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8 Ways to get the most out of a gym membership

For health and fitness success in the new year, the experts at Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs recommend the following 8 steps to find the perfect gym.

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For health and fitness success in the new year, the experts at Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs recommend the following 8 steps to find the perfect gym:

  1. Location: When looking for a gym membership, make sure to always go close to home. A gym should be in a location that makes it convenient and not a hassle because it happens to be a 20 minute drive just to get there. If the location of the gym is close to home, it’s harder to make excuses not to go.
  2. Amenities: Take advantage of the amenities the gym has, such as the locker rooms with showers and 24/7 access. Keep a gym bag packed and ready to go at all times including: headphones, gym clothes, shoes, towel, snack, deodorant, shaker cup, and supplements. Keeping a gym bag ready helps to not only be prepared to take on a challenging workout regularly, but also to take advantage of the club amenities post-workout.
  3. Fitness Assessment: 95% percent of people who go into a gym without a plan will fail. All gym goers, whether they have been going to a gym for years or are going for the first time, should remember it’s always important to assess personal health and fitness levels. A sit-down with a personal trainer is the perfect place to get an awareness for one’s physical health, discuss health risks based on personal habits, begin to establish attainable goals, and increase confidence in any fitness environment. With the empowerment of a personalized fitness assessment, confidence about coming into the gym, having a plan and someone to go to with questions, increases exponentially – increasing success exponentially.
  4. Get a coach: Everyone needs a coach. A coach acts as a guide, a motivator, and a mentor for both new and seasoned gym-goers. They can help new fitness members maximize their gym time and steadily reach their goals. They can help seasoned gym-goers rework their standard routines and set new fitness goals.
  5. Take a class: or two or three… Working out with a group of people has been proven to keep people both more motivated and comfortable, as well as ensure a fun workout. The best part is those who take classes make more friends and can keep each other accountable to keep coming back to the gym.
  6. Bring a buddy: If a class doesn’t work in the schedule, grab a friend and go push through a workout together! Having a gym buddy helps both people workout harder, have more fun, and maybe even get a friendly competition going. Friends keep each other going on those days where one of them really feels like just laying in bed watching Netflix with their favorite ice cream.
  7. Nutrition: Getting into the gym for a hour is the easy part compared to the other 23 hours of the day. While hitting the gym can be a great boost to health and body image, it does little to nothing without a good diet and proper nutrition. Eating right can make all the difference in a fitness journey.
  8. Keep it up: To get the most out of a membership – use it! A good way to get the most out of it is by staying consistent in how many days a week one goes to the gym. Stick to a plan, get that coach, take those classes, stay on top of nutrition – and achieve success!

This article is courtesy of Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs.

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Fitness

Study finds moderate-vigorous physical activity is the most efficient at improving fitness

Dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

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In the largest study performed to date to understand the relationship between habitual physical activity and physical fitness, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that higher amount of time spent performing exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) and low-moderate level activity (steps) and less time spent sedentary, translated to greater physical fitness.

“By establishing the relationship between different forms of habitual physical activity and detailed fitness measures, we hope that our study will provide important information that can ultimately be used to improve physical fitness and overall health across the life course,” explained corresponding author Matthew Nayor, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM.

He and his team studied approximately 2,000 participants from the community-based Framingham Heart Study who underwent comprehensive cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPET) for the “gold standard” measurement of physical fitness. Physical fitness measurements were associated with physical activity data obtained through accelerometers (device that measures frequency and intensity of human movement) that were worn for one week around the time of CPET and approximately eight years earlier.

They found dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

According to the researchers, while the study was focused on the relationship of physical activity and fitness specifically (rather than any health-related outcomes), fitness has a powerful influence on health and is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death. “Therefore, improved understanding of methods to improve fitness would be expected to have broad implications for improved health,” said Nayor, a cardiologist at Boston Medical Center.

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Fitness

Tips to avoid common running injuries

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

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Photo by Malik Skydsgaard from Unsplash.com

Whether training for a marathon or preparing for your first community race, being knocked off course with pain can be hard to handle mentally and physically.

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

Injury prevention is critical. Here are some safety tips from Dr. Joshua Blomgren, a 15-time Chicago Marathon team physician and sports medicine physician, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush:

Don’t over-train

Don’t increase weekly mileage or intensity by more than 10 percent each week. Build up slowly and let a good training schedule determine how much you run.

Invest in good shoes

Go to a specialty running shop to be properly fitted for running shoes and/or orthotics. Replace them every 350-500 miles. Incorrect shoes can affect your gait, leading to injuries in your feet, legs, knees, or hips.

Choose the best running surface

Look for running surfaces that absorb shock. Opt for asphalt over concrete. Find grass or dirt trails, especially for higher mileage. Avoid uneven surfaces and seek paths with slow curves.

Stretch!

Training causes tight muscles, leading to strain and changes in your gait. Commit to a stretching program. Just 5 -10 minutes after each workout can make a big difference.

Strengthen muscles

Runners have tight hip flexors because their quads are overtrained. Strengthen your hamstrings and glutes to reduce chance of injury and abductors, adductors, and core to create stability.

Watch out for heel striking

Heel striking occurs when your feet land in front of you and your heel hits the ground first. This is common among new runners but can lead to injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, and joint pain. Land mid-sole with your foot directly underneath your body.

Prioritize posture

Good form means staying upright and keeping your shoulders back and relaxed. Work core exercises into your training and do posture checks every so often. Hold your head right above your shoulders and hips.

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Fitness

Postmenopausal women can dance their way to better health

After menopause, women are more likely to experience weight gain, overall/central body adiposity increases, and metabolic disturbances, such as increases in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Together, these changes ultimately increase cardiovascular risk. Around this same time, women often are less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean mass and an increased risk of falls and fractures.

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Photo by Olivia Bauso from Unsplash.com

Women often struggle with managing their weight and other health risk factors, such as high cholesterol, once they transition through menopause. A new study suggests that dancing may effectively lower cholesterol levels, improve fitness and body composition and in the process, improve self-esteem. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

After menopause, women are more likely to experience weight gain, overall/central body adiposity increases, and metabolic disturbances, such as increases in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Together, these changes ultimately increase cardiovascular risk. Around this same time, women often are less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean mass and an increased risk of falls and fractures. As a result of all these changes, postmenopausal women often suffer from decreased self-image and self-esteem, which are directly related to overall mental health.

Physical activity has been shown to minimize some of the many health problems associated with menopause. The effect of dancing, specifically, has already been investigated with regard to how it improves body composition and functional fitness. Few studies, however, have investigated the effects of dance on body image, self-esteem, and physical fitness together in postmenopausal women.

This new study was designed to analyze the effects of dance practice on body composition, metabolic profile, functional fitness, and self-image/self-esteem in postmenopausal women. Although the sample size was small, the study suggested some credible benefits of a three-times-weekly dance regimen in improving not only the lipid profile and functional fitness of postmenopausal women but also self-image and self-esteem.

Dance therapy is seen as an attractive option because it is a pleasant activity with low associated costs and low risk of injury for its practitioners. Additional confirmed benefits of regular dancing include improvement in balance, postural control, gait, strength, and overall physical performance. All of these benefits may contribute to a woman’s ability to maintain an independent, high-quality lifestyle throughout her lifespan.

Study results are published in the article “Dance practice modifies functional fitness, lipid profile, and self-image in postmenopausal women.”

“This study highlights the feasibility of a simple intervention, such as a dance class three times weekly, for improving not only fitness and metabolic profile but also self-image and self-esteem in postmenopausal women. In addition to these benefits, women also probably enjoyed a sense of camaraderie from the shared experience of learning something new,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

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