How to Know When it is Time to Replace Your Running Shoes

You have that oh-so-perfectly-comfy pair of running shoes and something is telling you perhaps it is time to trade ‘em in and get another pair. But you luuuuv these old favorites and the thought of all that looking and trying on and perhaps not finding a replacement that even compares to your current love…

You may just need to face the music and consider that this relationship is likely over and it is time to put these smelly pups out to the garden shed. Your feet and really your whole body need a solid pair of runners that can withstand the shock of those miles and give your feet, legs and joints the support they need.

Here are some ways to see the signs it’s time to replace your running shoes:

  • Your legs and joints are starting to suffer from overuse injuries and you are feeling the impact after every run in ways you have not done so before.
  • You do a lot of running on rough roads or trails and wear off the soles as well as wear out the cushion in the shoe.
  • The sole under the heel looks broken down and crushed, or the midsole material begins to poke through.
  • The midsole of your shoes is no longer providing the stability and stress cushioning it used to and is breaking down before the rest of the shoes do
  • You have already put on 300-400 miles on those shoes and it shows. Bigger runners probably need to replace their shoes closer to the 300 mark, smaller and more efficient runners can go to around 400 miles.
  • You are starting to suffer from shin splints, a painful, sharp sensation down the lower leg along the shin in the soft tissue behind the shin bone.

Keep in mind any of the above symptoms mean you are already past that point of needing new shoes. This time, buy your new pair before any of the above happens so that you are not tempted to continue to put on miles when you really need to be making mileage to the running shoe store.

Take care of those dogs, they work hard for you!

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SUP is up! Stand-Up Paddle-Boarding for Fitness

SUP or stand up paddle boarding has been all the rage for the last few summers now. We are seeing SUP rental vans at most beaches, lakes, and vacation resorts. SUP yoga and SUP race events are taking off like crazy around the world. Costco is selling more and more SUP boards each season and carrying more variety. That sure tells you something!

There are some good reasons why SUP is so popular and why people are seeing results.

  • It’s fun! Who doesn’t like to get out on the water and play? You will be having so much fun you may not realize at first what a great workout it can be. And when you have fun working out, you are going to see results in your fitness levels since you will stick with it.
  • SUP works your core and balance. Both are critical for us to work on as we have more and more birthdays beyond the big 5-0
  • Unlike kayaks and canoes, SUP gives you a great vantage point and freedom and flexibility. Surprisingly, you are able to see more underwater life when a bit higher up on the board than right down at water level
  • SUP works your core, shoulders, and serratus anterior, lats, and triceps.
  • You can do SUP yoga and take your yoga experience to a whole new level.
  • You face your fears. The risk of falling and pushing yourself to the limit teaches you to take on challenges in life.
  • The SUP community is pretty cool and you will meet people who will encourage you, make you laugh, and teach you things you have never tried before.

Check out this site for some great tips on building a solid SIP foundation and doing it right. You will be glad you did and feel more stable. Let us know some of your SUP experiences and successes…and even some of your fabulous falls, as well!

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Open Water Swimming

Triathlons and mini tri’s have been growing in popularity for quite a few years, now. This means more and more people are turning to open water swimming in the warmer months, some die-hards even keep it up year round in some climates. You don’t have to train for a tri to like open water swimming, in fact many of the dedicated swimmers you will encounter are in it just for the swim!

What do you need to consider before starting? Here are the basics on the gear:

  • A well fitted wet suit. Many people prefer a “shortie”, but it is all about personal preference and where you live. If you are in more northern climates and hope to swim as far as possible into the fall, then a full wet suit is likely a better choice for you
  • Invest in a good pair (or two) and although it may seem obvious, but they shouldn’t leak. Buy an extra strap to keep in your workout bag for that guaranteed day when your strap breaks as you are all suited up and ready to hit the waves.
  • Consider wearing two swim caps if you tend to lose your heat through your head and also if you live in northern climates.

Things to keep in mind for your first open water swim race:

  • It will feel a bit scary. All those people certainly LOOK more confident than you feel and they will all be racing against YOU! And they are also feeling a bit scared just like you so dive in and go for it!
  • That said…stay calm. Panicking while surrounded by tons of arms and legs thrashing for the same finish line is not in your best interests. Take some deep breaths (duhhh) and do some self-talking to keep yourself focused.
  • If you feel really anxious consider starting at the back of the pack and get a feel for it.
  • Know your course and stay aware of where you are so that you only need to look up to verify your location as often as really needed.

