Get into the Spin: Top Tips for Spinning Newbies

It’s that time of year for making new plans, big goals and healthy lifestyle changes. If you’re looking to whip yourself into shape in 2017, then it’s time to jump off the bandwagon and onto the bicycle.

Spinning, or indoor cycle classes, are an excellent form of exercise, challenging not only your cardiovascular fitness, but also your muscular endurance, power, speed and core strength. Spin class is a great way to burn calories and is a sure-fire start to dropping a dress size or two! 

If you’re thinking about testing the pedals and trying out a spin class to work into your weekly fitness regime, here are a few top tips that you might want to think about before you go to your first class:

1) Get Padded

There’s no denying it – spinning hurts. You can’t avoid the fact that your delicate parts are balancing on a pretty hard and narrow bicycle seat for the better part of an hour. If you don’t want to spend the entire class thinking about your bruised behind then it’s definitely worth buying some padded shorts, or even gel-seat for the bike. If you’re only trying out one class and don’t want to make that investment quite yet, take a hand-towel to put over the seat instead.

The first 15 minutes or so of a spinning class are generally the most uncomfortable – but stick to and you’ll soon get a rhythm going and will find that you’re sitting more comfortably.

2) Psyche yourself up

Nothing worth having ever came easy – and spinning certainly isn’t that. The reason cycling is such an effective exercise is because it’s difficult. Spinning requires stamina, effort and motivation. Choose a positive mantra to repeat to yourself, or listen to those old-school tunes on your ipod. Whatever it is that gets you going, spend just 10 minutes or so psyching yourself up for the class. You’ll find that the positive energy will keep you going throughout the whole hour.

3) Prep to sweat

Spinning is a sweaty sport. Take a towel and a big bottle of water. If you’re prone to dizziness, take a sports drink or even a snack for after class. Even if you “don’t sweat that much” the spinning studios can become very hot indeed and you’ll need to rehydrate.

4) Go hard or go home

It may be difficult. You may want to give up ten minutes in. You may think it’s not worth it. You’re not alone – everyone has these thoughts at some point during the spinning class! Battle through it and go extra-hard everytime that voice in your head tells you to stop. At the time it may not seem worth the pain, but the post-workout satisfaction of a good spin class is second to none.   

5) Use your core

It’s all very well spinning wildly at top speed, using every fibre of your being to push that next pedal. Don’t forget, however, to keep your core engaged throughout the class. This helps to support your lower back and stops you rocking from side-to-side as you cycle. It moves the focus of the workout from the legs, up into the abdominals, allowing for a much more effective and efficient workout. 

6) Don’t forget to stretch

Yes you’ll be hungry, and thirsty and desperate to go home and lie down. But that 5-10 minutes of stretching at the end of the class is probably the most important part. Don’t skip it! Take the time to stretch out the muscles – particularly the glutes, hamstrings and quads- so that post-workout muscle soreness can be avoided. 

4 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Belly Fat

“Where are my abs” you may be thinking, well you are most definitely not alone and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of diet and exercise programs to try and help. Despite this a high majority of participants don’t stick to them, resulting in very minimal change. In a lot of cases, dieting fails completely and has a high chance the dieter will even eat more after quitting. (This may be you…don’t worry keep reading)

So, you’re here and you wanna get rid of that stubborn belly fat that’s hiding your flat stomach? But, after all I’ve just told you you’re thinking “how can I lose weight without dieting?”. The answer – there are much more simple steps and changes that you can make in your everyday life to really fight against that extra stomach you’ve been trying so hard to conquer, without the need to completely cut up your diet, or your day.

We know that this type of fat is called visceral fat. It releases stress hormones like cortisol and inflammatory substances called cytokines that affect the body’s production of insulin. This can cause obesity and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes… so have a look below and follow these easy and safe steps and you are sure to succeed!

  1. AVOID ADDED SUGAR

Added sugar is a no no! Excess sugar may be may be the primary driver of belly fat accumulation, especially sugary beverages like soft drinks and fruit juices. Many studies have shown the fructose in sugar is deadly in causing obesity and even more so in liquid form as our brain struggles to register, unlike solid food. This means we end up taking on more calories.

