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For those of us without a gym membership, staying in shape during the winter months can seem like a daunting task. 

As evenings get shorter and temperatures begin to drop, it often becomes harder and harder to find the motivation to get stay active – but it is possible. 

No fancy equipment, no extra costs – all that's required is a little determination and creativity. 

Here's some tips on how to keep your exercise routine in check all winter long. 

Get into the right frame of mind 

The cold never stopped any professional athlete from achieving their dreams and it's not going to stop you either. 

Sure, curling up in front of a warm cosy fire is nice, but just think about how much better it will be after a quick sweat session. 

Wrap up well

When it comes to winter work-outs, preparation is key – and if you're serious about keeping up a steady routine, it might be time to invest in some decent outerwear. 

Padded jackets, running gloves and thermal leggings will make those cold evenings much more bearable – and let's face it, they'll probably come in handy even when you're not exercising. 

Oh, and don't forget the high-vis jacket!  

Prepare with an extra long warm up 

While a proper warm up is an essential part of any work out routine, it is especially important during the winter months.

Consider doing a few stretches/ light exercises indoors to prepare for the harsh conditions that await you outside.

Your body will thank you for it!  

Keep it short 

Let's face it. Winter isn't exactly the most relaxed time of year, and finding the time to exercise daily can seem impossible at times. 

But just remember that you don't have to set aside long periods of time for one big work out. 

Instead, try to stagger your activities throughout the day.

A 10 minutes walk at lunch, a quick hula hoop session before dinner, and a short jog in the evening time – it all adds up. 

Recruit a workout buddy

Bonus points if they're a fitness fanatic. 

You'll be more inclined to stick to a routine if you've got someone to share (and complain about) it with. 

No doubt you'll end up falling out once or twice, but hey, there's nothing a like a good friend to give you motivation when you need it the most. 

Mix it up 

If the thoughts of running on the slippy wet ground fills you with overwhelming dread, there are plenty of activities you can try instead. 

Bring it back to basics and make use of any green spaces you may have available to you, treat your dog to the ultimate game of fetch or even grab a racket and head down to your local tennis court. 

Now is the time to try something different – and as long as you're moving, that's all that really matters. 

 

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Working out may be the last thing on your mind when you're feeling a bit down on yourself, but research has suggested that even a small about of exercise can have a hugely positive effect on a woman's body image.

A study published this month in the journal, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, found that just 30 minutes of exercise left women feeling slimmer and stronger afterwards.

Researchers gathered 75 college-aged women who said they were unhappy with their appearance in order to test exercise's effect on body positivity.

Participants were given a questionnaire that asked about their exercise habits, energy and stress levels, as well as how they felt about their appearance and how much they enjoyed working out.

The group were then divided in two, with one half instructed to exercise on a stationary bike for 30 minutes, while the other half sat in a room reading a National Geographic magazine.

When the 30 minutes were up, the participants repeated the questionnaire directly after the workout, and then again 20 minutes later.

Interestingly, the women who worked out showed signs of improved body image in both questionnaires when compared to those who didn't.

The authors of the study reckon that the positive effect could last beyond the 20 minutes mark – although they did not test for that.

What's more, the results could suggest that physically active people have better self image, regardless if there's a change in their appearance.

The study adds to the growing body of research that indicates exercise can have a positive influence on a person's mental health and body acceptance.

So, the next time you find yourself in need of a little confidence boost, why not get that heart rate going?

You'll feel better in more ways than one.

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It's easy to feel motivated about the idea of exercise, but when it comes to bringing this idea to life, most of us end up at the same conclusion – 'I just don't have the time.'

But, before you convince yourself that a healthy workout out regime is out of your reach, think again.

We're all busy people, and while it can be tempting to put it off for another day, making time for exercise is vital for increasing energy levels.

Here's our top tips to help you stay on track while working full-time.

1. Prioritise exercise

Even if you're working a 40+ hour week, chances are you've got a couple hours to spare each day – use them wisely.

Choose 3-4 days a week when you will commit to making exercise your number one priority. 

You'll be shocked how easy it is to make time when exercise is at the top of your to-do list. 

2. Schedule your workouts

Plan your sweat sessions like you would plan a doctor's appointment.

Put aside some time throughout the week and schedule it in you computer/ phone/ diary as a repeat event.

You're much more likely to commit to a workout if you've planned it well in advance. 

3. Recruit a workout buddy

Find a friend, colleague or family member who shares a similar fitness goal and encourage each other to find the time to make it happen.

Exercise does not have to be a solitary activity and you'll probably find it's much more enjoyable when you've got someone to share those highs and lows with.

4. Keep your gym shoes handy

Whether its the boot of the car, or your locker at work, having your gym gear at the ready can make all the difference it comes to keeping fit.

