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''How I Became a Runner at Age 48''

Robin (KASHMIR) has been a member of SparkPeople since 2006. She has lost 95 pounds and is training for her first marathon. Robin Before Robin After What made you decide to start running? I noticed my evening walks were getting longer. As my weight went down, the walks had to last longer in order for me to burn a good amount of calories. One evening, I was feeling particularly peppy and figured I’d give running a try—and it was hard! I managed to run half a block the first time I tried. It felt good! After my first run, I knew I could do it again. How do you keep your runs fun and interesting? I love running outside! One of my favorite places to run is a nature trail located about a mile away from my home. I also enjoy running through the neighborhood and taking in my surroundings. For the first year, I always ran alone, but this year I decided to run in the Portland Marathon. I joined our local marathon training group, and now run once a week with other people. I’m always looking for new places to run, so I started running in some local races too. Next up—trail running! Were you intimidated to start running? How did you overcome that? I was very intimidated. I convinced myself that I would never be able to run—or at least that I couldn’t run further than a 100-yard dash! After my first attempt at running, I decided to give it a try every once in a while along the nature trail. The trail has quarter mile markers set in the asphalt, so when I would feel like running, my starting point was one of those markers. I slowed down when my heart rate got too high and would then walk some more. As I continued doing this, I realized I was going a little farther each time. I finally set a goal for myself to do what I’d been convinced my entire life was the impossible: run from one quarter mile marker to the next. Once I accomplished that, I was totally blown away! At almost 48 years old I did what I couldn’t do at age 14. Any tips for someone just beginning to run? The most important advice I can give is to go slow—slower than you think you should. Don’t worry about running fast. For the first year, focus on building your distance. By not running faster than your body is able to maintain, you will build your endurance and stamina, you will strengthen your heart, you will teach your body to use oxygen efficiently, and you won’t put as much stress on your bones and muscles. When you run fast, you can’t run as far. Also eat a little something before you start to run and refuel after your run. And, don’t forget to hydrate! Besides weight loss, what other improvements have you noticed? Since I started running, my body fat has dropped from 30% to 17-20%. My lung capacity is amazing now, and when I had a recent VO2 test done, my running coach's response to the results was, "Wow. Wow. Wow." My balance is better, and I feel younger today at almost 50 than I did in my 20s. I’ve also been informed by several people lately that I’ve become a female Benjamin Button. I’m aging backward. What are some of your running goals and accomplishments? My main goal is to complete the Portland Marathon. My current mileage accomplishment is 15 miles. It totally blows me away that I was able to do that! After the marathon, I would like to find some trail runs because I think that would be super fun! Anything else you'd like to add? Every time I tie on my running shoes, I amaze myself with how far I’ve come and what I find my body is capable of doing!Article Source: id=1573

