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Tried and True Fitness: The Exercise Bike

There’s a reason exercise bikes have been around so long. Many people finding using an exercise bike much more enjoyable than running on a treadmill. Additionally, it’s easier on the joints, more convenient than going to the gym every day, and allows you to multi-task while you work out.

Cardio

Although it isn’t doesn’t burn calories as efficiently as running on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike still has plenty of cardiovascular benefits. Biking for 30 minutes a day, five times a week, can help strengthen your heart, lower high blood pressure, and regulate blood sugar.

It’s great for people who are just starting to improve their fitness and need something a little less intensive than jogging. Beginners can start out slow and increase their speed and resistance as they progress to increase the benefits of their workout. In addition, exercise bikes are easier on the joints and provide an excellent low-impact cardio workout.

Recumbent bikes are a type of stationary bike that allow the rider to sit in a reclined position while they exercise. This is perfect for rehabilitation or for people with back problems who would not be able to use a treadmill or an upright exercise bike.

Legs

Exercise bikes can also provide an effective lower-body workout. By adding resistance, you can strengthen your quadriceps and hamstrings while you get your cardio in. Combine a rigorous bike workout with upper-body and core exercises to complete your exercise regimen.

While adding resistance is a good way to strengthen your legs, you never want to add too much resistance, as this could lead to injury. Never increase the resistance so much that you can’t move the pedals anymore, and always use proper form when you’re using your exercise bike.

Convenience

The convenience of exercise bikes explains why they’ve stayed popular for so long. Unlike using a treadmill, you can read, work, or watch TV while you exercise on a stationary bike. Since you remain seated and don’t bounce nearly as much as when you run, you can multi-task while you work out.

Nowadays, many bikes have programmable features that can help you get the most out of your workouts. They can track your speed and resistance, the distance you’ve biked, heart rate, calories burned, and more. This is a great way to keep track of your progress and create a personalized workout routine.

Exercise bikes are perfect for at-home fitness because you can use them in all weather. They take up less space than most treadmills, and are easy to store when not in use.


Proper Use

While biking is a safe, low-impact exercise, it’s important to always use proper form in order to avoid injury. There are three important components to correct form on an upright bike: the seat’s height and position, your foot position on the pedals, and the handlebar height.

Before getting on the bike, stand next to it. The seat should be even with your hip. If it’s not, adjust it up or down. When you sit on the bike with your feet in the pedals, your knee should still have a slight bend at the bottom of the pedal’s rotation and never be locked. If your knee is locked, that means the seat is too high. If you’re using a recumbent bike, the same rule applies. Adjust the seat so that your knee has a slight bend when it is fully extended.

You may also need to adjust the seat’s position. When you’re on the bike, your knee should be directly above your foot and at a 90-degree angle at the top of the pedal’s rotation. If it’s out in front of your foot, you should slide the seat back.



Your foot position is also important. Keep your feet parallel to the ground while you pedal, with your toes flexed back toward your shin. Never point your toes.

Lastly, you should adjust the height of the handlebars to prevent shoulder, neck, and back injuries. Your handlebars should be a little higher than the seat so you aren’t hunched over.

If you follow these steps to ensure proper form and safety while using your exercise bike, you will get the most out of your workout.

 

Sources:

http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/exercise-bikes-a-low-stress-work-out
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/fitness-basics-exercise-bike-is-back
http://www.wellnesswatchersmd.com/exercise/articles/treadmill_bike.php
http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/exercise-bike-setup-and-precautions




 

Healthy Spring Recipes

 

Spring Salad with Mixed Berries, Candied Almonds & Honey Citrus Vinaigrette

 

 

Here is a great recipe with everything made from scratch. If you don’t have the time to make the almonds and vinaigrette, just make the salad of mixed greens, fresh raspberries and blueberries, and add your favorite store-bought vinaigrette and nuts.

http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/03/19/spring-salad-with-mixed-berries-candied-almonds-honey-citrus-vinaigrette/  

 

Directions

For Candied Almonds:

1. Preheat oven to 300oF. Line a 13-by-18 inch sheet pan with aluminum foil. Pour on 3 tablespoons of melted butter and spread out so that the pan is evenly coated.

