Health and Fitness Tips and Inspiration

  1. Treadmill Motors: Truths & Lies

    treadmill motor shown in treadmill

    The Truth About a Treadmill Motors:

    The treadmill motor is a key component to a treadmill and delivers power to the belt system of the treadmill. A motor’s horsepower will usually ranges anywhere between 1.5 and 3.0 HP. All home treadmills are made using DC (Direct Current) motors. DC motors are quieter and only operate at their full capacity when running at their top speeds. This means that a person walking at 4 mph on a machine with a 2.5 HP motor will likely only be using a small fraction of the motor’s capacity. The issue here is that a heavy person walking at a slow speed will put an extra load on the motor and cause it to run hot which will eventually result in motor or lower electronic board failure. A larger motor will be able to handle the extra load without over-heating and typically I would suggest looking for a motor that’s at least 2.5 horsepower continuous duty. Larger motors allow for the higher user weight rating, and also have a higher top speed, reduce component fatigue and make for a more stable running experience.

    The Lies About Motors:

    If you are choosing a bigger motor then also be cautious as some manufacturers use bigger motors to power their treadmills because they have a poorly designed deck and belt, and they need a bigger motor to power it-always make sure to check the quality of the entire treadmill!

    Not only that but the actual HP rating solely determined by the treadmill manufacturer itself. There is no industry standard as to how to rate your DC motors. A manufacturer may say they have 2 HP continuous duty motor rated at 2,000 rpm and 15 amps, and a separate manufacturer may be labeling the same treadmill motor as a 3 HP commercial grade continuous duty motor. This is because manufacturers can rate their motor at a very high rpm speed (around 5,000 rpm) in order to achieve a higher horsepower number for marketing purposes. These smaller, cheaper treadmill motors with high RPM’s increase the listed horsepower output on the belt but since the motor is spinning so much faster it will burn out more quickly.

    One last thing to look out for is manufacturers that inflate ratings by specifying “peak horsepower” and only advertise the motors maximum power, not its sustained output, which is generally not relevant for runners who need continuous power.

    Generally the top brands of treadmills are all using good quality motors and should last you a long time, however you should look at the motor warranty to separate out the high and low quality ones.

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  2. 5 Tips to Help You Exercise Safely in the Summer Heat



    With the summer months rapidly approaching, it’s time to take your workouts outdoors!   While many of us may be tempted to jump right into our outdoor workouts, we should all take great care in preparing for the summer heat and the effects it can have on our bodies.

    Let’s take a looks at 5 tips that will assure your outdoor workouts are safe this summer.

    Tip #1: Hydrate

    Exercising in hot weather increases our body temperature, so it’s vital to assure your body is properly hydrated before, during, and after your workouts.

    While the body’s ability to perspire acts as a natural cooling system, it’s your job to make sure you’re hydrated enough for this to work properly.

    Your focus should primarily be on drinking water.  Remember, our bodies consist of 50-60% water, so it’s vital to maintain this amount.  On a hot day, you can easily lose 3-5% of your body’s water weight while working out.

    During exercise, aim for drinking 8-10 oz. of water every 20 minute. After exercise, be sure to get in another 10-20 oz. to assure you are properly re-hydrating.  Another great way to re-hydrate is to grab some fruit.  An orange or an apple will help replace valuable electrolyte loss and aid in recovery.

    Tip #2:  Avoid Peak Heat

    Plan your outdoor workouts for early in the morning or around sunset. Sun and humidity levels are more intense during the daytime hours, so to minimize the effects of the heat plan your workouts around that part of the day.

    Tip #3:  Dress Appropriately

    Invest in some lightweight, loose-fitting workout clothes that will help wick away moisture and keep your body cooler.  Sweating alone does not cool the body, but the evaporation of sweat does.  Clothes that soak up your sweat not only become uncomfortable and weigh you down, but they don’t allow for proper evaporation.

    Also avoid dark colored workout clothing that will absorb the heat and focus on wearing light-colored items.

    Tip #4:  Acclimate

    If you have been running indoors or working out in a cooler climate, be prepared to ease up a bit when the weather heats up.  Heat and humidity can wear your body down much faster when you’re not used to it, so gradually work your way into summer heat shape and allow your body to build up a tolerance to that kind of workout environment.

    Those high intensity intervals or long distance treadmill runs will be tough to match in the hot weather, so be smart and gradually work your way up to them.

    Tip #5:  Listen To Your Body

    It’s crucial to pay attention to your body when it comes to working out in the heat.  Heat exhaustion and sun stroke can quickly sneak up on you and put you in a world of hurt!

    If you’re feeling any of the following symptoms while working out in the heat, it’s time to shut it down and find some air-conditioned comfort:
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Weakness
    • Light-headedness
    • Muscle cramps
    • Headache


    To quickly cool off, here are a couple of tricks:
    • Run cold water over your forearms
    • Apply ice packs or cooling wraps to the back of your neck, your forearms, and/or your armpits
    • Use a spray bottle to mist your skin while fanning air on it to aid in the evaporation/cooling
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  3. Healthy and Delicious Memorial Day Recipes

    Friends eating at a picnic table outside for Memorial Day. Memorial Day is everyone’s favorite kick off to the summer.  Cookouts, family reunions, and activities with the kids make portable Memorial Day Recipes essential.  These (mostly) healthy recipes fit the bill, ranging from beverages to Memorial Day desserts.  Best of all?  These crowd pleasers all feature beautiful ways to showcase the healthy foods of early summer.

