Don’t let fitness take a backseat! Have a backup plan to stay on track.

Sometimes our best intentions to exercise are no match for the curve balls life throws our way. Schedules get busy or energy levels drop, but we can still adjust our workouts to ensure we meet our exercise goals and fit in our fitness.

Be ready to adjust your original plans to overcome new obstacles!

In a time crunch?

  • Shorten your overall workout time and increase your intensity.
  • Increase your running or walking speed and decrease your overall time
  • Move quickly through a 15-20 minute weight lifting routine with little rest between exercises
  • Jump rope for 5-10 minutes

Not energized to get to the gym?

Try these activities when your energy is low:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates and core exercises
  • Walking with weights
  • Elliptical or exercise bike at a moderate intensity (heart rate and breathing rate are up, but you can still talk in full sentences)
  • Do whatever workout you feel you can handle, whether it’s stretching exercises or doing a 20-minute weight training routine. Some exercise is always better than none.

Bad weather ruining your outdoor workout plans?

  • Run or walk on the treadmill or other cardio machine.
  • Try an at-home workout DVD or bodyweight exercise routine instead.
  • Look into foul-weather gear; there are many types of clothing and footwear for rain and snow, even ice.

Enjoy a sense of accomplishment for overcoming obstacles and sticking to your goals as best you can!

 

 

Meghan Rath

Meghan Rath

M.S., CSCS, HFS is a HealthEase Fitness Manager with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from West Chester University. She is also ACSM and NSCA certified.

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A Fresh Start to Fitness

It can be a little overwhelming to start a new fitness program because of all the options available – exercise classes, diets, fitness gadgets, gyms, and more. To help you start your fitness journey, here are some simple steps to follow:

 

Assess your fitness level

Assessing and recording your baseline fitness level can give you benchmarks for measuring progress. Consider finding out…

  • Your pulse before and after you walk one mile
  • How long it takes to walk one mile
  • How many pushups you can do in a minute
  • How far you can reach forward while seated on the floor with your legs straight in front
  • Your waist size, measured around your abdomen just above your hipbone

Design your fitness program

Avoid setting unrealistic goals; instead have a plan that is attainable. When designing your fitness program consider these points:

 

Have a goal.

Are you starting a fitness program to lose weight? Or do you have another goal such as completing a 5k race? Having set goals can help you gauge your progress and keep you on track.

 

Gather your equipment.

Start with athletic shoes, choosing a pair designed for the activity you have in mind. If you plan on purchasing exercise equipment, choose something that’s practical and easy to use.

 

Create a balanced routine.

Most adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. Adults also need one or more days of strength training weekly.

 

Build activity into your daily routine.

Finding time to exercise is the most difficult challenge most people face when beginning a fitness program. Schedule time to exercise as you would any other appointment. Or watch your favorite show while exercising. You don’t have to do all your exercise at one time. Shorter but more frequent sessions have aerobic benefits too! Break your sessions up into 10 or 15 minute sessions, adding up to 30 minutes.

 

Go at your own pace.

It you are new to exercise, start slowly. If you have a previous injury or medical condition, consult your doctor for help designing a fitness program that gradually improves range of motion, strength, and endurance. If you feel any pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or nausea, take a break. You may be pushing yourself too hard.

 

Allow time to recover.

Many people give up when their muscles and joints become sore or injured from overdoing it. Plan time between exercise sessions to allow your body to rest and recover. Give yourself time to warm up and cool down with easy walking or gentle stretching. Work your way up to 30-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

 

Monitor your progress.

Retake your personal fitness assessment 4-6 weeks after you start your program. If you lose motivation, set new goals or try a new activity. Exercising with a friend or taking a class at a fitness center may help, too!

 

Jamie Verdini is a HealthEase Fitness Specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Temple University. She is also a certified ACSM Health Fitness Specialist, AAAI Personal Trainer, and a licensed Zumba Instructor. She enjoys working with her clients one -on-one and also teaching group exercise classes like Boot Camp and Zumba.

The Keys to a Successful Resolution – Anytime of Year!

