Fitness & Wellness

The Benefits Of Functional Fitness

The Benefits Of Functional Fitness

You may not know exactly what functional fitness is, but you probably know when one wrong movement threw you out of commission for weeks. You may have pulled a muscle when lifting a lightweight box or a small child and had a searing pain strike you with a vengeance. Functional fitness can help avoid that. It improves balance and coordination with muscle groups, while building strength. When you’re functionally fit, you have a good range of motion, which aids in preventing muscle and joint injuries, too.

Everyday tasks can be the culprits that put you out of commission.

Strength-building exercises not only helps build muscles and keeps bones strong, it’s also necessary for simple tasks like carrying grocery bags. Functional fitness not only builds strength, it also improves synergy, training the muscles, tendons and joints to work together in a smooth operation. It boosts core strength and stability while working both the upper and lower body.

Working on functional fitness incorporates all types of fitness activities.

In everyday life, if you’re not strong enough to lift a box, you’re not fit. Maybe you’re strong enough, but you don’t have the endurance to carry it very far or the flexibility to even bend and pick it up. Working out to boost your functional fitness improves all types of fitness into one program. Functional training incorporates the use of several muscles and joints at once. Consider all the muscles you use when sweeping the floor or changing bedding and the skills required to do it quickly. Those simple tasks become pretty amazing when you break it down to movements. Functional fitness can prepare you for every phase of everyday activities.

Core training and even circuit training can be functional fitness training.

Core training makes you work several different groups of muscles at once. In fact, it’s amazing for back problems and can help prevent needless back pain. Circuit training has you rapidly moving from one movement to another, also working many groups of muscles in unison. You may already be doing functional fitness training, but don’t realize it. No matter what your age, it’s important. It can help older people lead a more independent life and help prevent injuries in younger ones.

  • Try various types of workouts to build functional fitness. Kettlebells, weights and exercise balls all provide it. Any type of exercise that works several joints and muscle groups at once rather than focusing on a small area, like biceps, builds functional fitness.
  • Older adults and those out of shape or with physical limitations can improve their quality of life with functional fitness training. Always check with your health care provider first before starting a workout program and always let your trainer know your limitations right away.
  • Functional fitness builds core strength that’s necessary to support the entire body. It helps keep you balanced and prevents falls.
  • Imagine running carrying a heavy weight and trying to stealth-fully get into and out of an area. You’ll know why Navy SEALS and Army Ranges use functional fitness training if you can envision that. It’s the key to outmaneuvering enemies.

Staying Fit As You Get Older

Staying Fit As You Get Older

It’s never too late to start working out and living a healthy lifestyle. If you’re fit now, staying fit as you get older can be harder and even more difficult is getting into shape. It’s not impossible to do either one, but it does take consistent effort. Whether you make it a practice to take 10,000 steps a day, work out in the gym regularly or participate in activities that require physical exertion—which does not include pushing the remote button—keeping active helps your heart stay healthier and boosts your brain power in the process.

Don’t forget strength training.

Strength training not only helps you stay strong and thin, by helping you lose weight. It helps improve balance and keeps osteoporosis at bay. Osteoporosis responds well to weight bearing exercise. In fact, one study showed that it actually works better than some medications for it. It can slow the progress of bone loss and even help build bones stronger. Improving balance is just as important as building bones. One fall can change a self-sufficient individual to someone that can’t live on their own.

A healthy diet is extremely important for staying fit.

No matter what your age, you need the right nutrition to build a stronger body. As you age, absorbing those nutrients can become less efficient, which makes it even more important to eat healthy. Not only do foods high in antioxidants help protect every cell in the body from free radical damage, eating healthy can boost your brain power and improve your overall health. To keep your brain younger, consider healthy fats, from sources like olive oil, avocado, salmon and nuts or seeds. Eating more whole foods in the form of fruits and vegetables boosts the nutrition available to your body.

Stay hydrated.

