Tips for Beginning Runners

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Tips for Beginning Runners

You’re a runner – you just don’t know it yet!

Soon you’ll be enjoying the endorphins, leaner muscles mass, stronger lungs, and the physical power that result from regular runs. Follow these tips to get started:

Start Small

Building endurance takes time. No matter what your ultimate goal is, begin by running a few kilometers per session and gradually increase your distance every second week.

Run / Walk

Add walk breaks into your run to help save energy and minimize muscle fatigue. As your fitness improves, schedule your walk breaks less frequently. For example:

Week 1: run 1 minute / walk 1 minute (repeat 15X)
Week 5: run 5 minutes / walk 1 minute (repeat 5X)
Week 10: run 10 minutes / walk 1 minute (repeat 3X)

Shoes

An excellent pair of shoes can make all the difference in how you enjoy your run and avoid injury. Staff at your local running store can help you find the right fit and support for your feet.

Prioritize Nutrition

Running burns a lot of calories, but that’s no excuse for overindulging or loading up on refined carbs. Your diet fuels your run and recovery, so eat wholesome, nutrient dense foods to stay strong and energized. Help stave-off cravings and boost your protein intake by adding *PGX® Satisfast™ Whey Protein Drink Mix to your regular snack menu.

Set Goals

Goals provide focus and a way to measure your progress. Set long and short term goals that are realistic. If your long-term end goal is to run this year’s 5 Km Terry Fox Run, make it your short term goal to complete three to four 30 minute runs per week.

Run With a Group

When your motivation dips, a running group can help keep you going.  Not only will you be accountable for showing up, but you’ll have other runners to chat with to help distract you from your efforts and offer encouragement and support.

Believe in Yourself

Running takes physical and mental strength. Believe that you will reach your goals and you will.

Are you running the Terry Fox Run this September 20th? If so, let us know how you do.

*Drink additional water (8 fl. oz.) after ingesting PGX®. If you are taking medications, take one hour prior to or two hours after taking PGX®.

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7 Summer Outdoor Activities

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7 Summer Outdoor Activities

As we careen towards fall, we really make an effort to savour every precious moment of the summer sun. And that’s pretty hard to do from inside a gym!

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to meet your fitness goals that don’t involve a Stairmaster – and plenty of warm afternoons left in the season. Here are our top 7 summer activities that beat the gym:

1. Swimming

Be it a lake, a river, outdoor pool, or the ocean, taking a dip is one of the best options for summer exercise. Not only is this full body workout great cardio, it can be very therapeutic, especially compared to high impact activities such as running. It’s also a great way to cool off – just remember to reapply sunscreen after toweling off! As a bonus, you can take this activity inside once the weather gets chilly.

2. Beach Volleyball

This activity is so much fun, you won’t even notice you’re exercising. Plus, once you’re done serving and spiking, you can jump in whichever body of water is nearest to cool off.

3. Hiking

Hit the trails while enjoying a little fresh air. Walking is fantastic exercise, and you can opt for short, simple walks around a local park or lake, or more challenging peaks with the corresponding rewards: stunning views. With plenty of water and a few healthy snacks, you’ll have toned legs and a clear head in no time.

4. Canoeing or Kayaking

Hiking has your lower body covered, but if your arms and back are feeling left out, a boat is your new best friend. Rent a canoe or kayak and get out on the open water with a friend and go exploring! This activity can be peaceful or powerful, depending on your approach.

5. Cycling

Whether you hit the trails or the city bike paths, cycling will help you pedal off the pounds while toning your legs. There’s nothing quite like feeling the wind in your face on a hot day. Cycling can be practical too – it’s a great way to get to the lake!

6. Gardening

It’s still not too late to plant your fall greens! Planting, weeding, and harvesting alike are all great ways to stay active and keep your core strong. Plus, you get the reward of freshly harvested veggies come fall!

