Category Archives: Fitness

Easy Workouts to do on Vacation

By Paige Aziz

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Working out on vacation doesn’t need to be hard, and can actually help make your vacation even better! Getting activity when you get to your destination is a great way to beat jet-lag and to increase your energy so you can thoroughly enjoy your vacation. In addition, it will help you feel good when you come back to know you kept up with your fitness rather than feeling like you “fell off the wagon.” Check out these tips to feel fit and fabulous.

Do your homework

 research where you are going. Some hotels have gyms or even offer fitness classes or walking groups. Find out what parks or trails are available, if there are local gyms that offer day passes, or other local active attractions.

Be creative

 There are ways to be active and get exercise without confining yourself to a gym. Check out hiking, kayaking or rock climbing. Run along the beach in the sand – it is harder than it sounds and provides a great cardiovascular and muscular workout. You can also rent a bike to do your site-seeing while staying active and make some incredible memories.

Pack it up

 Before you seal your suitcase throw in some resistance bands or TRX straps. These are lightweight, easy to travel with exercise equipment to help you get your workout in where ever you, in hotel room.

Plan Ahead

 The best way to ensure you keep up with your workouts while on vacations is to plan what you are going to do and times when you can do it. Have a realistic expectation, you may not be able to do 100% of what you can when home, but some is better than none. Before you head out, decide what equipment you have (or don’t have, you don’t always need equipment to work out), how much time you have, and what you plan to do. Need some ideas? Check out some of the mini-workouts below!

 

1. AMRAP Circuits 

AMRAP stands for As Many Rounds As Possible. Select 4-5 exercises, a rep scheme, and a time limit. Your goal is to complete as many rounds as you can in the specific timeframe while taking rest as needed (but the timer keeps ticking, so when you feel ready start again) This type of workout works great when you only have bodyweight to work with.

BODYWEIGHT AMRAP:

10 Bodyweight Squats
10 Pushups
10 single leg hip thrusters per leg
10 mountain climbers
10 V-sits
*Repeat for 10 minutes, resting as necessary

2. Tabata Rounds

Select an exercise, preferably a bodyweight one, and perform 20 seconds all out activity for as many repetitions as you can safely accomplish. Rest for ten seconds and then repeat for 8 total rounds (4 minutes of total time). This works great for full body activities such as burpees, planks, and kettlebell swings.

3. Hotel Room Workout

Even in a tiny hotel room you can use it to your advantage. You can use the edge of the bed as a bench for performing tricep dips or a chair for your feet while doing decline pushups to help you take it to the next level. To be efficient in your time, perform supersets (2 exercises back to back) or giant sets (3 exercises back to back). If you bring a TRX you can hook it up over your hotel door without causing damage to your room, or bring resistance bands.

HOTEL ROOM RESISTACE WORKOUT

Perform 8-15 reps of A1 then 8-15 reps of A2, rest if needed and repeat 2-3 more times. Then move on to B1 and B2 etc.  If the band feels too easy you can make it harder by wrapping it around your hands or stretching it out a little more.

A1) Chest Press
A2) Seated Row

B1) Band Squat and pull
B2) Band Lunge with press

C1) Bicep curl
C2) Tricep dips or band extensions

D1) Band woodchoppers Right
D2) Band woodchooper Left

Too many people take holidays knowing fearing will get fat, become overweight, and lose a level of their fitness. By being prepared you can combat this feeling and actually feel fit and fabulous during your next holiday. Just remember to have fun with it! Whether you have a gym or not, there is always something you can do to stay active.

About the Author: 

Paige Aziz has been in the fitness industry for a decade, specializing in helping women achieve their health and fitness goals. She offers 1-on-1 training in her private studio, small group boot camps, and online training and nutrition coaching. Her Lifestyle Studio is in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. You can also reach her on her Facebook page here.

Spring Into Fitness

By Coach Paige

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The snow is melting, the cold is abating, it is time to start celebrating by getting outside! After a season of being stuck indoors your body and mind is craving some fresh air, sunlight and green space.

