Health and Fitness Tips and Inspiration

  1. In a Workout Rut? Get Out of it With These Tips

    Get out of a workout rut Written By Trent – 2nd Wind Fitness Consultant at 2nd Wind Store - Edina, MN

    We've all been there. Your workouts are going great, you’re seeing great results, and then it happens. Stagnation sets in and your progress comes to a screeching halt. The effort is there, and you haven't changed your routine or diet, so what’s the issue? That in itself can sometimes be the issue. Your body’s used to the same old routine, and that halt means it’s time to mix things up. The change in the seasons is the perfect time to get out of a workout rut and explore new and exciting fitness routines. Our bodies change and adapt to the things we do, and sometimes, changing what we do will help spark even more changes. Here are some tips to help mix things up so you can start seeing results again:

    Avoid the plateau by adding variety:

    Adding variety to your workouts will keep your exercises from becoming ineffective. If you run at the same speed on the treadmill every day for 20 minutes, or do the same weight lifting routine week-after-week, year-after-year, your body will likely hit a plateau. You’ll still burn calories, but you’ll need to increase resistance levels, speed or weight routines if you want to maximize results. Simply trying different exercises for a body part will encourage more variety and confuse the muscle. For instance, try adding intervals to your cardio; speed things up every few minutes to help strengthen your endurance. Even just four minutes of high-intensity exercise during at 20 minute workout on a cardio machine like a treadmill, can boost energy, reduce body fat, promote lean muscle mass and improve cholesterol. For weight lifting, try a kettlebell workout or bodyweight exercises like pushups and planks.

    Reverse your workout order:

    Doing your routine in reverse order can also help. If you usually start your workout with strength training followed by cardio and stretching, try changing that around. Start with stretching and cardio and then move to strength training. You can even pick the exact same exercises, but do them in a completely different order than before.

    Give yourself a rest:

    I'm not talking about just the normal 8 hours a night. I'm talking about taking a break to let your body reset and heal. I have always advocated doing a 3-4 month training program, followed by one week off. This week can do wonders not only for your body, but for the mental monotony as well. It allows any nagging injuries to heal up and also gives a person time to just recharge and have something to look forward to for the next cycle of training. You can also take a week off from dieting. Don't just eat cookies and burgers and pizza, but also don't shy away from the foods you might have avoided during your training phase. In all, it allows a person to take in foods they might have been craving and to not feel as guilty about it. If you’re interested in changing up your workout routine or need suggestions on what equipment or accessories you can use to do so, I’d be happy to help you find the right fit for your goals, home and budget. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions regarding your workout routine. I’m available at the Edina, MN 2nd Wind store location.
    Read more »
  2. The Best Calorie Burning, Leg Sculpting Elliptical Workout



    If you’re using fitness equipment to help you reach weight loss or fitness goals, try adding some body weight exercises to the mix to really fire things up. Here’s a fun elliptical workout, created by our certified fitness coach, Joli that will rev-up your metabolism and sculpt those legs. In no time you’ll be done with this very effective workout! Let’s start with why you need this: An intense interval session on the elliptical is a great way to burn some serious calories and get your lower body circulation ready for training. By targeting the large muscle groups of the lower body, you'll keep your metabolism revved up for hours, supporting your weight loss.

    Now, let’s get started:

    Warm Up:
    Start with five minutes of easy movement on your elliptical, bringing your heart rate up to 75% of your max effort. Increase your intensity working at 85% of your max effort for 90 seconds, recover for 45 seconds, repeat.

    Circuit 1:
    Lunges: Step in and out of a lunge 20 times on your right leg. Repeat on your left leg. Follow by completing 16 stationary lunges on each leg. For more resistance, add plates or dumbbells into each hand and complete a bicep curl with each lunge.

    Circuit 2:
    Elliptical: Reverse your pedal movement for five minutes. Maintain an uncomfortable level of intensity (you should be able to speak in short sentences.

