Using a Jump Rope for a Good Workout

There’s nothing so humble as a simple piece of rope. 

But it can do wonders for your fitness if you give it a chance. It’s an efficient, versatile and portable piece of equipment that everyone should have. You can use it at home or when you’re with your kids at the park. Take it with you when you travel and you have no more excuses to skip a workout.

 

Don’t use your kids jumprope out of the toy box. You’ll likely trip and face plant…or worse. But you also don’t have to buy an expensive rope with all kinds of bells and whistles. A simple rope with comfortable handles will do the trick. Plastic or beaded ropes are durable and add a little weight making it easier to turn. A rope with bearings in the handles will make the rope turn more smoothly. To make sure the rope is the correct size, step on the middle of it and with handles pulled up taught, they should reach your armpits.

Consider where you jump as well. Hard concrete or tile surfaces will pound your legs and joints so try to jump on carpet, grass or wood floors. Asphalt is ok but definitely better than a concrete sidewalk.

Simply jumping for 10-20 minutes will give you a great workout if you’re new to jumping rope for exercise. You can work up to longer jumping if you want or do intervals of 1 minute jumping, 1 minute rest. That alone is an excellent cardio workout and can be done almost anywhere.

If you want to get more creative you can add other types of jumping into the mix, such as backward jumps, side to side jumps and single foot jumps.

Jumping rope is commonly a conditioning workout or warmup for many athletes and can be for fitness enthusiasts as well. It’ll get your heart rate up fast and leave you breathless and sweaty in no time.

If you’re in the market for a jump rope, you can find some here.  (This is an affiliate link which means if you buy through the link, I earn money.)

Happy Exercising!

 

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When to Skip the Workout

hammock-1031363_1280I’m an advocate for pushing through a lot of stuff to get a workout done. We’re all busy. We’re all tired. We’re all stressed. We’re all unmotivated sometimes. Especially at this time of year. My usual response to that is “suck it up”, even if I don’t say it out loud. Exercise (even a little bit), healthy food and knowing you’re setting a good example for the people around you will make you feel better. I promise.

That being said, there are definite times when skipping the workout is better for you than forcing it.

1. Like if you’re sick. If you’re running a fever or fighting an infection then give your body the rest it needs. If you’re at the beginning or end of a simple head cold, you can do some light exercise but still take it easy. Being sick means your body is rundown and it needs rest. If you exercise for general health and fitness, there’s no reason to push it. If you’re training for a specific event, then use your own judgement but again, if you’re sick, your body needs rest. Not more stress. Even good stress.

2. If you’re injured. Generally speaking, injuries require you to stop or at least modify your usual routine. It depends on your injury, of course, but if you feel pain or if you have to alter your good form then you need to consider skipping your workout. If the injury is serious enough then please see a doctor and follow their advice.

3. If you just finished a big event. Maybe you ran a marathon. Or did a CrossFit event or obstacle course race. Take a few days off. You earned it. There’s nothing wrong with active rest like yoga or walking but its absolutely ok to veg out on the couch for a couple of days too. Stretching and foam rolling sore, tight muscles can also make you feel better without overtaxing your body.

4. If you’re chronically sore. If you’re sore or achy all the time with regard exercise then you may be overtraining. You need a few days rest. On the other hand, if you’re sore and achy for days because you only exercise once every two weeks…more exercise is the answer. Trust me!

5. If you are absolutely, completely exhausted. This is a tricky one. Many times we convince ourselves that we’re too tired to workout and lounging in the recliner with a bag of chips sounds like a better option. A light workout can perk you up when you’re tired. However, if you are truly worn down, then you need to skip the workout. Being that tired will lead to poor form which could lead to injury.

We all have rough days when we’re busy, tired or unmotivated. Sometimes all three at once! I get it and its easy to talk yourself out of a workout but more often than not, you really will feel better by doing something. If you’re contemplating a workout, pause and take an assessment of your situation. If any of the above apply then consider skipping a day or two.

Happy Exercising!

30 Day Family Fitness Challenge

Keep your family fit and active during the holiday season. A little bit of physical activity can relieve holiday stress and refresh your spirit. This challenge starts on November 24th and goes all the way to Christmas Eve. Do all the activities with your family or just do what you can. Enjoy!

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Happy Exercising and Happy Holidays!

Fit Gift Ideas

Black Friday is Coming! Black Friday is Coming!

If you have a fit-minded person in your life (or want to give ideas to others for yourself!) here are a few gift ideas to make fitness a little more fun and effective.

(This post contains affiliate links. That means I make money if you click the links and buy the products.)
  1. For that friend who likes to run with music but you want them to be safe.


AfterShokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction Headphones! These headphones are ideal for runners who like to have motivating music on their run but still need to be aware of their surroundings. The Trekz Air use bone conduction technology that leave your ears open for situation awareness. The music is delivered through your cheekbones! How cool is that?? These headphones are made of durable titanium that provides a flexible, secure fit. You can get up to 6 hours of music on a single charge and they have multipoint pairing with Bluetooth connectivity. So you can connect to more than one device. And they come in multiple colors.

2. For the yogi in your life.

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BodyGood Cork Yoga Wheel Accessory Kit. This kit can help you enhance your mobility, flexibility and strength. The wheel and block are made of natural cork so they’re non-slip, water resistant and naturally anti-microbial. The cotton strap helps you ease deeper into your poses. This kit can help you achieve your zen-like flexibility goals in style.

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3. For the space saving home exerciser.

Kettlebell Kings 10-40 lb Adjustable Kettlebell. A versatile kettlebell that can be adjusted in 5 pound increments for a variety of exercises or fitness levels and it takes up minimal space. Easily adjustable with a locking mechanism that keeps the weights safely in place when in use. No worries about accidentally dropping it on your toe. And Kettlebell Kings offers free shipping which is a great deal because shipping 40 pounds worth of product could set you back a mortgage payment!

4. For the protein drink lover.

BlenderBottle Insulated Steel Shaker Bottle. Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 5.47.42 PM.pngThis insulated bottle keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours. It includes a BlenderBall whisk for mixing smooth shakes on the go and a twist-on cap that is guaranteed leak-proof so you can toss the bottle in your gym bag with no worries. It comes in multiple colors and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. This is the perfect addition for your fit friend that is always adding something to their drink.

5. For the friend in need of motivation.

51gnZjSdI-L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNo Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar. Most of us know fitness is good for us but we all lack motivation at times. This book can help you change your mindset about fitness and exercise. Michelle Segar is a behavior expert that specializes in motivation and has developed a 4 point program to help you find your motivation for health.

 

Happy Exercising! And shopping!

1-Year Anniversary and 3D Pictures

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This is a post I wrote almost 2 years ago and since its Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I would share it again…

 

The 1-year anniversary of my breast cancer surgery is coming up in a couple days and I’ve been reflecting on the last year and how it all started. With a 3-D mammogram.

Regular mammograms are so important and when I was offered the option to have a 3-D mammogram done, I took it even though I would need to pay an additional out-of-pocket fee for it. My insurance only covered part of the screening. I didn’t really know the difference between a regular mammogram and a 3D one but my very quick and limited research indicated a 3D mammogram created better pictures.

Traditional mammography takes a single picture versus 3D mammography which takes multiple pictures or slices. The multiple pictures are used to make a 3D image that is clearer and easier to read. These images help detect more cancers and detect them early and help doctors see the size of the cancer easier. It also reduces false positives.

A lot of the research on the effectiveness of a 3D versus traditional mammogram is published by companies that manufacture the screening machines and doesn’t necessarily show a huge difference between them. There is some debate that the more accurate, clearer picture may show abnormalities that require further testing thus producing unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Here’s some more information about the greatness of 3D mammograms from breastcancer.org

A study looking at 3 years of data on breast cancer screening with 3-D mammograms has found that the benefits of 3-D mammograms last over time.

The study was published online on Feb. 18, 2016 by JAMA Oncology. Read the abstract of “Effectiveness of Digital Breast Tomosynthesis Compared With Digital Mammography: Outcomes Analysis From 3 Years of Breast Cancer Screening.”

Benefits of 3D Mammograms Last Over Time

“These findings reaffirm that 3-D mammography is a better mammogram for breast cancer screening,” said Emily Conant, M.D., chief of breast imaging at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who was the senior author of the study. Dr. Conant also is a member of the Breastcancer.org Professional Advisory Board. “These results are an important step toward informing policies so that all women can receive 3-D mammography for screening.”

Based on my personal experience, I highly recommend a 3D mammogram. I was fortunate that my cancer was very small and caught very early. My amazing surgeon indicated that a 3D mammogram was the reason my cancer was caught early. A traditional mammogram may not have caught it and I would have gone a whole year before another screening. In hindsight, the best $50 I EVER spent.

But, sadly, many insurance companies don’t cover the full cost or even part of the cost of a 3-D mammogram. Many women, including me, can afford to pay out-of-pocket fees on top of our insurance coverage to have this more advanced screening but far too many women don’t have that option.

If you have the means, please consider donating to help someone and if you need assistance, here’s a search tool  to help. Please help me spread the word.