7. Frisbee

We don’t all live near a lake, but your neighbourhood park can offer unlimited enjoyment – and fitness – with a Frisbee and a group of friends.
How do you keep fit in the summer months? We’d love to hear your favourite outdoor activities!

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Seven Sneaky Exercises for People Who Hate the Gym

dog running

Hate the gym?

If you’re anything like me, the idea of going to a gym crowded with fitness fanatics is enough to make you break out in a cold sweat rather than a healthy, exercise induced glow. So, if gyms aren’t your thing, or if you face barriers in terms of mobility, finance, comfort and safety, what else can you do to stay active and healthy?

One of the best ways to stay active without actively thinking about exercise is to build physical work into your daily routine. To do that, here are seven sneaky exercises for people who hate the gym.

  1. Garden!

Now the sun is out and spring is here, this is the perfect time to dig over flower beds, pull up weeds, and do a dash of hoeing. Year-round, there’s always garden and yard work to do, be it pruning, planting, or raking up leaves. An hour in the garden can get the heart rate up and help keep you limber, and all while you synthesise some vitamin D and commune with nature.

  1. Take the Stairs

If you live in an apartment building, work in a high-rise office, take subways or otherwise encounter the choice between stairs, elevators and escalators, take the time to take the stairs. You’ll likely get to your front door just as quickly, and you’ll be supporting your health and the environment at the same time.

  1. Walk a Dog

If you have the time, love, and inclination to give a forever home to a dog in need, head on over to the local shelter and adopt. You and your new best friend will soon be exploring the neighbourhood on long walks that, if they’re anything like my walks with my pup, are a little like interval training (run, stop, sniff the fire hydrant, run again!). Can’t commit to a new family member for the rest of their life? Sign up as a volunteer dog-walker at the local shelter instead, or offer to take a friend’s dog for a walk.

  1. Wrestle the Kids!

Most kids are bundles of energy, so combine family time with exercise by play-wrestling, having a game of chase, playing an interactive video game, or having an impromptu kitchen dance party. You’ll be improving your fitness, strengthening those laughter muscles, and teaching your kids that exercise can be fun!

  1. Volunteer

Finding time to exercise can sometimes feel like it necessitates a choice between charitable work and personal fitness goals. Combine the two by volunteering with a local organisation that help kids and adults with mobility barriers to engage in physical activity. There’s probably a club near you that needs people to help take kids to swimming lessons, on nature walks, or to interpretative dance classes. Or, see if a local seniors’ home or community centre needs people to help with activities or manual labour, such as grounds-keeping.

  1. Get a Standing Desk

Office workers tend to spend around 75% of their day sitting, Fortunately, research shows that people who switch between a standing and sitting workspace can actually increase productivity and concentration, as well as improve their overall health and wellbeing. In one study, people who spent a week switching every half hour between working standing up and sitting down (using an adjustable workstation) felt less tired, compared to people who sat down all day at work.

  1. Sexercise!

The last suggestion in this list of seven sneaky exercises is the one you’re probably going to like the most: sex. Regular sex can help you and your relationship(s) stay in shape, depending on what you and your partner(s) get up to.

In an article published in the open access journal PLoS One in 2013, Julie Frappier and colleagues reported on their study looking at energy expenditure during sexual activity in young healthy, heterosexual couples in Montreal. They found that, on average, men expended 4.2 kcal/min (an average of 101 kCal per sex session), while women expended 3.1 kCal/min (69.1 kCal in total). The researchers concluded that sex could be considered, in some cases, to be a moderate form of exercise equivalent to about a 25-30 minute workout.

Anyone keen to make the most of their bedroom workout might consider incorporating planks, bridge, pull-ups, and a little zumba music.

See, exercise needn’t be a dull, solitary activity!

 

References

Frappier, J., Toupin, I., Levy, J.J., Aubertin-Leheudre, M., Karelis, A.D. (2013). Energy Expenditure during Sexual Activity in Young Healthy Couples. PLoS ONE 8(10): e79342.

