Tag Archive | active lifestyle

What Is Physical Fitness? How to Tell If You’re Really Exercising

by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

 

Keep fit with exercise that’s right for you.

I often get asked: “Is doing physical activity enough, or do I need a structured fitness program to get in shape?”

My answer is different for each person who asks. I have to tailor my answers because fitness is not a one size fits all situation. For many people simply increasing their physical activity will be enough to meet their health goals and expectations; however, for others I may recommend a detailed fitness plan.

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The Difference Between Activity and Exercise

Physical activity

 

Physical activity is simply body movements that involve the contraction of your muscles. All of the activities we do throughout the day that involve movement, such as walking, lifting, cleaning and yard work are examples of physical activity. Most people perform at least a few physical activities everyday without even realizing it – for instance standing and cooking, or popping out to post a letter both require basic movement.

You might find it interesting to write a little mental list of some of the physical activities you conduct each day without usually thinking about them. You may be surprised by how long, or how short, your list is.

Exercise

Exercise is a specific form of physical activity that is planned, purposeful and performed with the intention of gaining specific adaptations in the body, such as stronger muscles, increased flexibility or improved cardiovascular function. Dancing, swimming, cycling, and running are all examples of exercise.

Are you exercising or being active?

There can be a fine line between the two, so the best way to determine if you are just being active or if you are exercising is to do the talk test.

  • If you can talk easily while performing the activity, you are simply being active.
  • If you need to catch your breath and find talking difficult, then you are exercising.

It is the intensity of the task being performed that will determine the health benefits that you will gain from the activity.

Look out for these four physical fitness components, and you’ll understand why exercising is just as important as being physically active:

  • Cardio-respiratory endurance
  • Muscular strength
  • Muscular endurance
  • Flexibility

Although it is possible to address all of these fitness components with a physically active lifestyle, an exercise program can help you achieve even greater benefits.

How to get started with an exercise regime

Increasing the amount of physical activity in your everyday life is a perfect way to start on the path toward a healthier, happier more energized you! But if you really want to achieve increased fitness, you’ll want to incorporate structured, more vigorous activities into your schedule a few days a week.

The key to living a healthy, active lifestyle is to take it one day at a time and try to choose activities that you thoroughly enjoy. Over time, you can increase intensity and, perhaps, the duration. Remember that your body is unique, and understanding your health needs (rather than your neighbors’ needs) will keep you on the right track toward a healthy lifestyle.

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Senior Director of Worldwide Fitness Education at Herbalife.

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How to Make Air Travel More Interesting and Land Feeling Great

by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

Keeping active during a flight can enhance the adventure.

Right now I’m on a plane. I’m a long way up over the Atlantic Ocean and I’m feeling a little conflicted: I love to travel but I’m not a fan of sitting still.

I’ve been doing a lot of flying recently, and although I’ve been to some great places and met wonderful people, it still means I’ve been sitting down for long periods of time during air travel. That’s just not something my body is used to doing. In fact, I’m such a believer in keeping my body moving that I find it hard to sit still at home, too.

Related Article: A New Aproach to Being Active

How often have you seen a kid sitting still for a long time?

My constant need for movement makes me laugh, as I remind myself that I am constantly telling my kids to stop fidgeting and sit still. I’m typing this while confined to a chair and I’ve been hit by a revelation – kids have got the right idea. With all the known facts about how movement can improve your mood, it makes sense that kids are almost always happy. And it makes me wonder: should we ever be sat in one position for hours at a time? 

It’s my opinion that the human body is designed for movement. Sitting still for prolonged periods of time isn’t a great idea, especially as it can impact your circulation while also making you feel stiff and cranky. Many airlines provide an exercise sheet to encourage you to stretch and wiggle your feet to keep your circulation moving efficiently, and I encourage you to follow their instructions. Don’t feel that completing the exercise card routine once is enough – you need to listen to your body. If you’re on a long flight, then revisit the exercise card routine every couple of hours. And I suggest also adding your own moves to make sure stiffness doesn’t get a chance to build up anywhere. For instance, if you spend a lot of time reading or staring at a screen, then loosen up your neck muscles periodically. And if you fall asleep at an odd angle, then take the time to work out all the kinks systematically when you wake up.

Channel your inner child: keep on moving

Wondering about all this made me decide to do want my what body wanted – to move around. I just stepped into the aisle and stretched. And you know what? It felt wonderful. My low-key aisle aerobics were certainly worth the looks and smiles I received from fellow passengers.

