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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Swimming in the Off Season: A Great Workout

ThinkstockPhotos-77738803.jpegNothing sounds more dreadful to me than putting on my suit to jump into the pool to do some lap swimming on a sub-20-degree winter day (unless, of course, it’s a belly-smacker challenge—then I’m in!). But with the vast benefits that come from swimming, the draw tends to be a little bit enticing (and here are some ideas for finding motivation to swim). When you are looking for what to do with your workouts over the off season, consider giving swimming a try.

Benefits of Swimming

Swimming can offer more benefits than I have time to list, but let’s take a look at what I think the top 6 are. And if swimming really isn’t your thing, keep on reading; I’ll share some other pool workout ideas that don’t involve lap swimming.

  1. Builds endurance, strength, and cardiovascular fitness. Considered to be one of the greatest total-body workouts, swimming covers pretty much all the basics that you might want in a workout.
  2. Helps build bone mass and tone muscles. While many think that because swimming is non-weight-bearing, bone density cannot increase, studies have shown differently. Swimming also helps to tone muscles of the body just like strength training does.
  3. Gets heart rate up without the impact on the joints. Most exercises that are cardio based like running and biking take some serious impact on the joints. “Taking the weight off” in the pool allows you to get the blood flowing through your body without the impact from your body that you get from other cardiovascular exercise methods.
  4. Aids in flexibility. With the repetitive stretching that takes place in the different swimming strokes, you can increase flexibility through swimming laps on a regular basis.
  5. Promotes high caloric burn. Depending on the intensity, duration, and stroke, swimming can burn equal to or more calories than going for a run.
  6. Good for the psyche. Like all exercise, swimming releases endorphins into your body, which bring those feel-good emotions. With the stretching that takes place during the strokes along with the rhythmic breathing, swimming can actually help you to relax.

Natatorium Lap Swimming is Now Included in Your NIFS Membership*!

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Other Water Workouts

Maybe you never really learned how to swim, or the water intimidates you. Don’t worry; there are plenty of other water exercises that you can do to get yourself into the pool and comfortable in the water without sacrificing a good workout. To name a few, you can try water aerobics, treading water, step in water (this is like a step class where risers are put into the bottom of the pool), aqua jogging, lap walking, and shallow-water runs.

Take some time to explore the Natatorium pool! NIFS now offers unlimited use of lap swimming at the IUPUI Natatorium (*eligible members only, see details). See the NIFS service desk to get started, and take your off-season training to a new level!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS cardio motivation swimming stretching relaxation

Group Fitness Class of the Month: BODYATTACK

BODYATTACK.jpgGroup fitness classes can be a great combination of both cardio and strength exercises jam-packed into a session that ranges anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Whether you are a rookie or veteran to the gym, a group exercise class can be a great place to look to when thinking about what to do for your workout. And with the huge variety of classes that most fitness facilities offer daily, you can get just about anything you are looking for in a workout.

Over the next several months, we are going to highlight a group fitness class of the month. We will be taking a closer look at what each class is composed of and the benefits of it. I understand that sometimes pulling up a facility’s group fitness schedule can be overwhelming, with all the options and names of things you’ve never heard of, but hopefully this will help you to understand that these classes are something doable and well worth your time at the gym.

Often, along with the overwhelming amount of classes offered each week, the intimidation factor can play a large role. Let me help soothe those uneasy feelings by telling you it’s okay: just jump into the class and you will quickly blend right in! Now I know that not all group exercise classes are for everyone, and not everyone is going to agree that all classes offered are the best option, but with a well-rounded selection of classes, strength training, and cardiovascular exercise, you will be well on your way to fit!

LM ATTACK CMYK BUTTON�.jpgWhat Is BODYATTACK?

This month we are going to take a look at the NIFS Class of the Month, BODYATTACK! BODYATTACK is the sports-inspired cardio workout for building strength and stamina. This high-energy interval training class combines athletic aerobic movements with strength and stabilization exercises. Dynamic instructors and powerful music motivate everyone toward their fitness goals—from the weekend athlete to the hardcore competitor. This class can be catered to anyone, from the first-timer to the frequent attender. You will see a combination of athletic components like running and jumping intertwined with strength exercises like squats and pushups. You will also experience a variety of fitness styles including aerobics, plyometrics, agility exercises, upper- and lower-body conditioning, power movements, and core strengthening exercises[watch video].

