NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Making Sense of Cardio: Running vs. Walking

ThinkstockPhotos-78754936Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, has been around for a while—really, since the beginning of time, if you think about what cardio is and what it does for our bodies. In essence, we are doing cardio all the time, just at various intensities (if we weren’t, we would not be reading this!). The primitive man did cardio to stay alive, the Pan-Hellenic Games of Ancient Greece introduced cardio as a sport, and in modern times we do cardio to replace the manual labor that produced enough calorie consumption and expenditure to keep our bodies lean and strong.

There are many types of cardio that we do to stay in shape, and many arguments about which equipment is best for burning calories. Of the cardio that is mentioned, running and walking usually come up most in discussion about which is the better cardio. Here, I discuss this topic and get to the bottom of this fitness impasse.

Running Pros and Cons

There are always two sides to a story. Running, obviously the more rigorous of the two, carries many benefits, including strengthening the heart and lungs, improving blood flow and circulation, burning calories, etc. 

There can also be a case made that running isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A lot of wear and tear on the body occurs over the course of a runner’s life, whether it is your feet, knees, or hips (Weil, 2015)

Walking Pros and Cons

On the other end of the spectrum, we can look at walking for cardio in the same light. The benefits of walking include calorie burning, but vary to include stress reduction. The impact of walking is definitely less on the cardiovascular strength side, but it provides much-needed exercise to individuals who cannot physically run (Caton, 2012)

From the calorie-burning standpoint, walking can burn as many calories as running, assuming you do the same amount of work. This means that it will take you longer to burn 100 calories walking versus 100 calories running. 

Running and Walking Are Both Good!

One thing that I have learned both professionally and personally is that not everyone is a great marathon runner, and not everyone has time to be a successful cardio walker. The main thing to take away from this message is that cardio, whether it is through walking, running, biking, or swimming, is essential to good health, feeling your best, and sustaining a long and productive lifestyle (Thompson, et al, 2013)

I encourage anyone who is not currently doing cardio to start (albeit slowly) incorporating a cardio program into your life. The discussion here really isn’t about whether running is better than walking, but that we do something to get going and make the effort to better ourselves. There are no sabertooth tigers to chase us around anymore, but we can see results by incorporating the most simplistic of exercises, walking and running, into our routines.

We can help! NIFS training staff is eager to meet you and help you develop your fitness program. Stop by the NIFS track desk to schedule a consultation today!

Rejoice and Evolve,

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.
Topics: NIFS cardio Thomas' Corner running walking cardiovascular

Thomas's Corner: Off the Beaten Path—Outdoor Fitness Options

Sunny days and warm summer weather are now upon us. It’s hard to complain about a pretty day, except when you are confined to an indoor lifestyle or job. Outdoor fitness is exactly what you need to get rid of the summertime blues, but I’m not talking about running or boot camp. Indianapolis is packed with fitness activities just waiting to be discovered. Parks throughout the city are highlighted by fitness trails, open fields, and accessibility. The opportunities are only increasing as we, hopefully, move toward a more health-conscious society.

In this blog we are going to think outside the box and explore some outdoor fitness options that are not only good exercise, but also fun and stimulating.

ThinkstockPhotos-178092126Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding, a mode of recreational transportation, has been around much longer than you might think. When it was first invented is undetermined, but evidence of its existence dates back to early exploration of the Pacific Ocean in the late 1700s by Captain James Cook. 

Fast-forward a few hundred years and you will see paddleboarding nearly everywhere, including rivers, lakes, and oceans. Because it enables you to take in scenery and nature, paddleboarding can be both calming and serene. On the other hand, in some windy conditions, paddleboarding is completely challenging, giving the rider a great workout. Riding the tide for extended periods of time provides plenty of balance, core stability, and endurance opportunities for the aquatic enthusiast.

For paddleboarding in Indianapolis, visit local shops such as Rusted Moon Outfitters to see demonstrations and buy gear to satisfy your paddleboarding needs. If you are a beginner and would like lessons, another local company, Salty Dog Paddlesports offers not only training sessions, but also more advanced yoga classes on paddleboards!

Geocaching

Geocaching is a relatively new outdoor recreational activity that combines old-school orienteering and treasure hunting with modern GPS technology. The concept of geocaching is not new; following clues and landmarks to find hidden treasure has been around for a long time. 

In this modern-day search for “x” on a treasure map, individuals use clues via internet videos or posts to find hidden packages or containers yielding log books to sign your name, often a small prize, or even another clue to find your way to another hidden site. The treasures aren’t necessarily huge in size; the excitement comes from successfully navigating your way to the treasure. After the site is discovered, it is neatly hidden away so that another geocacher may discover it. 

