Get to Work (At Home)

Finding the Right Exercise Equipment for Your Home Gym

First there is Halloween candy, then comes the Thanksgiving turkey and fixings and finally of course there’s the Christmas cookies. All these treats are delicious, but they might get you thinking about how you’ll shed your winter weight. That’s where the right piece of exercise equipment comes in!

There are several options to choose from for both cardio and weight lifting exercise routines. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks. Find the right one for your lifestyle and you’ll find a fitness regimen you can stick with!

Treadmills

A treadmill is a classic piece of exercise equipment for your home. One upside is that they can be used for all levels of fitness. You can use it to walk at a slow pace or to train for a marathon. Treadmills can be the most basic cardio equipment all the way through to models that have pre-set programs with a video screen. For someone with balance problems, though, a treadmill may prove tricky. And the impact on joints may be too much for some people. As with any exercise equipment, be sure to follow safety guidelines.

Elliptical trainers

Elliptical trainers are great for people with joint problems. The foot paddles move without impact to give you a smooth, yet effective, cardio workout. Of course, the movement may take some getting used to, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while. But if you want a routine that’s easy on your joints, ellipticals are a great option.

Stationary Bikes

Another great low-impact option is a stationary bike. You can choose a spin bike, air bike or recumbent model. Be sure you select a bike with a wide, comfortable seat and one that is the correct height to get the most from the workout. These machines are great even for beginners or those with movement limitations. It’s as easy as, well, riding a bike!

Weight equipment

Cardio is a key component to any exercise program. But it’s important to mix in weight training as well. Weight bearing exercises keep your bones strong and muscles toned. And you don’t need a bulky piece of machinery to do weight training at home. There are many options to choose from to complete your home gym. You can get an adjustable set of dumbbells, which will allow the whole family to take advantage of the equipment without needing each individual weight. Medicine balls and kettle bells are other weight training options. Choose the right weights for you to keep at home, and you won’t need to head to the gym!

Don’t go out in the snow this winter. Stay home and get your exercise in! You can get just as great a workout as you could at the gym. You just need the right pieces of equipment!

-Fitness Fanatic

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When is the Best Time to Exercise?

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

People who exercise want to utilize their time efficiently and get the most out of their exercise sessions. Knowing the best time to work out for weight loss can help you get faster results in less time. This is not just for athletes but for the average person who wants to use exercise to lose pounds or get in better shape.

Time is just one of the factors that affect your workout performance

As you will read below, there are studies that show when is the best time of the day to exercise for better fat burning results and for muscle building but time is just one of the factors that can affect your workout performance. Many other factors like the intensity and duration of the exercise play a very important role and these should not be neglected.

Best time to work out for fat burning is the morning

When you exercise in the morning your body tends to burn more fat.

The main reasons why this is happening are:

1. Low blood sugar levels force the body to look for other energy sources so it starts converting fat from the reserves to fuel.

2. Some hormones that accelerate fad burning (like cortisol) are at high levels in the morning.

Benefits of exercising in the morning

? People who participated in a study about the effects of morning exercise were more likely to stick to a workout after doing their morning exercise. In other words people who can exercise in the morning are more likely to build a routine and follow that for a long time.

? For some people it is easier to exercise in the morning since in the afternoon they get tired and lose their desire to workout.

? It can be a stressful task for the body. This does not apply to everyone but depending on your hormone levels you may find it very stressful to exercise in the morning.

? Intense morning exercise may lead to muscle loss instead of fat loss. If you exercise on an empty stomach and do a very intense workout your body may end up utilizing muscle mass for energy. That’s why it is important to have a good protein breakfast especially if you plan to exercise hard in the morning.

? If you exercise before breakfast, you may not be able to keep the intensity high since your energy levels are low.

Disadvantages of morning exercise

? It can be a stressful task for the body. This does not apply to everyone but depending on your hormone levels you may find it very stressful to exercise in the morning.

? Intense morning exercise may lead to muscle loss instead of fat loss. If you exercise on an empty stomach and do a very intense workout your body may end up utilizing muscle mass for energy. That’s why it is important to have a good protein breakfast especially if you plan to exercise hard in the morning.

? If you exercise before breakfast, you may not be able to keep the intensity high since your energy levels are low.

Best time to workout for performance is the afternoon

Exercising in the afternoon can give you better performance than exercising in the morning. Several studies analyzed the performance of a group of people exercising in the morning and in the afternoon. The afternoon sessions produced better results in terms of performance, strength and power. Participants reported that their bodies’ response was better and that they were able to push more and achieve more repetitions than in the morning.

What is the best time to workout for weight loss for you?