You may not feel as thirsty as you once did, but drinking plenty of fluids is even more important as you age. Next to oxygen, water is the most important thing to keep people alive. The older you get, the less your body warns you about getting thirsty with signals like thirst. That’s why many health professionals suggest people over 50 drink water even if they’re not thirsty. Dehydration can lead to severe results such as fever, dry skin, confusion and dizziness. Some mental conditions in older people are often the results of dehydration.

  • Laugh and smile more. That’s right! It’s really healthy for you. Studies show that people who smile more often live longer. Even if you’re sitting alone, let out a big belly laugh and you’ll notice you feel better.
  • Get a pet. While you might not think that a pet could help your fitness, it does. Pets require care and that gets you moving, especially if you have to walk a dog. They also provide love and affection. Studies show that people with pets have lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels.
  • Walking faster can help you stay fitter, particularly if you’re taking longer strides. One study shows that people who walk faster, live longer. Another shows that those with longer strides, also live longer.
  • Get social. Staying connected with others helps improve your life and increase your longevity. To get a bigger bang out of it, join a group that works out or one that participates in activities that provide more exercise.

How To Exercise As It Gets Colder

How To Exercise As It Gets Colder

The weather in Bloomfield, New Jersey during the winter months often aren’t conducive to exercising outside. There are alternatives, such as taking your workout indoors. For those who still want to run or jog outside, you have to learn how to exercise as it gets colder. Depending on the temperature, dressing for the workout is top priority. There’s a huge difference in how you dress if the weather is barely over freezing and far below the freezing point. There’s also a difference in how your body handles the cold weather.

Your body has to deal with more than just the workout in cold weather.

Cold weather causes the arteries to constrict, which reduces the blood flow to the heart. If you have heart problems, bring your workout indoors. For all others, it can be tougher to get a good workout, but also produces better results when it comes to weight loss. If you have problems with asthma or breathing, don’t forget to cover your face with a scarf or ski mask. Bronchioconstriction can occur from the colder temperature and dryer air. The scarf or mask will help moisten the air by trapping the moisture when you exhale. Breathing in through the nose is also important.

Layer your clothing to stay the warmest.

Not only do the layers provide more insulation than one much heavier article of clothing, you can also adjust the layers as the exercise makes you warmer. Sweating in cold weather only adds to the potential of chilling. Don’t forget the extremities with warm socks and gloves. Many people recommend the first layer should be of material like thinsulate or other ones made specifically for the cold. Don’t forget a hat. You lose lots of body heat through the top of your head. In fact, it’s more than any other part of the body.

Check more than just the temperature before going out for a run or jog.

The wind-chill is particularly important in the winter. It causes cold weather to feel even colder. If you’ve ever run or walked in cold windy weather and had to turn your back on the wind, you know the difference in how cold it is running or walking into the wind compared to having the wind at your back.

  • Don’t forget to do a warm up before starting. You can start inside with dynamic stretches. Take a few extra minutes of warm up time to ensure you have full range of motion. Cold weather brings on stiffness. One way to warm up your lower body is climbing several flights of steps.
  • Stay hydrated. You may not feel like you’re thirsty as you might in the summer, but working out can make you lose fluid in the form of sweat and the air is dryer. If cold water sounds a bit too chilly for you, try some warm tea or even warm water with a bit of lime in it.
  • Watch out for frostbite. Even though it tends to occur mostly when the temperature is below 5 degrees, wind-chill makes all the difference. Check the windchill before venturing out. At a negative 18 degrees, frostbite occurs within thirty minutes. When they say it feels like -10, it means it affects your body like a -10 degree temperature.
  • Create an indoor workout or go to the gym on those days that are either too cold, windy or wet for a healthy workout outside.

Develop A New Healthy Habit

Develop A New Healthy Habit

Switching to a healthier lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. It occurs one habit at a time. You can start on the road to a new healthier you the minute you develop a new healthy habit. While I focus on a healthy diet and regular exercise, getting adequate sleep, good hydration and eliminating or dealing with stress are also important. If you smoke, abuse alcohol or drugs, it’s time to step back and take action, too. No matter what habit you choose to adopt, it’s one step closer to the healthiest you possible.

Consider starting with healthy eating if weight loss is your ultimate goal.

