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Want to shake up your exercise routine? Try aerobic boxing for something out of the ordinary. Aerobic boxing combines intense upper-body movement with fast footwork to give you a knockout of a workout. Also known as Aerobox, Boxercise, and Boxaerobics, this sport uses the punches and moves of regular boxing to whip you into shape. The focus is more on movement than technique, with students alternating between shadow boxing and actual sparring.
A good way to get started is by taking classes at your health club or at the local Y. If possible, try to take a class from a former boxer since he or she will know all the moves and can incorporate them into a great aerobic routine with the proper motivational support. Don’t be discouraged if you have trouble keeping up in your first few sessions: aerobic boxing requires a lot of muscular endurance which takes time to develop.
If you don’t have time to go the gym, you can also choose from a wide selection of books and videos that teach you how to aerobic box on your own. You can a great workout in the comfort of your living room while moving at your own pace.
During an aerobic boxing session you will probably do a combination of skipping and running, body conditioning and resistance training, targeted pad work, specific partner drills and work using a punch bag.
In addition to being a great cardiovascular workout that burns fat and calories, aerobic boxing also increases your endurance and muscle strength, particularly in your legs and arms. It will also help develop agility, coordination, and flexibility.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Most classes begin with a warm-up, but if yours doesn’t, make sure you do your own before coming to class. Take a brisk walk or jog for five to 10 minutes to get your muscles warm and to elevate your heart rate.
After your workout, if your instructor has not included a cool-down period, take a few minutes to walk around the studio. This will help your heart rate descend gradually.
Be sure to stretch your abdominals, arms, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps, at the start of class and again after cooling down to avoid injury and soreness.
Aerobic exercise is any activity that increases your oxygen intake and your heart rate. It is also the most effective form of exercise for weight loss.
Walking, running, rollerblading, swimming, dancing, cross country skiing, tennis, hopscotch, and raking leaves are all forms of aerobic activity. However, when most of us talk about aerobics we are usually discussing one of the many varieties of aerobic workouts that can be found at health clubs and community classes. In addition to the original aerobic dance classes that use a mixture of dance and calisthenics, the list now includes step aerobics, slide aerobics, and workouts that borrow from boxing and martial arts. You will also find movement classes to suit your musical preference, be it jazz, hip-hop, or funk.
Sign up for a class or rent a video and don’t worry about what you do or don’t know. Both the class and video instructors will guide you through all the steps of the workout. There are a myriad of classes and thousands of videos to choose from so you can be sure to find an aerobic workout to match your style and level, from beginner through advanced.
When you perform aerobic exercise, you repeatedly contract large muscle groups such as your legs and arms. The focus is on continuous movement and an elevated heart rate as you work one muscle group and then another. This tones your muscles and burns calories.
Surprisingly, if your aerobic workout is low to moderately intense and of long duration, you will burn more fat than if you had participated in a short burst of high intensity exercise. For instance, a brisk 30-minute walk will burn more fat than a 100-yard sprint.
You will also find that you have greater stamina when performing other aerobic activities.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Most aerobic programs will include a warm-up and cool-down period. If yours doesn’t, walk to class or around the block, ride a stationary bike slowly, or mildly run in place. You should begin to perspire and feel your heart rate increase within five to ten minutes. Your muscles are now warm enough for a gentle stretch and to start your workout. Stretching the major muscle groups helps to prevent injuries. The major muscle groups are the Biceps, Triceps, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Calves, and Gluteus muscles.
To cool down, walk around the studio or ride the stationary bike at a slow pace. The aim is to allow a gradual decrease in your heart rate. Stretch the same muscle groups again to sustain flexibility and to avoid soreness.
If you’re looking for a way to get toned while increasing your flexibility, there may be no better workout than ballet. Dancers may look like they are gliding effortlessly across the stage, but in reality, those moves require incredible body strength, balance, and agility.
A surefire way to learn the basics of ballet is to sign up for a beginner’s class. You can easily find an adult ballet class in a local dance studio and some health clubs offer classes as well. You’ll need to wear loose comfortable clothes, preferably a leotard and tights, along with special ballet slippers.
