And What is a Fartlek?

Posted on January 18, 2017 by Beth Hartman

This is a followup to a post which we did a few weeks ago on getting yourself out and running for the New Year.  In the body of the post on exercising for the new year, we mentioned the Fartlek technique which enables those who are either looking for a more intense workout or those who have plateaued and need to shake themselves out of their normal routines which their bodies have acclimated themselves to. Below is a condensed explanation on Fartlek and we think, just like the HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training program) it can work for you in the same way.

Fartlek, which means "speed play" in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training. Fartlek runs are a very simple form of a long distance run. Fartlek training “is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running."

What's the Difference Between Fartlek, Tempo, and Interval Runs?
Fartlek Workouts, are not only fun to say out loud, but they're fun to run. Fartlek is Swedish for "speed play," and that is exactly what it’s all about. Unlike tempo and interval work, fartlek is unstructured and alternates moderate-to-hard efforts with easy, tempo based workouts along with your high intense moves. After a warm-up, you play with speed by running at faster efforts for short periods of time (to that tree, to the sign) followed by easy-effort running to recover, usually for about a 10-15 minute interval. It's fun in a group setting, as you can alternate the leader and mix up the pace and time. And in doing so, you reap the mental benefits of being pushed by your buddies through an unpredictable workout. The goal is to keep it free-flowing so you’re untethered to the watch or a plan and to run at harder efforts but not a specific pace.

Now, we still think using a fitness tracker, especially one that measures your heart rate is an important tool. Especially since you’re going to be subjecting yourself to some intense sprints during your run. You want to make sure your heart-rate is where it should be and in order to monitor this correctly, we recommend the Garmin Forerunner 235 GPS Running Watch 

Benefits: the Stress-free workout that improves mind-body awareness, mental strength, and stamina.

Tempo Workouts are runs, that use some effort at or slightly above your anaerobic threshold (the place where your body shifts to using more glycogen for energy). Again that heart rate monitor is great for monitoring this, once you know that level, you can use it as a mark. This is the effort level just outside your comfort zone—you can hear your breathing, but you're not gasping for air. If you can talk easily, you’re not in the tempo zone, and if you can’t talk at all, you’re above the zone. It should be at an effort somewhere in the middle, so you can talk in broken words. Pace, is not an effective means for running a tempo workout, as there are many variables that can affect pace including heat, the wind, fatigue, and the terrain your running on.

Interval Workouts are short, intense efforts followed by equal or slightly longer recovery time. For example, after a warm-up, run two minutes at a hard effort, followed by two to three minutes of easy jogging or walking to catch your breath. Unlike tempo workouts, you’re running above your red line and at an effort where you are reaching hard for air and counting the seconds until you can stop—a controlled fast effort followed by a truly easy jog. The secret is in the recovery as patience and discipline while you’re running easy allows you to run the next interval strong and finish the entire workout fatigued but not completely spent. Just like rest, your body adapts and gets stronger in the recovery mode.
Benefits: Improved running form and economy, endurance, mind-body coordination, motivation, and fat-burning.

So now that you know just what “Fartlek” training is, start implementing it and spread the word along to your friends and see if they want to join you on a Fartlek excursion. Who knows, you may want to get some t-shirts or sweatshirts made promoting your Fartleking group. If nothing else, you’re gonna be making an awareness statement for a lot of those people that see you and your group pass by and have no idea what the word stands for.

Happy Fartleking!

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Fitness trends for 2017

Posted on January 09, 2017 by Beth Hartman

Well it's here! 2017:
A new year symbolizes a fresh start—and the perfect chance to reboot your stale workouts maybe with one of 2017's top fitness trends.

In the upcoming year, wearable tech, body weight training, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) will be the too go to exercise regimens, according to an annual report published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). They surveyed 1,801 fitness professionals, including personal trainers, wellness coaches, exercise physiologists, and college professors.

