Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

Take steps to boost your metabolism

August 22, 2018

Why is it some people seem to remain thin no matter what they eat? They’re the ones you see in the restaurant eating a huge hamburger and fries while you use your smartphone to count the calories in your chicken breast and veggies and wonder why you can’t lose those extra 10 pounds. Metabolism could be the reason.

Put in simple terms, metabolism is how your body converts the food you eat into fuel and how efficiently your body uses that fuel. The rate your body burns that fuel (or calories) is directly related to losing or gaining weight.   

 There are certain factors that affect your metabolism you can’t change. One of them is your age. Your metabolism rate naturally begins to slow after age 40 — a little reminder from your body you’re no longer a youngster and need to start caring for your body in different ways.  Another factor is your gender. Men generally burn more calories at rest than women. Such other factors as heredity or medical problems also can influence the rate your body burns calories. Although we might remain unable to change some things, the good news is there are things we can do improve our metabolism rate.

One of the best ways to boost your metabolism is exercise, including both cardiovascular exercises and strength training. Such Quick read more or view full article cardiovascular exercises as running or biking burn many calories. While you might not burn as many calories with strength training, your body continues to burn calories long after your workout has ended. 

This is important to know because muscle burns more calories than fat — a lot more. Every pound of muscle in our bodies can burn more than 30 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns only two to three calories a day. If you include strength training into your workouts, your muscles will work hard for you all day long. 

Another way to improve your metabolism is through nutrition. You might be relieved to learn so-called “crash” dieting is NOT the answer. When you deprive your body of food, your metabolism slows down, causing the reverse effect. Then when you do eat, your body will hang onto those calories as if it were starving.

Most of us have attempted a diet that was unsuccessful. Chances are it didn’t work because our bodies weren’t supplied with enough nutrients to function normally. Then when we did eat — or cheat, as we probably called it — we probably overindulged. Don’t cut yourself short on the fuel that keeps you moving. Your best bet is to eat more often. Eating small, nutritious meals more frequently will help keep your metabolism going.   

Here are some additional nutrition tips that can help increase the rate of your body’s metabolism. Add a little more protein to your diet. Your body uses more calories to digest protein than it does digesting carbohydrates. Protein-rich foods include turkey, fish, nuts, beans and eggs. Spice up your dishes with red pepper flakes. The chemical compound in spicy foods can temporarily increase your metabolism. And don’t forget to include water in your daily routine. Your body needs to hydration to properly use the calories you consume.  

Many factors influence the rate at which your body burns calories, including age, gender and genetics. It’s easy to blame those extra pounds on factors you can’t change. But this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a slow metabolism. By exercising, building muscles and changing your eating habits, you can speed up the rate your body burns calories. The benefits will be evident not only in the way you feel, but also on the scale.

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Fitness and health bring freedom to do things

July 25, 2018

Freedom means different things to different people. Most would agree freedom in the United Stables enables us to learn, work, speak and generally enjoy life. 

Consider, though, that fitness and a healthy lifestyle also give you freedom — the freedom to do things, whether it’s routine chores or favorite activities. 

It’s never too late and no one is ever too old to improve fitness. Start with the basic four areas of fitness: flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, strength and nutrition. When you combine these four areas, you’re on the right path.

Flexibility involves more than just touching your toes. Such daily activities such as getting in and out of vehicles, walking through the grocery store and housework all requirement movement. 

Doing exercises such as yoga will improve your posture and strengthen the core muscles in your abdomen, hips, lower back and pelvis. 

Think of all the small movements you do in a day in which you use these muscles, from reaching for a glass from the cabinet to making your bed. Another major benefit of core strength is balance that can reduce the risk of injury from falls.

Cardio fitness keeps your heart strong and cardiovascular system working properly. 

Starting slowly, if you are beginner, will enable you to enjoy such simple pleasures as playing with your grandchildren or traveling. 

Walking, hiking and dancing are all forms of cardio exercise. Quick read more or view full article Choose an activity you enjoy — you’ll be more apt to want to do it. While starting slowly is a good idea, it’s also important as you become more cardio fit to challenge yourself. Try different types of activities.

Strength training for all ages has become more popular in recent years and for good reason. The benefits are numerous.

