Big Props for the Park -6 Exercises Using a Park Bench

In honor of the start of fall, I want to give props to the park bench.
Here are a few ideas to get a great workout without having to go any farther than your neighborhood park:
1. Bench jumps
  • Start by squaring up your shoulders to the bench and slightly bending your knees.
  • With both legs, jump up onto the bench and try to land in the same position from which you started.
  • Jump back down to the starting position. That’s one rep.
  • Try to do three sets of 10 jumps to get started.

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2. Incline push-ups

  • Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the bench, and put your feet back into a plank position.
  • As you do a push-up, make sure to keep your back and neck in line with each other to prevent any strain on your neck.
  • Reverse your position for a more challenging option.

 

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3. Bulgarian split squats

  • Start by facing away from the bench.
  • Move your left foot back and lift it up onto the bench with your right foot still underneath you.
  • Slowly bend your right leg into a 90-degree angle. “Avoid bringing your knee over your toe and turning your hips,” said Kensie Noble, senior in kinesiology and president of Alliance for Health and Fitness Professionals Club.
  • Come back up to your starting position. That’s one rep. Try to finish two sets of 10 on each leg.

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4. Step-ups

  • Face the bench with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Put your right foot onto the bench.
  • As you come to the top, drive your left knee into your chest before stepping back down.
  • Do 10 reps on each leg for three rounds.

 

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5. Side Step-ups

  • Stand parallel to the bench
  • Using your inside leg, step up onto the bench and drive the opposite knee upward.
  • Do 10 step-ups on each leg for three rounds.

6. Tricep Dips

  • Sit on the bench and position your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the seat.
  • With your legs extended out in front of you, scoot your butt off the seat so that your hands are the only thing touching the bench.
  • While keeping your back straight and close to the bench, use your arms to slowly lower yourself until your elbows are around a 90-degree angle.
  • Press down into the bench to raise yourself back to the starting position.
  • That’s one rep. Try to complete two sets of 15.

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With all of these exercises, make sure that you are using good form to prevent injuries. Put some headphones in or grab a friend, and go enjoy the great outdoors.

Family Friendly Fit Tricks for Healthy Weight Management

fridge_pic-full[1]I love Google. I use it for almost everything, including health care, how to do whatever, recipes, shopping, and more. But Googling weight loss is like opening Pandora’s Box. There are way too many sites and supplements that are questionable at best, aimed at your pocket book rather than your waist line. Here are five family friendly fit tricks for healthy weight management.

1. Build a healthy home environment. It can be as simple as having a fruit bowl on the table, rather than a bin full of fruit tucked away at the bottom of the fridge. Keeping healthy food visible encourages kids (and adults) to grab and go when they are hungry and in a hurry. Keep cut up veggies, yogurt, or fruit salad front and center in the fridge. When a kid (or adults) opens the refrigerator to mindlessly search for snacks, the healthy option will catch their eye.

2. Purchase small portions and limited amounts of convenience food that is high in sugar and fat. Pre-portion any junky snacks in little ramekin cups, baggies, or mini cupcake liners, so there is no mindless eating from the bag of chips or cookie box. Store these items in the images[9]pantry on a higher shelf so they are less visible.

3. Make physical activity a routine, and make it fun. Take a walk or walk the dog after dinner to unwind. Get up during commercials while watching your favorite show and play catch with a Nerf ball, or strike up a game of balloon volleyball with your kids.

4. Eat meals around the table, at home as often as possible. Family meals offer kids a chance to see parents eating healthy. Show how to load the plate with a variety of vegetables and smaller portions of meat and carbs. Meat packs between 55-110 calories per ounce, so it’s easy to pack on the pounds when the portion shifts even a couple of ounces on a regular basis (especially as you age).

5. Praise yourself and your kids when you practice the skills and behaviors linked with healthy eating. Give high fives after those active commercial breaks. Notice when you and your kids have put in the effort to taste an unfamiliar food and choose healthy options over the junk.

 

Healthy Foods for Unhealthy Cravings

0910-chocolate-potato-chip[1]I have always heard that a food craving is your body telling you that it’s lacking a certain nutrient. I came across an article in Medical Daily that not only explains what cravings mean, but also offers healthy alternatives.

Food cravings can seem strong enough to pick us up and send us straight to the refrigerator, drive through, or local grocery, going against our better judgment. Our hunger pangs can often lead us astray, forcing us to make unhealthy choices when it comes to satisfying our food cravings. While we may blame our sweet tooth or stress for these compulsive cravings like chocolate, or a bag of chips, our body may be longing for something we cannot buy at the grocery store. These intense cravings may be a signal that something is amiss in our bodies such as vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients we lack.

Since most of us in eat a fair amount of processed foods, and not enough whole, nutrient-rich foods, we actually can suffer from very mild malnutrition. This explains why we end up craving what our body is currently lacking.

For healthier food choices, it’s important to recognize what types of key nutrients we’re missing, and how to put ourselves back on a healthier path where we remain just as satisfied.

1. Swap Chocolate With Raw Nuts

Craving chocolate can mean our body is in need of magnesium. Chocolate provides up to 10 percent daily value of magnesium for 2 ounces (and a whopping 290 calories), actually making it a pretty good source of magnesium.  But our craving for chocolate may be a learned response instead of the body actually thinking it’s getting the best source of magnesium. Dieticians recommend eating raw nuts, as a better source, on a regular basis to make the craving go away.