Fitness trackers and smartwatches have been hot holiday gifts for the last few years, and the ACSM says that trend won't be going anywhere in 2017—and in fact, it only got bigger. Recent updates from brands like Garmin, Apple, and Fitbit have sent the trend to number one for the holiday sales fitness picture for the year. Surprisingly, wearable tech products remained at the top of the list. In past years, there were questions about the accuracy of this technology. But the brands have upped their games and the especially accurate wearables have kept this trend around.

Today’s wearables track distance, and also provide heart rate readings, GPS route tracking, move reminders, and so much more. So even though newer smart phones have their own apps to monitor activity up to a point the smart wearables are not going anywhere anytime soon.  

Case in point the Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS Watch, with a Wrist Based HR, that tracks your Activity from HeartRateMonitorsUSA.com is one to keep your eyes on. If you're serious about tracking yourself in 2017, this is the one monitor you want strapped to your wrist.

Body weight training
It's easy to see why no-equipment workouts are so popular: They're relatively easy to learn, they can be modified to suit any ability level, and they can be done just about anywhere. Plus, body weight exercises are an efficient way to get fit for free. Push-ups and pull-ups are classic bodyweight moves, but there are plenty more to choose from, like squats, lunges, and planks, just to name a few.

It's been around for a year or two and trainers know this is one exercise that keeps delivering the results your looking for.
HIIT's helps you torch calories fast by alternating quick bursts of high-intensity exercise with short rest periods. It can be found in all types of workouts, from Pilates to CrossFit and boot camp classes. High profile fitness companies are huge proponents of this form of exercise. 

To try a high-intensity interval training workout yourself, spend 20 to 30 minutes total combining repeated shorts bursts of work with short break periods, like 45 seconds of burpees with 15 seconds of rest followed by 45 seconds of squats, can burn around 190 calories per session and will keep your metabolism fired up long after you finish the routine.  And remember, a good Heart Rate Monitor is worth it to make sure your pushing yourself to your utmost and keeping track of your "Cool-Down" times. More importantly, one that also tracks your VO2 max estimate.  A good example of this is the Garmin Forerunner 735. Check it out by clicking on the name

Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals
The number of people who want to become personal trainers keeps growing, and they have more options than ever to earn accreditation. “Overall, people who work in the fitness industry are much more accountable and professional.

Not only is there continued growth in college and university programs, but there are more than 250 third-party certification organizations committed to teaching personal trainers best practices. As for the future of personal trainers and fitness professionals, the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts these occupations to only increase in popularity, with employment of fitness professionals to rise 8% between 2014 and 2024.

Strength training
Gone are the days when the biggest fitness buffs out there stuck to cardio. Today, they know they can't miss strength training's science-backed benefits, such as boosting longevity, building muscle mass, and protecting against diabetes, back pain, and more. Plus, a growing number of women, in particular, have come to realize that lifting weights won't necessarily make them bulky, and in fact, will help them burn more fat and boost their metabolism.

Group training
SoulCycle, PureBarre, Orangetheory, CrossFit—they're all forms of group training, a huge fitness trend that will continue to thrive in 2017. The current group training movement kicked off in 2008 in conjunction with the beginning of the Great Recession, when the expense of personal training became a luxury many Americans could no longer afford. With many people using services like ClassPass to replace a gym membership entirely, we don't see the group training trend dying down anytime soon.

Exercise Is Medicine
Regular exercise lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, dementia, and other chronic diseases, and serves as a powerful stress-reducer and mood-booster. That's why the ACSM and the American Medical Association co-launched Exercise Is Medicine, a global movement that encourages physicians to refer patients to fitness professionals in their communities, and likewise, encourages fitness professionals to make connections with physicians. With health-care costs on the rise, and with the future of the U.S. health insurance industry uncertain, using exercise as a preventive health tool is perhaps more important than ever.

