Winter Coping Tips for the Movement Impaired

As pretty as snowfall might be, the winter months can wear a person down. When added to the already glum mix of cold weather and limited daylight, mobility issues can make winter difficult to get through.

We can empathize! That’s why we’ve put together our favorite methods and tips for coping with winter blues. Spend a week or two getting to know these practices, just a little time each day, and spring will arrive in no time.

Silent and Guided Meditation

There is perhaps no simpler, more calming way to transport one’s self than through meditation. People around the world rely on meditation to reduce stress, calm the soul, and clear the mind.

During a guided meditation, a speaker (live or recorded) will walk participants through each step, using verbal cues to induce a relaxed state and encourage peaceful visualizations. Silent meditation is usually done on one’s own, and requires little more than a quiet, uninterrupted space and a commitment to the practice.

The best approach to meditation is to try it, unfettered and unconcerned with “getting it right.” For more information about silent meditation, check out the beginner’s guide to silent meditation from Zen Habits. For guided meditations, try searching YouTube, where you can specify the length and style you prefer.

Breathing Exercises

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths a day. But, because breathing is involuntary and so commonplace, many of us take it for granted.

Question is, do we really know how to breathe?

As it turns out, there are a variety of breathing techniques that can help during meditation, to reduce stress, or to stem the onset of acute anxiety attacks. According to the American Institute of Stress, a single or series of deep breaths can activate the body’s “natural relaxation response.”

Here are a few other breathing techniques to start your winter days with:

Let There Be Light

Though it might not seem like it, the sun is out there, even if it’s hiding behind a thick layer of grey clouds. Apart from supplying the body with an important vitamin, maximizing one’s exposure to daylight helps keep the winter blues at bay, while giving your body and mind a noticeable boost.

To get ample light exposure each day:

  • Keep the curtains open until nightfall
  • Position yourself near windows that let in light
  • At night, light candles around the room
  • Swap out old bulbs for bright, energy efficient bulbs

On the rare occasion that the winter sun does rear is radiant head, commit to getting outside any way you can! Even brief exposure to the sunshine can do wonders.

Best American Races for Runners in 2019

Why do we run races?

Love for the sport, sure. The challenge to body and mind. The camaraderie and setting are important, too.

For most runners, though, a race is more than just a chance to compete, or a medal to hang around their neck. It is a life experience worth cherishing for the hard work it symbolizes—for the sense of accomplishment that comes after crossing the finish line.

Fortunately, the United States is home to some of the most fun and scenic runs in the world. From sea to shining sea, big city to big mountain, we’ve hand selected must-do, must-see marathons to register for this coming year.

Classic City Marathons

If you can brave the sometimes unpredictable conditions, urban marathons are full of memorable buzz. Run among the skyscrapers, be among your people, be cheered on by the crowds. Here are three classics to consider.

Chicago Marathon

The annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon is one of the largest in the world, and it draws quite the crowd. Here’s your chance to criss cross the Chicago River, pass beneath the iconic Sears Tower, and pound the pavement along the shores of Lake Michigan.

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Month: October

New York City Half Marathon

Why just visit Central Park and Times Square when you can marathon them? The NYC Half Marathon is like a running tour of the Big Apple. Feel the energy as you pass through the world’s most famous city, take in the views as you bound across the iconic Manhattan Bridge.

  • Location: New York, New York
  • Month: March

Cherry Blossom Ten Miles

The Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run is one of the most scenic on our “urban” list. Open to runners of all levels, this ten-miler coincides with the spring blossom of cherry trees throughout D.C. And like the NYC half, it’s a running sightseeing tour: the route passes the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Month: April

Bucket List Destinations

Racing through the big city is one thing, but some races are known for the natural beauty of their surroundings. Be one with Mother Nature for these three stunning destination races.

New River Half Marathon and 5k

Welcome to North Carolina in early summer. Stunning! The New River Marathon courses along the New River in the Blue Ridge Mountains, one of the oldest ranges in the world. Finishers rave about the fragrant trees, majestic scenery, and Southern hospitality. Participate in a full marathon, half, or 5k.

  • Location: Fleetwood, North Carolina
  • Month: June

Carlsbad 5000

Dubbed “the world’s fastest 5k,” the Carlsbad 5000 is a high energy, super fun 5k that courses along one of the most beautiful stretches of Pacific Ocean in Southern California. And for a post-finish cooldown? Take a dip in the ocean!

  • Location: Carlsbad, California
  • Month: April

Kauai Half Marathon

Ahh, the Garden Island. Is there a more gorgeous natural setting on earth? Not many, and there might not be a more gorgeous half marathon. Indeed, the Kauai Half Marathon is a sight to behold.

  • Location: Kauai, Hawaii
  • Month: June

The Fun Stuff

Okay, there are serious and competitive races, and then there are races for those of us who just want to have some fun.

Bay to Breakers

This famous foot race is over one hundred years old! Bay to Breakers brings out all the character that San Francisco is known for. Aside from passing through one of the most beautiful cities in America, have fun taking in all the wild costumes participants love to sport.

  • Location: San Francisco, California
  • Month: May

Walt Disney World Marathon

Run alongside all of your favorite Disney characters in one of the most magical places on earth. The Walt Disney World Marathon will certainly inspire your imagination!

  • Location: Orlando, Florida
  • Month: January

Keep Austin Weird 5k

Not to be outdone by Bay to Breakers, the Keep Austin Weird 5k is known for wild costumes and a fun, energetic atmosphere. This race is dubbed the “slowest race you’ll ever run” for a reason!