Most of all, have fun and give yourself some well-deserved pats on the back for stepping up to the challenge and conquering those waves!

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7 Tips for Success for Outdoor Fitness

We have been focusing a lot on outdoor exercise and various options and tips to keep you fit, training strong, and trying new things. But when you make a change from the traditional gym-focused workout to the outdoors, it is important to keep some things in mind for safety and injury prevention, as well as insuring your ultimate success and long term enjoyment.

Regardless of which sport or activity you take up, there are some good tips to keep in mind for all new outdoor pursuits.

  • Research your sport: If you are completely new to this pending adventure, go online and check out various blogs’ evaluations and recommendations to be sure that you really know what you are getting into. YouTube is a great visual resource to get a true low-down on what to expect.
  • Professionals are good! If it is a sport that requires a certain amount of skill and experience, or if there is a safety issue, consider hiring a pro to walk you through it your first time or two until you are comfortable. This is especially true for sports such as rock climbing or downhill snow sports.
  • Do a Gear Check: We caution you about diving right in to that cool new sport without evaluating your gear. Make sure to do a little back ground re-con on the basic gear and footwear needed for your sport. Some gear you can rent or borrow before you decide to jump in, but other basic pieces you should purchase for yourself such as shoes or clothing.
  • Find a buddy: Someone to not only keep you safe, but help motivate you on your down days and keep you on track to a successful outcome is a very good thing!
  • Ease into it: Too many times we have all been guilty of diving into something new and exciting with a bit too much gusto the first week! That is a recipe not only for injuries, but so much pain and sore muscles that we get put off from continuing. Give yourself that first week to adjust and see where your body is in relationship to this new sport or activity.
  • Be aware and safe: Especially when it comes to earbuds and music, be sure you know what is going on around you and any changing terrain or conditions.
  • Be fueled and energized! Proper hydration as well as nutrition along the way are important. This is especially true when on the trail or road for long distances. Plan for your energy needs for the duration.

By all means, don’t hold back and get out there and try something new, but do it with these tips in mind and you will have success in your new adventures into the world of outdoor fitness!

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Mountain Biking for Beginners

One of the coolest and fastest growing outdoor sports is Mountain Biking. The first thing that comes to people’s minds is rugged, devil-may-care young 20-somethings who have no life insurance or family to mourn their death when they take a wrong turn off a mountainside. The truth is that mountain biking is for people of all ages. With the right gear, a bit of practice and prep, you can be on that trail in no time, testing your skills and pushing your limits.

Start with some off road trails, abandoned rail beds, or local hiking trails (check first to be sure you are allowed to share the trail with pedestrians). Mountain biking is a different beast than road biking.

Some basics before you start riding are to be sure your bike and all systems are in good working order.

  • Be sure your seat height is right for you. Better yet, get fitted properly at a reputable bike shop
  • When mounting your bike, lean it low to swing your leg over to avoid getting tripped up on the frame.
  • Make sure your brakes are depressed before starting and position one pedal at the top of the rotation.
  • Start in a stand up position, leaning forward as you release the brakes and start pedaling as you sit back on the seat.
  • Practice good shifting as you anticipate turns and quickly changing grades. Learn to shift early to muscle yourself up the hills. You don’t want to be shifting after hitting the steep incline.
  • Avoid dangerous cross chaining the can cause your chain to pop off in the middle of the hill and cause an accident.
  • Continue to pedal as you shift for smoothness and safety
  • Place your feet at thee 3 and 9 o’clock positions when riding downhill
  • Tuck in your arms close to your body
  • Your thighs should be pressed tightly (without over squeezing) to the sides of your bike seat to help maintain contact and ideal control
  • Keep your chest close to the handlebars
  • For the steepest downhills, your center of gravity needs to be back and down to prevent flipping over the handlebars. Your butt goes behind the seat for optimal safety.
  • When on bumpy terrain, your arms and legs should absorb the shocks a you raise your butt off the seat slightly.