Studies show lifting weights two or three times a week increases strength by building muscle mass and bone density. Strength training also can help to reduce the effects of such diseases as arthritis and osteoporosis as well as depression.

Nutrition constitutes yet another key component in total health. Feeding your body the nutrients it requires will provide the fuel you need to not only feel better, but also look better.  

The first step toward freedom is to get started. Talk to your doctor about what’s best for you and then get moving.

Try a fitness class, such a gentle yoga class. There are many beginner classes as well as classes tailored for highly fit individuals. Ask a friend to join you.

Whether you’re already on the path to fitness or just starting out, you’ll enjoy the freedom that comes from being fit and healthy.

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With planning, vacations can still be fitness-friendly

June 26, 2018

Vacations, long car trips and busy schedules can all lead to major disruptions in our fitness routines. Whether traveling by car or plane, staying in hotels or with family, you can keep fitness a part of each day. 

Here are a few tips to help make your vacations more fitness-friendly:

Sitting in a car for a few or many hours a day traveling to that great vacation destination can make you feel tired and stiff. Moreover, car trips are notorious for combining little physical activity with eating the wrong foods. Pull off at rest stops and stretch by reaching for the sky. Take deep breaths. Spend a few moments walking around and seeing the sights. Stretching every few hours will make you feel less worn. Here’s a game you can play when traveling with your family. At each stop, a different person gets to name the activity. It might be jumping jacks or running around the car. It can be as simple as racing each other to the “facilities.” 

At times, airline travel can have you calling the airport your new home. Why not pack gym shoes in your carry on luggage? You’ve all seen the moving walkways. Don’t use them if time allows. There are many places to walk and climb stairs in most airports. When it comes to having a snack or meal, Quick read more or view full article remember that many food vendors offer nutritious choices. Consuming fewer calories while being less active is an important part of not gaining those extra vacation pounds. Pack some healthy treats in your purse or backpack. Dried fruit, nuts and water offer good choices.

Many hotels and resorts offer fitness centers. Although your choices could be limited, remember that any movement is better than nothing. Try to combine some cardiovascular exercise — a treadmill or elliptical trainer — with some strength training. 

If your accommodations don’t include a fitness area, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Plan ahead. Pack some resistance bands for strength training. They can be purchased at many health clubs, local retailers or online. Resistance bands come in different colors and widths. These differences reflect the amount of stretch they allow for more or less resistance. Try them out to see which ones work for you. Wrap your bands around a bed post or door knob. You can also use resistance bands by using your foot to step on the middle of the band for an arm workout, for example.

You can’t exactly pack weights in your suitcase, so try filling disposable water bottles with water for a lightweight workout. Be creative. Many exercises can be done on the floor with nothing but your own body weight for resistance. Pushups, for example, offer a great upper body strength exercise and don’t require anything but you to perform. Situps, leg lifts and arm circles are just a few exercises that can be performed without equipment.

Cardiovascular exercise remains important when traveling, too. Many vacations involve sightseeing. Don’t underestimate the power of walking. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, bring water and wear sunscreen. You’ll get more heart-healthy exercise just by taking the stairs whenever possible.

By thinking ahead, you’ll keep your workout routine on schedule. No matter the mode of travel or destination, you still can exercise and eat right on vacation. Remember, too, it’s a vacation Enjoy.

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This summer, make time for fun and fitness

May 30, 2018

We wait all year, it seems, for summer to arrive. Now it’s finally here. When most of us think about summer, we think about outdoor fun, vacations and a chance to kick back. Summer also offers many opportunities for staying active.

Remain aware, though, that changes in schedules can present challenges in keeping your fitness routine on track. So what can you do to have the most safe, fun-filled, productive — and active — summer ever?

Warm weather provides many opportunities for enjoying outdoor activities.  Take the family camping, fishing or hiking.  Work in your garden. Enjoy a baseball game — as a participant and spectator. Part of summer fun and fulfillment is enjoying the outdoors and the people you’re with.    

During the summer months, your normal schedule could be altered, whether through work or just having children at home. These changes can affect daily routines, including exercise schedules.

