The Fitness Guide

Rosie Gomez's Guide to Getting Fit!


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Yoga Styles: Which One Is Right for You?

Yoga workoutYoga has become incredibly popular in the United States over the last few years, with over 16 million people practicing on a regular basis. With a history steeped in the religions of South Asia, yoga was originally used as a way to quiet the mind by controlling the breath in a series of movements and postures.

While yoga is still an excellent way to relieve some of the stresses and worries in our hectic lives, it is also great exercise, and the very nature of yoga poses encourages stretching and the development of long and lean muscle.

Just 10 short years ago, yoga classes were not considered as mainstream as they are today, and one didn’t have many styles of yoga to choose from. Now that its popularity has soared and yoga teachers are learning more about the many different styles, it might seem confusing to a newbie.

If you’re looking to add yoga to your fitness routine but don’t know where to begin check out this handy list of three styles and the benefits of each.

1. Hatha Yoga

This type of yoga is excellent for beginners and while it’s not always considered easy, it is the best type for those who have never practiced yoga before. The poses tend to be more manageable and each pose blends seamlessly into the next.

The focus in Hatha yoga is about breathing and placing your body in the proper alignment. Blocks and other aids are often used to assist beginners in the poses, and the teachers are often very free with corrections to ensure that you get it right. Hatha is also good for those with injuries or other situations that might have hindered their flexibility.

2. Bikram Yoga

Bikram yoga, also called hot yoga, is a challenging class that takes place in a room that is heated to over 100 degrees. The poses are more difficult and the heat adds to the overall effectiveness of this type of yoga, by loosening the muscles.

This type of yoga is best practiced by those with substantial experience, and you must check with your doctor before beginning, as certain health conditions could be exacerbated by Bikram yoga. However, if you do decide this is the class for you, you can expect to lose weight and build muscle if you follow a regular schedule.

Working out together3. Power Yoga

Easily the most challenging of all the yoga styles, Power yoga is designed as an intense workout and eliminates some or all of the spiritual practices of other types of yoga. The poses are difficult and each flows directly into the next with no pauses in between. Wear your monitor from HeartRateMonitors.com to really see how this type of yoga compares to other forms of exercise.

Power yoga is best for those who already have some strength and flexibility, and who have practiced other types of yoga in the past. If you’re already involved in other intense forms of exercise such as running or cycling, power yoga can be a great way to build upper body strength and keep your other muscles loose and strong.

Whether you’re interested in stress relief or want to lose weight and become more fit, yoga is the perfect way to accomplish all of those things. Simply assess your ability carefully and consult your doctor, then join the ranks of the millions of people for whom yoga has become their go-to form of exercise.

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Go Climb a Mountain

shutterstock_151437512Mountain climbing is not for everyone. Even seasoned and well-conditioned athletes wouldn’t dream of taking on the challenge of summiting some of the world’s tallest peaks. The rigorous preparation for and the actuality of mountain climbing requires a fierce commitment and peak physical health.

Again, it’s not for everyone.

That being said, if you’ve reached a point in your life and in your training regimen that you’d like to consider tackling a peak, there are many things to consider. Read on to learn more about how to prepare for what will undoubtedly be one of the most grueling, frustrating, and thrilling adventures of your life.

Choose Your Peak

While it might seem logical to think of Mount Everest as the white whale of mountain climbing, in fact many seasoned climbers find other, lower peaks to be more challenging and more accessible. If you live in the United States there are mountains in Colorado and Alaska that might be just the challenge that you’re looking for.

Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa is another option that combines climbing and adventure into one incredible package. Europe also boasts several peaks that will test your strength and stamina. Whether it’s at home or abroad, once you’ve chosen your mountain do some research and learn more about what other successful climbers have to say about that particular climb.

Train, Train, Train

You might think that you’re in top shape, but mountain climbing is something entirely different. Not only do you need the physical strength to make the summit, but you also need an incredible amount of stamina.