    Circuit 3:
    Bodyweight squats: Keeping your torso upright, sit your bottom down as low as you can. Stand up. Repeat for 3 minutes. Rest for 30 seconds. Follow with a Wall Sit for up to 90 seconds, with breaks as needed.

    Circuit 4:
    Bridge with toe taps: Lying on the floor with heels close to your bottom and knees towards the ceiling, lift up into bridge pose. Pressing into your left heel, lift your right heel, leaving right toe on the ground. Lightly tap right foot up and down. Complete 16 reps. Repeat on the Left. Complete two to three repetitions taking a break between as needed.

    You're finished with this elliptical workout! Nice work. Now, make sure to stretch and recover your muscles so they're ready to hit this again in the next few days.
    Read more »
  3. 4 Stretches To Do After Your Cardio Workout



    After you've finished your cardio workout it's time to give those those muscles a good stretch so you can avoid soreness, fatigue, back pain or even injury. The muscles you've worked so hard during your exercise need time to recover so they're ready for your next workout. Here are 4 stretches you should do after your cardio workout:

    1. Side Lunge Stretch
    The side lunge stretches the hip adductors. Tight hips can lead to a variety of injuries in the knees, back and hamstrings. To do this stretch: Stand upright, with both feet facing forward, double shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your hips or thighs, in order to keep your back straight. Slowly exhale, taking your bodyweight across to one side. Avoid leaning forward, or taking the knee of the bent leg over your toes.

    2. Crossover Stretch
    The crossover stretch will help to release your hips, iliotibial (IT) band and lower back. To do this stretch: Lie down with your legs straight and your arms extended out to the side. Bend one knee up towards your chest and place your opposite hand on your knee. Slowly pull your knee across your body towards the ground until you feel a slight stretch. Hold for approximately 15-30 seconds.

    3. Hamstrings Stretch

    Tight hamstrings can cause back pain, discomfort and difficulty lifting your legs. Stretching these muscles regularly can help to alleviate these effects. To do this stretch: Move your right foot toward your inner thigh, so that it touches the top part of your left leg, if possible. Lean forward, bending but not rounding your back and waist toward the left foot as if reaching for your toes. Repeat with the other leg.

    4. Quadriceps Stretch After exercise like running, quads can tighten which can bring on strains and knee injuries. To do this stretch: stand upright and pull your leg behind you with the corresponding hand. Try to keep your knee pointing downward as you do this stretch to protect your knee joint.

    Another tip we suggest here at 2nd Wind is to try mixing up your workouts for better results and to avoid muscle fatigue. If you're sore from your previous workout, try changing up the muscle movements next time. For instance, if you like to run, try a rowing exercise the next time around. This change offers less impact on the joints and changes your muscle movements.
    Read more »
  4. Increase Productivity with These Midday Pick-Me-Ups


    If you’re feeling drained, tense or stressed at work, try resisting the afternoon coffee or energy drink jolt and consider these alternatives. Too much afternoon caffeine or sugar is just going to cause a crash and negatively affect sleep. Here are some natural ways to add a little energy to your day:

    Take a Midday Stroll

    Get your energy up with a lunchtime walk, or even a few short strolls throughout your day. Whether it’s a short walk outdoors or to a meeting, this effort can have a big impact when it comes to your overall health. It’s incredible how much this little addition to the day impacts productivity, creativity and motivation. In fact, this blog post was written while doing a little workday walking on a treadmill desk ! Being a writer, I’m noticing fewer word blocks which allows me be much more efficient with tasks like this.

    Unplug!

    Disconnecting from technology during breaks allows us to clear our head and regain focus. Practice mindfulness by meditating in a quiet space. Take a break from the computer or smartphone to rest your eyes. Walk outdoors and take in nature. Research shows that green spaces help restore the mind and improves mental health. More importantly, be in the moment and try to stop your mind from racing.

