NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Three Summer Training Lessons for Athletes

ThinkstockPhotos-491816300.jpgSummertime is in full swing, and whether you are a competitive or recreational athlete, changes are definitely happening to your normal schedule. For high school and collegiate athletes, more time is spent at home and for general fitness enthusiasts, more options are available to you to fulfill your exercise quota (in other words, doing more things outside). These are both extremely important changes that can be used to alter a routine that has lasted for the past 8 or 9 months of your life.

Student-athletes have been juggling class, competition, and training. Amateur athletes have been working (real jobs), training, and competing as well. When early spring hits, most individuals are sick of that stagnant routine and are looking to switch it up, which is why summer is welcomed by most with open arms.

Summer can also be a time when many physical aspects (such as power, strength, and speed) can decline if adequate “maintenance” of those aspects is not applied. The increase in other opportunities during summer can sometimes lead to a leniency of training that might do more harm than good.

Here are 3 things that I have learned over recent years as a strength coach, trainer, and collegiate athlete to hopefully help minimize this detraining effect.

1. Don’t focus on too much at one time.

Every summer when I would go home from school, I had a list of 5 or 6 things that I felt like I had to get better at. Each training session, I would have a ton of thoughts about how I could make those things better. Of course, I had a training packet from the football team, but felt like I had to do even more. I had to get faster, more agile, stronger, more flexible, and in better shape. At some point, I was doing more thinking about what I had to do to get better than just working hard with what I had.

Even today, I send workout packets home with each of my athletic teams. The goal, obviously, is to continue to improve their physical and mental toughness. But for some, I just want to make sure that they don’t totally fall off of the bus with all of their training. I aim to keep workouts short, sweet, but challenging. They usually focus on sport-specific training aspects for each individual team (for example, single-leg strength for runners, and rotational power for softball players). I want to make sure that the “bread and butter” of the sport remains at the forefront.

2. Get creative.

Being creative in the gym during the summer months may be due to two things:

  1. Your gym doesn’t have the equipment you want (or need) to do specific exercises, or
  2. You are looking for alternatives to exercises you already do.

If your gym doesn’t have specific pieces of equipment for exercises that you are looking to do, think about what that exercise is trying to accomplish. For instance, your workout program might call for a kettlebell swing, but your gym has no kettlebells. Think about what the target muscle is for that exercise and plan an alternative. The main muscles in the KB swing are the glutes, so doing a weighted hip bridge or a Romanian Deadlift might suffice as an alternative. Sure, it’s not a perfect match, but it’s better than not doing it at all!

If you are simply looking to get out of the monotony of your 4-day split routine, you have a ton of options. Say Tuesday is considered your “squat” day, but you want to take a break from the barbell work you have been doing. Good news: You can squat with just about anything in the gym. Kettlebells, sandbags, slosh pipes, medballs, and weighted vests are just a few options that can give you that much-needed break from your regular program. Also, try switching up the reps. If you are used to doing 5 sets of 5 reps, try a workout where you do 5 sets of 20 or 3 sets of 50. It will definitely give a little shock to your system.

3. Don’t forget what summer is for!

Every competitive athlete, young or old, constantly thinks about their sport and how they can improve their performance. For most, there is no such thing as an off season anymore. There is never a chance to truly take their mind off of what they compete in, which can lead to burnout after a couple of seasons. Summer is meant for unwinding from heavy workloads, in class or with jobs. Mental and emotional recovery are just as important as physical recovery. If your mind has not recovered from the past year of training and competing, it will be very hard to devote the same amount of time and effort to the next season.

You still need to train for your sport, but post-training activities are a good way to unwind after a hard workout. Go to the lake, go fishing, go golfing: do something that allows you to enjoy the summer. You will only have a few months of opportunities like this. Work hard, play hard!

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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: summer training strength power speed off-season athletes student athletes

Managing Allergies for Outdoor Exercise and Fitness in Summer

ThinkstockPhotos-186470186.jpgFor many who enjoy the summer months for different outdoor exercise and activities, allergies can be one of the most frustrating and challenging things to deal with. And if you are anything like me, simply popping a ton of pills to try and acclimate yourself to the outdoor environment isn’t ideal.

Summer Allergies Can Derail Your Fitness

You might be thinking to yourself, “Okay, if I go outside and get some fresh air, maybe this will open up my airways and help me to breathe better.” But it’s actually the opposite effect. When you are exercising, naturally you breathe harder. As you suck in more air, you are exposing yourself to more allergens that are floating around in the air.

