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Fitness Gifts for Christmas

   

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fitness gifts for christmas

Are you looking for fitness gifts for Christmas?  Whether it’s a gift for that special someone or a little something for yourself you’re sure to find a gift or two here that will be a great addition to someone’s fitness gear.   Fitness gifts are great because they can fit into many budgets.  Small items like towels and jump ropes are great for stocking stuffers and the bigger items are perfect under the tree.  I

Fitness Gifts for Christmas Under $50

This stylish Natural Fitness Yoga Hand Towel made of micro fiber is perfect for taking to yoga or carrying with you in the gym.
This C9 Champion Adjustable Speed Jump Rope is great for cardio whether your at home or on the road. Jumping rope is good exercise for a variety of ability levels so this jump rope makes a versatile gift.
You can use this Gaiam Classic Blue Backless Balance Ball Chair at home or at the office for sitting.  Dismount the ball and you’ve also got a fully functional stability/balance ball to use during a workout.
You can use the Stamina AeroPilates Magic Circle with Workout DVD for improving muscle strength throughout the body, especially in problem areas like the inner and outer thighs, upper arms and chest.  The padded grips help with better control and grip while exercising.
The GoFit Pro Gym-in-a-Bag is perfect for doing strength building exercises without the nuisance of dealing with bulky weights.  With three levels of resistance bands, handles, ankle straps, a door anchor, instructional DVD and carrying bag you’ll be ready to workout anywhere.
This Everlast Wireless Fitness Tracker Watch is a great way to keep track of your heart rate throughout the day and during exercise.
The GoFit Power Loops Set provides three levels of tension in a portable and easy to use format.  Great for leg and arm workouts, this set also includes handy fitness cards with usage suggestions.
Marcy High Impact Mats are a great option for creating a home gym space. They can be use under equipment or used to create cushioned floor space for your workouts.
Whether you’re actively into fitness or not this GoFit Foot & Hand Massage Roller would be a welcome gift for anyone who could use a little foot and hand TLC.
Rejuvenation Hand Invigoration Putty is a great tool for at home or on the go.  Target your hand muscles to help improve strength and dexterity while squishing away your stress.
Use  the GoFit 9′ Stretch Rope to help improve your flexibility.  An included manual will guide you through exercises to improve your range of motion.
The Gaiam Yoga for Beginners Kit includes a mat, foam block, strap and instructional DVD, perfect for anyone looking to start practicing yoga.
This Gaiam Restore Deep Tissue Roller can be used to soothe sore muscles after working out or a hard day of work.
This Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball Kit is a great way to start incorporating a balance ball in your workouts.  The instructional DVD features Tanja Djelevic.

Fitness Gifts for Christmas Under $100

This Ignite by Spri Fitness Bench is a versatile piece of gym equipment that will provide a solid surface for sitting and reclining activities in your home gym.
The Misfit Shine 2 Activity + Sleep Tracker is a great little tool for tracking your steps, calories, sleep and more.  It even includes a gentle vibrating reminder to get moving.
With gloves, an inflatable punching bag and a 20 minute DVD workout included in this Everlast Everflex Cardio Strike Bag Kit you’ll be ready to start boxing your way to fitness.
The Sunny Health and Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper with Bands is the perfect little fitness tool for adding extra activity to your day.  It’s small footprint allows you to move it around and store it easily.
The Body Solid Tools Package includes a stability ball and three sets of hand weights.  The varying weights will allow you to do different exercises and make strength gains without having to rush out and buy new equipment.
This Body Solid Tools Core Essentials Package contains almost anything you would want to start a small home gym for doing body weight type workouts.  With a mat, bands, weights, parallettes and more all included in this kit you’ll have all the basics covered.

When searching for fitness gifts for Christmas make sure you take the recipient’s ability level and needs into consideration.  You may also want to ensure the recipient actually wants a fitness-related gift.  Despite your best intentions fitness gifts to those that aren’t expecting them can sometimes be met with a lack of enthusiasm or even with hostility.  It’s best to save this type of personal gift for someone you are certain would enjoy it.

Please note: The items listed are sold by a third party retailer and I have no control over the item, price, quality, third party item description, item changes, updates or incorrect information provided by the retailer.  Please contact retailer should you have any issues or questions regarding the items shown in this post.

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

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This post contains affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. This does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

Don’t Let Other People’s Experiences get in Your Head

   
Other People's Experiences
Pixabay

Before I had my hysterectomy this spring I talked with lots of other women who had experience with similar procedures. As with anything else there was tons of advice and information shared. Some of it was good and some of it was crap. The most important thing I learned was not to let other people’s experiences get in my head. That sounds kind of negative but hear me out.