Notes on Falling well:

  • When you do fall (and you will), check your body for breaks, strains, or tears, then check over your bike for possible mechanical issues
  • Make sure the seat and handlebars have not twisted
  • Check the chain, brakes, and gears (a multi-tool and a first aid kit are essential)
  • Get back on and enjoy the rest of your ride.

As with all sports, be sure to warm up well, do some light stretching before your ride, and some stretching afterwards to prevent still muscles the next day. Pay close attention to your shoulders, back and legs, as they take of most of the impact. Start out easy as you build your confidence and balance.

This post covers more details on essential gear, comfortable clothing and detailed descriptions of riding techniques, check it out!

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Kayaking For Fun Outdoor Fitness

Summer time is a fabulous time to try some of those new outdoor activities that you have always thought about but never seem to get around to it. Kayaking is a great one because it requires very little skill or previous experience in order to experience immediate success! It is wonderful getting out on the water and keeping cool on these hot days.

Kayaking is also a great sport for just about anyone to start since most towns or cities with lakes or rivers nearby have kayak rental facilities to start off with before you invest in a kayak of your own.

Kayaks are a very lightweight watercraft, usually made of molded plastic or fiberglass. They generally turn and maneuver much faster than canoes and are also easier to get in and out of. The best kayaks for beginners are the sit on top model due to their stability and durability. When you rent a kayak, pay attention to the different types and try a few before you decide to purchase one.

There are different classes of kayaks such as white water kayaks, ocean kayaks, hybrid kayaks, surf kayaks, touring kayaks, and sit-on-top recreational kayaks. Check out this article for more detailed descriptions of the different types and to help you decide the direction you may want to go.

Kayak paddles differ from canoe paddles in that they are double bladed, one on either end of the paddle. This increases the speed at which you can stroke. The wider the blades, the more power and acceleration. Narrow blades are easier to stroke, but provide less resistance and require more strokes to get the same force and speed.

Regardless of what type of kayak or paddles you choose, it is imperative to have the proper safety gear such as a personal floatation device, even if you are paddling in quiet, calm waters of a small lake. If you do whitewater kayaking, you will need a helmet, as well.

If you have never kayaked, consider finding an American Canoe Association certified kayak instructor to get you started off with the right technique. A good quality instructor will also pass along some great tips and help you to determine other gear that can keep you more comfortable such as spray skirts and dry bags.

Make sure your first time kayaking is a calm day with good water conditions. You may feel unstable at first and battling wind and rain will not improve your chances of enjoying the sport. When you first start paddling, you may find yourself having a hard time paddling in a straight line until you get a feel for the pull of the blades and good turning technique.

Don’t let all the gear possibilities and options out there overwhelm you, just get out in the boat and try it and enjoy the new experience and peace on the water during these lovely summer days and evenings. Once you have a few paddles under your belt, you will have a better idea of what type of kayaking and gear is right for you.

Do you have some kayaking stories to share? Or preferred gear that you recommend? We would love to hear from you!

Happy paddling!

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Benefits of Fitness in the Great Outdoors

“Get out and play, it’s good for you!!” Mom always told us to get outside and get some fresh air, right? Most of us in this boomer generation and older Have our parents to thank for instilling in us the value of the outdoors. We all know how much better we feel having gone on a hard hike or even a casual stroll by the river.

There is just something that confirms for us how much better we feel for having breathed fresh air, looked up at the sky and felt the sun on our faces.

Well exercise physiologists will not only agree with you, but there is good science out there to back all the great benefits of fitness and working out in the outdoors.

