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Archive for August, 2011


Interval Walking

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Walking is a popular, safe, and enjoyable way to shed pounds and get in shape. Adding interval walking to an established regimen can help accomplish fitness and weight loss goals much faster. Interval walking alternates periods of steady walking with bursts of faster-paced walking. This is a great way to burn extra fat and calories, and lose weight. Intense, fast-paced walking is alternated with periods of steady walking which are called recovery periods because you can allow your heart rate and breathing to slow down a bit to prepare for the next high intensity, aerobic interval. All you need is a pair of walking shoes, a wristwatch and permission from your doctor to get started.
 
Interval walking has many benefits, including:

  • Burns calories at a higher rate. More calories are burned during the periods of faster-paced walking.
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness and strengthens the heart.
  • Burns more fat. More fat is burned during the periods of faster-paced walking.
  • Adds variety and goals to a walking routine.
  • Avoids the plateau. Creates constant challenges to prevent ‘settling’ onto a plateau, which slows your weight loss progress.
  • Improves your overall fitness level.

 
Interval walking (training) is easy to incorporate into any routine. The first thing is to start slowly. Add  one or two 3 to 5-minute high-intensity intervals to walks while building stamina. As stamina increases, add additional high-intensity intervals to your walks. When you are comfortable, consider changing entire walks into an interval training program once or twice a week.
 
There are two ways to heighten intensity during interval training. Increase walking speed or increase resistance level by walking up hills or increasing the incline on the treadmill. Pay attention to how you feel and adjust the length of intervals accordingly.  During faster-paced intervals, increase speed or resistance levels enough to make conversation difficult, this ‘talking test’ will help determine if enough energy is being expended to be considered high intensity. Take advantage of ‘recovery’ intervals, slow the pace or decrease resistance levels until your heart beat and breathing slow down; allow the body some rest before beginning the next high intensity interval.
 
If you’ven ever done interval training before, here are a couple helpful tips:

  • Warm up by walking until you become warm and feel your heart beat a little quicker.
  • Slow down if you feel overtired or are in any pain. You can always pick up the pace again.  It won’t take long to build stamina, and you’ll begin to see the benefits in a couple weeks.

When you begin, try to walk for two minutes at a normal pace, then increase speed or resistance level for two minutes; return to normal walking pace for two minutes and again increase your pace or resistance level for another two minutes. Try to continue this pattern for your entire walk.
 
You’ll be surprised at the difference adding interval walking to your fitness program makes! It’s a great way to lose weight and improve overall fitness.
 
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Time to Get Back to the Pack

Back-to-school often means choosing a new backpack.
 
By Sara Arthurs -The Courier Newspaper
 
The end of summer means it’s almost time to head back to school, which means it’s time to buy backpacks. What kids and parents look for when shopping for a new backpack changes each year.
 
Take, for example, a pocket for an iPod. 
 
“Ten years ago, that was unheard of,” said Ken McCartan, backpack buyer for Dunham’s corporate office. “This day and age, that is a given.”
 
At Kohl’s, the character backpacks, those with characters from movies or television, are popular for the younger children, said Steve Brunner, one of the store managers at Kohl’s in Findlay. Characters from “Toy Story,” “Spider-Man” and “Dora the Explorer” are among the popular ones, he said.
 
Jansport backpacks are popular for the older children and college age. Many have pockets for things like iPods and water bottles, Brunner said. 
 
A recent trend is the “Yak Pak,” a brand which offers bags in colorful patterns and a variety of styles.
 
Bright colors are always popular and high school students tend to favor school colors, Brunner said.
 
“It’s definitely a lot of color… It’s not just the traditional black or navy,” McCartan said. “There’s a color pop.”
 
Kids like patterns such as leopard or zebra, he said. Another trend is a bag that is mostly black but has colorful trim.
 
“Black is still very dominant because it doesn’t show dirt,” McCartan said. “It kind of goes with anything that the child might be wearing.”
 
McCartan said Dunham’s backpack season runs from Aug. 1 until mid-September.
 
“If mom’s making the purchase, they’re probably going to go for something small and inexpensive,” McCartan said.
 
But, he said, sometimes the child can convince the parent he or she wants a trademark. The Nike swoosh is popular, and Adidas is another brand that sells well, McCartan said.
 
McCartan said that backpacks are designed these days to hold up pretty well, which means people need to purchase them less frequently. But this time of year there is always a spike in sales.
 
McCartan said when his son was in elementary school he would bring home a lot of items in his backpack such as books, his lunch and a towel for “quiet time” at school.
 
