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fitness Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement Uncategorized

Motivation Monday: Hate the Gym? Try These 9 Calorie-Burning Alternatives

Hate the Gym? Try These 9 Calorie-Burning Alternatives

Hate the Gym? Try These 9 Calorie-Burning Alternatives

If you don’t like the gym, can’t stand running and never took to cycling, well … that’s still no excuse to sit on the couch all day. There are plenty of ways to exercise beyond traditional methods. In fact, we can count at least nine.

Take a gander below for unique workouts — plus their estimated calorie burns — that are guaranteed to get your heart racing and might even put a smile on your face.


READ MORE > 6 WAYS TO BURN 300 CALORIES IN 30 MINUTES OR LESS


Sure, it could elicit some odd looks if you’re hula-hooping while not concurrently 8 years old and on a playground. But who cares? It’s a fun way to burn calories — and easily something you can do in the privacy of your own home. It’s a great core workout and will have you breaking a sweat in no time. Want more of a challenge? Try a weighted hoop.

Spinning underwater isn’t just some nautical fantasy — it’s a real thing that was developed mostly for rehab reasons due to its low-impact nature. But find a gym near you that offers it, and you’ll be pedaling through water. The pace is much slower, obviously, but due to the added resistance, you’ll be working hard from start to finish.

The gravity-defying art of trapeze is for more than just circus performers. Local training centers and ropes courses offer classes, where you can fly high to test your strength, flexibility and mental fortitude — all while getting a great workout.

Bike polo is exactly what it sounds like, assuming you think it sounds like playing polo — a sport typically reliant on horses — atop a bicycle. Look online for leagues, clubs or friendly pickup games nearby, and you’ll soon be knocking balls into a net using a wooden mallet while balancing on two wheels.

This highly-Instagramable activity is serious exercise, requiring participants to move between a series of poses while suspended from the ceiling by a fabric hammock. It’s a total body workout that promotes core strength and flexibility and is a fun take on traditional yoga classes.

More than just a fun backyard activity for kids, trampolining is an official Olympic sport. But you don’t have to be a kid nor an Olympian to partake. Check your city for local trampoline gyms, and go bounce around for awhile. The more comfortable you get, the more you’ll be able to incorporate flips, tricks and other cardio-friendly moves into your repertoire.

Once relegated to the outdoors, the proliferation of this sport — thanks in part to “American Ninja Warrior” — has spawned dedicated gyms all over. Break a sweat while jumping, rolling, swinging and climbing on natural or man-made obstacles like you’re the star of your own action movie.

The fast-moving game of Ultimate Frisbee is a fun way to get some cardio. Join a league, or just gather a few friends in the park. The short sprints and near constant movement mimics soccer and will have you gasping for breath.

If you like some friendly competition and don’t mind getting dirty, try a mud run. They’ll take you over, under and through obstacles across a variety of distances. And with events like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, Savage Race and others scheduled in cities across the country, there’s no shortage of options for the aspiring mud runner.

by Kevin Gray
Categories
Food & Nutrition Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement Uncategorized

The Most Dangerous Fat Is the Easiest to Lose

The Most Dangerous Fat Is the Easiest to Lose

It’s every weight loss enthusiast’s dream to zap belly fat but, far from pure vanity, there’s actually a reason why having a lot of fat in the abdominal region can be dangerous. Fat is stored all over our body, but how does an expanding waistline grow your risk for chronic illness?

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Your body’s fat impacts your health differently depending on where it’s stored. While most fat found on other parts of our bodies (think arms, legs, buttocks) are considered “subcutaneous fat,” belly fat is more likely to be “visceral.”

PINCHABLE VERSUS PRESSABLE

“Subcutaneous fat” is the pinchable, squishy fat right between your skin and muscle that helps keep you warm, cushions you against shock, and stores extra calories. “Visceral fat” stores calories too, but isn’t as pinchable because it is located in and around your organs. It’s hidden deep within the belly region, which is what makes it firm (rather than squishy) when you press it.

PROXIMITY

Fat doesn’t just store calories—it’s a living tissue capable of producing and releasing hormones that affect your other organs. Because visceral fat sits near our organs, its release of these chemicals is poorly situated. Having more visceral fat can raise your LDL (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol) and blood pressure. Visceral fat can also make you less sensitive to insulin, which increases your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

TELLING BAD BELLY FAT APART

Even if you’re thin, you can still have visceral fat around the abdominal region—being “skinny” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. There’s no sure-fire way to tell visceral from subcutaneous fat short of an expensive CT scan, but it’s important for you to get a rough idea of what your visceral stores are. Here are a few tricks to figure out where your belly stands:

APPLES AND PEARS

You’re probably wondering, “What does fruit have to do with it?” These two fruits give a quick visual of where most of your fat is stored on the body. Pears tend to store fat in the lower extremities (hips, thighs, buttocks) as subcutaneous fat while apples tend to store fat in the upper region (belly, chest) as visceral fat. It takes a quick inspection, but this is an imperfect way to tell these two fats apart.

WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE (WC)

Feel for the top of your hip bone (it’s at the same level as the top of your belly button) and circle a tape measure around this point. Remember to relax and don’t suck in your gut (be honest!). Take 2-3 measurements and figure out the average. Men should have a WC of less than 40 inches (102 cm) and women should have a WC of less than 35 inches (89 cm).

WAIST-TO-HIP RATIO

The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) takes the circumference of your waist (see above) and divides it by the circumference of your hips. To measure your hips, stand in front of a mirror then figure out the widest part of your butt and measure that circumference. Then use this formula:
WHR = (Waist circumference) / (Hip circumference).
Men should have a WHR of less than 1 while women should have a WHR of less than 0.8.

KNOW YOUR FAMILY HEALTHY HISTORY

If your parents or siblings have insulin resistance, heart disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver, you may be at a greater risk for storing visceral fat. Keeping an eye on your visceral fat may be beneficial, but know that the causes of these chronic diseases are complex. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider.


READ MORE > ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO FAT


BANISHING VISCERAL FAT

If you fall in the normal range for WC and WHR, that’s great! Keep working at your weight goals as you see fit. If you’re not there, don’t despair. Because of its proximity to the liver, visceral fat is usually the easier fat to burn. It’s the less risky subcutaneous fat that likes to stick around.

Unfortunately, you can’t forcefully spot reduce fat around your belly no matter how many crunches you do. The next best thing is to live a healthy lifestyle:

  • Go beyond weight tracking. You can track your waist, hip and even neck circumference in the app. Use this feature to see how your measurements change over time as you lose weight.
  • Sweat for 30-60 minutes each day. Visceral fat responds well to regular endurance exercises, such as running, biking, rowing, swimming, that elevate your heart rate. As your body uses fat to fuel exercise, it’ll start using up your visceral stores.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Eat a diet high in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein with calories set for gradual weight loss (e.g. about 1-2 pounds per week). Cut way back on added sugars and alcohol since these nutrients will more likely end up as visceral fat.
  • Sleep more, stress less. It’s easier said than done, but in order to take care of your physical body, you have to take care of your mental state. Sleep loss and stress can sabotage your health and fitness goals, so learn more about getting a quality night’s rest and use meditation or yoga to calm your mind. Remember, it’s not just about your health; it’s about your happiness, too.
BY TRINH LE, MPH, RD
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