Just maybe your serene yogi friend is onto something: this ancient mind-body practice can be practiced on the go and can boost your mood, improve your life-senses, and strengthen your entire body. Yoga has been around for thousands of years and has been a modern fitness trend for at least a decade, so how does it continue to be so popular? ACSM notes that while traditional Ashtanga, Hatha, and Vinyasa classes are readily available, fitness pros are also constantly finding new ways to reinvent yoga—think aerial yoga, hot yoga, and rope wall yoga. Do yourself a serious favor and check out available yoga classes that may be in your area.  For an incentive to help you commit, why not get yourself your own yoga mat. You can select from a variety of colors and densities from a brand name like Aurorae

Exercise and weight loss
Achieving a healthy weight will never go out of style, and a healthy diet combined with regular exercise is the best way to reach your weight loss goal. Most of the well-publicized diet plans integrate exercise in addition to the daily routine of providing prepared meals to their clients, as a rule.  We will provide some additional information later regarding the recommended diet or as we would rather say, "Life Wellness Meal Plans" as a topic for a future blog.

Fitness programs for older adults
Baby Boomers ushered in an unprecedented fitness revolution back in the '80s, and now, they're reaching retirement age and still enjoying the perks of physical activity, the survey suggests. More businesses are tailoring classes to better serve this aging population. Even the frail elderly can improve their balance and ability to perform activities of daily living when given appropriate functional fitness program activities.

Today's health trainers and doctors are happy to see this group targeted by the industry. Another group that needs to be targeted as well are the overweight and obese children and teens, that seem to become more sedentary as not only video games but everything social is keeping them glued to their electronic devices instead of getting out and being active. The industry seems to be giving up on this population because they aren’t profitable, but now schools and civic-minded groups are now focusing on them as well. Programs for overweight and obese youth ranked in the top 20 of last year's reports but was kicked off the list for 2017, despite the fact the youth obesity rate has yet to decrease in recent years. It is the hope that fitness professionals and businesses reconsider this important segment in future years, as they have with older adults.

Functional fitness
Functional training gives you the type of strength that really matters: the kind that lets you move furniture, lift a suitcase into an overhead bin, or carry your toddler. In other words, it improves your coordination, balance, force, power, and endurance and helps enhance your ability to perform normal daily activities. This trend has moved up and down on the survey ranking since 2007. In addition to being a big part of CrossFit programs, functional fitness is often used in clinical programs to help with rehabilitation and independent living for older adults.

Outdoor activities
Think a  trainer will only have you working out in a gym? Not so much—these days, they're recommending all kinds of outdoor activities to clients as a way to enhance their overall fitness. Serious trainers consider outdoor activities as anything from kayaking to pick-up basketball to high-adventure excursions like camping and rock climbing. Experts say you can burn upward of 530 calories an hour when hiking, and even more if the wind resistance is high. Outdoor excursions have mental benefits too: greenery elicits a mood-boosting response after just five minutes. Plus, doesn’t a breathtaking mountain view sound much more exhilarating than your gym’s television screen?  Sounds again like another great topic to get you outside and enjoying the (your) environment.

Group personal training
This trend mixes the effectiveness of a one-on-one personal trainer with the economic sensibilities of a group class. Between two and four people can elect to use a group personal trainer, who can focus on this small group while not charging the same high prices they would for a purely individual session. In these challenging economic times, personal trainers are being more creative in the way they package personal training sessions and how they market themselves to small groups. That explains why this trend has made the list since 2007 and remained through 2017.

Wellness coaching
As opposed to personal training, health and wellness coaching focuses on "the more" mental aspects of wellness, like goal-setting. These coaches provide support and encouragement for clients who want to meet certain goals in their health, like participating in rehabilitation or disease prevention. Recently, personal trainers have implemented the techniques of wellness coaches into their fitness practices, blending the two trends into one.