Benefits of Green Spaces

‘Green space’, ‘urban greenery’, and ‘open space all refer to design and landscaping elements that allow neighbourhoods to improvement in recreation and aesthetics – this includes parks, trails, playgrounds, public plazas, public gardens and essentially any public area covered with trees, grass and shrubs.

There has been in recent years much research into the benefits that green spaces can provide including

  • Enhancing health by providing room to move and thus decreasing the rate of obesity and diabetes.  It has even been shown that by simply viewing green space there is a noticeable decrease in blood pressure and anxiety levels

  • Decreases stress and violence by invoking feelings of tranquility and reducing instances of aggression. Green spaces have also been known to help alleviate the stress and symptoms of a variety of mental health illnesses.

  • Improves concentrations, productivity and morale. Workers and students who  engage with green spaces tend to have a better ability to focus and are less likely to feel “burned out” due to the relaxation from mental fatigue which creates an overall happier work environment. Likewise in neighbourhoods with green spaces, neighbours tend to take a sense of pride in the space leading to less littering and greater community relationships.

  • Improvement in children’s cognitive abilities including and increase ability to concentrate, follow directions, complete tasks, problem solve and thing creativity while also alleviating symptoms of ADD/ADHD and inhibiting impulsive behaviour.

“knowing and experiencing nature makes us generally happier, healthier people”

(Humans and Nature: October 2013)

Get out in the Green

The best way to gain these benefits is to get outside, and there are many ways you can do this as a family or on your own.

  • Bring out the bikes: Biking is a great way to improve your fitness and soak up all that fresh air and sunshine. It also gives you a chance to teach your children about road safety and sustainable transportation.

  • Take a Hike: Go for a walk in nature, choose a hiking trail, pack some water, and appropriate clothing and marvel in the beauty of Allah’s (swt) creation.

  • Walk or Run: Do it for fun or do it for a charity event.  This is also a great way to renew your energy in the middle of your workday.

  • Game on: get outside and play, it can be as simple as tag, or a family game of kick the ball or recreational sports such as badminton, Frisbee, volleyball, soccer, softball, or basketball. Many cities have recreational leagues where you can play just for fun, or throw together some friend and family for a fun game.

  • Learn Golf: whether you hit the course or just the driving range golf is a great full body activity outside

  • Work on your Green Thumb: create a garden, not only is it excellent exercise it will allow you to create more green space as well as provide your family with healthy organic fruits and vegetables. Involve the kids to get them moving and teach them about sustainable food habits and healthy lifestyles.

  • Playground Workout: The kids are having fun and getting fit, you can too! Incline push up and tricep dips from the bench, pull ups on the monkey bars, 1 leg lunges with the other leg in the swing. You can get VERY creative with your workout while keeping it challenging and fun!

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  • Outdoor boot camps:  depending on how the weather fairs in your part of the country, outdoor boot camps are beginning. This is a great way to get guidance and an extra push in your fitness goals as well as get social and meet new friends. There is a class for all levels and even classes for mom to do with baby in the stroller!

  • Stack it Up: If you are into intense workouts then this is a great one for outdoor arenas (provided all the ice is gone). You will run up one “stack” of stairs, over to the next set and then run down that “stack” until you have completed a certain time or number of stacks.

  • Picnic time: Go for a picnic with the family, pack a healthy lunch and there you can receive some of the wonderful relaxation benefits from being outside, as well as try picnic games such as horseshoes, bocce ball, or washer toss.

  • Spring Clean your Fitness Routine: If you have been working out using the same routine all winter – first Kuddos to you for sticking to it! Now is the time to switch it up, change your intervals or your weights, try a new class, join a fitness challenge or hire a trainer.

Spring is such a fantastic time especially after a long hard winter. Whatever activity you decide to try – do it with joy and excitement. You deserve to get outside and have some fun.

