How to find time to exercise

A new year marks a great time to embrace change. Many people do just that by making resolutions designed to improve their lives in the year and years ahead. Resolutions regarding personal health are annually among the most popular changes people hope to make at the dawn of a new year. In fact, a quick scan of annual lists citing the most popular resolutions found that pledges to eat healthier and exercise more can be found at or near the top of such lists.


Though such lists might not have been compiled using the most scientific of methods, it’s no secret that getting healthier and looking better is a goal many people strive for upon the arrival of January 1. Unfortunately, a 2015 report from U.S. News & World Report suggested that 80 percent of resolutions fail, oftentimes as early as February. For those who don’t just want but need to get healthier, failure to live up to a resolution to exercise more can have potentially devastating consequences.

If exercising more is a goal in the year ahead, the following are a few strategies to make that happen.

• Exercise in the early morning. As the day progresses, unforeseen challenges or forgotten commitments have a way of devouring time initially earmarked for exercise. Exercise first thing in the morning before any commitments to work and family hijack the time you have committed to exercising.

• Take on less responsibility. Professionals and parents often cite commitments to work and family as the primary reasons they aren’t getting enough exercise. While those are perfectly reasonable excuses to skip a workout, men and women who recognize the long-term benefits of routine exercise may be compelled to take on less responsibility at work while also making an effort to divvy up responsibilities at home more equitably. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ongoing exercise can reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers. The CDC also notes that routine exercise strengthens bones and muscles while improving mood. Taking on more responsibility at work might be great for your career, but that may prove a Pyrrhic victory if your long-term health is jeopardized. Parents can discuss with their spouse how to better share responsibilities at home so both moms and dads can get regular exercise.

• Embrace more efficient exercise routines. Rather than working a single muscle group at a time, which can be both time-consuming and boring, men and women can adapt their workout routines to focus on multi-muscle exercises. Work with a personal trainer to make your workout as efficient as possible.

• Schedule your routine each week. Each week is different, so while it may be ideal to establish a workout routine in which you exercise at the same time each day, that’s not always going to be possible. Failing to exercise on a day you had intended to workout can compromise your motivation to workout in the future, so sit down at the beginning of each week to examine your commitments for the days ahead and schedule times to exercise in the next seven days. This can keep you on track and help you avoid the disappointment of missing a workout because life got in the way.

Finding time to exercise is not always so easy, but even the busiest men and women can likely still include workouts in their daily routines.

How to improve flexibility

Improving flexibility is a goal for many athletes, whether they’re daily exercise devotees or weekend warriors. Taking steps to improve and maintain flexibility has numerous benefits that can pay dividends for athletes of all ages.

According to the Harvard Medical School, well-stretched muscles more easily reach their full range of motion. That benefits athletes by improving their performance, and it can also improve daily life for non-athletes by making it easier to reach, bend or stoop to perform everyday tasks.


As beneficial as being physically flexible can be, many people, no matter how hard they try, struggle to improve or maintain their flexibility. Fortunately, there are some ways that devoted men and women can improve their flexibility and enjoy all of the benefits that increased flexibility provides.

• Choose the right activities. Harvard Medical School notes that activities that lengthen and stretch muscles can help active men and women reduce their risks for injury while potentially preventing back pain and issues that may affect their balance. When done correctly, yoga can improve balance and flexibility. In addition, numerous studies have linked yoga to additional health benefits, such as stress reduction, that can make people less tense, thereby improving their flexibility.

• Drink more water. Drinking water helps to prevent tightness and muscle cramps. In fact, tightness or muscle cramps in the large muscles of the leg may be indicative of the early stages of dehydration. Drinking plain water is the most effective way to stay and remain hydrated. Don’t count coffee, tea or sports drinks as water, as such beverages many contain caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, and while diuretics cause the increased passing of urine, they also decrease the amount of water that is absorbed by the kidneys, potentially contributing to dehydration. Drink plenty of water before, during and after workouts.

