Exercise With the Right Support

Woman in sports attire on the steps

Whether you are heading off to run a marathon, or are simply doing a five-minute workout in your back garden, wearing the right sports bra is so important. This will help to reduce the amount of movement that your breasts experience, protecting their support structures and preventing them from sagging.

Compression vs Encapsulation
When it comes to sports bras, there tend to be two main types; compression bras and encapsulation bras. Compression bras are shelf-style bras, and are great for those who have a smaller cup size, although those with a larger bust can also wear them if they are only doing a low or moderate intensity workout. On the other hand, encapsulation bras feature individual cups, just like a standard bra, but contain extra support, making them great for those with larger breasts.

Racerback sports bra

Wide Straps vs Racerback
Many sports bras feature wide shoulder straps, and these are great for distributing weight evenly across the body, which is especially important for those who have larger breasts. Another advantage to wide shoulder straps is that they can usually be easily adjusted, and feature the extra padding needed for vigorous exercise. Alternatively, racerback bras cinch in at the back, which keep the bra held closer to the body, resulting in extra support.

Back Clasps vs Pullover Styles
Pullover style sports bras are convenient, and provide more coverage for the back. However, bras that have a back clasp enable you to adjust how tight the band is, and this is extremely important for those with larger busts, as 70% of your support will come from the band.

Woman exercising in sports bra

Choosing a Size
Sizing is so important when it comes to bras, as wearing the wrong size will not provide you with the support that you need, and can actually do more harm than good. If sports bras are new to you, begin by trying on a bra that is the same size as what you usually wear, but keep in mind that you may need to try on different sizes to find the perfect one. Make sure that the back band is at the same level all the way around your body, while the actual bra should fit snugly, but not be too tight and restricting. You should be able to place one finger underneath the band, or in the cup itself, but no more than this, and the material should definitely not pucker.

Replacing Your Sports Bra
In the same way that your sports shoes will need replacing after it has done a certain amount of work, you will also need to invest in new sports bras. Generally, your sports bra should be replaced after around 30-40 washes, as this will then begin to interfere with the level of support that it provides.

When exercising, it is so important to provide your breasts with the support that they need. When choosing a new sports bra, make sure that you always try them on, and be prepared to try on quite a few different styles before you end up finding the one that is perfect for you.

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Fitness Changes to Make in Your Fifties

Middle aged couple exercising together

As people age, they tend to slow down a bit and take life a little easier, but this can actually have quite a detrimental effect on your overall health, as it causes a decrease in metabolism and therefore muscle mass. Studies have shown that a significant chunk of the population do little to no exercise after the age of 50, and this is something that really does need to change.

Start with a Physical Activity That You Enjoy
For people who are generally quite sedentary, the best way to begin making positive fitness changes in your life is by introducing a physically activity that you genuinely enjoy. This can be anything from walking the dog to taking a sunset stroll after dinner to going dancing a couple of times a week. Starting off slow will help to gradually increase your fitness levels, which will then make other fitness activities seem far less daunting.

Strength Training
Bone density peaks around the age of 30, and after this begins to slowly drop, which is why strength training is so important, as this will give you the strong bones that you need to keep your body healthy. Strength training basically refers to lifting heavy objects, and should be carried out around two to three times a week in order to really build muscle strength and mass. Lifting weights is the best way to do this, and you should try to begin with dumbbells that weigh between five to eight pounds, increasing this to eight to ten pounds as your body gets stronger.

Middle aged woman doing strength training

Realistic Goals
While you may have been able to build up strong muscles in just a few weeks while you were in your 20’s, you need to be realistic about the fact that this is going to take a bit longer now that you are over the age of 50. Make sure that you allow for this when coming up with your fitness goals, while also taking into account that your body will need more recovery time after intense workouts. Patience and consistency are key here, and while the results may take longer to appear, working out regularly will end up giving you the stronger body that you desire.

Cross Training
Many people believe that activities such as high impact aerobics, which work the same muscles over and over again, is beneficial, but this is actually a sure-fire way to cause an injury to your body. Cross training makes use of several different types of fitness activities in one session, resulting in a far more balanced workout that prevents injuries from occurring.

There are many different types of chronic diseases that commonly affect people who are 50 and over, from heart disease to diabetes to osteoporosis, and your chances of developing one of these increases drastically if you are generally quite inactive. However, keeping fit and exercising on a regular basis is one of the best ways to prevent these diseases from occurring, while keeping your body healthy and strong as it continues to age.

Avoiding Knee Pain and Injuries

Woman attending to her injured knee

Knee pain becomes more prevalent with age, and can be caused by either a one-off injury, or from repetitive knee motions. To keep your knees in the best shape possible and avoid any pain or injury, take a look at these useful tips.