Worksite health promotion
Companies are beginning to realize that a healthy employee is a happy, more productive employee—and that creating programs and services that promote positive behaviors like working out, quitting smoking, and losing weight ultimately controls rising health care costs. If your company already offers things on-site yoga, gym reimbursement, or Weight Watchers, they now realize that they will see more of their employees at work in 2017.

If that is not enough of an incentive to get you working to motivate your employees to be healthy and fit. There are a lot of incentives out there. One that we like is the benefit of walking and if your company implements the 10,000 step programs that are available, you can get access to a lot of goal setting guidelines to help you start the program up at your company.  And what better way to start the program off then by providing an accurate pedometer to every employee that steps up (get it? Steps up) and takes the challenge. At HeartRateMonitorsUSA.com we offer pedometers that can be imprinted with your company logo or slogan so that the program becomes one with you and your employees.  To see a variety of imprintable pedometers that you can select from, simply Click Here.

So go ahead and choose the physical activity that best fits you and your lifestyle and lets see just how you do by December 31st. 2017

Please remember, as always, check with your physician before undertaking any new fitness regimens, especially if you were NOT actively exercising your body!

Excerpts about this topic were taken from Fox News


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It’s the Holiday Season, There’s a LOT Going On!

Posted on December 27, 2016 by Beth Hartman

So, Will I Suffer From Scaling Back My Exercise and Running Routines at this time of year?

Runners DO need a break!  It doesn't matter how old you are or how many miles a week you run, a period of reduced volume and intensity will do your body—and your brain—good. And for many runners, there's no better time to back off than during the holiday season, with its competing time demands and family obligations.

But taking some time off, or just scaling back does NOT open the door to over indulging in all of those holiday favorites.  We believe we spoke enough about the do's and don ts of sampling all those holiday goodies, so we are not going over this here at this time.

"By the end of the year, most people, who are avid runners, are doing their max mileage, whether it's 20, 40, or 100 miles per week, and they've taken their bodies to their maximum level, too," says Jenny Spangler, coach of the Jenny Spangler Racing team in Chicago.  "Waking up early day after day to run can eventually lead to burning out, no matter how tough you are."

How long you choose to back off is up to you—a newbie running 10 to 20 miles a week may feel rejuvenated after two to three weeks of scaling back, while a hard-charging marathoner may need up to two months of easy going. Don't quit exercising entirely, or coming back will be more difficult. Instead, try these ways to tone things down so you're rested, recovered, and ready for a fitter, faster 2017.

During your break, you need to inject some speed to keep your legs and lungs strong—this will also help ease the eventual return to your regular running routine. "Fartleks are a great way to maintain some leg speed without stressing your body or mind too much," says Spangler. "There are no time, distance, or pace goals involved; it's only about the effort."

Once or twice a week, in the middle of a run, do five fartlek pickups of up to three minutes each, at a pace that feels moderately hard. Jog between each for as long as it takes you to recover. If you're running with friends, take turns initiating the pickup and determining how long and how fast to make it.
Once or twice a week, in the middle of a run, do five fartlek pickups, of up to three minutes each at a pace that feels moderately hard. Jog between each for as long as it takes you to recover. If you're running with friends, take turns initiating the pickup and determining how long and how fast to make it.

And What is Fartlek training? Well, this is a topic for another blog.

Putting long runs on the shelf for a while not only gives your running muscles more time to recover from a year of steady running but gives you more free time to spend with the family or to tackle long-neglected, demanding household tasks, such as your leaf-choked gutters. After you cross-train for a week or two, run no longer than 30 to 40 minutes at a time for two weeks. For the remaining three to four weeks of your scale-back period, your longest run should be one-third to one-half the distance of your pre-break long run.

It may seem strange to schedule an event when you're supposed to be taking it easy, but the opportunity to race with zero pressure can be liberating and fun too. Without the stress of “I must perform”, you'll be free to soak up the vibe happening around you at the event, pace will be slower, your friends or family members can be a part of it, you can cheer on fellow runners, and revel in the post-race party. Find a local Turkey Trot or Jingle-Bell Jog, encourage a buddy to join you, and leave the watch at home.