  • Fresh air! Recycled and air conditioned air in a sweaty gym is like breathing…well…recycled sweaty air.
  • Vitamin D and sunshine! Exposure to sunlight is the best form of Vitamin D that results in stronger bones, a robust immune system, and healthy release of endorphins to help your mood. Mental health professionals recommend time outdoors every day for depressed patients so they will have increased energy levels, and feel more satisfied with life.
  • You are more likely to stick with an exercise program outdoors than one in a gym. If you enjoy it more and have a greater sense of peace and well-being, you will keep at it down the road … pardon the pun…
  • You are more likely to workout longer. Studies indicate that individuals who work out outdoors tend to work harder and work longer
  • It’s more demanding on our muscles and body. No treadmill, elliptical, stair climber or ANY machine can stimulate your muscles and core like doing the real thing outside. Running (and cycling, and hiking…) are more demanding on your body as you hit more varied terrain. Your core gets worked better as you are constantly adjusting to bumps and holes, uneven inclines, etc.
  • Better mental stimulation. We all know how going to the gym day after day puts us on auto-pilot and you can do your workout in your sleep. Taking it to the outdoors requires more thought, greater and newer mental stimulation as we experience new sensations, views, and changing weather, even. All of this stimulates your brain unlike a workout in a gym does and results in a greater sense of well-being
  • Connecting with nature. Even just a walk in the neighborhood lets you smell grass, trees, and dirt. There is something in all of us that knows that we need that connection to nature to heal, restore, and sooth us. City planners know this well, hence the reason the most popular cities in the world plan and spend money on parks.

So get your shoes on and get on out there, no excuses and you will feel the benefits immediately! Let us know some of the ways that you sneak in extra time outdoors.

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Be a Safer Cyclist

One can’t help but notice every day in most cities and towns that there sure are a lot of new cyclists out there. However, along with the continued growth in cycling nationwide has been an increase in cycling related accidents. We are not just talking injuries from falls, but also tragic fatalities.

We can bring those statistics down, however, with a commitment to safety and changes in what you do before and during your next ride.

Before you even get on your bike, take care to address the following:

  • Properly inflate your tires: Know the proper psi recommendation for your particular tires and keep a bike pump on your bike for easy filling while on the road.
  • Check that the gears and brakes are working properly: This includes looking over your brake pads and replace them, if they are getting worn. It is an easy project to do yourself, so keep and extra set of pads on hand so that you don’t put it off
  • Know the rules of the road and respect them: Yes, you have a right to the road, but duking it out with a 2 ton vehicle is not in your best interests, regardless of how “right” you are. Cycling laws vary from state to state, so know yours.
  • Know where you are going: Plan out your route before leaving so that you are not making decisions on the fly.

Once you have your safety gear and have prepped your bike, you still have some critical things to think about while in the saddle:

  • Always wear a helmet. This one seems like a no-brainer, but there are still plenty of cyclists who seem to think this is optional. Make sure it fits well and has proper padding inside to insure that good fit.
  • Use bike lamps: A flashing LED headlamp with a strong battery is the way to go. A flashing rear lamp is also strongly recommended.
  • Wear reflective clothing front and back: reflective clothing or strips on your ankles are also effective at getting the attention of drivers. Do what you can to be as visible as possible.
  • Avoid busy streets or those with construction issues: Most safety issues have to do with the street conditions as well as traffic patterns. If you can choose an alternate route, do so for your own safety.
  • Always signal when turning: This sounds obvious, but many cyclists out there seem to forget this simple habit. When drivers have a better idea of where you intend to go, they can make better choice, as well.
  • Practice safe use of lanes: Although it seems safer, hugging the curb poses more of a danger as it leaves you less room to react and makes you more vulnerable to vehicles coming from your right. When on narrow roads, use the middle of the lane until things open up and allow you to move to the right.
  • Slow down when approaching cross streets and be sure to make eye contact with drivers as you
  • Take extra precautions on wet roads. Just as you do with your vehicle, remember that stopping and also turning pose greater risks when the roads are wet.
  • Keep an eye out for road debris: Gravel, glass, and even just organic matter from trees will all cause traction issues especially at higher speeds.

There are many more steps that you can take to increase your safety on the road. Check this blog out, it covers in detail various turns to be aware of and it is packed full of more details than what we can address here and it offers some tongue in cheek humor to boot!

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5 Easy Exercises to Do While Playing in the Park with Grandkids

We realize that each of you has the most amazing and talented grandchildren on the planet, so as you are getting out in the park with those wonderful little people, make sure you are making some great memories to last a lifetime as your grands learn what cool, fun, and FIT grandparents they have!