       

The women who had bad or difficult experiences were often the most vocal. One person told me having a hysterectomy will lead to organ prolapse and all my bits would fall out. This would be a very specific issue due to a variety of physical factors and not particularly likely. One women told me I would have terrible hot flashes and I should prepare to be miserable. This would typically only happen if you had both ovaries removed which doesn’t happen in all cases. One women told me I should prepare to gain weight due to hormone issues. Admittedly, this was the one that really got me. I researched and researched and what I found were a lot of websites with a lot of info on “female hormone imbalance” spouting a lot of home remedy type bullshit. What I did not find were credible, trustworthy sources that cited specific research and information indicating that this was really true. Crisis averted.

This bad info caused me a bit of anxiety. Were people trying to make me worry needlessly? No, they were trying to help, but their help was shaped by their experience, preconceived notions and education or lack thereof.

Fitness and diet are areas where this situation applies too. How many people have you met that wanted to project their experiences onto you? Your co-worker did Atkins or 21 Day Fix or some other program so surely that must be the right way to lose weight. Your sister eschewed a specific diet but was all about CrossFit or CIZE or whatever so that has to be the right way to get fit. Someone has a food or exercise horror story or triumph to share so that experience must be the way things are, right?

In reality it’s not that cut and dry. I’ve learned over a lot of years there is no one right approach to food or fitness. It’s great to gain insight and knowledge from other people but you can’t let other people’s experiences get in your head. What is true for one person may absolutely not be true for you. And what is true for you today may not be later down the road. As with a lot of things it pays to seek professional advice, do your own research and treat what you hear with a touch of healthy skepticism until you can draw your own conclusions.

 

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more.

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This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. This does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

How Cold Therapy Can Help You Burn Fat

   
Cold Therapy
Credit: Photodune

Today’s article on cold therapy was written by guest author Jon Newby. If you’d like to contact Jon please check out his social media and contact info at the end of the article.

       

In recent years there has been encouraging evidence that a practice called cold therapy has many potential health benefits, not the least of which is natural weight loss. Uncomfortable as exposure to the cold may be, research suggests that doing so can help us tap into deep, natural mechanisms of burning fat.

The key to understanding weight loss via cold therapy is how brown fat cells work. Until 2009 we were only aware of white fat cells in humans, but Harvard Medical School found that we also have brown fat cells. Simply put, white fat cells store fat while brown fat cells burn fat and continue to do so even after strenuous exercise! So, while both cells serve important functions, managing the ratio of white to brown fat cells is important. This study also suggests that the hormone irisin, which is released during exercise, may help to produce brown fat.

Increasing brown fat cells is the goal, and fortunately we have evidence for how cold therapy can help us do just that! Researchers at UC Berkeley discovered a protein called Zfp516, which is essential for the formation of brown fat. Two mice were both given a high fat diet, but one mouse was injected with a boosted level of Zfp516. Amazingly the mouse injected with this protein gained 30% less weight compared to the wild type, or control mouse!

The study also found that the mouse with the boosted Zfp516 had on average 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit higher body temperature than that of the control mouse when both were exposed to 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours. It appears that the conversion of white fat to brown fat is induced by cold.

We know that babies have a higher level of brown fat and that it tends to diminish with age. It’s a matter of “use it or lose it”. The modern comforts we enjoy probably aren’t helping much either. Compared to our ancestors, we’re able to get food and stay warm almost without lifting a finger (except to feed ourselves)!

The good news is that our bodies are still amazingly adaptive to the cold. We’ve just got to take advantage of this process, but how exactly?

It’s hard to put precise figures on the temperature and duration of cold therapy vs calories burned. However we now have the evidence that cold therapy works for weight loss! A study at UCSF explains that simply sitting in room at about 61 degrees Fahrenheit without a jacket will have you burning fat.

While there are certainly a lot of ways to get chilly, there are three methods I read about which I really like. Please bear in mind that if you’re unsure cold therapy is for you, then you should by all means speak to your physician first.

Cold Showers

Water draws heat from your body many times more efficiently than air does, so taking cold showers is a great method of cold therapy. It’s something you’re already doing every day, which makes it an easy habit to develop. Of course, getting doused with freezing water is not fun, unless you’re watching it happen to someone else (think ice bucket challenge). You’ll probably start breathing quickly, but there’s no need to panic. That’s the immersion reflex, which helps you take in more oxygen which is important for thermogenesis. And remember, you don’t have to make it excruciatingly cold in there, but it’s got to wake you up! You might also find that you get a healthy boost to your mood when you’re done.