The main goal here is to scale back and enjoy this time off, you’re not pulling the switch on exercising completely, and you’re just dialing back on the intensity and the regimen of that early morning or after work training venues at the gym or taking to your regular trails.

So, the bottom line is, NO, you won’t hurt yourself by scaling back during the holidays this year. In fact, you’re going to be helping yourself by giving your body a rest. Enjoy the holidays, eat smart and stay loose with some small running/jogging, or walking periods just to remind your muscle groups that they are still needed for when you get back into your normal exercise/training routines.

A key point in this is to set yourself a “Startup” goal on when you're going to get back into your fitness mode. This depends on you and how intense your previous workout schedules were. It’s hard to scale back but it's also just as hard to re-commit to your old routines, that is why you need that ‘Startup” date set in stone.

You might want to give yourself an incentive, to get back to the grind by getting yourself a motivation gift. Maybe a new pair of running shoes, a new running outfit, one that’s made for the winter training climates in your locale or maybe, just maybe that new fitness monitor. For some ideas, you can always go to https:www.heartratemonitorsusa.com  and select that perfect incentive gift you’ve been putting off.

Enjoy the Holidays from the gang here at HeartRateMonitorsUSA.com!


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So It’s Now Winter!

Posted on December 19, 2016 by Beth Hartman
At least it became metrological winter on December 1st. The real first day of the winter solstice begins on Wednesday, December 21st.

It’s during this time of year that some people experience increased bouts of moodiness, possibly even depression. There is even a name for this type of affliction, it’s called "Seasonal Affective Disorder", or SAD. Or as we usually refer to it in layman’s terms as the “Winter Blues”.
SAD is a form of depression that temporarily affects people during the winter months but tends to go away during the spring and summer months as the days begin to lengthen again.

People suffering from SAD can feel moody or grumpy, lose motivation for activities they would normally enjoy doing and may sleep more but still feel tired. They also crave more carbohydrates — think comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, pizza (can’t really fault them for wanting pizza, but again in moderation), along with pasta and bread. In addition, people who already are suffering from depression may experience a marked increase in their symptoms.

Let’s face it, this time of year the days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder and snow may soon be on its way. It’s the time of year when many people leave for work before the sun rises and return home after it sets, leaving little time for activities in the daylight. No wonder we start feeling moody and sluggish. We all need that intense sunshine to motivate us and give us a bright outlook on our lives and surroundings.

Now, you can sit back on your couch or favorite recliner and watch reruns of your favorite movies. Or, you can get yourself up and moving. Doctors recommend that at this time of year, getting your body moving and subjecting it to some intermediate exercise is one of the best ways you can combat those winter time blues. Short of getting on a plane and traveling to some sunny beach in the lower hemisphere, that is!

It may be cold outside, but getting out of your house or office can help you shake the blues. Try taking a walk during your lunch hour or spending time outside on the weekends to expose your body to more natural light, go on and soak up those winter rays, they may not be as intense, but if there is snow on the ground, it amplifies the rays and is good for you, but don’t forget the sunscreen! Remember, exercise is just about the best thing you can for yourself at this time of year and at any time. Elevating your heart rate with a brisk walk, bike, run, swim or other workouts, can help you shake any feelings of moodiness. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins that can boost your mood. Now we all know this so why do we procrastinate about it?

Remember that activity watch or monitor you received last Christmas. The goal was to get yourself in great shape for the New Year, well, don’t use the “It's Too Cold Outside” to NOT get yourself moving. Get back on a schedule and use this winter weather as an incentive to embrace the season and start racking up the miles. And since we are writing this before December 24th, if you don’t have an Activity Watch  or at least a Pedometer, it’s not too late to put it on your list, or maybe your significant other’s list.