Maintain a Healthy Weight
Carrying excess weight can cause unnecessary stress on your knees, and will seriously increase your chances of developing knee pain. By maintaining a weight that is healthy for your size, you will be able to prevent this extra stress, while also lowering your chances of developing osteoarthritis.

Pay Attention to Your Running Technique
If you are a runner, then you have a far greater chance of injuring your knees, unless you pay close attention to your running technique. You should be leaning forward from your ankles, and landing mid-foot, while keeping your knees soft and bent each time you land, to minimize the amount of impact that they receive. You should also keep your feet pointing in the direction at which you are running, as having your feet splay out to the side will end up torquing your knee each time your foot hits the ground.

Warming Up
Before you do any type of exercise, it is important that you first warm up and do a few stretches. Stretching the muscles in the front and back of your thighs is especially important, as this decreases the tension that is placed on your tendons, which therefore alleviates the pressure that your knees would otherwise have faced.

Woman stretching and staying active

Stay Active
Even if you are already experiencing minor pain in your knees, it is important to stay active on a regular basis. Allowing your activity levels to decrease will only lead to weakness, which would then make your knees much more susceptible to injury. Even just walking will be extremely beneficial to your knees, as walking is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, and puts minimum stress on your joints.

Don’t Neglect Your Shoes
When it comes to avoiding knee pain, wearing sensible shoes that fit your feet well is an effective method. This will help your legs to maintain the correct alignment and balance, which protects your knees from extra stress. If you are a runner, the way in which your shoes fit your feet is especially important, and you should also make sure that you replace your shoes either every three months, or after 500 miles of wear, as this is what is recommended by experts.

Avoid Activities that Stress Your Knees
While staying fit and active is important, you should also try to avoid specific activities that will cause extra stress to your knees. Examples of these are deep knee bend exercises and downhill running, both of which place a huge amount of tension on your knees.

A knee injury can be incredibly painful and frustrating, which is why you should take all of the necessary steps to prevent this from happening. From ensuring that you warm up before exercising to keeping your weight under control, these tips will help you to keep your knees healthy for years to come.

Simple Exercises to Tighten the Skin Above Your Shoulders

Loose skin can be caused by a number of different factors, from weight loss to aging, and, once your skin has taken on this looser appearance, tightening it back up can seem like quite the challenge. While there is nothing that you can do at home to transform your skin overnight, here are some simple exercises that, when carried out regularly and consistently, will help to tighten up the skin on your shoulders.

woman doing push-up

Push-Ups
While many people perform push-ups to work the major muscles in the chest, this exercise is fantastic for toning the upper arms and shoulders over time as well. It is a common misconception that this is an exercise that needs to be carried out every day, but this actually does not give the muscles enough time to rest in between sessions. Between eight to ten reps is ideal, with two days of rest in between. Place your focus on improving your form rather than increasing reps, and, if you need an added challenge after a while, look into weighted push-ups and decline push-ups. There are many other push-up varieties out there, and not only will these target a different range of muscles, but they will also add some diversity to your workout routine and make it much more interesting.

Woman using dumbbells

Reverse Curls
Reverse curls are known for being able to really help with sagging skin, and are able to help to tone this back up. Hold a five to eight pound dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep the dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing in before curling both hands and bringing them close to your shoulders. It is important to do this without bending the wrists, before ending it by lowering your hands back down to complete the repetition. This should be done in two sets of 20 in order to experience maximum benefits.

woman doing back extensions

Prone Shoulder Extension
The prone shoulder extension is another exercise that requires the use of dumbbells, and this is because weight training is the best way to fill out loose skin and tone the muscles around the shoulders. Lie face down and keep your arms by your side, with a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing upwards. Lift your arms towards the ceiling, before pausing at the top of your range of motion and then slowly lowering your arms back down, stopping right before they actually touch the floor.

The shoulder is quite a vulnerable joint, which means that it is at a higher risk of injury than other parts of the body. While these exercises will be able to help in toning the muscle and tightening the skin, it is important to ease into them slowly, giving your body enough time to adjust to the new routine, as this will help you to avoid injury or muscle pain. You should also try to do some back and chest exercises before working on your shoulders, as your shoulders will still be involved in these other exercises, and will prevent them from being fatigued too early on in your workout.

Lifestyle Changes for the “Skinny Fat”

Woman in mirror

The skinny-fat phenomena is one that affects up to a quarter of average-weighted people, and describes those who look fit and healthy from the outside, but actually have a number of health problems brewing beneath the surface. If you feel as though you may fall into this category, these are the lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to bring your health back up to scratch.

