Posts Tagged ‘walking’

Tips for tackling hills

April 5, 2011

Competed in my second half marathon this past weekend.  Covering those 13.1 miles were just as hard as I remembered them being the first time, except this time around I had the added pleasure of tackling 4 monster hills (well, actually 2, but we ran them twice since the course was a loop).  As I chugged up the hills, I noticed many of my fellow runners took the climb as a walking break and I don’t blame them.  Hills are tough, especially if you haven’t trained for them, but you can conquer them, the trick is…you have to not think like a runner. 

It’s instinctive for a runner to lean into a hill while trying to run up one.  We think that by throwing our weight forward we’re somehow helping to propel ourselves forward, but we’re actually making it harder.  When you lean forward, you force your quads to do all the work, not to mention you’re putting a lot of pressure on your knees.  Meanwhile, your other leg muscles (your gluteus maximus and hamstrings) are just along for the ride.  Considering your butt is your body’s biggest muscle, it would make sense to use it, right?  That’s why I suggest you think like a cyclist.

The next time you’re faced with a hill, keep your upper body upright and lean back…using your hamstrings and butt to keep moving.  The sensation is the same as sitting back in the saddle when riding a bike up a hill.  You’ll find if you do this, you’ll get up those hills faster and you’ll be less tired once you reach the top because you’re exerting less effort by using those bigger muscles.

Another technique you can take from cyclists is to power through the downhills.  It’s easy to ease up on your pace when you don’t have to work too hard, but maintaining a steady pace, even speeding it up a bit, while running downhill will help to make up the time spent on walking breaks.

Oh and there’s one more biker trick I want to share.  If you find your knees/hips hurt during a run, it’s probably because you aren’t aligned properly.  To keep everything where it should be (and minimize injury), concentrate on keeping your knees forward as you run.  Imagine you have headlights strapped to your knee caps and focus on illuminating the path right in front of you. 

Just so you know, all these tips helped me turn in a decent time of 2:41:25 on Sunday.  That averages out to about a 12:20 mile.  I may not be fast, but I finished!

An app-solutely easy way to lose weight

February 16, 2011

A year or so ago I blogged about the mind-boggling number of diet and fitness apps available to smart phone users. 

At the time, I didn’t have a smart phone of my own and had to rely on the experiences and recommendations of others, but not anymore.

Since getting my new iPhone last week, I’ve spent a lot of time trolling through both the free and paid healthcare and fitness apps.  Here’s what I’ve discovered.

Name something you want to keep track of and there’s an app for it.  Whether we’re talking calories, exercise, heart rate, sleep, your period, your pregnancy or the number of push ups you can do…there are apps available to help you monitor all of it.  There tends to be multiple versions of each so all you have to do is pick the one that appeals to you, your goals, and your wallet the best.

My go-to diet app is the one available for free from the Daily Burn.   

The list of foods in its database is extensive.  If  you’re lazy or having trouble mastering the touchscreen keypad, you can pay to upgrade to an app that’ll let you scan the barcode of any food item to log it.  Neat, right? 

In addition to logging what you eat, you can also input personal information like your weight goal and it’ll suggest a caloric range for you to stick to.  You can also keep track of your exercise and even email questions to a certified personal trainer.

If you’re looking for something a bit more “hands-on” in terms of fitness, there’s definitely no lack of apps that offer to coach you or show you how to perform exercises.  You need to pay for most of those, with the average price around $1.50.

There are also apps that use GPS to track your runs/walks/steps.  I have yet to try one, but I hear most work great (until you get a phone call, but we’ll leave that for another post).

Overall, I think these healthcare/fitness apps are a great way to maintain your healthy lifestyle.  Let’s face it, we could all use a little help in sticking to our diet and/or exercise resolutions.  But when that help is so readily accessible, there’s really no excuse for failure.

How to keep that healthy New Year’s resolution

January 3, 2011

It’s a new year!  Odds are you’ve made a resolution to lead a healthier lifestyle.  Good for you!  Here are some tips to stick to that promise for the next 12 months.

1) Set realistic goals.  Instead of vowing to lose 30 pounds before next New Year’s Eve, focus on losing 10 percent of your body weight by year’s end.  That’ll ensure you lose the weight slowly, which means you’re more likely to keep it off.

2) Incorporate change slowly.  Quitting cold turkey is hard whether it’s giving up smoking or cutting out junk food.   Don’t swear off all of your unhealthy habits all at once , instead phase them out gradually.  If you make changes one at a time and are happy with the results those new choice yield, you’re more likely to make more improvements and stick with your new (and healthier) lifestyle.