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Why Your Weight is a Matter of the Heart

weight and heart health

 

The heart wants what the heart wants – and despite the mixed signals you might be getting, that’s not actually another piece of cake. The research is in – losing that excess weight is one of the best ways to be good to your heart. Think about it; for every extra pound, your heart has to work a little bit harder to keep nutrient-rich blood flowing. Add to that the other possible benefits of better nutrition and getting in shape: balanced blood sugar, healthy cholesterol levels , and higher antioxidant intake to help fight free radicals. It all stacks up in favour of a healthier heart.

Eat Plants

From fibre to antioxidants, plants are full of all sorts of nutrients that promote both healthy weight loss and heart health. They also lack the things that can weight heavy on waistlines and hearts alike: saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar. More space on your plate for fruits, veggies, and legumes means less space for high fat, high sugar processed foods.

Calories In

It’s impossible to reduce good nutrition to a simple numbers game, but when the numbers are on your side, it’ll show on the scale. Watching your calories is an important factor in healthy weight loss. Now, that doesn’t mean deprivation – just balancing what you eat with what you burn, which brings us to our next point.

Exercise

Not only is exercise one of the top factors in shedding weight, it’s one of the best things you can do for your heart. If you’re in good shape, your heart will be, too. Even a light walk every day will do your heart a world of good. Studies show that walking supports cardiovascular health and the benefits grow with the amount and intensity of the exercise.

Catch Some Z’s

Lack of sleep makes us more susceptible to stress. Stress can be a direct line to food cravings that will sabotage your weight loss goals. When it comes to optimal health – be it heart, weight, or anything else – hitting the pillow is as important as hitting the gym.

Be good to your heart, and your heart will be good to you. Like us on Facebook and Twitter for more tips and recipes to help you lose weight and be your healthiest self. We’d love to hear from you – how has losing weight benefitted your health?

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The Best Exercises You Can Do At Home

home exercise workout

There are plenty of good reasons not to go to the gym, but most of those are not good reasons to skip exercise. If the idea of a gym membership leaves you in a cold sweat, be it for financial reasons, anxiety, health, lack of nearby facilities, or time constraints, then take a look at these simple ways to get a great workout at home.

Reimagine Everyday Objects

The key to an inexpensive and simple home workout is to repurpose household objects into exercise equipment. That way, you’ll save money, space, and the environment!

Some top contenders include:

Walls – we all have them, and they are the ideal back prop. Stand with your back against the wall and bend your knees into a squat. Hold for a minute (or longer) and you’ve just turned your wall into a quadriceps workout tool.

Doorframes – great for isometric exercises. Simply stand in the doorway with your arms extended right and left and push your hands against the doorframe as hard as possible for a minute or so to work out your shoulders, biceps and triceps.

Stairs – for a great calf workout, stand on your tiptoes on the edge of a step and lower your heels as far as you can before pushing back up again. Repeat five to ten times and soon your calf muscles will be fantastically toned.

Chairs – set two dining chairs slightly more than shoulder width apart and use them to do semi-push-ups. Place one hand on each chair while kneeling and then lower yourself down between the chairs. Put a towel under your knees for comfort if you have hardwood floors, and make sure to exhale as you carry out the push-up.

Laundry bag – if household chores are getting in the way of your exercise routine then it’s time to multitask. A heavy laundry bag is an ideal weight for deadlifts. And, if you’re feeling brave, repeat the deadlift when the laundry bag is full of wet laundry as it will be a lot heavier then.

Laundry detergent – those big bottles of laundry detergent are excellent for bicep curls. Save old bottles and fill them with water or sand (which is heavier), and gradually increase the number of repetitions you can do to tone your arms.

Shampoo bottles – everyone has to shower, so why not use the time for a few triceps presses. Just remember to make sure the bottle is closed, raise it above your head with your arm straight up and then lower the bottle down behind your head, keeping your elbow right next to your ears the whole time.