*steps off soapbox…

Happy Exercising!

Agility Drills Aren’t Just for Warmup

fullsizeoutput_571Remember the drills your high school coach made you do to warmup before practice? High knee runs, butt kickers, etc.

You can actually use these fun (yes, they can be fun!) drills to put together a cardio workout that you can do anywhere. Instead of slogging away on the treadmill or pedaling to nowhere on a stationary bike, why not get outside and hop, skip or jump your way to a decent workout. Your living room might be tight quarters for this workout but you can do it in your driveway or the park or the local track. Just find a flat surface so you don’t turn an ankle and maybe a few landmarks to work back and forth between like fenceposts or trees.

These drills are often used as a warmup before running to help build strength and balance. Drills like high knees and butt kicks if done correctly are an exaggeration of running form so they can help you focus on good form during the rest of your workout. These are all great benefits so why not get them during your whole workout instead of just in the warmup.

Do a combination of different drills for time or distance and keep it up for 20-30 minutes for a complete cardio workout.

High knee run – Start by standing tall and keeping your chin level and looking ahead instead of down at your feet. Bend your elbows and keep your hands loose. No tight fists! Begin running and lifting your knees so your thighs come up parallel to the ground. Your arms should move back and forth close to your sides. Keep your hands from crossing in front of your body. Land softly on the balls of your feet. You won’t move forward very far with each step but that’s ok. Focus on your form.

Butt kick run – Start in the same position as the high knee run. When you begin running, your knees will barley lift up. Lift your heels as high as you can behind you. Actually kick yourself in the butt if you can! You won’t move forward very far with this drill either, just focus on form.

Power skips – Hopefully you remember how to skip from kindergarten. This drill is just like, only exaggerated. As you push off with your foot, explode up and drive your opposite arm upwards. Land lightly on your feet and continue for a short distance. This is where those landmarks will come in handy.

Carioca – Better known as the grapevine drill. You’ll move sideways in this drill. Again, start by standing tall and looking ahead. Your arms should be slightly out to your sides and will twist opposite your feet to help you keep your balance. 

Hop your left foot in front of your right, hop your right foot out to your right, hop your left foot behind your right and so on. Take it slow at first so you don’t faceplant!

Side shuffle – Just like carioca, you’ll move sideways in this drill too, but there’s less chance of tangling up your feet! Start in a slight squat position with your right hip facing the direction you want to go. Hop your right foot out wide to the right and hop your left foot over to meet your right. Move continuously from step to step until you reach your landmark.

Bounding – Similar to Power Skips but leaping with large steps. The goal is to go far instead of high. Exaggerate your running steps without losing your form and remember to use your arms to help power you forward.

Shake things up a bit and use any or all of these drills to create a fun workout that might break up the exercise routine monotony.

Happy Exercising!

How Do I Start Exercising At Home?

IMG_1192Some people need the accountability of meeting a workout partner or attending a scheduled class or training appointment. Some people aren’t motivated to exercise once they’re home and their couch and pjs are calling to them!

However, many people love the flexibility and privacy of home workouts. And no locker room cooties! That’s reason enough for me!

If you want to workout at home, either full time or as a supplement to your gym routine, it’s not hard to get started.

  1. Make sure you have a dedicated space to exercise. I’m not saying you have to have your own in-house gym room complete with a rubber floor and mirrors but, designating the spare bedroom or the family room or even the backyard if the weather cooperates will help you stay focused. And having a designated place to keep any equipment you have is also a good idea. If you plan on streaming workouts online, make sure you can easily see the screen.
  2. Figure out what you already have available. A set of stairs you can run up and down? A sturdy bench you can jump on? A device to stream workout videos on? Once you know what you have, you can decide what to do with it.
  3. Pick your exercises. A mix of cardio type exercises and strength exercises will make for a well-rounded program. To get you started, pick a variety of exercises from each column below and mix up the order for a great workout. Do each exercise for 1 minute moving through your list. When you’re done, stretch a little or rest 1 minute and go through it again for a longer workout. Do this 3-4 times per week.  

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Alternatively, you can stream an exercise video. Anything from yoga to high intensity interval training. This is a great way to mix it up. FitnessBlender.com has a full library of videos for all kinds of workouts. You can also do a straight cardio workout by going for a run or hike or running up and down your flight of stairs.

4. Finally, if you are interested in getting some equipment, start simple. You can get a very effective workout with just a jump rope and a kettlebell. A resistance band set is portable and takes up very little space and a medicine ball isn’t much bigger than a soccer ball.

That’s all there is to it! Home workouts don’t have to be complicated but they can be powerfully effective…and fun.

Happy Exercising!