Improve Athletic Performance

It’s easy to hit a plateau performing the same activities each time you hit the gym. Vary your workout program if you are experiencing boredom, a lack of results or decreased motivation.


Try alternating among the various equipment and machines, time, weight, level and intensity. Mix in activities that require your body to move in ways it may not be used to, such as experimenting with yoga, swimming laps in different strokes, outdoor recreational sports — anything you don’t normally do. Your body will never know what to expect next.


Tips for keeping the weight off at Christmas

Christmas is renowned for its huge quantities of food. At this time of year people tuck into their sweet, fatty, sugary snacks like there’s no tomorrow- unfortunately there is – January. When the new year comes personal trainers see a significant increase in the numbers of people wanting to lose weight. However, with a little bit of knowledge and some self control, the damage of Christmas may not affect you.


Fill Up at Breakfast


Moderation is key and many people go into Christmas meals on empty stomachs. This leads to bingeing and near crying to personal trainers when the new year comes. Make sure you eat a healthy, high fiber breakfast with sources of lean protein, such as eggs. Eating a hearty breakfast prevents people from suffering food cravings before dinner. This is extremely dangerous with all the treats on offer over the holidays.




Water is of major importance during the holiday season and aids weight loss and also general health. Water prevents you from feeling hungry and is also necessary during such times of alcohol usage. Choosing water over alcohol is great for avoiding hangovers obviously, but at 7 calories a gram, alcohol is also a fat inducer. It promotes fat around organs and the stomach area in particular, something home fitness trainers have to help contend with after the Christmas period.


Eat Slowly


If you cram all your food in at once, you end up eating more calories as you body doesn’t have time to digest your dinner. Eat slowly and allow your stomach time to digest. This will mean you get full and have eaten less calories. This will mean you take less food on board and won’t put as much weight on over Christmas and won’t have vigorous effort to shift weight with your home personal trainer in the coming months.




Finding a friend, or relation who wishes to keep the weight off at Christmas and who will be attending many of your family get together is ideal. It allows you the chance to have an eating buddy and lowers the incidence of you putting on weight as you have the motivation not to.


By following these procedures you should have no problem keeping the weight off and so wont feel guilty when you return to your personal trainer in January. Have a good Christmas!

Cholesterol-conscious Exercise

If you want to lower your blood cholesterol levels, eating a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet is an important step. But to get even better results, you should throw some exercise into the mix.

Studies show that people who exercise regularly in addition to eating healthfully fare better than those who focus solely on diet. Exercisers have higher levels of the “good” cholesterol (HDL, or high-density lipoproteins) and lower levels of the “bad” cholesterol (LDL, or low-density lipoproteins).

Active Folks Have Fewer Colds

A recent study suggests that staying physically active may reduce the number of colds you get. The study participants who were most active had 25 percent fewer colds than those who were least active.

Experts offer this caveat, however: More is not necessarily better. Exercising too much can actually weaken the immune system and compromise its illness-fighting power.

Source: BallyTotalFitness

Fat Releasing Habits to Help You Slim Down

Weight loss is no longer just about eating less or exercising more: Follow these easy habits to help get slim for good.

Fidget It Off

Mayo Clinic research reveals that people who are naturally lean (you know: eating whatever they want, and never gaining a pound or inch) will automatically, and even subconsciously, find ways to fidget and move to make up for extra calories they may be ingesting.

If you’re not one of these natural-born movers, consciously make choices that boost your burn without needing to break a sweat: Stand and pace when you’re on the phone. Wash dishes by hand. Conduct walking meetings with colleagues instead of huddling around a conference room.

Snack Smartly

One of the fastest ways to derail your weight loss efforts is to be unprepared when hunger strikes. Snacking is one of the first areas where people frequently get off track. The key is to surround yourself with nutrient-dense and low-calorie snacks, even when you’re traveling or working.

The best snacks, like those recommended on the Digest Diet, incorporate at least three satiety-inducing fat releasing nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, and dairy or calcium.