Towels – stepping out of the shower gives you another great opportunity for exercising at home. Fold your towel into a long, thin roll and with your arms straight up at the side of your head hold the towel so that your hands are about 18 inches apart. Pull as hard as you can with each hand and hold the stretch for 5 seconds, repeating the exercise 5 times in each set.

Cans – tinned food is ideal for a home workout as it tells you exactly how much you’re lifting and you’re pretty much always guaranteed to have a couple of cans somewhere in a cupboard. It might not seem much, but doing 15 reps each of bicep curls and triceps presses with a can of beans in each hand will soon have your arms tired and on their way to toned.

PGX* shaker bottles – if you’re making a protein shake with PGX then you may as well use the shaker bottle as an exercise tool. Just like with the cans, you can fill these up and use them for triceps and bicep exercises. Or, if you’re getting really fancy, make sure they’re well sealed and do some controlled arm swings. For daredevils, use tea towels to tie the bottles to both ankles and then do some leg lifts while sitting on a dining chair. Voila! Your smoothie is all shook up!

Other household items you can repurpose as exercise equipment include brooms, water bottles, and paper plates (use them as sliders for your feet when doing gliding abdominal tucks).

 

Set Up a Training Circuit

Once you’ve figured out your home exercise tools you can set up a training circuit. Running between the kitchen, bathroom, front stoop, and laundry to get to your next set of reps is a great way to mix up your resistance training with some simple cardio.

Get the kids involved and you’ve just saved yourself a whole heap of cash on a family gym membership, as well as having prevented another landfill getting clogged up with discarded dumbbells and exercise bands.

 

*Drink additional water (8 fl. oz.) after ingesting PGX®. If you are taking medications, take one hour prior to or two hours after taking PGX®

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Heart Health Month

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February is Heart Health Month, which means we’ll be looking at some simple changes you can make and healthy habits you can adopt to keep your ticker in good working order.

One of the best things you can do for your heart is to exercise regularly. After all, the heart is a muscle, so giving it a good workout help keep it stronger. Staying active can help you maintain optimal health, but it’s essential to talk to your health care practitioner before engaging in any new types of exercise.

Great ways to stay active include:

  • Going for a 30 minute walk after dinner
  • Cycling to work and back a couple of days a week (or more!)
  • Taking the kids swimming, and sneaking in some full lengths while they’re on the water slide
  • Getting a rebounder trampoline and jogging at home (this is also great for bone density!)
  • Using a stationary bike (catch up on your audiobooks and podcasts!)
  • Taking the dog for a lengthy weekend hike
  • Joining a local tennis club
  • Going on a treasure hunt with friends around your neighbourhood

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

Ideally, you’re aiming for around 90 minutes of exercise each week that gets your heart rate up a little and leaves you slightly breathless. You can do this in three 30 minute sessions, or a number of shorter sessions – whatever fits your schedule. The important thing is to get up and get moving as even a little extra exercise can help cardiovascular health. All is not lost if you skip the gym one day, just make up a little time by going for a short walk after dinner and getting off transit a stop earlier the next day.

Stay Safe and Start off Slow

For anyone returning to exercise after being ill or inactive for a while, it is a good idea to start off slowly and gradually increase your level of exertion. Not only does this reduce the shock to your system, it will also help you keep motivated as you’ll see an increase in fitness.

It’s unrealistic and unhelpful to expect to go from the couch to champion swimmer overnight. Setting reasonable goals can help you avoid frustration, as can partnering up with a friend so you can help motivate each other.

Shaping Up for Heart Health

Another great way to look after heart health is to maintain a healthy body weight. This looks different for all of us, but the benefit of carrying around less adipose (fat) tissue includes help for maintaining healthy inflammatory responses and optimal heart health.

Nutrition for Heart Health

Like any muscle, the heart needs a good intake of protein, essential fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and other antioxidants. Making sure you eat a predominantly plant-based diet that contains plenty of phytonutrients and fibre, with little refined sugar or unhealthy fats can help keep your appetite satisfied and your nutrient intake high while keeping calories low.