Ballet is an entire-body workout. Not only will you develop stronger legs and quadriceps, but you will also improve muscle tone in your abdominals, arms, back, and hips. Proper alignment of the spine is a key part of ballet dancing, so after several classes, you should notice an improvement in your posture. Because ballet requires concentration and focus, it can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Most ballet classes begin with a warm-up in which dancers move through the five basic positions. If your class skips the warm-up and dives straight into ballet steps, try going for a brisk, 10-minute jog or walk beforehand. This will warm your muscles and elevate your heart rate.
After class, it's important to cool down to allow your heart rate to decrease gradually. If class does not include a cool-down period, you should go for at least a 5-minute walk.
Be sure to stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, lower back, and arms at the start of class and again after cooling down to avoid injury and reduce muscle soreness.
It’s not always easy to eat right, especially when you’re on the run. How do you fit a quick meal into your busy schedule without thwarting your healthy eating plan?
Happily, the market place is responding to the health conscious consumer. Wherever you are, close to home or out and about, you can find a fast, healthy meal.
Take a quick tour around the produce section of your local supermarket and you’ll discover a variety of convenient, time saving offerings. Packages of precut vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, mushrooms and lettuce make it easy for you to toss together your own salad without all the hassle. For the final touch, consider adding nature’s own ready-to-eat cherry tomatoes.
Better yet, you can choose from a selection of pre-packaged, ready-to-go salads with all the fixings such as cranberries, nuts and bleu cheese. The dressing is included and the salad is even pre-washed!
When time is short, quickstep over to the deli-section and pick up a similarly prepared salad wrapped in a plastic take-out bowl. Want something with a little protein? It’s all there too: Mexican salads with beans and corn, Asian salads with crunchy cabbage, chicken and sesame, green salads with chicken or tuna. All you need is a fork.
If salads are not your thing, many markets also offer other healthy and nutritious pre-packaged meals. Look for ones that are high in fiber and protein such as chicken with oven-roasted vegetables or fish with brown rice. Many of these pre-packaged meals are prepared fresh so make sure to check the expiration dates carefully. If your trips to the market are limited, you can stock up on some healthy frozen alternatives.
Didn’t get a chance to stop at the market? Many of the fast food chains are responding to consumers with menu choices that include everything from veggie burritos made only with fresh ingredients to healthy salads of every type. So when you’re on the go, stop by your favorite drive up window and ask for the healthy meal option that’s right for you.
Start Your Day Off On the Right Track
Breakfast can be a hectic time for yourself or family. In between getting yourself ready for work or helping the kids prepare for their day at school there is little time left to prepare a healthy breakfast. But with a little preparation ahead of time you can create a healthy meal option to start your day off on track.
Stock up your kitchen with healthy breakfast options and prepare portions in the evening before bed to save time in the morning. Some good, healthy and quick options include whole grain cereals and breads and oatmeal with low fat milk or soy milk. Toss in some berries or mix in some nuts or flaxseeds for a new twist. There are also some new healthy frozen breakfast options on the market.
For those mornings when you’re really on the go make sure to have some healthy potable breakfast alternatives. Stock up on some nutritious packaged cereal bars that are low in sugar and high in fiber. Low-fat yogurt cups and fruit also make great grab and go options.
And Don’t Forget the Snacks…
In between work and picking up the kids or even on the slower days in between, it’s important to snack between meals. Snacks are a great way to maintain your energy level and stave off those between-meal hunger pangs. Keep healthy snacks on hand so you can grab a yogurt or low-fat cheese stick. Stash already shelled almonds or a package of trail mix in your car. Or, if you have a moment, mix your favorite nuts, raisins and dried fruits for you own nutritious, tailor-made snack. Apples and grapes are perfect snacks for the person on the run and tangerines are easy to peel and full of sweet juice. And remember, always include bottled water in your snack pack to keep you hydrated and energized.
You can probably name several of the latest trends in dieting and may even have tried one or two of them. Most of these diets are of the “Just Say No” variety, promising that you’ll lose weight if you just say no to all carbs, all sugars, or all fats. While these fad diets may be effective in the short term with noticeable weight loss, they are not the best solution for long term weight maintenance and achieving a healthy body.
Sacrificing a whole arena of food like that can also lead you to feeling deprived and to eventually saying “yes” when you’re supposed to be saying “no.” And that’s a perfect set up for frustration and a nasty case of guilt.
A healthy, successful diet is an eating plan that lets you say “yes” and that you can live with for your lifetime. It has no severe restrictions and doesn’t leave you hungry or feeling guilty. It’s a common sense diet that recommends a wide variety of foods while encouraging smaller portions.