Sleep Weight Off

Whether you snooze too much or too little, it’s not good for your health or your waistline. Sleep deprivation interferes with the hormones leptin and ghrelin that regulate appetite, meaning you’ll feel hungrier and are more likely to indulge in poorer eating behaviors. Also, you may look for more “energy” in the form of unhealthy snacks!

Dieters who got 8 1/2 hours of sleep nightly lost 56 percent more body fat than they did when eating the same diet, but only getting 5 1/2 hours of sleep a night. Try to sleep seven to eight hours a night yourself—you’ll have more energy and reduce cravings. To get a better night’s rest, hit the hay earlier. Experiment with what works best for you by ending your day 15 minutes to a half hour sooner, until you get to your ideal bedtime.

Rethink Your Workout Routine

Nod your head if you do the same workout over and over. Routine cardio regimens like the treadmill, elliptical, or jogging path may contribute to weight gain, because they demand you increase your energy output. Since your body is always trying to stay in balance, this type of movement may actually act as a biological cue to make you eat more. Researchers also believe that cardio exercise may trigger additional eating, because it depletes glycogen stores in the liver and muscle in order to make glucose available for fuel.

Continuous aerobic exercise isn’t nearly as effective a weight-control strategy as surprising your body with aerobic interval training (short bursts of high-intensity, heart-pounding work) or strength training (push-ups, squats, anything that builds muscle and power).

Also, you don’t need to log an hour at the gym every day either to get maximum benefits. Research from the Department of Kinesiology at Southern Illinois University showed that as little as three 11-minute intense strength-training sessions a week resulted in an increase in fat burn at rest, and a chronic increase in energy expenditure throughout the day.

Detox Your Life

The toxins, chemicals, and compounds riddling our food supply and self-care products are contributing to the nation’s collective fat creep. Study after study shows that organochlorine compounds, specifically, adversely affect the body’s ability to oxidize fat—they resist being metabolized and are readily stored in fatty tissue. These compounds have been found in plastics, herbicides, and pesticides, as well as chlorine-based household products.

Go organic and avoid toxins wherever you can, whenever you can. If that means you buy organic versions of your five favorite fruits and veggies—or you fill your entire cart with them—that’s great. If it can mean buying a HEPA-grade medical air filter for your home, it’s also good. Any choice you make that eliminates toxic chemicals in your life is health-affirming. Plus, nontoxic can be cheaper sometimes, particularly when it comes to household cleaning products. Baking soda, lemon, olive oil, vinegar are all effective nontoxic cleaners—and you can cook with them, too!

Don’t Rely on Exercise Alone

Thinking you can eat whatever you want as long as you work it off later is actually a pretty dangerous mind-set, particularly if you look at the current research. Exercise alone leads to a very modest decrease in total body weight: less than 3 percent! (Scarf down a pint of ice cream and you’ll be running a long time to work off the fat and calories. . . . Marathon, anyone?)

The good news here is that exercise reduces dangerously unhealthy visceral fat, independent of whether you lose weight. For exercise to be effective as a weight-loss agent, pair it with the right diet and eating plan.

Laugh Every Day

Stress takes an enormous toll on your health, waist, and immunity. And, as Reader’s Digest has said for nearly a century: Laughter is the best medicine. But did you know that laughter actually burns calories?

One novel study was commissioned by the comedy channel GO LD (Go On Laugh Daily) in Great Britain. Researchers, led by Helen Pilcher, PhD, formerly of London’s Institute of Psychiatry, looked into the number of calories burned by intense laughing and compared it to the calorie burn of other daily activities (strength training, running, even vacuuming). They found that intense laughter by itself can give you a bite-size cardio workout: An hour of it can benefit you as much as a half hour of hitting it hard at the gym! Laughing burns calories, but it can also boost total energy expenditure by up to 20 percent. To put that into perspective: One hour of laughter burns up to 120 calories, about the same as 18 to 27 minutes of weight training, 15 to 20 minutes of walking, or 40 minutes’ vacuuming.

