Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

Here’s help to beat the summertime heat and keep fit

June 18, 2024

We wait all year, it seems, for summer to arrive. Now it’s finally here. 

When most of us think of summer, we think about outdoor fun, vacations and a chance to kick back. Summer offers many opportunities to stay active. Beware, though: Changes in schedules present challenges in keeping your fitness routine on track.  

So what can you do to have the most active, productive and fun-filled summer ever?

Warm weather provides many opportunities for enjoying outdoor activities. Take the family camping, fishing or hiking. Work in your garden. Enjoy a baseball game. Part of summer fun and fulfillment is enjoying the outdoors and the people you’re with.    

Your normal schedule could be altered whether through work or having children at home. Those changes can affect daily routines, including exercise schedules.  Here are a few tips to avoid sabotaging yourself this summer:

Set a summer goal. It’s almost mid-year. Ask yourself how you’ve done so far this year on your New Year’s resolutions. You might have succeeded in some areas, but not others. You could need to re-evaluate your goals to make them more realistic and attainable. Maybe you didn’t set goals. This is a great time to start. Try setting a different goal. What will that goal look like?  It might be trying a new sport, learning to swim or visiting Quick read more or view full article a national park.

Stick to a schedule. Make sure your summer days include some structure, like getting up at the same time each day and eating meals at set times. Plan activities for specific times — exercising before breakfast, for example.

Stay busy. Without your appointment book filled, it could be easy to fall into a trap of becoming bored. Boredom goes hand in hand with low energy. Filling your days with stuff to do will give you a sense of accomplishment.
For many of us, summer still means going to work each day. But with more daylight hours, you don’t have to miss out. Whether you’re taking a vacation or just a weekend, include activities the family already enjoys as well as something new.   

Manage the heat. Warmer weather is appreciated, but hot days can seem unbearable. During these times, move your activities elsewhere. Exercise at the gym, splash in a pool or go bowling. When you find yourself outdoors during scorching temperatures, remember to stay safe. Wear sunscreen or a long-sleeve shirt to protect your skin from harmful rays. Don’t forget the sunglasses and hat, too. Clothing that wicks moisture away from your skin as you perspire keeps you cooler. One of the most important items to keep you safe is water. Stay hydrated.

Eat healthy. This seems like an easy thing to do with all the fresh vegetables and fruits available. Beware of some of the foods associated with summer events, though. Backyard barbecues, campfire s’mores and ice cream treats can ruin the best-laid plans of staying fit through the summer. You can still enjoy treats, just keep them occasional.

Make summer a time to enjoy. Write down your summer goal and work toward realizing that goal. Make the most of every day, and you’ll make this summer your best ever. 

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Sleep plays important role in maintaining health

April 24, 2024

While diet and exercise constitute key components of a healthy lifestyle, don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. You’re already a sleep expert. You have been since you were born. Yet, quality sleep could elude you in a fast-paced society that fills every moment of your day with work, activities and screen time.   

Quality sleep is vital for overall good health and well-being. Research shows people who don’t get enough sleep or good quality sleep are at a higher risk for health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. That’s not to mention such mental health issues as anxiety and depression.  

The benefits of good quality rest are bountiful. Getting enough sleep strengthens your immune system and enables your body to fight illness. Sleep also has a direct link to maintaining a healthy weight and is good for your heart by lowering blood pressure while you sleep. Good sleep can eliminate fatigue, leaving you more productive, creative and happier. Sleep is a big deal.

How much sleep is enough? Most adults need between 7 hours and 9 hours of sleep. “Some people need less than seven hours, while others might need more,” said Eric Zhou with the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Instead of focusing exclusively on the number of hours we sleep per night, Quick read more or view full article we should also consider our sleep quality.” 

Sleep quality is how well you sleep, whether you slept through the night or woke up numerous times. The key is to wake up refreshed and have energy for the day.

Many factors lead to sleep difficulties. It might be such health issues as high blood pressure or sleep apnea. Another factor is the environment in which you sleep. Temperature, noise and light all affect sleep quality.