You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Eating healthier is the cornerstone for weight loss. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to healthy eating, so making smaller changes can be the start. Eliminate junk food and stock up on healthy snacks. If you’re like most people, snacking is often one of the killers when it comes to weight loss. Having healthy snacks like fresh fruits or vegetables ready to eat can help you cut calories far easier. Try making healthy meals ahead and have them ready in the freezer to pop in the oven when you get home from work. Those two habits will make eating healthy far easier.

Set a time each day for exercise.

Maybe it’s first thing in the morning or right after work, but a scheduled time is important. Don’t just try to fit it into your day or you’ll find your plans failing. If you have a busy unpredictable schedule, like most people, have a back up plan with ways to have shorter workouts several times throughout the day. They could be as simple as walking up and down the stairs on your break at work or a quick 10 to 15 minute workout to do three to four times a day.

Sometimes doing more than one at once can be a benefit.

Through the years, I have had many people who start working out at the gym because they either quit smoking or were about to quit. They were trying to replace the habit of smoking with the habit of working out and wanted help with a healthier diet, so they didn’t face the weight gain that often occurs. It’s a smart plan and often works. Not only are you quitting one bad habit, but gaining two good ones. I had one client that told me that every time he was really tempted to smoke, he went for a walk or if he was at home, dropped and did push-ups.

  • You might be exercising, eating healthy and don’t use tobacco, illegal drugs or alcohol, but still have a bad habit. Lack of sleep is often one of the problems busy people face. Get in the habit of going to bed at a specific time. If you have problems sleeping, try getting up earlier the next day. That helps.
  • Don’t forget to hydrate. Adequate intake of water is important. Carry a bottle of water with you at all times and sip throughout the day.
  • Smile more. People who smile live longer, according to studies. Start right now and smile, even if it feels silly. You’ll feel happier immediately. If you want, laugh out loud…it feels great.
  • Relax. Learn meditation, deep breathing or other ways to relax. Stress is a killer and while exercise helps, stopping the effects immediately is better.

Small Changes - Big Results

Small Changes – Big Results

Don’t let the thought of getting fit overwhelm you. You don’t have to do everything at once. You can start by making small changes that are easy and continually add to those changes as they become habits. In the end, the more you take the more difference it makes to see big results. For instance, starting with just switching out water for soft drinks can save one hundred calories every time you do. Soft drinks—even diet soft drinks—have been linked to visceral fat—belly fat, which is the most dangerous type of fat. Make it a point to have bottles of water ready to quench your thirst.

Just move more.

You don’t have to start a formal exercise program to reap benefits from moving more. Park further away from the door at the grocery or the mall and walk a bit. Take the stairs rather than the elevator—at least for one flight of stairs. If there are several flights, slowly build up until you can do them all. It’s easier to walk downstairs for most people, if you have to start by doing only that, go for it! Make it a habit to move at least five minutes every hour if you have a desk job.

Start packing healthy snacks.

It’s not a crime to get hungry between meals, nor is it unhealthy to eat between meals, as long as you eat healthy. Carry fruit for snacks or a bag of healthy nuts. There are a number of healthy snacks you can have ready for those times you need a boost or have to tame a ravenous appetite. Air popped popcorn, yogurt, edamame, trail mix and feta on tomato slices are examples of food that can help keep the hunger monster from overtaking your body.

Learn a short exercise routine and do part of it throughout the day.

Who says you have to workout straight for a half hour or hour. You can break up that exercise routine to three or four smaller sections, until you’re ready to do a full half hour. It’s particularly helpful to do that if you have one of those super rushed days when you only have a few ten minute breaks sprinkled through it and can keep you on schedule for your workout. Sticking with a program of exercise isn’t always easy, but it’s so worth it.

  • Start replacing unhealthy foods with healthy ones. You don’t have to change everything at once. As your palate adjusts.
  • Get a good night’s rest. Set your alarm to remind you to go to bed, rather than falling asleep in a chair in front of the TV. If you’re a night owl, do it in small increments.
  • Take a walk to the restaurant for lunch or pack your lunch and walk to a park to eat. Getting away from the office and enjoying a brisk walk can help clear your head and make you healthier.
  • Walk a little faster. That’s right! Studies show that people who walk fast live longer.