BODYATTACK is a full-body workout lasting 60 minutes. And though the class may look intense from a distance, any group class like BODYATTACK can be tailored to each and every individual fitness level. No matter what level you are at and choose to do in the class, BODYATTACK is designed to burn calories, help you tone up, and get into better overall shape through the various movements.

Tips for Your First Class

With all this, I know it can still be scary stepping up to your first class at the facility. If it is your first time, allow me to give you a few pointers:

  • Get to class a few minutes early and introduce yourself to the instructor. This way you will feel more comfortable and the instructor can help you get set up if necessary.
  • Set up your stuff close to the front, or at least in good view of the class instructor so that you can watch what he or she is doing closely.
  • When the level options are given, take the lowest one first. Even if you consider yourself an elite athlete, sometimes classes may take you by surprise. Take the easiest level first and then ramp it up when you begin to feel more comfortable and confident.
  • Keep moving! You won’t master every single exercise or move during the class, and that is okay. If you mess up, just keep moving to the beat of the music and pick back up on the next move.
  • Don’t be intimidated! Contrary to popular belief, no one is watching you.
  • Be okay with giving it a second try—we all know how intimidating it can be when you walk up and you have all those “group ex-ers” who know the next move before it even begins. Be patient and try the class a second time. That will be you in no time!
  • Have fun! Laugh, make connections with others, and enjoy the next hour of time you have celebrating yourself and the journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Now that you are ready, give BODYATTACK a try! NIFS offers BODYATTACK four different times a week. Keep in mind all the great things that group exercise has to offer.

Not a member? Try a class for free!

Try a group fitness class for free

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS cardio fitness center group fitness strength BODYATTACK Group Fitness Class of the Month

Allison Griner: A Complete Life Change Thanks to Weight Loss and NIFS!

allison.jpgIn October 2014, Allison Griner decided to join Weight Watchers through her work. Her reasoning was quite simple: “They were giving a discount through my job.” That day she weighed in at 301 pounds. It wasn’t long before Allison started seeing some results and realized that exercise needed to be a part of the plan as well, so she decided to sign up for an event to keep her motivated. The first thing that came across her radar was the Fight for Air Climb, and in preparation for it she signed up for the boot camp at NIFS.

Now for anyone who doesn’t know what the FFA climb is all about, I’ll just say it’s probably one of the hardest events you could sign up for! The climb is a race up the 49 flights of stairs in the Chase Tower in downtown Indy. And if that doesn’t sound hard enough, the boot camp at NIFS is not the easiest of tasks, either! But Allison completed the boot camp amid the severe challenges of not being able to do a burpee or climb the stairs in the workouts.

It’s been over a year now that Allison has kept to her weight loss journey. She consistently follows a workout schedule, meeting her cousin at the gym, and watches what she is eating; and she combines both cardio and strength training workouts to meet her goals. Allison also has PCOS. PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) makes losing weight a very difficult task and is linked to an increased risk for insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Allison has spent lots of time learning to eat right and to focus on making sure that her perspective is not on how her condition inhibits her losing weight, but rather taking the stance of, “It’s not that I can’t lose weight, I just remind myself it’s easier for me to gain weight.” Despite the odds that are against Allison, she has lost 75 pounds since October 2014!!*

Here are a few things that Allison had to say about her journey:

What has kept you consistent in making a change?

I am a very goal-oriented person, and when I see success it makes me want to keep pushing to the next level. I keep setting milestones, and once I got the eating part under control I knew that adding exercise and staying consistent with that would keep me reaching those.

What things have kept you going?

People in my life are what has kept me going! My mom, my roommate, my friends, and other family have really supported me and helped me to believe in myself. Even in times when I start to feel down, they push me to keep going. There are times that I have hit a plateau and they keep encouraging me to keep it up!

What are your secrets to success?

I forgive myself a lot. If I get down or make a mistake I forgive myself, pick up where I am, and move on. I tell myself it’s a new day and I am going to do better than I did yesterday. I am constantly trying to look forward and not backward, which I think is the key.

How has NIFS helped you to achieve your goals?

This facility is fantastic! There are so many different things to do that I never get bored. There are tons of options with weight lifting, the versatility with the track, the canal, or a treadmill. It’s impossible to not get a good workout. FFA also helped me in the beginning to realize it will take hard work, but that I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to!

What has been the hardest part of this weight-loss journey?

