How to Stay Fit While Traveling

stay healthy when traveling

Traveling can destroy your diet and add pounds to your body. It seems impossible to do away with these things. After all, you experience different cuisine and forget about your regular everyday life, which sadly means setting fitness aside for a while. You can turn this around and maintain your fitness whilst traveling.

Pack healthy snacks.

Traveling could mean a lot of things, including long waiting hours at the airport and canceled flights, which prolong the wait. The longer you stay at the airport, the more you’re compelled to eat at fast food and make unhealthy food choices, usually high in sugar and fat. Grab that blueberry cake or cinnamon and expect additional 700 calories. When you’re hungry, you eat just anything. The solution is to pack whole grain crackers, tuna salad, fruit smoothies, or low-calorie snack bars. If possible, pack enough food that can last throughout the travel. If it’s an 8-hour plane ride, pack enough food that you generally eat within this time period.

Bring at least one liter of water.

If it’s a long ride, you’re going to feel thirsty if you don’t rehydrate. Dehydration is common among travelers. Even if you spend several hours just sitting down, you’re body is losing water by the hour. You should replace lost fluids. The easiest way to do it is to bring enough water that can last throughout the duration of your flight or train ride. Remember you should drink 8 glasses of water a day. That’s roughly one liter.

Ask for vegetables, fruits, and protein dishes.

They usually serve pastries, junk food, and other unhealthy stuff on the plane. However, if they serve chicken or fish, make it your main dish. If they serve nuts, go for nuts and stay away from chips. Switch junk food for salad or fruits.

Stand and stretch every hour.

Sitting down for several hours makes your muscles stiff and impedes proper blood circulation in the legs. Your legs can go numb and stiff after long hours of sitting. Take a break from prolonged sitting and do some stretches.

Continue your fitness routine.

Once you arrive at your travel destination, it may seem as though your daily routine is about to change. There are many ways to deal with this if you want to remain fit throughout your vacation. You can find a gym near the hotel you’re staying at. See if it’s possible to have access to their facilities for the entire time of your stay. Also, check out if your hotel has a fitness facility.

You don’t need to be in the gym for fitness though. Cardio lovers can still do exercises without equipment. Jogging and brisk walking are some of the easiest cardio exercises everyone can do without equipment. Those who abandoned their free weights and machines at home can avoid loss of muscle by doing calisthenics (bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, and planks).

Limit the partying.

Parties mean booze and staying late at night, both of which cause you to pack belly fat. You want to avoid these two. You can enjoy festivities but not at the expense of your health.

Reasons You Should Listen To Music When You Work Out

listen to music when exercising

Many athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts include music in their workouts. From an observer’s point of view, it may seem as though music just adds a pleasant stimulus to strenuous activities and increases motivation. Indeed, gym buffs and athletes have different reasons for playing their favorite songs while working out. And experts agree that you should crank up the tunes when exercising.

Music serves as a good distraction.

Not that all types of distraction are good when you’re working out, but music is one type that allows you to perform more. It’s a good distraction, one that keeps your thoughts away from the difficulty or monotony of the exercise itself. This is good, especially for beginners, who can enjoy their routines with music. Exercise alone can be hard, irksome, and boring.

Uptempo songs are good for your performance.

People who are doing cardio workouts should listen to uptempo songs. The fast beats do not only distract your brain but also prompts your body to move faster in response to the beat. Faster movements burn more fat and tax the muscles more for that post-workout burn.

Music gets you in the mood.

Most people have certain types of music that perk or lift them up or just make them alive and awake. This is preference-based. Meaning, you go play your favorite songs for your warm-ups. This sets you in the mood for an otherwise dreary workout.

You can time your workouts.

Whether you’re doing strength training or classic fat-burning circuits, you need to time your workouts properly for optimum results. When you listen to songs, you can time your sets in such a way that you start at the beginning of the song, for instance, and then rest at chorus, and continue at the next verse.

Music beats excite your brain.