“He stuffed a lot of stuff in there,” McCartan said.
 
But, he said, backpacks are fashion statements as much as they are utilitarian items.
 
“They see the cool factor, even at a young age,” McCartan said.
 
The proliferation of technology has changed the design of backpacks. Nearly every backpack Dunham’s carries has an iPod port so the child can put his or her iPod in the backpack and feed the earbuds through an outlet. A mesh pocket for a water bottle is also standard. As for computers, McCartan said just about every backpack has a padded separate sleeve for a laptop or netbook, and some have a bag within a bag. 
 
McCartan said backpacks are like clothes or shoes. Children look for different patterns.
 
“Kids can individualize themselves,” he said.
 
For some children, this may mean different backpacks to wear with different clothing. Perhaps it might be a neon backpack to go with certain outfits, he said.
 
McCartan, as an adult, said it’s easy to speculate on what a 12-year-old boy or girl might want to carry to school but it can be a challenge to get it right. As a backpack buyer, he relies on demographic research done by the companies that make backpacks for Adidas or Nike. He said these companies will put different designs in front of children and do blind studies to see what tests well.
 
Similar research is done for clothing and McCartan said they’re finding a similar trend.
 
“Individuality really is what’s doing well,” he said.
 
Whatever backpack a child chooses, schools usually don’t allow him or her to carry it around all day.
 
Barb Schick, community relations coordinator for Findlay City Schools, said children must store their backpacks in their locker or elsewhere and cannot take them to class.
 
“Nobody carries them in,” she said.
 
She said this has been a policy in place since at least the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 and possibly longer. “Nothing that can conceal anything” is permitted, she said.
 
Van Buren High School principal Michael Brand said that there, too, students can carry their backpacks to and from school but cannot carry them around during the school day.
 
Brand said students often bring electronics such as laptop computers and iPods to school. Van Buren issues netbooks to all students in grades six through 10, which they carry from school to home each day. 
 
Think back-to-school shopping is expensive? Things could be worse. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen introduced a croc backpack that costs $39,000, according to a July article on Slate.com.
 
Arthurs: 419-427-8494 saraarthurs@thecourier.com
Photo Caption: RANDY ROBERTS / The Courier KATHERINE BLUM, a sales associate/cashier at Dunham’s, takes down one of the backpacks on display at the store. Kids can be picky when it comes time to choose a new backpack. Parents don’t want to spend too much and want something that’s sturdy and will last a year or two. Almost all backpacks now feature special pockets for laptop computers and music devices.
 
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Duration or Intensity?

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Duration or Intensity? People often wonder which is most important in their fitness regimen, duration or intensity. New research has the answer!
 
A recent study shows that when it comes to heart health it pays to be intense! Rowing, running, weights, and brisk walking are especially effective. Your best bet is to boost your level of aerobic exercise while throwing weight training into the mix. Researchers tracked 45,000 men aged 40 to 75 for 12 years. Those who ran for an hour or more per day decreased their risk of heart attack by 42% or more. Those lifting weights for at least 30 minutes each week cut their risk by 23%. Rowing an hour or more a week cut the risk by 18%.
 
The findings are startling. Talk to a personal trainer to find the intensity level that is right for you!
 
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Gravity-A Girls Best Friend

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
When it comes to bone health, gravity is a girl’s best friend! Weight bearing exercises are one of the best ways to build strong healthy bones.
 
In fact, the latest research shows this kind of activity boosts bone density by as much as nine percent! Scientists looked at a group of healthy women who started a weight bearing regimen. The program included climbing, walking and calisthenics for sixty to ninety minutes three times per week for about three months. The program boosted hip bone density by eleven percent. No drug, supplement or magic bullet can match those kind of results!
 
Unsure where to start?  Brisk walking and strength exercises are excellent starting points.  Popular, new fitness programs are springing up everywhere — try Tai Chi, Yoga or Zumba. Do you love to dance? Try a salsa or rhumba class!  Leave that golf cart behind and carry your clubs!
 
As an added bonus, you’ll improve balance and that leads to a healthier aging process!
 
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Happy Campers Are Well-Fed Campers

I’ve rafted the Grand Canyon and camped along its banks. I’ve camped on beaches up and down the East Coast. I’ve set up tents in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and have even done the motor home thing in Yellowstone National Park (even though that’s not really considered roughing it). I’ve also camped in the scruffy Florida Keys, plus umpteen parks here in my own camping-friendly state of Michigan.
 