About the Author:

Coach Paige has been in the fitness industry for a decade, specializing in helping women achieve their health and fitness goals. She offers 1-on-1 training in her private studio, small group boot camps, and online training and nutrition coaching. Her Lifestyle Studio is in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. You can also reach her on her Facebook page here.

Hale And Hearty, Exercise For A Healthy Heart

By Coach Paige 

Healthy Heart

In Canada, February is Heart and Stroke Awareness Month. During this month you will come across lots of information on recognizing the signs of heart disease and heart attack but prevention is the best medicine. So how do we enhance the health and longevity of our hearts?

Get Your Heart Pumping!

Exercise daily. If you are a beginner you can start with as little as 10 minutes a day. Choose a variety of exercises such as walking, swimming, biking or running to strengthen your heart and circulatory system. When your circulatory system becomes stronger it becomes more efficient at delivering oxygen and nutrients, which means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. This extends to your daily life as well.

When your cardiovascular fitness improves, and you find you are no longer huffing and puffing after climbing a flight of stairs, it’s because your heart is not needed to work as hard to get you up the stairs because it is now stronger. Your heart is more energy efficient!

Strong Body – Strong Heart

Include some weight training in your exercise regime. Research shows that regular weight training can improve triglyceride counts, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, glucose dumbbells--exercise_19-106854metabolism and reduce body fat. In a study of 44,000 men, researchers at Harvard found that those who lifted weights for 30 minutes or more a week reduced their risk of heart disease by 23 percent. When your muscles are strong it makes it easier for you to lift grocery bags or carry your kids, which reduces the stress upon the heart as well – and don’t worry ladies, muscles will not make you look bulky or manly.

Eat Well

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When you feed your body nutrient dense foods, you become stronger and healthier. Likewise, if you eat lots of high sugar, trans-fat laden treats, your body and your energy suffers. Fatty fish provide beneficial omega 3 which can help stabilize heart rhythms to prevent irregular heartbeats, lower cholesterol and triglycerides; and reduce inflammation in the arteries.

Choose a variety of colours when eating fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high quality sources of fiber, which lowers cholesterol and helps reduce low-grade inflammation in our bodies. They also contain antioxidants, which counteract damage done by free radicals to arteries and help prevent plaque buildup in our arteries.

Oatmeal, oat bran, legumes, beans, and peas are foods which are rich in soluble fiber, the kind that reduces cholesterol by soaking it up so it’s flushed it out of the body as waste. Studies show that diets low in fat and rich in soluble fiber can reduce total cholesterol levels by 10 to 15 percent.

(Read more about foods for a healthy heart here.)

Embrace Your Stress

Some stress is actually healthy in life, especially if it involves things which bring deeper meaning to our life. Your perception of stress actually can be the defining factor in whether stress is helpful to your heart or harmful as explained in Kelly McGongial’s video; How to Make Stress Your Friend

In addition take time for self care – for Me time. Take time to relax or pamper yourself, this could be rising earlier than the kids to enjoy your coffee in silence or making time for your own workouts. It could be taking time to call your dear friend who you haven’t had the time to speak with lately, or reading your favorite book. These are also effective ways to help us cope with stress as opposed to turning to poor habits such as smoking, binge eating or intoxicants when we feel stress is a little too high or too much. Another method of self care and stress coping is prayer.

Connect With Allah

There have been numerous studies identifying that spirituality and spiritual practices can positively influence immune, cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels), hormonal, and nervous systems. In studying meditation, science has proven that regular practice can help reduce stress, blood pressure and improve various other health markers.

Our daily prayers five times a day are a form of meditation in which we create a stronger bond with Allah SWT and through Dhikr (remembrance) we also meditate on the beautiful aspects of Allah SWT.  These acts can bring deeper peace and health to our being. In the Quran we are reminded that being in remembrance of Allah SWT softens the heart…perhaps there is more meaning in this as there often is.  Aside from helping create great empathy, and love, a softened heart is a peaceful heart, and a peaceful heart is a healthy heart.

