Activities for the Whole Family

Have you made the decision that YOU want to start living your best health ever? What about your family? It’s hard to get on track without the support of your loved ones and that’s why it can be necessary to make sure they’re on board for your lifestyle changes as well! It doesn’t have to be a tedious task for them or feel like a burden, it can be fun and a great way to spend more time together. So why not pack in the quality time while getting in a good workout and being active? Here are some perfect examples to get you started as you incorporate your family life into your journey to your best health ever. 


Go Hiking Together


As long as you do your research ahead of time you can find plenty of family friendly hikes where you live. Map out how long it will take you to get there, have some classic car games ready, plenty of water and snacks, and make a day out of it. Pack a healthy picnic to enjoy when you reach the top of your destination and enjoy a beautiful day outdoors while kicking up your heart rate. 


Try Out Fun Sports

You don’t need to be an athlete to play a friendly game of basketball or soccer. Try out a basketball game of HORSE or run around with a soccer ball at your nearest park. Tennis can also be a great game to get the whole family in on. Find your nearest court and grab a couple of rackets and balls. You’ll get some sun and burn off a ton of calories running back and forth on the court. If you’re not feeling so adventurous, just grab a frisbee and head to the beach. Before you know it you’ll be starting your own Ultimate Frisbee team!


Sign up For A 5k Walk Or Run 


See what’s coming up on active.com for the latest 5k Walks and Runs. These events are usually family friendly, a great way to build community and the perfect opportunity to get some steps in. Better yet, find one that is for a cause close to your heart and educate your family on why it means so much to you. You’ll feel the positive impact not just physically, but also get a mental boost for supporting a charity that you feel personally connected to. 


Start a Neighborhood Recreation League


Get your neighbors involved in your health journey by starting a friendly weeknight Kick-Ball league (or Ultimate Frisbee team!) with one side of the street against the other. You’ll create a greater sense of community within your neighborhood, meet new people and maybe even find your next babysitter. You can also do some research to see if your town already has social sports leagues set up and join an existing team with your family and friends. Weeknight games are a great way to break up your weekly routine and add some diversity to your exercise habits. 

Travel With Games

Keep a soccer ball or a frisbee in your trunk. Instead of waiting in the car in between errands or after school activities, get out of the car and throw the ball around. If you’re on your own, try jump roping wherever you are. You can burn as many as 200 calories in just one 10-minute jump-rope session. Or make sure to just get out of the car and walk around, as long as you’re moving you’re one step closer to achieving a healthier life!

Go For A Bike Ride

A great way to burn calories and explore your neighborhood, biking is a perfect outdoor activity. Whether you’re on a beach cruiser or a tandem bike, you’ll be enjoying the ride so much you won’t even mind the burn when you’re going up those hills. Make sure to strap on a helmet, ride with water and plan out a fun pit stop. Check out TrailLink to find safe, family-friendly trails in your city. 

Get Technology Involved 

Add an element of competition between family members and see who can get the most steps in the day. You can use the Health app on your phone or invest in a FitBit to track your steps. Set a goal of 10,000 or 20,000 steps a day and create incentives for whoever hits the goal first. For example, the winner doesn’t have to do dishes that night or gets to choose what movie you’ll see that weekend! 

Make sure your family and friends know about your commitment to your healthier lifestyle so they understand how important it is to you that you have their support. Rallying your community is a pivotal step towards achieving your best health ever and there are endless fun and active ways the whole family can join in on your journey. 

A Beginners Guide to HIIT 

Not sure what HIIT is or what it even stands for? This is the perfect place to start your education on a training program that has incredible benefits to your health and can add that diversity to your workout routine that you’ve been looking for.

High-Intensity Interval Training is defined by its bursts of high-intensity anaerobic exercise alternated with periods of low to moderate intensity exercise. The high-intensity portions of the workout will work your body to its max for anywhere between 30 seconds to 4 minutes, and the lower intensity periods that can last the same period of time will allow your body to recovery while you still remain active. This type of training has become increasingly popular in the fitness world due to its many health benefits, it’s shortened exercise time and it’s ability to be practiced anywhere, even from home.

