We’re already competing with the sun as to who gets home from work faster. It’s doubtful we’ll ever win that race once the clocks roll back this Sunday. (If you haven’t already, mark your calendars for Daylight Saving Time on Nov. 2nd.) However, darkness doesn’t mean you need to take your evening workout indoors. In fact, preserving that fresh air facilitation could be the key to warding off any early winter blues. Research published in the Environmental Science & Technology shows outdoor exercise can significantly increase your energy while decreasing tension and depression. Plus, with temps beginning to cool down, there’s no better time to smile in the name of a mostly sweat-free workout.
From glowing apparel to safety tips and ticks, we’ve got your guide below for keeping your workout al fresco, so no need to head indoors just yet!
1. Move In the Right Direction
When you’re pumping those legs alongside moving cars, the general road rule is to bike with traffic and walk against traffic. This applies to all times of day, but is particularly important for non-daylight hours when drivers will have even more difficulty seeing you. Running against traffic allows cars to see you from afar, and for you to also see when they’re coming so you can move out of the way. To be on the safe side, you should wear reflectors on both sides of your body, but attach an extra one if possible to the front side of your shirt. With biking, you’re generally moving a lot faster than you are when walking/running, so the reaction time for the driver to see you is shortened. This makes it better to move in their same direction, which means, be sure to have a reflector on your bike’s back side.
2. Glow from Head to Toe
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Whether you’re training for an Ironman or are simply hoping to make it past a 5-min. run without huffing and puffing, your endurance level is your ticket to a smoother, sustained workout. Build it up, and working out becomes less of an unbearable chore and instead more of a habit that’ll help you gain back some of that energy from your youth (without all the angst, awkward growth spurts, and bad haircuts that were originally paired with it).
The primary key to boosting your fitness endurance and exercise ease is simply to lace up your sneaks and make workouts part of your weekly routine. That means exercising preferably at least 3 times/week – no skipping weeks, no ifs, buts, or excuses.
With repetition, you’ll begin to increase your VO2 max, i.e, the maximum rate at which your body can consume oxygen during exercise. (Research shows adding High Intensity Interval Training to your routine will help you do this even faster.) Increased VO2 max = increased endurance = a better feeling you.
Straight-up training, along with a healthy diet and sleep schedule, will be essential to your endurance efforts, but there are other added tricks too, all of which can fit into your grocery basket. Below, find our research-backed roundup of legal* – and tasty! – fitness performance enhancers.
*By legal, we mean no Lance Armstrong style funny business!
We’re all about making fitness feel like fun, not torture. (Frisbee, anyone?) However, a new study reveals that there is some validity to the idea of “no pain push, no gain”, showing that intense exercise changes the body and strengthens muscles in ways that milder physical activity simply can’t match. The New York Times explains the details here, but in short, if you want to improve your fitness, you’re going to need to push yourself. That means, not just up and off the couch, but slightly beyond your comfort zone.
It’s suggested that during moderate exercise, you should be able to talk, but not sing, while during vigorous activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. So while you might not be able to sing the songs these apps bring you, they are all designed to help you pump it up for greater workout benefits.
4 Music Apps for Pumping Up Your Running Routine
Here at LifeVest, February’s giving us a bit of cabin fever. We’re ready to get up and run. (And yes, in case you’re wondering, a good jog through the park is our idea of fun.)
Good thing spring is on its way – an official 16 days away! Not that we’re counting down or anything… In the meantime, while the cold weather is cooping us up inside for a wee bit longer, we’re planning ahead. We think you should too. Now is the perfect time to register for a themed fun run which, whether or not you love running, can turn exercise into the sentiment of a celebration.
From paint-blasting Color Runs to extreme Spartan Races to mud-filled Zombie Runs, there is a fun run out there for every level of runner. All you have to do is choose the one that best fits your personality.
We suggest signing up now since the runs tend to sell out. It’ll also act as a healthful commitment to look forward to come spring or summer! Cheers (plus an indoor victory lap) to that.
Take a look at three of our favorites below.
This 5K centers on having a blast – a color blast. Participants head to the race in all white clothing, and leave as a walking multicolored masterpiece. The untimed race has you run your way through clouds of rainbow colored powders firing away at every kilometer. Once the finish line is crossed, the party continues at the Finish Festival where you’ll find streaming music and dancing. The Color Run is not a race for extreme competitors or those worried about timing and pacing, making it a good intro race for new runners or those who simply want to have some spirited, moving fun with their friends.
- Experience Level: All levels – even walkers are welcome to join
- Price: $35-$55 Individual; $30-$50 Team (4+ Runners)
Participants in this 5k are set out with one sole mission – to survive. With three “Life Flags” in hand, runners strive to complete the course while keeping their flags out of the hands of the undead. Zombies are set on the loose to chase you around as you run through numerous obstacles and an onslaught of mud. Is there any better motivation than that? Like the Color Run, this event is untimed so your primary focus can be on enjoying (and surviving) the experience. Get decked out with a zombie makeover prior to the run, and then lace up for some cool, spooky running.
