Tag Archives: exercise

Improve the Quality and Quantity of Your Sleep to Feel and Perform Better

11 Mar

child-sleeping-with-stuffed-animal[1]At Athletic Performance Training Center, we believe there are 3 foundational “pillars” that support sports performance:

  • Sport-specific skill development
  • Strength and conditioning
  • Nutrition

And, since a well-rested athlete will generally outperform one who is not, you can add sleep to the list, as well.

Sleep is a vital component of good physical and mental health.  Research shows that 7-8 hours of quality sleep, per night, improves cognitive function and physical performance.  Fortunately, most of us have the ability to improve the quality of our sleep by making a few modifications to our diet and activity level.  Here are some tips:


Daytime exercise can help you sleep more deeply and restfully at night. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that getting regular physical activity can actually help you fall asleep more quickly and improve the quality of your sleep. If possible, exercise in the morning or during the day, since exercising at night can increase your energy levels and alertness, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep.

Adhere to a Sleep Schedule

Consistency is the key.  According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals who get up in the morning and go to bed at night around the same time every day find it easier to fall asleep at night.  Try to stick to a regular sleeping schedule as much as possible, even on the weekends.  When your sleep schedule changes, you throw off your body’s internal clock, making it harder to fall asleep at night, and/or harder to stay awake during the day.  Consider an alarm that reminds you to go to bed at night, just like an alarm to wake you in the morning.

Avoid Caffeine

Stimulants, such as drinks that contain caffeine — coffee, tea, and sodas — can keep you up at night.  Some experts believe you should not drink any beverage containing caffeine after noon.  Nicotine and alcohol should also be avoided when it gets closer to bedtime.  Avoiding stimulants, especially later in the day, will help you stay asleep longer without waking up at night so that you have a better quality of sleep.

Set Up Your Bedroom

You want your bedroom to be as relaxing as possible so that it’s easy for you to fall asleep without any distractions.  The bedroom should generally be cool, quiet, and dark.  Eye pillows, extra blankets, and ear plugs may help you sleep more deeply.  Although reading and watching television in bed are distracting for some people, The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke actually recommends reading a book or watching the television in bed if your mind is racing when trying to fall asleep. Different things work for different people so it’s a good idea to try a little of everything to see what works best for you.


Your thoughts?


Healthy Eating Tips for the Holiday Season

9 Dec

dinner[1]Well, it’s that time of year… the holiday “weight gain” season.  And, although there is anecdotal speculation — via media reports, surveys, etc. — that the average American gains 5-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas, several studies now show that the average weight gain during the winter holidays is just a pound or two.  But here’s the real problem: Most people don’t ever lose the pound(s) of weight they put on during the holidays, according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine.  Since the average weight gain during adulthood is about one to two pounds a year, that means much of midlife weight gain can be explained by holiday eating.

Here are some healthy eating tips to help you stay on track and get through the holidays:

  • Exercise! Exercise! Exercise! Stay committed to your exercise/training program. Physical activity can help relieve stress, regulate appetite, and burn up extra calories.
  • Be realistic. Perhaps the holiday season is not the best time to try to lose weight. Aim to maintain your current weight instead.
  • Portion control. Keep your portion sizes small. Eat small portions of a variety of foods rather than a large portion of one food.
  • Eat breakfast. Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. It jump starts your metabolism and helps to stave off hunger and cravings.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alternate cocktails with unsweetened iced tea or seltzer to reduce the quantity of alcohol consumed. Choose wine, light beer or spirits mixed with no calorie beverages.
  • Drink lots of water. Drinking water can decrease the chance of overeating by temporarily filling your stomach. Also, caffeine and alcohol can lead to dehydration which increases your need for water.
  • Snack sensibly. Choose fruits and vegetables and dip with veggies instead of chips. Limit fried foods, high-fat sauces and gravies, and cheese cubes.
  • Eat slowly and stop when you feel satisfied (not stuffed). Listen to your stomach! It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal your stomach that you’ve had enough. Pay attention to what it feels like to be satisfied and not full.
  • Prepare for temptation. Never go to a party or event hungry. Prepare yourself for distractions by eating before you go. Have a small meal or a snack which contains a combination of carbohydrate, protein, and a little healthy fat to fend off hunger, such as natural peanut butter on whole wheat bread or low-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit.
  • Visualize success. Make an action plan. Think about where you will be, who you will be with and what foods will be available. It’s much easier to deal with a difficult social eating situation if you’ve already planned for it. Parties are a time to mingle with friends and loved ones. Focus on interaction instead of on the food and drinks. Food very often is center stage of any party but you can guarantee success by visualizing the enjoyment of the company and not just the food and drink.
  • Don’t deprive yourself. Don’t spend all your time obsessing over the not-so-healthy delicacy that you’re really craving. Instead, allow a small portion and savor every mouth-watering bite so that you do not feel deprived.