Why is it that so many of us give up on our New Year’s resolutions? By the end of January, 36% will have called it quits and 56% will be throwing in the towel by mid-year, according to researchers at the University of Scranton.

 

Attempting to take on too much at once is a common mistake we make when tackling a resolution (or two or three). The great Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” This powerful statement holds true to New Year’s resolutions, especially ones pertaining to health and wellness.

 

When adopting a new exercise routine and/or diet, it is important to approach the goal by building consistent momentum throughout the entire year. When you are picturing the new and improved version of yourself, understand that this version will take time to culminate. Take time to plan progressive and realistic goals for each month. For example, if your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight through dieting and exercising, prepare to do so in a slow, steady, healthy manner. So what exactly does this mean, and how is this done correctly?

 

Here are some suggestions: Take one percent of your current body weight, and that is the maximum number of pounds you should be losing each week without putting too much strain on your body. If you are new to exercise or exercise minimally, start with a goal of three, 30-minute sessions per week. After a month, once your body adapts to exercising regularly, increase the sessions to 40-45 minutes. After another two months, add one additional 40-45 minute workout to your routine. When two more months have passed, and the momentum is truly building, increase your workout sessions to a full hour in duration. Two months later, add one more, full hour session to your workout schedule and look at you! You are exercising five days per week, you have lost weight and you are looking and feeling accomplished.

 

Now how about that diet? Start slowly and realistically by committing to five small meals per day. Stick to approximately 400-500 calories per meal. Try to resist non-healthy foods but don’t worry much about the food choices yet. By eating smaller meals in general, your stomach adjusts accordingly by becoming smaller and will actually resist too much food being consumed at once. Not only does the size of your stomach decrease but by eating smaller meals your Ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels are altered. This is the key to eating control as these hormone alterations allow us to feel full before we eat too much. After the first two months, commit to one “healthy meal” per day such as a salad with grilled chicken and nuts. After another two months, do two healthy meals per day. Another few months pass and your dieting momentum is spiraling upward; your self-esteem is growing; and you are ready for three healthy meals per day. As a general rule of thumb, strive for your diet to consist of 45-55% carbohydrates, 20-30% fat, and 15-35% protein.

 

In combination with the exercise routine established, you can see the physical and mental transformation. You are now more likely to continue this type of healthy behavior throughout the rest of the year and adopt it as a lifestyle.  Be patient, be persistent, and don’t give up!                

Armand Tecco

Armand Tecco

As president and founder of HealthEase, Armand is dedicated to his corporate clients and helping them achieve their goals for employee wellness. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Fitness Management from West Chester University and a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Temple University. Armand is also certified through the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

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Get in Condition for Ski Season NOW!

With falling leaves and dropping temperatures, one thing is for sure; ski season is right around the corner.  According to Dr. Stuart Styles of Somer Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Group, “Few sports are as physically demanding as downhill skiing,” yet many skiers don’t properly train for this winter activity.

 

According to Dr. Styles, the most common injuries involve the knees, shoulders, and head.  Strengthening the muscles around these joints and improving one’s balance can help prevent many of these injuries.  It is also wise to train the muscles while performing similar motions to those performed when skiing.

 

A few exercises can help you get ready for the slopes:

 

1. Perform squats on a Bosu trainer or dyna Disc to help strengthen the knees while improving balance.  Use two Bosu’s or Discs, one under each foot, at first and progress to using one Bosu or Dyna disc for both feet.

 

2. Perform single leg squats for more advanced strength and balance training. Once you have mastered the form, then try squats on a Bosu trainer or Dyna Disc.

 

3. Incorporate shoulder exercises by adding an overhead press or chest push out while holding a squat.

 

If you’re unsure about conditioning exercises or need extra motivation, seek out a qualified personal trainer. Pre-season training before hitting the powder will help you be ready for a long and snowy winter.

 

Meghan Rath

Meghan Rath

M.S., CSCS, HFS is a HealthEase Fitness Manager with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from West Chester University. She is also ACSM and NSCA certified.

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Are Your Daily Beauty Products Harming You?