The hardest part is that this is a mental thing. I am always struggling to not see myself as that 300-pound girl. I am not surprised by what people say or what I see in the mirror and how much weight I have lost, because the challenge is looking in the same mirror and seeing myself as not just the big girl that I was. It’s also a struggle if I slip up and eat something I shouldn’t. I have to overcome that mentally and remind myself there will be setbacks and I will make mistakes.

What has been the biggest reward from all your hard work?

I feel better!! I was having chronic back problems when I was at my heaviest weight, and those have been nearly eliminated! The best reward is definitely how I feel.*

Anything else you want to share?

When I was at my biggest weight I always felt like I was in the way. I was never able to go out and do things with friends; my biggest fear was being in a crowd and being in the way. I would get so nervous about the idea of having to maneuver through a crowd of people. If you think that way, you can do something about it! One of the biggest changes I and others have seen through this time is my social life. I am confident to go out and be myself now!

*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

Congratulations Allison on all your hard work and success! We know this journey has not been easy and it’s not over yet, but we encourage you to keep going and sharing your inspirational story!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS cardio nutrition motivation weight loss attitude boot camp strength stairs

Training the Active Aging Adult (Part 1 of 4)

There comes a day when you wake up one morning and realize you’re not 25 any longer. Usually, this happens when you’re 50—or in other words, after 25 years of denial and of being totally oblivious to nature’s less-than-subtle warnings: hair loss and color change, skin texture and wrinkles, where did that body fat come from, when did that thing (?) become so heavy to lift, and those stairs weren’t that high last year. The mind feels young but the body fades in and out of pretend youth. The body is also willing until it gets tired or pain rises above the level of annoyance.

But there is hope: you can be cool without being young, but cool doesn’t make you stronger, quicker, more flexible, thinner, and the owner of painless joints.

What Motivates Senior Fitness?

When you were younger, the goal of exercise was to look better naked. It seems reasonable, because younger people look better naked than old farts. Besides, older people have more pressing issues like serious joint pain, heart disease, diabetes, age-related weight gain, hormonal changes, and perhaps even the chilling shadow of cancer has visited them. No doubt that looking better and feeling better about yourself is really an important motivator to exercise, but they pale in comparison to these life-altering issues. Therefore, the motives for training of an aging active adult are more complex than a 25-year-old and must be recognized and honored when designing training programs.

Specific Health Concerns for Active Seniors

If you happen to be a fitness enthusiast over 50, these are things you need to be aware of.

  • Sarcopenia: An interesting word to say, but not so good to have, because it means a loss of muscle mass. Heavy-chain muscle fibers start dying out around age 30. Most professional athletes retire in their 30s because they have lost a step (in power and strength) and can no longer compete with younger athletes. Since most adults do not push their athletic genetic limits, they become aware of this loss of step in their 40s, or certainly by their 50s. This fiber loss is called sarcopenia. Unless there is some attempt to retain strength through formal strength training, this strength loss will continue at a ever-increasing and very noticeable rate. Common movement patterns—sit to stand, picking things up, pushing away and pulling back, pushing up and pulling down—will become increasingly more difficult as life quality decreases. Many people just give in to the process and call it “getting older.” It doesn’t have to be that way. Strength training can certainly slow it down.
  • Joint issues: Connective tissue seems to injure more easily and take longer to heal. Tendonitis becomes an all-too-common answer to the question, “How are you feeling?” Dynamic joint mobility training helps regain joint range of motion and lubricate joint surfaces with synovial fluid for cartilage health. Older athletes have to allow time in the program design for something the young take for granted.
  • Slow recovery: It takes longer for the body to repair and to make new tissue. This seems to be related to changes at the DNA and RNA levels as we age; and of course, changes in hormonal levels further compound the problem. Knowing this, nutrition and rest are key for proper recovery. The aging active adult has very little margin for error. Without proper nutrition and rest, progress will stall and the likelihood for injury will increase.
  • Balanced training: Cardio exercise is still important for overall health, but must be managed in such a way as to not interfere with the recovery for strength training, and not to add to the training volume to the point of over-training and adversely effecting the immune system. The body also does not respond well to being forced to adapt to opposing stimulus (cardio vs. strength). It gets confused as to what exactly it is being asked to do. How much cardio is very individual, but it is easy to err on the side of too much. Interval training may be an answer to those concerns by reducing the training time factor while still challenging the alactate, anaerobic, and aerobic substrates for improved conditioning.
  • Shared epiphany: There is a common experience at this age that there is a price to be paid for all of the fitness and health-related issues you chose to ignore when you were younger. Pain, discomfort, illness, and excess body fat are the reasons for your body’s “come to Jesus” meeting. Your body demands corrections, and your currency for payment is time and effort spent bringing the body back into balance. The aging active adult has been humbled enough by aging to be open to addressing these issues if the guidance they receive makes sense.