To help maintain energy while exercising, try fuelling up with a PGX protein shake before you begin!

Like us on Twitter and Facebook for more heart healthy tips!

 

Drink additional water (8 fl. oz.) after ingesting PGX®. If you are taking medications, take one hour prior to or two hours after taking PGX®.

 

 

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3 Ways You Might Be Slowing Your Metabolism

Slow Your Metabolism -Weight Loss

You’re cutting your calories, upping your exercise, and steering clear of sugary snacks – all signs point to weight loss, right? But what if the pounds just refuse to come off? You could be making some common mistakes that keep you from losing weight.

It all comes down to your metabolism. We tend to think of metabolism in simple terms – how fast we burn calories – but it’s a little more complex than that. Your metabolism is all the things your body does to turn food into energy, and it requires a ton of nutrients and other factors to run smoothly. While our bodies are pretty good at regulating metabolic rate naturally, many of us make key errors every day that slow our metabolism. As a result, our bodies run less efficiently (read, burn calories less efficiently), which is trouble when it comes to weight loss.

Where are you going wrong?

 

  1. You don’t eat – or drink – enough. Yes, reducing calories is key to weight loss. But too much calorie restriction (eating less than your body needs to function, or about 1200 calories for most women) can actually slow down your metabolism. Hydration is important, too – your body needs H20 to burn calories. To keep your metabolism on track, eat smaller meals and snack on protein-rich foods like nuts.

 

  1. You’re not sleeping enough. Skipping ZZZs can make it harder for your body to metabolize carbs, which can affect blood sugar and insulin, resulting in your body storing energy as fat. Lack of sleep also makes you more susceptible to stress, which has a negative effect on your metabolism. For best results, be sure to clock eight quality hours of pillow time a night.

 

  1. You’re not building muscle. A higher muscle mass means you’ll burn calories at a faster rate. Besides, building lean muscle mass by eating protein and strength training won’t just boost your metabolism, it’ll have you feeling like you can take on the world.

 

Some people are blessed with a speedy metabolism (lucky them!). For everyone else, stoke that inner fire and take the steps to boost your metabolism: eat a nutritious diet, stay hydrated, rest easy, and think protein. Let us know how it pays off!

Looking to learn more about your health? Check out the PGX blog for a wealth of tips and info.

 

 

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Refresh your workout by trying something new

 

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No matter what your fitness level is, you can always benefit from changing-up your workout routine. On top of providing a refreshing change, trying a new form of exercise can help you:

 

Improve fitness: Just like cross-training, doing something different will help build up new muscle groups. This will make you a stronger, more powerful athlete. If you’re an avid runner, try a weekly yoga class to further strengthen your core and improve flexibility.

 

Prevent injuries: A repetitive workout regime can lead to injury by overworking the same muscles or putting repetitive stress on joints. Trying a new activity can help reduce stress injuries and even out muscle imbalances for extra physical support.[1] If your go-to sport is cycling, why not try boxing to enhance upper body strength?

 

Feel more motivated: Trying a new activity is stimulating! It can take you to a fresh new environment and introduce you to new people. When going to the gym loses its luster, join an ultimate Frisbee league or other sports team for social motivation.

 

Boost weight loss: The more repetitive your workout is, the more efficient your body gets at doing it. Trying something new stimulates your muscles and uses more energy (a.k.a burns more calories!).[2] If you no longer break a sweat at aerobics class, switch-it-up with a hula-hooping class.

 

After all, variety is the spice of life! Tell us your workout tips in the comments section bellow.

[1] Batalha, N. et al. “Does a Water-Training Macrocycle Really Create Imbalances in Swimmers’ Shoulder Rotator Muscles?” European Journal of Sports Science April 23 (2014): 1-6. Web. 17 January 2015.

