Getting Fit Just Got More Convenient
At times, your schedule can make it difficult to find a convenient time to work out, especially if you start your day earlier than most or stay up a little later. Now, early risers and night owls alike will have reason to celebrate—we’re happy to announce SilverSneakers just added Anytime Fitness to our list of participating locations!
What does this mean for you? Not only are there more fitness centers for you to choose from, Anytime Fitness offers amenities including:
- access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- state-of-the-art fitness equipment, treadmills and free weights
- more than 1,600 locations nationwide
Now you’ll be able to find a fitness center that accommodates your schedule, day or night.
To find your nearest participating location, visit www.silversneakers.com, then call your nearest Anytime Fitness location to schedule your orientation. When you arrive, show your SilverSneakers ID card at the front desk. It’s that easy!
Try out one of these new locations, open 24 hours a day, and take another step toward a healthier, happier lifestyle. And don’t forget to call before your first visit to schedule an orientationPost Comment
Changing the Routine
One of the most commonly asked questions in the fitness world is: How often should I change my workout routine? The current wisdom is that you should make changes to your exercise patterns once a month, but should you try something new even more often than that? Or less?
Most personal trainers support the once-a-month switch ups, claiming that changing the way you work out will prevent injury and keep you from hitting a “plateau”: a place where your workouts help you less and less. The idea is to keep your muscles “confused” by preventing them from getting too comfortable with the status quo. Taking that to its logical extreme, some suggest that you change your routine every day to avoid plateaus and to maximize the amount of benefit you get from each workout.
Richard Weil is an exercise physiologist and a consultant for MedicineNet. He believes the idea of muscle confusion isn’t backed up by science. “There is no evidence to support either claim,” he said in an article on the topic. He argues that plateaus happen because the body makes rapid improvements in the beginning of a workout regimen. In other words, it’s not that you’re getting in shape more slowly, it’s that you were way out of shape to begin with.
Weil does admit that changing up a strength training routine might have some unforeseen benefits, but for most of us, he suggests we do what feels right, whether that’s keeping our normal routine or changing “when your strength or performance decreases, when your physique stops changing in the way that you’d like it to, or when you’re bored.”
So, go ahead and change up your routine if you want to, but don’t feel like it’s an absolute necessity. Ace Fitness gives you a simple formula for workout changes: just change one factor in your workout. For example, if you’re running, perhaps do more hill work, or go to the elliptical machine. Increase your pace, or maybe your duration, but not by too much. Most of all, do what feels good to you—that’s what will keep you in the gym and help you stay young.
Keeping Warm, Keeping Cool
Fall is a great time—the leaves are changing colors and the holidays are approaching. For some people, this is the time when diets and exercise plans come apart at the seams. Someone who is used to warm weather and lots of free time might have trouble being forced inside a gym or left with little time to workout between family plans. Here’s our guide to both.
- Start at the top. That is, wear a hat that keeps warmth in. Your head is responsible for 40% of your body’s heat loss—keep it warm, and you keep yourself warm.
- Layer it up. It’s much better to have multiple light layers than one light and one heavy layer. The old t-shirt and sweatshirt routine works in a pinch, but if you try something more snug on the bottom and add light layers on top, you’ll find that moisture moves further away from your core and wind doesn’t affect you as much.
- Remember your hands and feet. Thicker socks or doubling up on socks can help you keep your feet warm. And don’t forget gloves or hand warmers. There’s not much that’s more miserable than cold feet and hands.
- Time it right. Of course your schedule will dictate a lot of your workout schedule, but when you can, do your outside exercise during the warm parts of the day. That will make working out much more bearable.
- Be honest with yourself. If you really just can’t take the cold, hit the gym. Get a workout partner or go to a class—whatever you need to keep yourself going. Don’t force yourself to brave the cold if it’s going to keep you from working out.
Keeping Your Cool With Family Around:
- Keep priorities straight. You love your family, right? Keep in mind that your ability to have fun with your family depends on your health. No one is going to complain too much about a little time each day for your workouts.