The different studies and theories are useful and can be used for educating yourself about best practices but when it comes to when is the best time to workout it’s up to you to decide. Some tips to help you out:

1. Try to do some cardio exercises in the morning (e.g. walking for about 10 minutes) and see how it feels. If you think this is something you can do for a long time try to add jogging as well (for 3-5 minutes) in your schedule.

2. If you exercise on an empty stomach and feel tired or weak try to eat breakfast first and then do your workout. Learn more about GI and how to control your blood sugar levels through food.

3. You can always combine your morning and afternoon workouts for better results. For example you can do a quick 10 minute cardio session in the morning and then a 20 minute intense session in the afternoon. This will also have a positive effect in EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption) that will help you burn more calories after exercise.

4 Don’t do very intense exercise in the morning without having a good breakfast, this may lead to muscle loss which is not recommended.

5 Have in mind that too intense exercise late in the afternoon may negatively affect your sleep. It is better to exercise at least 4 hours before going to bed.

Exercise is important for health and weight loss and you should allocate some of your time per day to exercise either in the morning or afternoon.

Bottom line, just do it!!

As always, check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine!

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Sweat Equity

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

More than fifty million Americans are affected by hypertension.  It can lead to a laundry list of dangerous health conditions, including heart disease and stroke! The good news is that you can usually take care of the problem with the right diet and just a little bit of exercise.  Cut down on simple carbs and be sure to reduce your sodium intake. Plus, exercising as little as sixty to ninety minutes a week can do a lot more than you may think! A recent eight-week study shows that patients working out as little as an hour to an hour and a half per week cut their systolic blood pressure by as much as 12 points.  Diastolic blood pressure dropped by as much as 8 points. It’s important to note that test subjects getting less than sixty minutes a week of exercise showed no reduction in blood pressure. That’s a big health payoff for a little bit of effort.

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Strike A Pose

Yoga works wonders for anyone at any age

When she was just 14 years old, Kari Brodsky’s mother, Jane, invited her to her yoga class. “I’m a workout-aholic and when I first tried yoga, I found it to be really hard. That’s what got me hooked — I love a challenge,” she says.

Ten years later, this second-year dental student was still hooked on yoga. In addition to taking yoga classes, she teaches yoga to female and male soccer players at the high school level. In fact, Kari’s father, Barry, is the soccer coach for both schools and got her involved. “Most of the soccer players are already well-rounded athletes, and yoga offers them more flexibility. Plus it strengthens their knees, joints and feet, and helps prevent injuries,” Kari says.

It also just helps you feel better. Which is why yoga attracts people of all ages. “If anyone says they can’t get into yoga, they’ve never really tried,” says Kari. “It’s one of the few workouts that’s available to everyone. There are so many classes and so many levels — you can start at any age. Yoga is more of an individual accomplishment because you work at your own pace.”

Just look at the Brodsky family. Kari’s mother still practices yoga and her father recently started. What convinced him? “His knees. He was a high school athlete — football, baseball and basketball — he’s torn everything and is in pain every day. He swims every morning, six days a week and he’s been doing yoga for about four months now. He loves it,” she says.

According to Kari, yoga is an on-going teaching process. “You’re doing something that’s good for your body for an hour. It works muscles you normally wouldn’t work. It requires you to set time aside for breathing and controlling your breath,” she says, adding, “Whatever age, shape, size; anyone can do it.”

Let’s look at a few basic yoga poses.

DOWNWARD FACING DOG

DOWNWARD POSITION 1

To start, position yourself on all fours.

DOWNWARD POSITION 2

Curl your toes under and push back through your heels, raising your hips and straightening your legs. (Make sure your heels are pushed toward the ground.)

Hands should be shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width. Palms should be on the ground, with fingers spread apart. Let your head relax. Move your shoulder blades away from the ears toward the hips. Breathe in and out through your nose.

PLANK POSITION

PLANK POSITION 1

Start at the top of the push-up position, keeping palms flat and fingers spread. Your head is extended and your body should be straight — your neck should be in line with your spine.

SIDE PLANK POSITION 2

From plank position, shift your weight over to the side you’re turning to. Stack your feet on top of one another, or if you need more balance, put one in front of the other.

Extend one arm up and push your shoulder blades together. Push your hips toward the sky. Turn your gaze up if you’re more advanced. Or look at the ground for better balance. (Looking up forces you to use your muscles to balance.)

WARRIOR I

WARRIOR I POSITION

Step forward with one foot so that you’re in a low lunging position. Turn your rear foot so that it’s flat on the ground. Bend your front knee over the ankle, so that your thigh is parallel to the ground.