Find a Workout You Love

Many people don’t like to exercise. But when Swedish researchers looked into the attitudes, strategies, and behaviors important to weight maintenance, they found that one habit common to successful maintainers was that they all found the joy in working out.

According to Barbara L. Fredrickson, PhD, director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology (PEP) Lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “our research shows that if a new wellness behavior evokes positive emotions, people are 4.5 times more likely to be continuing with that new behavior 15 months down the road, enjoying all of its healthy benefits. Enjoyment motivates sustained change by creating nonconscious desires that are far stronger than conscious willpower. It’s best to select ways of eating and being physically active that you truly enjoy. Those are the only lifestyle changes you stand a chance of getting ‘hooked’ on, and that’s what’s needed for long-term weight-loss success.”


YOGA The 10 Best Poses For Men

Try these poses from Baron Baptiste, yoga pro and former assistant coach for the Philadelphia Eagles


We know you love yoga—for your girlfriend. Her weekly practice makes her bendy in bed, more chill overall and therefore more sexy even when she’s lounging around. Well, we’ve got news for you. Yoga isn’t a ladies-only thing like going to the bathroom in packs or opening store credit cards only to get 5 percent off the purchase. In fact, taking one yoga class per week or doing a couple of pre-workout poses can increase endurance, build strength, prevent injuries, and may even stave off heart disease.


How? “Men often suffer from tightness particularly in the hips, hamstrings, and shoulders that can lead to injury or weakness,” says Baron Baptiste, creator of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga and former assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles. “Over-training in any one sport can cause repetitive stress and other more serious injuries. Yoga is a full-body workout that creates both strength and flexibility. You need to have both. One without the other is a recipe for disaster.” Not sure where to start? Practice these 10 poses in this order, which Baptiste says benefit men because they stretch out guys’ tightest spots (like the shoulders, hips, and groin) and strengthen muscles that get no love during workouts (like the low back and knees).


Forward Fold

Stretches hamstrings, calves, and hips; strengthens legs and knees

Stand with feet hip-width apart, gently hinge forward at the hips and lower the torso toward the floor. Bend your knees generously to take any pressure out of the low back and hamstrings. Grasp opposite elbows with opposite hands. Breathe deeply and let gravity take the body toward the earth. Relax your head, neck, shoulders and torso. Slowly sway your torso or gently shake your head. Hold for one minute and roll back up to standing.


Why it’s good for you: This is a great move to use as part of a warm-up for any workout.


We often have a hard time knowing when we are holding excess tension in our head, neck and shoulders, and that buildup of tension can create headaches, insomnia, poor circulation and decreased lung capacity. If you practice slow, steady breathing along with this pose, it can lower your blood pressure over time.


Downward-Facing Dog

Stretches feet, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves; strengthens arms, legs, and core

Start on your hands and knees with your feet and knees hip-width apart. Position your hands about shoulder-width apart, and spread your fingers wide. Pressing firmly through your hands, lift your knees off the floor and straighten your legs. (If you have tight hamstrings, a gentle bend in the knees is fine). Walk your hands forward a few inches, and walk your feet back a few inches to lengthen the pose. Squeeze your thighs as you press them toward the back wall. Press your heels back and down toward the floor (though they might not reach the floor). Relax your head and neck and let your shoulder blades slide down your back toward your feet. Set your gaze between your feet. Suck your stomach in and engage your core muscles. Breathe deeply. Hold for three minutes, rest, and repeat one more time.


Why it’s good for you: We often experience back pain due to chronic tightness in the hamstrings and hips. It’s also common for us to have very tight shoulders. Down Dog releases those areas, while building upper body strength. If you can do only one pose a day, start with Downward Dog.