What You Forgot to Ask Your Personal Trainer

You already know how personal trainers help you reach your goals and push you to the next level, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned exerciser. You probably also know a little about how to choose the right trainer with the proper qualifications. However, how do you find the absolute best trainer for you and your goals? I'm about to share a secret with you: Not every personal trainer—no matter how fabulous or talented he or she is—is going to be right for you. You may be dazzled by proven results, certifications and background, but by asking just seven questions, you can tap into exactly whom the personal trainer is and whether he or she will gel with you. Approach it as if you're in human resources and hiring for a big position in a big company. After all, you're pretty darn important, and you're handing over a big piece of your life here. When meeting with a personal trainer for the first time, most people ask solid basic questions, but these less traditional and less conventional questions really give you a sense as to why the personal trainer has chosen his or her career and what he or she can do for you. Read on to learn what questions to ask to find YOUR best trainer! 1. How do you stay in shape? Most personal trainers will train themselves similarly to how they'll train you. If they love to run, then they'll probably suggest that you run, too, as long as you're able. If they swear by daily yoga to stay fit, then they'll most likely suggest that you try yoga. Although this question doesn't guarantee what type of exercises they might have you do in a personal-training session, it does provide a window into their workout soul. 2. What's your fitness philosophy? A personal trainer should—without hesitation—be able to tell you exactly what he believes when it comes to fitness. Does he train his clients for better health? To improve body confidence? To show off a six-pack? This question really gets into what makes a personal trainer tick and will let you know better what goals the trainer will have in mind for you to set and achieve. 3. Do you recommend supplements? Although healthy eating is key to losing weight and getting in shape, personal trainers are not registered dietitians, and therefore should never give out specific nutritional advice such as meal plans or supplement recommendations beyond a multivitamin. When you ask this question, if a personal trainer starts going on and on about what supplements (or worse, diet pills) he or she uses and recommends to her clients, beware. It is outside of a personal trainer's scope of practice to give specific dietary recommendations. 4. Are you CPR and AED certified? You probably already asked whether the personal trainer is properly certified by a personal-training association, but double check that he is currently CPR and AED certified. AED stands for automated external defibrillator and if you or someone else at the gym has a heart attack, it can save a life. Make sure your personal trainer knows how to use it and is properly trained to respond during potential emergencies. 5. Are most of your clients long term or short term? If a personal trainer has mostly long-term clients, then you know that he or she is probably good at relationship building and at keeping workouts fresh and challenging over time. On the flip side, if they're all short-term, this might signify that the personal trainer is either brand new to the industry (you should definitely ask about previous training experience) or fitness facility. At worst, this could signal an underlying training or personality issue. If you're just looking to invest in a few personal training sessions and you really like a personal trainer who has mostly short-term clients, that's OK. It's when you're looking to invest in a large package of sessions that you need to be careful whom you choose to work with for the next six months. When all else fails, go with your gut. 6. How many times per week do you train clients? A lot of personal trainers train as a part-time job, so if this number is below 10, don't be afraid. Just follow up by asking whether they have a full-time job. If they don't have another job, then ask why they train so infrequently. If they do 30-plus sessions a week, ask them how they keep things fresh and how they avoid burnout. Most trainers who do more than 30 sessions a week are working very long hours from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., almost every day of the week. With that much training, burnout is inevitable, and you don't want it to happen during your session! 7. Why are you a personal trainer? Similar to, but different from, question No. 2, this one addresses why the trainer got into the fitness field. If it's to see people transform their bodies, then you know the trainer focuses on the physical. If the trainer says it's to help people transform their lives, then you know they'll probably have your well-being in mind. If the trainer takes a few minutes to answer or isn't sure, run far, far away! If you've been working with a trainer for awhile now and ask these questions without receiving the answers you were hoping for, here are some more tips on how to break up with your personal trainer. Asking these questions and breaking up may be hard to do, but your fitness journey is all about you, so ask away! Find a certified personal trainer or fitness professional in your area using this simple search tool, brought to you by SparkPeople and powered by the IDEA Health & Fitness Association. Article Source: id=1369