Tips for Managing Seasonal Allergies Outdoors

Let me share some tips that can be helpful for you to manage those seasonal allergies. The key is to be prepared!

  • Be smart in your selection of activities. For example, if you have an allergy to grass, maybe you should choose to shoot some hoops on the cement surface instead of going for a round of golf.
  • Breathe in using your nose. The little hairs inside your nose act as a filter to try and stop some of those allergens from getting into your airways and lungs.
  • Check the calendar. Look for your allergies and when they are “in season.”
  • Check the weather. If you go to weather.com’s Allergy Tracker, you can find different levels of the allergens in the air.
  • Be cautious of running in a city. Sometimes where extra exhaust is present, additional irritation can occur with allergies.
  • Choose the right time of day. Early in the morning or later into the night are the times when the allergens in the air are at their lowest.
  • Be conscious of the activity level. If allergy levels are high, choosing a lower intensity level for your workout would be a good option.
  • Protect your eyes. Try and wear sunglasses if you can. One of the ways the allergens get into your body is through your eyes, so try to cover them.
  • Shower immediately after your workout. Be sure to take a shower and put on clean clothes to get all the allergens off your body.
  • Go inside. There are times when the levels are just too high to be outside if you are hypersensitive to certain allergens.

Even if you have allergies, it’s okay to keep doing things outside. Just be sure to monitor your body! Take just a few moments at the start of your day and try to plan around the peak times when the allergens will be at their highest level.

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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: exercise fitness staying active summer outdoor allergies

Summer Nutrition: Packing a Healthy Eating Picnic

ThinkstockPhotos-465173011.jpgDuring the summer, the days are stretching longer, the temperatures are rising, and the sun is shining brighter! It’s time to enjoy the outdoors. Whenever I visit bigger cities, I notice that their parks are packed with people enjoying picnics, which is one of my favorite things to do to explore and discover a new outdoor space. So let’s bring the picnic to our local parks! Surprise your significant other, take the family out for an afternoon in the park, or enjoy time with friends playing football or frisbee.

Equipment to Bring

When planning a picnic, make a list of items you will need, especially if this is your first time. Here are some items you may need to bring:

  • Plastic or paper plates
  • Can opener and corkscrew
  • Disposable eating utensils
  • Garbage bag
  • Reusable, heavy-duty serving pieces
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Disposable plastic cups
  • Salt and pepper
  • Paper or cloth napkins
  • Thermos for drinks or soups
  • Bread knife or sharp knife
  • Insect repellent
  • Wet napkins
  • Matches
  • First aid kit and sunscreen
  • Tablecloth
  • Small cutting board

Healthy and Delicious Picnic Food Options

Think healthy! Typical picnic fare—such as potato salads, greasy burgers, chips, and beer—can be high in calories and fat. You do not have to compromise your waistline when planning a picnic. Try some of the following tips to keep your meal tasty and light.

Appetizers:

  • Cut up veggies—carrots, celery, broccoli, and green and red pepper—and bring along a low-fat dip. Brightly colored veggies will maximize the amount of vitamins you get in your meal.
  • Good options for salty snacks include crackers topped with peanut butter, baked tortilla chips and salsa, and nuts and dried fruit mix.
  • Try a garden salad with vegetables, beans, and fruits, topped with nuts and an oil-and-vinegar dressing.
  • Avoid creamy pasta and potato salads. They are high in fat; and if left in the heat, can create an ideal medium for bacterial growth, which can cause food-borne illness.

Entrees:

  • Try pita sandwiches or wraps. Pair a protein source—turkey, chicken, lean ham, tuna or salmon—with lettuce leaves and vegetables such as chopped celery, peppers, onion, and shredded carrots.
  • Replace mayonnaise with mustard or drizzle with olive oil and vinegar dressing.
  • Salads topped with flaked tuna or salmon and oil and vinegar dressing.
  • If your picnic area has a barbecue grill, try grilled chicken breasts, lean hamburgers, turkey burgers, or veggie burgers. Opt for a whole-grain bun instead of white.
  • Grill vegetables on a skewer. Try red or green peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and onion.
  • Corn on the cob is an excellent choice to add to an entree. For added flavor, use garlic or onion powder. Grill for a great taste.

Desserts:

  • Skipping out on the high-fat treats doesn’t mean you need to miss out on a summer sweet. Try a colorful fruit salad with peaches, mangoes, berries, kiwi, and watermelon.
  • Take along angel food cake and top with mixed berries.