- Watch your mouth. It’s really easy to make too much food or eat too many snacks when family is around. Keep an eye on your intake and you won’t regret it.
- Fight stress. Entertaining people is stressful. So is traveling. Remember that too much stress can affect your body’s reaction to exercise, so keep your stress levels low by finding time to do the things you want, remembering to laugh, and—that’s right—exercising.
Enjoy your November, SilverSneakers members, and remember your fitness goals. You’ll do great!
Discovering Your Flexibility: 7 New Tips for Stretching
Stretching, more than any other type of exercise, is done in many different ways. Opinions on the subject cover a tremendous range and it’s hard to know what’s right. In this post, we’re going to learn about the current trends in flexibility training and talk about what’s right for you.
Some types of stretching are going to be better for you than others and you may have to do a little trial and error to figure that out. There are, however, some things you should always avoid when stretching:
- Overdoing it. If you feel pain during a stretch, stop immediately. Something’s wrong. If you’re not injured, what’s wrong is probably the stretch you’re doing.
- Stretching before a warm-up. Many Americans were wrongly taught in their physical education classes in school—a pre warm-up stretch is at best a wasted effort, and at worst, painful or dangerous.
- Relying on static stretching alone. Static stretches, the classic “stretch-and-holds” we’re all used to, have come under scrutiny recently. While they are probably not bad in and of themselves, it’s wise to do multiple types of stretching and leave the static stretching for after your workout.
Experts believe that deep stretching before an exercise, especially strength training, decreases the power of your muscles, which might in turn make your workout less effective. Instead of focusing on the old style of stretching, experts recommend a few other options:
- Short stretches, repeated multiple times. Jim and Phil Wharton, New York physical therapists, suggest a number of different stretches that help flexibility without weakening muscles. They recommend a maximum duration of about two seconds, but doing ten repetitions of each exercise.
- Very gentle stretches, held for long durations. Nikos Apostolopoulos was an Olympic hopeful in cycling when he was struck by a car. His injuries made normal stretching impossible, so he developed “microstretching”, which involves super-light stretching for periods of about 60 seconds.
- Ballistic stretching, which is the type of bouncing stretch runners are often seen doing. Be careful if you do ballistic stretching, as too much energy in the stretch can cause pain.
- Yoga. A gentle yoga routine is very good at stretching muscles out, without forcing them into painful positions. Your gym probably has a yoga class that will work for you.
You’ll never know what works best until you try, so please go ahead and read the articles in the links and fit them into your workouts. Let your fellow SilverSneakers members know what works for you in the comments section. And good luck with your fitness goals!
All-Weather Workouts: 5 Tips for Exercise in Any Climate
If you’re like most active people, working out in the gym is great most of the time, but sometimes you just want to get outdoors to run, jog or do any number of other activities. And while this is great, almost none of us live in a place that has perfect weather year round (aside from you lovely people in Hawaii and San Diego!). Are you going to let bad weather derail your fitness goals?
We didn’t think so. These tips will help you stay on your fitness path, rain or shine.
- Don’t put yourself in danger. While you can run in the rain, you wouldn’t want to run in a torrential downpour. There’s a fine line between working with the weather and taking your life in your own hands. Don’t exercise outdoors if there’s ice on the road, adverse traffic conditions (washed out roads, among others) or in extreme heat. It’s just not worth it.
- Learn to deal with wind. Wind is very tricky. Running into the wind can make breathing difficult and will make you colder, but it can offer excellent resistance which can make you stronger. Running with the wind makes running easier (but again, makes you cold). But, if a tailwind is blowing at the same speed that you’re running, you’ll get warm very quickly. Trainer Jack Daniels has an excellent guide to wind running.
- Protect yourself from the rain. Remember to stay close to home base when you exercise in the rain, in case the rain worsens. Wear a light rain jacket and avoid getting rain on clothes that absorb water well. Health blog FitSugar recommends wearing sunglasses in the rain to keep water out of your eyes.
