Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

Get your heart pumping with cardio exercises

February 21, 2024

It’s no secret that to keep healthy, we must move our bodies every day. Movement strengthens our muscles, including our heart. Did you know the heart muscle is the only muscle that never stops working? 

Cardiovascular exercise keeps your heart strong. Learning what cardio exercise is and why it’s important is the first step. From there, you can explore ways of getting cardio exercise in the gym and some tips on making your experience the most enjoyable and beneficial it can be.

Simply put, cardio exercise raises your heart rate. When you go for a run or walk up and down stairs, you’re performing cardio. The stronger your cardiovascular system becomes, the more capillaries you have delivering oxygen to the cells in your muscles, where these cells then burn more fat.  

A strong cardiovascular system means more than just weight loss. Cardio exercises strengthen the heart and lungs, increase bone density, reduce stress, improve sleep and decrease the risk of heart disease. The list goes on.  Most important, cardio makes your body more efficient in your day-to-day living.  

Cardio exercise should be personalized to fit you.  Begin by finding your target heart rate. This will give you a starting point to be sure your workout is not only beneficial, but also safe. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. To Quick read more or view full article find your target heart rate, multiply your maximum heart rate by 0.55 and 0.85. This is the range where you will find the most benefit to your workout.

A heart rate monitor offers an important tool to track your heart rate throughout your workout. It can record the amount of time you exercise in your zone and how many calories you burn. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor or fitness band that measures heart rate, consider buying one.

Cardio exercise can be done inside and outside. It’s a personal preference. Both offer advantages. Cardio equipment in a health club is intended specifically for exercise. Each machine is designed to imitate your body’s natural movements. Understanding what each machine does will help you decide which one works best for your body and goals. Ideally, it will be a combination of a few of them.  

Start with the treadmill. It simulates walking and running. This machine has both incline and speed adjustments.  By increasing the incline of the bed of the treadmill, you will feel as though you’re walking uphill.  This will also increase your heart rate. Try to use the handles for balance only, not support. When you use the treadmill without holding on, you’re engaging your core muscles to stay balanced.

An elliptical machine offers a non-impact form of exercise.  This cardio machine is a good alternative for people who have joint or back issues.  This machine can provide upper and lower body strengthening and conditioning.  You can set the resistance for a harder workout as well as the cross ramp for an increased incline. 

The recumbent bike is another beneficial cardio machine. It works the gluteal muscles. This bike allows you to change the level of resistance.   

Other cardio machines include the adaptive motion trainer that can vary from stepping to running with stride length. The rowing machine offers a great cardio intensity workout.

Cardio exercise is only one of the four cornerstones of exercise, but one of the most important. There are various ways to increase your heart rate. Choose one that best suits your body and fitness goals. By choosing exercises you enjoy, you’ll be more apt to consistently do them. The benefits of cardio exercise far exceed just weight loss.

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Latest list of fitness trends shows what’s available

January 24, 2024

The American College of Sports Medicine compiles an annual list of fitness industry trends for the coming year.  

As with any industry, trends are set by people who use the products and services. This year’s list was compiled from survey results and input from industry professionals. What’s great about the fitness industry is it not only offers new ideas on staying healthy and fit, but also adds variety we can integrate into our lives. 

Fitness trends tend to become an evolution. Century old ideas have come back because the principals were sound. The human body and basic need for movement remains the same. But education, physiology and education have grown by leaps and bounds.

Wearable technology took first place in 2024 for the third year in a row. This includes fitness bands, GPS trackers and heart monitors. They count calories and steps, track heart rates and monitor sleep. The reason these devices  have taken the fitness world by storm is they provide immediate feedback. They help users become more aware of their fitness levels and motivate them to achieve their goals. What’s more, anyone at any fitness level can use them.

Worksite health promotion made its debut in the top 10 at second. As insurance rates rise, companies place more emphasis on employee health and wellness. Many companies have put together wellness programs Quick read more or view full article that incorporate the benefits of exercise and proper nutrition to encourage employees to improve their lifestyles and become more productive. Some companies even offer incentives to employees who participate. 

Fitness programs for older adults ranked third.
The goal is to help older adults keep their bodies functioning and provide quality of life as they age. Strength training is essential to slow the gradual loss of muscle mass. Some insurance policies encourage health club participation.  Group exercise programs for seniors include water classes with low to no impact and beginning yoga.  

Exercise for weight loss made the top 10 this year. With obesity rates and associated health risks increasing, people are looking for options. There’s no quick fix for weight loss. The combination of exercise and proper nutrition remain key. The fitness industry continues it promote the cornerstones of fitness – cardiovascular exercise, flexibility, mind and body connection and nutrition.

