and snow-shoeing. What were some of your new activities?
I highly recommend that you try a new activity or two before the year comes to an end.
2. 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 I really like the accountability factor. Fitbit, as a company, has gone on record stating their user base takes 43% more steps with Fitbit. If you go out and purchase a pedometer, have a goal of determining your daily average steps over the course of three days, then try adding 500 to 1000 steps a week (or 10-20% increase of your average from baseline) until you progress to 10,000 steps a day (this is about 5 miles). The average Fitbit user records about 6000 steps a day. Research conducted 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%.
Your goal is 10,000 steps a day and about 8-10 flights of stairs.
3. Get Stronger 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 increasing hip and leg strength. It is also a great supplement to your 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 stadium 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.
Try adding a 30-minute stair workout to your routine at least once a month.
4. 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.
Add strength training in 2-3 times each week.
5. Bring High Intensity 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.
Add high intensity intervals to your cardio 1-2 times a week with adequate recovery between workouts.
6. You Are What You Eat. 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 4 weeks and see how much better you look and feel. A recent study found a correlation between high sugar consumption and type 2 diabetes rate across various countries. Remember that more than 80% of processed foods have high levels of added sugar.
Monitor your added sugar on a daily basis for the next 4 weeks.
7. Lengthen and Restore Tight Muscles. First, perform a quick “needs analysis” on your body. Have a goal of finding out what muscles are weak and what’s tight. Once this is determined, you need to work on strengthening what’s weak and lengthen what’s tight. In regard to the tight muscles, try adding 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 a regular massage 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 the cause of your low back pain?
Start using a foam roller asap. Focus on “rolling-out” your glutes, hamstrings, calf, back, IT-band and quads.