Healthy Oils
Many people who are skinny-fat try to stay away from oily foods, believing them to be unhealthy. While there is no denying that a greasy bag of fries will bring absolutely no benefits to your body, there are certain oils and fats that are necessary for good health. The most important of these are omega-3 fats, which can be found in highest concentrations in oily fish, such as salmons and sardines. Incorporating more of these into your diet will help to stabilize your cholesterol while reducing blood pressure.

Build Some Muscle
Building muscle mass is vital if you are skinny fat, and the best way to do this is through weight training. This encourages your body to store its lean muscle, rather than use it as fuel, and will help to add some more tone to your body. In order to support your increasing muscle mass, be sure to consume plenty of protein, whether in the form of eggs, meat, or seeds, as this will protect your newly acquired muscles.

Woman doing pushup

Support Your Natural Metabolism
While you may think that you have a naturally fast metabolism, there are many lifestyle habits that actually alter this, and it is likely that your true metabolism has been hidden for a while. Soft drinks, which contain artificial sweeteners, can interfere with the chemicals within your body, affecting your metabolism, as can sleep deprivation, which also increases sugar and carbohydrate cravings. In addition to watching your diet and ensuring you are getting sufficient sleep, you should also be incorporating regular cardio sessions into your routine, as this will boost your natural metabolism while helping with your fitness levels.

Keep Stress Levels to a Minimum
Stress is actually one of the main factors behind the skinny-fat phenomena, and while stress can often be unavoidable, there are still many ways in which you can take control over this and bring your stress levels back down. Different methods work for different people, so you will need to try out a few and see what helps when you are really stressed. Whether it may be ten minutes of meditation, taking some time to work out, or spending a couple of hours on a hobby that you are truly passionate about, keeping stress levels to a minimum will help your body to thrive.

Research has shown that being skinny-fat puts the body under incredible amounts of stress, and can actually be even worse for you than obesity. If you think that you are skinny-fat, then now is the time to implement these lifestyle changes, so that you can soon get back to your healthiest self.

Advice From Exercise Icons

There is so much fitness advice floating around out there, but, if you want to make some real progress, you need to pick the right people to take this advice from. These exercise icons, from Jane Fonda to Richard Simmons, all have a great track record behind them when it comes to fitness, so take a look at some of their most useful words of wisdom.

Woman working out
Jane Fonda
With 22 different workout videos produced, all of which have sold over 17 million copies, Jane Fonda is, without a doubt, legendary when it comes to exercising. In terms of fitness advice, Fonda has plenty to offer, with one of her top tips being that one needs to work out at least three times a week, on alternative days, for at least 30 minutes at a time, at least if you want your exercise to be effective. Your workout should also contain three different types of exercises, including stretching, resistance and aerobic exercises, the latter of which is the only type of activity that is able to remove the marbled fat that lies deep within muscles.

Richard Simmons
Richard Simmons rose to fame in the 80’s, and while many expected him to fall into obscurity as the years progressed, Simmons is still making frequent appearances on television, and is an extremely successful fitness instructor. When it comes to his top piece of advice, Simmons stresses the huge importance that he places on setting rules for every part of his life, from eating to exercising. Simmons believes that not only is it important to workout every single day, but you must also always follow clean eating habits, and ensure that these rules are sacred to you.

Woman taking exercise class
Denise Austin
Dubbed as “America’s Favorite Fitness Expert”, Denise Austin is full of advice when it comes to exercising and keeping healthy. Austin believes that it is extremely important to keep your workouts fun and enjoyable, which is why you should frequently mix them up, seeking out new classes, techniques and routines whenever you can. Austin also places huge importance on strength and weight training, believing that the best way to keep your body looking and feeling youthful is to build muscle tone. Austin herself works out every day for at least 30 minutes, and usually does this first thing in the mornings. On the weekends, workouts take a more unstructured form, and can include everything from tennis with her husband to walking with friends.

Kathy Smith
Not only has Kathy Smith sold millions of fitness DVDs, but she has also written several successful books, and her top piece of advice when it comes to exercising is to view this as something that is non-negotiable in your life. Rather than giving in to excuses that you may make to yourself, from having no time to being too tired, find a way to work around these and make exercise a priority in your life.

Physical activity is such an important part of staying healthy, but many people simply do not get enough regular exercise. If you have been feeling unmotivated, follow the advice from these fitness icons and make 2017 the year in which you get back into shape.

Fitness Trends for 2017

The fitness industry is currently thriving like never before, and, as more and more people strive to keep their bodies in shape, the industry is being pushed to really up its game. While 2016 saw many interesting trends make an appearance, 2017 is set to be more exciting than ever, with plenty of new trends to inspire the masses to take more of an interest in fitness.