Stretches shoulders and chest; strengthens thighs, calves, spine, and ankles

Stand up tall with your big toes touching. Inhale and raise your arms straight up to the ceiling alongside your head and neck with palms facing each other. Drop your shoulders down your back as you lengthen up through the neck. As you exhale, bend your knees, sit down and back as if you were sitting in a chair (like doing a squat with your feet together). Do not let your knees extend past your toes. With each inhale lengthen the spine. With each exhale sit a little deeper in the chair. Eventually your thighs will be parallel to the floor. Drop your tailbone down toward the floor to take any stress out of your lower back. Keep your core muscles engaged and keep your knees and thighs pressed tightly together. Hold for 30 seconds.


Why it’s good for you: No gym necessary! Chair pose torches abdominal fat while strengthening the thighs and legs.


Crescent Lunge

Loosens tight hips by stretching the groin; strengthens arms and legs

Start on your hands and knees. Step your right foot between your hands into a lunge, keeping your right knee directly above your heel. Inhale and slowly lift your back knee off the floor. Press your back heel toward the wall behind you as you begin to straighten the back leg. Keep your spine long as you hold and breathe. Let your hips fall forward as you continue to press the back heel behind you. Hold for one minute and then repeat on the second side. Do each side twice.


Why it’s good for you: Tight hips can cause lower back pain, knee strain, and injury, which can keep you out of the game, out of the gym, and in pain at your desk. Add Crescent Lunge to your pre-workout routine to open the hips.


Warrior I

Stretches shoulders and hips; strengthens upper and lower body

Come into Crescent Lunge with your right foot forward in the lunge. Spin your left toes to face the left side of the room and press your heel down. Your back foot should be parallel with the front of the room. Inhale and reach your arms up alongside your head with your palms facing each other. Drop your shoulders down your back. Bring your torso up and off the front thigh. Don’t let your front knee extend past the toes. Both hips should face forward. Hold for one minute. Repeat on the opposite side.


Why it’s good for you: Warrior increases space and mobility in areas where men need it most—shoulders, hips, and knees. It’s another pose that generates great stability in and around the knee, so increases stability for high-impact workouts.



Stretches chest, neck, spine, and hips

Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. You should be able to tickle the backs of your heels with your hands. Place your arms on the floor alongside your body, palms down, and as you inhale, lift your hips off the floor and press them to the ceiling. Keep your knees directly over your heels. For an added shoulder stretch slide your arms under your body, interlace your fingers, and press the backs of your arms into the floor as you continue to lift your hips. Hold for 45 seconds and with each breath, let your hips float a little higher. Exhale when you lower your hips. Repeat 3 times.


Why it’s good for you: Many men are tight in the intercostal muscles and connective tissue surrounding the rib cage, which can limit lung capacity. Bridge pose opens the chest and releases those tight muscles, allowing for fuller, easier breaths. Over time, practicing this pose can improve performance in all physical activities and is helpful for relieving upper respiratory issues.


Bow Pose

Stretches hips, shoulders, and thighs; strengthens back

Lie on your stomach and reach your arms back toward your feet with the palms facing up. Bend your knees so that your heels come in toward your buttocks. Inhale and grab the outside of your ankles (right ankle in right hand, left ankle in left hand). Press your ankles into your hands and your hands into your ankles as you lift your thighs off the floor. Breathe deeply and fully as you continue pressing your legs up and back. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat two or three times. If you are very tight in the hips or quadriceps, you may want to try one leg at a time.


Why it’s good for you: One of the best stress-busting poses, Bow opens the chest to allow you to take in more oxygen. Strong abs are great, but can lead to injury if you don’t strengthen the back, too. Bow pose takes care of this, reducing your risk of injury due to muscular imbalance.


Boat Pose

Strengthens abs, spine, arms and hip flexors

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor in front of you. Place your hands behind your glutes and lean into the arms for support. Engage your core muscles and keep a perfectly straight spine as you lift your right leg and then the left, bringing them to a 45-degree angle with the floor. Bring your legs together and imagine squeezing a book between your thighs to keep them active. Lift through the sternum and slowly straighten your legs while keeping your torso straight (if it starts to collapse, keep a slight bend in the knees). Press through the balls of the feet and spread your toes wide. Reach your arms toward the front of the room, on either side of your legs, keeping them in line with your shoulders, palms facing down. Hold for 30 seconds, working up to a minute or longer.