    Stretch it Out

    If you’re sitting or even standing in the same position for long periods of time you need a little stretching action. Stretching can provide a quick boost of energy because it helps the blood flow throughout the body and relieve toxins. Try a few of these to help give you a little boost. desk stretches

    Take a Sip

    Sip on green tea or ice cold water. Green tea has a lot of nutritional value and revs up your metabolism. Ice cold water awakens your insides and helps you stay alert – oh, and both green tea and water will help you stay hydrated which is always a good, healthy habit.

    Chomp on Gum

    A stick of sugar-free gum is always good to have in your desk drawer. The flavor change in your mouth will give you a little extra boost of energy. Make sure to stick with the sugar-free kind, and be on the lookout for the caffeinated versions.

    If you're interested in adding some movement into your workday, while you (or your employees) work, check out our workplace solutions .
    Read more »
  5. Seven Ways Exercise Helps Your Mental Health


    It's pretty obvious that exercise is great for your physical health, helping with weight management, cardiovascular health, and blood sugar management among other benefits, but it turns out that getting your heart pumping can be great for your brain as well. Here are seven ways that exercise can do great things for your mental health.

    Exercise can make you smarter. It turns out that the same hormones that make your body stronger as a result of exercise (growth hormones) also positively affect your brain leading to better function in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is associated with learning and memory. Additionally, exercise is also associated with increases in BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor), which also positively impacts memory (more on that in a bit).

    Exercise can improve your pain tolerance. Whether you're managing arthritis or struggling with an achy back, your best prescription may be to get moving. A recent study demonstrated that improvements in aerobic fitness are correlated to increases in tolerating pain. While improvements in strength and circulation could be a factor, it's likely that the psychological perception of pain also changes as a result of exercise, causing pain to be perceived as more tolerable and less limiting.

    Exercise can help you manage your stress. As a simple explanation, exercise is a healthy way of responding to the "fight or flight" scenario that our bodies create in response to stressful situations. By providing an outlet for the elevated cortisol and adrenal response, as well as through the creation of endorphins (commonly referred to as feel good chemicals), exercise can help you keep the negative impacts of stress on your body and brain within healthy levels.

    Exercise can help you sleep better. Moderate physical exercise has been demonstrated to reduce the time that it takes to fall asleep and to improve the quality of sleep. Even single exercise sessions of moderate intensity have been demonstrated to improve sleep for that night, while the benefits increase in the long term. Just remember to avoid exercise for two hours before your bedtime in order to give your body and brain sufficient time to cool down before you turn in.

    Exercise can improve your self-esteem. One of the best things about sticking to a regular exercise routine is when you begin to see improvements. Whether you find yourself able to lift more weight or bike longer and harder, those changes in performance make you feel good about what you're doing. This feeling of competence directly impacts perceptions of self-worth, making you more confident over time.

    Exercise can help depression and anxiety. It just makes sense that something that improves sleep, self-esteem, stress levels, and concentration would also be good for depression and anxiety, doesn't it? Exercise can have the added benefits of increasing social support and involvement and positively impacting the dopaminergic, serotonergic, and noradrenergic systems of the body, neurochemicals that are also affected by many anti-depressant medications. If you're struggling with clinical depression or even managing a case of the blues, add in exercise to assist in better managing your symptoms.

    Exercise can improve your concentration. Exercise is not only linked to increased intelligence in the long run, but it can also improve your immediate concentration. In addition to impacting BDNF described above, exercising and moving around uses more brain cells, increases circulation to all parts of your body, and results in better regulation of blood sugar and metabolism. Try scheduling "walking meetings" or lunch break workouts to keep your concentration on point through your afternoon.

    While we tend to emphasize greater intensity and longer training sessions when pushing for performance and physical change in our bodies from exercise, it's important to know that the mental health benefits of exercise are attainable for everyone. Even ten minutes of exercise positively impacts aerobic fitness and blood pressure and can be effective in generating the psychological benefits described here.

    Bring your exercises home and feel great on a daily basis with your very own home cardio machine.
    Read more »