With the number of active aging adults increasing, both trainers and the older clients should understand the training needs and limitations of this age group in order to develop the best program designs that will effectively produce results and at the same time do no harm. So far, the fitness industry and fitness media have chosen to ignore the 800-pound gorilla by focusing on the 25- to 40-year-olds; but it is the aging active adults who have the greater need. They understand that the youth genie is not going back in the bottle, but that their life quality can be a whole lot better through proper training and nutrition.

In part 2 of this series, I talk more about the need for strength training at this age.

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This blog was written by Rick Huse, CSCS, WKC Competition Coach, and originally appeared on his blog. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio injury prevention muscles joint health senior fitness endurance strength pain

A NEAT Way to Burn More Calories (Part 1 of 2)

Exercising regularly is great for improving health and wellness. Exercise can help relieve stress and feel good about ourselves. However, some people are finding that exercising regularly is not helping them lose the unwanted weight that most of us carry. How can that be?

Who Has Time for 60 Minutes of Cardio Per Day?

While exercise is essential for health, you can’t rely on it to be your sole calorie-burning tool. According to “A NEAT(Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) Approach to Weight Loss,” written by Fabio Comana, “We need to burn 2,000 calories each week through physical activity in order to lose weight.” That would equal about 286 calories each day. That may seem like a small number, but in reality it is quite large. You would need to complete about 60 minutes of cardio each day of the week. 

If you are willing to put in the work, you will be successful. However, most of us have other responsibilities that can limit our time in the gym or exercising. So how are we going to burn the excess calories that we are not burning through exercise? 

ThinkstockPhotos-80966263Most of the calories you burn per day happen throughout the entirety of the day, from when you wake up to when you go to sleep. So what if you increase the calories you burn throughout the day, as well as exercising about three days per week, to help you achieve your weight-loss or weight-management goals?

Factors That Affect How You Burn Calories

Recently a research article written by James Levine discussed the idea of NEAT. In Levine’s article, he defines NEAT as “the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than sporting-like exercise.” This includes everything that you do during the day that does not include your planned exercise sessions. In order for us as a population to burn more calories throughout the day, we need to increase our non-exercise activity. 

According to Levine, there are different factors that play a huge role in the amount of NEAT an individual can achieve throughout the day. Following are two major factors that can affect how NEAT a person can be. 

Occupation: If your job requires you to sit for most of the 8 hours you are there, you will have a lower NEAT for that day. Now if your job requires you to stand, walk, and lift throughout the day, your NEAT will be higher than the person who sits at work. This factor may be out of your control, but in a follow up blog, I will provide a few fun ideas to help you achieve more NEAT in the workplace. 

Leisure time: After work, if you are more likely to sit and watch television until you go to bed, your NEAT levels will remain relatively low. However, if you decide to clean the house or mow the lawn after work, your NEAT will be higher for the day. In the follow up blog, I will also provide you with a few fun ideas to do during your leisure time that will help increase your overall NEAT. 

The impact of increasing your non-exercise activity is huge for your health and weight loss or maintenance. Levine’s article concludes that NEAT can burn an average of 330 calories per day in healthy individuals, and up to nearly 700 calories per day in others. That is a huge difference and could be the deciding factor in your weight-loss goals. 

Keep an eye out for the second part of this blog, where I will provide you with 10 ideas for how to be more NEAT during the day. Stay tuned!

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This blog was written by Masie Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio staying active weight loss calories weight management workplace fitness

Why Do These Stairs Kick My Butt? The Convenient Cardio Workout

ThinkstockPhotos-477523863This is a pretty common question that comes to mind for me. I work out 6 days a week, but still that mild ascent up four flights of stairs to the copy room seems to get me every time. 

Generally I would put myself into the “decently fit” category, but it seems that after climbing stairs I am quite winded and sometimes my legs are burning. This very thing has inspired me and a coworker to add running some stairs into our weekly workout. 

