Why Your Body Needs Rest Days

There is a hero in us all that loves to “just push through.” Push through the pain. Push through the fatigue, soreness, and hunger. While there is nothing wrong with a strong work ethic, it can be a mistake to push on at the expense of much needed rest and recovery.  Among the many reasons why your body needs rest days, here are five that might give you pause the next time you want to skip a day off.

1. Avoid Overuse Injuries (and Overtraining Syndrome)

Working out too much can push your muscles, bones,  and ligaments, leading go overuse injuries. Think tennis elbow, tendonitis, sprains, and tears. It can also lead to overtraining syndrome, a common condition that can include dragging fatigue, sleep disruption, and mood swings (among other symptoms).

2. Restore Muscle Tissue

Have you ever gotten the feeling after a day or two off that you return that much stronger and more energized? During nearly any kind of training, inflammation and even small tears occur in muscle tissues. During rest, the healing and regeneration of these muscles is what allows us to build strength, endurance, and muscle mass.

3. Replenish, Refuel, Hydrate

Rest days are also an opportunity to replenish the things your body needs to recover. A diet rich in lean protein, fruits, and vegetables will provide some of the calories, vitamins, and nutrients lost during exercise. Of course, you should continue drinking ample water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Not only will diet and water intake help you recover, it will prepare you for tomorrow’s workout, too.

4. Get Your Mind Right

Time away from the physical challenge and psychological strain that accompanies exercise, workout regimens, and sporting activities can do wonders for the mind. A bit of mental rest can recenter your memory, focus, and motivation that might suffer if you burn yourself out. Take a full day off and feed the mind with positive stimulation.

Taking a day off when your body needs rest isn’t a sign of weakness, or quitting—it’s smart. The world’s top athletes and trainers swear by it (alongside proper nutrition and hydration). Just getting a bit more sleep every night can make a world of difference in you mood, energy level, and motivation.

How long? Allow one to two days between working out the same group of muscles. These rules vary depending on type of exercise and body type, so it’s always a good idea to check with your physician or physical therapist to confirm.

Either way, rest is essential to better performance. Put it all together and you’ll come back stronger than ever.

5 Pointers for Better Training in Cold Weather

Should you be one of the brave and determined souls that engage in cold weather training, we salute you. No hibernation for the weary, especially when there are resolutions on the mind.

Cold weather training presents its own set of challenges. The body, for one, responds differently to the cold—during preparation, training itself, and recovery time.

Here are five tips for better, safer training in cold weather. Follow these and you’ll be well positioned to train stronger throughout the cold season.

1. Get Enough to Eat and Drink

Just because the temperatures are low doesn’t mean your body isn’t working just as hard (if not harder) than it might during summer. Calorically speaking, your body needs fuel not only to sustain your training routine, but to keep your body arm while doing it. And proper hydration is just as important during winter as it is any other month.

2. Insulate and Regulate

Beyond plain comfort, layering yourself properly can help manage cold weather conditions during training. Make sure to insulate your body so it stays warm, of course. But for longer routines, ventilate intermittently to make sure your body doesn’t overheat under the extra layers. Finally, shield yourself from the cutting wind best you can.

3. Stay Moving, Stay Loose

Cold temperatures can limit blood flow and encourage us to (consciously or not) stay tight and compact to keep in the warmth. While training in cold weather, it is important to maintain circulation throughout the workout. Runners, for example, can windmill the arms, or periodically shake them out. Wiggle the toes, open and close your fists. Maintaining good circulation prevents injury and keeps the body running optimally.

4. Cool Down Sensibly

A cool down is always a good idea, no matter the weather. That’s because after training, the heart is working extra hard and requires time to gradually return to a normal state. Cold weather puts even more load on the heart, so it’s important to get a gradual cool down to reduce risk of heart strain, fainting, or feelings of sickness. But don’t linger in the cold! Cooling sweat can increase your risk of catching a chill.

5. Clear It With a Physician

Vigorous exercise of any kind puts added strain on the body. Because training in cold weather requires more heart exertion, it is imperative that those new to exercise, or living with obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions, consult with a physician first.

Ultimately, the mantra for cold weather training is simple: prepare well and be sensible. The five pointers above should help you train smart during the winter months and be in the best shape of your life come spring.

3 Winter Workouts You Can Do At Home

Like most dark and dreary winter days, at-home workouts tend to be boring and uninspired. We thought we’d put together a list of three fun exercise activities that will stimulate both your mind and matter, all while keeping those pesky winter blues at bay.

Here’s our list of three home workouts for winter, including some ideas on how to make the most of whichever you choose.