Eating a bit too much one day is not the end of the world! It takes consecutive days of unhealthy eating to gain weight. If you slip up, put it behind you and return to your healthy eating plan, just don’t allow it to become a habit. You are in control of your lifestyle choices so choose wisely. It’s all about lifestyle changes, not diets.


Your thoughts?

5 Reasons to Never Miss a Monday Workout

30 Nov

Modivational-Monday-42Shout out to our friends from ASD Performance for this resource:

1. You’re more likely to work out the rest of the week.

Exercising on Mondays can get the ball rolling for your workout routine. There’s something about starting on a Monday that makes you feel like you’re off to the right start.

2. You’ll smile more.

Got a case of the Mondays? You’re not alone. Research shows that the average office worker doesn’t crack a smile until 11:16 a.m. But exercise could help you beat those Monday blues. One common benefit of physical exercise is that it releases endorphins, the hormones that make you feel happier. Nothing feels as great as a finished workout, right?

3. You’ll quell anxious thoughts.

Dreading that mountain of paperwork gathering dust on your desk over the weekend? It’s not uncommon to feel apprehensive about heading in to work. But don’t go hiding back under the covers just yet — you may want to hop on the treadmill for a few miles instead. Studies show that aerobic exercise can lessen general anxiety. Plus, high-intensity exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety sensitivity, or the fear of anxiety that is often a precursor to panic attacks.

4. You’ll kickstart good self-control.

It may take some willpower to lace up those sneakers, but exercise is actually a great way to harness more discipline for other areas of your life. Moving around for as little as 15 minutes has been shown to help people manage cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Why? Exercise releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps keep you in control of impulses and can quiet anxious brain activity.

5. You might make more money.

Lifting weights may not lead to an immediate promotion, but it can’t hurt your chances at some extra cash. One study found an association between gym habits and higher pay. Employees who exercised regularly earned nine percent more than their couch potato peers. Cha-ching!


Your thoughts?

Burn More Fat When You Workout

16 Nov
Goblet Squat

Goblet Squat

Here are a few tips from ASD Performance for maximizing fat loss when you workout:

1. Total-Body Movements

To maximize your calorie burning efforts, choose big exercises that skyrocket your heart beat and leave you panting for breath. Choosing more intense full-body exercise enables you to burn more calories in the same amount of time. Some great exercises to try out: kettlebell swings, goblet squats, burpees, and any move that makes you quickly move up and down, and back and forth.

2. Short Cardio

Instead of spending extensive periods of time on a treadmill, elliptical, stationary bicycle, etc., try breaking up your cardio into multiple short rounds. 2-minute intense rounds of work has a positive impact on heart rate, body temperature, and breathing without greatly hindering your strength or power later in the workout. The only catch… you must go all-out for each 2-minute round. No slacking.

3. Loaded Carry Finisher

Finish of your fat-burning session with a a full body exercise, such as the farmer’s walk. This is such a great finishing exercise as it is a repeatable, moderate finisher that forces every muscle to work in unison for a long time. The result: more calories burned. You’ll want to do this for 10 to 15 minutes at the end of your session.


Your thoughts?

Why Isn’t Everyone Exercising?

11 Sep

family-riding-exercising-together-on-bikes-in-autumn[1]The benefits of exercise and physical activity are indisputable.  Regular exercise can improve strength, mobility, balance, coordination, fitness, health, wellness, energy level, mood, sleep, and confidence.

Yet, despite all these benefits, the majority of people in our country — children and adults — don’t get adequate, regular physical activity.

Anne-Marie Spencer, Corporate Vice President of Marketing for PlayCore in Chattanooga TN, looks at some top reasons for not exercising, as well as possible solutions:

It’s too difficult. Sadly, a lot of advertising for fitness-related products and programs have taken it to an extreme. In these cases, the standards for fitness have become elevated in such a way that too much focus is placed on what your body can’t do, rather than what it can do. One does not need to aspire to body builder status to improve their overall health, nor run in an endurance race, join a team, or order the latest set of extreme fitness DVDs. It can be as simple as talking a daily brisk walk, riding a bike, taking a few laps at the local pool, or finding a free outdoor fitness park and exercising at one’s own pace. The key is to make it enjoyable so the behavior is repeated. This may take several attempts to discover, but with so many options, there is most certainly something for everyone.