Here are some reasons why, if you’re looking for something to add into your routine for a good cardio/leg workout, you should add stairs as well!

  • Great cardiovascular exercise. Like all cardio exercises, running stairs is good for heart health! Your heart and lungs will be strengthened and can help you get to your goals. Cardio exercise is proven to help reduce high blood pressure and other health-related issues.
  • Strengthens legs and tones butt while engaging other muscle groups. Running stairs helps to strengthen many of the muscle groups, but noticeably the butt and the thighs. While climbing, your glutes, hips, and quads are engaged as well as the small muscles within those areas. Other areas of your body that see benefits are core, upper body, ankle joints, and the muscles surrounding your ankles and shins.
  • Easy to find places to do them. Whether you travel, like to work out outside, come to the gym, or want to work out at home, stairs are usually an option! It’s not hard to find a set of stairs to run, and there are lots of places around that have several sets that would be good to run up. (Here are some exercises you can do when you travel, including stairs.)
  • Helps keep the weight off. Stair running is in the category of moderate to high-intensity cardio exercise. With the amount of intensity that you can give to this, the return can be high caloric burn. As you climb higher and faster, your heart rate will begin to increase, your legs will be working harder, and you will increase your oxygen intake. All of these things aid in boosting your metabolism, and with proper eating habits and hard work you can drop a few pounds.

Here are some ideas for stair workouts for runners. Give it a try for a few weeks and see how you feel. From personal experience, don’t give up…it will be pretty challenging in the beginning, but I encourage you to stick with it!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio workouts muscles endurance weight management stairs

Benefits of Biking for Exercise and Fitness

ThinkstockPhotos-103584987-1Biking can have significant benefits to your overall health and fitness! If you are looking for something to try this summer that maybe you haven’t done before, consider hopping onto your bike…remember that’s that thing stashed in the back corner of the garage with flat tires and cobwebs hanging off the back of it!

I often find myself wondering what different things I can do for a workout, and since I began to incorporate biking into my routine, I have found some benefits it adds to my other workouts. Let’s take a look at what some of those are.

  • Good for your cardiovascular health. Most people consider cardio exercise as running, using the elliptical, or power walking, but throwing in some biking is proven to increase your cardiovascular fitness.
  • Helps to build muscle. Biking helps to both tone and build muscle fibers, specifically in the lower extremities targeting the calves, thighs, and buttocks. It’s also a great low-impact exercise and takes the pressure off the hip, knee, and ankle joints. If you are recovering from injuries, biking can help keep you fit and active.
  • Burns calories. As with many cardio exercises, you can burn a good amount of calories while cycling, and it will increase your metabolism once the workout is finished. To be most efficient, you want to ride faster than a leisurely pace and work through some hills or intervals when possible.
  • Helps with coordination. When you cycle you use every part of your body, which forces you to work on coordination skills. As you go, you move both feet simultaneously as well as use your body weight to shift the bike through turns, using both arms at the same time to turn, brake, and change gears. It takes some mental focus to think about all those steps, even while you’re just cruising.
  • Aids your psyche. Biking, like all exercise, is good for your overall mental health. Exercise helps to release endorphins, which keep you relaxed and reduce your levels of stress.
  • Helps with longevity. According to an article put out by the Environmental Health Perspective, the benefits of biking outweigh the risks for increasing your lifespan. Cycling, as discussed before, increases your cardiovascular health, which directly correlates to lifespan.
  • Strengthens your immune system. All exercise, including biking, helps to strengthen your immune system to fight off sickness and infection.

You can see that more than being an enjoyable leisure activity, biking can significantly add to your overall health. I have enjoyed doing some biking this summer and encourage you to give it a try outdoors at some of these local places: 

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio calories attitude balance immunity biking muscle building

Should You Do Cardio or Strength Training First in Your Workout?

ThinkstockPhotos-477951991-newWe’ve all heard the saying, “There are no stupid questions,” but there are a lot of questions that take a lot of effort and thought to answer correctly. One such question comes to mind when we are discussing fitness: “What should I do first, cardio or strength training?”

I would say that sounds pretty cut and dry, and the answer would just be in a textbook reference somewhere, but solving this conundrum will not be so simple. When you put it in perspective, it’s almost like asking what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Both are necessary and complement each other, but the overall outcome of your fitness results could very well be determined by whether you do your cardio before or after your strength training.