2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat 1 egg white (at room temperature) and 1 teaspoon water until stiff peaks just start to form. Blend in ¾ cup of sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt. Fold in almonds and spread mixture in a single layer onto prepared pan.

3. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring and flipping almonds every 10 to 15 minutes. Watch nuts very closely during the last 10 minutes of cooking time, removing them from oven sooner if they are getting too dark. Nuts will be done when they are mostly dry and golden brown.

4. Allow almonds to cool on pan until they are completely dry and crunchy, stirring occasionally to break them up. You can store them in an airtight container for two to three weeks.

 

For Honey Citrus Vinaigrette:

1. Add ¼ cup of orange juice, ¼ cup of honey, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons of poppy seed to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until mixture is well blended.

 

For each salad:

1. Place your desired amount of mixed greens on a plate.

2. Arrange berries and candied almonds over top.

3. Drizzle with vinaigrette, to taste.

 

 Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

This salad would be perfect as a side dish for a spring BBQ.

 

http://www.abigmouthful.com/lemon-orzo-salad-with-asparagus-and-tomatoes/

       

Directions

1. Bring 2 large pots of water to boil. Add a big pinch of salt in each.

2. To one pot, add 1 bunch of fresh asparagus and blanch about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus.

3. Place blanched asparagus in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and keep them green.

4. To second pot, add 12 oz. of orzo. Cook per package instructions. When tender, drain and place in a large bowl.

5. Add blanched asparagus and 1 pint of grape tomato halves.

6. Mix 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon zest and lemon juice from one lemon, 1 clove of minced garlic, salt and pepper (to taste) in a small bowl.

7. Stir sauce into orzo and vegetables.

8. Stir in 2 Tbs. of parsley and grated Parmigiano Regiiano.

7. Serve warm, room temperature or cold. 

Arugula Skirt Steak Salad with Caramelized Pears, Pecans, and Gorgonzola

 

If you need a little more substance out of your salad try this one.

This hearty salad has a great combination of sweet and Salty.

http://bakerbynature.com/arugula-skirt-steak-salad-with-caramelized-pears-pecans-and-gorgonzola/      

 

Directions

For Salad

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add 1 Tbs. of olive oil to skillet.

2. Salt and pepper 1lb. skirt steak, and trim excess fat.

3. When oil begins to simmer, place 1lb. skirt steak in skillet and let it cook for 5 minutes. Turn it and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

4. Transfer meat to a large cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Prepare the rest of your ingredients while it’s resting.

5. Heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add ¼ cup of light brown sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.

6. Add 2 large pears that have been cored and cut into medium-sized chunks, stir, and then cook (stirring occasionally) for about  5 minutes, or just until the pears have released their juices and softened up.

7. With a slotted spoon (leaving behind as much sauce as possible) transfer the pears to a clean plate.

8. Add ¾ cup of chopped pecans to the same skillet the pears were cooked in (keeping the pear juices and caramel in the pan), and toss them in the caramel, cooking over medium heat for just 1-2 minutes.

9. Remove pan from heat and, working quickly, transfer pecans to a plate covered in wax or parchment paper.

10. By this time it has probably been ten minutes, so you can now slice the steak against the grain into 1” strips.

11. Scatter 4 cups of baby arugula onto a large serving dish or platter. Arrange steak strips across the top then add pears, pecans, and 4 ounces of crumbled gorgonzola cheese evenly around the platter.

 

For the Mustard Vinaigrette

1. Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon of sugar, 1/3 cup of Olive and salt and pepper to taste to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until mixture is well blended.

2. Drizzle vinaigrette on to salad, to taste.

         

  Pink & Green Fruit Salad

 

If you’re a fan of fruit salads you’re going to love this one.

http://prettyyummyfoods.com/pink-and-green-fruit-salad/

   

Directions

1. Dice up half a watermelon and put it into a large bowl.

2. Wash a bunch of green grapes, put those into the bowl.

3. Wash and slice up a container of strawberries, put those into the bowl.

4. Wash and dice up a couple of granny smith apples, about two or three, and put those into the bowl.

5. In a small sauce pan combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of white wine.

6. Whisk and boil this for about 5 minutes until all of your sugar is dissolved and it has thickened up a bit.

7. Let your syrup cool completely, and then pour it over your fruit.

8. Chop up a handful of fresh mint and stir it into your salad.

 


Healthy Road Trip Snacks

Eating healthy while you’re on the road can be tough, especially when there’s a convenient fast food restaurant at every exit. Instead, stay away from the greasy fast food and bring your own healthy options to snack on while you drive! We’ve found some quick, nutritious snacks to bring with you in the car that can be prepared in minutes and will help you avoid pigging out on junk food.




