The Short and Sweet Routine

The fastest way to keep your exercise routine regular.

If you’ve spent some time away from the gym, you may feel like taking on the world at your return. Sure, a three-hour marathon workout may make you feel like you conquered the world, but it takes regular exercise to get your body in good shape, so bite off a little at a time.
Need a little more convincing? Read on to get a few reasons why a short routine may be the best way to get and stay strong.

It’s Easier to Maintain

The thought of a prolonged workout may be intriguing at first, but getting to the gym the third and fourth time for an equally long workout won’t be easy. Nothing is as easy the second or third time – especially if it involves draining yourself of all energy with hours of nonstop exercise. Do yourself a favor by going for the short, the sweet, the manageable.

It Fits in Your Schedule

Along with a short routine being easier to maintain, it also fits into your schedule with greater ease. This means that while you may think you’ve not got time in your busy day to squeeze in a trip to the gym, you actually do. On those days when it seems impossible to hit the gym, it’s much easier to make it happen if your routine only requires 20 or 30 minutes, compared to some of the more time-intensive workouts.

It Gives You Variety

Short routines may seem stifling on your creativity. But if done right, they can provide a great amount of variety in your routine. Shoot for four exercises during each session and choose different ones every day. Go for two arm and two leg exercises one day, one arm, two legs, and an abdominal exercise the next. Keep things switched up by tossing in an all-aerobic day or a full body workout in the pool.

It Helps You Focus

One of the big problems of staying in the gym for too long is the ease with which you can lose your focus. You may have shown up with grand plans, but two hours into it, you realize you’ve been standing around shooting the bull more than you’ve been working out. By sticking to a short routine, you know exactly where you’re going from your first step into the weight room to the final lap in the pool, ensuring your body gets a workout throughout your time at the gym.

It Gives You a Partner

Finding yourself in the midst of a marathon weight-lifting session gets old fast for you and your workout partner. To make sure your spotter will always be there by your side to offer encouragement and join you on the road to better health, use a shorter routine. It’ll help you both stay on track.

Into the Long

Wonderful as a quick workout is, it’s not always the best choice. In fact, a longer routine may be called upon to help you meet your goals. So when is longer better?

Typically, a longer routine is best suited for body builders and people training for something that requires spectacular endurance. If you’re training for a triathlon, marathon, or other endurance sport, you should learn how to push your body as hard and as long as will be necessary to compete well during your chosen athletic event.

However, unless you’re a body builder, you probably shouldn’t spend all of your time in the gym. You would be better off maintaining a short routine under the barbell and pushing your limits outside of the gym, practicing specifically for your chosen sport. That means learning how to swim for a mile without stopping, running for 15 miles or more, and riding your bicycle so you’ll be ready when the gun is fired at the starting line.

Natural Vs. Artificial Sugar

What’s the difference and what’s it matter to you?

You know that getting too much sugar isn’t good for you. So when you find yourself in a situation that demands a sugary treat, you often go for the artificial stuff, expecting it to be healthier for you. But are artificial sweeteners all they’re cracked up to be, or would you be better off with the natural choice?

Read on to learn what you can expect to get out of natural sugar compared to the manmade alternatives.

Artificial Packs More Punch

You may think you can use as much artificial sweetener as you want, but be careful. As sugar substitutes are much sweeter than sugar, adding the same amount of artificial sweetener as you would natural sugar can ruin the flavor of your drink or favorite dessert.

Real Is Fatter

Compared to artificial sweeteners, real sugar has more calories, making it easier to gain weight when consuming real sugar. But that doesn’t mean artificial sugars are fat-free. In fact, many people who primarily consume artificial sweeteners wind up gaining more weight than their real-sugar-eating counterparts. Why? Because they think since artificial sweetener has fewer calories, they can eat more. This leads to the consumption of more cookies, cakes, and other foods filled with useless calories.

Did you know that many people eat nearly 20 teaspoons of sugar a day?

They’re Not Carcinogenic

When sugar alternatives first hit the market, there was a big scare that artificial sweeteners were linked to cancer. However, after a number of careful studies, researchers disproved this idea, as they found no definitive link between cancer risk and use of artificial sweeteners.