It’s boring or I just don’t care for it. If this is your opinion of exercise, you haven’t found the right thing. Brisk walks while listening to music, biking, dancing, joining a team, obstacle racing, gardening, skating, playing catch with the kids, doing agility with your family dog, there are so many options! If it’s not done sitting and it elevates your heart rate, it’s exercise! Don’t let preconceived notions define what you consider exercise; just get moving. Does it make your joints ache? Try swimming or cycling. Do you hate to get sweaty? Find an indoor activity. Do you get lonely exercising or lack motivation? Find a local boot camp, yoga class, or dance team to get group dynamics and encouragement. Whatever you try, give it time. Behaviors aren’t changed overnight, and it may take several weeks before the activity feels enjoyable, or part of your regular routine.

I don’t have time. To address this concern, write out what you do each day. Yes, everyone leads busy lives, but carving out 30 minutes a day should be easily attainable. Do you watch TV at night? Television and video games are the predominant form of “resting” for most regular families. Thanks to the Internet, television, live streaming, social media, texting, and an abundance of video games, people are becoming more and more sedentary. Families can all benefit by getting active instead. Sitting at a desk all day, whether in school or at work, should not be followed by more sitting at night. Find the time to get active; it’s always worth it.

I’m too tired. Working out actually gives you energy as your body produces endorphins and circulation is increased. Experiment with different times of day. It might make sense to get up 30 minutes earlier and start your day with exercise to increase productivity throughout the day. Try taking a walk at lunch, or bike to and from work. Remember, your daily exercise does not need to be all at once to be beneficial.

I can’t leave the kids alone. Take them with you! Head to the park, the local playground, and/or schedule family meet ups with other families. It’s much more beneficial to exercise with your children. You reinforce the importance of exercise, create fun memories that children are likely to emulate when they become parents, and instill exercise as a regular behavior. If you’re struggling with regular exercise as an adult, you know how beneficial that can be!

It doesn’t work for me. Don’t give up! This one is especially common when people are trying to lose weight. The right combination of exercise and nutrition are critical. Keep a journal. If you stop exercising for a while due to injury or a break in the routine, pick it back up. Good or bad habits aren’t formed in a day or even a week. Just keep at it!

I don’t want to be all muscular.Surprisingly, very few people do. That middle-aged woman swinging the kettlebell? She wants to be able to pick up and play with her grandchild. The elderly man in yoga class? He wants to ensure he maintains good posture and balance to avoid potential falls and resulting injury. Unless you are specifically training to build oversize muscles, it won’t happen just because you are exercising, even when you use weights. What it WILL do is increase functional fitness. The ability to go through a normal day, run for a bus, carry several bags of groceries, play with your pet, comfortably bend over to tie a shoe, all are more easily and comfortably achieved as a result of exercise to help us stay fit and limber.

No matter what our age, we all benefit from exercise. Without it, we are adversely affecting our health, our long-term ability to move independently, and our children’s ability to balance healthy activity with sedentary behavior. Call it play, call it exercise, call it fun, call it whatever you like, but make sure you make time with your family to get active. Our very lives depend on it.


Your thoughts?

Don’t Let the Scale Define You

10 Dec

weight-loss[1]While I realize (statistics indicate) the average American can stand to lose a few pounds, the scale doesn’t always tell the entire story.

Your body weight is not a reflection of your worth.  It’s more productive to focus on eating clean (and not overeating), exercising, improving strength and mobility, increasing energy, and NOT a number on a scale.

There’s not necessarily a definitive relationship between body weight and overall health.  A person can have a healthy body weight, yet eat (qualitatively) poorly and be relatively physically inactive.

We don’t do a lot with scales and body weight at our facility.  We would rather concentrate on how people feel, function, and perform.  Keep in mind muscle takes up less space but weighs more than fat.

“Healthy” is not limited to any particular shape, size, or weight.  At least some of that is determined by genetics, anyway.

Part of the problem is our referent.  We try to compare ourselves with others  — unfairly and unrealistically —  instead of aspiring toward self-improvement: being better today than we were yesterday.

We all want to look and feel good, but the fads and gimmicks we chase to get there are not the answer.  In simple terms, eat cleaner, eat less, be more active, and exercise more.

An examination of ounces and pounds shouldn’t start your day any more than it should end it.  Don’t let the scale deflate your efforts if you know you’re on the right track with your nutrition and exercise plans.

Even if weight loss is part of your plan (and it’s okay if it is), detach the number on the scale from how you feel about you.  Be fair to yourself, eat well, stay active, and stay on track.


