Friday, July 22, 2016

Tennis For Fitness

I've started taking tennis lessons! I have been wanting to learn tennis skills for a couple of years but have always found a reason to say I was too busy to add in another activity. Finally I bought a tennis outfit. That motivated me to sign up!

The best active sports are the ones that you can enjoy your entire life. According to a meta-analysis published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, tennis is a good fitness fit for almost anyone because of its wide range of health benefits across the age spectrum. Perhaps most interesting were the conclusions reached based on a study of more than 1,000 students in medical school between 1948 and 1964. At the start, the students were asked to rate their ability in tennis, golf, football, baseball and basketball. Researchers assessed these students again 22 years later and then again 40 years later and found that tennis was the only sport in which a greater ability during medical school was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers credit this benefit to the fact that tennis was the sport played most often through midlife.

Playing tennis regularly can:

Boost your heart and lung function
Exercise-related oxygen use and capacity diminish with advancing age, but tennis appears to decrease the rate of this age-related decline. Even moderate-intensity tennis players 30 to 74 showed better overall lung function. Tennis players also proved metabolically more fit, with improved lipid metabolism and lower incidence of hyperlipidemia (the single most meaningful predictor of coronary heart disease). Tennis players older than 55 sported significantly better blood-cholesterol profiles.

Rev up fat-burning
Exercise performance physician Massimo Testa lists tennis as a good choice for moderate aerobic exercise, but his new research takes it up a notch. It notes that singles tennis can provide a vigorous workout, and ranks it among the top five activities in terms of energy expenditure — higher than swimming, rowing, weightlifting, Jazzercise, hiking or golf. 

Strengthen your bones.
In study after study, tennis was found to bolster bone strength in both genders and in all ages. Those who started playing at a young age showed a stronger correlation than those who started at an older age, but healthier bones were maintained even after players decreased their participation.

Streamline coordination
In an analysis of the impact of aging on coordination using tennis players and non-players 20 to 80, non-players showed an increasing decline in their ability to respond with advancing age, while tennis players showed no decline in response at different ages. Researchers cited evidence that in honing focus, tennis outperforms golf, running, weight lifting, inline skating and downhill skiing.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Play Tennis

Friday, July 15, 2016

Unexpected Ways To Eat Less

We are all striving to keep active and clean up our diets. Vague statements like, "I should cut back." won't get us the results we are looking for. Here are four small specific changes that can help us eat less.

Distract Yourself
One study showed that people who played Tetris for three minutes found their desire to eat diminished. We tend to visualize cravings; mind-stimulating activities stop is from picturing that brownie.

Go to Sleep Earlier
Sleep-deprived people consumed an extra 549 calories per day compared with those who were well-rested. Get seven hours of sleep a night.

Choose Your Plate Carefully
When food contrasts with the color of the plate, people tend to eat less. Spaghetti in red sauce on a red plate makes it hard to determine portion size. Additionally, a smaller plate makes a moderate portion look bigger. Choose to use the salad plate for your meal instead of the dinner plate.

Turn Off the TV
Seeing commercials for food while watching TV can trigger people to snack. DVR the show and skip the commercials, choose Netflix, or open a book.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Common Fitness Myths

It can be hard to separate fitness fact from fiction, especially when you're just starting out. Misinformation from unreliable sources and the internet creates confusion. Top experts, Neal Pire of the American College of Sports Medicine, and Michele Olson, professor of exercise science at Auburn University, check in regarding the following fitness myths and confirm facts we can count on.

Doing 100 crunches a day practically guarantees flat abs
Crunches improve one abdominal muscles' strength and endurance (if you do a lot of them) But ultimately, your body fat level dictates whether or not your abs are flat. For well-rounded fitness and balance, you should work all the muscles in your abs, core and back. Planks are one exercise that can target a range of ab muscles.

Skip weights and do only cardio if weight loss is your goal.
Weight training is a must if you want to lose body fat and keep it off. Resistance training helps preserve lean muscle tissue during calorie deficits, which you have to achieve if you are going to lose fat over any length of time. Since muscle burns more calories at rest, weight training also boosts calorie burning even when you're not working out.

If you don't sweat a lot you didn't work out hard enough
How much you sweat depends on the type of workout and your training goal rather than how hard you're working. Power lifters tend not to sweat as much at those who do a high-intensity interval workout. Your environment influences how much you'll sweat. Cooler temperatures and lower humidity result in less sweating. Plus, some people simply sweat more than others.

You should be sore the next day after a good workout
Soreness occurs when you are first starting a program, changing a workout or increasing the amount of weight or number of exercises you are doing. You don't have to feel sore each time you work out in order to train properly. Also, you're not likely allowing yourself enough recovery time if you're sore on a regular basis.  

Exercising smarter makes your limited workout time more productive and safer. Ditch the myths and keep the facts.

  Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, July 1, 2016

Flavor Strategies

Eating is one of life's great pleasures. How can we indulge our senses of sight, smell, and taste while keeping the calories in check? Here are a couple of ideas that should please your palate.

Darker Chocolate
Intense dark chocolate savored slowly can last a long time and deliver the satisfaction you want. Dark chocolate has half the sugar of milk chocolate. Try two squares versus a whole candy bar.

Darker Beer
One glass of full-flavored sipping beer, even with higher alcohol content, can beat two glasses of a light lager. Be careful: some specialty beers can have up to 10% alcohol - more than wine.

Swap in whole grain treats
Two handfuls of nuts are heart-healthy but calorie-heavy. Downsize the two handfuls of nuts to one handful plus a handful of air-popped popcorn and whole grain Chex cereal. There are 400 calories in a 1/2 cup of nuts so portion carefully. You can add dried fruit, if you like, but again, be careful as dried fruit can bump up the calorie count.