All Are Considered Safe

In order to be on your grocer’s shelf, natural and artificial sweeteners must meet approval by the appropriate regulating body. In America, this is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners: saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, D-tagatose, and acesulfame potassium. Another sweetener making big waves is stevia. Though it cannot be sold as an artificial sweetener in America, it is sold as a dietary supplement after more than 20 years of safe use in Japan.

Fake May Improve Your Health

While the jury is still out, early testing has found that use of aspartame may actually give your health the upper hand. In a study at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, researchers found aspartame to be useful in providing pain relief to individuals suffering from sickle cell anemia, osteoarthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Only time will tell if these initial findings will hold up and artificial sweeteners will one day be used as a medical therapy.

You May Have Symptoms

Though artificial sweeteners haven’t been found to bring about cancer or other dangerous and deadly diseases, they can have mild side effects on certain people. Some of the most common include an upset stomach and headaches. In the event you find yourself experiencing either of these symptoms, lay off the artificial to find out if that’s the cause of your problems.

Moderation Is Key

For most people, eating natural sugar or using artificial sweeteners isn’t going to cause big weight fluctuations or health problems. However, eating too much of any kind of sweetener – whether it is natural or manmade – is where trouble comes in. It is especially dangerous to consume excessive sugar if you’re living with diabetes. Stay safe with your sweets by avoiding too much of any good thing.

How’s It Get White?

If you’ve ever seen sugar right off the cane, you know that sugar isn’t naturally white. Instead, it is yellow or brown. So how do they come up with that pure, white color for the sugar you may use every day? Through a bleaching process. In other words, the white sugar you use in your tea is essentially an artificial sweetener. Want nothing but nature? Better make sure your sugar is brown and yellow.

Treating Shin Splints

A Pain in the Leg!

After last night’s soccer game, your daughter complained that her shins hurt, so you iced her legs before she went to bed. Her legs felt fine after a good night’s sleep and you sent her off to school this morning with a kiss and soccer practice clothes in her backpack. Now she’s calling and saying that her legs hurt again. Could it be something more than simple pain?

Shin splints are a common injury among athletes – especially runners, sprinters, figure skaters, and gymnasts. The term “shin splints” refers to pain felt in the shinbone or tibia (the large bone in the front of your lower leg) after an athlete has run or “pounded the ground” for a period of time. This force of impact can sometimes cause the muscles around the tibia to tighten, pull, or become inflamed, which leads to pain. Shin splints often respond well to home treatment, but if the pain continues, it’s a good idea to have a medical professional check it out just to be sure it’s not a stress fracture in your shinbone or another serious condition.

Symptoms of Shin Splints

The most common symptoms of shin splints include:

  • Tenderness, soreness, or pain along the inner part of your leg
  • Mild swelling
  • Pain that worsens when you run or participate in other weight-bearing exercise
  • Discomfort in your lower leg that lingers even after you’ve stopped exercising

These symptoms are most likely to occur after you’ve been running downhill, on a slanted or tilted surface, or engaging in sports like basketball or tennis that require frequent starts and stops. You may also experience shin splints if you’re running in worn out footwear, which offer less support for your feet.

Treating Shin Splints at Home

The good news about shin splints is that you can treat the condition at home in most cases. If you or a loved one is experiencing shin splints, try these remedies to relieve your pain.

  • Rest. Most of the time, your legs just need time to recover after high-impact activities like running. However, don’t give up totally on exercise while you’re resting your legs. Try lower-impact sports like swimming or bicycling.
  • Ice. Icing your legs can help relieve pain caused by shin splints. Just apply an icepack wrapped in a towel (to protect your skin) for about 20 minutes up to four times a day.
  • Reduce swelling. If your legs swell when you get shin splints, try elevating your legs above the level of your heart (especially at night).
  • Take non-prescription pain relievers. Several pain relievers, including ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin can help to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Wear the right shoes. If you think your shoes are causing shin splints, try buying a new pair of athletic shoes. If your foot shape is hard to shop for, ask your physician for tips on what kind of shoe to purchase.
  • Consider arch supports. Arch supports can drastically reduce your risk of shin splints. You can buy off-the-shelf arch supports that can immediately be fitted into your shoe or you can get custom-made arch supports.

Remember, it’s important to avoid overdoing it when you get shin splints. Take a break from your exercise and recover before gradually working back to your previous athletic level.

3 Tips to Prevent Shin Splints

Rather run past shin splints? Here are a few tips to stop the pain in your shins before it ever starts.