You can achieve and maintain a healthy weight by eating balanced, nutritious meals and snacks. And yes, dessert too.
Here are some tips to keep you healthy, happy and guilt-free:
You Need Protein
Protein is necessary for good muscle function. Protein also takes longer to digest and keeps you feeling full longer which helps to control your appetite and overall calorie consumption which is a perfect combination for weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. Good sources for protein are those that are also low in fat and calories such as poultry, eggs, fish, low-fat dairy products, soybeans, various legumes and leaner cuts of meat. Remember that if you are extremely active physically you’ll need more protein than the average person.
There Really Are Good Fats
Even when you’re trying to lose weight, good fats can be beneficial. They are important for healthy function of your joints and organs, hormone production and immune system. Good fats are found in fatty fish like salmon, in nuts, flax seed and flax oil, avocados and olive oil. Even with good fats, you’ll want to keep your daily intake at 30 % or less of your total calories.
Carbs Are Not the Enemy
Carbohydrates are good for you. It’s generally the added refined sugar that’s the problem. The best carbohydrates to consume are the whole grains which are nutritious foods that will satisfy your hunger. Whole grains contain fiber and essential nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin E, iron and magnesium. Look for whole grain breads, breakfast cereals and pastas that are high in fiber and low in sugar. Also try substituting whole grain flour instead of white flour in some of your favorite recipes or try cooking up a pot of brown rice in place of white rice. For variety try a new whole grain that can make a delicious main course or exciting new side dish such as quinoa, amaranth, millet and bulgur.
Find the Fiber
Fruits and vegetables can provide the roughage and nutrition your body needs to keep your digestive system on track. Because of their bulk and fiber, fruits, veggies and salads also help to reduce your appetite with a minimum of calories. You’ll feel full for longer on fewer calories. In fact, start your lunch or dinner with a broth based vegetable soup or a large salad. Use low or fat-free dressing. Both of these lower calorie foods will help to curb your appetite.
You can also find a lot of fiber in whole grains and a variety of beans. Try and eat a little fiber at every meal to help curb your appetite and keep you on a healthy meal plan throughout the day. The American Heart Association suggests eating 25–30 grams of dietary fiber per day. If you eat a little fiber at every meal, and in the snacks in between, reaching this goal should be easier than you think. If fiber is new to your diet, be sure to increase your intake gradually to give your body time to adjust and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Add More Color
In addition to being an excellent source of fiber, fruits and vegetables are also low in calories, rich in vitamins and minerals, and contain a multitude of antioxidants – all of which help to improve your overall health and wellness. Different fruits and vegetables contain different antioxidants which contribute to the pigments of these fruits and vegetables. To ensure you’re getting the maximum benefit, try and eat a variety of a fruits and vegetables daily from all the colors of the rainbow.
Look At Your Plate
Most of us can look at our dinner plate and admit that we could reduce our regular portions. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends that you decrease the amount on your plate gradually to avoid hunger pangs. They also suggest that protein only make up 1/3 of the serving while mostly vegetables and some whole grains make up the balance.
And Oh Yes, Dessert!
Foods high in sugar and low in nutrients tend to increase our sugar cravings and are a sure fire way to gain weight. Sweets should be eaten in moderation.
A bowl of your favorite berries topped with yogurt, a slice of sweet, juicy watermelon or a ripe peach can be satisfying and refreshing alternatives. However, when nothing else will do, indulge in a piece of your favorite cake or a small dish of ice cream. No guilt, no sense of deprivation, just a little satisfaction.
Your common sense diet will make achieving your healthy weight a piece of cake!
The word “yoga” comes from Sanskrit with the dual meanings “union” and discipline.” By uniting meditation with a series of postures, practioners of this ancient Indian exercise seek to develop both mental and physical wellbeing.
Yoga is a great way to stretch, increase flexibility and strength, reduce tension, and relax body and mind. In our hectic, stressed out world, yoga has become a popular and widely accessible form of exercise. People of all ages can practice yoga and it can be adapted for people with disabilities or special needs.
Sign up for a yoga class, rent a video, or check your local T.V. listings for yoga programs. Learn the proper form for the postures (asanas). As with all exercise, regular daily sessions will provide the most benefit.
