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.

Cardio or Strength – Which Comes First?

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Deciding whether to begin a workout with cardio or strength training is a highly discussed topic – the answer depends on individual goals and amount of time available to work out. Follow these tips to learn the option that will work for you.

If the goal is weight-loss, it can be a good idea to perform cardio first and follow with strength training. Beginning with cardio can provide a higher total caloric expenditure due to a physiological element called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) – this is known as the "after-burn" effect from exercise.

If the goal is muscle gain, it will be beneficial to start with weight training so you have sufficient energy to put toward the strength portion of your workout. Performing weight training first can burn off stored glycogen, or blood glucose, and by the time you are finished lifting weights and begin your cardio session, your body is already slightly fatigued and in its fat-burning zone. To really maximize your energy levels for strength training, it’s ideal to separate your cardio workout days from weight training days.

Bottom line: Train in the order that you will stick to, and gradually learn what works best for your body. It’s important to always keep your goals in mind and mix up your routine to keep your workouts interesting.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide.

Flex Your Heart Muscle

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While strength-training doesn’t quite speed up your heart rate like cardiovascular exercise does, pumping iron does play a part in making your heart stronger and healthier. Follow these tips from the experts at Life Fitness to learn how lifting free weights and using machines, resistance bands or your own body weight can improve the efficiency and pliability of your heart muscle.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strength-training can provide up to a 15 percent increase in metabolic rate, which helps with weight control. A stronger heart muscle places less demand on the heart, allowing the lungs to process more oxygen – this also allows the heart to pump more blood with fewer beats, meaning the blood supply directed to your muscles will increase.

While resistance training will certainly create toned buns and sculpted arms, there are other benefits that might not be as obvious.

  1. Increased stamina and energy levels
  2. Lowered blood pressure and ‘bad’ cholesterol
  3. Increased daily calorie burn – muscle uses more calories at a resting heart rate than body fat, so more muscle means more calories burned daily

Getting Started

If you are new to strength training, start slowly and refrain from going overboard. Being slightly sore indicates progress, but here are some tips to begin a strength training program safely and effectively.

  1. Begin with an easy five minute walk or jog to warm up your joints and muscles
  2. Strength train two or three times per week, alternating days, for 20 to 30 minutes each day
  3. On the first training day, start with light weights and see how you feel the next day. Gradually increase your weight over the next few weeks as you gain strength. When you can lift a weight or perform an exercise more than 12 times with little effort, it’s time to increase the weight amount.
  4. Try a few exercises using only your body weight as resistance, like squats, lunges, tricep dips and push-ups.
  5. End with a 10-minute cool down and stretch after each workout.

Keep your heart pumping with cardio exercise, but don’t underestimate the hearth benefits of resistance training for an overall healthy lifestyle. 

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide.

Build Better Bones with Exercise

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People tend to think of their bones simply as hard structures within the body, but bones are actually living tissue in a constant state of change. The exercise you choose to do or not to do can have a dramatic impact on your bone health.

Bone mass typically peaks in your thirties and slowly declines as you age. The good news is that exercise can actually slow down bone loss. Just like muscle, bones respond to exercise – weight bearing exercises are ideal for strengthening and improving your bone health.

Follow these tips from the exercise experts at Life Fitness to build better bones.

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Basic Kettlebell Circuit Video

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Here is a great demonstration of a basic kettlebell circuit. This circuit can be used as a strength workout or a cardio conditioning workout. Simply change the weight of the kettlebell to reduce the load and decrease rest time to focus on cardio conditioning.

Click here to shop for kettlebells online or visit your local HealthStyles retail store.

Exercise Fitness Fact vs. Fiction

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Showing up for your Workouts is 90% of success
TRUE. This is great news so do it! The rest depends on how hard you work. If you are having problems with accountability join a class, small group, workout with a friend or hire a trainer to get you on track. Many people only need a jump start to get them on a regular plan.

Aerobic exercise is all that really matters.
FALSE. A balanced fitness program includes aerobics, strength training, stretching, as well as exercises to improve balance and stability. Some activities give you more than one benefit, for example, walking increases your heart rate while helping maintain balance and building strength in your lower body.

If you want to lose weight go for the Cardio
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What is functional strength training?

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Functional strength training has become a popular buzzword in the fitness industry. Unfortunately, it is also subject to wide interpretation.

At the extreme, some individuals believe that by mimicking the explosive, ballistic activities of high-level competitive athletes, they are training in a functional manner. All too often, however, such training programs greatly exceed the physiological capabilities of the average exerciser, which ultimately increases the possibility that an injury might occur.

Most would agree that there is nothing functional about sustaining an injury due to improper training.

In many respects, functional strength training should be thought of in terms of a movement continuum. As humans, we perform a wide range of movement activities, such as walking, jogging, running, sprinting, jumping, lifting, pushing, pulling, bending, twisting, turning, standing, starting, stopping, climbing and lunging. All of these activities involve smooth, rhythmic motions in the three cardinal planes of movement-sagital, frontal and transverse.

Training to improve functional strength involves more than simply increasing the force-producing capability of a muscle or group of muscles. Rather, it requires training to enhance the coordinated working relationship between the nervous and muscular systems.

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