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Rest stop fitness: Easy workouts while traveling

Travel is a mainstay in my personal and professional life so if I want to practice what I preach, I have to find creative ways to get in exercise when I’m on the road. I’ll admit, at first, it seemed overwhelming because I wasn’t able to duplicate my home routine. The secret to my on the road exercise success is in thinking outside the box. Coincidentally, that was also when my traveling workouts got really fun!

Although it may seem like a challenge to find ways to stay fit on the road, the truth is, there are opportunities everywhere you look. The key is to plan ahead, be mindful, and get creative. Here are three fun 10-minute workouts to stay active while traveling on the road.

Lace up your shoes!  Wear your exercise shoes when driving and you’re one step closer to getting in a great workout on the move. Stop at a rest stop area and perform 30-second intervals to boost your circulation, heart rate and burn calories (it’s also a great way to stay energized and awake at the wheel).

Start out by walking easy for one minute to loosen up. A great place to do this is on the grass or sidewalk to avoid traffic in the parking lot. After one minute, pick up the pace to a power walk for 30-seconds, and follow with walking easy for 30 seconds. Repeat this nine times for a total of nine minutes of heart pumping activity. If you want a more challenging option, pick up the pace to a run for 30 seconds and walk it out to recover. Finish with the following three stretches and you’re off.

  • Chest Stretch: Interlock your fingers behind your lower back. Relaxing your shoulders, keep your arms straight, squeeze your shoulder blades together and raise your hands up toward the ceiling until you feel a stretch in your chest. Perform this stretch on each side once for 30 seconds.
  • Hip Stretch: Using a mat, towel or the grass, kneel on your left knee with your right foot forward. Your right knee should be aligned over the ankle. Relax your back leg and focus on pushing your right hip forward and up towards the ceiling. Reach to the sky with both arms and clasp your hands together for a full body stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Perform this stretch on each side once.
  • Calf Stretch: Stand with your feet hip width apart and your hands on your car just above your shoulders. Move your right foot back about 2-3 feet and bend your left knee.  Keep your right foot on the ground and hold for 30 seconds. You’ll feel this stretch in your back calf.

Jump to it! Remember how much fun jumping rope was? There’s a reason professional fighters use it as a training mode – it’s quick and easy way to get in a high intensity cardio workout that will boost your metabolism for hours. Toss a jump rope in the car for your next trip or, compromise with jumping jacks instead. Try this jumping workout to get your heart pumping and burn a ton of calories.

Walk around at an easy pace for one minute to loosen up. Then repeat the following intervals for five times for a total of ten minutes. You’ll feel like a million bucks after this hard core cardio workout.

Rest Stop Circuit. This workout will help loosen your tight muscles, keep them active and strong and burn calories. Walk around for two minutes to loosen up and perform the following four exercises for one minute each. Repeat a second time and follow with the three stretches mentioned above.

  • Caterpillars: Start in push up position on a mat. Perform three push-ups and then push your hips up towards the ceiling into a downward dog position (in the shape of a V, with your hips elevated to the ceiling. Hold for 5 seconds. Slowly walk your feet one at a time to your hands keeping your legs straight (bend your knees if this is challenging). Hold for 5 seconds with your hands on your feet (or shins) and feel the stretch in your hips and hamstrings. Slowly walk your hands forward and into push up position and repeat again for a total of one minute.
  • Walking Lunges: Stand with your feet hip width apart on stable ground (sidewalk).  Take a long step forward with your right foot and kneel down towards the ground by bending your knees until your forward leg is parallel to the ground. Press up and through your heel and take another step forward and kneel toward the ground. Make sure to line up your knee over your ankle as you move forward.  Repeat for one minute.
  • Squat: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Sit back as if you are going to sit in a chair until your legs are at a 90-degree angle with your thighs parallel to the ground, making sure your knees are over your ankles (not toes). Reach your arms straight out in front of you to shoulder height for stability. Pause and hold for two seconds and then press your heels into the ground, extend through your legs.  Repeat slowly for one minute.
  • Calf Raises: Stand with your feet hip width apart and the balls of your feet at the edge of the curb so your heels are off the ground. Bring your arms out to the side for stability. Raise up on your toes and hold for two seconds and then release down until and through the full range of motion with your heel lower than the curb and hold for two seconds. Repeat this for one minute.

Staying fit on the road is easier than it sounds, and once you get started, the options are endless along the way.

Happy Trails.
Coach Jenny Hadfield

Coach Jenny Hadfield is a published author, writer, coach, public speaker and endurance athlete. To find out more, visit our Meet Our Writers page or visit Coach Jenny’s website.