Yoga stretches and postures are accompanied by deep steady breathing that improves blood circulation, soothes the nervous system, and increases vitality. You will enjoy improved flexibility, a slight increase in muscle strength, good posture and long, lean muscles. Yoga also enables better physical balance and coordination. Additionally, a number of studies have shown that yoga can benefit those with joint pain or insomnia. Other benefits include stress reduction and an improved ability to concentrate.
While yoga doesn’t usually provide aerobic benefits, a new version known as Ashtanga or Power Yoga adds a cardiovascular element. Rather than the traditional series of slow, gentle stretches, Power Yoga employs a rigorous choreographed sequence of poses synchronized with your breathing to provide a hot, high-energy workout.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
If your muscles are particularly tight you may want to try some gentle stretches before your yoga class or workout. Otherwise yoga sessions generally include a warm-up and a cool-down. You may find it helpful however, to take a few minutes to clear your mind and to prepare mentally for class.
If you are practicing yoga at home or if your instructor does not include a cool-down, simply shake your body out and walk around for a few minutes.
Note: If you are practicing Power Yoga and your routine does not include a warm up or cool-down, remember to follow the same preparations you would for any aerobic activity. Gently stretch to prevent injury and start exercising slowly to warm your muscles. Allow a ten-minute period towards the end of your program in which you slow your motions and allow your heart rate to decrease. Stretch again to avoid soreness and to enhance flexibility.
Walking is the ideal exercise for many of us. Simple, convenient, and inexpensive, walking is one of the easiest forms of aerobic exercise. It strengthens our muscles and bones, relieves daily stress, and improves our sense of wellbeing. Walking is a low impact activity that is gentle on the joints, making it ideal for people with arthritis or osteoporosis. Walking is also perfect for the solitary soul as well as for those who prefer a fun social activity in the company of friends.
Whether with a friend or on your own, open the front door and take your first step. The following race walking techniques will give you the best aerobic workout. Start gradually and increase your speed over time.
Stand tall. Take short, quick steps, being sure to land on your heels. Then smoothly roll forward to push off with your toes. Form loose fists with your hands and bend your arms at about a 90-degree angle. Pump your arms quickly back and forth as you walk.
When you are ready to increase the intensity of your routine you can walk faster or tackle uphill terrain.
Remember to keep an eye out for uneven or slippery surfaces, particularly if you suffer from osteoporosis or have trouble balancing. When inclement weather is a problem, check out local shopping malls for indoor walking tracks.
Walking is an aerobic and a weight-bearing exercise. As an aerobic workout, it uses large muscle groups rhythmically and continuously while elevating your heart rate and breathing for a sustained time. Your body will work more efficiently with stronger muscles (including your heart) and more oxygen for your lungs and blood cells. The muscle groups most affected are the gluteus muscles, quadriceps, and hamstrings. As a weight bearing activity, walking causes your bones to work against gravity, stimulating and strengthening the bones in your legs, hips, and spine.
Weight loss is another benefit. Walking a mile with a target heart rate of 60-85 percent of your maximum heart rate burns just about the same amount of calories as a mile of jogging! The National Institutes of Health tell us that walking at an energetic pace for 30 to 45 minutes three times a week is enough to burn fat.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
To prevent injury, start with a few mild stretches that target the calves, gluteus muscles, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Then warm up your muscles a bit more with a slow starting pace. After about five to ten minutes you should feel your heart rate climb and begin to break a sweat. That means your muscles are ready for you to pickup speed.
Slacken your pace for the last ten minutes of your walk and allow your heart rate to slow. Stretch the same muscles groups again after your walk to prevent soreness and to enhance flexibility.
Why not start walking more today? Join the Challenge now!
When you think of volleyball you may think about beaches, blondes, and bikinis. While this social and energetic game is definitely played by the shore, you can also find numerous courts in parks and gymnasiums across the country. The game is easy to learn, fun to play, and with nine people on each team, it’s definitely very social in nature. But don’t let that fool you: volleyball may be an enjoyable sport, but it also offers a great aerobic and muscular workout.
There’s no need to take volleyball lessons to learn how to play the game. You can usually find a pickup game at the beach or in a local gym. Some towns have amateur leagues with regular, scheduled matches. The best way to improve your game and learn new skills is with plenty of practice.