Because it usually takes place outdoors in rugged terrain and involving hiking and walking, a geocacher’s main needs include comfortable clothes, shoes or boots, and a functioning GPS system. Most cell phones have GPS built in already, so becoming a geocacher is even more convenient than you think. Geocaching is happening in Indiana, and the Indiana Geocaching website is dedicated to it. There is plenty of information regarding upcoming events and links to other national geocaching clubs. Channel your inner Indiana Jones while you are actually in Indiana!

Disc Golf

One of the fastest-growing recreational sports and activities, disc golf is quickly becoming more than just a niche hobby. The concept of disc golf, obviously, is derived from traditional golf, including the terminology. Disc golfers typically throw one of their many discs (each one has specific characteristics, not unlike drivers, irons, and putters) from a tee box toward a basket on a pole. Score is kept with eagles, birdies, par, and bogeys. 

Sprinkled throughout Indianapolis are several disc golf courses that offer a variety of challenges and an opportunity to experience some of the many scenic neighborhood parks that otherwise may go unnoticed. There is even a disc golf organization (Indianapolis Disc Golf Club) that holds several notable tournaments, bringing in top competition in the area and the Midwest. 

Like all skill-based activities, disc golf requires practice time. This is easily countered by disc golf’s relatively easy concept, cost effectiveness (discs are around 10 to 15 dollars, while courses are free), and inviting atmosphere.

***

If you are bored with your current situation or just want a fun activity for you and your pals, there are definitely some excellent options to keep you active and your brain stimulated. Whether you want to take on some waves with your paddleboard, track down a series of clues while geocaching, or take a stroll through the park while disc golfing, the landscape for outdoor activity is ever changing. Be adventurous this summer and try a new outdoor sport or activity today!

Rejoice and Evolve,

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: summer balance endurance core outdoors golf sports hiking

Tips for Healthy Eating at Summer Barbecues

Summer is perfect for being active outdoors and grilling some healthy items for cookouts. Getting together with family and friends is a wonderful way to spend a weekend afternoon and evening. Unfortunately, some barbecues can turn into really unhealthy meals quickly. Here are some simple tips to ensure you keep up healthy eating while enjoying a cookout. ThinkstockPhotos-475200404

  • Better your burger. Consider topping your burger with fresh and flavorful veggies such as onions and tomatoes versus higher-fat options like mayonnaise and cheese. Also, grab a whole-wheat bun to increase the fiber, or a sandwich thin to keep calories lower. Seek out lower-fat ground beef to make your burgers, such as Laura’s Lean Beef, or grab a turkey burger to grill. 
  • Select sides wisely. Coleslaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad are typical staples of most cookouts. However, these mayonnaise-based options are loaded with fat and calories that aren’t necessarily the best for a balanced plate. Choose a serving the size of a tennis ball to keep portions in check, or choose oil-and-vinegar or yogurt-based dishes if available. 
  • Fill up on fruit. This time of year is full of almost every fruit in its peak season. Load up on filling berries, cherries, and melons. Make a giant fruit salad or kabobs, or toss some peaches or pineapple on the grill and top with nonfat vanilla yogurt. If fruit pies are on the menu for dessert, choose the option with a bottom crust only and stick to one slice!
  • Don’t forget the veggies. A lot of times veggies are completely forgotten at a barbecue, but these can be super tasty and easy to fix when done on the grill. Zucchini, squash, eggplant, mushrooms, and peppers are great on the grill and can easily be made into fun kabobs. Corn on the cob is technically a starchy vegetable, but it’s still a vegetable! Just be cautious with the amount of butter and salt that you load on top of it. Instead, try grilling it in foil with a touch of olive oil and squeeze a lime on it before eating. You won’t even miss the butter and salt!
  • Be careful not to burn your meat. Two compounds found in charred and overcooked meats are known carcinogens. Always make sure to clean your grill to get rid of preexisting charred food bits before you start grilling, or grill on top of foil or a grill mat. Another great idea is to marinate your meats before throwing them on the grill. Not only will it increase the flavor, but it can reduce the presence of the carcinogens. Grab a meat thermometer and make sure beef, pork, fish, veal, and lamb reach 145 degrees and poultry reaches 165 degrees.
  • When you are finished, go play. Challenge the kids to a game of cornhole or horseshoes. Start tossing the ball around or choose another outdoor game. The point is to not just to jump around and “burn off” dinner, but to get up and moving and away from the tempting chips and other snacks!

