When you are short on time even a small amount of exercise will boost your energy and ease stress. This quick, but challenging workout can be squeezed into any busy day. March in place to warm up a few minutes before you begin and cool down with some light stretching. When time allows, repeat the circuit 2 to 3 times for a full 20 to 30 minute workout.
Cardio Shuffle (90 seconds)
Stand with feet hip-width apart and bend the knees slightly, lowering into an easy squat. Quickly shuffle your feet while staying in place. The faster you shuffle the more challenging the move.
Squats with a Knee Raise (60 seconds)
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lower into a full squat (sit back and keep your knees behind your toes). Return to the starting position and raise your right knee high, towards your chest as you contract your abs. Return the foot to the floor, squat and repeat with your left knee.
Side-to-Side Shuffle (90 seconds)
Repeat the Cardio Shuffle, but this time shuffle to your right for 4 counts and back to your left for 4 counts, moving your feet as quickly as possible. Continue side-to-side for the full 90 seconds.
Jumping Lunges (60 seconds)
Step your right foot forward and lower into a lunge position. Lower the left knee to the ground and bend the right knee, being sure that it doesn’t shift forward past your toes. Push yourself up with an explosive movement, jumping into the air. As you jump, switch your legs so your left foot is forward and your right foot back. Lower into a lunge, jump and repeat.
Alternating Toe Touches (90 seconds)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and with your arms extended out to each side at shoulder level. Keeping your leg straight, kick your right leg out in front of you, raising it to waist level. At the same time, reach your left hand towards your toes, rotating the torso. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Alternating Side Planks (60 seconds)
Get into plank position on your toes with straight arms and hands directly below the shoulders (as if you were preparing to do a standard push-up). Shift your weight to your right hand as you rotate to the left. Turn your right foot so that the outside is in contact with the floor and your left foot is stacked on top of it. Support yourself with your right arm and the outside of the right foot. Extend your left arm up into the air so that there is a straight line from your right hand, across your shoulders, to your left hand in the air. Return to the starting position and rotate to your right to repeat on the other side.
Mountain Climbers (90 seconds)
Stay in plank position. Pull your right knee towards your chest and rest your right toes on the floor. Jump slightly to switch your feet and land with your left knee in and toes on the floor. Continue to jump and alternate the legs.
Push-ups (60 seconds)
Stay in plank position and move your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart. You can perform the exercise on your toes or on your knees. Lower your chin to the ground, keeping your abs tight and your body in a straight line from head to heels (or knees). Push back up to the starting position.
There is nothing wrong with choosing a few special treats during the holidays, but going overboard can undo weeks of healthy eating and exercise. Before you make the decision to cave into a craving, use this guide as a reminder of how hard you will have to work to offset the extra calories.
Candied Sweet Potatoes (1/2 cup)
Burn it off: Walking at 3.5 miles per hour for 60 minutes.
Lighten it up: Serve baked sweet potatoes topped with 5 mini-marshmallows. 172 calories
Gingerbread (1 slice)
Burn it off: Fast ballroom dancing for 45 minutes.
Lighten it up: Choose 1 to 2 small gingerbread cookies instead. 150 to 200 calories
Peppermint Mocha (12 ounces, made with 2% milk and whipped cream)
Burn it off: Weight training for 50 minutes.
Lighten it up: Ask for skim milk and no whipped cream. 220 calories
Eggnog (1 cup)
Burn it off: Shoveling snow for 52 minutes.
Lighten it up: Choose light or low-fat eggnog and cut your serving to ½ cup. 140 calories
Homemade Pecan Pie (1 slice)
Burn it off: Jogging 5.2 miles per hour for 48 minutes.
Lighten it up: Have only half a slice or choose a slice of pumpkin pie instead. 228 calories
*All calorie expenditures are based on a 150 pound female.
Winter weather can make outdoor activities downright impossible. Don’t throw in the towel and give up on your winter fitness routine just yet. You can still have a great workout without the cost of a gym or exercise equipment.
Do you have stairs? Stairs are often overlooked as a tool for a challenging workout. If you don’t have stairs at home, take advantage of those at your office or school. A 175-pound person who climbs and descends stairs for 30 minutes will burn 209 calories.
