Fitness enthusiasts welcome gifts that support an active lifestyle whether it’s a new piece of gear or a reminder to keep moving. Make the new year healthier by adding these gift ideas to your shopping list.
Monogrammed Yoga Mat
Whether the person on your list is a yoga guru or simply needs a good spot for crunches, a monogrammed yoga mat makes workouts more fun. Many companies allow you to customize mats with initials or names in a variety of cheerful colors and fonts.
Framed Motivational Quotes
With craft and artist websites like Etsy.com, framed artwork boasting motivational quotes has moved beyond soaring eagles and wooded landscapes. Artists can take a favorite quote and turn it into colorful, quirky wall art that will fit into anyone's home decor.
As winter days grow shorter, it can be tough to fit in exercise during daylight hours. Whether your loved ones are bike commuters or early morning walkers, dependable flashing headlamps, bike lights and reflective shirts and vests are the perfect gift for keeping them safe and fit.
Foam rollers have become an essential piece of fitness equipment. A variety of styles are available, but they all operate the same way. The foam cylinder is rolled against the muscles to massage and ease soreness. To ensure your fitness enthusiast gets the most out of the gift, buy one that comes with an instructional video.
Even the biggest fitness advocate can't be on the move all the time. Grab the latest book on running, cycling, or yoga to keep them engaged during down time. From books by ultramarathoners to football players to yogis, there are numerous options on fitness and motivation available at your local book store.
Compression gear helps with recovery and blood circulation. A pair of compression leg sleeves is a great gift for the athlete and avid exerciser in your life. Not only are they beneficial post-workout, they can also help with blood circulation on long flights or road trips.
Race Number Belt
For competitors, pinning race numbers to shirts can be frustrating. Number belts are thin belts of elastic with holders for attaching the race number near the waistline. This keeps the numbers secure and out of the way.
There is nothing worse than sticky strands of hair in your face during a workout. New sports headbands are made of comfortable, elastic materials that hold hair in place no matter how high-impact the activity. They also come in stylish prints and colors, and make great stocking stuffers for fitness lovers.
When you are short on time even a small amount of exercise will boost your energy and ease stress. This quick, but challenging workout can be squeezed into any busy day. March in place to warm up a few minutes before you begin and cool down with some light stretching. When time allows, repeat the circuit 2 to 3 times for a full 20 to 30 minute workout.
Cardio Shuffle (90 seconds)
Stand with feet hip-width apart and bend the knees slightly, lowering into an easy squat. Quickly shuffle your feet while staying in place. The faster you shuffle the more challenging the move.
Squats with a Knee Raise (60 seconds)
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lower into a full squat (sit back and keep your knees behind your toes). Return to the starting position and raise your right knee high, towards your chest as you contract your abs. Return the foot to the floor, squat and repeat with your left knee.
Side-to-Side Shuffle (90 seconds)
Repeat the Cardio Shuffle, but this time shuffle to your right for 4 counts and back to your left for 4 counts, moving your feet as quickly as possible. Continue side-to-side for the full 90 seconds.
Jumping Lunges (60 seconds)
Step your right foot forward and lower into a lunge position. Lower the left knee to the ground and bend the right knee, being sure that it doesn’t shift forward past your toes. Push yourself up with an explosive movement, jumping into the air. As you jump, switch your legs so your left foot is forward and your right foot back. Lower into a lunge, jump and repeat.
Alternating Toe Touches (90 seconds)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and with your arms extended out to each side at shoulder level. Keeping your leg straight, kick your right leg out in front of you, raising it to waist level. At the same time, reach your left hand towards your toes, rotating the torso. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Alternating Side Planks (60 seconds)
Get into plank position on your toes with straight arms and hands directly below the shoulders (as if you were preparing to do a standard push-up). Shift your weight to your right hand as you rotate to the left. Turn your right foot so that the outside is in contact with the floor and your left foot is stacked on top of it. Support yourself with your right arm and the outside of the right foot. Extend your left arm up into the air so that there is a straight line from your right hand, across your shoulders, to your left hand in the air. Return to the starting position and rotate to your right to repeat on the other side.
Mountain Climbers (90 seconds)
Stay in plank position. Pull your right knee towards your chest and rest your right toes on the floor. Jump slightly to switch your feet and land with your left knee in and toes on the floor. Continue to jump and alternate the legs.