Cold Workouts

As we know, exercising produces the hormone irisin, and exposure to the cold increases the protein Zfp516, both of which are used to make brown fat cells. Exercising at home in a chilled room or simply going out for a run in brisk weather may compound your effort to lose weight. Just remember to warm up your muscles first!

Ice Baths

If you’re feeling a little more daring, then you might fill your tub with cold water and ice and then slide in. There is less control over the temperature here, so be careful to not overdo it. Be sure to monitor the temperature with a thermometer. Ice baths are more intense but are nonetheless effective for stimulating the production of brown fat and even soothing injuries.

Please consult with your doctor before beginning any fitness or exercise program, including one using cold therapy, to ensure you are safely able to participate.

Author Bio
Jon Newby is a writer at National Fitness Outlet, which provides education, inspiration and tools for fitness success! You can follow National Fitness Outlet on Twitter or Facebook.

Is Everything in Moderation a Lie?

   

Is Everything in Moderation a Lie

       

The idea of eating in moderation has been getting a lot of flak in the media lately.  Much of the recent news has been based on a paper written by researcher Michelle R. van Dellen, et al.  at the University of Georgia concluding that “moderation messages are unlikely to be effective messages for helping people maintain or lose weight.”  You can read the abstract of the study here to get more on the gist of the paper.  I was immediately irritated when I started to read the news given that I had just recently declared how content I was with using moderation as way of life for my own weight loss and fitness journey.

Is the idea of everything in moderation a lie?  I don’t think so, but I can see the validity of some points presented in the study.  Basically it all boils down to the fact that moderation is a fluid term that is wildly subject to interpretation.  What I consider moderation may be laughable to you and vice versa.  Advocating for moderation doesn’t really provide any guidance and that can be a negative if your perception of moderation really isn’t very moderate at all.

Since the everything in moderation approach doesn’t provide any structured direction for eating or exercise it may leave people confused about what to do.  For me, moderation means not stressing out about heavy exercise activity, opting for lighter, less stressful workouts and eating less junk, while still allowing for a balance of treats if I am in the mood.   I can do this because I have a good idea after a lot of years of trial and error what works best for me.  For you, moderation may look totally different and include more or less activity and more or less restrictions on your eating.  If you don’t have a good sense of what works for you the idea of everything in moderation may totally steer you in the wrong direction.

Why is this a big deal?  Every week (actually more like every day) the media latches onto some type of study relating to nutrition, fitness or wellness and spins it into a catchy, controversial or attention grabbing story.  This in itself is no surprise, but what is bad is the myriad of mixed messages it sends to people who are in desperate need of clear, informative and truthful information and guidance instead of sensational bullshit.  If sticking to the idea of eating in moderation keeps you from eating a box of donuts then moderation is working for you in some way.  If you read a news story that says eating in moderation doesn’t work and then get confused about what you should be doing you haven’t really been helped at all.

Everything in moderation may not be the best advice for your particular situation so if you’re struggling to make progress seek help.  Whether it’s your doctor, a personal trainer or a registered dietitian, find a professional who can sit down and discuss what’s going on with you.  There is no one right approach to weight loss and nutrition so getting guidance from a professional is a great first step to getting on the right path to finding what works for you.

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more.

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This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. Please be advised that this does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

10 Exercises Better than Running

   

Are there exercises better than running?  Running is easy, cheap and can be a great workout but it’s definitely not my favorite exercise. I find running to be boring and generally not my cup of tea. Luckily there are lots of exercises that actually burn the same, if not more, calories than running and can give you an excellent work out.

       

Here are 10 exercises that are better than running and why:

10 Exercises Better than Running

Indoor Rowing

High-intensity indoor rowing can burn 316 calories in just 30 minutes.¹  When you take into account you are working your legs, arms and back it becomes apparent that indoor rowing is a great way to get in shape without pounding the pavement.  This low impact exercise can be performed with minimal training by a wide variety of gym-goers.

Jumping Rope

Jumping rope may not be as low impact as rowing, but it’s certainly a great way to burn calories.  In 30 minutes you can burn an amazing 372 calories¹ by jumping at a steady pace.  Jumping rope can be also be performed in Tabata-style intervals or smaller sessions if you need to work your way up to longer sessions.  In addition to burning more calories than running it’s easy to take a jump rope with you just about anywhere when you need to workout on the go.