Why it’s good for you: In addition to strengthening the core and back muscles, Boat promotes healthy thyroid and prostate gland function.


Hero Pose

Stretches knees, ankles and thighs

Begin in a kneeling position with knees touching. Bring your heels out alongside your buttocks, keeping your shins and ankles pressing down into the floor. If you can, sit your buttocks on the floor between your legs. If this is uncomfortable, place a phone book or block beneath you to lessen the tension in the knees and ankles. You will feel a strong stretching sensation, but you should not feel pain. This is a progressive pose and your body will adapt to it over time. Hold for one minute and keep your breath slow and deep. Rest, and repeat a second time.


Why it’s good for you: Hero pose stabilizes and strengthens the vulnerable knee joints while lubricating the connective tissues in and around the knee with blood, oxygen, and fluid, making it an essential pose for runners.


Reclining Big Toe

Stretches hips, thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves; strengthens the knees

Lie on your back and extend your left leg toward the ceiling at a 90-degree angle with your right leg extended along the floor. Flex both feet. Bend your left knee and bring the knee in toward your chest using your hands. Hug it tightly against your body to relax your hip. Next, loop a strap around your left foot and slowly straighten the left leg back to 90 degrees. Press your right thigh firmly down against the floor. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat twice on each side.

Why it’s good for you: This pose stimulates the prostate gland and improves digestion. Runners may find it useful for relieving sciatica caused by a tight piriformis.

Finish in Corpse Pose, lying flat on your back with your arms alongside your body. Close your eyes and breathe naturally. Stay here for at least two to three minutes and allow every muscle to melt into the floor beneath you.

Source: MensHealth

A Little Dehydration Has a Big Impact

If you want to perform at your best in sport or exercise, you’ve got to keep your body adequately hydrated throughout your activity. Sweating away even just 1 percent of your body weight (a pound and a half for a 150-pound person) can place added stress on your cardiovascular system. Losing 2-3 percent of your weight can impair your physical performance. Dehydration can also affect your mental sharpness and hand-eye coordination putting you at a disadvantage on the court, playing field or other competitive arena. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following guidelines for keeping the body hydrated:

BEFORE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Drink at least 16 ounces of fluid about two hours beforehand.

DURING ACTIVITY: Drink 5 to 10 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes.

AFTER ACTIVITY: Drink 16 ounces for each pound of body weight lost during activity.

Source: BallyTotalFitness

Visualization and Your Workout

Visualization can be a helpful tool in preparing for a sports outing, athletic competition or other physical challenge. Some sports psychologists, however, suggest that visualization should be used with discretion — and in relation to our skills, fitness level and experience.

For example, if you’re a novice golfer, picturing the perfect swing may only lead to frustration if you don’t yet fully understand the mechanics of a good swing. Likewise, imagining a killer tennis serve can’t compensate for a lack of proper strength and flexibility training.

Visualizations can help most when your expectations are in line with your skills set. If you’re not sure how to set your expectations and goals, you might want to consider consulting a sports pro or personal trainer.

Source: BallyTotalFitness

Easy Ways to Get Fit in Your Neighborhood

Find better fitness, and lower blood sugar, right outside your door!

You don’t have to climb Mount Everest to get fit; you can do it right in your own neighborhood. Recent research shows that getting 30 minutes a day of any type of moderate physical activity can be as powerful as the best diabetes medications available. Exercise boosts not only your energy and your mood, but also your cells’ sensitivity to insulin, which allows your cells to soak up more glucose and lowers blood sugar levels. Get moving with these simple strategies.


1. Walk Fido every day. Dog owners walk more than people without dogs. Not surprisingly, they also tend to be healthier, with less body fat, according to a new study from the University of California, San Diego. But not every pooch “parent” takes advantage of these exercise opportunities. And those who don’t walk their four-legged friends don’t get the health perks. If you don’t own a dog, offer to take the neighbor’s dog for a walk, or join your neighbor in his or her daily jaunt.