- Experience Level: All levels
- Price: $35-45 Individual Zombie; $30-40 Team Zombies (4+ Runners); $65-$85 Individual Humans; $60-$80Team Humans (4+ Runners)
This series of obstacle races range from three to 12 miles, all designed to test your mental and physical limits. The Spartan Races are considered some of the most extreme tests of endurance in the world. Created by a collaboration of Iron Man athletes and a Royal Marine, you can be sure that these races will push you to new boundaries as you run, jump and crawl your way through the courses. When, and if, you finish, you are awarded a medal and the bragging rights of being an official Spartan. You can also choose to go to the Spartan Race World Championship where Spartans from all over the world compete for a $250,000 prize. It shows that sometimes it really does pay to be fit, right?
- Experience Level: Experienced athletes.
- Price: $60-$185 Individual (prices vary based on type of race); Teams can receive a discount based on size of team.
These are just three of the numerous themed events sprouting up around the world. Fun runs are a great way to make your workout truly memorable, and to get other to join in with you too, even if they’re not fellow fitness buffs. Look ahead to spring and start planning some healthy outings for you and your friends.
Ever walk into another room only to realize you’ve forgotten why you decided to go there in the first place? Or maybe you can’t seem to remember your new coworker’s name, no matter how many times he tells you. These little slip-ups happen to the best of us, and can often cause unfortunate attacks of beet-face. The worst.
Lucky for us, recent findings suggest a new way to sharpen your memory: Cardio. Improve your memory with a little daily cardio, and bring on a flush in your cheeks the right way.
Researchers at the University of South Carolina examined the brain in response to cardio exercise by comparing a group of active mice to a group of inactive mice. After eight weeks, brain scans showed a growth in mitochondria in the active groups’ brains, while there was little or no change to the brains of the sedentary mice.
What does this mean?
Mitochondria deterioration is one of the principal causes of brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders. A growth in mitochondria, on the other hand, helps prevent cognitive disorders that are often associated with aging. Brain cells that are abundant in the organelle also have the potential to sharpen memory and reduce mental fatigue. Build your running muscles and your mitochondria, and you could avoid some of that absent-mindedness at the office.
How to achieve these results
Dr. Mark Davis, who teaches exercise science at the university, asserts that just 30 minutes of cardio a day — whether it’s a lunch break jog or afterwork kickboxing sesh — will do the trick. That’s a small price to pay to keep a granny mind at bay, wouldn’t you say? (Disclaimer: No offense to our grannies. We love hearing their stories, even on the 10th time around.)
In recent years, a new craze has caught on like wildfire in the fitness community: mud runs. These messy 5K races with manmade obstacles travel all over the country and are a great way for avid runners to challenge themselves and more intermediate or beginner runners to get motivated to work out. If running through mud doesn’t sound like your type of thing, the mud run trend has sparked interest in other types of fun runs. I can guarantee that one of these events will get you psyched to run 3 miles.
Interested in a 5K that is visually stimulating but doesn’t require more physical challenges than the run itself? Then check out the Neon Splash Dash (www.neonsplashdash.com) or The Color Run (www.thecolorrun.com). The Neon Splash Dash begins around 8PM has a rave-type vibe. At 4 checkpoints along the route, participants get doused in fluorescent water, resulting in a trail glowing with neon runners. After crossing the finish line, participants are invited celebrate with an 80s themed dance party. The Color Run is a similar concept, but is better suited for those who prefer to run in the daytime. After each kilometer, colored powder is thrown onto runners so by the time you cross the finish line, you will look like a work of art! Needless to say, you will want to bring a camera for these colorful events.
Are you looking for a serious adrenaline rush? Then Run for Your Lives (www.runforyourlives.com) is the race for you. At first glance, this event seems like your typical mud run with a muddy trail and obstacles along the way, but cue a hoard of “zombies” chasing you and you’ve got a much better reason to run. Before the run begins, each runner is given 3 flags to tie around their waist, which the zombies try to steal throughout the race. Whether or not you become infected along the way, all participants are invited to a festival with food, beer, and a DJ at the end of the race.
The Jingle Bell Run (http://www.arthritis.org/programs-events/jingle-bell-run/) is the perfect way to work off those extra holiday pounds. This is a more classic 5K road race, but participants are encouraged to make teams, dress up in holiday costumes, and are given bells to tie to their feet. Plus, during the season of giving, it’s only fitting that the race’s proceeds go to the Arthritis Foundation.
Find a 5K that appeals to you and get registered! Better yet, recruit friends and coworkers and have some fun with it. Having people to train with will keep you motivated and excited to get active.
Run a holiday 5-K to shed stress and stoke good cheer.
By Jeff Galloway, First Posted on Runner’s World, November 12, 2012
The holidays can be a time of stress and high expectations. Fortunately, it’s also a great time for 5-Ks, with Turkey Trots and Jingle Bell Jogs held nearly every weekend. Training for and running a race might seem impossible when work and family obligations are colliding, but putting an event on your to-do list can help you stay focused and motivated. Short, purposeful training runs will invigorate you, clear your mind, and renew your enthusiasm for the challenges ahead. Here’s how to time a race with your current fitness—and get safely across the finish line.
You know what else it ’tis the season for? Good health and great gifts. Sponsor your friends and family on LifeVest Health so they have more incentive to get healthy and make more money for it!