Frozen Yogurt Bites


http://www.justusfourblog.com/2012/04/pinterest-projects-frozen-yogurt-bites/

These are the perfect alternative to a messy ice cream cone! Put yogurt in a plastic bag, cut a hole in the corner and squeeze small circles on to a cookie sheet. Place in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes. They will melt fast so make sure you keep them in the cooler.


Celery and Peanut Butter in a Jar


http://homesweetroad.com/healthy-snacks-gluten-free

Fill the bottom of a jar with about an inch of peanut butter and add sticks of celery on top. Kids can just dip away and screw the lid on to prevent a mess when they’re all done. You could also do this with veggies and hummus.


Banana Peanut Butter Bites


http://www.eat-yourself-skinny.com/2013/01/post-workout-banana-bites.html

This is a convenient twist on the classic peanut butter and banana combo, and they couldn’t be easier to make. Just take two slices of banana and put a dab of peanut butter between them.

 


Trail Mix


http://thestir.cafemom.com/food_party/139205/5_easy_road_trip_snacks

Trail mix is one of the most versatile snacks and is perfect for those picky eaters. Take your kids’ favorite nuts, like almonds, cashews and pistachios, mix them all together with some dried fruit, and maybe even throw in a few chocolate chips. Allow the kids to make it to their own liking, but hopefully they won’t just make a bag of chocolate chips!



Zucchini Chips


http://thehealthyfamilyandhome.com/lemon-dill-zucchini-chips/

This crispy snack is much less salty than other chips and easy to make. All you need is a slicer, cut them super thin for extra crunchy chips, and then place them on a dehydrator. Try adding lemon juice, spices, or a dash of salt for extra flavor.



The next time you’re planning a big road trip, use these ideas to plan out healthy snacks ahead of time. By bringing good, nutritious food with you in the car, you’ll be far less likely to hit a drive-thru.




10 Ways to Stay Motivated

Setting a goal is easy. Sticking to it and keeping yourself motivated is the hard part. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to stay focused with just a little effort and creativity. Here are ten effective ways to spark your motivation and help you stay on the path to achieving your goals:

 

Tell your friends

If your friends and family know about your goal, they can help motivate you and provide helpful encouragement. Also, you’ll be more reluctant to give up if you know that you’ll disappoint your friends!



Find a role model

Find someone who’s already met the goal you’re working toward and use them as your motivation. Figure out how they got there, and ask them how they overcame their challenges. Seeing their success, or more importantly, the path they took to success, can inspire you to do the same. Whether it’s a pro athlete or your best friend, being able to see an embodiment of your end results reminds you that you can do it too!


Provide an incentive for yourself

Give yourself a reward for working toward your goal! For example, if your goal is to be more active, then only allow yourself to listen to the new episode of your favorite podcast if you’re on the treadmill. This is a great way to create positive reinforcement.

Find a partner

Everything is easier with a friend! Find someone who shares your goal and work together. On those days when you’re really having trouble staying motivated, it’s great to have someone there to give you that extra push. In addition, a partner can bring out your competitive side and give you the drive to keep going.


Make your progress tangible

Your goal may not always have tangible results, which are vital to keeping you motivated. When the process to achieving your goal is gradual, it’s harder to tell how much progress you’ve made. But with a little creativity, you can fix that! If you’re trying to lose weight, use two jars, one marked “Pounds to Lose,” and one marked “Pounds Lost.” If you’re trying to lose 20 pounds, fill the first jar with 20 marbles, and move a marble to the second jar for every pound you lose. This can help create a more visual representation of your goal and is extra helpful when you don’t feel like you’re seeing any results.


Visualize

It’s important that you always have the end goal in mind. Visualizing your results daily serves as a frequent reminder of what you’re working toward. Change your desktop wallpaper to a picture that represents your goal or keep a motivational quote on your car’s dashboard. Being able to keep the end in mind will help you see the big picture and keep working toward your goal.

