Fun Family Activities That Get You Fit

Photo by: Sander van der Wel CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

Summer is here and it’s time for holiday family gatherings and fun! Family vacations, weekend getaways or a day trip to the beach with the kids are great opportunities to enjoy family and get some exercise at the same time. Park the car and bike to the park. After the barbecue enjoy some fun games in the back yard with the whole family to burn off those extra calories. This Memorial Day weekend, get the whole family involved in fun fitness.

Have a hula-hoop contest! The kids will love the competition and you will love what hula-hooping does for your abdominal muscles and thighs. Hula-hooping engages your entire mid-section and  your legs. On the count of three everyone start hooping! The person who can hoop the longest wins. You can burn more than 100 calories in just 10 minutes of hula-hooping. Adults will find hula-hooping easier if they use a large hoop. A weighted hoop is even easier to use.

Jumping rope is another way the whole family can have fun and get fit. You and your kids can have a contest to see who can jump rope the longest or the fastest. Use two long ropes with one family member at each end throwing the rope and play double-dutch. Select two or three different types of jumping rope, such as jumping on one foot or double jumps. You kids will have fun and you will burn as many calories as running one mile.

Running is one of the best ways to get fit and burn calories. Why not make it a game? The whole family can play a game of tag on the beach, at the park or in the back yard. Freeze tag is a favorite among children. One person is “it” and chases the others trying to tag them. If you get tagged, you have to stop running, or “freeze,” until another player tags  you again. The child who is “it” wins the game when everyone is frozen. Make it a team sport by several “its” chasing and tagging others.

Staying home this holiday weekend? Play some one-on-one basketball or a game of HORSE in the driveway. Each player gets a shot from the free-throw line. Every time a player makes a basket, he or she gets one letter of the word HORSE. Keep score with sidewalk chalk. If you want a more vigorous workout, you can burn as many as 200 calories in a  half hour playing basketball. Basketball is a high-impact exercise that helps build bones and muscle too. Make sure you warm-up before and cool-down after the game to reduce your risk of a sprained ankle or pulled muscle. Cool off with fruit juice and water to re-energize your body after a vigorous game.

Taking long walks, swimming, biking and playing volleyball at the beach are great ways to spend a summer weekend or holiday while keeping fit. You will not only build muscle and strong bones, you’ll strengthen your relationship with your family and kids.


6 Ways to Lose Weight Quickly

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There are healthy and unhealthy ways to losing weight quickly. Relying on quick fixes like appetite suppressants, liquid diets, herbal formulas and weight loss supplements will not produce long-term healthy weight loss. Although these methods might help a little, the best approach is make some big changes to your exercise and eating habits. As you begin your healthy weight loss journey, it’s imperative that you stay focused, consistent, motivated and disciplined to reap the best weight loss results.

Lose weight quickly by first eliminating foods that are high in sodium, fat and sugar, such as white flour products, deep fried foods, processed meats, fast foods, candy, chips, commercial baked goods and high-fat dairy products. Instead, select foods that are abundant in nutrients like lean meats, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, fruits, seeds and beans.

Reduce your total caloric intake and increase your activity level to lose weight fast. To lose one pound of body fat, you need to cut 3,500 calories per week through diet and exercise. For example, you could burn 250 calories through exercise and then cut 250 calories from your diet per day. The key is to reduce your daily intake by 500 calories to lose one pound per week. Safe weight loss is one to two pounds per week. Losing more than that is not healthy because more than likely you’re losing muscle and/or water weight. And if you lose weight too quickly by not consuming enough calories, it can cause your body to go into starvation mode, causing your metabolism to slow down and store more fat.

Avoid high calorie, sugar-laden beverages, such as sweetened tea, sodas, flavored coffee drinks, milk shakes, and fruit juices. Liquid calories can add up fast and can easily sabotage your weight loss efforts. Instead, drink water and other healthy beverages like green tea or vegetable juice.

Eat more often to burn extra calories throughout the day. Every two to three hours during the day, eat a small, well-balanced meal. Combine a healthy balance of complex carbs and protein, and make sure you eat breakfast every morning. For example, a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries is an ideal way to start your day. Add soy milk, walnuts and yogurt for an extra dose of balanced nutrition.

Boost your metabolism and burn more calories all day long by building lean muscle. You will burn calories even while you’re at rest because muscle is metabolically active tissue. Weightlifting workout routines that target all of your major muscle groups will help you to build muscle. For example, you can do chest presses, back rows, shoulder presses, bicep curls, triceps dips, squats, hamstring curls and calf raises. Start with one set of 12 to 15 repetitions, two to three non-consecutive days a week.