• Start over after an extended break. If it’s been awhile since you last worked out, resist the temptation to push yourself when returning to the gym. Depending on how long it’s been since you last exercised, you may need to start back at square one, which means reducing the amount of weight you lift and decreasing the resistance during cardiovascular exercises. Putting too much strain on muscles that have been sedentary for an extended period of time can cause aches, pains and even injury. Muscle tightness also may develop if you go too hard too quickly, greatly reducing flexibility.

• Get up and go. Poor flexibility may be a byproduct of your lifestyle. Men and women who live sedentary lifestyles are less likely to enjoy the full range of motion from their muscles than those people who are more active. Get off the couch when spending time at home, and if you work in an office, take routine breaks to stand up and walk around. Poor flexibility can be painful and inconvenient, but there are many ways for men and women to improve their flexibility and, as a result, their quality of life.

Strategies to avoid holiday weight gain

Staying fit during the holiday season can be quite challenging, even for the most ardent fitness enthusiasts and disciplined calorie-counters. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, many people are offered a wide assortment of foods, beverages and other indulgences — typically in mass quantities.


According to researchers at Stanford University, although the average person only gains around one pound during the holiday season, quite frequently that pound sticks around, and those extra pounds add up year after year. As a result, it doesn’t take too many years of holiday bundt cakes to gain a considerable amount of weight. Holiday season weight gain is not unique to the United States and Canada. Investigators at Tampere University of Technology in Finland tracked weight gained in the United States, Germany and Japan during those countries’ festive times and found that each country’s participants gained weight, particularly during the holiday season. Annual holiday weight gain can contribute to weight-based problems such as obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

The holiday season might not be the best time to start a diet, but holiday eating does not have to derail healthy lifestyles. The following are ways to avoid holiday weight gain and still enjoy all of the parties, adventures and time spent with friends and family.

• Focus on festivity instead of food. When hosting holiday festivities, make the bulk of the celebration about an activity rather than food. If guests are focused on fun, such as a sing-a-long, dancing or tree-trimming, they may be less likely to overeat.

• Don’t show up starving. Eat a light, healthy snack before participating in any holiday revelry. Hunger pangs may drive one straight to the buffet table.

• Survey your options prior to eating. Guests should scope out the food choices and then make the smartest selections possible. Avoid creamy sauces, greasy foods and those that are heavy on cheese. Fill up on vegetables and then you won’t feel bad about splurging on a dessert.

• Go sparingly on alcohol. People seldom realize how quickly calories from beverages can add up. A 12-ounce glass of beer has about 150 calories, a five ounce glass of red wine has about 125 calories and a 1.5-ounce shot of gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, or tequila has about 100 calories, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Furthermore, alcohol lowers inhibitions, so you may be more likely to overindulge in more spirits or extra food when intoxicated.

• You can’t buy back calories with exercise. Putting in a marathon exercise session the next day probably will not undo the damage done from overeating the night before. Maintain a consistent workout schedule all through the holidays. Holiday weight gain is not inevitable for those who take control and exercise discipline.     

Strength training important to women's health

Women’s bodies are built different from men’s to accommodate the changes of pregnancy and childbirth. Although women may store fat differently and have less muscle mass than men, it’s still important that women include weight resistance training in their exercise routines.

Woman Training

Lifting weights is an important part of staying fit. Yet many women do not pick up weights out of fear of bulking up and gaining weight. In a 2011 opinion poll conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 20 percent of women said they accomplished the CDC’s recommended 2.5 hours of aerobic exercise and two periods of strength training each week.

Contrary to popular belief, women who weight train will not turn into the bulking behemoths of competitive weight lifting. The Women’s Heart Foundation says that high levels of estrogen make it quite difficult for women to become overly muscular. When they strength train, rather, women’s muscles will improve in tone, endurance and strength instead of size.

Resistance training provides an efficient way to build strength and burn calories. A study from researchers at the University of New Mexico found that the body will take between 15 minutes and 48 hours after exercise to return to a resting state. That means that a person continues to burn calories after exercising, a phenomenon known as “after-burn” or “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.” The more intense the workout, the longer the after-burn may last.

