This blog was written by Jenna Pearson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
If you’ve always wanted to run in a 5K road race (or any road race, for that matter) but haven’t because you are not a runner, listen up: You do not have to be a “runner” to run. Anyone can run! Get yourself ready for your first 5K by following these guidelines:
Start slow: Doing too much too soon is likely to result in injury. It may sound obvious, but if you are a beginner, opt for a training program that was designed for beginners, such as Couch to 5K. Have realistic expectations. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Don’t compare yourself to other runners—we are all different and will progress according to our own body’s schedule.
Warm up: Warming up prepares your body for aerobic activity. It gradually revs up your cardiovascular system and increases blood flow to your muscles to ensure that they are getting the nutrients and oxygen supplies they need to sustain an activity such as running. Warming up is also crucial for minimizing injuries.
Cool down: Immediately after your workout, take time to cool down. This gradually slows your heart rate back to resting and slowly reduces the temperature of your muscles, which may help reduce muscular injury, stiffness, and soreness.
Stretch: After you cool down, your muscles will be warm and pliable, making it a perfect time to stretch. Regular stretching increases your flexibility, improves circulation, and helps maximize range of motion in your joints. Simply put, stretching makes moving easier. It may also help reduce injuries.
Stay hydrated: If you prefer not to bring a water bottle with you on your run, make sure you are adequately hydrated before you hit the pavement. It is also important to make sure you hydrate after your run to replace the fluids you lost through sweat. If you do not properly hydrate, you could fall victim to muscle cramps, prolonged time to recovery, and other dehydration-related ailments.
Now that you know how to prepare, which race have you been dreaming of running?
This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
We’ve seen muscle cramps strike athletes on the basketball court, football field, and during running events, and many of us have experienced them first-hand. This sharp, sudden pain can be so fierce that it is temporarily crippling. A cramp may also be physically manifested by a hard lump under the skin.
While muscle cramps generally resolve themselves and don’t cause any lingering damage, their onset can be extremely frustrating, not to mention painful, when they choose to strike in the middle of a crucial game or important workout in the corporate fitness center.
When mild cramps occur, the best treatment of the symptoms is to hydrate, rest, and stretch. But it's even better to stop them before they happen. Let’s look at the most common causes of exercise-related cramps and how to prevent them:
- Cause: Dehydration
- Remedy: Stay well hydrated during exercise (even during colder months) by drinking plenty of water. Consume a diet rich in fluids and fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Cause: Electrolyte Imbalances
- Remedy: Consume foods containing potassium (avocados, nuts and seeds, beans, dried fruit, bananas, potatoes), calcium (dairy, dark leafy greens; fortified cereals, juices, or grains), and magnesium (bran, nuts or seeds, dairy, fish and seafood, spinach, beans, whole grains). A sports drink may be appropriate, especially for high-intensity exercise lasting longer than an hour.
- Cause: Environment
- Remedy: Limit workouts in extreme heat and humidity. Take frequent breaks to hydrate and seek shade.
- Cause: Fatigue
- Remedy: Deconditioned individuals should start an exercise program slowly. Consult a doctor, if necessary.
This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
There is no doubt about it: water is good for you in several different ways. How much water is needed per day varies from person to person. Water needs vary because you need to take into account how active someone is or how much they sweat on average. So if the staff at your onsite corporate fitness center makes you sweat a lot during class, you need to be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Not drinking enough water can decrease your energy level and cause health issues.
Key Reasons to Drink More Water
Here are some key reasons why you should drink more water:
- To stay hydrated and keep energy levels up.
- To help with muscle recovery after a hard strength workout.
- To help with digestion.
- To make you feel full so you eat less.
- To lubricate the joints for less pain.
Tips for Drinking More Water
I try to keep a full water bottle on my desk while at work. Before I know it, it’s time to make another trip to the water filter for a refill. Add lemons to your water to spruce it up and add a little flavor. Some days I make Crystal Light, which is a sugar-free, flavored powder that you just add water to. This helps me to add some variety to my water intake. I also like to drink hot tea in the winter.
Surprisingly enough, you get water from food, too! For example, a healthy salad with lettuce and fresh vegetables adds water to your diet. Lower-sodium soups are another good source of water.
What tips and tricks do you have to make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day?