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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Adopting a Dog Can Make You Healthier

It’s no secret that owning a pet is good for you. PhysiciansRunning and other scientists have for years said that there are numerous health benefits. One of the ways that humans benefit from sharing their lives with dogs is increased physical activity.

If you’ve ever wondered how the simple act of adopting a dog can help you become fit and healthier, read on to learn more about the ways that dogs help their humans get into shape.

Go for a Walk

Dogs need exercise to keep their brains active and engaged and their bodies fit and healthy. However, modern dogs are often confined to a house or small yard for much of the time, so they depend on their humans for access to exercise. Because your dog can’t walk himself, you’ll need to help him.

Long walks benefit you as much as they do your canine companion. Most dog experts recommend at least 45 minutes per day of vigorous walking. Wearing a heart rate monitor can help determine how much effort you’ve put into the exercise with your pup. The harder you walk, the better it is for you and your dog; as a result, owners often find themselves losing weight and becoming more fit in the process. Additionally, if you’re ever feeling less than motivated, a pair of sad puppy eyes gazing at you from a position near the front door should be all the encouragement you need to get out and get moving.

Exercising with dogPlay Ball

Dogs are hunters, and while many of their bloodthirsty tendencies have diminished over the process of domestication, they still share a strong prey drive with their wolf ancestors. This is one of the reasons why your dog loves to chase balls and toys when they are thrown. You can use this instinctive drive to the advantage of your dog’s health, and yours as well.

Spend 30 minutes a few times a day playing with your dog in your yard or other safe enclosure. As you throw the ball and engage your dog in an active round of chase, you’re not only getting his heart pumping, but you’ll likely find that you’ve broken a sweat in the process too.

Boot Camp

Boot camps that focus on intensive physical training have become very popular ways for people to get into shape, and many personal trainers have taken this concept one step further. In cities across the country you can now take your dog to boot camp sessions with you.

A combination of activities that challenges both human and canine, these boot camps offer exercises that will whip both of you into shape. Boot camps also have the added benefit of socialization with other dogs for your furry friend, which will help make him a great deal happier.

These are just a few ways that dog ownership can have a positive impact on your fitness. The increased activity that comes with dog ownership is a great way to be more active in many areas of your life. Visit your local animal shelter or rescue group today to find a pup that is perfect for your lifestyle. Giving a forever home to a shelter dog is a great way to change two lives for the better at the same time.


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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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Take a Hike: High Tech Gear for Your Backcountry Adventures

ImageAs the weather grows nicer in most parts of the country there are many avid hikers and backpackers who are itching to get out of town and hit the trails. For some of these people, it may be as simple as a day hike in a local forest or wilderness area, and for others it could be days or weeks spent in rugged backcountry.

Regardless of your personal hiking style, you’re fully aware of the things that you just cannot do without when on the trail. Water, food, and portable shelter are the big ones, but there are many new products on the market that can serve to enhance your experience, safety, and comfort. Once your hike goes high tech you may never hike in any other way.

Take GPS to the Next Level

Personal GPS devices have evolved to the point that most people cannot fathom a hike without one. They can be instrumental in route planning and in emergency situations. However, what if you could combine your GPS system with other useful technology?

Heart rate watches are used by athletes in almost every sport, and hikers can now take advantage of that as well. GPS enabled heart rate watches are available and are perfect for those who love being in the great outdoors. Whether you’re monitoring your heart rate for training purposes or for another reason, a heart rate watch with GPS features could be your new hiking buddy.

ImageWater Filtration Systems and Hydration Packs

If you’re taking a short hike it’s usually no trouble to carry enough water for the trip. However, if you’re planning a hike that is a day or longer it’s wise to bring your own water filtration device and/or purifier.

Many people believe that if you’re high enough in elevation and far enough from grazing animals or human traffic that you can almost always safely drink from fast moving water. That may not always be true, and it’s better to bring your own equipment. Many products on the market today filter bacteria and particulates and kill viruses in one step, which is always going to be the best choice.

Hydration packs have long been used by hikers, but now they’ve evolved a few steps further. Many brands offer filtration devices that can be combined with the hydration pack for ease of filling, which also eliminates the need to carry extra drinking vessels.

Smartphone Apps

We rarely go anywhere without our smartphones, including the backcountry. Thankfully, app developers have realized that apps serving the hiking and backpacking communities are good sellers, and there have been some great ones released recently.

For instance, want to know the name of a particular peak in your line of sight? There’s an app for that. Need maps of all the national parks? There’s an app for that too. There’s even a United States Army survival guide app available that offers possible solutions for every type of emergency.

While you’re planning your backcountry adventures remember to pack the essentials. When you’re done with that, be sure to consider some of these items that just might make your hike a little bit better and a lot more fun.


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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.