    Beverages:

      Whether you’re sipping iced coffee or staying hydrated with fruit infused water, the right combination will make the ordinary extraordinary.   Try a Coconut Iced Mocha  for an afternoon pick me up.   Or pack up enough of Blackberry Sage Infused Water to keep the crowd hydrated at your next beach party.

    Appetizers:

    The best Memorial Day Recipes for appetizers are portable, easy to prepare, and, of course, delicious.  Not too heavy and featuring plenty of fresh produce, here are some of our favorites.
    • Greek Salad Skewers: With all the fresh goodness of your favorite Greek Salad in the convenience of a skewer.  These round out the barbecue but you might want to save a few for your lunch on Tuesday.
    • Golden Goddess Turmeric: Level up your hummus by adding turmeric for a festive color with a nutritional punch.  Serve this as a veggie platter with cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, olives, and feta.  You’ll please the vegetarians and carnivores alike.
    • Portobello Nachos While Portobello Mushrooms are featured here, if you have access to other seasonal mushrooms, this is a fantastic way to showcase them! Roasting the vegetables ahead of time brings out their sweetness, making this appetizer one that will disappear in no time.
    • Smoked Salmon and Roasted Zucchini Roll-ups Grab and go meal prep ideas translate well to fresh, no fuss appetizers. This fresh combination is pleasing to the eye and the palate.  Need a vegetarian alternative?  Spread your roll-ups with this tasty Lemon Goat Cheese spread
    • Sausage Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates: While these fall more into the treat category, they’re sure to please the paleo crowd. Fortunately, the chewy sweetness of the dates makes a little bacon go a long way.

    Salads:

     While you could stick to a tossed salad or a quart of potato salad from your local deli, Memorial Day Recipes for salads that are beautiful and delicious will be a showstopper at your next Memorial Day Cookout.  Grilling the Potatoes in this Grilled Potato Salad adds a layer of flavor that will have your guests loading their plates.  The dressing and bacon can be a bit heavy, so consider adding a few more potatoes to stretch this out.  Need a lighter option?  Beets are a great workout recovery food and contribute color to your buffet.  Try this Beet Wild Rice Salad alongside your favorite grilled beef or mushrooms.

    Main Course: 

    In the unlikely event that you find yourself doing something other than grilling, it’s nice to have a Memorial Day Main Course recipe that can be prepared before the guests arrive, feels festive, and will survive hours on the buffet table.  This Instant Pot Carnitas fits the bill.  It also plays nicely with the fresh salsas and guacamole that are likely to make an appearance.

    Dessert:

    Unless you’re finishing the party with your first root-beer float of the year, the perfect Memorial Day Recipe for dessert should showcase the beautiful and delicious berries that are just starting to come into season.  This Shattered Blueberry Yogurt Cake is so stunning and delicious you won’t even notice it’s gluten free.  Try garnishing it with a few fresh strawberries for a celebration in red, white and blue.  Need another option?  Try this nut free, Apple Summer Berry Crumble that is equally comfortable at your next brunch. Sorting out the best recipes and food blogs can be overwhelming.  Need some suggestions?  Try these recommended food blogs to keep you inspired all summer long!  
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  4. Bike To Work Day: 7 Easy Tips For Commuting On Your Bike

    Bike to Work Day. Person commuting to work on a bicycle. We’ve all seen the occasional cyclist commuting on our daily drive to work and have probably even thought about doing it yourself. Not only does bike commuting help the environment, but it also saves money (gas, wear and tear on your car, etc.) and is a great way to stay fit and burn a few extra calories.

    The month of May is National Bike Month, with the biggest day being Bike to Work Day. In 2017 that day will be recognized on Friday, May 19th.

    Bike to Work Day has been around for quite some time, having originated in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists. Since its inception, a growing number of communities have embraced the event and used it as a way to promote the bicycle as a healthy and safe alternative for commuting to work.

    It must be working. . .the United States has seen a 62% growth in the number of bicycle commuters since 2000!

    So if you’re not among the growing bike commuters across the country, why not use Bike to Work Day as your reason to give it a shot! Even if you only commute a handful of times, it’s better than none at all. And who knows. . . once you give it a try you might fall in love with it!

    Here are 7 tips to help get you started on your bike commute to work:

    #1: Consider the Distance

    If you live only a few miles from work, it’s very conceivable to commute both ways by bike. However, if that distance is a bit longer, consider hitching a ride to work with a co-worker and bringing your bike along for the commute home. As you get used to the distance, you may find that you want to make it a 2 way commute.

    #2: Map Out Your Route Options

    You’ll definitely want to consider distance, traffic volume, road conditions and terrain on all of your bike route options. Some routes may be a bit longer, but if they are safer, it could be a better option. Test out your potential routes on the weekends and see which is the best fit for your commute. There are also bike route apps and websites that can be very useful in helping you find your best options.