2. Volunteer at a local animal shelter to walk a pooch several times a week. Most shelters will let you participate with a little bit of training. Have a favorite breed? You can find rescue centers for labs, retrievers, even Schnoodles (Schnauzer/poodle mixes) by asking at your local humane society, animal shelter, or veterinary hospital. You can also try searching online by typing in the name of the breed, “rescue center,” and your town.


3. Sweep and weed your sidewalk once a week. Making a habit of keeping a tidy path in front of your house will make it more inviting to others, give you a chance to say hello to your fellow citizens while you’re weeding — and burn off 100 calories in just 20 minutes of vigorous work.


4. Stroll to your neighborhood mailbox. Instead of leaving outgoing mail in your home mailbox, walk your bill, magazine subscription, or birthday card to the government mailbox a few blocks away, or even to the post office if it’s within a mile or so from your home. Not only will you benefit from the blood-sugar-stabilizing activity, your check will be safer than it would be sitting in front of your house.


5. Return misdelivered mail to its rightful home on foot. It happens to everyone: You get a letter that should have gone to the house one or two blocks over. Instead of marking it “wrong address” and clipping it to your mailbox, look at the post as an opportunity to get a few minutes of activity, some fresh air, and a chance to meet a neighbor. 6. Take your newspaper on a daily walk. When you step outside for your morning paper, take the opportunity to go around your block one time. The fresh morning air will help wake you up — sans caffeine — and you’ll start your day off right with a few extra steps. You’ll knock off five minutes of exercise from your 30-minutes-a-day goal before you even sit down to have breakfast.


7. Take advantage of your sidewalk. It’s there, it’s free, and all you need is a good pair of walking shoes to use it. Begin gradually, with a 15- to 20-minute walk. Start strolling slowly for about three to five minutes, then pick up your pace for 10 minutes and cool down for another three to five minutes. Each week, add two to three minutes to the faster portion of your walk. Within a few weeks, you’ll be up to walking briskly for 30 minutes most days a week.


8. Try out a pair of walking poles. You’ll burn far more calories on your neighborhood walks with these poles, which you use like a cross-country skier. Called fitness trekking or Nordic walking, walking with these poles can boost your calorie burn 20 to 50 percent over regular strolling because the poles recruit the muscles in your upper body. Poles can also be helpful if you need a little extra stability or want to take some impact off of your legs. Follow the instructions that come with the poles. You might also be able to find a lesson through your local health club, community center, or YMCA. You can order poles and get instructional tips at or


9. Say your ABCs out loud. When you’re out walking for exercise, your pace shouldn’t be so tough that you’re gasping for air, or so easy that you can babble nonstop to your exercise buddy without breaking a sweat. If you’re by yourself, recite the alphabet. If it’s no problem, pick up your pace. If you start huffing by the letter F, slow down.


10. Rate your exercise intensity. Another good rule of thumb: On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being running as fast as you can, and 1 being sitting on the couch, you want to aim for about a 6 or 7. At that intensity, you should be breathing harder than normal but still able to carry on a simple conversation.


11. Clip on a pedometer in the morning. The little gadget will keep track of how many steps you take that day — and subtly encourage you to take even more. Try to take 500 additional steps each week, aiming -­ ultimately for as many as 10,000 steps a day. In case you’re curious, 1,000 steps equal one-half mile.


12. Keep a step log. It takes approximately six months for a new behavior to become habit. To help you lock in your walking habit, write down your steps after you take off your pedometer every night. Recording your progress helps you stay focused.


13. Crummy weather? Take a mall walk. Check your mall to see if they offer a mall-walking program or early morning hours for walkers. If it doesn’t, you can still get there first thing in the morning — hours before the teens get out of bed — do a few laps, and then treat yourself to a skim milk latte. Invite a friend along, and agree to do one quick lap for some harder exercise, and then one moderate lap for a little bit of window shopping — then repeat, one fast lap/one relaxed, on the upper level.