Tip #1: Keep up with your shoes. Your footwear is a very important part of preventing shin splints – especially if you’re a runner. Replace your shoes as soon as they begin to get old, usually about every 350 to 500 miles of wear.

Tip #2: Lessen the impact. Instead of running or exclusively participating in high-impact activities, try cross-training with exercises that are easier on the legs, such as swimming or walking.

Tip #3: Add strength training to your routine. Strengthening your shins is key. Try slowly rising up on your toes while you’re standing and then slowly lowering your heels to the floor. Repeat 10 times. If this exercise gets easy, try holding weights in your hands as you perform the exercise.

Kill Cholesterol in the Gym

How you can put high cholesterol to sleep by hitting the gym.

Cholesterol is produced naturally by the body and gets fed to your body through all sorts of food. While a certain level of cholesterol is necessary to keep your body functioning properly, too much can be dangerous, and if it leads to a heart attack, excessive cholesterol can be deadly.

Want to know about one of the best ways to fend off high cholesterol? You’ll need to put on your exercise outfit and head directly to the gym. Keep reading to learn why your lower cholesterol levels may depend on exercise and what you’ll need to do in the gym to keep your levels low.

Lower, Higher

Through the exercise process, your body does two amazing things. It reduces the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in your body and increases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in your body. Why does this matter, and why do you want more of any kind of cholesterol?

Getting rid of LDL is obviously a good thing, especially if you consider all cholesterol to be bad cholesterol. But in the eyes of your physician, LDL truly is bad cholesterol, since it is responsible for the artery-clogging affects cholesterol is known for. HDL, on the other hand, is actually beneficial to your body. Though researchers are unsure exactly what makes HDL so helpful, it is thought that this kind of cholesterol pushes excess cholesterol out of the arteries, into the liver, and out of the body. Regardless of what makes HDL work, it has been proven to reduce your likelihood of heart attack.

But It Takes Lots

While exercise increases your HDL while lowering your LDL and helping you get better control over your overall cholesterol, it takes a good bit of exercise to really kill off cholesterol in the gym. So if you’re accustomed to stopping by the gym when the mood hits you or when your schedule allows, you’re going to have to change.

Instead of maintaining a rather lax exercise schedule, you’re going to need to spend some time in the gym four or five days a week. Any kind of exercise is good, but spreading your exercise wings is best for fighting cholesterol. Therefore, spend time stretching out, getting plenty of aerobic exercise, and don’t forget strength training. By going to the gym and working out most days of the week, your body will begin to get rid of unwanted cholesterol and create more of the good, heart-friendly cholesterol.

Better With Food

By itself, exercise will definitely have a positive impact on your cholesterol levels. But as great as exercise may be on improving your cholesterol levels, exercise alone will never be enough. For maximum cholesterol-killing ability, you’re going to have to change how you eat.

An easy first step is to look at the labels on the foods you’re eating. If there is a lot of cholesterol, toss it and grab something else. Prefer to not pay attention to food labels? There’s an even better solution. Up your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and start making your own food instead of buying prepackaged goods that are more likely to be loaded with fat and cholesterol. You’ll not only help your cholesterol levels, but you’ll be better able to maintain your weight and will enjoy a sudden boost in energy that prepackaged foods simply can’t offer.

Raising the Bar

Wondering what your exercise routine is fighting for? If you’re unsure what healthy or high cholesterol levels are, use the chart below to find out just the goal you’re trying to reach by pushing yourself in the gym.

Ideal Cholesterol Levels

Total Cholesterol: 200 mg/dL or lower
HDL Cholesterol: 60 mg/dL or higher
LDL Cholesterol: 100 mg/dL or lower

Dangerous Cholesterol Levels

Total Cholesterol: 240 mg/dL or higher
HDL Cholesterol: 40 mg/dL or lower (50 mg/dL or lower for women)
LDL Cholesterol: 160 mg/dL or higher

You Are What You Drink

So be careful to avoid these high-calorie alcoholic beverages.

When you’re out on the town, living it up with your best friends, the world is your playground. Unless you’re not enjoying yourself, counting calories is the last thing on your mind. Before you head to the bar and wind up drinking more calories in a couple hours than you should consume in an entire day, you should know which drinks to steer clear from. Want to know what drinks would be better left behind the counter and in the bartender’s hand? Good for you. Get the answer below!