Are you close to a shopping mall? Many people living in colder climates depend on mall-walking to get exercise. Some communities have organized sessions for exercisers and some malls will open early to accommodate walkers. If these sessions do not exist in your town, consider organizing one yourself. A 175-pound person who walks a flat course at 3.5 miles per hour for 30 minutes will burn 130 calories.
Snow falling? Turn your exercise into play time and blast calories in the process. Hiking in the snow, sledding, making snowmen, snow football and snowball fights are great ways to exercise. You can also knock out your workout by shoveling the sidewalks. A 175-pound person will burn 232 calories shoveling snow for 30 minutes.
Keep a positive attitude and embrace the many winter exercise options that don’t exist in the summer months. View winter as an opportunity to break up your normal routine and improve your fitness in a new way.
Carbohydrates are a major fuel source for exercising muscles, the brain, and the central nervous system. When you drastically lower your carb intake, your body lacks the glucose necessary to produce energy. Without adequate carbohydrates, the body enters a state of ketosis where it begins to burn its own fat for fuel. This may sound appealing at first, but the process also produces ketones, a byproduct of breaking down fat stores. Ketones have been linked to gout, kidney stones, and kidney failure.
How will a low carb diet affect my exercise?
The side effects of ketone production include nausea, headache, and mental fatigue, which may disrupt your exercise routine. Research results are mixed from studies analyzing a low carbohydrate diet, exercise, and fatigue. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that a diet low enough in carbohydrates to cause ketosis resulted in increased fatigue in untrained, overweight adults. The study suggested that this could lead to a reduced desire to exercise. In athletes, however, studies have shown that after a two to four week adaptation to ketosis, exercise performance can improve.
Should I eat a low carb diet?
The goal of nutritious eating and exercise should be improved health without unnecessary dangers. The build-up of ketones in the body is not without risks, and it is especially dangerous to those with diabetes. Most health professionals agree that carbohydrates are needed in the diet to adequately fuel the body.
According to Mayo Clinic, daily diets with fewer than 20 grams of carbohydrates can cause ketosis. Consuming 50 to 100 grams of carbohydrates per day helps prevent it. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrate intake make up 45 to 65 percent of your total calorie intake. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends choosing healthy carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables instead of aiming for a no-carbohydrate diet.
It's impossible to add more minutes to the day so exercise must become a priority on your to-do list. Research continues to support that three bouts of exercise lasting at least 10 minutes each are as effective as exercising for a full 30 minutes at one time. Climb the stairs for 10 minutes before work, take a 10-minute walk on your lunch break, and do a combination of squats, push-ups, and crunches for 10 minutes at night.
Don't get sucked into the idea that you need special gear or a gym membership to commit to exercise. Many quick, high-intensity circuit workouts require no equipment and they can be done for free in your living room. If you would like to have a few tools around the house to alter your routine, there are plenty of inexpensive equipment options for home exercise.
Starting a new activity can be intimidating, but there is so much information available to help build your knowledge for safe and effective exercise. Take some time to read about proper warm ups, cool downs, exercise form, and selecting the right activity for your fitness level. The exercise section of the MyFoodDiary blog is a great place to start.
If you are uncomfortable with your body or you feel awkward and uncoordinated when exercising, being active around others may make you self-conscious. Don’t let a concern for how you look lead to skipped workouts. Remember that those exercising around you are there for the same reasons you are, to get healthier. Start by exercising at home until you feel more comfortable being outside or going to the gym. Stick with beginner groups until you can join more advanced exercisers.
If you dislike exercise, it’s time to stop labeling your activity as exercise. Don’t set yourself up for failure by planning rigorous sessions. Find activities that require movement, but lack the rigidness of a session at the gym. Join a recreational sports team, go hiking, take dance classes, or go skating. As long as you are moving and your heart rate is elevated, you are engaging in exercise. The key is to choose activities that you enjoy.
It’s rare that you will find an activity that you never get tired of. It may happen after a few weeks or it may be many years, but if you start feeling burned out, switch things up. Pushing through an activity that you are truly tired of will only lead to poor excuses and skipped workouts.