So what exactly are the health benefits of HIIT? 

  • You burn a ton of calories, even after you’re done working out! Thanks to Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, your body is still using calories after a high-intensity workout to recover and restore itself from the effects of the exercise you just completed. This is also known as the “afterburn effect” and not only helps to burn additional calories hours after your workout but also helps to burn fat! 

     
  • Although this type of exercise might sound like a heart attack waiting to happen, it will actually benefit your cardiovascular system more than you think. Many people may be intimidated by the idea of going at 80% – 90% of their speed capacity on a treadmill but if you’re training properly you don’t need to worry that this will lead you to a heart attack, it will actually have the opposite effect! The intensity of the workout will help to increase the elasticity in your blood vessels and arteries, allowing for a better flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. So even though you might feel like your heart is about to pump out of your chest, it’s actually becoming stronger and healthier.
 
     
  • The more your practice HIIT the more you’ll increase your body’s rate that it can consume oxygen. Your body has a specific rate at which it can consume oxygen while you are physically active and in the high-intensity phases of a HIIT, your body is demanding to be filled with even more oxygen than it would during a lower paced cardio exercise. Each workout can increase the threshold of oxygen you take in, and with that extra oxygen your muscles will perform better and you’ll boost your stamina. 

     
  • We all have busy lives and would probably rather spend our extra time with our families or catching up with friends than putting in the hours at the gym. And that’s another reason why HIIT is so great – it doesn’t have to take up as much time as your other workouts! You can even get a great fat-burning session done in just 20 minutes by practicing the technique of high-intensity exercise bursts mixed in with moderate to low-intensity exercise bursts. 


     
  • HIIT tests both you both mentally and physically. When you’re in the high-intensity phase of the workout you are going faster and harder and pushing yourself beyond what you thought possible. Not only are you testing yourself physically, but you’re giving yourself that mental challenge of pushing back against thoughts that might tell you aren’t strong enough. Guess what though, you ARE and with HIIT you’ll learn you have more mental and physical endurance than you once thought. 

     
  • Diversity is key in your workout regime and high-intensity interval training can be practiced among a range of different exercises from cycling, swimming, running and weight-lifting. It’s easy to incorporate into your favorite workout and you can even try it from your own home.

Although it might sound intimidating, high-intensity interval training can be practiced by almost anyone, anywhere. It’s a great workout to incorporate into your routine 2-3 times a week and will help keep you motivated and energized. Try out an Orange Theory Fitness Class (they’re all about HIIT!) and let us know what you think. 

 

How To Be A Morning Person

There are many benefits to rising early. It boosts your energy and lifts your mood. It amplifies your productivity and sparks your creativity. And it improves your chances of getting to work on time!

Are you looking for ways to become a morning person? Getting more sleep is a great first step. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of shuteye each night. But it’s not just the number of hours you sleep that affects your ability to wake up and seize the day. It’s also the quality of those ZZZs.

Even if you’re a true night owl, you can transform yourself into a morning person by making a few tweaks to your daily routines. So what are you waiting for? Adopt these healthy sleep habits and you’ll soon find yourself waking up refreshed and ready to go

  1. Set bedtime reminders: Sticking to a healthy sleep schedule starts with hitting the sheets around the same time every night. On your smartphone, set an alarm with a soothing sound that reminds you when it’s time to start winding down. (If you have an iPhone, check out the Bedtime tab on your alarm clock for a sleep analysis bonus.)
     
  2. Start slowly: Training your body to get sleepy when it should doesn’t mean you need to convince yourself to hop into bed at 9 p.m. when you’re used to doing so much later. Making too big of a leap will keep you lying awake and restless, plus more likely to rebound into old habits. Instead, try turning in just 15 minutes earlier than usual. When your body adjusts to this new bedtime, turn in another 15 minutes earlier.
     