Considered one of the most innocent drinks when it comes to intoxication, beer is also rather light when it comes to calories. In a 12-ounce can of beer, you can count on picking up about 150 calories. Go with the light beer and you’ll shave off 40 or so calories. And while 150 calories isn’t too much, these calories are detrimental when it comes to maintaining your get up and go. They also add up rather quickly if you order a pitcher or more than one small beer.


Typically designated for weddings and other life-changing events, champagne may seem light and tingly, but it can be a bit heavy on the hips. With a whopping 84 calories in only four ounces of alcohol, champagne may not ruin your hot new diet, but it sure doesn’t help you maintain your impressive physique either. Save it for a special occasion and champagne will never get the best of your waistline.

Think alcoholic calories are nothing to sweat about? Think again. On top of being filled with relatively useless calories, alcoholic beverages have the tendency to make you hungry. So after filling up on beer calories, you’re ready for some wing, hamburger, and cheese fry calories!


Like champagne (which is a wine), red, white, and sweet wine are viewed as lesser evils when it comes to alcohol-based calories. And for good reason. Boasting about the same amount of calories as champagne, these more common varieties of wine are relatively tame when it comes to pushing your calorie count over the edge. In four ounces, you can count on picking up between 75 and 80 calories from red or dry white wine and another 25 to 30 for sweet wine. Not too bad when you consider the various health perks that are associated with drinking a little wine each day.


The cream of the crop when it comes to party drinks, cocktails come with a calorie punch as large as their flavor. In fact, no matter what cocktail you pick, you’ll be drinking more calories than you would with three beers of the same size. Two of the lightest cocktails are daiquiris (122 calories, four ounces) and cooler cocktails (150 calories, six ounces). Pick up a martini and you’re looking at 140 calories in a meager three and one-half ounces. Go with a three and one-half ounce Manhattan and get 164 calories, a four-ounce margarita, 168 calories.

Regardless of what alcoholic drink you decide to go for at your next outing, the calorie count of a single drink isn’t the most important thing to consider. Drinking too much is. Because beyond the obvious problems that arise with intoxication, returning to the bar time and again means hundreds of extra calories hitting you right where it hurts – whether that’s your hips, your stomach, your under arm, or your thighs.

So enjoy your favorite drink, have a great time out and about, but keep the drinking under control. Your good judgment and good health are counting on it.

Transforming a Salad into a Meal

Leave the magic wand and the hocus pocus at home. This magic trick only requires a little kitchen know-how.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “salad”? More than likely, you consider this green dish to be little more than an appetizer, a side dish to the real part of your meal. But with a little work, you can take your sidelined salad and turn it into a main attraction that will please your palate and have your guests begging for more.

So how do you take a salad from ordinary side dish to extraordinary meal?

Meat, Please

For the most part, salads are rather meatless creations. If you want your salad to pack enough punch to be considered a meal, the easiest way to do it is with a little meat. A very popular choice for this is chicken. However, you can add whatever meat you can imagine. From shrimp to steak, you can use any meat for a meal-worthy salad. Just remember not to overload your salad with meat. After all, it’s a salad first and foremost, so lettuce and other veggies should be at the forefront.

Not a meat eater? Toss in some of your favorite meat substitute. From soy-based products to tofu and hummus, you can get the flavor and fulfilled feeling you want from your salad-centric meal.

Color Me Full

Anyone can toss a little salad in a bowl and call it a salad. Unfortunately, this is not going to cut it if you’re going for the full-meal effect. In order to have a bona fide salad for a meal, you’re going to have to let your salad branch out into a wider color palate.

This means tomatoes, onions, corn, peppers, radishes, and carrots. It can also mean hard-boiled egg, goat cheese, and almonds. And don’t forget about blueberries, grapes, avocados, strawberries, oranges, and apples. To give your salad some oomph, you can never go wrong when you add some extra color. At the same time your salad increases in aesthetic beauty, you’ll add to the flavor and variety of nutrients offered in your big, bad salad.

Top It Well

The finishing piece to your salad-turned-meal is the dressing. While it may be tempting to let a store-bought salad dressing finish off your creation, you may want something more exciting. If you want to make sure the effort you put into your salad pays off fully, do a little research to find out what flavor dressing would go best with the variety of foods in your salad.