- Layer up in the cold. If it’s uncomfortably cold, wear layers that you can remove and carry with you. Sweatshirts and light jackets are great because they can be tied around your waist if you get too warm. Watch out for clothes that are too loose, though: if you’re running, loose clothes can slow you down or trip you up and if you’re biking, loose clothes can get caught in gears and chains easily.
- Listen to your body. A little pain during exercise is normal, but too much pain, breathing difficulties or dizziness are indications that something’s wrong. If you exercise frequently, you know what’s normal and what’s abnormal. If you’re too uncomfortable, head back inside or to the gym to finish your routine with alternate exercises.
Remember to be safe—with a little planning, you can enjoy exercise despite bad weather and keep working to attain your fitness goals.
Any fun/interesting examples of a time you “weathered” a tough workout environment? Share in the comments!
Your Workout Wardrobe Walkthrough: From Head to Toe
Sure, stretching, eating right and staying hydrated are important during a workout…but what about your get-up? Believe it or not, workout clothes can have a real impact on your time at the gym. Have you ever tried to workout in jeans? It’s not comfortable, trust us! You’ve probably also seen people who have nothing but the finest, flashiest, most expensive brands, cuts and styles. While that may be nice, it’s not strictly necessary, and it might even distract you from your goals.
Let’s talk about what’s essential and what’s just too much:
- Shoes. Workout shoes are the most important article of your exercise wardrobe. They’re a hot topic of discussion, but they can also be a real pain (sometimes literally) if they don’t do their job right. There are a number of different opinions on what you should look for in a shoe, but you should probably focus on comfort first. You can run in cross-trainers and lift weights in running shoes, so buy a shoe that fits the activity you do most often.
- Pants. There is a wide range of available workout pants and, unlike shoes, you can’t just buy one pair of pants that will work for every occasion. True, if you’re mostly a resistance trainer, class attendee and elliptical user, you can get by in a pair of track pants; however, if you’re going to run long distances or workout in hot weather, you may want a pair of tighter shorts.
Whatever you do, buy something that breathes. If your pants don’t breathe well and don’t wick away moisture, you’re going to regret it. Cotton is almost always a good choice. If you need something that stretches a bit, a cotton-lycra blend is usually fine.
- Tops. Finding the right top is a lot easier than finding the perfect pants or shoes. Tops should be snug enough to ensure minimal interference with movement, but, of course, not constricting and uncomfortable. Like pants, they should breathe and wick moisture away. Other than that, don’t worry too much about tops. For most people, a T-shirt that fits is just fine, as well as any number of commercially available workout shirts.
- Hats. If you work out exclusively indoors, you have a number of options, including no headwear at all. Sweatbands and bandannas are fine, and if that’s your style, go for it! Otherwise, a simple baseball cap might be best. It’s usually a good idea to wear something on your head if you’re going to be working out (especially running) where there’s little shade.
In the end, of course, your dedication matters a lot more than your clothing. Just get clothes that don’t distract you from your fitness goals and enjoy your workout!
What did we miss? What workout clothes do you love? Let us know in the comments.
Gym Etiquette Tips: How to Sweat the Small Stuff
Whether you work out by yourself or with a partner, going to the gym is an inherently social experience—there are usually crowds of people around you every time you go. And while sweating with strangers can be something of an awkward experience, there’s no reason it should be miserable. Working out should be fun! Knowing the rules of gym etiquette can put your mind at ease and make your workout stress-free.
The rules of gym etiquette are simple, and basically all point to one principle: don’t do anything that makes anyone else uncomfortable.
It’s easy to find yourself forgetting a tip or two, but if you keep that principle in mind, everything should fall into place.
- Respect others’ space and privacy. The number one rule of the gym is “Do not stare at other people.” That’s not too difficult, but most of us have been witness to some…um…flagrant violations of that guideline.
- Don’t offer unsolicited advice or pressure others to finish their exercise sets.
- If you’re listening to music, keep the volume at a reasonable level that only you can hear.
- Avoid taking or making cell phone calls at the gym—many gyms even have a “no phones on the floor” policy.