I love It, and there’s a lot to be said about reconnecting with the great outdoors and getting back-to-basics. But when it comes to camping food, I prefer the not-so-basics.
 
Hot Dog! Let’s Cook.
 
If you’re at a campground, you’re either going to be cooking over an open campfire, with a portable propane or charcoal grill, or one of the charcoal grills the campgrounds provides. If you’re cooking with propane, you probably know what you’re doing. Cooking with charcoal or over a wood fire is a little trickier and, if you haven’t done it, you really need to do your homework. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not giving yourself ample lead time in building a good fire. The second thing is you don’t want to cook over shooting flames — you want to cook over hot coals since that’s your even heat source. So if you’re a novice, get some good tips from someone who’s experienced in building fires for cooking.
 
Are You Equipped?
 
Unless your idea of camping is at the local motel, you won’t have a refrigerator, freezer, or oven at your disposal. Still, if you’ve got a few basics, you’re in business. A cooler (or two) is a must. So are the right utensils: aluminum foil, mitts, dishes, knives, spatulas, and plastic storage containers. A cast iron Dutch oven (or kettle) is an indispensable tool for one-pot stews, soups, chilis, and cobblers, and it’ll double as your serving bowl. You can hang the Dutch oven from a tripod over the fire, or set it on a grill or directly in the coals. You might also think about a cast iron skillet for scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, etc. And if you have the room, a grill basket is ideal for vegetables, fruit, and more delicate proteins like fish.
 
Food for Thought: Plan Ahead
 
You can have some wonderful breakfasts, lunches and dinners that are a lot more exciting than cold cereal, or pork and beans and hot dogs. In fact, you can really impress your friends with how great you are at outdoor cooking. Ever think about cooking a frittata for breakfast for your fellow campers? How about whipping up spicy turkey burgers stuffed with blue cheese and onions, served on grilled buns? Or, how about making a delicious berry cobbler? All it takes is a little organization.
 
A week or so before your trip, sit down and design a menu. Being organized is important and if you do your research, planning and shopping ahead of time, the rest is easy. Once you’ve shopped for groceries, measure and separate your ingredients and put them in containers or food storage bags. Want spicy chicken chili some evening? Make it ahead of time and simply reheat it over the campfire or on the grill. Take toppings like shredded cheese, chopped onions, chiles, tomatoes, tortilla strips, and sour cream in containers and let guests help themselves. Served with an ice-cold beer, it’s an impressive meal and your friends will appreciate the fact that you did more than just open a can.
 
Show Off Your Skewer Cooking Skills with Shish Kebabs
 
Kebabs are ideal for a camping trip because they can be assembled a day or two ahead of time, marinated, and then pulled out and put on the grill. They’re delicious and the presentation is impressive. You can use just about any cut of meat — even shrimp and scallops — and any creative combination of vegetables, and fruit like pineapple. I prefer using metal skewers. They’re sturdier and won’t burn. The best part? There’s very little cleanup.
 
Indonesian Chicken Kebabs for Four
8 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes
2 red peppers, peeled and quartered
2 green peppers, peeled and quartered
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
 
Marinade:
1 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup of chili sauce
1.2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tblsp garlic, minced
8 green onions, finely chopped
Mix all the ingredients together and pour over the kebabs in a plastic container or glass baking dish. Let marinate for 24 hours before grilling.
 
Holy Smokes: It’s Grilled Fruit
 
Grilled fruit like pineapple, pears, nectarines, peaches or plums is easy and delicious, and the natural sugars will caramelize the fruit. For a light topping, take plain yogurt, and add a couple of tablespoons of honey and a squeeze of lime juice. Stir it together and top your fruit. It’s fresh, healthy, and much more impressive than s’mores.
 
Grilled Pineapple
1 large pineapple, cored and cut into slices
3/4 cup tequila or rum
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix liquor, vanilla and cinnamon together until sugar dissolves. Place pineapple or grill and baste while grilling. Grill about 10 minutes. Serve hot with yogurt topping.
 
Happy Camping!
 
With all the latest equipment and gadgets, the way we camp has changed over the years, but the reasons why we do it haven’t. We still want to get out in the fresh air, reconnect with nature, and leave the comforts of home at home even if just for a weekend. There’s something about sleeping in a sleeping bag, building a fire and sitting under the stars with a cold beer and good coversation. And there’s something about food just taking so much better outdoors — even if it’s a gooey s’more.
 
-Happy Camper
 
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