Make a decision to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, and consider completely eliminating sugary drinks. This includes fruit juices, various sports drinks, as well as coffees and teas with sugar added to them. Keep in mind that none of this applies to whole fruit, which are extremely healthy and have plenty of fiber.

  1. EAT PROTEIN

If weight loss is your aim then you may or may not be surprised that protein is probably the most important factor you can change. We all know protein can add substance to a meal, well it’s not a shock that consumption reduces cravings, meaning less snacking.

Protein also increases your metabolism! This means you will burn more calories and fat during the day, even if you’re resting. If you work out to turn that meat into muscle then your metabolism will rocket even more! You may think this is starting to sound very similar to a body builder, well you may kind of be right there. You lose the weight similar to the way they do, except at a very low scale!

Some studies even suggest protein is particularly effective at targeting belly fat. A little change could go a long way here.

  1. SLEEP BETTER

Just getting by on five hours or less per night increases visceral fat levels, according to a 2010 Wake Forest University study – Eight hours is ideal!

Some quick tips to improve your sleep include reducing caffeine late in the afternoon and try not to do exercise late in the evening as this will mean your body is too active and awake to get an effective night’s sleep. Don’t forget your metabolism will handle burning some calories while you’re in dream land, so there’s no rush.

  1. STAY ACTIVE

Aerobic exercise of course, will help, I’m sure all of you have heard that before! It is among the best things you can do if you want to live a long, healthy life and avoid disease.

Eliminating visceral fat is easy with aerobic exercise. Running, biking, or swimming, or anything that gets your heart rate up will make a big difference.

Stay active over the week and record those lowering figures as motivation to keep going. Make sure to enjoy it – maybe run with a friend or cycle to music and there’s no stopping you!

Top 10 Gifts for the Fitness Focused

There is an art to gift giving. Someone who gives a truly great gift understands how a person genuinely finds joy and centers their giving on what that means for each individual on their list. The best gift givers go one step further. They select presents that they know the intended recipients will enjoy, but wouldn’t necessarily splurge on for themselves. From the yoga lover to the cross-fit aficionado, these are those extra special gifts for the fitness buff in your life. Get ready to be their holiday hero!

  1. Put their mat on a pedestal

If you have a Yogi in your life, seek out a gift as unique as they are! A personalized yoga mat holder is a perfect additional to their home studio. It protects their sacred mat and treats it with the reverence they feel it deserves.

  1. Keep the music playing

No one wants to get tangled up in wires during their workout. You can’t go wrong with sweat proof and water resistant earbuds for your gym star. Their motivation playlist will never skip a beat!

  1. Stylish hydration

Most of the fitness folks I know don’t leave home without their water bottle. Why not upgrade their water game by gifting one with a motivational saying to keep them pumped or something just as sleek and chic as they are! The new Swell Rose Gold bottle is a highly coveted option!

  1. No more embarrassing gym bags

If your man’s gym bag is looking pretty gross, upgrade his profile with a stylish (and clean) gym bag. You can find something fabulous in every price range and he will be glad he didn’t have to spend the money on it himself. Men’s Health put together a great list of options.

  1. Fitness delivered

Subscription boxes seem to be all the rage this year. Good news is, you are sure to find one for your loved one’s particular interest. From FabFitFun’s quarterly bundle to RunnerBox, you can select an option that will delight with cutting edge gadgets and gizmos a plenty.

  1. Massage, please!

Working on your fitness can wreak havoc on a body. It is hard work and sometimes you need to treat your muscles to some R&R. A gift certificate for a massage is a welcome gift any time of year.

  1. Office workout magic

It can be hard to sneak in exercise during the workday. A balance disc turns any chair into a core machine. By just sitting at their desk they will get in some added calorie burn and I have never met a fitness enthusiast that didn’t like that.

  1. Meals on wheels

Every heath-minded person I know is a planner. Their meals are no exception. Help them organize all that effort with a portable cooler that supplies all the compartments they could ever need. Every time they use it, which will be often, they will think of you.

  1. Expand their knowledge

When you love something, you also love learning more about it. Give the gift that keeps on giving by setting your fitness friend up with a magazine subscription. You can keep it general by going with Men’s or Women’s Health or select something from their niche. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this one! Just snoop around and make sure they aren’t already receiving whatever you choose.