Use someone else as motivation

You’re more likely to stick with your goal if you’re doing it for someone else. If you’re trying to quit smoking, do it because you want to set a good example for your kids instead of just for the personal benefits. You are more likely to stay motivated if their goal benefits someone they love.


Celebrate the little things

Every accomplishment matters on the path to meeting your goal! If you’re trying to eat better, then celebrate your first week without junk food. Reward yourself if you make significant progress toward your goal. It’s ok to be proud of yourself, even if you haven’t reached your goal yet. 


Forgive yourself

Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to acknowledge that you messed up and move on. Dwelling on your mistakes will only create a negative mindset and prevent you from achieving your goal. Instead of concentrating on the mistake you made yesterday, focus on what you’re going to do today to get back on track.

Stay positive

No matter what, it’s crucial that you view your goal as something positive. Don’t treat it like a chore, and only talk about it with a positive attitude. Even on bad days, you have the power to change your attitude and adjust your mood. 



Staying motivated is undoubtedly the hardest part of achieving a new goal. But following these tips will make the process much easier and help ensure your success!       






How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

 

Every year we make a New Year’s resolution, and every year we end up either forgetting about it or losing hope and convincing ourselves we can’t stick to it. Make this year different by following these tips to keeping your New Year’s resolution:

 

Be Reasonable

Don’t doom yourself from the start: make a New Year’s resolution that you can actually accomplish in a year. Biting off more than you can chew will only lead to a failed resolution, so make sure you decide to take on a challenge that is reasonable and achievable.

 

Aim for Something Positive

Instead of vowing to quit something or stop a certain behavior, try to put a positive spin on your resolution. For example, turn “quit eating junk food” into “eat more vegetables.” If your resolution seems negative, you’re less likely to want to do it. But a positive resolution puts you in the right mindset from the beginning.

 

Be Charitable

Put a generous twist on your resolution! If you want to get organized, clean out your closet and donate the clothes you don’t need to charity. If you’re trying to get in shape, participate in 5k’s that benefit causes you’re passionate about. No matter what you resolve to do, find a way to give back to those in need. You’ll not only help out your community, but you’ll also feel even more rewarded for sticking to your resolution.

 


Be Specific

            Your resolution should be something specific and measurable. Pin it down to one thing instead of something that’s too broad or vague. Something like “Drink more water” could be changed to “Drink eight glasses of water a day.” Don’t just resolve to lose weight. Ask yourself exactly how much you want to lose. Are you trying to fit into a smaller pant size or just be healthier in general? Being specific with your resolution allows you to have a distinct goal in mind. Unless you can clearly visualize what you want to change or achieve, you won’t know how to get there!



Set Milestones

Take it one step at a time. If your resolution is to run a marathon by the end of the year, but you’ve never run more than a mile, start small. If you try to tackle something huge from the start, you’ll be overwhelmed and give up. Instead, start with smaller goals and work up to your big one. For instance, run a 5k, then a 10k, then a half-marathon before taking on a whole marathon. Meeting these smaller goals will keep you motivated and also help you work toward your resolution.


Set Deadlines

A year can seem like a long time. If you find yourself thinking, "I've got a whole year. That's plenty of time!" then you'll keep procrastinating and never reach your goal. Set specific deadlines for each of your milestones that encourage you to get things done and not waste any time.


 Keep Track of Your Progress

By keeping careful track of your progress, you can visualize it as you go. Keep a calendar or a chart that tracks how far you’ve come since January 1. If you’re trying to lose weight, use a nutrition-tracking app to count calories, carbs, and protein for you. Take “before” and “after” pictures weekly or monthly to see your results throughout the whole year. Halfway through the year, look back at your progress so far and use that motivation to keep going.


Remind Yourself

Give yourself daily reminders so you can’t possibly forget about your resolution. A simple but effective way to do this is to change your computer’s log in password to an inspirational phrase that can serve as a reminder. For example, if your resolution is to get fit this year, your password could be “w0rkOutTod4y!” Since you have to enter your password numerous times every day, it will be impossible to forget your resolution.


Every new year comes with the opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Take advantage of that opportunity this year by using these tips to keep your resolution. With a little determination and willpower, you can stick to it and accomplish what you set out to do on January 1!