You may find that a pre-made dressing does just fine. Then again, you may come across a killer dressing that you have to make on your own. Don’t wimp out and let your salad suffer. Take control of your salad destiny and be willing to invest as much time in creating your salad dressing as you did with your salad. It will ensure every plate is cleared and every mouth ends in a contented smile.

A Little More Besides

Treating salad as a meal may be a difficult concept to grasp. If you’re having a hard time eating nothing but salad for your meal, take heart! It is possible to keep salad as the center of your meal without losing out on your other favorite foods.

To do this, make sure your salad is on the largest plate at your table. So if you use a salad plate for your salad, you’ll need a smaller plate or a bowl for your other items. Once you figure out what else you just have to eat, place it in a bowl or plate and keep this second dish to one side or the other – wherever you typically place your salad. This will help your hunger stay focused on the healthy, gorgeous, colorful salad right under your nose.

Healthy Wintertime Foods

Think there’s nothing exciting to eat during the winter? Open your pantry and think again!

Apples, oranges, grapes, peaches, and tomatoes. It’s easy to go gaga over summertime foods. Get into the winter, however, and you may think your options for tasty, healthy foods are at a minimum. But you’re wrong!
With a good eye and a willingness to work with the cold months’ harvests, you can enjoy a healthy diet all year round. What foods should you look to include in your routine in the cold months?

Anything with D

The warm months offer more than just great fruits and vegetables. They also offer an abundance of life-giving light from the brilliantly bright sun. While you may think the sun’s rays don’t do much besides darken your skin, keep in mind that much of your allotment of vitamin D comes through the sun. When this source of vitamin D is taken away, it’s up to you to make it up through your diet.

A few good sources of vitamin D include salmon, dairy products, and eggs. However, there is vitamin D in many other foods. Seeking these out will help you reap the benefits of vitamin D, which include decreased likelihood of depression (which often sets in during the winter), increased energy, improved immunity against common diseases, and a reduced risk for experiencing feelings of weakness.

Packing Protein

Okay, so you don’t want to eat protein nonstop all day unless you’re considering a career in professional bodybuilding. But you do need to get a fair amount of protein during the winter months. Because not only does protein help your body function well, but it also gives you a helping hand when it comes to warming up.

Granted, eating a steak in a snowstorm will not make you feel like you’re at the beach in the middle of the summer, but protein does have properties that cause you to feel warmer. And if you have problems getting warmed up during the day, another bite or two of protein may be just what your cold bones are calling for.

Frozen Colors

Before you give up all hope of finding a way to include your favorite summertime foods in your wintertime diet, remember the power of your freezer. Before the summer is over, pack up some blueberries, orange slices, and strawberries and freeze them. Pack up enough of them in well-insulated storage bags and you’ll be able to get through the winter without saying adios to summertime foods altogether.

When you’re ready to enjoy some of the frozen fruits, pull them out and include them in a smoothie or a fruit parfait. Didn’t think far ahead enough to freeze some warm-month delights? No problem. Most grocery stores have raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries frozen in abundance. Pick some up and add them to your favorite dishes. Doing this helps you maintain a nice splash of color in what you may consider some rather colorless and drab months. This increased color palate will be pleasing aesthetically. Even more important, it will give your body a wider range of vitamins and minerals from which to draw in an effort to maintain your good health.

Cold Month Health Foods

So you can’t have some of your favorite health foods during the winter. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of healthy alternatives out there.

If you’re looking for a wintertime health food to include in your meal, consider the following:

  • beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • collard greens
  • kale
  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • winter squash

When these aren’t available, go with some of your favorite comfort foods. Just be careful to avoid high-fat, high-calorie foods that don’t provide the energy you need to get through the day.

Transform Your Diet in 2011

Want to change how you eat? You’ve got to do it one piece of food at a time.

Transform your diet in 2011

Reducing your waist size doesn’t take a miracle. It takes a lot of little steps. Wondering about the foods you should get rid of in order to transform your health and your weight through small dietary transformations? Keep reading.

Buttered Toast. It’s relatively light tasting and seems innocent, but buttered toast could be adding unnecessary calories to your diet. Wave goodbye to the buttered side of life and welcome in a little honey, jam, or jelly on a piece of whole-wheat toast. It’ll burst with flavor – not extra calories.