Earn extra points for going the extra mile…
- Check for a line behind you before you fill up a water bottle at the fountain
- Don’t cause unnecessary clutter by carry your gym bag around the floor
- Shut your locker door when you leave
- If you notice supplies running low in the bathroom or elsewhere, notify the staff
A number of our tips revolve around respecting the equipment. As everyone shares the gym’s equipment, be sure to treat it as such…
- Make sure you re-rack any weights and bars you use, and leave the equipment open and available when you’re done with it.
- When the cardio area is busy, many gyms have a 20-minute-limit per machine. If yours doesn’t, it’s still a good idea to limit your exercise when other people are clearly waiting for cardio machines.
- Having a gym towel with you lets others know you are committed to good gym etiquette. Be sure to wipe down equipment and machines immediately after using them.
- The right clothes are important too: make sure you are well-covered on the floor and in the locker room.
Now that you know the basics, you’ll be able to work out stress-free and keep the gym a great place for everyone.
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Staying Motivated: 5 Tips To Keep You On Track
Holidays, trips, and illnesses can interrupt our workout schedules and keep us away from our fitness goals. Here’s how to get back on track.
An all-too-common story: Set up an exercise routine, work really hard at it, an eventually get into a rhythm. Then something happens and the rhythm falls apart, the routine starts to feel like a grind, and pretty soon everything comes to a screeching halt.
At this point, despair might set in, and you might be thinking, “I’ll never be able to stay in shape.” Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. It CAN be avoided.
Take a look at these ideas that will help you recapture that momentum you worked so hard to build:
1. Boss Yourself Around
Set up a reward system for your achievements, and build in consequences for when you don’t. You know yourself best – only you can set attainable goals, and also plan ahead to mitigate triggers that tend to send you off-track.
For example, if you know that you tend to give up on workouts before they’re complete, plan a more manageable workout that will only require 45 minutes, as opposed to 60 minutes. Once you’ve completed everything you planned for, treat yourself with a healthy post-workout smoothie.
2. Bring Your No-Nonsense Friend Along
Having a workout partner <insert link to prior post on subject> is the Swiss Army Knife in your motivation toolbox. The workout partner helps you get to the gym, push for one more rep, and helps keep you moving. Choose a dedicated friend so you’ll feel added pressure before canceling a workout.
3. Commit to a Class
Going to fitness classes can help, especially if the class costs extra. Moreover, being a “regular” in a fitness class gives you a social reason to work out, and sets your schedule. You don’t have to ask yourself whether you’re going to the gym anymore—you know that on Monday nights, you have a Pilates class.
4. Enlist Third-Party Tools
Sometimes, holding yourself accountable, or bringing a friend in for support just isn’t enough. NPR recently profiled a service that helps users establish goal-related contracts, such as “lose weight.” When goals are missed, the tool pays your money allocated for attaining that goal to a charity of your choice. And hey – perhaps even if you DO meet your goal (which you will), you’ll feel so good about it you’ll donate to the charity anyway.
5. Visualize Success
Think about why you’re working toward your goal. You want to have a long, happy life, with the ability to do the things you love doing. Journaling your goals in a diary, or making a “vision board” will help you to visualize yourself succeeding, and becoming the person you want to become.
Here’s a guarantee – the first time you hear from a friend, “Wow! You’re looking great! What have you been up to?” staying motivated will be that much easier.
What did we miss? What tips and tools do you have to share? Tell us in the comments.
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Get Back to School with SilverSneakers Exercise 101
It’s back to school time for the kids and grandkids, so here at SilverSneakers, we’ve decided to jump into education as well, giving you interesting exercise facts to enrich your life and improve your workouts.
General Exercise Facts
- All forms of exercise, performed appropriately, can improve mental health and can help fight depression. Abruptly ending a habit of exercise can create feelings of depression or agitation.
- Contrary to popular belief, exercise does not turn fat into muscle, nor does inactivity turn muscle into fat. As exercise creates muscle, fat can be reduced, and as muscles atrophy, fat can build up, but muscle is never converted to fat.