The Importance of Rest and Active Recovery Days

Vision Fitness BlogWhen you’re committed to your training program, taking a rest or active recovery day can be even harder than sticking to your workouts. Figuring that more is better, many of us churn out workout after daily workout, only to be sidelined with an injury or mental fatigue that won’t let us make it off the couch. If you can’t remember the last time you took a break from your training or if you’re struggling with nagging soreness, injuries or low motivation, it’s time to build some mindful breaks into your program.

Recovering from your workouts doesn’t have to mean complete inactivity. Active recovery workouts allow you to continue physical activity at a lower level of exertion than your training workouts. The rule of thumb for these workouts is that they should leave you feeling better than when you started. Many of us find that it’s easier to stick to both a training plan and our diet if we stay active every day. Active recovery not only helps us to do that, but may also have some benefits by providing an opportunity to improve our form and increase our range of motion, without taking time away from training on more intense days.

Whether you’re using your treadmill, indoor cycle, or elliptical, your home fitness equipment can be a great way to build lower impact workouts into your training plan. Technological advances, such as virtual destination video and preprogrammed workouts can make it easy for you to take a mental break while providing just enough increased circulation to help you recover from your last tough workout. These recovery workouts might be as simple as using your home fitness equipment, while keeping an eye on your heart rate. For active recovery workouts, try using the “fat burning” setting (if your machine has one) or keeping your heart rate at 60-65% of your maximum.  While your total calorie burn will be lower than if you were working out at a higher intensity, you will give your body the chance to recover and to become more efficient, making your more intense workouts easier in the long run. You can incorporate the same approach into an outdoor run or bike ride by using a heart rate monitor and slowing your speed, or even walking every time your heart rate goes above 65%. While you may find yourself walking a lot during your first workouts, in time you will become more efficient and able to maintain your pace with lower effort.

Active recovery also gives us the opportunity to build in some cross training workouts. For runners and cyclists, lower intensity days when you are less fatigued are a great time to work on drills to improve your form. Think about keeping your exertion rate down (these workouts should feel easy!) while increasing your mental focus on maintaining perfect form. Runners might do some easy strides on a treadmill or the road; cyclists might work on increasing the pulling action of their pedal motion while releasing tension from the upper body. You can also incorporate yoga, core work, self-myofascial release (foam rolling), or light strength training for cross training that will help your body and mind recover, increasing your strength and flexibility for your next training session.

While active recovery is a great tool to keep motivation high and injury low, there are going to be days that call for complete rest. If your training schedule includes very high intensity events or if you’ve just completed an exhausting competition or season, you may benefit from one or more consecutive rest days. These days can also be used regularly to avoid injury and exhaustion and to improve adherence to your program. While your home fitness equipment makes sticking to your workouts easier, family schedules and work demands can still lead to time off from training. When you know that these conflicts are coming up, you can plan for them by incorporating a full rest day into your plan. It might make sense to look at your upcoming weekly schedule and if you know that one day is going to be unusually tight, schedule a tough workout for the day before. Rather than feeling guilty about missing your next workout, enjoy a well-earned day of rest knowing that your body is getting stronger for your next training session.


Ask an expert: Best morning and evening exercises

 Are there any good exercises to do right before bed to wind down the day or right when I get out of bed in the morning to get my day started? –Samantha

When thinking about exercise before bedtime and as you start your day, it’s wise to focus on the purpose and how it will affect your life performance. For instance, as you head towards bedtime your cortisol levels are dropping in preparation for sleep. If you perform an activity that boosts heart rate and breathing, it works against the natural rhythm of your daily cycle and can effectively keep you awake when you want to sleep.

One way to promote more restful sleep is to perform a nighttime routine that includes light stretching and meditation. Here’s a five minute evening exercise routine that’s easy to remember:

  • Lie on your back in a quiet, peaceful place.
  • Pull your knees into your chest and hold for 30 seconds.
  • With your knees into your chest, bring both knees over to your right side and relax them on the floor.  Stretch your arms straight out from your shoulders and look to the opposite side (left side). Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat this on the other side by bringing your knees over to the left side, stretch your arms out and look right. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Relax with your legs and arms on the floor.
  • Close your eyes and focus on breathing in and out through your nose.
  • Visualize a beach and hear the sound of the waves hitting the beach.
  • Breath in to the rhythm of the ocean wave flowing up the beach.
  • Breath out as the wave draws back in toward the ocean.
  • Start with 1-2 minutes of this meditation exercise and build up to five minutes.