Music stimulates your brain. It wakes it up! Basically, you need that “waking up” when you’re about to do warm-ups before hitting the weights or doing HIIT. This is great on days when you just don’t feel like you’re up to it. Unless you’re sick, there’s no excuse for skipping workout on your workout days. Play your music and get in the mood.

You don’t get tired easily.

Sometimes exhaustion is a state of mind, not a neuromuscular condition. Music can help you beat the premature exhaustion during workouts that cause people to under-perform and not see results. Maybe you don’t like working out really. Maybe you don’t like the exercises you’re performing. Playing good music can help you deal with the negative attitude you have towards getting fit.

Music may distract some people in a bad way. Perhaps they hate the music you’re playing or they don’t like working out to music generally. Consider listening to music on some good exercise ear buds if you’re working out in a public gym so that you won’t bother other people.

Music may have different effects on fitness buffs. If it works for you, if it motivates you and enhances your performance, continue listening to your favorite songs. If not, then continue doing what you’re doing.

Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

exercise when sickGetting sick when you’re in the middle of a muscle building or fat burning program can be frustrating. It means indefinite rest time till the illness passes. Sometimes that could mean weeks or even months of recovery until you start getting back on track. The thing is you just can’t pick up where you left off. Some lost muscle memory and stimulation mean decrease in performance, in which case, you may have to revert to lighter weights or less intensive training.

Should you work out or not?

It turns out there’s no straightforward answer to this question. It all boils down to what type of sickness you have. Is it serious? Is it debilitating? Is it something that demands ample rest time?

A common cold could mean you should stay away from the gym for a while until the symptoms disappear, so you don’t spread the virus to other gym goers. However, you can still work out at home if you have your own equipment. Or maybe you can do bodyweight workouts for a while until you can go back to the gym, hopefully not too long.

What if you have a fever?

Fever is one sign that you have to forego workouts until you’re well. Fever and exercise don’t go well together. When you have a fever, your body’s temperature is already elevated beyond normal. When you exercise, your body’s internal temperature tends to rise too because you’re burning calories and activating your muscles, all causing cascades of chemical reactions in the body that raise your temperature. You don’t need any more rise in body temperature when you have a fever.

What should you do meanwhile?

If you don’t have a fever, but you have other symptoms like drowsiness or weakness, it’s best to just skip all workouts and just rest until you recover and regain your strength. It’s a bad idea to lift weights or hit the treadmill when you’re lethargic or just not feeling okay.

So this is what you’re going to do. Assess your condition. How bad are your symptoms? Can you get up from bed? Are you able to go about your daily activities without feeling worse? If yes, then consider warming up. People with colds or mild flu feel better after doing a 10-minute cardio as a warm-up. But if after warming up, you don’t feel okay or your symptoms get worse, stop!

Is your breathing affected?

A simple cold may be accompanied by some nasal congestion, which is easily remedied by decongestants or a steam bath. Most people with common cold can continue their fitness regimen without any problem.

But if your illness is accompanied by chest tightness or bronchial congestion and tightness, it’s a good idea to cancel your workout and wait for complete recovery. Remember that your body needs more lung work when you exercise to bring in more oxygen and take out carbon dioxide. When your air passages are congested due to infection or allergy, your respiratory system will not be able to handle the demands of a workout.

As a rule, if you’re sick and able, test the waters. If you’re okay with a set, then you’re probably fine. But if you start feeling dizziness, chest pain, or anything bad, stop, drop and dumbbells, and go home.

Elliptical vs Rowing Machine: Which Is The Best For A Low Impact Workout?

rowing machine vs ellipticalIf you’re after low-impact aerobic exercises, then you should look at rowing machines and ellipticals. These cardio workout machines are good for people who are recovering from lower body injuries and thus cannot stand high-impact workouts. These machines allow you to continue getting fit without sacrificing the amount of calories you’re burning. However, the two have marked differences that may make one better than the other on certain occasions.

First let’s talk about the rowing machine.