Stamina Products Confirms AeroPilates Program Has Proven to Reduce Weight and Improve Health for Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome


Due to the unique Cardio Rebounder, AeroPilates Reformers allow a Pilates fitness program that, when combined with nutritional intervention, has been clinically proven to result in significant weight loss and improved health status for overweight or obese individuals at risk of Type II Diabetes and heart disease.


Stamina Products, Inc. today announced that company representatives have verified their AeroPilates Reformers remain the only line of residential Pilates equipment complete with the patented Cardio Rebounder, which combines cardiovascular exercise and Pilates training into one uniquely effective fitness program. As indicated in a clinical study published in the Journal of Fitness Research, the combination of an AeroPilates program and dietary modification can result in marked improvement in health and significant weight loss for individuals with metabolic syndrome.

The purpose of the clinical research involving AeroPilates was to explore the benefits and effects of Pilates, low-impact cardiovascular exercise and nutritional intervention for individuals whose obesity has progressed to metabolic syndrome—the clinical name for the group of risk factors that can lead to Type II Diabetes and heart disease. Led by Denver Center for Health & Sport Science Medical Program Director Neil Wolkodoff, PhD, the six-week study involved ten intervention subjects and four control subjects, all of whom met the criteria for metabolic syndrome and were verified as “previously sedentary subjects” prior to the the study. As Wolkodoff stated after first publishing the results, the “patients made significant improvements in physiological measures and health status” after just six weeks of a balanced calorie-deficit diet and the combined strength and aerobics fitness elements AeroPilates offers.

Statistically Significant Results with AeroPilates

Published as “The Physiological and Health Effects of a Pilates Program combined with Nutritional Intervention on Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome,” the study indicates the AeroPilates Reformer helped lead to statistically significant (p<.05) benefits for intervention subjects:

  • Total weight decreased by 16.1 pounds
  • Body fat decreased by 2.58%
  • BMI decreased by 2.5
  • Waist and hip measurements decreased by 3.65 inches and 2.33 inches respectively
  • Systolic blood pressure decreased by 10 millimeters
  • Muscular endurance increased by 19.7%
  • Blood markers improved, including decreased total cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose levels, Homgebin A1 c, Plasmas Inhibitor Type 1 (PAI) and Leptin

Additional Compelling Indications from AeroPilates Study

The published Pilates Metabolic Syndrome Study results included several indications that AeroPilates is more efficient than similar forms of exercise. For example, the journal article stated that investigations with the intervention group “indicated that rebounding, or the trampoline-like jumping motion with the Pilates carriage was slightly better in energy expenditure per minute compared to elliptical, treadmill and recumbent cycling exercise at the same rate of perceived exertion.” Because that rate of energy output “is not found in other Pilates devices,” Wolkodoff theorized that it [the Cardio Rebounder] is “a factor in the physiological changes the subjects made in the short period of time.”

Wolkodoff also called attention to the importance of the results, given that the population being studied “has traditionally been resistant to weight loss.” Researchers appeared to be particularly encouraged because the amount of weight loss experienced “can reduce the risk of Type II Diabetes by 2/3.” With an estimated 30% of the U.S. population measuring as overweight or obese, embracing effective and comfortable exercise options is widely considered critical to fighting both Type II Diabetes and heart disease.

AeroPilates Co-Founder Marjolein Brugman, a renowned Pilates and fitness expert, notes that Wolkodoff’s findings reflect the evidence she has seen first hand during nearly ten years spent training clients with various AeroPilates Reformers: “Even clients who suffer through obesity and other debilitating issues can achieve noticeably better health and fitness through AeroPilates, because the complete, low-impact exercise program lets them burn calories, lose weight, get strong and become heart healthy—all while lying down, without hurting their joints.”

Brugman added that no matter how many times she sees it occur, “it is powerfully moving and inspirational to witness the transformation as people go from listless and often depressed to healthier, active and energetic.”

For more information on AeroPilates Reformers, the Cardio Rebounder or Wolkodoff’s research, contact Stamina Products at 417.889.7011 or by email at presscontact(at)staminaproducts.com.

Reference
1. Wolkodoff, N.E., Andrick, R., Lazarus, E., Braunstein, B., and Patch, T. “The Physiological and Health Effects of a Pilates Program combined With Nutritional Intervention on Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome.” Journal of Fitness Research. 2013; 2: 17-29.

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