Drinks:

  • Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water per day for proper hydration.
  • Sweet drinks can increase thirst and add unwanted calories. Instead, try natural fruit juices diluted with water.
  • Try to limit alcohol intake, as alcohol can be dehydrating and high in calories.

Get outside, be active, and enjoy a tasty and healthy lunch at a local park!

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

Topics: nutrition healthy eating summer picnics

Safe Workouts in the Dog Days of Summer

ThinkstockPhotos-497566061.jpgSo many people have been expectantly waiting for this hot summer weather to be able to get outside for their workouts. And I can tell you that I am also one of those people; but there are some dangers behind the dog days of summer that we all need to be aware of.

Taking your exercise outside is an awesome idea, but I wouldn’t cancel that gym membership so fast. Let’s take a look at both the dangers of the steamy outdoor workouts and ideas on how to stay cool.

Why Outdoor Exercise Can Be Dangerous in Hot Weather

When the temperatures and humidity rise, working out outside can become dangerous, and it can happen very quickly without anyone even realizing it. The hotter and more humid it becomes, the more you sweat, and the sweat cannot evaporate as quickly as it should. Because of this, your internal body temperature rises and can become deadly.

Some warning signs and symptoms of reaching that dangerous and potentially deadly state are weakness, dizziness, muscle cramps, confusion, headache, increased heart rate, and vomiting.

How to Keep Cool for Summer Workouts

But there are some ways that we can help ourselves during the dog days of summer if you do choose to work out outside. Take a close look at this list and consider taking these steps:

  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Drink as much water as possible for proper hydration.
  • Wear sunscreen. Lather up with sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • Wear sunglasses. This important piece of equipment protects your eyes and conserves energy.
  • Get the proper clothing. You want to wear light and loose, moisture-wicking clothing.
  • Consume the proper nutrition. Eat a well-balanced diet, and make sure to eat something small before you head out for a long run or Bootcamp class.
  • Check the air quality. This is important because it affects how you breathe. The higher the level of AQ, the harder it will be to breathe; the lower, the better. According to EPA standards, if the air quality number is over 100, it’s not good. If it’s below 100, it’s considered satisfactory air level.
  • Stay out of the sun. Look for shade to work out in.
  • Monitor your heart rate. If it gets too high, take a break.
  • Listen to your body. If your body is telling you stop or it’s too hot, listen to it!
  • Stay inside if it’s above 90. It’s better to hit the gym than to put yourself in danger.
  • Bring water to your workout. Try to keep hydrating yourself as you work out; don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • Cool towels help. Take a cool, damp towel and put it over your head or around your neck.
  • Wear a loose-fitting hat. Wearing a tight hat holds the heat to your head, so in order to protect yourself from the sun, wear a loose-fitting hat that allows your head to breathe.

If you do decide to work out outside in the dog days of summer, do the best you can to take the proper precautions and protect yourself from harm. Listen to your body and be sure not to over-do 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: fitness center equipment injury prevention summer hydration sunscreen

TRI a New Challenge This Summer—NIFS Triathlon Training Can Help!

tri-1.jpgThere are so many different types of races out there to challenge yourself with this summer. Maybe you are signed up for a Spartan Race, a trail run, or a half marathon; but have you ever considered giving a triathlon a shot? If you haven’t done one before, I can say from first-hand experience: they are challenging, but very fun!

Triathlon is the combination of swimming, biking, and running. Now most of us would say, “Okay the last two don’t sound too bad…but no way, I am not a good swimmer.” One of the biggest deterrents keeping people from going out for a tri is the swim aspect. It is true that for most this is the most intimidating part, but just like the other two events, you just have to practice and get comfortable with it! Let’s take a quick look at the three events.

Swim

The length of the tri you sign up for will determine the distance you have to swim. The swim portion is done in open water (Tri Indy does theirs in the downtown canal, and Go Girl has their swim at Eagle Creek Park). Most people are not able to train in open water, but get into the pool as much as you can before the race. Find a training plan to follow, making sure that you are getting both distance and speed work, as well as drills, in your swimming sessions. Also, if you do not have any experience in swimming, I would suggest getting a lesson or two to learn proper breathing, strokes, and efficiency in the water.

Bike

The bike portion of the triathlon is done on the road. And like the swim, the distance will depend on what race you sign up for. A common misconception is that you have to go out and spend $2,000 on a great road bike. When race day comes, you will see every shape and size of bikes! The important thing to remember is, before getting out on your bike, to make sure it’s tuned up and in good shape to ride. Then practice running with it for the transitions, ride different distances and speeds, practice shifting gears, and just get comfortable using it.

