How to Exercise Outdoors in Winter Weather

Posted on February 22, 2017 by Beth Hartman

Let’s face it — it’s tough to find the motivation to exercise outside these days. During the work week, sometimes both parts of our daily commutes are completed in darkness. And while winter sunshine is appreciated, it doesn’t do much to warm us up. But before you give up on the idea of venturing outside for a round of physical activity and instead restrict yourself to the crowded, stuffy gym for the next few months, it may be worth giving the idea of a winter workout a second thought.

Exercisers are often concerned about the possible safety hazards that come along with chilly sweat sessions, but there is surprisingly little to worry about. Simply suiting up appropriately with enough layers made of moisture-wicking fabrics keeps the body at a healthy temperature and functioning the same way it would in any other workout environment. Sure, a slippery moment on an icy running path could lead to injury, but exercising outside during the wintertime actually provides some benefits that may not be achieved as efficiently elsewhere.

If you can pull yourself away from that cozy seat in front of the fireplace and shut off the tv, you’ll reap some benefits of exercising out in the cold weather — and you might even learn to embrace it.

You’ll burn more calories.

As your body works harder to regulate its core temperature with the outside, you’ll burn a few more calories during your wintry workout compared to one conducted indoors. While the calorie burn varies with each person’s body mass and the extremity of the temperature, it can be a nice morale booster, that you’re pushing yourself more in that cold outside air.

You’ll strengthen your heart.

Cold weather also makes the heart work harder in its task to distribute blood throughout the body. For an unhealthy heart that struggles to manage the additional stress, this process can exacerbate illness and injury. But a regular exerciser with cardiovascular endurance can make their heart muscle even stronger with these cold-weather sessions, better preparing their body for more strenuous workouts in the future — not to mention other non-exercise stresses in life.

You’ll drink more water.

Staying hydrated is one of the most important factors in minimizing the dangers of cold-weather workouts, or for that matter any time of year workouts as well. The body continues to sweat, but that sweat evaporates more quickly into the chilly, dry air, making it seem as though the body is losing less water. Drinking water before, during and after cold-weather workouts helps maintain peak performance, protect the body from injury and stay warm from start to finish. Don’t wait to feel thirsty to hydrate! And remember, it’s always important when exercising out in the cold that you wear moisture wicking materials so that your body stays warm while the sweat that happens, keeps away from your skin.  You can check out one of our lines of running gear by clicking on this link  and you can check out the Proviz line of outdoor jackets.

You’ll build a tolerance for the freezing elements.

It can feel downright painful to force yourself out into the elements for that first workout you try in the winter season, but rest assured that over time, it does get easier. According to chief coach of the New York Road Runners organization John Honerkamp, it’s important to adjust your expectations as you acclimate rather than push for your typical, temperate-weather performance. Pay particular attention to the amount of effort you’re putting forth rather than hitting certain time, distance or other performance goals, and try to just enjoy the process.

You’ll remember the importance of warm-up and cool-down routines.

Proper warm-up and cool-down movements are crucial to keeping the body in top fitness shape, but they become even more important when it’s cold outside. Keeping the body loose, limber and warm for a chilly workout can help prevent painful twists, sprains, tears and other injuries. Winter workouts will encourage you to become a pro when it comes to full warm-up and cool-down routines, the former to keep your internal body temperature elevated, and the latter to reduce unnecessary tightness inspired by the chill in the air.

You’ll get a dose of vitamin D.

Sure, it may be cold, but that doesn’t mean the extra sun exposure won’t supply you with the same critical nutrients it does throughout the warmer parts of the year. The relative benefit also feels more substantial in the wintertime since the amount of natural light is already so restricted. Just remember to wear your sunscreen (yes, even when it’s freezing) after your skin is exposed for 10 to 15 minutes.  Oh, did we mention, you won’t be getting the benefits of soaking up those vitamin D infused rays of sun in any gym, no matter how many florescent lights they have on!

You’ll feel happier and more energized.

Cold-weather exercise also has the ability to boost one’s mood, thanks to the lack of humidity (which creates that heavy air feeling in the summer months) and the stimulating aspect of the chill. As the body works harder to stay warm, the amount of endorphins produced also increases, leaving you with a stronger sense of happiness and lightness following your workout in the cold.  Now tell us, isn’t that a great way to get motivated, especially if you make your cold weather runs, jogs, and walks in the early morning.  If you remember, we did a blog a while back on why exercising in the morning can provide you with several benefits instead of working out after your workday.

Naturally, offering these tips we are taking into account that you are already in basically good physical shape. If you haven’t done so, please check with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen, especially one that pushes your body a little harder by exercising outside in the cold.

Now that we covered the medical aspects, what are you waiting for, get off that couch and go and dig out your running gear out of the closet, get dressed, (in layers) and go and enjoy the winter season’s fresh, clean, crisp air!

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Your Doing the Steps, But, Do You Know What Your PAI is??

Posted on February 08, 2017 by Beth Hartman

Ok, you are into fitness, you know getting your heart pumping is a great way to keep your body performing the way it was always meant to be. You try to accomplish those daily 10,000 steps but we all know that may happen a lot less than we would all like.

Well, a study called the “HUNT” study that monitored 45,000 people for 25 years and concluded that people that keep their PAI (Personalized Activity Intelligence) from 100 to above tended to live about 10 years longer than people that did not. PAI is a measurement that monitors and tracks more than just your steps. Its revolutionary algorithm makes sense of your personal heart rate data, giving you a simple number that shows how much activity you need to live a longer, healthier life.

PAI analyzes every movement you make, including activities like spinning, yoga, even gardening.

One Simple Goal – And We Don’t Mean a Daily Goal!
All you need is one number – your PAI score. Keep it above 100 over a 7-day rolling window to know you’re staying healthy. No matter what your fitness level is, PAI shows you what intensity level you need to be in to improve. PAI uses a 7-day rolling goal to ensure you are keeping your score up over a longer period of time.

Heart Rate Based Scores
PAI tracks your heart rate intensity and shows which activities earned the most PAI points in your day so you can make better lifestyle choices.

Simply tracking your number of steps isn't enough to ensure a healthy lifestyle. With this in mind, Mio has developed a whole new way to look at your activity level. This personalized formula takes into account your current fitness level to give you a PAI score that works just for you. Your job is to simply keep your score above 100 to ensure you are always moving in the right direction. Instead of tracking a daily goal, PAI keeps a rolling 7-day goal. This allows you to make up for a less productive day by going harder on another day. Forget tracking steps and steps alone, with PAI you will be tracking everything from yoga to cycling. Now everything counts.

This is all done by using the new Slice from Mio
The Slice is the first wearable that provides all-day heart rate tracking and a PAI score - the most meaningful way to track all your activity, motivating you to stay healthy. It measures your heart rate, and your “Resting” heart rate along with your sleep, the calories you’ve burned and also the steps and distance you’ve accomplished.

We all know that information, "QUALITY INFORMATION” is the key to achieving everything meaningful in your life. Now with the Mio Slice, you can make the best use of your fitness data, keeping you informed on what you need to do to keep your weekly performance at 100 percent or better. Taking a term from an old adage, we can now say that a “Fitter Life makes for a Longer Life!

Get your order in now for the Mio Slice today



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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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