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5 Legitimate, Gimmick-Free Ways to Love Your Heart

It’s February, that special time of year where everything is colored red and love is in the air. Valentine’s Day makes us all focus on our hearts a bit more, but instead of buying another bag of heart-shaped candies why not focus on your literal heart and the ways you can improve your heart health and the heart health of those around you?

heart candy

Here are five ways to be good your heart and to the hearts of those you love.

 

1. Serve a heart healthy dinner


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Spinning Gave Me Strength, if Not Thigh Gap

My twitter feed was blowing up this morning. The hot topic: Tracy Anderson telling Redbook magazine, “Spin may burn calories in the short term, but if that’s all you’re doing, it’ll bulk up your thighs.”

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This did not sit well with the SoulCycle loving masses.

 

 

Anderson quickly changed her story via ABC news, saying: “I’ve never said that spinning makes you gain weight. What I’ve said is that spinning creates an imbalance in the muscular system. It bulks the thigh and butt muscles. You develop mass by working these same muscles over and over.”


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Choose the Gym That’s Right for You: Big and Fancy, Mild-Mannered or Family-Friendly

If you’ve decided that working out on your old elliptical machine while re-watching Breaking Bad episodes on Netflix isn’t helping you achieve maximum weight loss results, maybe it’s time to get out of the basement and join a gym. While some fitness centers offer bare-bones equipment for an affordable price, others offer a wide variety of amenities, but you’ll definitely pay to play.

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Before you get out your wallet, decide what’s important to you in a fitness center and what you’re willing to pay for, then choose a gym accordingly. Below is a brief overview to help you make your decision. From Mild-Mannered to Big and Fancy, what do you need for your workout experience in 2014?

Mild Mannered $Planet Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Curves, Blink

  • Low membership fees and no-hassle contracts mean you can get in shape without taking out a 2nd mortgage
  • Often cater to first-time gym members by discouraging intimidating behavior like grunting, growling and gun-showing in the weight room
  • Easy-to-use cardio and strength equipment, so you actually spend your time working out, not punching buttons and reading the user’s guide
  • No children allowed and no child care. Is that necessarily a bad thing, though? Time away from the kids is OK, especially if you’re getting healthy
  • No high-end amenities like juice bars, tanning beds, steam rooms, or  swimming pools
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Prancercise Meets Parkour in Dance Walking, a Cardio Workout That’s Actually Fun

I recently met a new friend who told me about a fun, unique cardio “class” that she attends every week called Dance Walk. This is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of dancing and walking (think Parkour meets Prancercise). Brooke Null, owner of Hooped, leads this Dance Walk group in Boulder, Colorado every Wednesday morning and she first learned about this new fitness phenomenon after seeing this video created by television reporter (and Dance Walker) Ben Aaron.

Null explained, and Aaron demonstrated, that to participate you just need to make a playlist of songs (that are fun to dance to), headphones and the inhibition to just let go. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous before my first Dance Walk experience. Would I be comfortable dancing around town in front of a bunch of strangers?

Within thirty seconds of Dance Walking, I forgot about all of those nerves and just allowed myself to let the music move me. I, along with a group of seven other men and women, danced our way around the streets of downtown Boulder for a full hour. Some people stopped and stared at us or laughed, others paid us no attention at all. Some took out their phones to take pictures or video, and almost every single person smiled. Some people even joined in for a few seconds and then went back to what they were doing.
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Are Exercising Mortals Ready for CrossFit Domination in 2014?

High intensity workouts like CrossFit, Insanity and P90X were a phenomenon this past year and now, according to the American College of Medicine’s Sports Fitness Journal, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), is expected to be the top calorie-burning trend of 2014. While the popularity has increased, so have subsequent injuries.

Danger of HIIT Exercises

The HIIT workout is one that centers around high intensity exercises immediately followed by a short period of rest or limited activity. For example: A one-minute sprint on the treadmill followed by a 90-second recovery period or jump rope for three minutes followed by a 45-second walking lunge with alternating hand-to-hand kettlebell exchange. Repeat!! Some HIIT workouts can be completed in as little as 20 minutes.

While the variety of exercises and short time commitment can be tempting to those seeking something besides the boring treadmill routine, these workouts aren’t for everyone.  We asked certified personal trainer, Jessica Smith, to give her thoughts on the CrossFit craze. “A good, safe fitness program should be scalable to meet the participants’ fitness levels,” she said. “I’ve seen some programs that do that, and others that really can’t adequately offer modifications that meet all participants needs.”


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