Not only will you be ready to go should a burst of energy come over you after work, but the daily visual reminder will encourage you to stay on track.

5. Switch up your screen time

For those evenings when you do want to take it easy in front of the television, make the most of the time you have.

Why not make use of those quick ad breaks and do some squats, lunges or pushups?

Sure, it's only three minutes here and there, but it all adds up.

 

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Let's face it, most of us would benefit from a little extra time in the gym, but busy schedules and work commitments don't make it easy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, healthy adults should should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day and while it can be hard to set aside half an hour of your time, there are little ways you can increase your activity throughout the day – and you won't even know you're doing it. 

Stop meeting for lunch

For many of us, lunch dates are our go-to way to catch up with friends with haven't seen in a while.

We're not saying you should completely cut it out of you routine, I mean who doesn't love a good moan while enjoying a flat white and tuna melt? 

But the next time your mate asks you to meet up, why not suggest something outdoorsy and active like going for a hike, walking your dogs or you could even try your hand at rollerblading? (can you imagine the lols?)

Cycle to work

OK, so not everyone will be in a position to do this one, but if you do live close enough to your place of work, why not give it a try?

You'll save money, gain fitness and probably shed a few pound while you're at it.

Bikes can be pretty costly investments, but have a look around online – you'll be surprised at what you can get second hand. 

Park farther away

If driving is a must for your daily commute, make a conscious decision to park farther away.

The extra few steps may not seem like much, but they all add up.

Get out of the office

Even if it's end of the month or a 'sad desk lunch' kind of day, make the effort to step away from your station for a while.

You don't need us to tell you just how bad sitting at a desk all day can be for your health, and getting out into the fresh air, even just for a few moments, can be hugely beneficial for both your mind and body. 

 

Laugh more

Studies have shown that laughing for just a few minutes per day can burn up to an extra 40 calories – that's about 12 grapes for reference.

So, binge-watching that hilarious Netflix series may not be so bad for you after all. 

Join a tag rugby team

OK, so you actually will know you're exercising – but you'll be having so muh fun you'll probably forget all about it.

There are tag rugby leagues all over the country that cater for men and women of all ages and fitness levels.

Teams play one match (made up of two 20 minute halves) per week.

Tag is designed to be as much about the social side of sports as it is the fitness. The Après-Tag Social Nights are a great place to mix with and meet new people.

So, grab your mates and enter a team – you'll make new friends, get a workout, and have the craic while you're doing it. 

 

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As holiday season rolls around, it's safe to say a lot of us what to ditch our, er… rolls in time to don an itzy bitzy bikini.

But as ALL of us know, it's not that easy, and sometimes we have to be super honest with ourselves in order to achieve our goals.

So, if you're determined to drop those extra few inches over the next couple of months, here are a few tips to help you along the way.

Sleep is QUEEN

Nabbing at least seven hours of sleep every night helps you manage your appetite (and keeps you sane).

Late nights and extra early mornings can mess with your hunger hormones and lead you down a path of munching on those very-tempting greasy foods.

10pm Dominos, how are ya?

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Losing weight and a healthy diet go hand in hand

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you workout, you can't trick your body.

No matter how many hours you spend at the gym it won’t work if you consume more calories than you could possibly burn.

So, be kind to your body and give it the best nutrition you can.

Sliced Oranges Kiwi Melon Blueberry and Dragonfruit on White Ceramic Platter

 

Mix it up

Being an expert in yoga might give you a confidence boost, but if you get too comfortable you’re going to stop seeing results, so try and mix it up.

Fitness instructors often suggest doing a mix of cardio, weight-training and aerobics.

If anything, it'll make things interesting.

Low Angle View of Woman Relaxing on Beach Against Blue Sky

 

You DO have the time

Making the time to look after your health will help you develop better habits that your future-self will thank you for.

We know it can be difficult if you work long days, or go to college at night, but trading in an episode of Riverdale for a 30 minute gym sesh will make your mind and body feel so good.

Archie is getting super annoying anyway…

Woman in White Jacket Holding Silver Iphone

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You don't need us to tell you that exercise is good for you.

At this stage we all know that in addition to improving your physical health, breaking a sweat on the regular also does wonders for your mental and emotional wellbeing.

But did you know that regular exercise can also impact on your cognitive ability? In other words, your work-out sessions can actually positively impact the ol' noodle.

According to a review of studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, getting active for just 45 minutes a day can help to boost your brain health and improve your cognition.

Researchers from the University of Canberra established that regardless of the form of exercise the individual chooses to partake in, exercise of moderate intensity was linked to improved cognition.

But there's more!

Different exercises were linked to different areas of the mind, with aerobic impacting positively on thinking, reading and learning while resistance training helped with memory, planning, and organising.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the more often the individual works out, the greater the cognitive effects!