14. Promote your own mall-walking program. If your mall doesn’t have a walking program, consider talking to the mall management. Some malls don’t want to be responsible for possible injuries, and if this is the case, suggest that the staff develop a consent form that walkers must sign before joining the program. If you have friends, neighbors, and coworkers who want to mall walk, ask them to call the public relations department of the mall to express their interest. You may even want to volunteer your time to get the program under way.


15. Formalize your new walking club. Arrange to convene at a local coffee shop following your first or second walk. Hand out name tags and have a sign-in sheet for everyone to list their names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses so you can contact them about future walks. Next discuss how often you’ll walk, when and where to meet, what to do in case of bad weather, the speed of the walk, and the distance you’ll cover. If you have a large group, consider breaking into smaller groups based on fitness level, availability, or other factors.


16. Look for ways to motivate the group. You might choose a name for your walking crew, order shirts, have a monthly potluck (healthy of course), enter a walking event with a cause, or set goals to increase the length of your walks or your walking pace. Share the responsibility by asking each member to lead some of the walks and have them plan the route.


17. Use your car to clock errands you could do on foot. Put a sticky note on your dashboard that says “Clock a route” to remind you to check the mileage on all the places you typically go in a day. Is the library a mile away? How about the ATM? Many people don’t realize how many errands could be done on foot with a little planning, says Mark Fenton, world-renowned environmental walking coach.


18. Grab binoculars and go bird watching. You can pick up a beginning birding book at a local bookstore. Look for one that includes birds in your region. It’s a great way to enjoy nature and connect with wildlife right in your own community. Observing the beauty of birds and discussing them with friends, neighbors, or your children can be a fun and stimulating experience. Interacting with nature tends to slow the heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and help people relax.


19. Put a “Could I walk or ride my bike?” sticky note on your front door. Having a prompt (like the famous string around the finger) in plain view will cue you to ask yourself if you really need to hop in your car to take the books back to the library, pick up a prescription, or visit a friend. Post a second note on your dash that says “Could I walk halfway?” so you’ll be encouraged to park a few blocks from whatever errand you’re running.


20. Go on a village scavenger hunt. Whether you have kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews, this activity never fails: Jot a list that includes items such as five red cars, three houses with yellow daisies, two cats, four stop signs, and so on. After you’ve compiled several “treasures” for the kids to find, head out around the neighborhood until you’ve found all the items on the list. You can make several lists and have friendly competitions. The first one to complete the list wins.


21. Make after-dinner walks a regular habit. Instead of collapsing in front of the TiVo, create a tradition of post-meal strolls with a partner. If you have young kids, you can play games to keep the little ones entertained. Remember the Alphabet Game during long family car trips? You can play it while walking. Look for signs, bumper stickers, and personalized license plates on cars, and watch for words that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Once you’ve found one letter, move on to the next.


22. Make a list of five active things you can do in your community. Hang the list on your fridge, and when you’re out of ideas for an active weekend activity, look to your list. For example, you could bike to a local park for a picnic, hoof it to the library, or plan to meet friends at a halfway location to which you can both walk.


23. Have a monthly trash patrol day. Grab a shopping bag and head out around your block for 20 minutes. Rope in a few neighbors to join you. Every time you have to bend to pick up an article, turn the move into a squat: Extend your buttocks behind you and pretend you’re about to sit in an invisible chair until your upper legs are almost parallel to the ground. You’ll build leg muscles and sculpt your rear view. Building muscle helps the body become more insulin sensitive, and it boosts your metabolism.


24. Lace up walking shoes for active living every day. You may think that any old shoe is fine, but footwear designed for walking will encourage you to move more and will decrease your risk of injury. A good shoe should be flexible in the ball of the foot, but not in the arch. (A shoe that bends in the arch can put strain on tendons in the feet.) The heel should be cushioned (because that’s where your foot strikes) and also rounded to encourage an easy and speedy heel-toe motion. It’s best to visit a local, independently owned running store. Whether you have low or high arches, the salespeople in a competent technical fitness store will watch you walk barefoot and help you choose the features you need.