Getting on the Treadmill

A treadmill can seem scary to the beginner. They're big and bulky, make a lot of noise and have tons of buttons and moving parts. But I'm about to let you in on a secret: They're really not that scary. In fact, with just a few hints, the treadmill will become your new best (and healthiest) friend! Walking is one of the easiest, fastest and safest ways to get your recommended daily amount of exercise. And although walking around the block is a no-frills way to get your steps in, what do you do when it's dark, rainy, or too hot or too cold to spend more than just a few minutes outside? That's where the treadmill comes in. The treadmill, either one that you've purchased for your home or one that you hop on at the gym, is the perfect piece of workout equipment. It's ready whenever you are, no matter what the weather (as long as you have electricity, that is). Take the Right Step Forward Although each treadmill is a little different, all treadmills have two basic buttons: the "start" button and the "stop" button. The start button is usually large and green, and the stop button is usually large and red. Just like a traffic light, green means go and red means stop. To get started on the treadmill, stand directly on the belt. For safety, almost all treadmills are equipped with an automatic stop-button function. Find this safety mechanism—it's usually a clip or pin—and attach it to the band of your workout shorts or pants. Make sure the other end is attached to the treadmill (it's usually a magnet). This way, if you happen to trip or fall, you'll automatically pull the safety cord, stopping the treadmill in its tracks. It's probably rare that this safety mechanism needs to be used, but it's good protection nonetheless! Next, look for the green start button and be ready to move those legs. As soon as you hit the start button, some treadmills will start moving (usually slowly). Others (typically the most expensive, commercial ones) will ask you for some information first. Using a number pad (if available) or up and down arrows, enter the information that the treadmill is asking for. Most treadmills want your age, weight, height and gender, which is a good thing; the more information it asks for, the more accurate the calories-burned estimate will be. Some treadmills may also ask you if you have a time goal (this means how many minutes you'd like to work out) or if you'd like to follow one of its programs or use the manual option. For beginners, the manual option is a good choice so that you can play around with the speed and incline as needed. Once you've entered your information, you'll probably need to hit enter or the start button again if your treadmill isn't moving yet. Once you do that, expect the belt to start moving and walk naturally with it—just like you would if you were walking outside. Start slowly, but play around with increasing the speed (do this slowly so as to not push yourself too hard too quickly) and the incline. One of the best benefits of a treadmill is that you can monitor and adjust your pace precisely during walks and/or runs as you want. You can also replicate hills by bumping up the incline button, which is a fabulous way to build muscle, target your glutes, and burn more calories. If at any point you need to pause your workout or take a break, hit the stop button. The treadmill will slowly decrease its speed and come to a stop. Most treadmills will give you the option of restarting your current workout by hitting the green button again to start. If you've completed your workout, simply hit the red stop button again. Then you're done! And if you chose a timed workout, then at the end of your allotted time, expect the treadmill to slow down to a slower speed. Most new treadmills, especially the ones at health clubs, will have a built in two- to five-minute cool down. Talk about easy! A note about handles: while the handles can aid in balance, leaning too much of your weight into the handles of the machine will decrease your workout intensity and burn far fewer calories. Try to use the handles only temporarily, such as when you first hop on the treadmill and find your footing, or if you have to pause the treadmill. Some handlebars and consoles have heart-rate-monitoring sensors embedded in them to measure your workout intensity. These are generally less accurate than conventional heart rate monitors with chest straps, but can help you quickly check your heart rate from time to time. It is not necessary to hold onto these monitors during your entire workout; instead, grab them occasionally for a heart rate check to ensure you're working at the proper intensity, then resume walking or running while pumping your arms at your sides. Now that you have the basics, here are a few tips on getting the most from the treadmill. 5 Treadmill Tips

  1. 1. Start slow. Begin walking at a pace of 2 to 2.5 miles per hour for a few minutes. Then increase your speed to 3 to 3.5 miles per hour for a more challenging workout, if that's appropriate for your fitness level. Play around with the speed and incline to find a level that gets your heart pumping but still allows you to carry on a choppy conversation.  
  2. 2. Don't look down. As you walk or run, keep your shoulders back and your chin up. Don't look down at your feet. And unless you have balance problems, do not hang on to the handrails, especially when running. If you cannot walk or run without holding on, then you need to decrease your speed or the incline. Also try to be light on your feet, not stomp on the treadmill. It's easier on the joints and better for your form if you walk as normally as possible, with a heel-to-toe motion, and to run in proper form by striking the belt with your forefoot first—not your heel.  
  3. 3. Pay attention. Try to walk in a straight line at the center of the treadmill belt and pay attention to what you're doing. You may be tempted to look up at a television or read a magazine, but don't get distracted until you're very, very comfortable on the machine. Also don't be afraid to turn down the speed or incline if you feel like you're having problems keeping up or feel too rushed. And if you find that you need to stop the treadmill at any time, don't try to hop off it with the belt still moving. Hit the stop button, and the treadmill will come to a slow and safe stop. You are in control, after all!  
  4. 4. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you belong to a health club or fitness center, don't be afraid to ask someone on staff how to get started on the treadmill. They can tell you how the different programs on the treadmill work and how to operate other features of the treadmill such as the heart rate monitor or the individual viewing screen if your treadmill has one.  
  5. 5. Consider buying one. Once you know how treadmills work, you may be tempted to add one to your home gym. A treadmill is an incredible piece of equipment to have at your convenience. Once you're ready to buy, make a list of features that are important to you. Do you feel more comfortable on a wide belt? Do you love the heart rate monitor? Does it have to be quiet or compact? Write down the must-have traits and take it to your local sporting goods or fitness-equipment specialty store. Hop on all of the treadmills there that are within your price range and test them against your must-have list. Because buying a treadmill is an expensive and important purchase, don't be swayed by discounts or high-pressure salespeople. Make the right decision for you! And definitely do some research before taking one home. Websites such as Treadmilldoctor.com and subscription-based sites like Consumer Reports have reviews of almost every treadmill available.
See how good of a friend the treadmill can be? Now hop on! After following this guide, it shouldn't be long before other people are asking you for help getting started with the treadmill! This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople Coaches Jen Mueller and Nicole Nichols, Certified Personal Trainers.Article Source: id=441