There are many things you can avoid to help you sleep better. Try the 10, three, two, one and zero rule for sleep. Avoid caffeine 10 hours before bed. Avoid large meals and alcohol at least 3 hours before bed. Stop working 2 hours before bed. Reduce screen time 1 hour before bed, and hit the snooze button zero times.

Now, here are some things to do to improve sleep:

Remain active and get some exercise during the day. Try not to exercise within 2 hours of going to bed. 

Create a sleep routine. This can include things such as putting on pajamas, washing your face, brushing and flossing your teeth, turning down the bed and lowering the lights. You’re telling your body rest is near. 

Maintain a consistent waking time, especially on weekends.

If you like to nap, only sleep for 20 minutes to 30 minutes and at least 6 hours before bed.

Relax and unwind? If you’re like me, your mind is the busiest when you lay down to sleep. There are techniques that might help quiet your mind, relax and fall asleep. If your to-do list keeps popping up in your head, keep a notepad by your bed to write down those items you don’t want to forget. That way, you can write it down and let it go. Try a visualization technique in which you imagine a chalkboard and erase everything on it.

Meditation is the best medicine when it comes to relaxing your body through controlled breathing. Try the four, seven, eight breathing technique. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. This regulates your breathing, reduces anxiety and helps you fall asleep. Try a meditation app on your phone in which you listen to guided meditation. Yet another technique is to tighten and release each body part starting with your toes and working your way to your head.

Focus on sleep quality. Expecting perfect sleep every night isn’t realistic. Keep a sleep diary to help you evaluate your sleep patterns and what works for your best night of sleep.

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Take steps to identify and address why fitness goals fail

March 20, 2024

Working on you is the most important project you have. Whether it’s exercising regularly, improving nutritional habits or living a balanced life, there’s only one of you. There will only ever be one of you.

Making the most of your life each day is the goal. Aren’t you important enough to make yourself, your health and your life a priority? Of course, you are. 

So why do you fail when it comes to one of the most important things in your life? There are many reasons why you might fall short in the quest for better health. Pinpointing your goals and identifying what’s keeping you from achieving them is the key to unlocking success.

Your goals could be specific — losing a few pounds, looking great for a special occasion, preparing for an athletic event or addressing a medical concern. Perhaps your goal is to simply develop and sustain life-long healthy habits. Once you’ve written down your goals, the next step is to identify what keeps you from achieving them. This is when you need to have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself.   

There are many reasons why fitness goals fail. One of the most common reasons is underestimating how hard it is to change a pattern or habit. It’s all about making many small changes that collectively result in big changes.  Exercise must become a Quick read more or view full article non-negotiable part of your life.  You don’t need to be a fitness saint. But when you accept fitness isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition, you’re more likely to stick with it for life.

Exercise and fitness programs can be intimidating.  Strong, lean and perfect bodies aren’t the goal. Rather, work towards becoming the best you can be. Fitness goals could fail if you don’t know how to achieve them. Learn the four cornerstones of fitness: cardiovascular (gets your heart pumping), flexibility (stretching and lengthening muscles), strength (building muscles and core) and nutrition (giving your body the nutrients it needs to thrive). Ask a personal trainer to help you learn how to exercise, avoid injury and achieve your goals. Walk into a health club where you feel comfortable and picture yourself belonging.

If you’ve been on the started and stopped roller coaster of fitness, you already know the benefits of exercise.  There’s an underlying reason why you stopped. Realize your health and fitness goals are for life. Schedule time each day for exercise. Make an appointment you can’t miss. The more routine it becomes, the easier it becomes.

By making exercise fun, you won’t want to miss out.  Fitness goals fail not only because you don’t make time for yourself, but also because it becomes boring and just another task on your to-do-list.

A healthy lifestyle is a choice. If you’re someone who’s had or has serious medical concerns, lacked self-confidence, put others ahead of your needs, lived a too-busy life, lacked energy or wished you could be happier, then today is the day. The day you stop procrastinating about the most important project you have — you.

As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky put it: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Take the shot.

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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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