Swap out the crackers for fruit
Enjoy savory sharp cheddar cheese with tart, crisp apple slices instead of crackers. Up your daily fruit count and reduce your sodium intake at the same time!

Intentionally make smart food choices. 
     Sit & pause to appreciate your food. 
          Indulge your senses as you eat.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, June 24, 2016

Workout Recovery and Foam Rolling

Recovery activities like stretching, foam rolling and even total rest days may feel like the throwaway stuff to make room for more pressing matters. But they're a crucial part of the performance equation. If you exercise hard and you don't allow yourself to recover, you are wasting your time.

Here's why: After a sweat session, your body is in shock - muscles are torn, fuel stores are depleted, and your immune function is zapped. Your body begins to mend muscles and replenish glycogen. Recovered muscles allow you to run faster, or lift more than you could before. But if you don't repair your body, you'll go right back to that initial alarm phase - and never get to the good stuff. Space tough workouts by at least 48 hours. Resting helps you achieve optimal strength, power and speed.

Foam rolling is the reboot tool of choice for physical therapists and personal trainers. Research has shown that foam rolling reduces muscle soreness and leads to better performance in the next workout. Foam rollers are used to help iron out fascia, the collagen-packed connective tissue that stretches over and through your muscles. Fascia can tighten with repeated stress and limit muscles' ability to move. Interestingly, the system is connected throughout, so you can roll out the fascia in your foot and have increased range of motion in your hamstrings.

Combining foam rolling and static stretching will help you recover more quickly, decrease muscles soreness and expose your joints and muscles to a full range of motion. Foam rolling works because the friction it produces raises muscle temperature and softens the fascia. Static stretching can put your joints in positions that foam rolling will not, so it's still important.

For more focused self-massage, you can use a small ball. This allows you to get into a specific area that needs extra work and can access hard-to-reach spots, especially the soles of your feet. Yoga Tune Up balls are a great option to a lacrosse ball or a tennis ball. 

Foam rolling and self-massage is best taught in person. In lieu of that, check out these videos to get you started: Experience L!fe Magazine on Foam Rolling   and   Yoga Tune Up® Self Massage Therapy

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hot New Workout Trend: Recovery

Recovery is the hottest thing in fitness. Edgy gym chains all over the US are dedicating classes, and even full studios, to all the things you do when you are not pushing through a hard workout.

Being smarter about recovery can help you become faster, leaner, stronger and fitter. During recovery your body resets itself: hormone levels re-balance, inflammation goes down, liver and muscles stock up on fuel, cells rid themselves of lactic acid and other waste products, and muscles and connective tissues lay down collagen and patch up tears. Many professionals spend up to half their total training hours on recovery to fully net the benefits of all their hard work.

Smart recovery really works. One runner had so many nagging injuries that she could not make it through a session. When she implemented recovery strategies, she not only felt better, she shaved almost 30 seconds per mile off her Personal Record (PR) in a five mile race.

It's important to limit intense workouts to three days a week. Plan your routine carefully so you're not challenging the same muscles in the same way consecutive days. Overdoing creates hormonal havoc, endocrine burnout and sets your body up for injury.

Try these top techniques to maximize your workout, recover faster and see the results in power and a sculpted body.

Rollers help increase circulation and relax knotted tissues. Stretching returns muscles to their normal resting length and helps line up new collagen fibers that your body creates during recovery. Roll before stretching because the pressure helps turn off overactive muscles so you can stretch them more easily.

Ice for 10 minutes after a tough workout. This slows blood flow to the area, reducing inflammation and swelling. The next day, to combat stiffness and spasms, use heat. The warmth speeds blood flow to the area, relaxing muscles. 

Muscles are primed to take in protein for 30 - 60 minutes after your workout. Proteins will start the repair process and carbs will refuel your glycogen. Your snack should contain 10 - 20 grams of protein and a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of protein to carbs. Re-hydrate as well. Drink 16 - 32 oz of water during the post-workout window.

Lack of sleep leads to fatigue, depressed immunity and higher stress hormones all of which contribute to a less-than-stellar workout. Aim for 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night. On your rest days, keep moving. A little activity will help flush out any remaining lactic acid and keep your muscles loose. Stretch, ride a bike for 15 minutes or do yoga.


Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food


Friday, June 10, 2016

Team Motivation

It's been proven that people imitate the behaviors of the groups they spend time with. What a great idea to spend time with people who model healthy lifestyles! Walking or exercising with a group or a partner increases consistency and enjoyment of the activity.

I blogged about my Saturday morning walking group in February of 2014 and I want to mention it again to update my newer readers. Smilers is a free Burbank community-based walking group. We Smile through the Miles! We walk between 5 - 11 miles each Saturday morning. We meet at a different local location each week at 6:30am. The walks vary from flat sidewalks to canyons to street inclines. Members often stay after the walk for coffee and conversation. Occasionally, the group will train for a half-marathon together and walk the longer mileage. The average pace is a 15 minute mile. It is "power walk" speed.

It is so enjoyable to walk and talk! I don't have to use music to keep my pace, I just keep up with the walker next to me. When else do you get the chance to have a good, long conversation without interruptions? The miles fly by when you are talking with a friend.

If you are interested in participating, contact me at and I will get you the information you need. If you are not in the Burbank area, seek out acquaintances at the gym, in your workplace or in your neighborhood to team up with and walk regularly. The accountability of meeting someone will keep you consistent and motivated to maintain your workout schedule.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food