7 Fitness Tips for Philadelphia

Living in Philadelphia can be a challenge if you are a person who desires to live a healthy lifestyle.  Philadelphia is known for our cheesesteaks from Pat’s and Gino’s and the many hotdog carts that are strategically placed on the city street corners.  One could argue that there is just too many distractions.  PHW is on a quest to help you live a healthier more fulfilling lifestyle in Philadelphia.

Regardless of your weight, fit people live longer, according to research from the American Medical Association. Yet it appears we’re falling short of the fitness levels recommended in the American Council on Exercise, with only one-third of us getting enough exercise daily. Obesity has become a norm and a public health crisis in Philadelphia. In 2008, 64% of adults and 57% of children 6-11-yearsof-age were overweight or obese.  Nationwide, the prevalence of obesity has tripled in the past 20 years.  Quoted by Philadelphia Department of Health, “Since 2000, approximately 24,000 Philadelphians have died of diseases caused by poor diet and physical inactivity.  Philadelphians’ fruit and vegetable consumption is dismal with nearly 25% of children and 30% of adults getting one or fewer servings per day.  Nearly the same percentage eats fast food 3 or more times per week, and 1 in 3 high school student’s drinks soda daily!  View the full article from the Philadelphia Department of Health (view).

So come on, Philly!   Stop putting it off—and follow these 7 fitness rules from PHW (of course, check with your doctor before starting a fitness regimen.)

Fitness rule #1: Keep hydrated

Hydration affects energy levels and is essential to your workout performance. Why? Proper hydration regulates body temperature and heart rate. In one hour of exercise, you could lose more than a quart (1 L) of water, depending on exercise intensity and air temperature. Without enough water for the body to cool itself through perspiration, you could become dehydrated—you’ll lose energy, and your muscles may cramp.  View related article on how much water is enough for you (view).  The American Council on Exercise recommends drinking one cup (250 mL) of water 20 to 30 minutes before exercising. (PHW Tip: If you work out first thing in the morning, keep a glass of water on your bedside table and drink it when the alarm goes off.) For every 15 minutes of exercise, drink an extra cup of fluids. The harder your workout, the more fluids you’ll need. Hydrate afterward to replenish the body, ideally having another cup of water within 30 minutes.  As for sports drinks, if you’re on a weight-loss program, the calories make your workout almost redundant. They may help replace electrolytes if you’re exercising for a few hours, but most gym-goers don’t need them.

Fitness rule #2: Eat before—and after

Think of your body like a furnace, if you start by throwing on big logs, it might not burn as well as if you put in small logs regularly.  We want to keep our metabolism stoked all the time.

The best foods to eat before you workout are high in protein and slow-burning carbohydrates together, like a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter.  It is best if you eat one to two hours before you workout, but if you workout first thing in the morning, grab a glass of orange juice first.  Don’t ever workout on an empty stomach.  Immediately following your workout you should refuel quickly!  Research suggests that there is a 30-minute window post workout when you want to consume a certain amount of carbohydrates and protein to fuel muscle growth.  Have a snack and then within an hour or two have a larger meal.

Fitness rule #3: Do your cardio

Oh, the excuses: I hate cardio! I can’t do cardio! But you should aim to do cardio training three to five times a week for 30-60 minutes each time—and you have to get your heart rate up.  Everyone used to talk about the fat burning zone but today the consensus is to work out as hard and as long as you can; you’ll burn more calories overall.

Fitness professionals determine intensity with your body weight and age measured up against your heart rate. Research states you should be exercising at an intensity of 60-65% of you maximum heart rate.  To measure your maximum heart rate, visit BLANK to calculate or see a fitness professional who can measure it for you. Exercising at high-intensity intervals can be beneficial as well, if you’re fit enough to handle it. Whatever you choose—an aerobics class or the treadmill—get sweating!

Fitness rule #4: Do weights

We are all getting older, that’s a fact.  As we age we loose muscle mass, and it is imperative to replace it.  Fitness professionals recommend that you do weight training three times a week and target all major muscle groups.

Weather you are using weights, resistance bands, or your own body, having more muscle mass generally means you have a higher resting metabolic rate, so your body will burn more calories even when you are not working out.  Need more motivation?  Beyond looking fitter and trimmer, you will shift your fat-to-muscle ratio.  Resistance training can help you reduce fat mass, which is related to risk of cardiovascular disease.

Fitness rule #5: Change it up

We have all experienced the workout plateau.  We started going to the gym, we lost some weight… and then, it seems we’ve stopped making progress!  This happens to hard core gym rats too..  the solution is adding the confusion principal to your workout.  Your body is very smart and quickly adapts to the workouts that you do, so you should switch your program regularly.  This can mean changing up your entire workout regimen.  Do exercises that your body does not recognize, increase cardio intensity and weight repetitions.  Try difference machines to change it up – don’t always head for the treadmill, try the elliptical or the bike instead. And if you really need a challenge, try jumping rope for a couple minutes – you will be surprised!  If you need assistance or creative ways to change up your workouts – email us at info@phillyhealthwatch.com

Fitness rule #6: Stretch after your workout

Most of the population that does exercise (which is only 30% of us) does not understand the benefits of stretching; therefore we do not take the time to do it.  Stretching improves flexibility and circulation, may help prevent injury and helps relieve stress. While the start of a workout should involve light cardio to get muscles activated, you should never stretch muscles that aren’t thoroughly warmed up. So, stretch only at the end of your workout. Be attentive to problem areas—if you’re prone to back injury, for example, stretch out the hamstrings, which affect the lower back. The best thing about stretching is that it feels good and is relaxing.

Fitness rule #7: Don’t forget protein

Replenishing our body with the right foods after a workout is more important that the workout itself.  Weight lifting physically breaks down the muscle fibers in and unless you ingest the proper nutrients, your body will not recover – and most likely will lead to injuries.  Protein is a major building block for muscle, and is broken down and used to fuel muscle recovery after your workout. You actually get stronger after the workout in the recovery stage 24 to 36 hours later, which is why protein after a workout is essential.  If you’re working out regularly, try to get protein with every meal or snack.  It is slow to digest, and will keep you full for longer.  But watch serving sizes: One portion of chicken, for example, should fit into your palm.

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Philadelphia’s Healthy Initiative plan proposes that taxes will be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages.  To view this plan, click here!  We would like to hear your suggestions on how you think we can change Philadelphia’s health and obesity issues, post your comment below or comment on our Facebook page!

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