The next two spots reflect the importance of health professionals. The industry recognizes individuals who’ve studied, trained and become certified in their specialties.  These areas aren’t exclusive to fitness trainers, but also include health coaches, nutritionists and psychologists.

Technology in the form of mobile exercise apps made the top 10 for the first time at seventh. These apps can be free, but usually include ads or can only be accessed through a subscription. There are apps for any fitness routine — from meditation and yoga to weightlifting.

The importance of mental health ranked eighth. Health clubs can be a powerful tool in promoting mental health by creating social communities, making mind and body connections and emphasizing the benefits of exercise for the brain. 

Youth athletic development is next. This involves engaging young people in activities and sports that encourage participation.   

Personal training ranked 10th. By working out with a trainer, you get not only the benefits of strength training, but also an educated coach preparing a workout program to fit you, your needs and your goals.  

This list offers some ideas of what’s available. Whether you’re looking for a fitness facility or just getting started on your fitness journey, the goal of providing this information is for you to keep moving. Whether it’s a ;ong-term trend or something new, finding fitness activities you enjoy is key.  

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Considering joining a health club? Many benefits await

December 20, 2023

Health clubs have been around since the mid-1800s.  People discovered clubs could and would become a powerful tool in achieving health and wellness. 

Joining and using a fitness facility offers many benefits, including instruction, motivation, socialization and variety, There are pros and cons to exercising in a health club setting. It all depends on you and your situation.  

Deciding when, how and why you want to lead a healthy lifestyle begins with motivation. This motivation could be a poor health condition or the desire to avoid one.  It could be to lose weight, build strength or prepare for a special event. Whatever your motivation to get started, a fitness facility offers a good choice. It provides an opportunity to try a variety of workout options — from exciting group exercise classes to small group training and weights to cardio equipment. Trainers have a passion to help and motivate you.

A strong pro is health clubs are filled with people just like you who’ve decided to live healthy lifestyles. By surrounding yourself with people whose goals are similar to yours, it creates a common ground. People of all ages, fitness levels and walks of life come together to create an atmosphere of motivation and socialization.

This broad social circle — whether acquaintances, friends, co-workers or family members — not only promotes motivation and accountability, but also Quick read more or view full article boosts mental health and makes exercise more fun. Social isolation has become a real issue in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, one with such health risks for older people as cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

Health clubs offer trained staffs. It’s their passion to learn, help people with their individual health goals and stay abreast of the latest trends. Personal trainers can teach you how to exercise effectively and safely. They can create workouts specifically for you. Group exercise instructors teach a variety of classes for all fitness levels that include such mind and body classes as yoga, Rokbarre and Pilates as well as such cardio classes as cycling and high-intensity interval training. That’s not to mention water classes and classes for seniors. Instructors prepare, practice and are ready to lead motivational classes. All you have to do is participate.

A full-service club features an aquatic center as well as childcare, equipment, locker rooms and weights. You can work out in a temperature-controlled environment during winter and summer months. 

Some people don’t find all the positive aspects of a fitness facility beneficial. They don’t exercise, so it’s not beneficial. Some people are disciplined in exercising at home or outdoors. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. 

One of the top reasons people might not join a health club is the cost. But it’s also a matter of value. When you’re spending your hard-earned dollars, it needs to be  for something of value to you.  If you buy a health club membership and don’t use it, there’s no value. But there’s also the opportunity to use a club as much as you’d like. That opportunity is literally endless in possibilities.

Consider what’s available at health clubs. Research facilities and what they offer. You might believe you can enjoy effective workouts at home. But can you? Will you?

At the beginning of a new year, health and wellness come to the forefront of people’s minds.  Consider all your options. The goal is choosing something that will help you find the motivation to create and continue life-long health and fitness habits.  

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Healthy efforts produce numerous rewards

October 25, 2023

It’s been said we’re a society that loves to be rewarded. We want to be rewarded for everything. Whether it’s credit card rewards, fuel points or discounts, reinforcements motivate us to make purchasing decisions.    

Let’s talk about what rewards you could achieve through living a healthy lifestyle.  

Decide what your wants, needs and goals look like. Everyone’s list will be different. Rewards can both encourage and motivate you to participate in an activity. Some rewards are instantaneous, like washing your car. Others are long term, such as studying hard for years to earn a degree. One way to view the things you do is to look at the benefits and rewards first and then decide how you’ll achieve them.  Maybe you want to participate in water sports. It’s important, then, to learn to swim.  