Lastly, do some calorie-blasting cardio interval training to really ramp up your weight loss efforts. The harder you push yourself, the more calories you will burn. First, do a 5-10 minute warm up and then begin your workout. Here’s an example of a 20 minute cardio interval routine on a bike: 1 minute of pedaling as fast as possible, and then 2 minutes of slow, recovery pedaling. Continue this pattern for a complete 20-minute workout routine. Finish by cooling down for 5-10 minutes. Do your cardio routine 3 non-consecutive days a week. For example, you can do your cardio on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and your weight training on Tuesday and Thursday. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy such as cycling, walking, running, swimming, stair stepping, jumping rope or elliptical training.

5 Tips to Improve Your Cardiovascular Fitness

Improving your cardiovascular fitness offers many health benefits, such as better circulation, increased metabolic rate, more energy, greater strength and endurance, protection against chronic disease and much more. Therefore, my goal here is to help you enjoy all these benefits and more by providing you with five tips to improve your cardio fitness.

Play A Sport

Sports are an excellent way to boost your cardiovascular fitness for a number of reasons. They’re a lot of fun, they allow you to socialize with your friends and meet new friends and they generally have a regular schedule, which guarantees that you get consistent cardiovascular exercise. Furthermore, the nature of sports means that you’ll have periods where you’re working at an all-out intensity and periods where you’re exercising at an easier, slower pace. This kind of variety will give your cardiovascular fitness an enormous boost.

Participate is a High Intensity Exercise Class

High intensity exercise classes are another very beneficial way to increase your cardiovascular fitness. Your instructor will not only help you to stay on track, but also make sure that you put in your best effort and not give up. Also, when you participate in a high-intensity exercise group, you will see everyone else working hard and encourage you to do the same. Following a weekly class schedule can also help you to work on your cardiovascular fitness on a regular basis.

Do Cardio Whenever You Can

While it’s a good idea to have scheduled cardiovascular activities such as exercise classes or sports in your routine, you should also look for opportunities during the day where you can spontaneously do some extra cardio.

Walking is probably the easiest way to fit extra cardio into your day and by taking the stairs or leaving the car at home, you can easily add lots of additional walking to your routine. However, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can go beyond walking and do sprints, jumping jacks, burpees or more whenever you have some time to spare.

Do High Intensity Cardio Intervals

No matter what form of cardio you choose to do, you should try to add in some high- intensity intervals into your workout routine. Exercising at high intensity will test your current cardiovascular fitness to its limits and build up your lungs and heart in the process, which results in improved cardiovascular fitness every time you work out. In addition, you will burn more calories than fat, which means that you will expend more calories for greater fat loss down the road.

In a nutshell, you’ll end up in better physical condition with less body fat and better overall health. All very good reasons to add high intensity training into your exercise sessions.

Consistency Is Key

The four tips above are all tremendous ways to develop your cardiovascular fitness. However, if you’re not consistent with your cardio training, they’ll yield limited results. Therefore, to get the most out of these tips, make sure you’re doing some scheduled cardio training at least three to four times per week and including spontaneous cardio exercises into your routine every day.

So, if you find yourself having to catch your breath after walking up the stairs or rushing to catch a bus, now is the time to give your cardiovascular fitness a kick. Simply implement the five top tips from this article and you’ll start to see your cardiovascular fitness rapidly increase and enjoy all its health benefits.

Calorie Deficit + Cardio + Strength Training = Weight-Loss

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If you’re like most of us, you would like to lose a few pounds. You’ve tried everything but you just can’t seem to drop those last 10 pounds, right? There is no magic pill and it’s not a big mystery why you can’t drop those last 10 pounds. Most people need to create a calorie deficit — burn more than you eat. Many fad diets are based on calorie restriction by limiting the types and amounts of food you eat. Dieting can help you lose weight initially, but in the long-run you will probably regain most of that weight-loss. Deprivation doesn’t last long and you will not be very happy if you have to continually deprive yourself of foods you love. The key to lasting weight-loss is to burn more calories than you consume and build muscle mass to increase your resting metabolism.

It’s pretty easy to gain one pound of fat but you have to burn 3,500 calories to lose it. You can lose 1 pound of fat each week by creating a calorie deficit of minus 500 calories each day. Your resting, or basal, metabolism is the amount of calories you burn just being alive. Lungs breathing, heart pumping blood, brain thinking, abdominal and spinal muscles holding your body upright, all burn calories. Your basil metabolism accounts for up to 75 percent of the calories you burn every day. Increasing your muscle mass by doing strength training exercises can increase your basal metabolic rate, so that you burn more calories when at rest. Muscle tissue also burns many more calories than other tissues in your body. Gain 1 pound of muscle and burn an extra 50 calories per day while resting. Gain 10 pounds of muscle and you will burn an extra 500 calories per day doing nothing at all.