3) Moderation is Key Too much of anything, even healthy stuff, isn’t a good thing.  Restrict your diet too much and your more likely to slip back to your old ways.  Spend too much time at the gym and you risk side-lining yourself with an injury.  As for the unhealthy stuff…indulging every once in a while isn’t going to wreck your plans, just don’t make a habit out of it.

4) Get moving!  The biggest and best thing  you can do for yourself is to get more exercise.  And I’m not just talking about hitting the gym every day.  It’s recommended to get between 30 and 60 minutes of aerobic exercise a day and that could be anything…walking the dog, running, biking, yoga, etc.  The point is to move and get your heart rate up.  Do that 7 times a week and not only will you be healthier, but you’ll also be happier — exercise causes your brain to release endorphins which in turn boosts your mood.

And to help you along with that last tip…here are this week’s Monday Music Mayhem picks.

Who Dat Girl — Akon

Black and Yellow — Wiz Khalifa

Club Can’t Handle Me — Flo Rida feat.  David Guetta

Undo It — Carrie Underwood

Scratch those Sketchers

August 12, 2010

By now I’m sure you’ve seen and heard about those odd-shaped sneakers that are supposed to help you shape up.  You may even own a pair.  And I don’t blame you if you’ve given into the hype.  The shoes claim to tone your butt, thighs, calves, and abs all “without ever setting foot in a gym”.  They apparently can help you do all that because the shoe is designed to “stimulate walking on sand.”  But do they work?  Surprisingly or rather, unsurprisingly, no.

The American Council on Exercise, a non-profit health and fitness organization that certifies personal trainers, recently tested the popular Sketcher and Reebok toning sneakers.  They used a regular running shoes as a control.  A group of women were then ordered to lace up and spend some time on a treadmill at various speeds and inclines in each of the shoes.  What the researchers found is that the speciality shoes offered no additional benefit over the running shoes.  (Sketchers, naturally, took offense and blasted the study, saying there were other, larger studies that proved the benefits of rocker bottom shoes.)

I doubt, however, that the study will make a dent in Sketcher’s bottom line.  The company earned 40 million dollars during the last quarter, largely due to the sales of its toning sneakers.  And it’s pretty obvious why the shoes are so popular.  People will jump at anything that claims to help them lose weight or get into shape easy.  That’s also why the weight loss industry is expected to bring in 68 billion dollars this year.  68 billion! 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…there’s no magic pill or shoe for weight loss.  You know what’ll work just as well as buying yourself a pair of 100 dollar Sketchers?  Lacing up your old pair of sneakers and exercising more.  Odds are you aren’t walking much if you’re looking for a pair of miracle sneakers to do the job for you.  At the risk of sounding preachy…just get out there and move people!

Puppie Power, Part 2

January 22, 2010

Pitbull sporting sneakers (btw, those puppies light up!)

Last month I posted a story about how people who exercise with their dog(s) see better and more lasting results.  If it’s something you’re thinking of doing or are already doing, read this.  Not only will you laugh at the ancedote about the dog trying to herd his running companion, it”ll make sure you and your four legged companion stay injury free.

Snowy Haiku

December 20, 2009

So if you live in the the Northeast…you’re probably snowed in.  If you’re lucky, you get to stay indoors and enjoy the pretty winter scenery.  But if you’re like me, you had to bundle up and head into work.  Here’s my experience in haiku form:

Trudging through the snow

My quads are burning like flames.

Go workout?  Not today!

Puppie Power

December 15, 2009

New research from the University of Missouri has found people who walk with dogs are better off than those who exercise with human companions.

As if you needed another reason to love man’s best friend!

During the 12 week study, people who walked with a four legged friend improved their walking speed by 28 percent!  (That’s like going from 3 miles per hour to 3.8 mph.)  And while the human walkers made up excuses not to go walking, the dog walkers kept to their walking regime, not wanting to disappoint the pups.

Researchers are also thinking the improvements aren’t just physical, but mental and emotional as well. 

SOURCE: The Best Walking Partner: Man vs. Dog

How fast is fast enough?

October 6, 2009

We all know that walking is good for us, but when many of us lace up the sneakers and head out, we’re not strolling fast enough.  So how fast should we be walking?  FL-RaceWalking-0704p46-m

According to researchers at San Diego State, the right pace is about 100 steps a minute.  (That’s 3 mph for all you treadmill walkers.)  Outside walkers, unless you plan to count in your head, you’ll need a pedometer.  Choose one from a Japanese company because they tend to be the most accurate.