  1. Class is on you!

If you know what your sweetie is into, why not gift them some classes? Ask anyone and they know the cost of classes can add up fast. Your fitness fiend will be glad to know that the next session is on you!

No matter what you select, showing that you paid attention to someone’s interests makes all the difference. Any of these items will help keep the fitness lover in your life motivated and grateful for your support.

Breaking a Sweat May Prevent Memory Problems

We know exercise can be a cure-all for a great many illnesses and conditions. Now, there’s new research that indicates working out could help people with memory deficiencies.

Dementia Research

Wake Forest School of Medicine researchers found that aerobic exercise boosts brain volume and thinking skills in adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. This condition is not as severe as dementia but more concerning than typical age-related memory loss.

Researchers studied a small group of participants and found adding stretching to their routines also had some benefits, but not as much as full-on exercise.

Scientists took a look at brain volume and shape changes in parts of the brain. Both help track the likelihood of developing dementia.

Exercising to Sharpen Memory

Researchers had participants stretch, walk on a treadmill, cycle on a stationary bike and use an elliptical machine over a period of six months. Afterwards, scientists examined the MRI scans of the participants. In both the stretching and exercising groups, researchers found increases in gray matter sections of the brain. The people who ramped up their workouts to the bikes, elliptical machines and treadmills fared better.

Those who did aerobics also had gains in the areas of improved thinking and problem solving.

The Results

The results indicate aerobic exercise “could preserve or possibly even improve brain volumes” in people with early cognitive problems. Another study found walking just a mile each day could decrease the risk for developing Alzheimer’s by up to 48 percent.

The Takeaway

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend older adults get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking, each week. The CDC also suggests muscle-strengthening exercises for all major muscle groups. If possible, an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise is even better.

Those exercises will help build or maintain bone strength, bone density and balance and coordination. Exercise also reduces falling risks and can help seniors maintain independent lifestyles.

The key is to get moving and never stop.

The Benefits of Using a Fitness Tracker

Step trackers seem to be all the rage these days. With new styles and ever-expanding abilities, there’s something to appeal to everyone. But are they really worth the money? A rash of recent studies seem to show that they aren’t as beneficial as people think. But wait. How can something that motivates you to be more active NOT be good for you? Here’s a closer look at the research and what it may actually mean.

What the Research Says

A recent study published in September of 2016 found that among 471 participants, those who used a fitness tracker specifically to lose weight lost less weight than those who self-monitored and reported their own exercise and diet. Those participants who relied on a fitness tracker still lost weight, however, and the study did not measure the main purpose of fitness trackers: simply being more active.

There was also a previous study, involving 51 participants which showed that the use of a fitness tracker in conjunction with in-person weight loss consultation produced the best results, with those receiving only one or the other losing less weight. The use of fitness trackers alone still helped participants to lose weight as well as improving cardiovascular function.

It’s All About Motivation

The biggest issue in these studies seems to be the fact that many participants lost interest and motivation before the studies ended. As anyone who has tried to diet knows, the hardest part is always staying motivated to meet your goals. No one fitness or diet strategy works for everyone. But for those who do respond to daily, ongoing feedback, fitness trackers can be great – and inexpensive – motivators to get up and move more. If you have a daily step goal – be it 10,000 steps or 6,000 – looking at your tracker and seeing that you are short of that goal can inspire you to get up and take a walk, stop by the gym for a workout session, or take that hike you were thinking about.

Tracking Steps Makes for Healthy Habits

Are you one of those people who tries to carry in all the grocery bags at once or hates having to walk the shopping cart back to the store? Using a fitness tracker may just change your mind. Knowing that making multiple trips gives you more steps can be just the incentive you need to carry only a few things in at a time, do the right thing and walk your cart back to its allotted place, or choose the stairs over the elevator. Waiting for the perfect parking space close to the store? Parking further away gives you more steps – and makes for a far healthier habit. It may surprise you how quickly making the choices involving more walking becomes automatic.

Friendly Competition

For some people, competition is the best motivator. Many fitness trackers, such as Fitbit, Garmin, and Misfit, offer the chance to share your stats and compete with family and friends online, creating a strong social network to support you. You can also compete with yourself to earn badges and meet individual fitness goals on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Regardless of any study, the key to both fitness and weight loss is being more active – and a fitness tracker is a great tool to help you get started!