Workout Apps
Fitness apps have been exploding in popularity recently, and you are likely to see many more workout apps created in 2017. These enable users to engage in an exercise routine wherever they may be, whenever they have a bit of time to spare, giving them a convenient and extremely cost-effective way to work out.

Live-Streaming Fitness Classes
For those who do not live in a big city, you have likely been frustrated at the lack of variation in fitness classes near you, but, thanks to technology, this is soon to change. Rather than having to opt for yet another DVD workout or YouTube tutorial, these live-streaming sessions will take place, in real time, on platforms such as Facebook and Periscope, and will be broadcast from some of the hottest fitness studios around.

Woman working out in adult playground
Adult Playgrounds
Adult playgrounds have been popping up quite a bit this past year, but you can expect to see them take quite the surge in 2017 as they become much more mainstream. These outdoor gyms are not just appearing in public parks as you would expect, but can be found in many more unusual locations, from office roof terraces to spacious sidewalk spots, ensuring that everybody is able to easily access one.

Functional Fitness for the Elderly
Fitness levels can really begin to decline with age, unless an active effort is made to prevent this. In 2017, there is likely to be quite the rise in fitness classes for the elderly, but rather than them being standard fitness classes, these will be focussed more on functional fitness. This means focussing on areas such as strength and balance, as well as joint mobility and general mood, all of which will significantly help to elevate daily living standards for this generation.

Outdoor Obstacle Courses
While intense outdoor bootcamps may be declining in popularity, outdoor obstacle courses, such as the Tough Mudder, are steadily on the rise. The majority of these that are currently available are more suited to those with advanced fitness levels, but the newer courses that you will see next year will make this activity available to all.

Woman boxing
Boxing
Boxing has always been loved by many, but it was often difficult for beginners to become involved with this sport. 2017 sees that beginning to change, not only with the introduction of boutique boxing studios, which practice a no-contact style of boxing, but also due to the increasing number of beginners classes that are now being hosted by traditional boxing gyms.

Fitness is key when it comes to healthy living, and an increasing number of people are beginning to become aware of this. Thanks to this mainstream attention, the fitness industry is now witnessing a surge in adrenaline-pumping trends, all of which promise to help keep your body, and mind, in perfect condition.

What You Can Teach Your Children About Healthy Living

children eating healthy food
Helping your children to develop healthy living habits while they are still young will really set them up for success in the long run. From educating them about food to making exercise fun, these are a few ways in which you can easily teach your children about how to live a healthy, and happy, life.

Food Education
Many schools do not include modules on healthy food and nutrition in their syllabus, meaning that it is up to you as the parent to ensure that your child learns as much as possible on this subject. There are so many ways to do this, and it is best to use a variety of methods to ensure that they do not become bored. Taking your child grocery shopping with you, and then helping them to prepare a healthy meal by themselves, will teach them about making healthy food choices when shopping, while learning how to read food labels. For those aspiring young chefs out there, help them to create their very own cookbook that features healthy recipes, and introduce them to some television personalities that promote healthy eating, so that they have positive role models to look up to.

mom and kid exercising
Make Exercise Fun
The recommended amount of physical activity for children is one hour a day, but with children these days spending more and more time indoors, this can be quite difficult for some parents to implement. The key here is ensuring that physical activity is always fun for your kids, and perhaps starting off with a smaller amount before gradually building this up as their fitness levels improve. There are many activities out there that children can get involved in, from dancing to cycling to team sports. For younger children, fun games such as tag or hide and seek will keep them on the move, while older children may enjoy the challenge of a fitness app that tracks their steps.

Positive influence
Be a Positive Influence
Your children will look up to you as a role model, so you need to make sure that you are providing them with a positive influence to follow. This means that, not only should your children be making healthy food choices and staying active, but so should the rest of the family. By working on a healthy lifestyle together, you will increase your chances of success, as you will have so much extra support, and it will also help with family bonding. When it comes to picking out rewards for your children, do not veer towards the standard, unhealthy, choices, such as extra television time, and opt instead for a reward that is in line with your healthy living practices, such as a family outing to the local national park.

As a parent, there are many ways in which you can encourage your children to be making healthy choices from a young age. By doing so, you will be helping to set healthy habits that they will be able to carry with them for the rest of their lives.

You Can Be Physically Fit

Keeping your body physically active is vital when it comes to good health, with studies showing that regular activity can go a long way when it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are two of the nation’s biggest killers. From aerobic exercises that benefit the heart, to muscle strengthening activities that boost stamina and flexibility, working on building your physical fitness will bring about a range of benefits to your body.