And we thought our lunges were only working our thighs…

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You know those evenings where all you want to do is jump into your PJs, throw on the TV series you're bingeing on and just order in pizza?

Simply put, the urge to interact with your fave TV characters trumps the urge to talk to your personal trainer at the gym.

Yep, it happens to a lot of us – but it turns out that doing this doesn't make us lazy; it just means were smart.

Well, kinda.

The Journal of Health Psychology found some interesting correlations between people who use their brains a lot, and their exercise habits.

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Those who use their brains a lot in work, or love a good cognitive activity, are more likely to spend their off-time lounging around the house than going on a 5km run.

The study measured the candidate's "tendency to engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive endeavours," and found that we don't want to exercise because our brains sometimes need a bit of time off.

So long story short; if you just want to stay in bed all day, you're not actually being 'lazy', you're just resting your body so your brain can work harder.

Image result for lazy gif

Now, obviously you can't take the p*ss with this new description of 'lazy', so here are a few ways how to motivate yourself to exercise: 

1. Be competitive

Even if being competitive isn't your thang, it's a great motivator for exercise.

Whether you compete against your BFF, your brother or some unknown person at the gym; trying to keep up with another person will set you on the right track.

Kettle Bell Beside Adidas Pair of Shoes

 

2. Plan it out

Yes, we know the struggle is real when you get home from work and just want to flop onto the sofa.

But work out a tactical plan – this could be going to a gym right beside your office straight after work or doing a lunchtime workout session.

Woman in White Jacket Holding Silver Iphone

 

3. Make it social

If you hate just being on your own and having to contend with yourself while running on a treadmill for 40 minutes, then try find a group to exercise with.

The social interaction will make your workout go by much faster and having a common goal with your group will help you keep on top of your regime.

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Oh, and while we have you; don't forget to have your say in the inaugural SHEmazing Awards this May! It's time to vote, and you can do it right here!

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We get that working a full-time job can leave you feeling exhausted for the majority of the week.

You have the best intentions to go to the gym after work, but the minute the clock hits 5pm, all you want to do is go home and take a pre-dinner nap, amirite?

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So, if working a 40 hour week comes in between exercising, here are a few simple steps to add a workout into your daily routine:

Commute to work? Turn it into an exercise session

It's totally possible to turn your morning commute into a small workout.

If you live near your work place, cycling or jogging into the office is a great way to start off your day with cardio and elevate your heart rate.

Oh, and you're not off the hook even if you have a fairly hefty commute! Either park your car a few minutes away so you can walk to the office at a brisk pace, or get off your bus/Luas one or two stops early, so you can exercise the rest of the way in.

bicycle, bridge, cold

 

Don't let your lunch time go to waste

If we're able to fit in a gym session throughout the week, it's usually before or after work. And probably the reason most of us give up on those gym sessions is because you're knackered in the morning and exhausted in the evening.

But, if you work close to a gym, try fit in a few lunch time session during the week. Many gyms have 30 or 45 minute classes, so if you have a gym that's around five minutes away from you, this could work out perfectly.

What about eating, you ask? Pack a protein-filled smoothie to have on the go, or eating at your desk before or after is always an option.

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Ever heard of 'walk meetings'?

Yep, instead of sitting in a board room, a studio, or even a coffee shop, try your hand at asking people to go on a 'walk meeting' with you.

If you work in an office, your colleagues will probably look at as if you had ten heads, but coming into the summer months it's definitely an option.

And if you're a freelancer or don't work in an office setting, we're sure your peers would be up for it too.

 

Deskercise

Believe it or not, there's some moves you can do at your desk that are totally underrated.

For example, if you want to tone your glutes and give you derriere a little lift, you can try this isometric glutes exercise.

While you sitting at your desk, squeeze your bum and hold for 5-10 seconds, and release. Do this until the glutes tire and it'll give you a lift in more ways than one.

adult, blur, business

 

Keep it simple and drink ALL the water

We know it can be hard to fit in a workout when you have a million meetings, deadlines and odd jobs to do, but keeping it simple is key.

Choose the stairs instead of the lift/escalator, walk around the office for 5 minutes or go down to the loo so you can stretch yourself out a bit.

And even if you can't fit anything in, remember to drink heaps of water as it flushes out toxins and aids in weight loss too.

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Oh, and while we have you; don't forget to have your say in the inaugural SHEmazing Awards this May! It's time to vote, and you can do it right here!

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OK so we are half way through January, and at this stage all of that "new year, new me" stuff has been thrown out the window. 

Image result for beer yoga

HOWEVER, if we could combine exercise with alcohol, we would consider getting back on the band waggon…

BeerYoga is a new trend that is taking over the city of Berlin at the moment, and we can see why! 