Battle Ropes

Battle ropes are a new kid on the block when it comes to gym equipment.   Not everyone is familiar with these and even if you have seen them you might not know what the heck to down with them.  The good news is that battle ropes are fun and easy to use, plus they can help you burn tons of calories by whipping, dragging, slamming or waving them.  A small study done by the Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation at the University of Minnesota Duluth found a 10 minute session can burn around 112 calories.² If you need some ideas on what to do with battle ropes check out Greatist’s round up of 20 Epic Battle Rope Exercises.

Rollerblading

Rollerblading may not be the hot activity it was a decade or two ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent workout.  At a pace of 10 mph you will burn around 276 calories in just a half hour.³  Couple that with the fact it engages your legs, glutes and even lower back all while challenging your balance and stability and you’ve got a lower impact exercise that provides big results.  Just be sure to wear a helmet and other protective gear – safety first!

Swimming

Swimming is the ultimate low impact, high calorie burning activity that nearly everyone can do in some capacity.  A mere 30 minutes of breaststroke will burn around 372 calories, while more intense strokes like the butterfly or crawl weigh in at 409 calories in the same amount of time.¹  Even water jogging can burn 119 calories in 15 minutes⁴ thanks to the resistance of water.   Swimming and water jogging challenges multiple muscles groups and your balance too.

Tabata/High Intensity Interval (HIIT) Routines

Tabata or high intensity interval (HIIT) routines are big calorie burners due to their high intensity activity and format.  In order the make Tabata or HIIT routines work best you need to pick an engaging exercise or exercises and perform them at near maximal intensity for a set period of time, then rest and repeat according to the specific routine.  Calories burned will vary by the specific exercises, but a very small ACE study found a twenty minute session burned between 240 and 360 calories.  Another benefit to Tabata or high intensity interval (HIIT) routines is that not only do you burn calories during your workout, but you actually continue to have an increased metabolic rate up to 24 hours post-exercise.

Biking

Biking is great exercise for cardio health and for working your lower body muscles.  From BMX and mountain biking to road racing or even stationery biking, there are options to fit many environments and skill levels.  High intensity stationery biking burns around 391 calories in 30 minutes, while BMX/mountain biking burns around 316.  Calories burned while racing or biking on the street will vary with intensity/speed, but should fall around 372 to 446 calories (at 14-15.9 mph to 16-19 mph).¹  Don’t forget your helmet for this activity.

Climbing

Climbing requires advanced physical abilities, but if you’re able to do it you could burn 409 calories in 30 minutes.¹  Climbing can be done indoors or out and with the prevalence of climbing facilities even beginners can enjoy this fun and challenging sport in a safe and controlled environment.  If you’re looking for an outdoor climbing adventure checkout the searchable database at Climb, organized by state.  Indoor Climbing walls can be found at Indoor Climb’s World-wide Rock Climbing Gym & Artificial Wall Listing.

Elliptical Machine

The elliptical machine sometimes gets a bad rap at the gym.  If it’s the only machine you ever use and you spend countless hours plodding away you probably won’t see the results you’re looking for.  On the other hand, if you integrate some vigorous elliptical sessions into a diverse cardio and strength training routine you may burn around 335 calories in 30 minutes.¹  You’ll work the muscles in your lower body and recruit core stabilizing muscles to help keep your balance.  Machines with moving arms will yield even more muscle engagement.  The elliptical gets extra points for being low impact and easy to use too.

Snowshoeing

Clearly not an activity available to everyone, but a very worthy one if you can do it.  Snowshoeing burns around 298 calories per 30 minutes, which is about the same as running at a 5 mile per hour pace.¹  While caloric expenditure is similar to running, shoe shoeing is infinitely more entertaining.  Snowshoeing challenges your balance and agility and forces you to engage your leg muscles with every step.  If you add poles you’ll also gain the benefits of working your upper body at the same time.   Snowshoeing can take you into places otherwise inaccessible and the rhythmic movement of your snowshoes can be rather soothing.  If you’ve never tried snowshoeing then add it to your list of fun things to try in the coming winter.

Resources
¹ Harvard Health Publications, Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights (calculated posted are based on a 155 pound person).

² Daily Burn, The Ultimate Battle Ropes Workout.

³ Phil Lenihan. University of Massachusetts Fitness Study. In-line skating Calorie Usage Chart.

Calorie Lab,  Calories burned search results for Water activities.

 

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more.

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This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. Please be advised that this does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.