Now that you know how to bring things down at nighttime, let’s focus on how to pick things up to start your day. Sleep, although restorative, can also leave us feeling tight and stiff in the morning. Here’s a five-minute morning routine you can do anywhere:

  • Stand with your hands at your sides and take a deep breath in reaching your arms up along your sides toward the ceiling.
  • Exhale, bend at your waist and relax the arms down toward your feet, keeping your knees slightly bent. Repeat this sequence five times to wake the body and warm it up.
  • Next, from a standing position, bend at your hips and knees and squat until your legs are parallel to the floor while reaching your arms out in front and hold for 5 seconds. Press through your heels, pull your arms back toward you as if you were pulling something towards you until you’re in standing position again. Repeat 5 times slowly to wake the legs.
  • Lie down in push up position with your hands just beside your chest. Push yourself up into push up position and hold keeping your hips in line with your body. Suck your navel into your spine and draw your right knee into your chest and hold for 2 seconds. Then repeat with the left knee. Alternate bringing the right and left knee slowly into the chest while keeping your body in alignment for 60 seconds. Match your breathing to the rhythm of your movement, exhaling as you draw your knee into the chest and inhaling as you return to starting position.

It’s amazing how impactful a five-minute routine can have on your overall health. It all begins with matching the purpose of the activity with the flow of your life routine.

Happy Trails.
Coach Jenny Hadfield

Coach Jenny Hadfield is a published author, writer, coach, public speaker and endurance athlete. To find out more, visit our Meet Our Writers page or visit Coach Jenny’s website.


From zero to running

 

Whether you’re new to the running scene or recently fell off the wagon, training to run can be easier than you may think.  Sure, if you go at it the way I did when I didn’t know any better (too far, too fast) it won’t be easy, but if you ignore what your head is telling you to do (too much, too soon), and tune into your body, you’ll go from zero to running in no time.

The key to being successful (and continue with a smile on your face) is to set a specific goal, plan a gradual progression and be flexible along the way.

The Goal: 30 minutes.  When I coach newbie or returning runners, I have them set a goal to build up to running 30 minutes continuously.  Why 30 minutes?  Because it’s an easy number to get you motivated to start, it’s not intimidating and it’s just long enough to provide a solid workout.

Next, I have them commit to 30-minute workouts three times per week on alternate days (i.e. M-W-F).  Every workout begins with a 5-minute walking warm up and finishes with a 5-minute walking cool down.  The good stuff is the middle 20 minutes where they use running and walking intervals to build running fitness.  It’s a fun way to get into running because you’re always switching it up and time flies by quickly!

The next step is to set a target date range to reach your goal to run 30 minutes.  For some it may be ten weeks, for others it may take a little longer.  It depends on your current fitness, health, weight and more.  The key is to allow enough time to progress gradually to avoid injury and burnout.

Progression. The number one mistake most new and returning runners make is to run too far and too fast too soon.  Running is a high impact, high intensity activity and takes time to adapt to the stress of running.  Your body will actually progress faster if you start with sprinkling in seconds of running with minutes of walking and repeat throughout the workout.

For example, rather than trying to run as far as you can or until you’re gasping for air and hating it and have to walk, start by tricking your body into it.  Run for 30 seconds, then walk for 3 minutes and repeat that interval for 20 minutes and call it a workout.  Repeat this workout at least one to two weeks (3-6 workouts), and then progress to more running (1 minute) while holding the walking interval steady (3 minutes).

Running intervals plant the seed of running and in time allow you to evolve into running farther and faster down the road.  The secret is to aim to finish the workout feeling strong rather than wasted and exhausted.  Creating the sense of accomplishment workout to workout inspires you to repeat the workout and come back for more.  As you repeat the workout, it gets easier and you can add more stress (more running time).  Until you reach the tipping point where you are running continuously without wanting or needing a recovery interval.  Progress is to the key to making your running regimen stick and it happens in time, with a gradual increase in running, and when you create the sense of accomplishment with every workout.

Ebb and Flow.  We are all the same and we are all different.  We are similar in that we all need to progress our training over time, however we vary in health and fitness levels, age and running form and skills.  When I first started to learn to run, it took me months to build up to 30 minutes of running because I was starting from ground zero and I was 35 pounds overweight.  Some of my clients who are fit, but not runners and at an optimal weight have learned in about ten weeks.

My point is to avoid rushing your running program and let your body be your guide along the way.  Keep a log to track your progress and take notes after every workout on how you felt along the way.  If you notice you’re struggling with a particular progression in running time, go back and repeat the previous run-walk interval one more week and allow your body more time to adapt and get stronger.  You may notice you struggle more after being ill, missing a few workouts or during highly stressful times in your life.  Let your plan ebb and flow with your life and modify as needed based on how you feel along the way.  In many cases, repeating an interval sequence a week longer will make all the difference in how you feel when you progress to the next level.

We all have an optimal running recipe, and the fun part is figuring out what works best for you along the way. Some runners even love the run-walk strategy so much, they stick with it forever.

Download Coach Jenny’s Zero to Running Training Plan for free.

Happy Trails.
Coach Jenny Hadfield

Coach Jenny Hadfield is a published author, writer, coach, public speaker and endurance athlete. To find out more, visit our Meet Our Writers page or visit Coach Jenny’s website.