- Exercise is recommended for people of all ages. There’s no one standard for exercise, and different people get different amounts of results from exercise.
- Flexibility is an important part of exercise. A good range of motion in muscles can lead to a higher quality of life.
- Stretching gets easier over time, not only because muscles become looser, but because nerves are trained to relax the muscles more as stretches are performed.
- The ability to stretch can be affected by one’s mental attitude, clothing, the weather or a number of other factors.
Aerobic Exercise Facts
- Aerobic exercise is essential to heart and lung health. It burns calories and can increase a person’s energy.
- As aerobic exercise is performed, a person’s resting heart rate gradually becomes lower and their lung capacity increases. More red blood cells are created as well, which facilitates the transportation of oxygen in the body.
- Other benefits of aerobic exercise include an increase in your muscles’ ability to store energy, which in turn increases endurance.
- Some forms of aerobic exercise can stimulate bone growth and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. These exercises are high-impact, however, and should not be undertaken by those who are experiencing symptoms of osteoporosis or joint pain.
- Aerobic activity can also decrease appetite.
Strength Training Facts
- Strength training improves posture, can prevent and even reverse the muscle loss associated with age, and can provide support for joints and bones.
- During all high-intensity exercise, lactic acid builds up in the body, especially in the muscles. Though lactate buildups are a result of muscle use, they are not responsible for muscle soreness, contrary to popular belief.
- Strength training builds muscle cells, which require energy to maintain. Because of this, strength training can help people burn more calories when resting.
- It’s not just lifting weights that builds muscle, but the act of lowering them slowly can do just as much, if not more. This type of weight training is called “eccentric training.”
Thanks for reading, SilverSneakers members—now go share these facts with your friends! Good health is a gift that is meant to be shared.
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Keeping Cool in the Summer
Heat waves have been in the news lately—scorching triple-digit temperatures assaulted the Northeast and Midwest, places where air-conditioning isn’t common or is very expensive. In the US, heat is the most deadly natural phenomenon, killing more people each year than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods or earthquakes.
Excessive heat can be especially dangerous for those trying to stay fit. During summer months, it’s good to avoid outdoor exercise during the peak of the day’s heat. If you live in a cooler climate, you can exercise outdoors during the coolest hours of the day, but if you live in a warmer climate, you might want to avoid outdoor exercise altogether. Treadmills may not be the most interesting way to run or walk, but they’re much safer than exposure to hot weather. Swimming is also a great option; check out water aerobics classes at your gym.
Watching your exercise, while important, is not enough—keeping cool is an important part of life outside the gym too. Ignoring the heat can be dangerous to your overall well-being, including your fitness. Here are some simple tips to keep you cool during the dog days:
- Keeping yourself cool starts with keeping your home cool. Simple things like installing blinds or drapes, running fans (especially ceiling fans) and keeping heat-generating appliances (like computers and incandescent lights) powered down can really cool off your home. Additional tricks include avoiding cooking, washing and drying clothes mid-day, as well as using the bathroom fan if you shower mid-day. More advanced home-cooling tactics require home improvement: shading your air conditioning unit, insulating your attic and painting your roof a light color.
- Of course, there are ways to keep yourself cool no matter where you are. Drinking plenty of cold water, having a personal fan or personal mist-sprayer (or both) and eating lighter meals are great ideas, as well as wearing loose-fitting cotton clothing, in light colors. By all means, you should avoid spending time in asphalt-covered areas, or drinking alcohol or caffeine, which will make you warmer.
The basic rule to follow is this: use common sense. If you’re too warm, go to a cooler place and drink water. That being said, there are some intriguing, less logical cool-off tips that bring a smile to our faces, even if we haven’t been able to verify their effectiveness. The Mother Nature Network suggests eating spicy foods (as they make you sweat), for example, and MedicineNet recommends storing lotions and creams in the fridge.
However you do it, be sure to keep yourself cool this summer. Don’t let the heat derail your fitness goals—best of luck keeping cool and staying fit!
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