  3. Stay consistent: Waking up at the same time every day will also help you stick to your new schedule, which you may find easier to commit to on weekdays. If you’re tempted to reward yourself with extra shut-eye on the weekends, resist the urge to lounge in bed. Sleeping in a couple of hours later than normal may feel luxurious now, but it can throw off your body’s internal clock—and land you with “a case of the Mondays.”
     
  4. Reframe your thinking: Do you tend to procrastinate when it’s time to go to bed? How you think about bedtime sends signals to your body, which may trigger or inhibit a sleepytime response. By the time you feel tired, you might find yourself saying, “It’s late, I should go to bed.” A little trick to make bedtime less flexible is to shift the way you think about it. Next time you’re up an hour later than intended, try saying to yourself, “It’s an hour past my bedtime.”
     
  5. Destress your morning routine: How you start your day can set the tone for a positive day—or not. Hectic mornings may seem like the norm, but they don’t have to be. Shorten your morning to-do list by shifting tasks to the night before, like picking out what to wear, preparing a make-ahead breakfast, packing a healthy lunch, setting the coffee timer, and organizing your work bag.
     
  6. Skip the snooze button: Tired of being tired, even after a full night’s sleep? If you tend to hit the snooze button, you may be making yourself more tired than you think. Setting your alarm to go off just eight to 10 minutes into a new REM cycle can lead to sleep inertia or that feeling of heavy morning grogginess that’s hard to shake. Moving your alarm clock away from your bedside will encourage you to get up and start moving right away.
     
  7. Cut back on caffeine: Any coffee lover knows that going cold turkey on the joe can be quite the feat. Gradually scale back on your caffeine intake. Not only will it help you snooze more soundly, you’ll be less likely to spend those extra dollars on a cup of coffee the next morning.
     
  8. Jumpstart your day: You don’t have to leap out of bed and hit the gym for a vigorous workout to reap the benefits of morning exercise (unless, of course, you want to).There are plenty of early-bird workouts you can do from the comfort of home, and all you need is 10 – 30 minutes of moderate physical activity to get your heart pumping and feel more energized for the day ahead.

All it takes to start your journey to becoming a morning person is to make one small change. You’ve got this! Which healthy sleep habit will you try tonight?

 

 

 

 

How to Outsmart the Grocery Store 

It’s happened to all of us. You ended up in the grocery store, hungry, tired and unprepared and suddenly you have a cart filled with frozen pizzas and potato chips. You end up staring at shelves upon shelves of Kraft Mac & Cheese, intriguing cereal boxes, microwave dinners and twelve different types of fruity, sugary yogurts. You definitely don’t need any of these items but you somehow end up with a cart full of them and you leave the store guilty of falling prey to the hidden psychology tricks of grocery stores. Have you ever noticed how essential foods like milk and eggs are spaced farthest from the entrance and to get back there you have to walk by all those packaged foods you didn’t even think you wanted? Or what about all the candy and sodas that are so conveniently placed by the checkout to tempt you while you stand in line waiting for your turn at the register?  Or take a look at how large grocery carts are lately, do you really need to fill that much space or could you opt for a smaller shopping basket? Grocery stores are smarter than we think…but we can beat them at their own game and here’s how! 

Make A List

Do not enter the grocery store without a list, whether it’s on your phone or written down on an old receipt you found in your car. Make sure to plan ahead, list out the items you truly need and do not allow yourself to deviate from this list once in the store. It may take an extra five minutes to do before you head in but it will save your wallet will be thankful for taking that time after you’re done the shopping!Also, don’t even think of walking down an aisle that doesn’t have one of the items you need.Not only will this save you from purchasing that junk food you don’t need, it will also save you time AND money. You could even turn this challenge into a game by timing yourself each time you go into the store. How quick can you get in and out? Get your friends in on the challenge and see who can make the best time!