  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Month: June

Run Your Best Race in 2019

It’s a big country with lots of pavement to pound. 2019 is shaping up to be a big year! The toughest part will be deciding which races to run …

As you prepare to run wild this coming year, make sure your body is prepared. Headed somewhere altitudinous? Check out our article on altitude and running. For those of you looking to push the limits and beat your personal bests—maybe even place in a race or two this coming year—check out how the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill can improve running.

No matter what, remember to have fun!

4 Ways to Safely Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

In the spirit of optimism and support, we salute your new year’s resolutions, whatever they may be. In our experience, what separates those who achieve their new year’s resolutions and those who don’t is simple: setting and pursuing resolutions in an intelligent, safe way.

Failing to do so can not only derail a person’s gung-ho pursuit of newly minted resolutions, but lead to pain, injury, and unexpected consequences. Here are four ways to safely achieve your new year’s resolutions.

1. Make informed resolutions

One reason resolutions are so appealing is because they show us where we want to be. They do little, however, to remind us of where we are today. Before setting resolutions, take a detailed inventory of your baselines.

This should start with a visit to the doctor for a routine physical. This appointment will give you baseline numbers around your height, weight, heart rate, and other key diagnostics. Blood work and urine samples can help identify any other risk factors you might consider before starting a workout program.

Aside from  physician’s approval to exercise, you can also get a body composition assessment to get numbers around body fat percentage, BMI and other baseline indicators. If your resolutions include running, gait assessment and analysis can prove highly informative. All of this information will help you identify safe goals to set and give you concrete numbers to measure your progress against.

2. Under promise and over deliver (not the other way around)

A surefire way to fall short of fulfilling your new year’s resolutions is to set unrealistic goals. This is also a good way to find yourself out of commission due to injury. Avoid this common pitfall by setting specific goals that are both achievable and sustainable.

Instead of making a resolution to lose fifty pounds, aim for the first ten by the first of March. If your goal is to do the splits, start by touching your toes. Overly ambitious goals can lead you to push yourself unsafely, increase injury risk, and be too hard on yourself should you fail to achieve resolutions that might have been wildly unrealistic in the first place.

3. Remember that sudden change can shock the system

Though a shock to the system can sometimes be a good thing, it can also be dangerous for certain people, body types, and conditions. Rapid weight loss for obese individuals, for instance, or going from a sedentary lifestyle to marathon training can lead to injury, complications, and unforeseen consequences. Consult with a physician first and always remember the age-old adage: baby steps to the bus.

4. Believe in the basics and insist on them

Without adequate rest, a relatively balanced diet, and plenty of water, few resolutions have any chance of flowering. That’s like hopping into a car with no oil, coolant, or fuel, then expecting it to make a trip across the country! Put yourself in a better position to succeed by defining a list of five fundamentals, and then obsess over them.

Examples might be getting eight hours of sleep at least five nights a week, or drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. No food, not even snacks, after 8:00 or 9:00 pm. Always stretching before (warm-up) and after (cool-down) exercise. The more consistently you make good on these fundamentals, the better equipped you’ll be to make good on your greater resolutions. In fact, consistently doing these things on a daily basis could be a resolution in and of itself.

Because Safe Resolutions are Strong Resolutions

The new year is in full swing and we hope your resolutions are, too. We believe in you! We also believe in setting safe, realistic goals and putting yourself in the best position to be successful. You’ve got this! Follow the four fundamental steps above and you’ll be well on your way to always making your new year’s resolutions come true.

Workout Ideas for When Gyms Get Crowded in January

Have you noticed how crowded the gyms are in January? That’s because a curious phenomenon takes place at the beginning of each new year: people flock to make good on their New Year resolutions (and get the most out of their shiny new gym memberships).

Not your scene? No problem. There are plenty of creative ways (and places!) to get a solid workout in far, far away from the loud, crowded, gym scene.  Many of these ideas are quite simple, available in most areas, and—best of all—100% free of charge.

The only price of admission is a willingness to work hard.

Spice up Your Home Workout

Winter workouts at home don’t have to be boring, and they don’t require the purchase of gimmicks or new equipment. With a pair of tennis shoes, a bit of clear space, and an internet connection, the world is yours. Search YouTube for free yoga workouts, or fun, thirty-minute lower body routines. Try something new, find an instructor or series you like, turn up the tunes, and get to work!

Find a Set of Stairs

A set of ten, twenty, or thirty stairs can be a challenging workout in and of itself. Some common places to find stair sets include convention centers, university campuses, or the bleachers next to a high school or university athletic field. Add some body-weight exercises after you reach the top!

Hit the Trails

A change of scenery can turn the normal run into a beautiful experience. Head out to your local hiking trails, nature preserve, or beachfront for your next run. A little fresh air never hurt anyone, and the trails are likely to be far less crowded than the local gym.

Get Rollin’

Did you know that you can burn over 900 calories during an hour of rollerblading? That’s right. So dust off that pair of rollerblades and get rollin’! No rollerblades? That’s okay: roller skates will do just fine, assuming you still have the moves.

Find an AlterG

Did you know you can book individual or bundled sessions on the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill™? Using our handy Find an AlterG tool, just plug in your zip code and find facilities nearby that have an Anti-Gravity Treadmill available for booking.

If you’ve never experienced precision unweighting technology, you’ll be amazed. And you might learn a thing or two about your gait and how to improve it.  

Oh, and don’t worry about those crowded gyms: they’ll still be there for you when people inevitably give up on their resolutions come February.