So, now that you know that the “Winter Blues” are an actual seasonal disorder, you can take the necessary steps to give your outlook on things the boost you need. Another thing, on New Year’s Eve, when everyone is talking about the resolutions they are making for 2017, you can say you're already on track. Since your turning the “Winter Blues” into Winter Fun!

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How’s Your Blood Pressure Doing This Holiday Season?

Posted on December 13, 2016 by Beth Hartman

So we are right in the midst of all the holiday clamor as we all hurry along, shopping for that special gift for the people we care about. From going to pick out that special tree, whether it’s at a tree farm, a local lot or maybe you’re picking your first artificial tree, there is soooo much to do to get ready for this special time of year.

You may be wishing you can spend some down time this time of year with family and friends but in reality, the stress of making your Christmas season, one that is reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell picture, and can very well impact your health, and not too many people pay attention to the warning signs!

The fact is that a lot of pressure comes with the holidays. And so health concerns can  sky-rocket for a lot of people at this time of year. High blood pressure and Christmas do NOT have to go hand in hand.

Could Christmas be bad for your health? Well, it doesn’t have to be.

You may have heard the term, “The silent killer” well, while most people think that it is referring to your blood pressure, the true motivator is “Stress”. Which if you let it, can elevate your pressure to such a state that you can indeed become ill.

The three big causes of high blood pressure and poor health, in general, are poor diet, lack of exercise and stress, tension or anxiety. All three of these factors can grow proportionately during the holiday season. We often find ourselves sitting around the dinner table gorging ourselves on various mixtures of sugar and grease, too stuffed to move and getting annoyed with our relatives.

OK, that’s the worst case scenario, and thankfully it’s never usually that bad. But if we approach the holidays with a bit of forethought we can avoid the holiday snares and still have a good time.

If we keep things in perspective and think things through, the holiday period we can even make Christmas good for your blood pressure.

So what to do? Just try to strike a balance.

Now we know you have all heard the phrase, “Everything in Moderation” Well, that’s because there is a reason for it. Go ahead, enjoy Christmas dinner and the festive parties that happen this time of year, but don’t stuff yourself. Use that "Common Sense" we are all supposed to have. You know that anything in excess is not good for you so keep a reign on your portion sizes and make it a point to engage your friends and distant relatives in some conversations.  This is a great way to keep you from going back for seconds or even thirds at the deseart table.

Make sure you get some exercise on a regular basis this time of year. If you need to set yourself a goal or if you need to be prodded along, go and get yourself an Activity Monitor , this way, depending on the type you get, it can remind you when you’ve been staying put a little too long. To get moving, especially before and after those holiday meals. Strive for balance. You’ll feel better, more relaxed, and it’s less likely that that irritating cousin of yours will get under your skin and raise your blood pressure as usual. Remember, a balanced life is a happier life – and one where blood pressure stays within manageable limits.

Most importantly of all – stop worrying so much. Worrying never solved anything and simply put, it’s bad for your health. Worrying raises stress levels and blood pressure. So if you can’t find that special present that Johnny had his heart set on, don’t stress it, usually anything you give him will be appreciated, especially if along with the gift, you add some personal time along with it!

So the most important holiday message we have for you is – try not to get too stressed. Stress is the silent killer, not high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a symptom.

Now, we take having high blood pressure seriously and if you suffer from high blood pressure you should be seeing your physician regularly. And we think it’s safe to say he/she (your physician) probably suggests that you take your blood pressure regularly so that you are aware of how you’re doing.

At HeartRateMonitorsUSA.com we are fortunate to carry some of the most accurate blood pressure monitors on the market. From automatic pressure monitors that self-inflate, to ones that allow you to take your pressure on your wrist. If you want some peace of mind, then click on this link, and check out the various types of blood pressure monitors that we have available.

So from all of us here at HeartRateMonitorsUSA.com, have a healthy, stress-less holiday season.


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