Push-ups (60 seconds)
Stay in plank position and move your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart. You can perform the exercise on your toes or on your knees. Lower your chin to the ground, keeping your abs tight and your body in a straight line from head to heels (or knees). Push back up to the starting position.
There is nothing wrong with choosing a few special treats during the holidays, but going overboard can undo weeks of healthy eating and exercise. Before you make the decision to cave into a craving, use this guide as a reminder of how hard you will have to work to offset the extra calories.
Candied Sweet Potatoes (1/2 cup)
Burn it off: Walking at 3.5 miles per hour for 60 minutes.
Lighten it up: Serve baked sweet potatoes topped with 5 mini-marshmallows. 172 calories
Gingerbread (1 slice)
Burn it off: Fast ballroom dancing for 45 minutes.
Lighten it up: Choose 1 to 2 small gingerbread cookies instead. 150 to 200 calories
Peppermint Mocha (12 ounces, made with 2% milk and whipped cream)
Burn it off: Weight training for 50 minutes.
Lighten it up: Ask for skim milk and no whipped cream. 220 calories
Eggnog (1 cup)
Burn it off: Shoveling snow for 52 minutes.
Lighten it up: Choose light or low-fat eggnog and cut your serving to ½ cup. 140 calories
Homemade Pecan Pie (1 slice)
Burn it off: Jogging 5.2 miles per hour for 48 minutes.
Lighten it up: Have only half a slice or choose a slice of pumpkin pie instead. 228 calories
*All calorie expenditures are based on a 150 pound female.
Winter weather can make outdoor activities downright impossible. Don’t throw in the towel and give up on your winter fitness routine just yet. You can still have a great workout without the cost of a gym or exercise equipment.
Do you have stairs? Stairs are often overlooked as a tool for a challenging workout. If you don’t have stairs at home, take advantage of those at your office or school. A 175-pound person who climbs and descends stairs for 30 minutes will burn 209 calories.
Are you close to a shopping mall? Many people living in colder climates depend on mall-walking to get exercise. Some communities have organized sessions for exercisers and some malls will open early to accommodate walkers. If these sessions do not exist in your town, consider organizing one yourself. A 175-pound person who walks a flat course at 3.5 miles per hour for 30 minutes will burn 130 calories.
Snow falling? Turn your exercise into play time and blast calories in the process. Hiking in the snow, sledding, making snowmen, snow football and snowball fights are great ways to exercise. You can also knock out your workout by shoveling the sidewalks. A 175-pound person will burn 232 calories shoveling snow for 30 minutes.
Keep a positive attitude and embrace the many winter exercise options that don’t exist in the summer months. View winter as an opportunity to break up your normal routine and improve your fitness in a new way.
Carbohydrates are a major fuel source for exercising muscles, the brain, and the central nervous system. When you drastically lower your carb intake, your body lacks the glucose necessary to produce energy. Without adequate carbohydrates, the body enters a state of ketosis where it begins to burn its own fat for fuel. This may sound appealing at first, but the process also produces ketones, a byproduct of breaking down fat stores. Ketones have been linked to gout, kidney stones, and kidney failure.
How will a low carb diet affect my exercise?
The side effects of ketone production include nausea, headache, and mental fatigue, which may disrupt your exercise routine. Research results are mixed from studies analyzing a low carbohydrate diet, exercise, and fatigue. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that a diet low enough in carbohydrates to cause ketosis resulted in increased fatigue in untrained, overweight adults. The study suggested that this could lead to a reduced desire to exercise. In athletes, however, studies have shown that after a two to four week adaptation to ketosis, exercise performance can improve.
Should I eat a low carb diet?
The goal of nutritious eating and exercise should be improved health without unnecessary dangers. The build-up of ketones in the body is not without risks, and it is especially dangerous to those with diabetes. Most health professionals agree that carbohydrates are needed in the diet to adequately fuel the body.
According to Mayo Clinic, daily diets with fewer than 20 grams of carbohydrates can cause ketosis. Consuming 50 to 100 grams of carbohydrates per day helps prevent it. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrate intake make up 45 to 65 percent of your total calorie intake. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends choosing healthy carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables instead of aiming for a no-carbohydrate diet.