Is Sitting All Day Killing You

Is Sitting All Day Killing You

If you have a job that requires sitting all day, you should ask for battle pay. The act of continuous sitting could be killing you. Studies show that sitting for longer periods of time frequently can shorten your life, even if you workout regularly. There’s a new term in the world of science. It’s Sitting Disease. It describes the life shortening effect that sitting can have on each person. In today’s world where sitting at the computer has replaced the manual labor of the past, the effects of sitting longer are just starting to be known.

The original study was from Brazilian researchers and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

According to the study, moving more throughout the day, even if you participated in regular moderate or vigorous workouts, improved longevity. Reducing sitting time by as little as ten percent—approximately 30 minutes for most people—could produce a substantial health benefit. Increasing that movement time to moving two hours more, or 50 percent sitting reduction, triples the benefits.

Take a break every thirty minutes.

A study by REGARDS, which stands for Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke, gathered data from 7,985 participants over age 45 of black and white ethnicity showed that people who sat longer than 13 hours a day doubled their risk of death when compared to those who sat only 11 hours a day. If the sitting was done in 30 minute sessions or less, the risk of death was also reduced by 55%.

Make it a habit to move.

No one will deny you should be able to take some time for yourself, but if watching television is one o those guilty pleasures, there’s a way to offset the sitting disease. Unless you’re a fan of commercials, moving during those commercials is a perfect option. Simply moving around during commercials, doing jumping jacks without the jumping, deep knee bends or even rushing to get a small task that requires physical movement can be an option during those times.

  • Schedule movement into your day. Set an alarm on your computer to alert you to stand for a while or move around as you work.
  • Standing or moving around more frequently can help boost your energy level, too. You’ll get both an immediate benefit and a delayed one.
  • If you move around every thirty minutes, you’ll find you think clearer and have better productivity. In fact, you might even find you’re in a better mood.
  • You’ll boost your metabolism the more you move and that can help you lose weight. It not only helps tone muscles, it also can relieve the aches and pains that can occur when you sit too long.

Beat Stress And Boost Happiness

Beat Stress And Boost Happiness

If you’re like most people in Bloomfield, there’s a lot of people and institutions in your life are demanding your time. There’s a lot of stress to deal with every day. It’s enough to make anyone scream. Even when you’re trying to get away from it by turning on television, listening to the news can add to that stress. It’s hard to be happy with all that piling up, but happiness is one key to longevity and good health. If you make some changes in your lifestyle, you can beat stress and boost happiness to live a more fulfilling, enjoyable and longer life.

Start with what you eat.

The food you eat makes a huge difference in not only how you emotionally handle stressful situations, but also can boost the happiness factor. Your body needs all the building blocks to be healthy, so eating a balanced diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, good sources of protein, healthy fat and devoid of chemicals and sugar products. Some foods, like asparagus, which contains high amounts of folate to help boost your emotional health or cashews, which has high amounts of zinc. Low zinc levels have been associated with anxiety and depression. Other healthy foods to boost your mental health include garlic, grass fed beef, chamomile and green tea, avocado and berries. You can even add a bit of dark chocolate for a heart healthy mood lifter.

Get adequate exercise to help you burn off hormones of stress.

When you exercise, your body is mimicking the natural result of the fight or flight response. The changes created by stress hormones prepare your body for those two things. Exercising burns off the hormones and stimulates the creation of endorphins and other happy hormones that make you feel good and give you a feeling of peace and well being. It also helps you sleep better at night and can boost your health. You’ll look better and even have improved self-esteem.

Go for a walk and commune with nature, even go barefoot if possible.

Going barefoot and walking on the grass in the winter in Bloomfield isn’t really an option, but during other seasons it’s possible. Studies show that people get a sense of well being from experiencing the calming effect of a serene park and even more if it has water features. Grounding is another experience that has been proven to bring peace. Grounding or earthing allows your body the balancing effect of absorbing the electrons from the earth.