Never Go To The Store Hungry 

This is a rule everyone should live by. Your eyes are always bigger than your stomach and going to a grocery store with an appetite can land you in the frozen dinner section, or even worse, the bakery section picking out a donut to eat as you stroll through the rest of the store. Have a healthy snack before you go like an apple or a hard boiled egg. This will provide you with the energy you need to tackle the produce aisle and stock up with all your fruits and vegetables for the week! If you end up at the grocery store without a snack, just grab an apple or a banana from the fruit section (but don’t forget to pay for it on your way out!!).

Avoid Grocery Stores Completely

That’s right! Abandon the grocery store completely! Buy meat from a butcher and get your fruits and vegetables from your local farmers market. Or if you have a busy schedule, grocery shop online. There are countless platforms like Vons and Amazon that will deliver groceries right to your door. After having a snack and making your list, you can opt to shop online for the healthy foods you really need to stock your kitchen. If you’re interested in learning to cook new recipes you could also try one of a meal delivery service like Blue Apron or HelloFresh! These services can be very affordable and help you inspire you with creative & healthy new dinner options. 

Stocking up your kitchen with the right foods is just one of the first steps of living your best health ever! If you can successfully get through your trip to the grocery store you’re already on your way to improving your health with meals that feature the foods you really need to fuel your body and your mind. If you need inspiration for your next meal, try out this great recipe from our friends at Whole30! 

 

 

 

Simple Ways to Burn Extra Calories Throughout the Day

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for the body to be in peak condition. You need to be physically active to make sure your excess fat and stored energy are used up. Staying active is also vital for our mental health as exercise acts as a natural form of treatment for stress and anxiety. You will be at your best health ever only when you have a proper fitness regimen that you stay committed to, watch your health and nutrition, and be an active member in your community. 

That said, busy schedules and demanding lifestyles can mean you don’t always have that extra hour or two to hit the gym every day. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t be in control of your body AND burning those extra calories! Here are a few simple tips to get you through the day when you notice you’ve been more sedentary than usual and you don’t have time to lace up for a run. Don’t think of these as a substitute for working out but as an extra boost when you need to pick up the pace throughout your day! 

  • Park farther away from your end destination. Whether it’s the parking lot at work or at the grocery store, find an empty spot as far away as you can to add in those extra steps. This adds a few minutes on your feet and can give you extra ‘burn time’.
     
  • Cycle to work. This is a great way to pick up a new hobby while joining the movement to reduce air pollution (and save on gas money!).
     
  • Take the stairs. Forget elevators or escalators and always opt for the old-fashioned staircase. To burn some extra calories, take 5 minutes out of your day to run a couple of laps up and down the stairs in your office building or in your home!
     
  • At your desk, when seated, flex your core constantly. Sit upright and flex your glutes, stretch your back, and try your best to not sit idle at any time. 
     
  • Take a walk around the office during breaks. If you are on the phone, get up and walk as you talk. Doing this has the added benefit of no one overhearing your conversations as well, a double win! If you need a reminder, set a timer on your phone every 30 minutes so you know to get up and move around. 
     
  • Purchase a fitness tracker like a Fitbit. This can help keep you accountable as it tracks your steps throughout the day. You can even set goals for 10,000 or 20,000 steps a day and compete against yourself to make sure you're always hitting that number!
     
  • If you have a dog, add an extra 10 minutes to your daily walks with them. Not only will your body appreciate being outside and active for longer, so will your furry friend. 
     
  • Do you already walk to the nearest Starbucks or coffee shop by your home or work? Check out where the second nearest one is and opt for that one each morning when you're going to grab your daily cup of joe! 

Try out any of these tips to burn some extra calories and you’ll feel the difference in your body, physically and mentally. Also, make sure to take the time to examine your day to day routine and find other opportunities that you could be using to walk around and be more active. It’s easy to get caught up in the race to get from point A to B but if you begin to move with more purpose you’ll be one step closer to living your best health ever.  

 

 

 

Bret Scher, MD FACC

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