For fast and lasting weight-loss, combine strength training with cardio. Do strength training 2 days each week and cardio 3 days each week. A typical week might be Monday, Wednesday and Friday doing cardio, and Tuesday and Thursday doing strength training. Cardio is any exercise that elevates your heart rate and makes you sweat. Running, jogging, bicycling, swimming and sports activities are good ways to get a cardio workout to burn fat. Strength training includes not only lifting weights and working out on cable and weight machines at the gym, but also includes bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, crunches and planks.

Get Lean With Cardio

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A cardiovascular workout, or just cardio, is the best way to burn fat, strengthen muscle and lose weight. Cardio is any exercises that increases your heart and breathing rates. Your metabolism will kick in and burn calories while strengthening muscle. Most people are familiar with running and jogging for cardiovascular exercise, but any exercise that gets your heart pumping and your body sweating is a cardio workout. Brisk walking, swimming, bicycling, step aerobics and aerobic dance classes burn fat and strengthen the entire body. Cardiovascular workouts help reduce the risk of heart disease and improve overall heart and lung function. Your bones are also strengthened by cardio workouts. Cardio will help lower your bad cholesterol levels and increase muscle mass. Make sure to check with your doctor and get moving today! 
Running and jogging are the best way to burn calories and lose fat. It doesn’t matter if you run outdoors in a park, around the block or on a treadmill. If you get your heart pumping, your lungs working harder and your body sweating, you are doing aerobic cardiovascular exercise that burns fat. Get at least 20 minutes to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day. If you are a beginner, start with 5 minutes to 10 minutes and gradually increase the cardio exercise time to about 50 minutes to 60 minutes as you grow stronger and more fit. Running and jogging put a lot of stress on the joints of your feet and legs. Make sure you wear shoes with support and adequate cushioning to protect and support your feet. When running or jogging outdoors, select a route with an even surface without obstacles. Many city parks have walking-running paths. If you are obese or have not exercised in years, start slowly by walking for about 10 minutes every day. 

Did you play jump rope with your friends as a kid? Jumping rope is a powerful cardiovascular workout that can burn more than 300 calories in half an hour! Wear some supportive shoes and start jumping rope. If you are a beginner, try to jump rope for 5 minutes at a time until you build up your strength. Gradually add 5 minutes of jumping every day until you can jump rope steadily for a full 30 minutes. 

Water Exercise

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Swimming is one of the most effective whole body exercises you can do. You don’t have to be an expert swimmer or even know how to swim to take advantage of exercising in water. Exercise in a pool can provide a hardcore aerobic workout for your whole body, including your heart and lungs. The water will support your body, take pressure off your joints and muscles while providing resistance to help strengthen  your muscles. If you are not a strong swimmer or you don’t know how to swim, wear a flotation device and make sure the lifeguard at the pool knows you do not know how to swim. Gyms that have a pool and organizations like the YMCA frequently offer water aerobics and water exercise classes for groups if you aren’t sure how to begin or don’t want to invest in water weights. Membership fees for community organizations are usually reasonable. Gym prices vary, but most offer programs at a reasonable cost. 
The easiest water exercise to do is to walk around in the pool. Enter the pool and walk to a point where the water reaches your waist. Walk back and forth across the pool in the waist-deep water to give your legs a good workout. Swing your arms naturally as you would when walking on land. Walk using a normal gait. Avoid pushing off with your toes and don’t lean forward.  Squeezing your abdominal muscles while walking will also give your abs a good isometric workout and help keep you from leaning forward. Walk across the shallow water 15 to 20 times. When  you can do 20 laps in the shallow water without becoming exhausted, try increasing the number of laps or walking in deeper water, up to your chest. 
Incorporate some weight lifting into your water exercise by using water weights. Water weights are like foam dumbbells. They create a lot of resistance in the water. Hold the water weights in your hands with your palms facing up and raise the weights up to the level of the water to exercise your biceps. Hold the weights with your palms facing the bottom of the pool and push the weights through the water toward your back to work your triceps. Try to perform 15 to 20 each of the biceps and triceps curls or until you are tired.  
Finish your water exercise with a few laps of the pool. Even if you don’t know how to swim, you should be able to do a few laps while wearing a flotation vest. If you are uncomfortable in deep water, swim back and forth across the pool in water no deeper than your waist. 