Studies performed at the Quincy, Mass., South Shore YMCA found that the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly two pounds of muscle, but lose 3.5 pounds of fat. With that lean muscle addition, resting metabolism increases and more calories can be burned each day.

The following are some additional benefits of strength training:

• Reduces risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol.

• Builds stronger muscles and connective tissues that can increase joint stability.

• Improves the way the body processes sugar, which can help reduce the risk of diabetes.

• Reduces rates of depression. A Harvard University study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling. Women who strength train commonly report feeling more confident and capable. Women with no strength training experience can consult with a personal trainer who can teach them proper strength training form. This ensures that the exercises are being done efficiently while reducing the women’s risk of injury. Qualified trainers also can keep people moving toward fitness goals.  LS178211 SOCIAL MEDIA TEXT: Women’s bodies are built different from men’s to accommodate the changes of pregnancy and childbirth. Although women may store fat differently and have less muscle mass than men, it’s still important that women include weight resistance training in their exercise routines.

What athletes should know about shin splints

Exercising more is a primary goal for many people, especially those interested in losing weight. Athletes also look to increase the time they spend exercising as new seasons draw near. While additional exercise can benefit many people, those who frequently perform weight-bearing exercises or repetitive motions, such as running, dancing and jumping, may find themselves battling shin splints.

Also known as tibial stress syndrome, shin splints are a condition marked by pain in the shinbone, also known as the tibia. Shin splints are common among athletes and dancers who spend so much of their time on their feet. The Mayo Clinic says shin splints are caused by repetitive stress on the shinbone and connective tissues that attach muscles to the bone. Shin splints typically appear when there is a sudden increase in distance or intensity of a workout schedule.

Shin splints are characterized by tenderness, swelling, soreness, and/or pain along the inner part of the lower leg. While the pain may stop when the body stops exercising, eventually that pain can transform into continuous pain. Many cases of shin splints can be alleviated through rest, icing and other self-care methods. Wearing proper footwear and modifying exercise routines can help ensure that shin splints are not a recurring problem.

Should shin splints not clear up on their own, or if over-the-counter pain relievers prove ineffective at managing pain, then athletes should contact their physicians. Doctors will likely try to determine if the pain is caused by something other than shin splints.  

How to improve overall endurance

Pushing oneself physically can be exhausting and demanding. But whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a part-time fitness enthusiast or even someone who lives a largely sedentary lifestyle, you can find ways to dig down and improve your overall endurance. Many athletes find pushing their bodies past certain boundaries to be empowering. Letting complacency set in is easy, but finding the motivation to press on and push ahead takes mental determination. The following are a handful of ways to push past physical glass ceilings and improve endurance.

• Join a marathon. The statistics reporting site states that only 0.5 percent of the U.S. and Canadian populations have ever run a marathon. Running on the treadmill at the gym or a couple of miles around the track is excellent exercise. Runners can take their passion a bit further by enrolling in any of the hundreds of marathons and half-marathons held annually. Crossing the finish line after running 26.2 miles is a rewarding feeling, and few activities do more to improve endurance than running a marathon.

• Try a new gym class. Pushing yourself physically may mean getting out of your comfort zone. Gyms typically offer an array of classes to appeal to as many members as possible. Take advantage of these group classes or personalized training sessions. Explore barre workouts, TRX® and ViPR®, which involve loaded movement and strength training paired with cardiovascular workouts.

• Increase workouts gradually. It can be daunting to think about greatly improving your endurance levels. But taking a gradual, incremental approach to improving endurance is both safe and effective. Also, when engaged, mentally divide the workout into smaller chunks of time. This way you have several smaller goals to accomplish, rather than one large goal. This can make it easier to digest a tough workout.

• Use friends to keep you motivated. Having friends workout alongside you can keep you motivated. Workout buddies may offer the encouragement necessary to keep pushing through. Another motivating factor is bragging rights afterward.