I made sure not to get in anyone’s way and made the most of the small amount of space available. I’m not tall, so reaching for the ceiling felt great, and releasing the tension that had built up in my neck and shoulders was a relief. I’d say a few people were intrigued by my actions, and unfortunately everyone was too shy to join me. We are taught from a young age to sit still and not cause a fuss, but one curious passenger on my right asked a few fitness questions and I was happy to explain. I’m on a mission to inspire people to take ownership of their bodies. And if that means I also need to help people free themselves from social awkwardness, then so be it. Let’s all rid ourselves of the social awkwardness that comes hand in hand with going outside of what is considered normal.

Since returning to my seat, I’ve been daydreaming of how fun it would be if air stewards interrupted the quiet sedentary slumber with some upbeat music, combined with a few chair exercises to revitalize and energize passengers. It could even be done using the TV system, or they could do it over the intercom. I’m convinced it would spark conversations among chair partners about their views on movement or lack of it. I’m sure you have a few thoughts on whether this is a good or bad idea but, whatever you think, you know it will make for a more ‘interesting’ flight. 

Follow these tips and you’ll feel great when you land

Travel tip – Hydrate yourself often

Drink enough to stay hydrated inside and out. You may find that your skin looks better for it even after the harsh air conditioning on board. You’re also more likely to avoid a dehydration headache if you drink frequently enough to avoid ever feeling really thirsty. Drinking often will also mean that you have no choice but to move because you’ll be going to the bathroom!

Travel tip – Sit comfortably

Sitting with your back fully supported in the chair and being mindful of your posture combined with occasional lower leg, neck and shoulder stretches will ensure you get off your flight feeling refreshed and ready for action.

Travel tip – Move your body

At regular intervals throughout the air travel adventure, make sure you move. Make time to follow the exercise card if it’s provided, and embrace your inner child by fidgeting to your heart’s content.

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When I get off a plane, I have to hit the road full steam ahead, whether I’m headed to a fitness class or home to my excited (and fidgeting) children. It’s important that my body is feeling great and I’m ready to tackle my next challenge head on. So, next time you fly, shake your shyness and move around a little! You may be surprised by how liberated you feel.

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Senior Director of Worldwide Fitness Education at Herbalife.

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Need fitness motivation? 6 tips to get and stay on track

by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

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Always have something to look forward to.

We all stray from out fitness routines from time to time. If you’re looking for some fitness motivation, let me help you get into a fit-for-life frame of mind with my positive approach to living a healthy, active lifestyle.

I know that many people are motivated when they a have a big event or vacation coming up. I also know that many people lose that initial boost of what I call event-based motivation very quickly. Some people will admit to abandoning their healthy eating and exercise plan before they even get started.

Today I want to share with you some motivational tricks to help you get focused and start working towards your personal body goals. Regardless of what season we’re in, I believe your body deserves to be well taken care of all year round. Taking the mental approach of getting fit for a lifetime is much better than just getting fit for a few weeks or a special event.

Don’t let yourself get to your special day or summer vacation and realize that you said “I’ll start my fitness plan tomorrow” one too many times. Instead, try to change your mindset and understand that today is a perfect day to get started.

3 Fitness Motivation Tips to Get Started

No tomorrow

There is no time like today to get started. Small changes add up over time and can often lead to big changes in lifestyle. So, if you’re thinking about making some changes, make one right now—write it down and implement immediately.

Say the words ‘I can’ and ‘I will’ often

The word ‘I can’t’ will often translate directly into ‘I didn’t,’ so try to redress your vocabulary with positively charged words. Set a positive intention for each day and believe that you can do it. A positive approach often leads to positive results.

Love who you are

Try not to be negative about yourself. Stop looking in the mirror and thinking, ‘I need to change.’ Even if your goal is to lose a lot of weight, it doesn’t mean you should look at your self in a negative light. The fact that you realize you need to take care of yourself is a step in the right direction.

When we tell ourselves we’re not good enough, it can spark feelings of sadness and can negatively effect our energy levels. Let’s all try to use more positive statements.

Affirmations like, ‘I’m ready to improve,’ or ‘I’m going to evolve into the best version of myself I can be’ will make it easier to keep your spirits up and motivation high.

Once you’ve mastered getting into a positive frame of mind, you’ll need to find something to help keep you motivated long-term. Fitness and nutrition is not just a quick fix. Only a long-term lifestyle change plan will keep your body positively evolving.

The reason yo-yo diets and extreme fitness plans don’t work is because they tend to have a start point and an end point. Once you stop eating well and exercising, your body negatively reacts and goes back to square one.