If you’ll be going with a group or a guide you should be able to learn exactly what you’ll need to carry in your pack and how much weight to expect. Add twenty pounds to that start working. Run with your pack on, hike with your pack on, and do everything that you can to increase your stamina and endurance. Using your heart rate monitor during this type of training can give you great information about your progress.

shutterstock_109553405See Your Doctor

Keeping in touch with your personal physician is always a great idea when you undertake any type of specific and rigorous training, but for mountain climbing you’ll want to discuss an entirely different set of issues. The main one is the altitude of your chosen peak. If your doctor is not familiar with high altitude and the physical problems it can cause perhaps ask for a reference to a sports medicine physician familiar with the subject.

Altitude affects everyone differently but altitude sickness is no joke. If you’ve never spent time at high altitudes you’ll have no idea how your body will be affected, but even if you’ve done high-altitude climbs before with no ill effects, that’s no guarantee you won’t be stricken on your next climb.

Medication to combat the symptoms of altitude sickness does exist, but the best way to protect yourself is by ensuring that your cardiovascular system is in top condition.

Climbing a mountain can be one of the most personally satisfying experiences in any athlete’s life. Just be sure that you are adequately prepared and ready to take on the challenge.


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Exercise for Newbies: Tips to Get Fit

Getting Fit The world that we live in places a great deal of emphasis on health and fitness. We’re constantly bombarded with television ads that make sure that we’re all aware of the fact that we’re woefully out of shape. Images of fit and happy people parade across our television and computer screens, which often make us feel worse about our fitness levels as opposed to feeling inspired.

The good news is that exercise comes in many forms and it’s easy to begin a fitness program that suits your needs and level of activity. Of course, you should always check with your personal physician or healthcare provider for a full checkup before you dive into any exercise regime. However, once you have your doctor’s okay, it’s time to get started on the road to health and wellness.

Self-Assessment

You know your body better than anyone, so a self-assessment of your physical capabilities is a great place to begin. Take a reading of your resting heart rate, then take it again after you walk one mile. A personal heart rate monitor from HeartRateMonitors.com can be an invaluable resource as you begin on your fitness journey.

Assess the time that it takes you to walk one mile and keep track of this time over the course of a few weeks. You can also begin to measure your waist circumference, and keep track of this number as well. Often it’s easier to focus on inches lost rather than pounds.

Choose Your Activity

One of the hardest parts about exercising is feeling motivated to do it on a regular basis. If you’re stuck in an exercise routine that doesn’t make you feel good or one that doesn’t feel like very much fun, you’re more likely to avoid it altogether.

Think about activities that you particularly enjoy. If you’re fond of nature why not find hiking trails and hiking clubs in your area? For those who are fond of the water, swimming is a fantastic exercise that works almost all the muscles in the body and is easy on the joints. Even a set routine of walking around your neighborhood or town is a great way to get started and to make sure that you stick with it.

Personal TrainerThe Trainer Dilemma

When you start on your new fitness program it might seem that hiring a personal trainer at your local gym is a good idea, and for some people it is. However, before you make that decision you should establish that working out in a gym is something that is within the realm of possibility for you.

If you’re interested in working out in a gym, be sure to visit a few of the locations in your area. Set up an appointment with the various personal trainers and ask lots of questions, not only of the trainer but of yourself. Are you motivated enough to maintain a rigorous gym schedule? Is this trainer someone that you can work with? Are you able to take direction and criticism when you’re at your most vulnerable? While working with a trainer can be a great way to get in shape quickly and to learn ways to maintain that fitness, it’s not ideal for everyone.

Deciding to embark on a fitness journey is one of the best choices that you can make for your health. However, we all know that even the best laid plans can go awry. When you’re ready for your personal health and exercise plan to begin, it’s important to start off right. Visit your doctor, do an assessment of your physical condition, choose fun and interesting activities and investigate your local gym.

Once you take that first step toward health you’ll be so glad that you did!


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Why You Need to Add Swimming to Your Workout Routine

Many people who work hard to include Man Swimmingcardio into their workout and routines walking, running or cycling seem like the most obvious choices for a heart healthy workout. Of course this is true, but if you’re not adding a dose of water to that mix you’re missing out on some incredible cardio benefits.

