Running: Get Fit and Have Fun

couple running outdoors

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Humans were never meant to sit around in offices all day then go back to their homes and eat potato chips on the couch. Our bodies simply aren’t meant to live a sedentary, indoor lifestyle, at least not without health consequences. So, while any workout is better than none and others have benefits (like anti-aging properties, etc.), there is one workout that is fun, gets you fit, and connects your with your natural state: running. And, if you have a quick pace you can burn around 15 calories a minute.

I used to hate running when I was younger. I’m not sure why, but it’s probably because I associated it with being forced to do it at football practice or boringly running on a treadmill. In reality, running is a fun way to get in great shape. But, it is best done with a few tips in mind.

Get Outside

I personally still hate the treadmill and get bored after fifteen minutes. But, when I’m outside in nature, I can easily bust out 6-7 miles (OK, it’s not easy, but I can do it). Why? Because when you throw in the sunshine, breeze, and stimulation of nature, it becomes a totally different experience.

If you’ve never tried actually running (or jogging) outside, or it’s been awhile, give it a chance. Start out slowly, even walking fast, then work your way up. It’s a great way to connect with nature and get outdoors.

Start Slowly And Push

I’ve known many people who buy a bunch of cool running equipment (more on that later), get all excited…then they sprint for five minutes, decide it’s too hard and quit. Running isn’t something anyone can just jump into and become a beast at it. You must work up to higher levels of running ability. Start by walking if you’re really out of shape, then move to a jog, then gradually try to increase your pace. Start slowly, but keep pushing yourself. Otherwise, you’ll just quit and it won’t do you any good anyway.

Run With A Friend

If you want an extra push, then run with a friend. Having someone else to do it with accomplishes two things. First, you can keep each other motivated and accountable. This is important with any fitness program, but especially one like running. Second, running with a friend can make it go faster since you can talk (or at least grunt) to each other.

Make sure you pick someone of your similar fitness and ability level, though. Otherwise, it could be frustrating if one person gets left behind or a fitter runner feels she has to hold back to accommodate a less seasoned one.

Get the Right Gear

While you can literally run in just about anything, comfort matters, especially in your shoes. It’s also important to dress for the weather. If you are running in the winter or colder weather, you’ll need to bundle up. If you’re in the extreme heat, then go lighter and make sure to bring water (or run close to a fountain or something).

Shoes are very important when running. Make sure you get ones that fit. Believe it or not, people run in different ways and you need the right shoe to support you. Here is a cool guide to choosing a running shoe.

Also, I want to mention one of my favorite running accessories of all time: my Nike + GPS Running Watch. I have used this thing for four years now. It logs miles, locations, pace, etc. I absolutely love it. If you run a lot and want a record of your results, you have to buy it. It’s a little pricey, but well worth it.

So, if you are looking for a new fitness activity to try for the summer, you might want to take up running. It’s fun and will get you in shape in no time.

We Are On TV!

We were on WBNS Channel Ten over the weekend as a part of a flirting class we help teach, along with the great matchmakers at Dating Directions. Have a look below. If for some reason the video below doesn’t play, click here to view the video on 10TV’s website.

My Betaine Weight Loss and Muscle Gain Experience

Man doing a bicep curl, sepia toneA few months ago I posted an article about Betaine and weight loss (and muscle gain). The small studies out there suggest betaine, aka trimethylglycine (TMG), can increase weight loss and muscle gain in guys who exercise. I was very curious about this, because in general, I am very skeptical of supplements that claim to aid in weight loss. I usually jokingly point out that if a chemical causes weight loss, there is a  name for that: a poison.

I have taken betaine in the hcl form for many years, getting around 500 mg of betaine a day. However, after reading the research above, I tripled my daily betaine intake, going from around 500 mg a day to close to 1500-2000 mg. What follows is only my personal anecdotal evidence, but it is interesting.

Before I started upping my betaine, I weighed 149 pounds and bought size 30 waist pants. These pants were somewhat tight. At 5’7″ inches, my weight was fit. I started upping my betaine and continuing my normal workouts (Insanity Max 30 and running).

A few months later, after Thanksgiving and Christmas (and increased eating during those periods), I noticed I weighed 157. Uh-oh. That is eight pounds gained. I should have been disappointed, right?

Well, I tried on the same pants, and they actually fit a little better than before, and I notice I look more ripped. Again, this isn’t scientific, but I basically ate more, gained eight pounds of muscle, and apparently kept my fat level the same (if my pants are any indication). The only thing I really did differently in terms of my supplements and activity was upping my trimethylglycine levels.

I also noticed  have pretty much stayed around 157. No matter if I have a few days of overeating or undereating, I stay at 157. Even with a week of Easter candy and going much higher carb…I was still at 157.

I am not saying betaine is a miracle supplement. I am saying that based on my anecdotal, non-scientific experience, it may have a weight loss and muscle gain benefit.

Order Betaine HCL from Amazon, or  TMG/Betaine Anhydrous

What is Tabata and Why You Should Use It

Girl jumping on matWhat if I told you there was a secret workout formula that could burn as many calories in four minutes as in an hour of running? Well, there is such a workout that can, at least based on some research, accomplish this magic, and it is called Tabata, a specific type of interval training. It sounds exotic, but it is just named after the last name of the Japanese researcher who pioneered that type of exercise, Izumi Tabata. The good news is that it seems to work. The bad news? Well, it is four minutes of absolute hell unleashed on your body. Sound good? Yes it does. I agree. So keep reading.