3 Fitness Motivation Tips for Long-Term Motivation

Find an active hobby

If you find a hobby that’s active such as doing long walks, marathons or even committing to learning something new, you’ll always have something to strive towards. Once you get involved in a hobby, especially when it involves being part of a group, it’s much easier to stay motivated and accountable to your long-term goals.

Make it a family affair

Get your family and close friends on board with your healthy, active lifestyle plan. If you all commit to eating well and getting active, it can help create strong bonds and fun times. If you feel like you want to quit, chances are that at least one family member will convince you to keep going.

Plan rewards

Put a reward system in place so that you can continually motivate yourself and others with incentives. It could be a day trip out every few moths or a shopping trip to buy a new outfit. Try to pick a reward that gets you excited, and one that you know you can afford. Hopefully your reward will inspire you to keep going on the tough days.

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Motivation is a personal thing, and what motivates one person may not motivate another. Try to find a few motivational tricks that work for you. I try to stay away from being motivated purely by how I look. But I do understand that most people want to look good and it can be a good fitness motivation booster. Just understand that external changes take time. If you combine your ‘how I look’ with ‘how I feel,’ it’s a great way to ensure that you stay positive. With most healthy, active lifestyle plans, you’ll start to feel better long before you see visible changes. If you feel that your healthy, active plan is making you feel more confident and awake, it may inspire you to keep going.

Find ways to be positive and stay motivated. The only way you will fail on your plan is to quit, so do whatever it takes to keep yourself on track and feeling great!

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A New Approach to Being Active

by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

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When you embrace a style of activity with free flowing movements, you just might experience benefits that go beyond the physical.

People have been engaging in free flowing movements for centuries, but as a former athlete and a trainer who is often helping people to achieve a very specific goal, the idea of movement without structure is a new concept for me. In our purpose driven lives we are often caught up in following a specific plan with structure and goals, but on a recent trip to China I got to enjoy being outside and simply moving in a way that felt good.

Related Article: Need fitness motivation? 6 tips to get and stay on track

I was running through a park in Xi’an, China, and people of all ages were congregating in small groups, doing what looked to me like a combination of stress relief therapy, family bonding time and friendship building. It was amazing to see a variety of fun activities taking place so early in the morning.

I’m used to seeing people doing traditional exercises, such as running and cycling, but the activities were different and I enjoyed trying a number of them out for myself. The outdoor activity trend throughout china takes place in local squares and parks. It’s a movement that is supported by the government to encourage people to avoid living a sedentary lifestyle.

The physical gains that you get from doing simple activity, in terms of building cardiovascular fitness level and muscular strength, is minimal. However the mental benefits of movement can sometimes far outweigh the physical. Being active is a great way to the relieve stress and anxiety that comes hand in hand with living a busy life.

If you are someone who has a negative association with exercise, simply getting active may be a perfect starting point for you. The joint and bone health benefits of getting active makes the effort of getting started worthwhile. I believe that some movement is always better than doing nothing at all.

Here are some ways that you can become more active at home or outside.

Dancing: All you need is some music. Let your body move to the beat in a way that feels good to you. Some of the groups had traditional flowing style movements while others were just making it up as they danced. The aim is to move and be present in the moment, enjoying the music and surroundings.

Tai Chi: Tai chi is an art that needs instruction and practice, but once you know the basics you can do it at any time. I was surprised at just how much patience and muscle control it takes to move your body so slowly. It is very low impact and perfect for seniors.

Simple stretches: Find an area and start to stretch. You don’t have to do a specific stretch routine, just stretch the areas of your body that feel tight in a way that feels natural to you.

Waist hoop: This playground classic is great for loosening up tight muscles and it’s very fun.

Footbag and simple ball games: Working on your co-ordination with simple games is a great way to get your body moving.

Hiking and walking: Enjoying your surroundings while walking is a great way to get active in a gentle way. Walking is an activity that you can make easy by taking a stroll or increase the intensity by adding in a variety of terrains.

Following a structured exercise routine in order to achieve specific gains is wonderful, but every now and then taking a break from the competitive and progressive style of exercise is a great way to jump start a passion for a new activity or stop yourself from getting burnt out. Children on the playground have got the art of free flowing activity mastered, but as we get older we tend to be a little more self conscious about what activities we do especially in public, so I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new.

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Sr. Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.

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Helping you enjoy a healthy, active, successful life
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Cooking With Kids: Healthy Eating Starts in the Kitchen

by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND

Cooking can instill a sense of pride in kids.

Kids love to cook—and it might help them to make better food choices, too.