Run

For many, next to swimming this may be one of the most challenging elements of the race. Just think you have already swum and biked, and now you have to get off and run! In the beginning your legs feel like jello and your body is telling you that you can’t possibly put one foot in front of the other and keep going. But you can do it! During your training, get in some longer runs and be sure to practice some bike-then-run days as well.

***

Seems like it could be a lot, but thousands of people finish triathlons every year around the world. Make 2016 your year to scratch that off the list. There are training programs out there: get one, follow it, and finish that race!

TRI-HEADER-pink.jpgATTENTION WOMEN: If you are interested in completing the 2016 Go Girl Triathlon at Eagle Creek, we have a triathlon training program at NIFS!

Early Bird Registration is happening now! Sign up before May 21st and save $10 off training!

 

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

Topics: running swimming triathlon summer biking

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

Fabulous Farmers’ Markets Make Healthy Eating Easy and Fun

ThinkstockPhotos-460495043One of my favorite things to do once it is summer in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around town. As a dietitian I am a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies, but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find.

Here are my top five reasons why visiting your local farmers’ market is a must.

  1. Support for the local community: Since the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the local economy. Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market, you are cutting out the middle man, and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store. 
  2. Eating foods that are in season: Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season. The produce tastes richer and more flavorful, and the nutrients are better retained. Check out the downtown City Market website for which products are available during the months the market is open.
  3. Healthy eating is good for you: The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, as opposed to the current recommendations of 9 servings per day. Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9-serving-per-day-goal. This will guarantee you are meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants, too. Locally grown produce is lower in pesticides and chemicals, also. 
  4. You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat: You can meet the farmers who grew your food, ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it. When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?
  5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule: I love being able to go to the City Market farmers’ market on my lunch break downtown and sample the hot, fresh kettle corn; pick up sweet corn; and get homemade cookies on Wednesday afternoons. Saturday mornings, it’s off to the Carmel farmers’ market to purchase a walking waffle, homemade pasta, and a whole assortment of fruits and veggies for the week. To find out the location of a farmers’ market close to you, check out the USDA website.

Whether you are picking up items for dinner or for the whole week, the local farmers’ market is an inexpensive, healthy alternative to the grocery store. Try to get there early to get the best variety and options. Not all vendors accept credit cards, so be sure to have cash on hand. Finally, bring along your own reusable grocery bag to put all of your goodies in so that it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

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

Topics: nutrition healthy habits healthy eating summer clean eating organic foods

Summertime Sizzle: Adding a Fitness Challenge

Summer_Showdown_sun2-1Cue DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince because it is summer time—FINALLY! This is the time of year when we get to enjoy more sun and more fun, and smiles and laughter are abundant.

With the energy level rising as the temperature rises, we tend to look for new and fun ways to challenge ourselves somehow in our lives: decluttering the house (a must, by the way), updating the landscape, spending more time with the kids, or taking on some kind of physical challenge to help keep you moving forward. 

Tons of events are popping up all around with the arrival of the nice weather, designed to challenge any and all fitness levels. Finding the physical challenge that is right for you is a fantastic way to spice up your current fitness routine and challenge your limits, perceived or actual. 

Besides some of the obvious physical benefits from creating and completing a fitness challenge, such as improved body composition and an increase in strength and endurance, accepting a fitness challenge can provide so much more. Here are just a few.

Inspires You to Return to Your Drive Toward Excellence

It can be easy to lose some fire over the course of a long year. Even the most committed fitness enthusiast (yours truly included) can be unable to find the drive sometimes to stay vigilant in striving to improve. Taking on a new challenge can provide the spark that will reenergize your commitment to excellence.

Establishes a Timeline

One important characteristic of a well-stated goal is to have an established timeline to reach it. Without a specific date for completion, it is not a goal; it is a dream. If the challenge is on a certain date, and you have 6 weeks to train for it, you have yourself a well-defined timeline. This will not only allow you to complete your current challenge, but also hammers home this important concept of a timeline for future goals.

Incorporates New Movements and Modes of Training

If you are planning on taking on a challenge that you have never done before, there’s a very good possibility that you will have to perform brand new movements and adopt a new training idea. This could be just what your body and mind need to push your limits to create new ones.