6 Backpack Safety Tips

Exams. Pop quizzes. Homework. School can be a pain in the neck, figuratively. But if school is literally causing problems for your neck or back, your backpack may be to blame. Believe it or not, overloaded and poorly-positioned backpacks can actually cause serious injury. In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, 64% of 11- to 15-year-olds who used backpacks also complained of pain. If you’ve ever had back or neck pain, you know how uncomfortable it can be. The pain is often caused by pressure on the disks of the vertebrae. These disks are responsible for spacing out the vertebrae, holding them in place, and acting as shock absorbers. As you get older, your disks wear down or degenerate, causing chronic pain, herniated disks, and nerve damage. Putting pressure (like the added weight of a heavy backpack) on these disks wears them down even faster. So what’s a student to do? The stuff inside that pack is essential to survival (or at least to passing math), but you don’t want to pay a painful price in years to come. Fortunately, following a few simple rules can ensure that you’re using your backpack properly and safely.

  1. Choose the right sized pack. Adult-sized backpacks are made for adults, not children. Make sure to buy a pack that is appropriate for your body size. Most stores and catalogs list this information in the product description. If not, just ask. A general rule of thumb is that when the shoulder straps are adjusted so that they are snug, the bottom of the backpack should be about two inches above your waist.  
  2. Lighten your load. Your filled backpack should weigh no more than 15% of your body weight. (Multiply your weight in by .15 to get the maximum weight you should carry.) A 140 pound person should carry no more than 21 pounds, and an 80 pound child should keep it under 12 pounds. To lighten the load, first remove any non-essentials. Even an extra hairbrush and a few notebooks can add weight. If your bag is too heavy, even when pared down to the basics, remove a textbook and carry it in your arms.  
  3. Lift with your legs. To lift and put on your backpack properly: face the pack, bending at your knees—not your waist—then lift with your legs and apply one shoulder strap and then the other.  
  4. Position your pack properly. Wearing your backpack on one shoulder can cause muscle strain and imbalance. Wear both shoulder straps, and adjust them so that they are comfortably snug. If the backpack has a waist strap, use it. It will distribute the weight of the pack more evenly. And position your body properly too, by maintaining good posture while you’re wearing your pack (and even when you aren’t!).  
  5. Get and stay fit. Maintaining your overall fitness by exercising and staying active can increase your strength and ability to carry heavy backpack loads, which will reduce your chance of injury. Cardio, strength training and flexibility are essential to your health and fitness.  
  6. Set a time limit. Try to wear your backpack for 30 minutes or less. Unless you’re on an all-day hike or jaunting across a sprawling campus, this rule shouldn’t be hard to follow. If you’re stuck wearing it for longer periods, try to carry the lightest load possible, and try to follow all of the other rules to a "T."
Article Source: id=1166

Read This Before You Start Judging Big Girls at the Gym

In a doctor’s eyes, Katie Karlson is obese. She’s 5’9” and weighs more than 200 pounds. But those stats don’t tell you that she has worked out at least four days per week for the past six years or that she’s been a vegan for the past 10 months. By those standards, she’s healthier than most of us. But she knows many people see her and think anyone with her body type could never be healthy, let alone fit.

In a super -nspiring Instagram post, Karlson commiserates with all the other big girls (and guys) at the gym. The ones who were told they weren’t athletic when they turned the color of a ripe tomato while jogging in gym class. The ones who were taught to think of exercise as punishment—suggesting that in the process of nourishing themselves, they were doing something wrong.