    #3: Set a Frequency Goal

    For many first-time bike commuters, it’s a pretty lofty goal to commit to biking to work every day. To start, set an achievable goal of biking to work 2-3 times/week. After you can consistently do that, then definitely add to it!

    #4: Dress the Part

    Most bike commuters don’t like to wear their work clothes (unless they have a very short commute), so investing in comfortable bike clothes (bright colors, bike shorts, etc.) will be well worth it. Make sure your bike has reflectors or a flashing light if you’ll be biking in the early morning or evenings. And, it goes without saying, wear a helmet!

    #5: Don’t Forget Your Cell Phone

    A phone can come in very handy - and no, not for talking or texting while you’re riding – but in case you get a flat tire or have any other issues that may cause you to be late getting to work or returning home. A call to your boss explaining the situation will go a long way!

    #6: Clean Up!

    You might work up a bit of a sweat on your commute, so be sure to plan accordingly when it comes to cleaning yourself up before work. If you’re lucky enough to have a shower at work, great! If not, your co-workers will appreciate you having the appropriate supplies to freshen-up before your work day starts.

    #7: Get in Bike Shape

    It can be tough to just jump into a regular bike commute if you don’t have an appropriate level of fitness. I don’t think your employer would be too happy if you showed up to work worn out and useless for the rest of the day! Get out and ride your bike to develop a fitness base or, incorporate an indoor exercise bike into your fitness routine.

    Happy Biking!
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  5. Active Mother’s Day Ideas for 2017

    Mom and daughter canoeing on a lake for Mother's Day Thinking of the perfect Mother’s Day 2017?  Rather than gifts, Mother’s Day activities let you build memories with the special lady in your life.  Here’s our guide to the best Mother’s Day ideas for every level of fitness and adventure.

    Plant a Garden.

    This traditional activity remains popular each year.  Early May is the perfect time to clean up Mom’s garden beds.  In Northern climates, plant cold-hardy annuals or get a start on sowing summer vegetables.  Frost tolerant greens and veggies, such as snow peas, can be started as soon as you can work the soil.   Or spend the day planting herbs and planters that can be moved outdoors when the weather warms.

    Meal Prepping.

    We’re all trying to eat better, right?  Why not combine a Mother’s Day cookout with a healthy fridge of grab and go weekday meals.  The simple concept of meal prepping combines well with a Mother’s Day brunch or buffet.  Just focus on grilling plenty of protein and veggies.  You can even throw fruit on the grill (think pineapple or pears) to serve as dessert on Mother’s Day.  Later that week, Mom can use it to top her yogurt for breakfast.  You can find some easy inspiration here.

    Hike a Trail.

    Beautiful trails and state parks are within a short drive of nearly everyone. Spring is the perfect time to enjoy them as the leaves and flowers come back from winter.  While summer sun and insects won’t have reached their peak, you’ll want to remember sunscreen and insect repellent. Pack a picnic lunch for the trail or the picnic area that is probably near your vehicle. We love these Wisconsin hikes as a special Mother’s Day idea.

    Start Paddling.

    Beautiful May Day?  Ready for a little more adventure?  Paddling is a Mother’s Day activity that lets you and Mom experience the beauty of our rivers and lakes.  You can easily rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards at parks and private businesses. Need inspiration? Michigan locals and other Midwesterners can find suggestions for paddling trips in these links.

    Get your Bike Out.

    Whether you rent a bike or use this Mother’s Day 2017 excuse for a tune-up, early spring is the perfect time to enjoy a cycling adventure.  If you and Mom are up for adventure, head out to one of the Midwest’s local bike trails.  Stop along the way for a small-town lunch.   If a long ride is beyond your comfort zone, pedal to a local farmer’s market or florist. You’ll still enjoy the fresh air and time with your special person.

    Jump Around.

    Want to burn some serious calories while playing like a kid?  Trampoline parks are a fun Mother’s Day activity for any age.  You can find a park near you in almost any location. Bring your littlest companions along or just stick to the adults on this fun for all ages adventure.

    Wall Climbing.

    This indoor activity is another family friendly Mother’s Day idea.  Indoor climbing walls are surprisingly easy to find and you don’t have to worry about the weather.  You’ll get functional workout using nearly every muscle in your body.  The challenge of climbing a wall is great for building confidence and inner strength, both for Mom and kids.

    Ropes and Ziplines.

    Definitely a thrill for Mom and school age kids, outdoor ropes and ziplines are a challenging Mother’s Day adventure.  Frequently located near state parks and natural beauty, you can probably combine this with a stop for ice cream at a nearby park or waterway.  Here’s a great resource for finding ziplines and high ropes near you that you probably never knew were there. Mother’s day ideas are endless with a little planning and a spirit of adventure.  While the above activities are easy to tackle in an afternoon, you could combine them into a full weekend with camping or a getaway.  You can also combine two or more of these activities for a full day of adventure that will make Mother’s Day 2017 your most memorable yet. About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Joli.
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