The basic rules of the game are fairly simple-hit the ball back and across the net without letting it touch the ground. Volleyball is definitely a team sport, requiring you to work together with your teammates calling out shots and moving strategically to cover all ground so at least one person can get to the ball in time.
The amount of calories you can burn during volleyball depends on how aggressively you play. If you stay on top of the game and consistently go after the balls, the game can be a great cardiovascular workout. In addition, volleyball can help tone your entire body. Your arm and shoulder muscles are used when you hit the ball and your legs are worked when you jump to reach the ball. If you’re playing at the beach, your legs will get an extra workout because of the resistance of the sand.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Before your game, take five to 10 minutes to go for a walk or light jog. This will warm up your muscles and let your heart rate elevate gradually. At the end of the game, you should walk around the court for a few minutes to allow your body to cool down.
Be sure to stretch your calves, hamstrings, quads, and shoulders before and after your game in order to prevent injury and reduce soreness.
If you’re looking for a sport that is fun and challenging, tennis might be the game for you. Because you play against an opponent, you’ll stay focused and won’t even notice that you’re exercising. Tennis can be played with or without a partner. With numerous indoor and outdoor courts around, tennis is a game you can enjoy all year round.
The best way for a beginner to jump into tennis is by taking a lesson with a professional instructor. You’ll learn how to hold the racket and how to hit a backhand, forehand, and serve. Proper grip and stroke technique is important in preventing injuries like tennis elbow, a repetitive overuse injury in the forearm that is caused by holding your racket improperly. Before buying a racket, ask your instructor for tips on what type is right for you. You can usually rent rackets at a pro shop.
Tennis is a sport that requires a lot of time and practice to master. Beginners will enjoy learning the basics of the game and being able to hit the ball across the net. But with practice you’ll learn more advanced skills such as being able to aim the ball to where you want it to land while strategizing the movements and locations of your opponent so you can hit the ball just out of their reach.
Tennis is a competitive sport which requires either two people (singles tennis) or four people (doubles tennis) to play a game. The basic rules and scoring are fairly simple but should be learned prior to playing a game.
Playing a lot of tennis will not only improve your game, but also strengthen and tone your muscles, especially in the arms, legs, and back. Running back and forth across the court to hit the ball will help build endurance. Your aerobic workout will become more intense as you get better because you’ll be able to hold a rally for a longer period of time.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Before starting your game, you should warm up for about 5 to ten minutes by walking or jogging around the court a few times. This will allow your muscles to get warm and your heart rate to increase gradually. If you’ve been playing vigorously, allow yourself a few minutes of cool-down when you are done.
Be sure to stretch your calves, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, shoulders, arms, and back before and after playing in order to prevent injury and reduce soreness.
Tai chi is practiced as a series of graceful motions that flow smoothly into one another while the body is held straight and upright. The continuous movements are gentle and circular, exercising every part of the body equally. The movements are performed slowly and with meditative concentration.
The goal of this ancient Chinese martial art is to cultivate and increase the circulation of “chi” or life energy. Practitioners believe that the free circulation of chi improves health by permitting the blood to circulate freely and by creating balance in the body’s systems.
Tai chi is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. It is a low impact activity and the level of difficulty can be readily adjusted for the participants.
Take a look at a book or video so that you can become familiar with the various types of Tai chi. If you like what you see, visit some schools and make sure the teachers are experienced. Proper training generally takes eight years.
Tai chi takes time and practice. A “form,” or sequence of continuous movements, can include 60 positions and take up to six months to learn. It might take an additional six months to perfect it. Because practice makes perfect, you should also practice on your own. Tai chi can be done just about anywhere, in class, at home, or outside, as there is no special equipment necessary.
In tai chi you learn how to relax even while you are maintaining a strong posture and performing demanding moves. While the controlled motions require plenty of muscle strength, it is typically the lower body that gets a good workout. You can build very strong legs with the leg bending, leg lifts, and lunges.
Tai chi develops concentration, reduces stress, increases muscular endurance and improves posture, balance, coordination, and flexibility.
Tai chi dramatically reduces the risk of falling among the elderly and recent studies have shown that it can also significantly improve flexibility and mobility for people with osteoarthritis.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Since tai chi classes usually include warm-up stretches, you won’t need to do so on your own. And because it is a fairly gentle exercise, it doesn’t require a cool-down. However, you can stretch your entire body after class when your muscles are warm and pliable. This will help to improve your flexibility.