French Fries. Like most every other fried food, French fries are unhealthy by nature. If you’ve got a hankering for something potato-based, opt for mashed potatoes or a baked potato. To get that French fry flavor, squirt a little ketchup on your baked potato or mashed potatoes and enjoy.

Having trouble trading out all your favorite foods for healthier alternatives? Go for one at a time! It takes lots of little steps to make big progress with your health.

Fried Chicken. It may be finger-licking good, but the grease on your fingers makes it clear that fried chicken doesn’t do the body good. Instead of frying your chicken, go for the grill or bake your chicken. Doing this will instantly cut down the amount of calories and fat you consume at dinnertime.

Fudge Sauce. Heated up and dripped on a brownie or a pile of ice cream, fudge sauce is the epitome of delectable dessert topping. Shave off some calories without losing that sought-after chocolate flavor by trading our your beloved fudge sauce for chocolate syrup.

Hamburgers or Cheeseburgers. Don’t worry – you don’t have to give up the magnificent flavor and savor of burgers. But you will need to change the kind of meat you use to make your burger. Instead of the traditional beef burger, go for a turkey burger or a veggie burger. The meat (or lack of meat) is leaner than beef and has just as much flavor!

Macaroni and Cheese. It tastes amazing, satisfied children of all ages and stages, and only takes a few minutes to make. Unfortunately, macaroni and cheese is not the healthiest option for you or your children. For an equally easy option, cook some pasta and add some light and healthy marinara sauce. You may never want macaroni and cheese again.

Potato Chips. One of the most commonly criticized snack foods, potato chips beg to be substituted with a healthy alternative. In comes popcorn. But not the buttery, fattening stuff you find in movie theaters. Instead, make it low-fat popcorn that is lightly salted. It tastes great and helps you avoid the long-term consequences of potato chips.

Traditional Desserts. For the most part, there is nothing wrong with a little cake or ice cream. However, the traditional view of dessert is that more is better. To ward off weight gain from taking this traditional view of dessert, swap out your extra large portion of chocolate cake for a cup of fresh fruit or half a serving of your favorite dessert. Either way, you’ll get the sweet you crave without going overboard on calories.

White Bread. No matter what is between the two pieces of bread, a sandwich will never be its healthiest with white bread. An easy way to boost your health on a regular basis is to toss out the white bread and go with healthy, whole-wheat bread. You can also trade out your regular pasta for wheat pasta to get another boost to your good health.

Whole Milk. It may be hard for you to drink any milk except whole milk, but going with low-fat, reduced-fat, or fat-free milk will instantly reduce the amount of fat you consume each day. So if you drink milk or use it in recipes, do your health a favor by swapping out whole milk with a healthier alternative.

Get More from Your Body

How you can improve your body’s performance in four steps.

It seems everybody who knows how to exercise has a tip or two on how to get your body to operate at its maximum potential. Which ones should you use? The ones that work for you. Believe it or not, most tried-and-true ways to get more from your body work. At least they work for a certain group of people.

Trying these different techniques will help you determine what it takes to help your body get to the next level of fitness and provide you with a better, stronger self.

Strengthen Your Core:

Just the name of your core should be enough to convince you of your need to keep it strong and healthy. When your core is weak, the rest of your body is at a distinct disadvantage. Add some muscle to your core with sit-ups, double crunches, crunches while resting on an exercise ball, and other core-strengthening and core-stabilizing exercises. The end result will be more than a good-looking set of abdominal muscles. It will be a set of good-looking abdominal muscles that supports you properly and efficiently in all endeavors you undertake – whether walking briskly through the airport with two carry-on bags tossed across your shoulder or going for a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling.

Get Vitamin D:

You’ve known for a long time that vitamin D is important for strong bones, and strong bones are important if you want your body to do its job as well as possible. Did you know that vitamin D is also important for another reason? Recent research shows that vitamin D may play a great role in whether an athlete is able to take his or her performance to the next level. Runners who underwent rigorous training reduced their sprint times by 7.4 percent with the aid of vitamin D, while their counterparts who did not receive vitamin D increased their times by a meager 1.7 percent. So if you want to get the most from your body, take a vitamin D supplement or get out in the sun.