[2] Stewart, Brett and Jason Warner. Functional Cross Training. Berkeley: Ulysses Press, 2014. Print.

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Don’t Hibernate: Stay Active This Winter

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The human body is designed to move. But what if it’s too cold and dark for your usual run or bike ride? Don’t stress, there are many superb options for staying active in this winter!

  • The Gym: No matter what your level of fitness is, the gym is a one-stop-shop for fitting your cardio, strength training, stretching, and abs workouts into one outing. The key is finding a gym with a comfortable, upbeat atmosphere that motivates you to keep coming back.
  • Indoor Pool: Freestyle swimming at a slow pace burns approximately 510 calories per hour.[1] But that’s not all you can do at the pool. Mix it up with aquatic aerobics classes, water jogging or fast-pace intervals using a kickboard. And once you’re done, treat yourself to a warm-up in the hot tub.
  • home_exercise_equipment-20141211Yoga: The poses and deep breathing exercises of yoga not only improve posture, flexibility and muscle tone, but can also boost your mood and mental focus.[2] On those extra cold winter days, try heating-up with a session hot yoga.
  • Home: When you’re too busy to get out, keep active at home. A few simple items, such as a jump rope, free weights, yoga mat, or exercise ball, can go a long way to keeping your heart rate up and muscles toned. Or get outside and build a snowman if you have snow on the ground!

What’s your favorite way to exercise? Let us know.

 

References:

[1] CDC. “Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2011. Web. 23 November 2014.

[2] Agarwal, Shashi. “Evidence Based Medical Benefits of Yoga.” Indian Journal of Science 2.3 (2013): 1-4. Print.

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5 COLD WEATHER EXERCISE TIPS

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As the hours of daylight drop in winter so can our enthusiasm for exercise, and even the most hardened runners and cyclists can have a tough time when the temperature plummets. Staying active in the cooler months helps to improve our energy levels and mood, though, so to help you stay safe and on the move here are 5 top tips for cold weather exercise.

  1. Layer Up!

You may be surrounding by people grumbling about the cold but once you start climbing that hill you’ll soon be working up a sweat. Layers aren’t just for the fashionable, they’re essential for exercising in the fall and winter as multiple layers means you can quickly cool down during a strenuous stretch and then seal in that heat by adding a layer of clothing as you barrel down the hill into an icy wind.

  1. Warm Up and Warm Down!

Your muscles will really complain if you go from a cold standstill to a demanding full out run. Make sure to do at least five minutes of stretching, increasing in intensity, before even thinking about tackling that hill on your bike or running around the seawall. Then, when you get home, make sure to stretch again as otherwise your muscles can cool down too quickly and cramp up.

  1. Get Reflective!

It’s always good to reflect on your actions, but that’s not what this tip is about. Make sure you are visible to drivers and other road users by sticking strategically placed reflective strips on your bike panniers, cycling clothes, running shoes, bike helmet, and even your backpack, especially if you tend to run at dawn or dusk as these are times when poor visibility and tired eyes increase the risk of accidents.

  1. Buddy Up!

Not only is it easier to rouse yourself from a warm and cosy bed when you know your running partner is waiting for you, it’s also a good idea to avoid running alone in the dark. Consider joining a running group for motivation and safety, or at least make sure someone knows your route and that you have a check-in buddy for the end of your run.

  1. Get a Grip!

Your summer cycling and running gear might not be best suited to exercising in winter, when roads and sidewalks can become slippery with frost and ice. Treat yourself to some shoes with a better grip, and check the tread on your bike tires to make sure you’re not liable to slip and slide.

These are just a few ways of staying safe and active when exercising in cold weather, but don’t forget that this is the perfect time of year to try out something new. Maybe you can switch your daily runs for indoor climbing. Perhaps it’s time to try out seasonal sports like cross-country skiing or snowboarding. Or, how about joining a snowshoeing group so you can see those hills and mountains in a whole new light?

What’s your favourite way to stay fit during winter months? Let us know in the comments below!

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