Your thoughts?

What’s More Important — Diet or Exercise?

7 Jul

hiit-high-intensity-interval-training-work-out-cover[1]Your genetic “blueprint” dictates a lot about your fitness, health, and wellness.  But we all have a window of opportunity within which we can have an impact.

And, while diet and exercise are both significant contributors, you can impact your metabolism to a greater extent through exercise.

Simply stated, pound-for-pound, muscle burns more calories than fat.

The best way to build muscle and burn fat is high-intensity interval resistance training (HIRT).  HIRT continues to build muscle and burn fat even after you have left the gym.

In one recent Italian study, lifters doing HIRT burned 18% more calories 22 hours after exercising than individuals who did traditional strength training.

Next time you’re in the weight room, try this approach:  Choose three exercises.  Start with the first exercise and, using 80-85% of your 1 rep max, do 6 reps and rest 20 seconds; do 2-3 reps and rest 20 seconds; do 2-3 reps.  That’s one set.  Do 7 sets of all three exercises.


Your thoughts?

Exercise is Good Medicine

11 Apr

SetRatioSize367245-Exercise-Prescription[1]Want to improve your overall health and wellness?  Workout every day.

Research shows that exercise can rehabilitate existing problems, and help prevent new ones.  If you want to feel better, have more energy, and perhaps even live longer, you need look no further than exercise.  The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are indisputable.  And you can realize the benefits of exercise regardless of your age, gender, or physical ability.  Here are some ways exercise can improve your life:

  • Weight Management: Regular exercise helps to accelerate metabolism, burn calories, and maintain an ideal weight.
  • Health and Wellness: Regular exercise can help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis, and falls, according to experts from the Mayo Clinic.
  • Improve Mood: Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.  You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost confidence and improve self-esteem.
  • More Energy: Regular exercise can improve muscle strength, boost endurance, and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.
  • Better Sleep: Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.
  • Ease of Movement: Weight-bearing exercise strengthens muscles and joints, improves range-of-motion, and improves the efficiency with which you move.

Don’t worry about how much you lift or how strong you are, just find activities you enjoy and keep moving.


Your thoughts?

What’s Your Workout Motivation?

27 Dec

Men-and-women-working-out1-400x250[1]Why do you workout?  (and, conversely, why don’t you workout?)

Are you working toward a goal or do you just enjoy the process?

Is it for health and wellness?  Do you want to improve your quality (and quantity) of life?

Do you want to look better, perhaps get more lean and muscular?  (I saw a quote, recently, that said, “Diet if you want to look better in clothes; workout if you want to look better naked.”)

Do you want to feel better?  Are you working out to improve your energy level or functional movement?

Are you trying to lose a few pounds and, perhaps, get closer to your ideal body weight and reduce stress on your joints?

Do you work out with a friend or group of friends and enjoy the social interaction?

Do you want to get stronger, faster, and more athletic?  Is one of your goals to improve your performance?

Are you doing it for you, or for someone else?

The bottom line is, there is no wrong reason — and no one right reason — for working out (they’re all right).  As that shoe company says, “just do it.”

Please tag me back with a comment and share your motivation for working out (or your reason for not working out).  I will compile a list and share the best responses in a future blog post, shortly after the first of the year.  Thanks, in advance, for your feedback.


Your thoughts?

I’ll Just Go to the Gym Tomorrow…

17 Jun

Stop-300x200[1]Does this sound familiar?  Perhaps something you, yourself, have thought or said?

Don’t let a busy schedule derail your exercise or weight-loss goals.  Exercise isn’t about having time, it’s about making time.  If it’s important, you’ll make time (and it is important).

So how do you solve the time problem? Maybe you need to convince yourself that  lack of time isn’t actually the problem. It’s you. Instead of coming up with  creative ways to talk yourself out of your workout, spend some brain power on  talking yourself into working out.

Stop wasting time on unnecessary activities.  Many of us spend far too much of our precious time lounging on the sofa watching mindless television programs.

Get up earlier in the morning or go to bed later at night.  You really only need 30 minutes of daily exercise to help with weight loss and maintain good health and fitness.

Fit in exercise sessions during downtime.  Whenever you have as little as 10 minutes to spare you can perform a few exercises.  And if you can manage to do 10 minutes three times each day, you have done your 30 minutes of daily exercise.

The hardest part is getting started and making it a routine. After it’s a habit it’s a cake walk.

Pack your gym bag the night before, so it’s there as a reminder of what you need to do the next day.

Keep a notebook and plan your workout schedule for the week in advance each week so you have an idea of what you’re going to be doing.


Your thoughts?

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