Here are a few tips to avoid sabotaging yourself this summer:

Set a summer goal. It’s almost mid-year. Ask yourself how you’ve done so far this year on your New Year’s resolutions. You might have succeeded in some areas, but not in others. You could need to re-evaluate your goals to make them more realistic and attainable. Maybe you didn’t set goals. This is a great time to start. Try setting a different goal. What will Quick read more or view full article that goal look like for you?  It might be trying a new sport, learning to swim or visiting a national park.

Stick to a schedule. Make sure your summer days include some structure — like getting up at the same time each day and eating meals at set times. Plan activities for specific times — exercising before breakfast, for example.

Keep busy. Without your appointment book filled, it could be easy to fall into a trap of becoming bored. Boredom goes hand in hand with low energy. Filling your days with stuff to do will give you a sense of accomplishment. For many of us, summer still means going to work each day, But with more daylight hours, you don’t have to miss out. Whether you’re taking a vacation or just a weekend, include activities the family already enjoys as well as something new.   

Manage the heat. Although warmer weather is appreciated, hot days can seem unbearable. To beat the heat, move your activities inside. Head to the gym, splash in a pool or go bowling.  When you find yourself outdoors during scorching temperatures, remember to stay safe. Wear sunscreen or a long-sleeve shirt to protect your skin from harmful rays. Don’t forget the sunglasses and hat, too. Clothing that wicks moisture away from your skin as you perspire keeps you cooler. One of the most important items to keep you safe is water. Drink plenty to stay hydrated.

Eat healthy. This seems like an easy thing to do with all the fresh vegetables and fruit at grocery stores and farmers markets. Beware of some of the foods associated with summer events. Backyard barbecues, campfire s’mores and ice cream treats can sabotage our best laid plans of staying fit through the summer. You can still enjoy these foods, just keep them to occasional treats.

Make summer a time to enjoy. Write down your summer goal and work toward realizing that goal. Make the most of every day, and you’ll make this summer your best ever.

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Add cross training to make your fitness routine anything but

April 24, 2018

It’s been said variety is the spice of life, and there’s some truth to that statement. We get into daily routines and complete many of our tasks without thinking about them. We go to work at the same time, eat at the same time and take out the garbage on pickup day.

Routines can be a good thing in many situations. But what about your fitness routine? Are you doing the same exercises, going to the same class, walking on the same treadmill or lifting the same weights? Maybe it’s time to change that routine. 

With fitness, adding a little spice could make boring more exciting and motivating. Sometimes you hear “change” or “different” and associate that with “new” and “uncomfortable.” As creatures of habit, it’s OK to like your comfort zone and its familiar surroundings, people and activities.  

Although doing the same thing over and over might be comforting, it has drawbacks. Without variety, things can get pretty boring. With fitness, it’s important to spice it up a bit.  

Let me introduce you to cross training, which combines two or more types of physical activities. 

There are numerous benefits to adding cross training to your fitness routine. First and foremost is the motivational piece. Keeping interested and motivated to exercise is important. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you Quick read more or view full article won’t do it. Cross training also can help you burn more calories by using different muscle groups. Plus, you reduce the chance of injury by doing a variety of exercises —  participating in a high-impact activity like running one day, followed by a yoga or Pilates class the next day.

It’s simple to create a varied exercise program. Plan a workout that includes the three areas of physical activity: cardiovascular, strength and flexibility. Under each area, write down what activities you like to do or want to try. Some activities fit under more than one area. Cardiovascular activities include running, jumping rope, riding a bike or even walking the dog. Strength training can include everything from push-ups to lifting weights to yard work. Flexibility activities include stretching or yoga.

Changing a fitness routine can be beneficial in more ways than just eliminating boredom. It can help improve your fitness level. Our bodies are adaptive and get used to an exercise routine. It becomes difficult to make changes in our bodies once they’ve adapted to a specific fitness routine. It’s important to keep our bodies guessing and mixing up the exercises we perform.

How do we change our workouts? Try something new. If there’s a favorite exercise machine you use often and don’t want to give it up, try changing the intensity, speed or grade. By gradually changing how hard you work, you’ll keep your workout challenging and not routine. Remember, when changing up your workout routine, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Once you choose your activities, plan them into your week.  Allow for variety and flexibility. Experiment with different activities to find what really interests you.  Continue to enjoy your favorite activities, but challenge yourself to try something new. Go ahead: spice it up.

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