The rowing machine is ideal if you want to spend less on a workout machine. Usually less expensive than a typical elliptical training machine, it also doesn’t take as much space. Another advantage of the rowing machine is it works your entire body. It’s a good cardio machine that is also great if you want to improve your muscle strength. Being a low-impact machine that can make you burn as much as 800 calories an hour, if you do vigorous rowing, it’s ideal for people who are too overweight to balance themselves on ellipticals.

The marked disadvantage of this machine is that it soon becomes boring for many people.

What about the elliptical trainer?

If you’re recovering from an ankle or knee injury, chances are you can’t get back right away to your daily jogging or running routines, because the impact on hard pavement is too hard on your recovering muscles, tendons, ligaments, or joints. An elliptical trainer is the likely substitute if you want to continue burning calories even if you’re injured. Also, some people just hate running or jogging outdoors, so an indoor calorie-burning workout machine is good option.

The cons of ellipticals is they eat bigger space. So your indoor gym should be spacious, especially if you have other equipment pieces there. For many people, a stationary bike is a better option because it takes smaller space and it’s more convenient.

Which burns more calories?

Data varies, but according to the Harvard School of Public Health, elliptical burns a bit more calories. On average, an elliptical burns about 630 calories per hour, while a rowing machine allows you to burn 520 calories an hour. However, a rowing machine prompts you to activate more muscles during the workout. Thus, you’re still burning calories after working out.

Which is safer?

Both machines put significantly less impact on knee and ankle joints during the entire workout. But it’s worth noting that depending on how vigorous your workout is, you’re still subjecting your joints to some repetitive stress. For this reason, some elliptical users can suffer from hip and lower back pain. On the other hand, rowing can also put significant cumulative stress on your ankles and knees depending on how hard you’re doing it.

Which works more muscles?

Ellipticals are basically cardio machines that work mostly the lower body. Hardly does an elliptical work your muscles for strength gains. If your goal is just to lose weight and improve cardiovascular endurance, then this is the right machine for you.

Rowing machines, on the other hand, have muscle toning benefits aside from fat loss benefits. Because rowing involves resistance aside from plain motion, you’re working your muscles more, particularly the arms and shoulders. However, be careful you don’t perform sets without proper form lest you’d suffer from back strain.

Best Gym Equipment To Have At Home

best home gym equipment

Just because you don’t have access to a gym doesn’t give you an excuse for abandoning fitness altogether. You have many options. Unfortunately, there is no one-machine-fits-all when it comes to working out at home. It depends on what your goals are. But let us help you think this through.

All-in-one Machines

These are obviously home gym machines that allow you to do multiple exercises without needing extra equipment. Some of these machines make use of resistance bands that can be adjusted to provide varying levels of resistance, depending on your strength and fitness level. Other machines allow you to load weights and perform different strength training exercises at home and do progressive overload for strength and muscle gains. The downside of these machines is that it takes a while to get used to them. Some people find the intricate parts annoying, but you will get used to them in the long run.

TRX Suspension Equipment

A TRX suspension trainer is possibly the most convenient and versatile workout equipment. With this handy equipment, you can perform more than a hundred exercises. It is guaranteed to give you a full body workout without needing weight plates or conspicuous machines. You can install TRX suspension trainers at home. They are absolutely easy to set up, and once set, you can start training different muscle groups. Perform inverted rows, chest press, or pistol squat.

Kettlebell

Another modest tool you can have at home is the kettlebell. Unlike dumbbells, kettlebells place the weight outside your grip, hence working out extra muscles. Kettlebell exercise train you core while giving you strength and endurance gains. The downside is that the exercises can be tricky. The most popular of these exercises are the kettlebell swing and kettlebell snatch.

Resistance Band

If your goal is strength gains and not muscle gains, then resistance rubber bands are a nice option for you. A rubber band provides constant tension all throughout the range of the movement, thus stimulating your muscles evenly throughout the exercise. With something as simple as a band, you can do shoulder press, lateral raises, rows, squats, calf raises, and lunges all with added tension brought by the band.

