Tag Archives: work out

8 Ways to Work Out Without Whipping Out Your Credit Card

 

We all know that our health is our greatest asset. I hope. Health is one of two things you can never get back; that and time. We are only given one body and one life to live. Enjoy what your body can do, use it, and work it out.

“Working out” tends to become a bit of a curse word with some people. They hear that and immediately get exhausted. You think: ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I don’t have energy’ or ‘I can’t afford a gym’. But all these excuses are just that: excuses. Working out doesn’t have to cost any money at all. And working out can be fun.

Think back to when you were a kid. You went outside and played with friends. Maybe you had bike races or foot races, played basketball or softball, rolled in leaves and climbed trees. Hopscotch, jump rope, kickball, four square. All of these things get you moving, in a way that is fun. As adults, we need to re-discover “play time“.

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My friend in college and the box fort we built in our apartment.

As a society, we have become more and more sedentary as life becomes full of conveniences. We get out of bed to go sit in the car to go sit at a desk to then sit in the car to come home to sit on the couch. There is no hunting and gathering, building our own houses, gardening, running from danger. This has lead to the greatest health threats and most dire health situation humanity has know. We hear every day about the ‘obesity epidemic’ and how diabetes is on the rise.

You have the power to change that. You have the power over your own body and your own life.

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There are tons of cheap-to-free ways to work out. I’ll list them in order of free to most expensive:

1. Walking: The simplest and easiest way to do wonders for your health. Walking takes no money at all, can be done at any time, anywhere, and you can start at any comfort level. If all you can manage is to the end of the driveway and back, great, start there. If you already walk a half hour after dinner, awesome! Walking has been shown scientifically to be so beneficial for all things health related, there is no reason not to start right now!

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2. Jogging: Only slightly more challenging than walking. Start with walking, then once you can comfortably walk for 30 minutes, pick up the pace for a minute or two. If you like jogging, increase it until you can run a 5K. Who knows how far you can go! The only costs will be a good pair of shoes if you start doing longer runs.

3. Body weight exercises: this includes things like yoga and pilates, push-ups, jumping jacks, planks, crunches, squats. You can drop a few bucks on a yoga mat or something like that. Look online for ideas and free videos to demonstrate. You can get a great full-body workout for free in your own home.

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Image from the very informative website of Bret Contreras, the “Glute Guy”

4. Workout videos: This is borderline because you can find free videos online, or you can buy workout DVDs. Totally your choice. There is a HUGE amount of workout resources free online, just Google ‘videos’ and the type of workout you’re looking for, or check out one of the Top 30 YouTube channels for free workouts. These can be done on your own time in the comfort of your living room.

5. Bands/weights: This category can be very frugal if you pick up a used set of light free weights at a yard sale or Goodwill, or very pricey if you want to invest in a bench and full weights set. Again, your call. Make sure you consult an expert or at least look up information on proper form so you don’t injure yourself if you’re new to weights.

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6. Sports: Playing a club sport for fun or competition is a great way to have fun while working out, and as a bonus you can meet new people and make new friends. Check out the website of your local sports centers or Google sports that you enjoy in your area. This could be free or cheap, costing you just an application fee, or you could sink a few hundred dollars into new gear. Up to you.

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7. Classes: For this you can check Craigslist or Groupon for free or cheap classes offered near you. Or you can usually buy a single class or set of classes from a gym for a discount. Just look for fliers or ask around, you never know what neat new skill you might learn, and the friends you might make. Take a chance and try something new!

8. A gym membership: Typically the most expensive option, it does come with benefits. Most gyms do offer a free pass, or discounted first months membership if you want to just try it out. You will have access to weights, machines, and classes you otherwise might not. They usually have staff to help you use machines properly, or you could invest in personal training. Make sure you will get your moneys worth though, and actually show up.

In the end, it all comes down to the greatest exercise being one you enjoy and will consistently do. If you don’t move your body, you won’t get the benefits. Find ways to make it fun, buy a used bicycle, try kick-boxing, enlist some family or friends for a weekly stroll in the park. The options are endless once you really think about it and look.