Time spent at the pool is not just for summer anymore, and many people are realizing the incredible things that swimming does for the body. If you’ve eschewed the pool as child’s play, or believe that it’s not as effective as other cardio activities, then you’re missing out on a fun, thorough, and intense workout that can and will help you reach your fitness goals, with some other surprising results.

Have a Heart

If you’re cycling or running at an intense level, then you’re likely already getting the maximum in a cardio workout. However, if you’re walking or running at a more moderate pace, adding lap time at the pool can really bring your cardio workout to the next level. You’ll want to make sure that your swimming technique is correct and that you’re swimming often enough, so a brief consult with a swimming instructor can let you know if you’re on the right track.

With cardio workouts, it’s important to measure the intensity of your workout by how hard your heart is working. Knowing how hard you’re working is something many people don’t’ know how to gauge. Adding a heart rate monitor from HeartRateMonitors.com can help you know if you’re on the right track for optimum cardio fitness.

Swimming LapsFlexibility Is Key

One of the best things about swimming is the fact that most pools are heated. Not only does this keep swimmers comfortable, it has added exercise benefits, as well. The warm water helps muscles to relax, which means that you’re increasing your flexibility with each swim. Your muscles warm up more quickly and you’re able to stretch them much more quickly and efficiently.

If you’re a cyclist or a runner, consider a quick swim after your other workouts. This will help stretch your tired muscles and help prevent soreness and possible injury.

Increased Strength and Endurance

Because swimming uses every muscle group in the body, it’s the perfect workout for increased strength. While swimming is not going to build bulky muscles the way that weightlifting can, it does create long, lean muscles that help to boost overall metabolism. While most of the muscles involved in swimming are located in the upper body, specialized swim classes and techniques shift the work to the leg muscles, thus engaging the entire body.

Swimming is not as intense a workout as cycling or running, so a swimmer can maintain his or her pace for longer periods of time, which builds endurance. Again, this is a win for your heart health, but it also allows for an increase in calories burned.

Because It’s Fun

If the obvious health benefits aren’t enough to convince you to jump in the pool, think about how much fun swimming was when you were a kid. None of that has changed, and swimming is still the most fun you can have while getting fit.

There are a number of swimming clubs located all over the country, and the social aspect of these clubs makes membership worthwhile. Many clubs also organize outings to local lakes or beaches during the summer months, and swimming in open water can add a whole new spin to your workouts. Also, working out with a team of other dedicated swimmers can keep you motivated and help further your fitness goals.

One of the best ways to keep yourself focused on your fitness goals is keep your workouts fresh and diverse, and to add an element of fun. Swimming accomplishes those things and then some. If you’re looking to change up your workouts, jump into a swim routine; you’ll be glad you did. 


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How Smart Cardio Can Help You Meet Your Weight-Loss Goals

feet on scaleFor many people who are working to achieve fitness goals, cardio workouts inspire intense love/hate relationships. Cardio workouts can be time consuming and monotonous, and after the initial weight loss you may be frustrated when you quickly hit a plateau.

Fitness experts keep saying that cardio is an integral part of a workout routine, but they are also quick to describe all of the ways that we’re doing our cardio wrong. The frequency and duration of cardio workouts, it turns out, are not as important as the intensity.

That’s right, intensity.

It might come as something of a blow to those of us that think an hour on the treadmill while watching cat videos on YouTube counts as cardio. If that statement sounds familiar, read on to learn how you can maximize your cardio workouts and achieve your fitness goals much more quickly.

Map Your Workouts

If you feel like you’re stuck in a cardio rut, don’t despair. You’re not alone. Many people feel quite comfortable in their cardio routine without realizing that they’re likely sabotaging some of their fitness goals.

Start keeping track of your cardio exercises. If you’re running, walking, or cycling, make a note of the distance traveled and the time that you spent doing it. Then decipher your miles per hour rate. Experts say that traveling three miles over the course of an hour each day is the amount of exercise needed to maintain the weight of an average woman. Surely we can do better than that.