Image result for beer yoga

According to the website, BeerYoga is "the marriage of two great loves – beer and yoga. Both are centuries-old therapies for body, mind and soul."

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Apparently, this new form of yoga was discovered at the Burning Man festival, and has now become extremely popular (all thanks to good marketing folks!)

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BeerYoga has not made it's way to the Emerald Isle as of yet, but we are calling on all the yoga instructors in Ireland: MAKE IT HAPPEN. 

We'll be there, cans in hand. 

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We're only four days into the New Year, and we're already feeling like a big, old bunch of failures.

The brisk New Year's Day walk turned into the twitchy New Year's Day slump, the overhaul of the fridge turned into the final binge on Christmas goodies, and the shopping trip for gym wear became the random splurge on cheapo pyjamas (because they're all that actually fit us right now.)

If you're determined to get fit this year, but genuinely can't see yourself sticking to a regimented gym schedule, then you may benefit from certain tips and tricks which will help you exercise without, you know, totally committing…

1. Take the stairs

Yes, it's an age-old recommendation, but it's stuck around for a reason.

If you find yourself taking a lift at least once or twice a day, then there's no reason why you shouldn't use the stairs on those occasions.

Opting for the stairs over a lift or escalator will become second-nature after a couple of weeks.

2. Get off one stop early

If you had plans to hit the gym after work, but can't see yourself taking the plunge, why not get off your train, bus or Luas a stop or two early and make up the distance?

The worst thing about ditching the gym is how guilty you feel afterwards, so assuage that ASAP by going the extra distance on your commute home.

If it's raining, you do have our permission to ditch that idea, however.

3. Schedule your squats

Squatting is one of the best exercises you can do for trimming down and toning up, and the best part is you can do them anywhere at any time (within reason obvs.)

So, why not coincide a squat session in the comfort of your own home while getting your Netflix binge on?

No one is expecting you to squat through an entire episode of Narcos, but nothing's stopping you from getting low for as long as you can once the episode starts, and attempting to beat your record next time.

4. Team up with a mate

As Carrie Bradshaw once said, "Let's gossip to increase our heart rates."

Meeting a friend for a 60-minute walk where you can catch up and put the world to rights is the simplest way to exercise without even realising it.

Time flies when you're bitching about that one from the Christmas party.

5. Arm yourself with an app

If there's anything that helps pick up our day, it's a really good app.

And thankfully for the gym-phobic among us, there are oodles out there which will help you to exercise without feeling like you're sacrificing your down-time.

Zombies, Run! Fitnet, and Yoga Wake Up are just three of our favourites.

 

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There are extreme fitness challenges, and then there are the Gaelforce events: hard-core races which involve the likes of cycling, hiking, running, and kayaking over dozens of kilometres. 

In short, we describe them as: NOT for the faint-hearted (or anyone who isn't outrageously fit).

Up until this point the brand encompassed of: Gaelforce West, Connemara Adventure Challenge,Turf Warrior Challenge, Gaelforce North, the Bray Cliff Run, and the Great Fjord Swim.

And now – Gaelforce is FINALLY coming to Dublin. Yes, on February 18 more than 1,000 brave souls will kayak, cycle and run their way through a challenging course in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains.

There are two distances to choose from: 29km or else 49km (assuming you're feeling a bit mad). 

Competitors will cycle to Bohernabreena Reservoir from Tallaght Stadium, where they will then face a kayak on the reservoir. From there they will run over various terrain, up Kippure Mountainwith its panoramic views of Dublin and Wicklow, before returning to the finish line at Tallaght Stadium.

You can find out more here or on the Facebook page here.

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Finding the motivation to exercise is hard enough, but finding the motivation to exercise in December is another thing entirely.

It's pitch dark when you get up, pitch dark when you leave the office, and you have a bed that can't do enough for you, so it's no surprise most of us see our exercise routine fall by the wayside once winter sets in.

But if you've been busy beating yourself up over your desire to spend an extra hour under the covers instead of slogging it out on the treadmill, stop right now because the experts have your back on this one.

According to a study from Chicago's Northwestern University. our muscles work more efficiently when our body is properly awake which means early-morning workouts aren't all they're cracked up to be.

"Oxygen and the internal clock are doing a dance together inside muscle cells to produce energy, and the time of day determines how well that dance is synchronised," wrote lead author Dr Joseph Bass.

"The capacity for a cell to perform its most important functions, to contract, will vary according to the time of day. In the future, we may discover new ways to manipulate the oxygen response of the cell by resetting the clock."

"We’re not saying we can tell athletes when they should work out but in the future, perhaps, you may be able to take advantage of these insights to optimise muscle function."

So, if you've been trying and failing to hit up the 6am spin class for the last month, don't worry because it sounds like the lie-in would do you better.

Score!

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