  • Get social. Studies show that people who are more social tend to be happier and live longer. It can help relieve feelings of depression.
  • Smile more. Just smiling, even if there isn’t anything to smile about, can make you feel better. Studies show that people who smile more live longer.
  • Laugh. Laughter is really the best medicine. Sometimes, you can even fake it until you make it. Try a little experiment when you’re stressed. Go to a private area and enjoy a good belly laugh. See if you feel better afterward, even if you feel a little silly.
  • Take time to pamper yourself. Take a long bath, enjoy some quiet time or get a massage. Do what it takes to feel good again.

Are Supplements Necessary

Are Supplements Necessary

Are you convinced by many of the television commercials that your health and life would be perfect by the right supplements? So are many other people. That’s why it’s a billion dollar business. The truth is, is that in many cases the supplements you take are actually flushed down the toilet when you eliminate. Most of the excess water soluble supplements leave your body in your urine and some supplements don’t even digest in your system, leaving them in your defecation. I had an older friend that used to work in construction who told stories that made me a believer. Many years ago some towns sent their waste to a field, rather than a waste treatment plant. He was part of the crew to put up a building on that field, years after it was no longer used. He said there was evidence of undigested vitamins everywhere…plus plenty of volunteer tomatoes.

Studies show contradictory evidence.

No matter what you study, there’s always going to be at least one study that finds the opposite of what other studies do. In the case of supplements, some showed people who used them were healthier. However, when broken down by other habits, like eating healthier, not smoking and exercising regularly, people who took supplements also had other beneficial lifestyle habits that accounted for the difference. When a group with healthy habits, some who used supplements and some who didn’t, was studied, supplements showed no benefit.

A diet of whole foods is far better.

Man has always tried to improve on nature with a pill. One study at Purdue University was trying to remove the anthocyanin—the pigment that makes blueberries blue–to use for cancer treatment, since it’s been shown effective. While it may happen in the future, it was found that it was only effective when combined with the other nutrients in blueberries where they worked in synergy. That’s also the problem with supplements. When nutrients are from whole foods, all the nutrients work together with some making absorption of others easier.

Some special categories of people may require high quality supplements.

As your body ages, absorption of nutrients diminishes. Seniors often eat less than they did when they were younger, plus no longer get all the nutrition from the food they eat. They also have a more difficult time with chewing and digesting certain foods. For seniors, there are reasons to take supplements. People with health issues that block absorption or limit food intake also may require supplements. There are liquid supplements on the market in these cases. However, a physician should determine what’s best for them.

  • While the sun is one of the best sources of vitamin D, with food being the second, there’s a high amount of people with a vitamin D shortage in the US. Again, check with your health care professional.
  • You can have too much of a good thing with some vitamins. While water soluble vitamins are evacuated from your body through waste, fat based ones, A,D,E,K, accumulate and cause health issues.
  • You can boost your nutritional intake by adding extra herbs and spices into your cooking. They’re relatively inexpensive compared o supplements—especially if you grow your own.
  • Even though you can ingest too much fat soluble vitamins for your body when you take supplements, by getting your nutrition from your food, it’s nearly impossible.

Tips For Eating While Traveling

Tips For Eating While Traveling

Eating healthy on a trip can be a challenge. Whether you’re flying or driving from Bloomfield, NJ, you’ll stay fitter by using some of these tips for eating while traveling. If you’re taking a road trip, plan out your journey and use a search engine to help you plan your stops. Just search for healthy restaurants in the town where you plan to stop and investigate their offerings, as well as how far away they are from your actual stop. Travel Adviser often has a listing for several restaurants in the area, although they may not be in your actual town.

Pack a meal.

Road trips can be the best and they don’t have to burn your budget or destroy your healthy eating plan. You can pack a cooler filled with both healthy meals and snacks. That way you aren’t limited to eating at specific areas and can have a picnic lunch at a rest stop. If you’ve traveled very far, it gives you an opportunity to stretch your legs and get the blood flowing. You can even do a bit of jogging or some quick exercises while you’re there. Packing a healthy lunch isn’t all you can do, you can pack healthy snacks, too.