• Have a good emotional connection. A desire to have a great body may not be enough to motivate you to workout and push harder. If not, think of a better reason to exercise, and it may be the mind over matter you need. Many people find inspiration from family health history risk factors or through the goal of reversing negative health reports from doctors’ offices. These motivating factors will help you press on and push harder. Continuing to surpass fitness goals is something to include in this year’s list of health resolutions. 

Fitness classes make exercise resolutions fun

January 1 ushers in New Year’s resolution season. Among the most popular resolutions are ones designed to encourage healthy lifestyles. 
Despite initial enthusiasm, many people abandon their resolutions after a few weeks have passed, and that may be because they lose interest or set unrealistic goals. To remedy loss of interest, fitness enthusiasts may want to explore group classes offered by many gyms. Such classes offer a change of pace from traditional workouts while still facilitating weight loss. Here are some classes that may be coming to a gym near you.

  • Barre workouts: Inspired by the postures of ballet, dance, yoga, and pilates, barre classes blend isometric exercises with targeted strength training. The workouts are designed to give participants strong, lean and chiseled bodies. Many barre classes incorporate some free weights and a ballet barre. However, the majority of the workout relies on participants’ own bodyweight and balance.
  • ViPR™ classes: ViPRTM is an acronym for Vitality, Performance, Reconditioning. This is a new concept in fitness developed by the company Fitness Professionals. The workouts are built around loaded movement training and were inspired by farm workers who moved with load in daily life, and thusly developed superior strength. ViPRTM training, according to creator Michol Dalcourt, already is being used by major sports teams, tactical military and law enforcement agencies. Movements during the workout are enhanced by a weighted ViPRTM bar. Many trainers are now earning their ViPRTM certifications as more and more classes are being offered across the country.
  • Kickboxing: Kickboxing has become a popular fitness routine, helping people to blast away fat and improve muscle tone through energizing classes. According to Fitness magazine, kickboxing can burn an average of 500+ calories per hour. Kickboxing targets many areas of the body, including thighs, shoulders, arms and glutes, all in a single workout. Kickboxing classes also help many people relieve stress. Classes may feature kicks, punches and arial maneuvers done without any equipment, or pit participants against traditional kickboxing hanging bags. Trainers often work with individuals at their own pace to develop strength and agility.
  • Dance classes: Many gyms offer their own unique fitness dance classes that boast festive atmospheres while still providing highly effective cardiovascular and toning exercises. Dance-inspired classes pair creative choreography and upbeat music with classic workout maneuvers to help participants shed pounds. Because routines are constantly evolving, there’s little chance of getting bored, and many dance fitness enthusiasts insist their classes are far more fun than traditional workouts.

Simple ways to stay fit all year long

Many people find it easier to maintain their beach bodies during summer than they do throughout the rest of the year. Summer weather encourages people to get off the couch and enjoy the great outdoors, and many people prefer to eat lighter meals during the summer to combat the heat and humidity.
But once the dog days of summer give way to autumn, the motivation to stay in beach shape tends to wane. Couple that dwindling motivation with the tendency to eat larger, heartier meals as the weather gets colder, and it’s easy to see why so many people gain weight over the last several months of the year and into the new year. But maintaining a healthy weight year-round promotes long-term health and reduces a person’s risk for various ailments and diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. The following are a handful of strategies men and women can employ as they try to turn their beach bodies into the bodies they see in the mirror all year long.