Free Weights

If your goal is muscle gain and fat loss, then investing in a set of dumbbells and barbells and weight plates is a very wise option. In fact, dumbbells should be sufficient. There’s a long standing debate between free weights and machines. Free weights are not necessarily better or worse than machines, but they have certain advantages, such as promoting more natural movement and activating more muscles. Free weights are very convenient to use. Weight training programs are quite easy to follow, and you can start at weights suitable for your fitness level. Then you can ensure progressive overload by simply loading more weights in 5- or 10-pound increments.

Your Own Body

If nothing else is available, if a home workout machine is too expensive, or if you simply don’t have extra space for it, don’t fret. You are your own equipment. Contrary to the popular misconception, bodyweight exercises can build muscle as long as you do them in the right form and you challenge yourself to do more difficult sets. Pushups, pullups, squats, lunges, and planks and all their variations are guaranteed to burn fat and build muscle.

Strength Training Tips for Beginners

strength training for beginners

Building your strength is often a personal choice that stems from wanting to improve the physique or improve health and fitness. However, it’s a decision that entails a lot of discipline and patience. You don’t improve your strength levels without changing your diet and lifestyle. It’s a major switch, one that discourages a lot of people either at the onset or in the long run.

Motivate yourself.

No one else can do this for you. You have to make the decision on your own. It doesn’t matter how many people tell you to hit the gym and make yourself look robust. If you don’t have that intrinsic motivation, that drive from within yourself, then you don’t have that real foundation to start with. You will end up just like so many others who gave strength training a bit of a try, coming in and out of the gym for months only to abandon the training completely.

Choose your program.

Most people would tell you to go to the gym. What would you do there? Many fitness centers and gyms have machines and free weights. The beginner without proper guidance may find the entire gym intimidating. Without prior knowledge what to do on your first day of strength or weight training, you will be at a loss. You can find some tips here if you want.

Ask yourself what you want to do. You can train with machines, free weights, or TRX trainers. Wait! You can train out of the gym. That’s right. You can do calisthenics, plyometrics, crossfit, or parkour. There are different ways to train your strength and build muscle.

However, since you’re a beginner, and you don’t want to be intimidated by difficult and complicated exercises, start simple. Begin with either basic calisthenics or free weight training. The former is great for people who don’t have access to the gym or don’t have free weights at home.

Assess your strength levels.

Each of us has various strength levels, depending on our muscle mass, experience, lifestyle, and health. Train according to your strength level. Choose weights with which you can do 5-8 reps in the right form. If it’s too easy, load another 5 or 10 lbs. If it’s too difficult or too heavy, reduce the weight. Don’t push it! Progressive overload should be done gradually. Do not shock your body by lifting too much load and risk suffering from an injury.

Bodyweight exercises can be difficult for beginners, too. Non-athletic starters may have difficult performing even one rep of a standard push-up. Start with elevated push-ups or knee push-ups. Standard chin-ups too difficult? Start with negative chin-ups–grab the chin-up bar, jump, and then slowly descend.

Don’t let gym rats intimidate you.

Going to the gym can be daunting for skinny or overweight beginners, who most likely will be surrounded by ripped guys. Don’t mind them. Chances are, they don’t care about you. Chances are, they’re focusing on their own sets as much as you, too, should focus on your own. But don’t decline offers to spot you or assist you. You will need assistance at some point.

Best Gym Equipment for Toning Legs

easy ways to tone your legsMost people in the gym are preoccupied with training their upper body. Everyone wants to do the bench press. The legs get no love. But training the lower body is just as important as training your core and your upper body. If you want to be toned all over, you have to include your legs in your weekly weight training sessions. So what are the best machines or tools for training the legs?

Barbells and Dumbbells

Free weights are popular among people who want to build lean muscle mass. When you’re toning your body, you’re basically building more muscle and burning fat. Free weights can do that. Two of the most popular are barbells and dumbbells, which are more frequently used to tone the upper body. But with the right exercises, these tools can be used for toning the glutes, thighs, and legs. Two of the exercises you can do with these free weights are squats and lunges.