  • If your little ones are still in a stroller, you can take some fun laps around the park, alternating jogging, lunge-walking, skipping, pushing the stroller backwards, etc. Just keep the stroller going and change direction and speed and your little one will be giggling right along as you are getting some exercise.
  • Kick a ball and have a ball! You don’t need an organized game of soccer, just run after each other, kicking the ball back and forth across the park. Change it up and play ball tag.
  • Hide and seek is not dead! Many times, it is the traditional games that have stood the test of time, that entertain little ones more than electronics or DVD’s. Running after them will get in some cardio for you.
  • Get rolling, and take care to have proper pads, helmet, and safety gear. Pull out those dusty roller blades and put them to use on the park paved trails. If getting on the wheels is not a good safety choice for you at this time, go for it with the bikes!
  • If your grands are older, take them to a nearby state park and go for a “hike” along a nature trail. Getting out and away sets the stage for some good connecting and conversation, something especially needed with older kids and teens. You will be surprised how they will open up!

You know all too well how precious your time with your grandkids is; make it count for making memories with them while getting in some exercise at the same time.

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Top 7 Stretches for Before and After Cycling

Every year the popularity of cycling seeing huge growth. During the period from 1990 to 2012, the number of cyclists commuting to work more than tripled in major cities across this country. If you are one of the many new converts to riding, we want to be sure that you say injury free, safe, and on your wheels day after day.

Although cycling is not an impact sport, the repetitive motion leads to tightness and puts considerable stress on legs, joints, and the back. A pre-ride stretching plan is a very important part of injury prevention. Hitting the road or spin class with well warmed up and stretched muscles will also improve your performance. It is important, however to do a bit of a ride or jog to warm up cold muscles before stretching. Dynamic, rather than static stretching is always preferred. Make sure you don’t stretch too deep or vigorously, since you can over-do it. Never stretch to the point of pain. Breathe and focus on relaxing the very muscles you are stretching.

Areas targeted for cyclists are hamstrings, glutes, quads, hip flexors, triceps, calves, pectorals, back, and shoulders. Hold all the following stretches for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

  • Start off with some good Leg Swings, as the dynamic action will help get your muscles warmed up all over. This stretch helps keep those hip flexors loose and improves mobility. Stand holding your bike seat or another solid object. Keeping your leg straight, swing your outside leg forward and backward. Try to extend the range of the swing each time as you get more warmed up with each swing. Move the stretch to your outer hip and thighs as you turn to face the bike and swing your leg from side to side. You will also feel this in your groin muscles.
  • The Standing Calf Stretch not only stretches the important calf muscles that work so hard in cycling, but you will feel the stretch up the back of your hamstrings, as well. Standing an arm’s length from the wall, extend your foot behind you with your heel on the ground and your weight on that foot while the other leg is bent. Gently lean forward with both hands shoulder height in front of you, placing palms against the wall. You will feel the stretch in the calf of your extended leg as you lean forward from the hip, not bending the knee.
  • Stretch your neck and shoulders as you stand or sit straight up with your shoulders relaxed. Reach one arm overhead and place your hand close to your opposite ear. Gently stretch the neck as you pull with that arm.
  • The Pigeon Stretch really give your glutes what they need for the work they pour on during your ride. Kneeling on all fours, bring one knee under your body, with the lower leg bent at a 90 degree angle. Gently lower yourself onto your forearms and extend your other leg straight behind you as you lower yourself more deeply over your bent front leg.
  • Stretch your Hip and Low back with this combo stretch. Starting in a forward lung position with the left knee to the ground, the left elbow should press gently into your left knee while you twist your torso to the right as your right arm reaches back behind you. Focus on opening up your chest and torso and feel the stretch in your lower back, hips, and groin
  • The Standing Quad Stretch targets the most often used muscles in cycling. Stand with one hand on a chair or your bike seat. With your other hand, reach back and grasp your ankle as you bend your knee drawing your foot straight back toward your buttocks. You should feel the pull along the front of your thighs and through the hips. Be sure to not arch your back and do keep your focus on stretching the thigh.
  • The Shoulder Reach is important since you work them for long periods of time. Loosening up the Latissimus dorsi is the goal here. Standing upright, reach both arms straight overhead and shrug your shoulders up and down.

Remember to do these same stretches after your ride to help you cool down and avoid injuries. These 7 will cover all the major muscle groups most challenged while cycling. Be safe out there!

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