Think about all the choices when we’re unaware of the rewards we’re receiving. They’re habits. Many of these habits were instilled in us at a young age.

Create awareness in the family so children understand living a healthy lifestyle through food, exercise, hygiene and safety is a choice. You could benefit from implementing some kind of reward system in your family setting. Decide how this will work for your family. Make it a game. This teaches the family there’s a goal,  rules and accountability. For example, your family Quick read more or view full article could make a reward chart for each family member. You might have such categories as chores,  exercise, food and school work.  Each member of the family works towards a reward each week or each month. Maybe it’s praise for work well done, a family retreat to the park or ice cream.

Healthy living rewards are numerous. Exercise constitutes one of the best examples of action followed by reward that anyone can do for themselves. You take care of your body inside and out through cardio, flexibility and strength training. The reward isn’t something that can be bought. It only comes to those who make it happen.

Healthy living is more than just exercising. It’s taking care of you. All of you. Not everyone loves going to the dentist, but everyone loves a great smile. A dazzling smile is a reward of care. Eating a healthy diet, brushing and flossing your teeth every day and visiting the dentist for routine cleanings and checkups all lead to healthy dental hygiene that will reward you for many years.

The outcomes of some activities are the rewards — good grades, a productive garden or clean house. What about when you lose your first 5 pounds, quit smoking or save money? All these things have rewards. It’s okay to tell yourself “good job” and reward yourself with something that’s meaningful. Maybe that’s a new pair of jeans, good book or massage.

None of the things we do or want just happen. They are a reward of effort. By making choices that lead you closer to your goals, you’ll reap the benefits that living a healthy lifestyle provides. A healthy and fit body is an amazing reward, wouldn’t you agree?

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Fall into fitness: Make the most of changing season

September 27, 2023

Fall can be a season when exercise routines waiver. It’s no longer summer, but not yet winter. It’s too cold to continue with many of the summer activities you enjoy. You could even become a little blue with the realization summer and your favorite activities are over for a while.

Still, fall brings with it many other opportunities. Here are five tips to keep you active and ready to embrace this beautiful season:

Take it inside and outside. As temperatures drop, head back to the health club. Don’t miss out on a workout just because fall is in the air. Take a group exercise class. Mix it up. Still, fall offers a perfect time to enjoy the beautiful Grand Valley. With so many options from which to choose — like mountain biking and hiking — there’s no reason not to get out and enjoy the scenery and vibrant colors. Go exploring. Hike a new trail. Visit a park. Raking leaves or getting in some yardwork offer great ways to get the heart pumping. Spend time in nature. The fresh air does wonders for your mind as well as your body.

Layer your fall clothing. Learning the fundamentals of layering for fall and winter activities could mean the difference between comfort and misery. It’s important to layer while exercising in chilly weather. You might Quick read more or view full article feel cold at first. But as your body warms, you could feel overdressed. Follow the three-layer rule. The first layer next to your skin should be made of a moisture-wicking fabric, often called DriFit. This fabric keeps moisture away from your skin so you don’t feel wet and cold. The second layer should be a warmth layer and the third layer a protective layer, such as a windbreaker or something water-resistant depending on the weather. Don’t forget your sunglasses.

Don’t be blue. Many of us experience the blues as the weather cools and days shorten. Although it’s tempting when waking up in the dark, don’t hit the snooze button on the alarm. With less sunlight, you might want to increase consumption of Vitamin D. Eat foods rich in this vitamin, such as fish, egg yolks and mushrooms. Remember, too: Exercise releases endorphins that enhance your mood and feelings of happiness.

Watch the treats. It’s estimated the average American gains between 5 pounds and 9 pounds during a holiday season that begins with Halloween and continues through the new year. Halloween is a time when you stockpile bags of candy for the one evening when a few trick-or-treaters come to your door. The day after, leftover candy constitutes a sugar source that promotes unhealthy eating habits. Remember, Halloween is just one day.

Plan for the holidays. Take out a calendar early — like right now. Mark off time for exercise each day. Schedule a little exercise between things on busy days — 10 minutes is better than nothing. Keep your goals in mind throughout the holiday season. The time you allow yourself for exercise, sleep, nutrition and organization will make the busy season more manageable. Eat right and buy healthy snacks. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you’ll start after the new year. This is really saying you’ll find an excuse no matter the time of year. There will always be birthdays, parties and other special events.

Enjoy the change of seasons. Fall is a perfect time to keep fitness routines on track. Instead of using cooler weather as an excuse not to exercise, try using the season as an excuse to exercise. Happy fall.

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