Turn your hips to face forward. Bring your arms out to the side and up, with palms touching. Relax your shoulders down your back.

WARRIOR II

WARRIOR II TO REVERSE WARRIOR POSITION

From Warrior 1, exhale while left leg and left arm are forward (or vice versa,) and your other arm is extended behind you. Your hips turn open to one side.

With leg extended, lower your rear hand toward your leg, and extend your other hand skyward. Turn your gaze up toward your extended hand. Now you are in Reverse Warrior.

TRIANGLE

TRIANGLE POSITION

Coming out of Reverse Warrior, extend forward over your hips. Lower your hand to the ground and place it on the inside of your foot. (Or if you’re more comfortable, place it on the top of your foot or your shin.)

Extend your opposite arm to the sky. Pinch your shoulder blades together to open up your chest. Take your gaze up toward your extended fingertips.

BOAT

BOAT POSITION

Begin in a seated position with your feet on the mat and a straight spine. (You can hold your knees, if you like.)

Lift your feet up and reach your arms out to the side. Lower legs should be parallel to the ground. Tighten your stomach muscles.

Straighten your legs to a 45-degree angle keeping your back straight and your abdomen tight. Straighten your legs as far as you can to make a “V” shape with your body.

NOTE: Before starting any exercise program, you should first consult with your doctor. Exercise is a physical activity that has potential physical risk. Dunham’s Sports and all their affiliates are not responsible for an injury that could occur from exercise.

-Fitness Fanatic

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Why You Need to Train Legs…

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Leg day is the easiest session to skip in the gym. Leg training is tough — no doubt about it — and it can be tempting to forget your leg workouts in favor of easier training sessions or missing the gym altogether. Many guys and girls prefer to focus on the showier muscles — arms, abs, shoulders and chest — but leg training has many benefits that go beyond aesthetics. No matter how big your upper body is, Not training your legs will stunt your potential for your overall body. Having small legs will make your physique look odd at the least, if not ridiculous too. I was called chicken legs by a man who was like a second dad to me, my Brooklyn manager Dr Julie Levine who owned R & J Health studio. Those words were rocket fuel for me, it motivated me to prove him wrong, which thank God I did. In bodybuilding contests, judges don’t look at muscle mass in one area — they look at your whole package. This includes proportion and symmetry criteria, so if your legs are lacking, you won’t get far in the bodybuilding game. Even if you’re not looking to compete, small legs don’t look good when you’re at the beach or strutting your stuff in shorts.As you get older your legs become your best friend, helping you get out of a chair or car or bath tub.
 
For sport and athletic performance, working out your legs is vital, according to a 2013 study. A bigger squat, dead lift and power clean will translate to running faster on the sports field and jumping higher on the basketball court. Even endurance athletes can benefit from stronger legs. You’ll also build strong knee, hip and ankle joints leg training, reducing your risk of injury.
 
Think you need cardio workouts to burn fat? Think again. Training your legs, particularly with multi-joint compound exercises, burns a higher number of calories than easier upper-body moves such as biceps curls or lateral raises. This leads to increased fat loss, which is also partly caused by the release of hormones you get when training legs. Your leg muscles are so large that this hormonal response can even help you build upper-body muscle mass.
 
Weight-bearing exercises and resistance training are crucial components in the prevention and management of osteoporosis and arthritis. If you’re using weight training purely to keep bones and joints healthy later in life, do front squats, stiff-legged dead lifts, calf raises, leg presses and any other challenging leg moves that take your fancy. If you’ve been diagnosed with a bone or joint condition, however, and are looking to training to manage your condition, consult with your doctor and a fully qualified trainer before starting a routine.
 
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Belly Fat Risks

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Recent news on belly fat reminds us that there are more reasons to get in shape than appearance! A new international study found that men and women with larger waists are more likely to die younger from a wide array of illnesses such as heart disease, respiratory problems, and cancer. The study was managed by a Mayo Clinic researcher and is published in the March edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
 
The researchers pooled data from 11 different studies that included more than 600,000 people from around the world. They concluded that men with waists 43 inches or greater in circumference have a 50 percent higher mortality risk than men with waists less than 35 inches, while women with waist circumferences of 37 inches or greater have an approximately 80 percent higher mortality risk than women with waist circumference2 of 27 inches or less. They also found that this risk increased 7 percent in men and about 9 percent in women for every 2 inches of greater circumference, even among people who had normal body mass index levels.
 
Men tend to have more belly fat than women from an earlier age, which may be why men have more coronary disease than women. After menopause, women’s fat settles in the belly and increases the risk of death from heart disease and breast, uterine, cervical, colon and kidney cancers!
 