Jump Rope like a Boxer

In the world of boxing and mixed martial arts, jumping rope is a staple. It’s perfect as a warm up, or as a workout in and of itself. Benefits include improvements in endurance, coordination, agility, and foot speed. Think jumping rope is boring? See if you can make it through twenty minutes, nonstop, while incorporating the following moves:

  • Side swing
  • Criss cross
  • Single-foot hop
  • Alternating feet
  • Scissors
  • Scissor lunges
  • Heal to toe
  • Toe to toe
  • Double unders
  • High knees

As your rope jumping advances, you can try using a weighted rope, or speed rope, to increase the challenge.

Stream it to Your Living Room

When it comes to at-home winter workouts, video search engines like YouTube are a goldmine. Why? Two reasons: it’s free, and the variety is endless. Here are a few search terms to throw into YouTube that will give you a great start at finding what works for you:

  • Dance workout
  • Yoga routine
  • Tai chi routine
  • HIIT routines
  • Core strength routine
  • Kickboxing routine

For each of these search terms, you’ll find plenty of high quality workouts you can do at home.

Use What You Were Born With

Body weight exercises require just one thing: you. And like jumping rope, there is no end to the variety of body weight exercises you can build into your routine. To begin, try putting together a circuit routine with 3-5 of the following body weight exercises.

  • Push-ups (use proper form!)
  • Pike hold
  • Ankle touch push ups
  • Forward and side planks
  • Standard squats
  • Prisoner squats
  • Burpees

Those should get you percolating (that last one is tough!). Here is an excellent, illustrated guide of more than 40 bodyweight exercises.

Tips for Your Winter Workout

No matter which winter workout you choose, here are a few recommendations to help your home workout be more successful:

  • Clear a dedicated space for the workout
  • Limit distractions so you can focus
  • Keep it short and engaging, thirty minutes to an hour tops
  • Spice it up with some music (deep house, anyone?)
  • Invite a workout partner to join you

And finally, don’t look out the window! Because yes, it is still cold and, yes, it still the middle of winter.

If You Are Up For Leaving the House …

Of course, we can’t hibernate the entire winter! And besides, a change in scenery (and a bit of socializing) can do the body good. Did you know that you can book individual sessions on an AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ in your area? Use the link below to search your zip code for a facility that offers individual sessions on one of our Anti-Gravity Treadmill products.

Find an Anti-Gravity Treadmill >>

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.

National Running Day 2018 – All You Need To Know

One of our favorite things about running is that anyone can do it. All you need is a little motivation, a pair of shoes (optional!), and some earth beneath your feet. This kind of simplicity is what gives running its global appeal. Moreover, affirming this passion for running is the idea behind National Running Day 2018. Continue reading “National Running Day 2018 – All You Need To Know”

5 Easy Lumbar Core Strengthening Exercises You Should Know

Chronic lower back pain is a common reason for starting a physical therapy program. It has a variety of causes. And we do know that core stability is at the center of spinal health. That’s why we are constantly exploring new ways to strengthen the core. Not only can these stability exercises be used in a preventative manner, but they can also help patients recover from a variety of conditions, from athletic injuries to total hip arthroplasty. Continue reading “5 Easy Lumbar Core Strengthening Exercises You Should Know”

Get Out of Thine Office and Walk! 4 Tips for Incorporating More Walking into Your Daily Schedule

Take a moment and ask yourself a simple question:

How many hours, per day, do I spend sitting?

If you’re like most Americans, the answer to that question might be a sobering one. According to a recent study by National Physical Activity Plan Alliance (NPAPA), American adults receive a “C” grade for adult walking behavior. Of the adults surveyed, only some 69% reported walking at least once for ten minutes in the week preceding.

Oof.
Continue reading “Get Out of Thine Office and Walk! 4 Tips for Incorporating More Walking into Your Daily Schedule”

Celebrate #OW2017 With a Focus on Diet and Movement

October 29 marks the beginning of Obesity Week—time to celebrate!

Wait, we’re celebrating?

Yes! Because Obesity Week is the annual gathering of scientists, researchers, and medical professionals committed to improving the way we approach, treat, and overcome obesity. Despite the overwhelming statistics surrounding obesity, this condition can be treated, and physical therapists often play a key role in implementing effective programs that deliver life-changing results.
Continue reading “Celebrate #OW2017 With a Focus on Diet and Movement”

The Impact of Exercise on Mental Health

Living with mental health issues can be challenging. Anxiety, depression—ADHD, stress, and PTSD—mental health issues touch nearly every aspect of life, from work to relationships to overall wellbeing. And these issues can extend into our physical lives, sometimes diminishing our motivation to exercise. It’s an odd conundrum, considering how central exercise is in helping people manage their mental health issues.
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