Smith Machines

An alternative to barbell is the smith machine, which is very similar except that they are barbells fitted in a rack. With a smith machine, you can perform a deadlift or calf raise. While smith machines are safer, as they are often targeted for beginners, they’re no longer suitable for intermediate and advanced weight trainers as they don’t train adjacent muscles for stability, unlike barbells do.

Cable Machines

Some people don’t like free weights. One option for them is the cable machine. There are different ways to train your thighs and calves using this machine, which of course will still rely on weights to be effective. For leg strengthening exercises, you will have to use the cable ankle attachment as the weight adds resistance for your leg muscles. The main advantage of a cable machine from dumbbells, for instance, is it provides even resistance throughout the range of the motion. So your leg exerts the same force from the beginning up to the end of a motion.

Leg Curl and Leg Press Machines

They are basically levers, which, like cable machines, also train your muscles by providing resistance. But unlike cables, a leg curl or extension machine does not allow freedom of movement. That may seem like a disadvantage, but people who want to train specific leg muscles may benefit from leg curls and extensions, because these exercises isolate muscle groups. Leg curl machines train the hamstrings, for instance, while leg press are for quadriceps.

Stationary Bikes

These are chiefly cardio machines. They raise your cardiovascular stamina and burn fat. Toning your body, including your legs, involves cardio, which is good for people who still have to lose fat. If you’re overweight and you’re working on cutting and toning your body, then 20-minute cardio three times a week is good. Stationary bikes work the legs muscles and glutes while burning fat.

Other cardio machines that you might want to consider as a backup are treadmill and elliptical machines.

For more tips, check out the exercises on this page.

Top Foods That Help Build Muscle

foods that build muscleBuilding bigger muscles primarily involves weight training, adequate rest and sleep, and good diet that’s rich in protein. The basic rule when you’re working out for muscle gain is to increase your calorie intake, but you can’t just make calorie gains by eating anything. You have to choose the right type of foods.

Eggs

Eggs have got a bad rep because pseudo-experts are saying they raise your cholesterol levels. But research showed us that cholesterol in eggs does not raise people’s risk to heart disease. Instead, the cholesterol we find in egg yolks are good in manufacturing hormones. Not to mention, egg yolks are nutrient dense. More importantly, eggs are rich in protein, which you need for building muscle.

Beef

Lean beef is one of the best sources of B-complex, iron, zinc, and creatine, all of which are necessary for building muscle mass. Even lean red meat contains some fat, but your body needs some of this fat in manufacturing testosterone, a hormone vital for building and strengthening muscles. Also, some fatty acids present in beef are good for the heart.

However, the most important thing about beef is it contains a lot of protein, but it’s not loaded with calories. Three ounces of beef and 1.5 cups of beans contain roughly the same amount of protein, but the former packs less calories. Beef, is thus, great for people who want to gain muscle mass without gaining body fat.

Chicken

Chicken is another excellent source of muscle-building protein. You can buy raw chicken and cook it as you prefer, hopefully not fried. If you’re out of options, you can always buy rotisserie chicken, and help yourself. Just don’t eat the skin because it’s rich in bad cholesterol and fat.

Fish

Of all protein sources, fish is unique because it’s a combo of high quality protein and healthy fats. Any type of fish is a good source of protein, but the best two are salmon and tuna. For instance, a quarter of salmon’s weight is protein, which means a 100-gram serving has 25 grams of protein. Both tuna and salmon are celebrated for containing the famous omega-3 fatty acids, which are not only good for your heart but also good for your muscles.

Nuts

Of course, you do not put nuts on a platter and have them for dinner. But they are great for snack time. If you’re looking for something to munch on in between meals, then nuts are the best option, especially because you’re concerned about gaining muscle mass. Cashew or almonds have good amounts of protein and good fat. Munch on a handful if you’re feeling a bit famished hours before mealtime.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese has a lot of a protein called casein. It takes a while for your body to digest casein, which is a good thing because it means amino acids in the blood rise in slow, controlled fashion. This is good if you’re doing intermittent fasting, wherein you go for long periods without eating anything. Cottage cheese also contains Vitamin B12 and calcium. Just choose the low-fat products.