Exercise For A Healthy Heart

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Most Americans do not get enough exercise. Inactivity and an unhealthy diet can lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Exercise can help reduce weight and lessen the risk for heart disease and diabetes. You can lose weight by cutting back on calories, but to prevent regaining lost weight, exercise is essential. You don’t have to join a gym or buy expensive equipment to exercise and lose weight for a healthy heart. But if you have been inactive for years, or if you don’t know how to begin, see your doctor for a check-up and consider a personal trainer to help you develop an exercise program that will work for you.

You can get more exercise during the day than you realize. You can maximize the aerobic value of your everyday activities. People with babies and small children often take a stroller along when shopping or going to the park. Pushing your child in a stroller for 1/2 hour or about 1 1/2 miles is excellent aerobic exercise for you and fun for your baby. As you begin to lose weight and feel stronger, consider buying a jogging stroller for your child. You can push baby along while you jog through the park. Walk the dog for an extra 10 minutes each day. Your dog will love it and you will get more exercise. Mowing the lawn and raking leaves are common activities that are good exercise for weight loss and a healthy heart. Use a push mower to cut your grass. Shoveling snow is also good exercise, but be careful not to over-exert yourself during cold weather. Limit shoveling to no more than 15 minutes and then rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Park your car a few blocks from your workplace and walk when weather permits. Walking is one of the safest and easiest heart healthy exercises. Walk instead of driving when you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.

Set aside at least 30 minutes every other day just for exercise. If you don’t know how to begin, a fitness trainer can help you develop an exercise program that works with your schedule and your current level of fitness. You can break up your 30 minutes of exercise into 10 minute blocks of exercise spread throughout the day. Exercise is a critical part of a healthy life. Keep your heart strong and lose weight by eating a nutritious diet and exercising.

For more information about exercise and heart health, see:
National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Physical Activity and Your Heart (PDF File)

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults between the ages of 18 and 64 need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week. Moderate exercise includes walking and strength training 2 or 3 days each week. Adults who enjoy vigorous exercise like jogging, aerobics and running should get about 75 minutes of this type of exercise every week in addition to a couple of days each week for strength training. You can mix up your exercise by alternating days of strength training with a day of moderate exercise and then a day of vigorous exercise. 
Most people will exercise in 30 minute segments every other day to allow their bodies to rest and repair between exercise exertion. It isn’t necessary that you exercise for a full 30 minutes at once. You can break up your daily 30 minutes of exercise into 10 or 15 minute increments and still enjoy the benefits of exercising. For example, if you walk for 10 minutes, 3 times each day Monday through Friday, you will achieve 150 minutes of moderate exercise for the week. As you grow stronger, fitter and your endurance improves, gradually increase the time you work out until you get at least 300 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. 
Aerobic exercise is important for heart and lung health. Exercises that increases your heart rate and breathing counts as aerobic exercise. A brisk walk, mowing the lawn with a push mower, riding a bicycle or chasing the kids around the yard in a game of tag counts as aerobic exercise. Try to get at least 10 minutes of uninterrupted aerobic exercise at a time. More vigorous exercise includes jogging and running, swimming continuously for 15 to 30 minutes, playing tennis or riding a bicycle up and down hills. 
Regular exercise helps control your weight by burning calories and fat, helps to avoid weight-related illness, improves your mood and helps you feel more energetic. If you haven’t exercised in a long time, or if you have any health problems, get a check up and then get active!

Healthy Heart Exercises

Aerobic exercise can help keep your heart healthy. Aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise strengthens your lungs, your heart and all of your muscles. When you engage in regular aerobic exercise, you may see a decrease in your blood pressure and a lower heart rate. This means that your heart is functioning more efficiently and with less effort. See your doctor immediately if you experience shortness of breath or chest pains during exercise. 
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Begin your daily exercise routine with some stretches to warm-up your muscles, improve circulation and increase the flexibility of your joints. Warming up can help you to avoid injury. Stretch your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes before every exercise routine. Aerobic exercise is more than the dance-type moves you have seen at the gym and on popular exercise CDs. Aerobic exercise is also walking, jumping, swimming, jogging, running, skiing, dancing, roller skating and ice skating. Swimming is one of the best types of aerobic exercise because it works the whole body, including the heart and lungs, and is very low impact. Try to get about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 or 4 times each week. Don’t forget to cool down after 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise by stretching to relax your muscles, cool your body and allow your heart rate to slow down. 
Swimming is one of the best overall aerobic exercises for your heart and lungs. Water aerobics and swimming are an excellent choice for those with arthritis or joint injury. Beginners and weak swimmers should start with walking in the water and doing some water-squats. Build up your strength and endurance until you can swim continuously for at least 30 minutes. Once you reach the target goal of swimming continuously for 30 minutes, increase your swimming time a few minutes each day until you are swimming for a total of 60 minutes.