Choose off the menu carefully.

Almost every restaurant or fast food place offers salads. You can even choose a sandwich, like a sub with grilled chicken or lean meat. Avoid fried foods and dessert, stick to water with your meals. Carbonated drinks are loaded with calories, but don’t provide any nutritional benefits. Plus, sugary drinks normally don’t quench your thirst as well as water. Even airports have these types of restaurants, although you’ll pay more for the food than you would anywhere else.

Whether flying or driving, pack extra water and take snacks.

Getting water through an airport security just isn’t possible, but packing empty bottles or carrying a couple with you is doable. There’s always a water fountain on the other side to fill your bottles, so you don’t have to ask for more water on the plane. Those glasses are barely a swallow! Carrying tree nuts, such as cashews, almonds, pistachios, walnuts or pecans, can curb your appetite and provide nutrients, such as protein, healthy fat, vitamin E and magnesium plus they’re super easy to carry in a plastic bag.

  • Raw vegetables and hummus, hard-boiled eggs, berries and yogurt are a bit more difficult on a plane, but not if you’re driving. Fresh and dried fruit are good no matter how you travel.
  • If your personal item is a purse, buy a large purse to carry on the plane. Put snacks and your regular purse inside it.
  • Stop at a grocery on the way if you’re driving by car or rent a car when your plane lands. You can pick up healthy food for snacks and won’t pay a fortune. Healthy trail mix is often sold in bulk and fresh fruit and vegetables are available, often with the veggies already cut and with a dip.
  • Drink plenty of water. Water fills you up, but not out. In many cases, when you think you’re hungry, you’re really just thirsty.

Back To School Workouts

Back To School Workouts

It’s that time again when your kids schedules often create a madhouse, leaving you exhausted with barely time to take care of yourself. There are ways to deal with the crowded schedule so you don’t neglect your own fitness goals and good health. Here are some back to school workouts you can do that either combine your schooltime duties with a workout or get your exercising done quickly. It may take a little effort to stay fit, especially while you’re adjusting to the new school schedule, but it’s well worth the time.

Practice with your athlete(s).

While you may not have a great layup, jump or hook shot, that shouldn’t stop you from playing a little B-ball with your budding athlete. In fact, let them teach you what they learned in practice. When they’re the teacher, they pay closer attention at practice so they can be the expert. Of course, that’s a benefit for them, but you get the benefit of a great workout and more bonding time. If you have knowledge to share, even better. Either way, you’ll workout while you spend quality time with your child or children.

Get more of a workout for the time you spend.

Efficiency is the key to fitting in a workout. HIIT is one great way to achieve it. HIIT means high intensity interval training. It’s not a specific exercise, but rather a group of exercises, but still not a group of specific exercises. It’s how you put the exercises together, rather than the exercises themselves. Doing exercises in short bursts at the highest possible safe intensity with maximum effort for a short period followed by doing them at a recovery low to moderate effort for twice as long is an example. You can use running, your normal workout or any group of exercises to get results faster than a traditional workout.

Break up your workout to smaller sections.

If you don’t have a full 30 minutes to devote to your back to school workout, what about 3-ten minute sessions. It’s even better if you’re taking a break from the computer to do it that way. (Studies show that sitting longer than 50 minutes at a time without moving around is extremely unhealthy!) Break your exercise routine down to manageable blocks and do ten minutes every chance you get.

  • Instead of driving your children to school, if you live close enough, walk them to school. It’s a good way to get more time with the kids, while you get your exercise and provide more for them at the same time.
  • Maybe the summer ending has actually freed up more time to go to the gym. It’s time to create a schedule that includes an appointment to get healthier and fitter. Consider using a personal trainer to boost your motivation.
  • Find a friend to workout with to boost your motivation. It’s easy to extend that morning coffee and miss your workout session if you aren’t accountable to anyone.
  • Build in more exercise to your schedule by parking further from the door when you’re shopping or taking the stairs rather than the elevator.