Why does belly fat have such a great impact on your health? The fat you see on your stomach indicates the development of deep visceral belly fat — the fat that grows close to organs such as your kidneys and liver. This is why when you develop belly fat, you want to concentrate on full-body weight loss and include exercises that tone and tighten your abs.
 
Here are three pointers that will slim down that waist and help get rid of the that dangerous visceral fat.
 
• Maintain a healthy, balanced nutrition regimen. Drop the processed food, refined baked goods and sweets and focus on fruit, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, fish, whole grains and beans. Remember, healthy fats not only lower cholesterol and prevent food cravings, they also increase fat burning. Olive oil, flaxseed oil and avocados help prevent insulin spikes. Sesame, sunflower and safflower oil are thought to have significant fat-burning qualities.
 
• Good nutrition is a vital part of getting rid of that belly fat… as is physical activity, which leads to an even greater percentage of loss of the visceral, intra-abdominal fat. Cardiovascular workouts will help burn the fat. Start with 20 to 30 minutes three days a week on nonconsecutive days, then work towards longer and higher intensity workouts.
 
• Weight training helps build active muscle mass. Like cardio training, start with 20 to 30 minute workouts three days a week and and aim towards higher intensity and longer workouts. Do your weight training on the days you’re NOT doing your cardio workouts.
 
You’ll look better and live longer!
 
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Understanding the Core

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Many of us embark on new exercise programs in the spring. We embrace fitness programs with specific goals in mind, from overall health, strength training, leaner, shaped abdominals, or a slimmer silhouette. An important thing to remember is that whatever your focus in training, core exercises that strengthen the torso and abdomen are a vital complement to your strength or aerobic regimen.
 
Core exercises offer what is called ‘static and dynamic stability.’ Static stability refers to posture and balance,while dynamic stability refers to flexibility, strength, endurance and cardio-vascular. So what are the benefits of including the core in your workouts?
 
Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony, leading to better balance and stability on the playing field and in common daily activities.
 
• If you’re looking for more defined abdominal muscles, core exercises are important. Aerobic activity burns abdominal fat, core exercises strengthen and tone the underlying muscles.
 
• Strong core muscles make it easier to do everything from swinging a baseball bat, to dusting the shelves or climbing stairs. They strengthen you against poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.
 
• Aerobic exercise and muscular fitness are the primary elements of most fitness programs. Including core exercises completes a well-rounded fitness program that will help you reach your fitness goals.
 
• You don’t have to go to the gym to do core exercises. Do them on the floor at home while you’re watching your favorite show, or pull out the balance discs anywhere in the home!
 
Some tips to keep in mind:
 
• Choose exercises that work all of your core muscles simultaneously.
• Concentrate on the quality of the movement, form and technique over quantity.
• Be mindful of your breathing.
• When you need a break, take one!
• Remember, always talk to a medical expert before starting a new exercise regimen.
 
Core exercises: strength from the center!
 
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A Season For Renewal

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Winter may try to hold on, but spring has finally arrived! We can put away our heavy winter clothes and embrace the lush, green growth of trees and gardens , and the warming air that greets us each morning. Neighbors we haven’t seen all winter will be out working in their yards, walking or jogging, and soon fresh spring produce will arrive at the grocer’s. It’s a great time of year to renew your health resolutions or make a new commitment to a healthy life!
 
After long months spent indoors, it can be a big challenge to adopt a major fitness program, especially if you have a busy schedule. Ease into it!
 
• Choose an activity you will enjoy!
 
• If your schedule makes it difficult to set aside a 30 minute block of time, try three 10-minute workouts or walks.
 
• Walk or bike to work or to the local store.
 
• Wear a pedometer to keep track of the number of steps you take and and set a goal to increase the amount you walk. A Harvard study found that taking six thousand steps a day is correlated with a lower death rate in men.
 
• Park your car a distance from your destination and walk.
 
• Use stairs instead of the elevator.
 
• Take a walk at lunch with coworkers.
 
• Join an office or community sports league.
 
If you’re hungry when you get home from your fitness outing, try a handful of nuts! A study from Loma Linda University found that participants eating a diet that has majority of fat coming from almonds resulted in significantly higher loss of body and abdominal fat in 24 weeks than participants who ate the same amount of calories with more carbs and less fat. Other nuts to add to your diet include Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts.
 
You’ll probably be thirsty too! Drink plenty of water; researchers in Germany found that drinking two cups of cold water can boost metabolic rate by 30 percent! If you have a taste for something different try green tea, its primary ingredient – epigallocatechin gallate – reduces the effect of the enzyme that normally breaks down norepinephrine. That keeps the metabolic rate up, and you burn more calories throughout the day. Black tea also aids fat loss. A study conducted by University College in London found that drinking black tea regularly can reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that encourages fat storage around the midsection.
 