And it all comes down to you. Why should you work out? Sure, it’s nice to look hot. Sure, it’s nice to have visible muscles. But the ultimate goal of health is just that: to be healthy. To have energy to play with your kids, to not get winded walking up stairs, to be able to lift boxes to help a friend move.

To live a longer, healthier, happier life.

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Now stop reading this and go move! =)

 

No pain no gain? — Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

 

Anyone who has ever begun a weight-lifting regimen, shoveled a long driveway, or lifted something heavy only to be sore the next day (or two, or three…) is familiar with the concept of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

This is the constant ache in your muscles that you feel 24-48 hours after doing something strenuous to which you are not accustomed. To be clear, it is not the same as the sharp, immediate pain of a pull or strain, nor is it the same as the muscle fatigue you feel while working out.

What causes DOMS?

There is some misinformation on the internet and in common knowledge that a build up of lactic acid or lactate, created through aerobic respiration, causes muscle soreness. While it is true that a build-up or inability to get rid of lactate can hinder workouts, this is not the cause of DOMS. This is caused by microscopic tears in the muscles during the “eccentric“, or lengthening, portion of an exercise. This causes the muscle to forcefully contract while it lengthens.

The opposite is the “concentric” portions of an exercise. Examples of eccentric moves include walking or running down hills, the lengthening portion of a bicep curl, the downward portion of a squat or lunge, or jumping. It is believed these microtraumas to the muscle fibers combined with inflammation and swelling cause the associated pain.
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I once had a “leg day” where I did over 200 squats/lunges per leg, and was then limping around for three days after. Hopefully that was just a ‘beginning to build muscle’ stage and won’t be the norm.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent this soreness, especially if it is a new activity. When you first begin letting weights or playing a sport, there is going to be some amount of discomfort. There are a few things you can try to prevent or ease soreness.

To ease muscle aches:

  1. Take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or Aleve. This will help calm the ‘pain’ signals to your brain and decrease any swelling so you heal faster.
  2. Take a hot/cold shower. Let me explain. If you take a very cold shower or bath right after the workout, anecdotal evidence says it may help decrease how sore you are later. The next day, if sore, try a soothing hot bath to ease achy muscles.
  3. Try foam rolling. These rolling-pin looking foam tubes are designed to relax the tissue layer surrounding muscles and easy achy soreness. Here’s a Yahoo article about it.
  4. Massage the sore areas. It may hurt a lot while happening, but some swear that it gets rid of pain faster after.
  5. Active recovery. Do light exercise like yoga, walking, or swimming. This makes the muscles continue to move, gets blood flowing through the sore areas, and hopefully help them heal quicker. 
  6. Take Vitamin C before and/or after a workout. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and may help prevent muscle damage caused by free radicals created when muscles work hard.
  7. Try a creme like IcyHot or Bengay to soothe deep muscle soreness.
  8. Drink lots of water and green tea. Staying well-hydrated is always a good idea, but your muscles can be up to 70% water, so keeping them hydrated means keeping them able to work.

While time is really the only thing guaranteed to help make muscle soreness go away, hopefully this article will inspire you to be safe and smart, and ease your way into weights.

Please, DO NOT use this soreness as an excuse to just stop working out! It just means you pushed a little too hard this time.

In fact, some think that DOMS is a necessary part of building new muscles. Here’s an article from fitness magazine Runner’s World on “Why Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Is a Good Thing” by Mackenzie Lobby
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Your muscles will build themselves back up and get bigger and stronger, especially with repeats of those motions (so keep legs, arms & shoulders days on the schedule). The severity of the soreness will decrease over time as your muscles build and adapt to the exercises.

Eventually whatever left you sore and weak will be no problem at all. Rest and recover, then get back out there!

Regular movement is the number one best thing you can do for your heart, blood pressure, and overall health and wellbeing. 
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For more information you can see This PDF from the American College of Sports Medicine.

Do you have any advice for sore muscles?