Intensity and intervals. Cardio health. Strength training. A motivational mindset. If you’re into fitness you’ve likely heard it all before. So instead of retreading tired training tips we are bringing you some curious, advantageous, and most importantly, novel fitness advice. Want to learn about aqua running, foot fitness and the benefits of upside-down exercise? Who wouldn’t?
Remember the Diet/Exercise Ratio
Before we get into the importance of fitness by itself, remember the 80/20 rule about diet and exercise, if weight loss is your goal. 80% of the results will come from the food and drink that enters your mouth, and 20% will come from your activity/exercise routine. Strength training with limited cardio for that 20%, and small, frequent, well-balanced meals with a 1:1, carb:protein ratio for that 80%.
Realistic Activity, Enriching Lifestyle
Experts recommend small, realistic activities that fit more easily into everyday life (every little bit counts) and the addition of positive, interesting, enriching activities to keep boredom and stress at bay. So don’t force yourself to go to the gym just because you know you should. Instead, find something you enjoy rather than dread. That way you’ll keep doing it long after everyone else has given up on their New Year’s resolutions.
Make feeling good during your workouts a priority. Don’t make yourself ache, burn and limp around for days. Lift weight that makes you feel strong, not weight that makes you feel weak. Run at a speed that makes you feel alive, not at a speed that chokes the life force from your lungs. Be patient; fitness is a journey, not a destination.
Trainer Floyd Prescott III has an idea that’ll reduce stress on the body during a workout: Aqua running. Because water is denser than air, it provides a greater workout in a shorter time. It also greatly reduces the impact on your knees and ankles.
Focus on Exhalation
Strength and conditioning specialist Henry Halse puts a lot of stock in recovering from a good workout. His best tip is to focus on exhaling. “If you exhale for a long time (around 8 seconds) you stimulate the vagus nerve, which stimulates your body to rest and digest. It lowers your heart rate and stimulates digestion so that you can get all of the nutrients that help you recover from exercise.” According to the American Lung Association, we take over 20,000 breaths per day, and some of us screw this up by becoming chest breathers instead of belly breathers. Just breathing as nature intended can help reduce your pain, provide core stability (better than a crunch any day) and improve your posture.
Focus On Your Feet
Podiatrist and sports medicine specialist Dr. Suzanne C. Fuchs is a firm believer that your feet are your foundation. To prevent pain and injuries like plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains and tendonitis, work on specific lower extremity strength, balance and stretching. Try performing certain exercises barefoot to improve balance, strength and flexibility, because without proper foot health you could eventually suffer from poor posture and chronic injuries.
Make sure you have very supportive shoes, made for outdoor conditions and make sure to stretch your ankles in all directions. Putting effort into these seemingly minor things can help the body properly recover, avoiding injury and reducing stress. 65% of non-traumatic foot and ankle issues are directly and indirectly related to people’s calves being too tight. To prevent this, perform a bodyweight-induced straight knee calf stretch on stairs. For maximum results, stretch in this way separately from any other exercise.
Strength and conditioning coach and co-founder of Beyond Strength Performance Todd Bumgardner recommends performing slow, controlled joint circles every morning to improve joint health. Attempting to make the biggest circle possible with each joint, especially the shoulders and hips, improves range of motion and improves joint structure.
Blast the A/C
CEO & owner of DNS Performance and Nutrition Darin Hulslander offers a unique idea that’s begun to gain some ground in the health science community: Turn up your air conditioning to turn up your fat loss. Apparently, cooler temperatures can activate “brown” fat that generates body heat, burning extra calories.
Boost Your Balance
Balance is a cornerstone of fitness and has a direct link to our physical and emotional well-being. To achieve better balance, take time to work on it and pay attention to weak spots, vary your physical activity, and get regular eye check-ups since ocular health plays a big role in overall balance.
Spend a little time upside-down. Think of your upper body as a coat-hanger for your intestines. Inverting can lower your resting heart rate, strengthen your diaphragm, which can improve lung function, and reduce stress. Inversions (headstands/handstands) will teach you how to engage deep abdominal muscles that help support your spine (which comes in handy for lifts).
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