Kick Back:

Taking some time off to relax seems counterproductive when you want your body to be stronger and more efficient. But if you don’t take time to relax and get proper amounts of sleep, your body won’t be there for you when you need it most. Instead, it will be ready for naptime. In addition to getting plenty of sleep, you should also relax your body during the day. By forcing yourself to let your limbs hang loose and your fingers drop carelessly, you stretch out your entire body and reduce your stress levels immediately. Take this time to breathe, and breathe deeply. Deep, focused breathing is a great way to reinvigorate your muscles with oxygen-rich blood, and it’s easy to do. So relax a little now and your body will be ready to help later.

Drink It Down:

Water is one of your body’s main building blocks, making up nearly three-fourths of your body mass. Are you getting enough of it? If not, you’re putting your body at a disadvantage that is difficult to overcome with energy bars and electrolyte-filled drinks. When in doubt, drink water. It will give your body what it needs to stay strong and healthy, keep you from growing weak and faint, and will help you feel fuller faster, all benefits that help your body operate at its peak all the time.

Slow It Down

There are countless ways to keep your body from reaching and operating at its potential all the time. What are a few of them? Let us count the ways…

One one-thousand…sugary sweets
Two one-thousand…focusing only on aerobic exercises
Three one-thousand…focusing only on strength exercises
Four one-thousand…a negative attitude
Five one-thousand…poor posture when standing and performing exercises

Cold Weather Workout

Should you get moving when the weather outside is frightening?

When the weather outside starts to get cold and foreboding, you may be tempted to stay inside by the fire with a warm cup of tea and some comfort food in your lap. However, you should know that heading out the door for some cold-weather workouts will reap great rewards if you take care to stay warm and safe.

Read on to learn how to pump up when the wind is biting and your nose is bright red.

Dress Right.

Running and playing in the cold requires you to be very thoughtful about your wardrobe. Obviously, you can’t take off in a t-shirt and shorts. Instead, you’ll want to wear layers of clothing. As you begin to sweat, remove a layer to keep your sweat from causing you to get cold later. Then put your outermost layers back on when you begin to grow cold. For best warmth, the layer against your body should be polypropylene or another synthetic material, followed by fleece and then something waterproof and breathable on top.

In addition to staying warm, you should remember to stay safe. As it is often darker during the cold months, take precaution to remain visible to oncoming traffic. Wearing clothing with reflective surfaces will help others see you, even from a distance. You should also make sure your shoes have good enough traction to keep you on your feet as you run across various surfaces. And if you’re participating in skiing, snowboarding, or other winter sports, wear appropriate safety gear to avoid hurting your head, knees, and other body parts.

Work the Wind.

Blowing, freezing wind is one of the hardest parts to overcome if you’re trying to force yourself to work out in the cold. Keep the wind beneath your wings by facing the blowing breeze during the beginning of your run or bicycle ride. This way, you’ll be running with the wind on your way back home, making the return trip much more pleasant and making you more likely to want to do it again the next day.

Think Hot.

While you’ll need to plan your wardrobe and your wind sprints with the weather in mind, you’ll need to change your mindset to a warmer climate to ensure your overall good health during a winter workout. Wearing sunscreen in the cold may seem senseless, but the sun still has the power to burn your exposed skin during the winter. Actually, you may be at increased risk for sunburn if you’re working out at a high altitude or in an area with a lot of snow. So be sure to lather up before you head out for your cold routine.

You’ll also need to think hot weather with regards to your hydration. Becoming dehydrated may seem to be a concern only valid during the hot summer months, but you need plenty of liquids in your system year round to keep your system well watered. To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout – even if you don’t feel thirsty yet. Because once you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.

Get Back In

For the most part, you can exercise in the cold and reap only benefits from your routine. Sometimes, however, exercising in the cold isn’t a good idea. If you exercise outside when you shouldn’t, the results can be bone-chillingly bad. When should you get back inside? The following are signs that you need to get inside and stay there:

  • The temperature is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (or –17.8 degrees Celsius). At these temperatures, you’re at risk for lowering your body temperature, which can have horrid results.
  • You experience frostbite or hypothermia. The initial signs of frostbite include numbness, loss of feeling, paleness, or stinging in the fingers, face, and toes. Hypothermia is recognized by unstoppable shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, and slurred speech. If these symptoms are present, seek emergency medical attention immediately.