2. Swap Coffee Or Tea With Hydrating Juice

The desire for coffee or tea is quite common, especially during the early hours of the morning. In the AM, after the body has been on an eight-hour fast of anything liquid or solid, we tend to be more dehydrated. This is due to our metabolic processes still running, and water being lost in the processes.

Starting the day with a hydrating juice such as watermelon juice, or diluted orange juice (half water and half OJ) can be a healthier alternative. Once you hydrate your cells you may find you don’t need a caffeine boost which can actually cause dehydration. A sliced orange or sliced grapefruit in the morning is also great for hydration, vitamin C, and fiber.

3. Premenstrual Cravings

A week before a woman’s menstrual cycle, she tends to crave random foods like chocolate, and those laden with saturated fats. These cravings hint that the body needs more zinc. The level of zinc in your system fluctuates depending on your estrogen levels. Therefore, zinc increases as estrogen rises, leading up to ovulation, and then drops right before ovulation and stays lower until the beginning of your next cycle.

Zinc deficiency has been linked to lower levels of the hormone leptin, which is responsible for regulating the body’s energy expenditure, fat storage, and appetite. Leptin communicates to the brain when it should feel full and stop eating. Insufficient leptin levels are believed to be the primary cause of food cravings and overeating. Good sources of zinc include red meats, seafood, leafy vegetables, and root vegetables.

Rather than cave to your food cravings, understand what your body really needs, and replace the junk with healthy substitutes! Now you know.

Eat This, Not That: 5 Healthier Substitutes For Unhealthy Food Cravings

Encourage Fitness — Do As I Say And As I Do

Parents influence kids every day with words and actions, and when mom and dad regularly encourage kids to be active, they help kids to appreciate fitness and have fun along the way.

 

Teaching practical life skills is one of the many roles that parents have. Things like how to brush teeth, how to tell time, how to tie shoes, and research now suggests that another one to add to the list is how to be healthy and active.

 

It’s never too late to start a healthy habit, especially with kids. Kids like to move, and though it is highly unlikely that a child goes from couch potato to Olympian, there are several ways parents can influence their children to exercise.

 

While verbal encouragement or logistical support, such as driving kids to soccer practice, is important, parents’ attitudes about health and fitness and their own patterns of physical activity are equally as important, since kids often follow by example.

 

Being active together has shown to have a significant impact on how kids view exercise, but it often goes down as a child’s age goes up.  Younger children are more likely to want to spend time being active with their parents than teenagers, so there may be a window of opportunity to use it before losing it when it comes to co-activity.

 

And even though the sphere of influence on kids can be far and wide from friends to teachers to Sponge Bob, few are as direct and important as parents .

 

Children are well known for their contrary nature. Tell them to do something, and quite often they will do the opposite. So trying to force children to exercise may not be the best strategy.

 

Every parent has his or her way of approaching life lessons, but the idea with fitness is to get children to appreciate being active, and have a little fun along the way. “Because I said so” may work for putting the dishes away, but encouragement, celebrating small victories, and doing things together can be effective ways to motivate kids to get fit and stay active. And no child wants their brain to turn to mush because of too much television.

 

Whether is it sports, riding bikes, a martial arts class, or walking the dog every night, it is important to consistently present each opportunity in a positive light.  It may take a bit of time and patience, but when children find the fun in being active, fitness can become a part of everyday life.

 

When kids are active at a young age, the habit can last throughout their lifetime, and influencing kids to be active at an early age is no different than teaching them the golden rule or respecting their elders. So it’s time to put fitness right up there with teaching children how to ride a bike and that  there’s no hiding a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.

 

Indoor Rowing – Endurance, Flexibility, Cardio, Resistance

Lately, I have been trying to mix up my cardio between the treadmill, elliptical, and spinning. But lately another machine has been calling my name. It’s faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, works all the muscles in a single bound, Look! It’s a rowing machine.

That’s right, that little rowing machine off in the corner of the gym is one of the few super machines that work all the major muscles of the body at once while providing a cardio kick at the same time.

Starboard or Port? No need to memorize any boating terms to get a great rowing workout. Indoor rowing can be an endurance exercise, a flexibility exercise, a cardio exercise, and it invokes all the muscles of the body and trains them evenly. The pulling motion works the arms, shoulders, back, and abdomen. The legs, hips, and torso do the brunt of the work on the slide back, and it does this all with very little pressure on the joints. Because rowing is done with a fluid movement, the sliding motion doesn’t jar elbows or knees like other types of exercise.

You can adjust the rowing machine to create a tighter resistance to tone and build muscles. For that aerobic advantage, keep the tension low to maintain less resistance and higher speed, which improves endurance along with lung, heart and circulation systems. Rowing machines offer the best of all worlds in one exercise.

The power in each stroke or pull controls the flywheel on the rowing machine, and proper technique is key. The rhythm to rowing is Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover.

Be careful when sitting, because all rowers have movable seat pads. Strap your feet flat, straighten the torso while contracting the abdominal muscles, and grab the bar in a palms down grip by bending the knees, not rounding the spine. This starting position is called the catch.

Drive back with the feet to straighten the legs and begin to pull the bar forcefully as the legs finish straightening out. The pulling stroke is a rapid, constant horizontal motion all the way into the mid-section. Recover by bending the knees and straightening the arms to start the forward sliding motion back to the start. Now do it all over again, and again, and again. Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover. Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover.

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