Sunday, January 22, 2012

Are Sports Drinks Necessary?

Many people associate sports drinks as being a healthy alternative to soda, but some sports drinks actually have more calories than soda and can be detrimental to your fitness goals if you are trying to lose weight. Sports drinks have been marketed so successfully that many people believe they are "healthy" drinks that will help them become better athletes.

I'm not trying to bash the sports drink industry. I enjoy an occasional Gatorade or Powerade and think there is definitely a time and a place for them, but many people (especially youth) consume these products too frequently or while doing leisurely activities.

The most important factor in determining if you should use a sports drink is how long you have been exercising. If you've been lifting weights or walking on a treadmill for 40 minutes, you don't need a sports drink, since they are most beneficial for people who need to replenish electrolytes and fluids they have lost from excessive sweating during long bouts of exercise.

Sports drinks can keep your muscles from cramping up and help you not fatigue too quickly, but it makes more sense for someone to use a sports drink if they are participating in high-endurance activities like running a half marathon, marathon, or Iron Man, playing in a long tennis tournament out in the sun, doing yard work or hard manual labor for long periods of time, or exercising for over an hour in extreme heat.

There seem to be many new customized sports drinks and gels on the market these days that are endorsed by high profile athletes. I haven't seen any cool or motivational commercials for water but, for most people, water is the best drink to keep you hydrated. Remember to consume it before, during, and after your workouts.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Having the Right Equipment

One of the lessons I have learned over the years is that it's important to have the right equipment for the work out or activity you are engaged in. I ran my first several 5K races wearing high top basketball shoes. I couldn't believe the difference it made when I actually invested in shoes that were made specifically for running.

This principle holds true for any type of physical activity. I've often said that the only difference between people who like to camp and those who don't is their equipment. Having the right kind of gear for camping and backpacking can make all the difference between being prepared and having a good time or enduring a miserable experience.

Some companies rely on our pride and try to get us to wear the latest and most talked about brands and promote accessories as if they are necessities. What some people consider to be necessities, others may consider to be frivolous expenses. Some people feel that headbands, basketball shooting sleeves, weight belts, gloves, and other items are more of a fashion statement than actual helpful equipment.

Robert Kiyosaki uses the phrase "big hat, no cattle" to describe someone who looks like they are rich and well off on the outside, but have nothing to back it with. This phrase also applies to sports. I have seen some young kids dressed to the hilt in the newest and most expensive brands of clothes and equipment, but they have no skill or talent to back it up.

I'm pretty frugal when it comes to spending money so I seldom buy expensive brand name items. I don't need to wear the latest pair of $200 Jordan shoes to play basketball, but I've also been burned by purchasing cheap workout equipment in the past that was also poor quality. It's important to make sure you use quality equipment that is specific to your sport or activity.

If you are considering purchasing large equipment like a treadmill or weight machine, it is wise to check consumer reports or to get recommendations from others who use that sort of equipment regularly before spending your money. Remember to make sure the equipment is best for your needs, that it fits in your budget, and that you are really committed to use it before you make a purchase.

If you are running in old worn out shoes then you might be surprised at how much difference a newer or better quality pair of shoes can make. If you have a particular activity you enjoy and participate in regularly, then it is probably a good idea to invest in the right kind of equipment to make your workout more safe, effective, and enjoyable.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guest Blog

I enjoy reading and following fitness blogs. There's a lot of junk on the Internet, but there is also a lot of great material. Some of the most motivating fitness resources I have seen are on individual's blogs. I recently came across one that impressed me. It is always motivating to see people who have made healthy changes to their lives and who serve as great examples to others. That is exactly what Kim has done.

She recently asked me to write a guest post on her blog. You can find it at A New Way of Life. Check out her photos on the about me section to see the impressive transformation she has made!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It's Never Too Late To Change

I occasionally encounter people who have the attitude that they are a certain way and will always continue to stay the same. They have the  attitude that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. That mentality can really hold someone back from living a healthy life and getting the results they'd like to achieve.

I have seen people in their 30's, 40's and 50's change old habits and take up new activities and excel at them. If you view yourself as a person who just doesn't do certain sports or physical activities, remember, it is never too late to start.

My wife is a great example of this. She is a professional musician and hasn't cared much for sports or exercise in the past. During high school, her PE classes were waived so she could focus on music. She was healthy for someone who never exercised, but last year something changed. She starting jogging and after several weeks she actually started enjoying it. She ran her first 5 K race and got second place in her age division. A month later she successfully completed the Ragnar relay with some friends. For 40 years she wouldn't entertain the thought of running for fun, but now she looks forward to it.

Ernestine Shepherd is a professional bodybuilder. She is 74 and is in amazing shape, but what I find even more impressive to me is the fact that she didn't start lifting weights until she was 56! Here is a short video clip about her.

With the new year upon us, it is a great time to try new activities . If you don't like to exercise, maybe it's because you haven't found an activity you really enjoy yet. Give yoga, rollerblading, swimming, weight lifting, hiking, or other activities a chance before you decide they are not for you. Finding the right activity and the right workout partners can make all the difference.

It is always wise to get a physician's approval before starting an exercise program, especially if you have health concerns or have been inactive for an extended period of time.

Remember, it's never to late to change!