I think it’s fair to say that most kids—given the chance—like to spend time playing around in the kitchen. And why not? Cooking is creative and messy and fun, and it tickles all the senses. On top of that, your efforts are rewarded with something that’s (hopefully) delicious to eat. But cooking can deliver some additional benefits, too—spending time in the kitchen can help kids to develop an appreciation for healthy foods, and foster better eating habits, too.

RELATED ARTICLE: 12 smart tips for getting your kids heart healthy

The significance of this really shouldn’t be overlooked. In the last few decades, obesity and overweight rates among American kids have risen dramatically—a reflection, in part, on a diet that includes too many calories and nutrient-poor foods, and too little in the way of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and calcium-rich dairy products.

And eating out is a contributing factor. Meals eaten away from home are higher in calories, fat and saturated fat—and provide less calcium and fiber—than home-prepared meals. On the other hand, eating more meals at home is associated with a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and dairy products, with less fat and calories.

Cooking with Kids: The Many Benefits
    • Cooking at home and eating together helps kids develop an appreciation for healthy foods. When parents serve as good role models with their food choices, kids develop a similar appreciation for healthy foods. And, the comfortable, supportive environment of home helps to reinforce these healthy behaviors.
    • Kids enjoy eating what they’ve prepared. When kids are involved in the selection of ingredients and preparation of foods, they’re more likely to try their creations.
    • They’re more likely to try new foods. Even if kids decide that they don’t particularly like what they prepared, the cooking experience will help to cultivate an open mind when it comes to trying new foods.
    • Kids derive a sense of pride and independence when they cook. Kids love to boast that “I did it all myself!” When they are able to prepare something on their own—no matter how simple—and serve it to family, it instills a sense of pride and independence. Help your kids by guiding them toward age-appropriate recipes.
    • Cooking is creative. Once kids have some basic skills and learn to follow recipes, they should be encouraged to get creative. You can start with a very simple basic recipe—for example, a smoothie made with flavored protein powder and milk—and allow them to experiment by adding different fruits, vegetables, spices or extracts. Once they’ve come up with their own recipes, many kids enjoy creating their own recipe file.
    • Cooking together can be fun, quality time. Spending time together in the kitchen can be fun and relaxing for both kids and adults. Many kids don’t need much coaxing to join you in the kitchen, so use this time to simply enjoy each other’s company and talk about how good—and good for you—your meal is going to be.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

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Family Fitness: Raise Healthy, Active Kids

by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

Get active with your kids.

Whether you want to raise superstar athletes or just emphasize the importance of physical fitness in order to raise healthy, active kids, it’s never too late to get started on a family fitness journey.

There’s never been a better time to get active with your family! If you’re looking to change your children’s current lifestyle and make healthier choices, then I have six great tips that may help you get or stay on a path to raising healthy, active kids. An active lifestyle is a great family goal that can be achieved with a few creative changes.

Related Article: Design Your Own Healthy, Active Lifestyle Plan

1) Talk to your child’s physician

I always advise that you talk to your child’s doctor about what kind of fitness is right for them —especially if it’s a drastic lifestyle change. The words ‘active’ and ‘kids’ used to go hand in hand, but in today’s modern world, many kids hardly ever run around or play sports. Going from complete inactivity to a sudden active lifestyle can be a shock to the system. All changes in physical activity should be gradual. Checking your kids’ health before making any lifestyle changes should be the first step to achieving your family’s fitness goals.

2) Create a routine

The best way to get going on your family fitness journey is to write out a schedule and pick two activity days per week. Consider planning outdoor activities such as hikes, bike rides or sports to make it feel less like a duty and more like playtime. The more you can involve your kids in the planning process, the more enthusiastic they will be about the change.

3) Embrace modern technology

If you have children that are reliant on modern technology such as computers, video games, and tablets, you might face a full-blown rebellion if you try to swap gadgets for family fitness time. Instead, you can embrace modern technology and ease into an active lifestyle with fitness games and challenges. There are many dance, fitness and activity games available that combine technology with simple tasks to help entertain kids into getting active. This tip shouldn’t take away from traditional outdoor activities, but it’s a step in the right direction.

4) Go back to basics and keep it simple

Remember how much fun it was to play a simple game of catch with your friends when you were younger? As you move towards more traditional fitness-based activities, focus on fun coordination and body awareness moves. Kids have developing nervous systems and would benefit greatly from engaging both small and large motor skills. These activities include kicking, catching and hopping, and they could feel more like a game rather than fitness.

