Grab a Shovel

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Grab a ShovelIt’s January and more snow is on the way! Get a workout in your driveway and pick up a shovel. It’s more economical than a snow blower, and shoveling is an intense cardio workout that exercises muscles in your legs, core, back, shoulders and arms. If you want to overachieve, you can extend the workout by shoveling the sidewalks or helping out your neighbors. How’s that for accessible? Here are some important ways you can use snow shoveling to make this workout work!

Burn up calories. Shoveling burns more calories than most exercisers realize. The exact amount depends on pace and intensity, but expect to burn around 250 calories for every 30 minutes of shoveling. If you experience lower temperatures, heavy snowfall, or the need to chop ice, you’ll burn even more calories as your body fights to stay warm and increases exertion. (Be safe, of course, and don’t shovel snow if you have a medical condition or you don’t normally exercise.)

Work different muscle groups. Shoveling snow is a high-intensity workout – especially if you shovel fast – and it works all of your major muscle groups. You will feel it the next day in your legs, core, back, shoulders and arms. Use a full range of motion and fire your core muscles as you bend and lift.

Use proper technique. As with all workouts, proper technique will help improve your workout and avoid strains and soreness. First off, make sure to squat and lift the snow with your legs, not your back. Second, avoid bending over at the hip flexors. Lastly, keep the shovel close to your body and walk to where you will dump the snow instead of over-extending, twisting or leaning to toss it.

Dress right. Layer, layer, layer. Skip the frostbite and retain the quality workout. Being too cold can be dangerous and will tighten up your muscles. Dress in winter layers, wear good boots with traction (snow and ice mixed can be treacherous) and cover up your hands, ears and head! Remember, being under-dressed in the elements can result in injuries, so bundle up right and focus on your cardio and calorie burn!

Dig out from the snow this year and pave the way to a great winter workout – right outside your door!

And if the cold weather and ice keep you from getting the full workout you need, consider a treadmill, elliptical, or functional strength trainer for your home to keep you in shape when the rain, snow or cold keep you indoors. Stop by HealthStyles Exercise Equipment and take a look at our great selection of quality indoor cardio and strength equipment to fit any pocketbook.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise visit www.lifefitness.com/blog.

Give the Gift of Fitness!

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Are you looking for ideas for unique Christmas gifts?

HealthStyles Exercise Equipment has some great gifts for fitness enthusiasts in all price ranges!

Whether your gift is for an avid runner, a Cross-Fit or P90X junkie, or a friend or loved on who is trying to firm up or lose weight, here are just a few of the many possible gifts you can put under the tree for those important people in your life.

The Back-Up Plan: A Fitness Must Have!

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Most of us understand that to get where we want to go, we need transportation to get there. A vehicle of sorts, whether that be car, bus, bike, subway etc. The same concept holds true for our health and fitness program. Some of us have a gym membership, while others prefer to walk, run, bike outdoors. However, as we all know there are late nights, running late mornings, bad weather issues, and hot weather at this time of year, that can sometimes prevent us from using our preferred mode to get our workouts in. I’m constantly telling my clients that regardless if you prefer to workout outside or if you belong to a gym, there are going to be times where we just can’t get a workout in.

One of the most important Fitness Must Haves is to invest in a few key pieces for your home to create a Back-Up Plan! Despite budget or space issues, there are a wide range of options to meet your needs! The bottom line is, having a solid back-up-plan will help keep you moving and on track for your fitness goals! Here are few ways to create for yourself a back-up plan to ensure you always have a way to get a workout in!

Basic Cardio:

There are TONS of options for the home user to create a cardio workout. For the budget conscious there are numerous workout DVD’s you can purchase for minimal cost. P90x is great example of a full body, 90 day workout that can keep you going that requires minimal equipment and can be done anywhere! Most satellite and cable providers have a fitness channel in their basic line-up of programs. Do some checking to see if yours’ does and then check out the options.

If watching the TV doesn’t get it done for you, invest in an indoor, "spinning" type bike or rowing machine. Both tend to take up minimal space and can provide you with an awesome way to get some cardio in! Be prepared to spend between $700-$1300 for these.

If you prefer to spend a little more dough, there are tons of treadmill and elliptical options out there! Quality that will last starts at about the $1200 range, and there are tons of options to suit your needs. Visit a speciality fitness store, where you will get quality advice and support.

BEWARE: Don’t buy cheap! It is better to buy a different type of piece, than to buy a cheap version of an expensive product! For example, don’t buy a $800 treadmill when you can spend that $800 on a quality indoor bike or rowing machine that will last. You want your Back-up plan to be RELIABLE …that is the whole point!

Resistance Training:

Again you can do this with or without budget constraints. For about $10 you can get resistance bands at various tensions. Even for the hard core lifters, resistance bands can be effective if done correctly as part of an overall program. Add a door anchor for about $5, and you can essentially turn any door into a resistance training work station!

Another option for between $100-200, is a suspension training system, such as TRX or Jungle Gym. Suspension trainers use a nylon strapping system to turn your body into a functional training station! You can get an amazing workout using your own body weight and need about 8ft. of space and a door, ceiling or other sturdy place to attach the anchor.

If you want the feel of weights in your hands, for about $400 you can get a pair of Power Blocks! This unique concept offers 24 pairs of dumbbells in a one piece set! They are durable, easy to use and give you a ton of options! For an even cooler route, try the Kettleblock. With the same concept as the Power Blocks, instead of having all those kettlebells lying around, you have just a one handled block with the ability to select the weight you want with the push of a pin!

If a home gym or functional trainer with a weight stack where you can continually increase the resistance is what you need, quality home gyms and functional trainers begin at just above $1000 and go up from there depending on the variety of exercises you would like to be able to do with the gym. Again, purchasing an inexpensive functional trainer or gym is a bad idea. It will "feel" lightweight and the cables won’t have the smooth feel that you may have experienced in the gym.

Training while Traveling:

Training on the road can be a big challenge. Make sure to plan ahead, so you have a game plan in place.

Check the hotel to see if they have a workout out room, ask what types of equipment they have, how many pieces they have and the hours of the facility. If this will work with your schedule, you’re set. Even if they have a room, ask if they have a pool, and depending on the time of year, if it is indoor, outdoor and heated. I always travel with my swim bag as a back-up, back-up plan for hotel stays. There is nothing worse than counting on the hotel workout room, only to find out the bike or treadmill is broken or so unstable it isn’t worth the risk!

If all else fails, bring along your resistance bands and door anchor or a suspension system, (TRX). They take up little space in your suit case and are an awesome way to get a workout in. Mix in some body weight squats, lunges and push-ups, create a circuit and you are good to go! Don’t let travel and a lack of planning prevent you from staying healthy while on the road!

Let’s face it …Life happens. Having a Back-up Plan in place is a sure fire way to help you stay on track for your fitness goals and keeps you moving and feeling good! Everyone should have a few key pieces in their home, as well as a take-along plan for travel!

A little planning can go a long way!

Tonja Hadley, MA, CSCS
Personal Trainer
HealthStyles Exercise Equipment