My-Nutrition-Coach-outline-no-backLooking for a simple way to keep track of your diet? Want more immediate help and feedback on food choices and portions? My Nutrition Coach is a new app that gives you the ability to track your nutrition and receive daily feedback, suggestions and information from NIFS dietitian, Angie Scheetz.

Learn More

This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating calories summer disease prevention paleo

Foundations of a Strong, Healthy Body: Strength Building

ThinkstockPhotos-475675484You have finally achieved your goal of adding some lean muscle mass, so what now? Where do you go next? The next step I would take would be to train your body to use those newly developed muscles to their fullest potential. This increase in strength building can come from numerous sources, some of which you may have already experienced.

Strength improvements may be developed from different types of training and at different times in programs. Many of these improvements can be obtained through two modes: neurological adaptations and increases in muscle cross-sectional area (CSA; muscle size). 

Neurological Adaptations

Neurological adaptations can be noticed only days after starting a new training program, depending on your experience with resistance training. If you have no prior experience with it, the stimulus of a few sets of different resistance exercises over one or two days might give your body enough reason to improve its strength levels. But how could the body possibly get stronger in one or two training sessions? Did your muscles get any bigger? No. Your body (the brain, specifically) is becoming more efficient at firing those muscles you have used to meet the demands you have placed on them. 

Quick improvements, like those via neurological adaptations, will not always be achievable. Your brain/body will catch up to what you are doing eventually, which is why other modes of training are important. 

Increases in CSA

Another type of strength development is to increase the muscles’ cross-sectional area, or make the muscle bigger. This can be achieved by following my previous blog, which goes over muscular hypertrophy and different variables you need to control to get it. When a muscle becomes larger, it simply has the ability to create more force than it did when it was smaller. This will definitely lead to increases in your strength levels.

If you plan to follow the structure that I have laid out for you over this series of blogs (Cardio Workouts, Muscular Endurance, and Muscle Building), you are ready for that next step. You may have put on some lean muscle mass (hypertrophy), or you may not have. Regardless, you can still take your strength training to the next level. 

Strength improvement in this sense is almost a combination of the two modes of development I stated earlier, neurological adaptations and increases in muscle CSA. You have new muscle that you have worked hard to build, but now you need to train your body to get that muscle firing at optimal levels. Your new muscle needs that neurological adaptation. 

Recommended Workouts

True strength training is time consuming, so be ready for a lot of downtime between sets. When you start your program, try 2 to 3 sets with repetitions ranging from 1 to 5 (heavy weight!) on your core lifts (bench, squat, and deadlift). Add in a few more strength exercises after the first few weeks. 

Rest periods can vary; however, you want to have at least 2 to 5 minutes between sets. This is CRUCIAL for strength development. You want to make sure you are 100% rested or very close to it. This will allow your body to perform at the highest level during each set. The more you hit this high level, the easier it will become to fire those muscles, which increases strength levels. 

Get after it!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

 

Topics: workouts muscles strength muscle mass muscle building

MetCon Manipulation: Change Up Your High-Intensity Training (HIIT)

HIITHigh-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has “swiffered” the nation in the past decade or so and remains one of the top hot topics of the fitness world. We also use terms such as Metabolic Condition (MetCon), Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT), and Energy System Training to categorize this high-octane method of training. You may know MetCon best by the crazy stuff you do that makes you feel absolutely exhausted, but invincible.

WARNING: It should never be the goal of any MetCon training session to end up in a sweaty pile of your former self. You should be upright and feeling invigorated and not annihilated.

The health and fitness benefits of this style of training are numerous! Benefits are mainly fat loss, an increase in energy demand (calorie burn) during and even after the training session, and even an increase in your aerobic capacity, just to name a few. But just like any other style of training (strength, power, endurance), it can be easy to fall into a rut in the methods and exercise selection of your MetCon training session. Here are a few simple and fun ways to change up and spice up your metabolic conditioning training session.

REMEMBER: Training can be simply defined as providing a stimulus that forces the body to adapt resulting in change (for example, increased calorie and oxygen use). So to alter a training session, think of manipulating the stimulus.

Change the Equipment

It’s comforting to stick to pieces of equipment we know best and have used many times for our training purposes. But you are doing yourself a disservice by not adding in new pieces that usually come with new adaptions. Battling ropes, rowing ergs, kettle bells, medicine balls, and my personal favorite the Airdyne bike are all great tools that can be used to manipulate the stimulus. These are also the things that make this style of training so much fun. The body will be forced to adapt, triggering the affects you are looking for.