5) Be smart about fitness

Children get so many ideas of what think they can do. Your child may see photos in the media of other kids lifting heavy weights. In reality, it’s not a good idea for children to be doing heavy lifting. There are differing opinions on the correct age that children should start lifting weights, and it’s a decision that should be discussed with your child’s physician. I believe doing exercises that use your body weight are a perfect way to build strength for kids and adults. I started my weights program at the age of 15. My husband started using weights at the age of 17, and we’ve both been successful in the fitness world. My children will be well into their teens before they touch a weight. Until then, they’re going to have fun with squats, pushups and playing on the monkey bars!

6) Lead by example

The greatest gift you can give your children is to lead by example by practicing healthy habits. Try popping in a fitness DVD or follow a fitness routine on the computer to set an active example. If your young children want to join in, you should let them! Just make sure they stay away from the equipment, especially weight machines and treadmills. A fall on a moving treadmill can cause permanent scarring and burns (I know this from personal experience – you don’t need to make the same mistake!).

We can all make healthier choices to lead our children down a healthy, active path. If you keep it fun for them, you can set them up for a lifetime of being active.

Written by Samantha Clayton, A.F.A.A., I.S.S.A. Samantha is Sr. Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.

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Five Strategies to Improved Results in Your Healthy, Active Life

by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

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You may feel you are trying your very best with healthy eating and your workout routine but not seeing or feeling any of the results for which you had hoped. Maybe its time to look into some hidden reasons to improve your progression.

 When it comes to making lifestyle changes, sometimes we can all be guilty of expecting to see overnight miracles with our physique. Even those of you who are patient and dedicated to living a healthy active life can feel that results are not what they should be. If you don’t see or feel positive changes, don’t get frustrated; let’s find out what may be holding you back.

Today I want to share with you some small but significant body improvement setbacks that you may not be aware of, so that you can truly maximize the benefits of continuing to live a healthy active life.

Eat breakfast: If you skip this important meal, you may be prevent your body from performing at its best and fail to give it the start it needs.

Its name even indicates how important this meal is. Break- fast refers to breaking the fasting time that your body has endured while you were sleeping, and if you know a little about the human body, you will know that while you sleep, your body uses essential vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins to repair and rejuvenate itself.

Breakfast is considered by many professionals to be the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy breakfast, especially one that is well balanced, fuels your body for the day ahead and can stop you from making poor diet choices throughout the day. So try to make an effort to start your day with a nutritious meal.

Keep consistent with your workout routine: It is consistency with exercise that will get you great results, so if you find yourself skipping your trip to the gym, find ways to add exercise into your day at work. I believe that doing a little something each day is better than one big trip to the gym each week. Being active every day is the best way to promote sustainable body composition change.

Lift weights: If you are not doing some form of resistance based exercise, it is very difficult for your body to build lean body mass. Having lean mass is important if you want to reduce your body fat percentage. If you are addicted to doing cardio style exercise that’s great, but if you want to get lean muscle, you must add in some form of weight training. If you really dislike lifting weights, opt for simple body weight exercises, take your cardio training uphill, or sprint to promote muscle building.

Find a protein balance: Many people don’t consume adequate amounts of protein. If you are trying to adjust your body composition, getting the proper balance of nutrients and activity is essential. If you are exercising a lot and lifting weights but not consuming enough of this ‘muscle building nutrient’, you risk breaking down lean muscle mass and sabotaging your muscle building routine. For a 2,000 calorie a day diet, the FDA recommends 50 grams of protein for your every day healthy eating habits.

Watch the hidden liquid calories: The number of hidden calories in drinks is shocking. Even I was disappointed to find out that my favorite mid-day coffee treat packed the same number of calories as a full meal. High sugar drinks provide you with way too many calories but do not fill you up, so you find yourself snacking on top of it. If you are trying to lose weight, consider tracking all of the excess calories you’re drinking and replacing them with water.

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There are so many little things that can hold us back from reaching our true potential, and when you combine a few of these body sabotaging habits together, you can actually find yourself getting worse and not better. Making positive health changes for your body is about finding balance and being as consistent as possible with your healthy choices. If you find that your results have stalled or you are not feeling as positive as usual, look into the reasons why instead of getting frustrated and quitting.

Skipping breakfast used to be one of my personal bad habits. I would blame my busy lifestyle as a mom of four, rushing off to work or simply not feeling hungry, but since correcting this habit, I can honestly share that I have optimized my body composition and I feel much more energized throughout the day. One of my favorite articles written by my amazing Herbalife colleague, Susan Bowerman, will encourage you to shine like a diamond all day long if you don’t skip your breakfast.

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.

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