Many people use heart rate monitors while they map workouts, as well. Keeping track of your heart rate while you exercise can provide you with important information that will help you move on to more intense workouts.

running at sunriseIncrease the Intensity

Most experts agree that intensity is the key to a successful cardio workout. The human body is uniquely capable of adapting very quickly to exercise. While you might think that your current walking or running routine is sufficient, your body says otherwise with a decline in weight loss.

Start slowly in the beginning but focus on pushing yourself each time you walk, run, or cycle. Alternate your current pace with bursts of speed and lengthen the duration of those bursts over time. For instance, if you would describe the intensity of your workout as a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, try to reach a 5 on the intensity scale for one minute out of each ten minutes that you’re exercising. When that pace begins to feel comfortable, it’s time to move up again.

Experts also advise that you consider varying your cardio workouts. For instance, if you’re a runner you should try cycling once or twice a week to challenge your body and its metabolism.

Cardiovascular fitness is important for overall health and it can be a powerful weight loss tool as well, if done properly. Get a clear picture of your current workouts by keeping notes and using a heart rate monitor, then focus on increasing the intensity of those workouts over time. Before you know it you’ll be stronger, more fit, and much closer to meeting your weight loss goals.


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How Heart Rate Monitoring Can Improve Your Training

In recent years health and personal fitness has gone from buzzword of the day to a high tech industry serving people from all walks of life. Everyone from professional athletes to die hard runners typically use one or more devices to aid them in their training and to help optimize their workouts.

One of the devices that you’ll see used by many is the heart rate monitor. These devices aren’t used for medical purposes; they’re used by those who want to track their heart rate and thus improve their training.

The human heart is a muscle and, as such, it grows stronger with exercise. Monitoring the heart’s function before, during, and after training can help athletes of all disciplines better understand their heart’s fitness level and adjust the training schedule accordingly.

Runningrunner with heart rate monitor

Runners can benefit from heart rate monitoring in several ways. Gauging the level of the heart rate in combination with the intensity of the exercise allows runners to adjust their schedules accordingly. As the runner’s heart rate decreases as the muscle grows stronger, the runner is then able to increase the intensity of the workout without reaching the threshold and risking injury.

Heart rate watches are a good addition to any runner’s arsenal. Not only does the watch monitor the heart rate, but they also include stopwatch and other features that are indispensable to the serious runner.

Cycling

Cycling is one of the best exercises for overall fitness and remains one of the most popular forms of exercise as well. Heart rate monitoring is crucial to the avid cyclist in many of the same ways that it is to the runner, with a few added exceptions.

A cyclist’s heart rate can change frequently during a workout, especially on hilly terrain. It’s important that a cyclist uses the monitor to establish an average resting heart rate before he or she begins training with one. Once the averages are fixed, the monitor lets the cyclist know when the heart rate reaches optimum performance. When that figure is combined with distance, speed, and elevation information the training schedule can be customized around the information.

swimmerSwimming

As with the other exercise disciplines mentioned, swimming is all about endurance and reaching peak performance. Swimmers also benefit from the use of a heart rate monitor in much the same way that runners and cyclists do.

Obviously a waterproof monitor is in order here, but those are widely available. Once donned, the monitor transmits the information to the watch or other device and records data. This can be very helpful in the training of swimmers by relaying information such as distance traveled and the time it took to do that, which is something that swimmers can’t check as easily as cyclists.

Heart rate monitoring is also useful for SCUBA divers. A diver can use a monitor to gauge when their  heart rate is higher, which means that the diver is consuming air more quickly and will have less bottom time. If a diver can monitor his or her heart rate over time he or she can actively work to reduce it, which means less air used over the course of the dive.

Every athlete strives to improve their performance across the board. Heart rate monitoring is a proven way for athletes to track their efforts and design training sessions around their peak performances. When workouts are approached this way, everyone is a winner.