  • Keep setting goals. As winter heads toward spring, many people set short-term goals to motivate them to get back into beach shape. That’s a highly effective strategy that need not be exclusive to late winter. Setting short-term fitness and dietary goals throughout the year can keep you from falling back into bad habits. Tie your goals into the season to increase your chances for success. For example, resolve to run outdoors or cycle a certain number of miles each week in autumn, when the weather is still conducive to physical activity and the scenery is idyllic. When winter arrives and exercising outdoors is no longer viable, commit to attending a few fitness classes per week at your gym. 
  • Switch up your workout routine every few weeks. Boredom also can affect people’s ability to maintain healthy weights year-round. Adhering to the same exercise routine for months on end can grow tedious. The body can even grow accustomed to the same workout routine, meaning you won’t be getting as much out of your exercise sessions as you might if you switch things up. If you find your daily workouts taking a turn toward the mundane, switch up your routine by changing exercises or signing up for classes that interest you. 
  • Find healthy seasonal foods. Many people prefer to buy locally sourced and/or in-season foods, recognizing the positive impact that such dietary habits can have on the environment. That commitment to buying healthy, locally grown foods can be tested as the seasons change and the offerings at your local market change along with them. Educate yourself about which foods are in-season in your area throughout the year, opting for the most nutritious foods you can find. Buying in-season foods saves you money, and you will also feel good about staying on a nutritious, eco-friendly track.
  • Join an exercise group or sports league. The buddy system is an effective way to stay committed to a fitness regimen, but if you cannot find a friend or family member to brave cold winter treks to the gym with you, then consider joining an exercise group or competitive sports league. As summer turns to autumn, join a road runner’s club to motivate you to run. When harsh weather makes running outdoors too difficult, sign up for a winter sports league. Such groups or leagues get you off the couch and provide great opportunities to meet like-minded men and women who have made their own commitments to staying fit.

Staying fit all year long is a challenge for many people. But maintaining that beach body even after summer has come and gone need not be so difficult.

3 secrets to making morning workouts a reality

Routine exercise is one of the keys to a healthy life. When paired with a healthy diet, regular exercise can promote long-term health and reduce a person’s risk for a host of conditions and diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
While many adults are aware of the importance of routine exercise, finding time to break a sweat can be difficult. In fact, a 2013 study from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that nearly 80 percent of adults in the United States do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week. (Note: The World Health Organization recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week.)
Hectic schedules dominated by obligations to work and family can make it difficult to find time to exercise. But working out in the early morning, before the kids wake up and coworkers’ emails begin flooding your inbox, can help men and women meet the WHO’s recommended exercise guidelines and might even provide a noticeable energy boost throughout the rest of the day. Men and women can expect to run into some obstacles when first establishing a morning workout routine, but a few simple strategies can help make that transition go more smoothly.

1. Prepare the night before. 
Waking up with a to-do list in the morning takes away from the time you have to exercise. Rather than fumbling for your gym clothes and sneakers in the darkness of your pre-dawn bedroom, lay out your workout gear before going to bed each night. Lay out your work clothes as well so you spend more time exercising in the morning and less time choosing an outfit.

2. Set your alarm earlier than you intend to wake up. 
Few people wake up the moment their alarm clocks first go off. Snooze buttons may help you ease into your wakeup routine, but those post-snooze button minutes are minutes you could be spending getting your recommended daily exercise. If you’re a snooze button devotee and you want to be up by 6 a.m., then set your alarm for 5:50 a.m. 

3. Get a good night’s sleep. 
In 2015, the National Sleep Foundation convened experts from sleep, anatomy and physiology, as well as pediatrics, neurology, gerontology and gynecology to reach a consensus on sleep guidelines for people of all ages. The panel recommends adults between the ages of 26 and 64 get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, noting that anything less than six hours or more than 10 hours is not recommended. A good night’s sleep will help you feel more energetic when that alarm goes off, even if it is going off before the sun rises. Exercise and sleep go hand in hand, as studies have shown that routine exercise actually improves quality of sleep because exercise is a beneficial stressor to the body, which responds to the stress of exercise by increasing the amount of time the body spends in deep sleep. 
Many adults struggle to find time for daily exercise, but early morning might be the best time for busy men and women to break a sweat.

Protect your joints and prevent pain

Joints play vital roles in the human body, forming the connections between bones and facilitating movement. Damage to the joints can be especially painful, and that damage may result from conditions such as osteoarthritis or gout.
While not all joint pain is debilitating, the discomfort of joint pain is such that it’s wise for adults to take steps to protect their joints with the hope of preventing joint pain down the road. Recognizing that joint pain can negatively affect quality of life, the Arthritis Foundation offers the following joint protection tips to men and women.