25. Burn calories at the little ones’ soccer games. Instead of taking your folding chair and a crossword puzzle, wear comfortable shoes and take a jaunt around the field during soccer or baseball games when your child isn’t playing. You can still cheer while in motion. Or take your walk before the game starts, when the kids are warming up. Remember, physical activity enhances the action of insulin (the hormone that lowers your blood sugar), which often results in better blood sugar control.



How to Build or Improve Endurance

First, endurance exercises are any activity (walking, jogging, swimming, ect.) that increases your heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time.


How and Where to Start


-Build up your endurance gradually, even if just starting out with as little as 5 minutes of endurance activities at a time, depending on the person.

-Starting out at a lower level of effort and working your way up gradually is especially important if you have been inactive for a long time. It may take months to go from a sedentary lifestyle to doing some of the activities suggested.

-If your goal is to work your way up, eventually, to a moderate-to-extensive level that increases your breathing and heart rate. It should feel somewhat hard to you at first.

-Once you reach your goal, you can divide your exercise into sessions of no less than 10 minutes at a time, as long as they add up to a total of a minimum of 30 minutes at the end of the day (doing less than 10 minutes at a time won’t give you the desired cardiovascular and respiratory system benefits). The exception to this guideline is when you are just beginning to do endurance activities or have certain health situations.

-Try to build up to a minimum of 30 minutes of endurance exercise a day for 3-5 days of the week. More often is better depending on what your looking to get out of it.

Exercise Safely


Endurance activities should not make you breathe so hard that you can’t talk. You shouldn’t feel dizziness or cause chest pain.


-Do a little light activity before and after each endurance exercise session, to warm up and cool down (example: easy walking and calm breathing).

-Stretch after your endurance activities, when your muscles are warm to prevent from cramping.

-As you get older, your body may become less likely to trigger the urge to drink when you need water. In other words, you may need water, but you won’t feel thirsty. Be sure to drink liquids when you are doing any activity that makes you lose fluid through sweat. The rule of thumb is that, by the time you notice you are thirsty, you are already somewhat dehydrated (low on fluid). This guideline is important year-round, but is especially important in hot weather, when dehydration is more likely. If your doctor has asked you to limit your fluids, be sure to check with him or her before increasing the amount of fluid you drink while exercising. Congestive heart failure and kidney disease are examples of chronic diseases that often require fluid restriction.

-Older adults can be affected by heat and cold more than other adults. In extreme cases, exposure to too much heat can cause heat stroke, and exposure to very cold temperatures can lead to hypothermia (a dangerous drop in body temperature). If you are exercising outdoors, dress in layers so you can add or remove clothes as needed.

-Use safety equipment to prevent injuries. For example, wear a helmet for bicycling, and wear protective equipment for activities like skiing and skating. If you walk or jog, wear stable shoes made for that purpose.

Picking Up the Pace


-When you are ready to progress to a higher level, build up the amount of time you spend doing endurance activities first; then build up the difficulty of your activities later.



-Example: First, gradually increase your time to 30 minutes over several days to weeks (or even months, depending on your condition) by walking longer distances. Then start walking up steeper hills or walking more briskly. This should greatly enhance you endurance and help you to feel more healthy and outgoing.

Any of these activities could be considered to a mild to moderate type of endurance activity.


-Swimming, Bicycling, Cycling on a stationary bicycle, Gardening (mowing, raking), Walking briskly on a level surface, Mopping or scrubbing floor, Golf, without a cart, Tennis (doubles), Volleyball, Rowing, Dancing.

These would be considered a more extensive or vigorous endurance activity.


-Climbing stairs or hills, Shoveling snow, Brisk bicycling up hills, Digging holes, Tennis (singles), Swimming laps, Cross-country skiing , Downhill skiing, Hiking, Jogging.