Define Your Goals

While wearing your fitness investigator hat, first ask the question: “What are my fitness goals?” This will be a defining moment, because your goals will directly influence your cardio decision. Instead of thinking about what you are burning (carbohydrate or fat) to fuel your workout, think a little more about specific goals, such as increasing your cardiovascular endurance, decreasing body weight, increasing muscular strength, and so forth. 

Goal: Cardiovascular Endurance

If your goal is to increase cardiovascular endurance, the most sensible next step is to perform cardio exercise and vice versa with increasing muscular strength (Roizen, 2014). Although there has been some research on the topic, a 2013 study at the Life Science Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that both walking and running were beneficial to good health, and went so far as to say that walking may be even more beneficial to good health (which is also a topic we will cover in a future blog. 

This makes it seem as though normal individuals with sensible goals can make their lives a lot easier and focus on more manageable ambitions, such as the aforementioned weight loss, etc.

Goal: Losing Weight and Gaining Muscle

Probably the most commonplace goal I hear as a personal trainer is, “I want to lose weight, and gain muscle.” How does that fit into our cardio vs. strength training riddle? Without spending a huge amount of time reading tomes of fitness research, alternating the cardio and strength order and doing various cycles is one way to make sure both of your goals are met and you continue to have a well-balanced regimen. Variety is the spice of life, is it not? 

I encourage you to continue this discussion in the comments area. As we go along our fitness quests, we do not have to go alone. A Health Fitness Specialist can provide some much-needed guidance, and can lend a helping hand when you need to be lifted back on the wagon. Feel free to stop by the NIFS track desk, or call to schedule an appointment 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: cardio workouts strength personal training

Training Tips for Former Athletes: Stay Fit and Motivated

MasieI recently ended my rugby career at Indiana University. I had been playing for 9 years, and competed in various other sports before that. Until now, I have always had a coach scheduling practices and creating workouts for me, and have always pushed myself to my limits for the team.

If you've played sports your whole life but now you are in the real world with other responsibilities and time constraints that did not exist when you were an athlete, you may start to lose your strength and endurance. You may have even noticed changes in your body due to your lifestyle change. You want to stay in shape or get back in shape, but you are unsure where to start or what to do. 

Here are a few tips to help you figure out how to train as a former athlete.

  • Acknowledge that you are no longer a competitive athlete. You are now a former athlete. This is a hard step to take because in your heart you will always be an athlete. You are just no longer a part of a team or competition, and that is okay. 
  • Create new goals for yourself that pertain to your life now. Back in college or high school, you trained a lot, and you trained hard. You had a deadline to be in shape before your first game. However, this mindset may not work now with your new lifestyle. You need to set new goals, which can include cardiovascular training like running or biking. Or your goal could be to lose weight or fat. Your goal can even simply be to maintain a certain overall fitness level. 
  • Train better, not harder. During athletic training you were told to run more, lift more, and practice more in order to be the best and win. This mindset and form of training may have worked then, but that doesn't necessarily mean it works now. You need to train better and more efficiently. Training better is easier to maintain and accomplish than trying to train as hard as you did before. But how do you know you are training better, when all you have known is how to train hard?
Join a Training Program

Many gyms offer training programs for marathons or triathlons or even weight loss. What is great about these programs is that they have coaches that create workouts and guide you through them. You will work alongside others in the program and can get the feeling of being part of a team. Here at NIFS we offer a variety of training programs

Find a Personal Trainer

If you are interested in working on your own, but still feel that you need more guidance, look into personal training. Trainers offer you the accountability that coaches and practices did. Personal trainers can help create new goals for you and lead you through specific, efficient programs. 

Working Out on Your Own

If you need help finding a starting point, here are some tips and examples you can use to help. You'll want to focus on full-body, multi-joint lifts. 

Here are examples of some exercises you can use as the basis of your workouts:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Deadlifts
  • Rows
  • Pull-ups
  • Pushups

Choose a few to perform for each workout. You can alternate between 2 and 3 days per week, performing 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each. 

When performing cardio, a great goal is to try to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise each week. For example, you can complete five 30-minute sessions of cardio each week. You can also perform them on the same day as your strength training. 

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In the end, take time to find what works best for you at this time in your life. Training like you did when you were an athlete isn't always what works. Explore your options, and find what you like to do now. 

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This blog was written by Masie Duncan, Health Fitness Instructor and Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio motivation accountability NIFS programs endurance strength personal training team training

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