  • Forgo fashion with regard to footwear. When women choose their footwear, fashion should not be their top priority. According to the Arthritis Foundation, three-inch heels stress the feet seven times more than one-inch heels and heels put additional stress on knees, possibly increasing women’s risk for osteoarthritis. Though heels may be fashionable, the risk of developing joint pain is not worth making the fashion statement.
  • Get some green in your diet. A healthy diet pays numerous dividends, but many may not know that a healthy diet can help prevent joint pain. Green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale and parsley are high in calcium and can reduce age-related bone loss while also slowing cartilage destruction.
  • Shed those extra pounds. If you start including more healthy vegetables in your diet, you might just start to lose a little weight as well. Such weight loss also can help your joints, as the AF notes that every extra pound a person gains puts four times the stress on his or her knees. The AF also notes that research has shown that losing as little as 11 pounds can reduce a person’s risk of osteoarthritis of the knee by 50 percent.
  • Hit the pool. Swimming is a great full-body workout and can be especially helpful to the joints. The buoyancy of water supports the body’s weight, reducing stress on the joints and minimizing pain as a result. If possible, swimmers already experiencing pain should swim in heated pools, which can help relieve pain. While you can still benefit from swimming in pools with colder temperatures, cold water may not soothe the joints like warm water can.
  • Take breaks at work. Many people develop joint pain thanks to their jobs. If you spend all day sitting at a desk or standing on your feet, try to find a greater balance between the two. Joints can grow stiff from sitting all day, while standing throughout your work day can stress the joints. Take a short break every 30 minutes to stand up and walk around if you spend most of your day at a desk. If you stand a lot at your job, stop to sit down for a few minutes once every half hour. 

Joint pain and aging do not have to go hand in hand. More information about joint paint is available at

Combat-style exercise programs on the rise

Exercise is an essential element of a healthy lifestyle. When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can help men and women maintain a healthy weight, delay the onset of certain diseases and improve overall health. 
To ensure they get enough exercise, many people join a gym. But as popular as gyms are, many individuals have a narrow view of what constitutes a thorough “gym” workout. They may believe they’ll spend their entire time like a hamster in a wheel on the treadmill or may be intimidated by the rows of machines before them. Fortunately, today’s gyms are much more than weight benches and elliptical machines. Many boast an array of fitness classes, and a great many more offer martial arts and combat-style classes. Such offerings attract fitness enthusiasts who may be looking for a workout with an edge. What’s more, these types of routines can help increase stamina and strength all while reducing stress.
Kickboxing classes, bootcamp, high-intensity interval training, and mixed martial arts are just a few of the programs on the rise in today’s gyms. The following is a brief look at some of the popular class offerings at gyms around the country.

Mixed martial arts (MMA)
MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. MMA combines various styles of fighting in a no-holds-barred style of combat. Punching, kicking and classic martial arts moves are part of MMA. Wrestling may be thrown in for added fun as well. Fitness classes geared around MMA will incorporate many of the moves without the actual combat taking place. Therefore, expect to push muscles and flexibility to their peak.

Kickboxing classes will pit you against a punching bag. You will learn proper punching stances and will work to improve balance and movement. People may believe only the legs and arms get a workout during kickboxing, but your core muscles do their part to help you keep your footing and put power behind your kicks and punches. Some kickboxing trainers will mix intervals into the training, providing additional core work and cardiovascular

Krav Maga
Krav Maga class may entice self-defense tactic enthusiasts. Krav Maga employs techniques from martial arts disciplines but includes some self-defense moves as well. Classes will not only teach participants how to defend themselves from attacks, but will also work on agility and strength.

For anyone who has ever wanted to channel their inner Rocky Balboa, boxing classes may be just the fit. Boxing will work many of the same muscle groups as kickboxing, but without the roundhouse kicks. Boxing can be a super stress-buster, and many people underestimate just how much they’ll work up a sweat while in the ring or going one-on-one with a bag.