Make Fitness a Family Affair

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

But more often than not, the holiday season is a time when your exercise schedule can be neglected. So while you are waiting for the turkey to cook and guests to arrive, grab a family member or friend and make your workout a bonding experience. Go for a walk; even better, find a hill in the neighborhood to walk up and down.

As experienced in our Tred n Shred class, walking at an incline can increase the heart rate in less time.

Heres a great 25 minute workout you can do anywhere you can find a hill:

Minutes 1-4: Walk at a moderate pace at a relatively level incline. This is just to warm up and get the heart pumping.

Minutes 4-10: Walk on an incline (find a hill) at a rate that would be difficult for you to maintain- on a scale from 1-10 (10 being the hardest) you should feel like you are working around 7 or 8.

If you cannot walk up the hill for 6 minutes straight, walk for as long as you can up the hill, then come down and repeat until you reach 6 minutes total walking uphill.

Minutes 10-13: Walk on a level surface at a moderate pace.

Minutes 13-19: Repeat hill sequence.

Minutes 19-21: Walk on a level sideways (laterally) at a moderate pace.

Minutes 21-23: Walk at a moderate to slow pace to cool down

Minutes 23-25: Stretch

Is it too cold to walk outside? Put on a fun exercise DVD or play a game of Wii! You don’t have to skimp on family time to find time to stay fit!

-written by Devin Almedia, Certified Group Fitness Instructor

5 Tips to Keep Fit During the Holiday Season

  • SET REALISTIC GOALS.  Let’s be honest, the holidays are a busy and bustling time.  Current workout routines easily dissipate in the season’s currents.  So this year don’t try to lose weight, instead simply try to maintain your current weight.  Cut your exercise time to 20-30 minutes to better your chances of fitting it in to your schedule.  Remember: DON’T STOP.  A little is better than none.  Besides exercising during the holidays will help to reduce stress associated with the season.
  • FIT IN A WORKOUT ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. Staying fit doesn’t have to involve a gym membership, treadmill, exercise DVD, or expensive running shoes.  Simple everyday chores and errands can add up to great fitness benefits.  Park further from store entrances so you have to walk more.  Take a brisk lap through the mall before you begin shopping.  (Note: this can also help you clear your mind and log in figures for some good bargain shopping sales!).  Take steps instead of escalators.  Increase pace of shopping.  Take bags into the house one at a time.   
  • MAKE EXERCISE A FAMILY ACTIVITY. Schedule at least 1 family activity a week.  Take a ballroom dance class, go ice skating, sledding or skiing, or even take a walk.  Either way you will squeeze in some mind relaxing and heart filling activities that will keep the family and skinny jeans together.
  • EXERCISE EARLIER IN THE DAY before the To-Do list gets too long.  Use 20-30 minutes to calm the mind and wake up the heart and body.  You will be far more prepared to conquer that list once you dedicate some time to yourself.  Then you can save yourself the guilt of licking that spatula from the German chocolate cake mix.
  • APPROACH HOLIDAY MEALS WISELY. Eat a high protein breakfast or snack before the big feast.  This way you will feel less inclined to binge, overeat, and overindulge once the spread is laid.  Also, save the best for last.  Eat the salad, fruit, and veggies in first.  Keep portion sizes down.  Try not to fill up the first plate, knowing you have all intentions of going back for a second helping.





  • -written by Annique Roberts, Certified Group Fitness Instructor

Is Yoga Better at Reducing Anxiety?

by:  Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times

Yoga has many proven health benefits, but does it stand up to other forms of exercise? Researchers pitted it against a walking routine and found that those who practiced yoga showed greater improvements in mood and anxiety.

Researchers randomly assigned 19 people to an Iyengar yoga program and 15 to a metabolically matched regular walking regimen.

Both groups took part in the programs for an hour three times a week for 12 weeks. Study participants were tested several times to measure mood and anxiety. They were also given magnetic resonance spectroscopy scans to measure levels of the brain chemical gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that quiets brain activity, reducing anxiety and producing a state of calm. The scans were done at the beginning and end of the study and immediately following a yoga or walking session.

Those in the yoga group saw better changes in mood and less anxiety than those in the walking group. The yoga group also saw increases in GABA levels linked with improvements in mood.

This study was published recently in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Walking Increases Brain Function

Researchers from Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience followed 65 adults (aged 59-80) who were part of a walking; or toning and stretching group.  All participants were inactive before the study,  reporting less than two episodes of physical activity for 30 minutes or more in the previous six months.

These professional couch potatoes as one researcher described them have proven that even moderate exercise in case walking at ones own pace for 40 minutes 3 times a week can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits, combat declines in brain function associated with aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks.

In this study, neuroscientists identified a brain circuit called the default mode networked (DMN) which dominates brain activity when a person is least engaged with the outside world for instance, when day dreaming.   This circuit, like all the brains circuits, loses connectivity as a person ages.  So its good news that a simple activity, like walking, can counteract this process and enhance connectivity.   (So you can keep on daydreaming!)