In his studies, Tabata’s program burned a lot of calories during and after the exercise (due to its intensity the effects may last as much as 12 hours afterwards), as well as increased overall aerobic and anaerobic capacity. So, not only does Tabata increase your heart and lung health, it increases muscle mass too.

Tabata should start with a ten minute light warm-up, followed by doing intense exercises for twenty seconds, resting for ten seconds, and then repeating this 20 on-10 off protocol for four minutes. The key for Tabata to work is for it to be extremely intense. In other words, for each of those twenty second bursts, you are giving your all, to the point that you are out of breath by the end of that brief period. If you can “recover” at all during the ten second rest, you aren’t doing Tabata right.

So here it is for those who need to see it written out differently:

Exercise 1: 20 seconds on, 10 second break, 20 seconds on, 10 second break
Exercise 2: 20 seconds on, 10 second break, 20 seconds on, 10 second break
Exercise 3: 20 seconds on, 10 second break, 20 seconds on, 10 second break
Exercise 4: 20 seconds on, 10 second break, 20 seconds on, You’re done! (finally)

There are a variety of exercises you can use with Tabata. I prefer ones that are explosive in their movements, because that makes for a more intense workout. So I use exercises like squat jumps (jumping high and landing in a squat), burpees, moving push-ups (doing a push-up, moving to the left, doing a push-up, moving back, etc), hurdle jumping, etc. You can do Tabata with more traditional exercises like jumping jacks just fine, but I prefer to ramp up the intensity.

Little girl jumping on matI like Tabata because it is so brief. I can get motivated to do a four minute workout. I also like that I can do it anywhere. Granted, I have to lessen the intensity level when I am at work in my shirt and tie, but I can still do something for four minutes anywhere I am. I will often do “static hold” Tabata throughout the day. I know this won’t burn as many calories as an intense one, but it builds muscle regardless. I will hold the squat and lunge positions. Also holding the push up position an inch off the ground can be very intense. This is much easier than it sounds.

There are some great apps you can use to enhance your Tabata workouts. This one is my favorite for Android. It has plenty of pre-defined Tabata workouts, and you can create your own from their selections, or you can just time yourself generically. I like it the best because it gives warning beeps before ringing a bell telling you to shift from intense to rest. It is free and a perfect app for my use.

Try Tabata today. Even though I run regularly and use the Beachbody Insanity line of products, I am virtually always sore after doing Tabata.

Interval Training Explained

man doing push up

Image courtesy of ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What would you say if I told you there was a workout you could do that increases cardio endurance, builds strength, and does it more effectively than other methods? What if I also told you this workout regimen has been connected to anti-aging? Yes, this magical workout actually exists. It’s called interval training.

If you look at most popular workouts these days: jogging, treadmill, elliptical, aerobics, etc. they are typically long bursts of low to moderate activity. I’ve seen it countless times at the gym: people who spend 30-60 minutes on a machine not going beyond moderate exertion (and barely sweating).

While such workouts are better than nothing, they’re not ideal. The best workouts are interval based and, if you want to get to a high level of fitness, challenge yourself, or get fit quickly you should give it a try. Interval training involves a period of intense activity followed by a break. Then the process is repeated.

For example, you would do an intense workout (like jumping jacks or push-ups) for a minute followed by a fifteen second break (or another variation). The reason interval training is a great workout isn’t completely understood, but we have an idea. It does, however, increase resting metabolic rate for upwards of 24 hours after exercise and creates improved insulin sensitivity and higher level of fat oxidation in the muscles. It also results in significant spikes in growth hormone levels (which aid in fat loss) and catecholamine levels (chemicals your body produces to directly induce fat mobilization). Here is the source with more on the topic.

Two popular interval training programs are Insanity and P90x. They are ideal because they have predetermined moves with demonstrations of how they work, as well as motivation from the instructors. Check out our extensive reviews of Insanity products to determine if this workout is for you. We love them.

However, interval training can be done at home with just a stopwatch (online, phone, etc.), a list of exercises, and your body. Most interval workouts involve simply using your body as resistance. However, you can add bands and dumbbells to create additional resistance and difficulty.

There are several advantages to interval training. First, it can be intense to moderate depending on your ability. Second, it’s been shown to be very effective. Third, it is inexpensive since it only really requires your body. Fourth, if done properly with diversity, it works every muscle group. Finally, depending on your chosen workouts, you can pretty much do it anywhere since it just requires enough space for your body height.

The disadvantages are that the best moves are often challenging for beginners and can be technically difficult (compared to using an elliptical). Along these lines, it will require you to learn multiple moves to get the best workout. They are small issues, but things to think about.

So, check out interval training to jump start your workout or take it to the next level. And, remember to always consult a doctor before starting any fitness regimen.

Four Lies Men Believe About Love Thanks To The Movies

Jonathan’s newest for Digital Romance looks at Four Lies Men Believe About Love Thanks To Movies. Have a look!

Preview: don’t ever dress like Indiana Jones in middle school unless you really don’t want a girlfriend.