About the Author:

Coach Paige has been in the fitness industry for a decade, specializing in helping women achieve their health and fitness goals. She offers 1-on-1 training in her private studio, small group boot camps, and online training and nutrition coaching. Her Lifestyle Studio is in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. You can also reach her on her Facebook page here.

Choosing The Right Fitness Program

By Coach Paige

Choosing the right fitness program

There is an amazing variety of programs and exercise options out there, all claiming to be the BEST. However, the reality is that although they all have benefits and have stories of people who have gained benefits from them, there is no one size fits all fitness program. With so much variety, how do you decide which program is best for you?

What is Your Goal?

What you want to achieve is very important in deciding on a fitness program.  If you want to run a 5K Charity Run, then clearly you need a running program.  If you want to improve your strength, you will have to lift weights several times a week.  If you are looking to lose weight a combination of resistance training and cardio can get you there, and there are varying methods of achieving this however bodyweight circuits and interval training have been known to yield positive results.

The best goals are the ones we write down – the act of writing it on paper increases our commitment to achieving the gol.

Be S.M.A.R.T. about setting your goals by making them Specific, Measurable, Action-orientated, Realist, and Time-Bound.

Choosing the right fitness program

Where Are You Now?

When starting a new fitness regimen it is important to be realistic with where you are at this very moment.  Perhaps in university you were a star athlete but haven’t done much in terms of activity since then – and maybe that was 10 or 20 years ago. It is unrealistic to expect that you can perform to that level immediately. Realize that your lifestyle and body has changed. You may feel like a beginner again and that is OK. A beginner may also need some guidance so consider a personal trainer or a coach to get you started on the right path. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends the average adult to accumulate about six hours of exercise a week.

Know that you can start small and work your way up. Small things like walking for 15 minutes a day add up and help you achieve your exercise goals.  The recommendations also do not tell you what you have to do, so if you prefer to play soccer rather than lift weights then be fast and furious on the pitch.

Where Do You Prefer To Be Active?

Not everyone loves going to the gym – and that is Ok, just find what works for you.

Do you like to socialize? Then a fitness class or boot camp might be your thing.

Do you prefer to be outdoors? Outdoor bootcamps, running clubs and sports could be for you.

Feel more comfortable alone? Workout videos or private training studios could be your solitude.

The options are endless, if you are not sure what you like, then give it a try to find out!

How Does It Make you Feel?

Whichever program you decide to do, it should meet these 3 requirements to make it successful.

It makes you Happy: You enjoy doing it; well maybe not 100% during the doing part – but afterwards it makes you feel amazing. If the program is really awesome, you feel happy about the workout.  In addition you are more likely to stick to something you enjoy, so above all choose do something you like, be it dance, sports, hiking, biking, yoga, parkour, kickboxing….whatever will help you stay active.

It makes you Healthy: Not only does your Doctor start giving you the thumbs up over improved lab reports, but you feel it. You have more energy, you are sick less often, and your body moves better allowing you to do the things you want to do in life.

It makes you feel great and look good: You feel more confident, you clothes fit well and comfortably, your eyes and skin glow, you hair shines (even if no one sees it), you radiate happiness and good health.

The best program for you is the program you will stick to and be consistent with.  With consistent activity and healthy behaviours you can achieve just about any goal. Always remember to check with your physician before beginning a new program, and to listen to your body during and after your workout.  If you find you are having more challenges, reach out to fitness or healthcare professionals to help guide you. Health and Fitness is more than just the ‘right program’ it is a daily decision to do what is best for your body, your mind, and your soul.

 

About the author:

Coach Paige has been in the fitness industry for a decade, specializing in helping women achieve their health and fitness goals. She offers 1-on-1 training in her private studio, small group boot camps, and online training and nutrition coaching. Her Lifestyle Studio is in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. You can also reach her on her Facebook page here

Images: 123RF