Change the Intensity

The intensity of your training session of course plays a huge role in achieving the desired outcomes. Many metabolic conditioning sessions are based on time as a measurement of intensity and duration. For example, I am sure you are familiar with the Tabatta protocol of 20 seconds of max work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. Many time combinations are used (depending on your fitness level and program progressions), such as :30/:30, :40/:20, and :45/:15. 

Using time is great, but it could get monotonous, leading to decreased effort and lack of enjoyment. A great alternative is using calorie goals to set your interval as with a rowing erg, or the Airdyne bike (there it is again!). Racing to a predetermined distance is a great way to spice things up as well. Lastly, using repetitions and repetition ladders (10, 9, 8, 7,…1) allows you to simply count your way to completion and can be used with minimal equipment such as one kettlebell or a resistance band. 

Change the Environment

One of the easiest ways to get more out of your metabolic conditioning session is to simply change up your environment. Going outside is a great start when manipulating this training variable. Grab your equipment, get after it, and get some vitamin D all at the same time. On your way outside, invite some of your friends and training buddies to join you. Make the workout more of a competitive challenge to help redefine what you once thought of as limits. Research has proven that you work harder and enjoy training while in a group setting. Use the power of a strong group to get more out your training session.

Two Example MetCon Workouts

TRY THESE: Here are 2 sample MetCon training sessions using some of the preceding tips.

#1: Airdyne Calorie Sprints: 10 minutes

Race to 10 calories resting for 5 calories and try to complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.

#2: Kettle Bells in the Park

Get outside, get a group, and complete the following as quickly as you can.

Working from 10 Kettle Bell Swings, 10 Goblet Squats, 10 Push-ups down to 1, but the swings will always be 10.

Example: 

  • R1: 10/10/10
  • R2: 10/9/9
  • R3 10/8/8 … 
  • Down to 10 Swings, 1 Goblet Squat, 1 Push-up
    Yes! I want to try a HIT class!

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, Health Fitness Specialist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio workouts group training calories metabolism HIT kettlebell high intensity

Thomas's Corner: Is Spot Reduction a Fitness Myth?

From the beginning, fitness and working out (generally speaking) has been a constant struggle of good versus evil. Of course, good refers to the ideal body type that we strive for and what makes us feel good about ourselves, and bad refers to the undesired body types and feelings that come from being a less-conditioned individual.

Focusing on a Specific Body Part

ThinkstockPhotos-450797505We use fitness for many reasons, sometimes for stress, weight loss, or performance. Relatively speaking, the role of the Fitness Specialist has not been around as long as most professions, but it has had some very drastic and conflicting concepts and theory clashes, contradictions and discrepancies. These concepts and theories are ever changing and evolving to meet the criteria and need of scientific research, human nature and what actually works. Of note, one such theory that needs to be put to bed is the idea that we can “spot reduce” by simply focusing on a specific body part. 

Examples of spot reduction can be seen in many workout programs that we see today, even if we do not realize that’s the case. Doing 300 sit ups to make your stomach go away, doing triceps extensions until your arms fall off to get rid of the behind-the-arm jiggles and doing seated adduction/abduction leg exercises to get track star thighs are all examples of spot-reduction techniques that seem to be good in intention, but miss the mark. 

Busting the Myths

In a previous NIFS blog, Health Fitness Specialist Mistie Hayhow reminded us that there are many fitness myths that get the better of us. Hayhow goes on to state that while exercise builds our muscle, it’s burning the layer of fat off the outside that makes our muscles appear more defined. If we think about how weight loss works, we know that nutrition plays a huge role in what actually works and what does not. 

Also, we must factor in that when we work out, muscles develop. If we have muscle developing under a layer of fat, we are presuming to be reducing size, but the effect is that we will appear to be bigger because we did not address the fat loss first. 

For some athletes, it would make sense that a specific arm/leg dominant event would create enough physical imbalance to amount to visible difference, but a study at the University of California Irvine, in which tennis players were subjected to several years of subcutaneous fat measurements, yielded inconclusive data and put yet another blemish on the concept (Perry, 2011).

The fact is this: Spot reduction is a myth.

Fitness Keeps Evolving

We have plenty of information and examples to back up the claim that spot reduction is a myth, so why are we still doing it? As I mentioned before, fitness is ever changing and evolving, and it’s only getting better. Trust that your Fitness Specialist has your best intentions in mind (as they did 20 years ago when the ideas and concepts were quite diverse), but theories change. To keep up to date, I suggest meeting with an HFS at NIFS to ensure your needs are being met and that your questions are being answered.

Rejoice and Evolve,

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: Thomas' Corner muscles fitness trends muscle building toning