Women exercising
Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercises keep the larger muscles in your arms, legs and hips moving, which, in turn, will make you breathe deeper and faster. This then increases the amount of oxygen that your blood is able to carry, and, with your heart beating faster, boosts blood flow to your muscles and lungs. Aerobic exercises will hugely benefit heart health, and there are many that you can choose from. For those who are not yet physically fit, walking is often the best aerobic exercise to start off with, as not only is it free and easy, but it is also quite a social activity. If you find yourself needing some extra motivation, there are several walking programs that you can sign up for, and these are proven to help increase success rates. Other aerobic exercises that are fantastic for the heart include biking, swimming, jogging, rowing, dancing and climbing the stairs.

Woman lifting weights
Muscle Strengthening Exercises
Engaging in exercises at least twice a week that strengthen the muscles is not only recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services, but also by the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. The reason for this is due to the way in which improved muscle strength is able to prevent bones from weakening with age, otherwise known as osteoporosis, cuts back on age-related muscle loss, and boosts an individual’s range of motion. For many adults and seniors, muscle strengthening exercises are just as, if not more, important than aerobic activity, and both of these should be incorporated into your weekly schedule. There are a number of activities that can help strengthen your muscles, from yoga to weight exercises to resistance training, with each activity improving muscle strength in different ways.

Minimum Amount of Exercise Needed
While exercising every day is always going to be the most beneficial, there are different recommended amounts depending on the health issue that you are hoping to address. To give your cardiovascular health an overall boost, you should be engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity over the course of the week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. You should also be including muscle-strengthening exercises two days a week, although this should be increased if you feel that your age puts you at a higher risk. When it comes to lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, 40 minutes of activity four times a week should be sufficient, but if this seems as though it may be too challenging for you, set yourself some shorter goals and work up to the optimum amount.

For those that live a relatively sedentary lifestyle, becoming physically fit can seem like an uphill battle. However, everyone has to begin somewhere, so start off small and work your way up until you have managed to reach the fitness level that you have aspired to.

New Styles in Fitness

When it comes to working out, there are always new types of fitness classes being created, designed to keep you energized and motivated. From exciting new classes to workout trends that are set to take over, these are some new fitness styles that you simply have to try.

Women in an exercise class

Small Group Training
Up until now, those seeking workout guidance would either join a fitness group, or hire a personal trainer. Small group training is a concept that combines both of these, utilizing the environment of a fitness class but with smaller sized groups, designed to speed up the way in which you progress, and keep more of the focus on your own individual goals. Classes are usually restricted to around eight people, and each participant will be able to receive one-on-one training during each session, helping them to train much more effectively.

Free Dancing
There are countless fitness classes out there that make use of various dance moves, teaching participants structured techniques in order to ensure that everybody is getting a good workout. However, a new type of dance class seems to be increasing in popularity, and this one completely does away with all of those prescribed steps. Instead, powerful, hip-shaking music is played, and participants are encouraged to move their bodies freely to the beat, in any way that they feel comfortable. The concept of these classes arose from the idea that each body is unique, meaning that there should not be a one-size-fits-all workout class, and, with the intense amount of cardio you will be receiving from each class, you are still guaranteed a healthy session of exercise.

Woman doing yoga on a hike

Hiking Yoga
The beach yoga craze has officially been and gone, and a new sort of yoga is now taking the fitness world by storm. Hiking Yoga originated in San Francisco in 2009, but has only recently been making waves around the world. The original sessions were 90 minutes long, with instructors leading students through three miles of extraordinary nature trails, stopping along the way, at particularly scenic spots, to practice some yoga. The beauty of Hiking Yoga is, no matter where in the world you do it, you are guaranteed a different experience, and will enjoy the cardio benefits of hiking, plus the mental benefits of yoga, along with the health-boosting benefits of fresh air.

Barre Classes
Barre classes have been growing in popularity over the past couple of years, and this shows no sign whatsoever of slowing down. Incorporating the use of a ballet barre, as well as maybe a couple of ballet moves, these classes bring in techniques from many other dance and exercise styles. Borrowing methods from yoga to Pilates to functional training, barre classes have the ability to help you to exercise many different muscle groups at one time, and, when accompanied with high-energy music, is always a fun workout.

It is common knowledge that working out is vital to a healthy mind and body, and, with many more people now recognizing the importance of this, there are an abundance of fitness classes popping up everywhere. However, for those who want to try something different, choosing one of the above styles of classes, whether it may be a yoga hike in the great outdoors or working out in small groups, will guarantee you some positive results.