Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Aislinn Stephens

Recent Posts by Aislinn Stephens:

Keep Motivated to Workout During Those Cold Winter Months


NIFS | Winter Workout

As winter approaches, many of us tend to slack on our workouts. I don’t know about you but on dreary, cold days all I want to do is put on a good movie and lay on the couch. The weather gets colder and there is less daylight available during the winter months, making it difficult to find time to get a workout in. Ever heard of the Winter Blues? Feeling down can contribute to decreased motivation as well. The happy feel-good hormone tends to decrease with the lack of sunlight and warm air.

 When winter starts to approach, I try to find new activities around the city to keep me moving and to give me a little motivation. Now is also a great time to start thinking about weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly goals. Setting small weekly goals that will lead up to a larger goal typically work best for me. One great way to stay motivated is to sign up for a race or trying a new fitness class. Whether it be a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or marathon, having something to work towards could be just what you need to keep you inspired through the winter. I plan for a race by deciding what an achievable goal time should be; I am my own biggest competitor so this approach works best for me. Another way to keep that motivation would be to try a new group exercise class or fitness trend. There are unique fitness classes that are very efficient ways to burn calories. Who knows, a yoga class or exercise DVD might get you hooked and keep you coming back for more.

[Read more: Don't Wait Until You Feel Motivated to Make Healthy Changes]

One popular fitness trend right now is high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. I really enjoy these quick high intensity workouts because they are easy to fit in during those shorter days of the year. These workouts can be done virtually anywhere and you only need a short amount of time. These classes usually consist of a little competition mixed with an intense cardio session.

There’s no shortage of options for continuing workouts even if you have to move them inside for the winter. So before the winter months hit, I encourage you to find a new fitness class or to set some new goals to keep you motivated this winter season. Don’t let the cold days and holiday treats keep you from your goals.

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Topics: winter blues winter fitness motivation fitness goals fitness routine setting exercise goals goal setting

Focusing on Flexibility in Fitness: Stretching’s Role in Workouts

ThinkstockPhotos-607478378.jpgAfter a workout, it’s important to relax your mind and body. A great way to make sure the muscles are relaxed after a workout is to stretch. Many people overlook the importance of flexibility in fitness, not realizing that with improved flexibility you can enhance your workouts.

Even just adding in 5 to 10 minutes of stretching after a workout is better than nothing! You do not have to set aside 30 minutes a day for flexibility; quick sessions after a workout are great to relieve the tension in your muscles. When I stretch after a workout session, I can tell I have a better range of motion, my muscles are pliable, and the stress from the workout eases tremendously. Most mornings when I wake up, it’s a struggle to even be able to touch my toes. With a quick stretch, I am instantly moving better.

Flexibility’s Role in Functional Movement

Flexibility is often overlooked because it’s not something seen as a component of health and wellness. When it comes to exercise, most people are looking to lose weight, run faster, lift heavier weights, and become a stronger person overall. They fail to realize that when you improve your flexibility, you will also increase your workout performance as well as increase your ability to tackle everyday activities (functional fitness).

As we age, we know it becomes increasingly difficult to be as mobile as we were before. Bones become more fragile and muscles tend to lose elasticity. This is where flexibility really comes into play. When you keep up with stretching and loosening those muscles daily with flexibility, you are increasing your body’s range of motion. With a greater range of motion comes the ease of accomplishing everyday activities.

The Best Time to Stretch

When’s the best time to stretch? The best time to static stretch is after a workout. Many of us have been taught that it is important to warm up the muscles with stretching before exercise. Many scientists have determined that is not the case. Stretching the muscles before an intense exercise session can do more harm to them than good; it may actually inhibit the ability for the muscle to fire when it is supposed to.

It is important to warm the muscles up with dynamic movements versus static. Dynamic exercises will activate the reflexes in the muscles and tendons, whereas static stretching is just pulling on the muscles before they are warmed up. Static stretching is best after exercise during recovery because it helps the body cool down from a workout; the muscles are warm from the workout, making them easier to stretch.

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Topics: stretching flexibility workouts recovery functional movement