Make physical activity a regular part of your day and you’ll begin to notice some positive changes, whether it’s weight loss, a smaller waist or a new, fuller sense of well-being.
 
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Expand Your Fitness Regimen

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Expanding the variety while focusing on the quality of your fitness regimen is more important than adding on extra hours in the gym according to new research recently published in the The Journal of Applied Physiology. The study was authored by Paul J. Arciero DPE, the director of the Human Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratory at Skidmore College.
 
The sixteen-week study included fifty-seven participants, 36 women and 21 men, between the ages of 35 and 57 years old. The participants were obese or overweight and exercised less than 60 minutes each week. Participants were then randomly separated into three groups. One group was sedentary throughout the study, one group did intense resistance training four times per week, while the third group’s training sessions included resistance, interval sprints, stretching, and endurance exercises. All included the same amount of whey protein in their nutrition regimens.
 
At the end of the study all participants demonstrated a decrease in body fat, which is attributed to the addition of the whey protein to their diets. However, the group that followed the varied, multidimensional regimen had significantly more health improvements than the other two groups — the largest reduction in body weight, total fat and abdominal fat mass, smaller waist circumference, healthier blood glucose levels, and the largest increase in lean body mass.
 
This study indicates why you round out your fitness routine with:
 
• Resistance exercise or strength training to increase the strength and mass of muscles, bone strength and metabolism.
 
• Sprint interval workouts to help build endurance, increase your anaerobic threshold and burn more calories and fat both during and after your workout.
 
• Stretching exercises increase flexibility and improve the range of motion of joints.
 
• Endurance (aerobic) exercise to increase your breathing and heart rate and keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy while improving overall fitness.
 
A well-rounded exercise regimen can help you maintain interest in your fitness program while preventing injuries that can occur from overuse of the same muscles. Combine the four basic types of exercise in your fitness regimen; you’ll notice the difference … and feel it!
 
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Winter Workout Checklist

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

Cold temperatures and heavy snow can raise the challenge of your outdoor fitness routines, but the payoff is worth it! New research shows how important that exercise is … especially in the winter. Increasing your exposure to sunlight helps reduce seasonal affective disorder, the depression linked to the change in seasons that commonly occurs in the last two months of winter. Notably, a recent study from the University of Tampere in Finland found that working out in nature leads to greater emotional well-being and better sleep than exercising indoors.

Additionally, when you’re cold, your body has to work harder to keep your core temperature up and when you shiver, you burn five times the number of calories compare to when you are at rest. Cold also activates the brown fat which burns energy, rather than stores it.

Winter workouts carry their own dangers, here are a few tips to protect you on the coldest days.

• Wear layers. Insulate yourself against the wind and cold with a layered clothing instead of a single, bulky garment. The first layer that’s directly touching your skin should be a lightweight synthetic or polyester material. It will dry quickly and wick away moisture. The second layer should be wool or polyester fleece. The outermost layer — worn in the rain, snow, or wind — should be lighter weight and water-repellent to help you stay dry.

• Keep your head covered. Between 50 and 70 percent of body heat may be lost when your head is unprotected in cold weather. Wearing a hat helps your whole body retain heat.

• Protect your feet and hands. Keeping hands and feet warm is vital. Your body concentrates on keeping your internal organs warm in cold weather. Gloves also help prevent skin damage and frostbite. Keep your feet warm by being sure your torso is properly insulated and your feet dry. Wear winter athletic socks with an inner layer that moves moisture away from the skin to an outer absorbent layer. If you run or engage in ice or snow-related activities, select an athletic shoe with a thick tread on the bottom or footwear designed specifically for icy conditions. Thick socks, or multiple layers of socks, can add a to your winter workout shoes, be sure you’re comfortable!

• Wear a face mask or scarf in frigid temperatures. A loose layer over your nose and mouth can warm cold air before you inhale and protect your lungs.

• Drink Water. You don’t feel as sweaty as you do in the summer, but water is just as important in winter months. It even keeps you warm by helping the body retain heat!

In extreme cold move your workout indoors to the gym or develop a workout regimen you can do at home, take the stairs at work or speed walk through the mall! Try adding fresh ginger, garlic and cayenne to your food as a way to boost the immune system! Eucalyptus and juniper also stimulate the circulation and help protect the immune system.

Winter workouts have a different set of challenges than summer exercise, but but they offer some special benefits too!

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