When we think of widely consumed substances that are harmful to the body, things like alcohol, tobacco, red meat and sugary sodas often come to mind. But now you’ll find more studies raising concerns over the safety of common ingredients found in popular everyday personal care products. Given the prevalence of diseases and disorders such as cancer, autism, ADD/ADHD, Alzheimer’s and various allergies, there’s a great need to research the things we put on our bodies, not just in our bodies. Thankfully, more tests are being conducted on the safety of topical skin care products than ever before.

 

Dr. Linda Miles, D.O.M., Co-Founder and Chief Formulator of derma e®, vitamin-rich natural skincare, has a passion for product safety that goes beyond FDA requirements. Here she shares her views on 4 key common ingredients she believes everyone should avoid:

 

1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfates (SLS) Uses:

  • Detergent found in approximately 90 percent of commercial shampoos, toothpastes, liquid soaps, body gels, sunblock, and similar products that “foam up”. Harms:
  • Skin irritation that can damage or alter skin cells
  • Inflamed lymph nodes
  • Premature hair loss
  • When used in toothpaste, SLS easily penetrates through the gums, as the gums are one of the quickest ways to introduce substances into the bloodstream

 

Alternatives:

• Look for products labeled ‘SLS-free,’ or better yet, ‘sulfate-free.’ They may not ‘suds up’ as much as formulas that contain sulfates, but they will likely be gentler and safer. Today, more shampoos and cleansers are being made without SLS and other sulfates, so you should have a good selection to choose from.

 

2. Phthalates

 

Uses:

• Plasticizing agent added to personal care products to promote flexibility and help the skin absorb substances. Used in fragrances, deodorants, hair spray, hair gels, hair mousse, body lotions and nail polish.

 

Harms:

  • Endocrine disruptor that may damage male and female reproductive systems (male system has shown to be even more sensitive than the female system)
  • May disrupt hormones, interfering with normal brain function
  • May damage to the liver, kidneys, or lungs
  • May send signals in the body that could result in autism, breast cancer, testicular cancer, and reduced sperm counts

 

Alternatives:

• Avoid personal care products with BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate), DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate) or DMP (dimethyl phthalate) in the ingredient list. Since artificial fragrances may also contain phthalates, look for products that are either fragrance-free, naturally fragranced/scented, or that specify they are using phthalate-free fragrances.

 

3. Benzoyl Peroxide

 

Uses:

• OTC ingredient used in topical acne medications. Also used as a bleaching agent in some hair dyes and teeth whiteners.

 

Harms:

  • Produces free radicals in the skin
  • Linked to tumor growth
  • Can cause excessive dryness or peeling of the skin
  • Can lead to premature skin aging

 

Alternatives:

  • If you suffer from chronic acne, look for OTC acne medications that contain salicylic acid. If you have oily skin or only see occasional blemishes, try products with natural tea tree or willow bark.

 

4. Urea

 

Uses:
• Moisturizer, preservative, pH adjuster. Found in moisturizers, cleansers, body lotions, foundations, shampoos, conditioners, styling mousses, lip balm, mascara, antiperspirants and more.

 

Harms:

• Slowly and continuously releases small amounts formaldehyde, a human carcinogen

• Can be irritating and cause allergic reactions

• Can cause reproductive effects

 

Alternatives:

• Avoid ingredients with the names diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea and other formaldehyde-releasing agents such as DMDM hydantoin and sodium hyroxymethylglycinate. Use products that contain natural moisturizers such as shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil or aloe vera, or deeply hydrating hyaluronic acid.

 

In summary, it’s important to be educated on the ingredients you’re putting on your skin so you’re aware of the benefits as well as any potential risks. Get to know how topically applied ingredients may impact your body, which ingredients are deemed safe by scientific and governing bodies, and which ingredient are questionable and perhaps best to avoid. When in doubt, consider shopping retailers who have done the homework for you, such as Whole Foods Market or other natural stores. Ultimately, there’s nothing more important than the health, wellbeing and safety of you and your family.

Julia Quina

Julia Quina

is a HealthEase Fitness Manager who possesses a bachelor of science degree in Biokinetics. She also does personal training and health coaching for HealthEase clients.

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