Creates Powerful Personal Bonds with Fellow Athletes

The power of working with a group of likeminded individuals is colossal and life changing. When you take on a challenge together, the relationship that will be formed is long lasting and built on mutual respect. I have seen countless strangers join together to complete an event or training program, only to become the best of friends and continue to work toward improvement.

A Challenge for You: NIFS Summer Showdown

Now that you’ve learned some benefits of establishing and completing a fitness challenge, let’s define one, shall we? Starting on June 22 here at NIFS, the Summer Showdown challenge returns. New and improved, this program nails all of the benefits discussed above. Not only do you get to choose your team, you get to choose the level of the challenge you wish to complete. 

The NIFS team has designed a whopper of a challenge for you this year. New to the Summer Showdown will be mass test-in and test-out events where all participants will complete the challenge together at the beginning and end of the program. At the test-in event, all teams will be given specific wristbands to wear throughout the showdown. After you get tested in, you will spend 6 hyped weeks training to improve your test-in time. You will be meeting with your team twice a week to work on all of the aspects of the challenge so that you can crush your previous score and improve your fitness. 

All of your hard work will lead up to the finale, where you will once again complete the challenge with all of the participants of this year’s Summer Showdown. Learn more about the Summer Showdown challenge here.

I took on the Level 3 challenge last week and finished in 25:40. It was a blast, and super challenging, just the way I like it!

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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: goal setting group fitness workouts accountability NIFS programs challenge summer training

Summer Health Tips and Fitness Ideas

Summer is finally finding its way back to Indiana! If you haven’t already, it is time to get outside and get moving! Indianapolis provides an abundance of outdoor activities that work well for promoting healthy lifestyles.

Indianapolis Attractions for Active Fun

Here are five ways for people to be active in Indianapolis this summer:

  1. ThinkstockPhotos-185469754web.jpgPerhaps the hottest attraction promoting physical activity in downtown Indianapolis this year is the new Indiana Pacers Bikeshare. With 250 bikes around the downtown area at your disposal, enjoy a day of physical activity and sightseeing in downtown Indianapolis by renting a bike and taking it for a spin on one of the local trails. I personally enjoy riding the Cultural Trail down to Fountain Square, among the many trail options available right downtown.
  2. Rent a kayak and enjoy some time out on the water while earning some physical activity points! Kayaking is an excellent form of exercise that can be learned easily at any age and enjoyed at varying levels of fitness. If you have never been kayaking before, do not be intimidated. Kayaks are available to rent around the city, including in Eagle Creek Park.
  3. Try a triathlon! Any age is a good age to try a triathlon for the first time. Here at NIFS we host a training program geared toward completing the Eagle Creek Sprint Triathlon for women both new and veteran to the sport. One of our participants was 68 years old when she completed her first triathlon with success!
  4. Take your kids or grandkids to the park and play. Being active with young children is great for everyone and is an excellent way for you to sneak in some physical activity. Consider that you may not be able to keep up with all of the moves that the kids are doing and stay within your capabilities while participating in the activities that they are doing.
  5. Consider training for a road race! You don’t have to be a top-notch runner to go out and try to run or walk your first 5K or marathon. NIFS is hosting a marathon training program geared toward completing the monumental marathon for those of you who have ever considered running a marathon. It is never too late to check that goal off your bucket list!

Health Tips to Keep in Mind

Being active in the outdoors during the summer adds another level of concern that you should keep in mind when selecting and preparing for your outdoor fitness activities.

  1. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your time spent outdoors. With the heat and humidity that come along with the Indiana summer, your body will lose the water that it needs at a rapid pace. Drink-waterDehydration can lead to heat illnesses, so it is important to stay hydrated and drink water even if you do not feel like you are thirsty. Read more about this in our 5 Tips to Staying Hydrated While you Exercise this Summer blog.
  2. Be cautious of extreme temperatures and avoid being outside for extended periods of time during these times. Hot temperatures can be dangerous, even if you are not exercising, so save your outdoor physical activities for later in the evening or earlier in the morning when the temperature is cooler and the sun is not beating down on your back.
  3. Wearing clothing that is lightweight, light in color, loose fitting, and moisture wicking will help you to stay cooler in warmer conditions.
  4. Apply sunscreen when you know that you will be outside. Whether you are working in the yard, walking the dog, or playing a round of golf, the sun has the same impact, so apply sunscreen to prevent damage to your skin.

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

NIFS new Fall Marathon Training Program begins July 20th-November 2. Get Registered Today!

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Topics: NIFS staying active fitness center summer Indianapolis