Check out her wise words below—and see if she changes your mind about what healthy looks like:

10 Jet.com Products That Every Healthyish Person Needs

Whether you’re a pro at healthy living or just trying to stick to your resolutions, it can be tough to find everything you need at a single store. You have to run to the organic market for protein powder, stop by a drugstore for beauty products, and don’t even get us started on trying to track down the perfect leggings for yoga.

But our friends at Jet.com are changing that. The online store is a one-stop shop for everything from athleisure and natural beauty to blenders and snack bars. Plus, the more you buy, the cheaper the products get. We rounded up 10 of our go-to products that make it easier to be healthier every day.

Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Leggings These leggings are seriously high tech: One layer wicks away sweat, while another keeps you extra toasty during chilly months. And let's be real: Can you ever have too many wear-anywhere leggings?Available at jet.com, $36.36.† Poppin Soft Cover Notebook Whether you resolved to start journaling more or simply want to track your workout progress, a blank notebook like this one from Poppin is perfect for keeping you motivated. Science says so.Available at jet.com, $11.† Vega All-in-One Nutritional Shake This powder has it all: It’s vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free—and still packs 20 grams of plant-based protein per serving, making it perfect for a pre- or post-workout smoothie. Mix it with fruit and veggies, or enjoy it shaken with ice-cold water (we have!).Available at jet.com, $29.99.† Hamilton Beach Set n Forget® Slow Cooker If you haven't yet discovered the wonders of set-it-and-forget-it cooking, let us introduce you. Simply throw ingredients into the slow cooker in the a.m., go to work, and come home to a fully cooked, delicious-smelling meal. This cooker comes with power-interrupter protection and automatically switches to a warming mode once the correct temp is met. Need ideas on what to make? We’ve got plenty.Available at jet.com, $49.79.† Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil What can't this miracle oil do? It's a moisturizer, makeup remover, cooking oil, wood conditioner, and cat hairball preventer (srsly). Don’t be surprised if you use it daily.Available at jet.com, $12.45.† Ringly Smart Ring Activity Tracker If you're both a fashion girl and a fitness lover, most activity trackers leave much to be desired. Not Ringly. The stylish ring monitors your steps, distance, and calories burned, and can even help you set and manage goals.Available at jet.com, $195.† RXBAR Blueberry Protein Bar When you’re running from meeting to workout to happy hour, you need something you can grab on the go—that’s where RXBARs come in. The main ingredients are right on the label, so you know exactly what you're getting. Several of the bars are even Paleo or Whole30 compliant. No need to reach for a bag of chips again.Available at jet.com, $25.99 for a 12-pack.† Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub Shea butter, coconut and lime extracts, and a variety of natural nut oils make this scrub as soothing as it is exfoliating. Grains of sugar smooth away dead cells, leaving your skin polished and smooth. Bonus: The scent almost makes you feel like you’re on a tropical vacay. Almost.Available at jet.com, $6.48.† Garmin Vivosmart HR+ Activity Tracker What’s so special about this water-resistant activity tracker? Not only does it accurately track your heart rate, steps, floors climbed, and calorie burn, but it also monitors your sleep and functions as an alarm. So basically you’ll never want to take it off.Available at jet.com, $149.99.† NutriBullet Blender A healthy breakfast sounds great, but then reality kicks in: Ain’t nobody got time for eggs with whole-grain toast and made-from-scratch Paleo hollandaise. That’s where smoothies come in. With endless varieties to suit every nutritional goal and diet, smoothies are the best way to keep breakfast fresh—and enjoy it on the go. This NutriBullet even lets you blend in and drink from the same glass.Available at jet.com, $71.39.†

*New customers only. Minimum $35 value in the Grocery, Household, Health & Beauty, Baby, and Pet Supplies categories required per order. Maximum discount $30 on each order. Offer expires 2/11/2017 at 11:59 PM PST; if any of your first 2 orders are not placed by this date, they are not eligible for the discount. GREATIST20 must be applied on your first Jet order to qualify to be used on your first two Jet orders. Offer cannot be applied to previous orders and cannot be combined with other offers or discounts. Offer is subject to change or cancellation. Void where prohibited. Brand, category and other restrictions may apply. †Prices on Jet.com are dynamic and subject to change. Prices quoted reflect prices on jet.com on 01/12/2017 at 5:30 PM ET.

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