Channeling Deep Breathing to Help your Cardio Activities

fitness training When doing cardio activities as your breath becomes shallow and rapid you likely wish you could pull in more air. Most participate in cardio activities to train their heart and legs, but did you realize you could actually train your lungs? Synthesizing more oxygen with more lung capacity provides more endurance for your muscles.



Toning the muscles used for breathing, such as the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles, which lie between the ribs and enable you to inhale and exhale can increase your endurance. Since your diaphragm is mostly responsible for breathing, the more muscular it is, the more endurance you will have.



This approach coincides with research indicating runners whose breathing was the most strained showed the most leg weakness. Further, the researchers concluded in their study that the harder the respiratory muscles had to work, the more the legs would struggle in a race. In other words, breathing more fully is fundamental for preventing lung-and leg-fatigue. So while running or participating in cardio activities, concentrate on taking slow and deep breaths to strengthen the diaphragm.



How Trail Running is an Entirely Different Game

Trail RunningTrail running and road running are very similar activities in that both are cardio-intensive exercises measuring performance based on a distance divided by time. However, aside from this similarity, trail running is in fact an entirely different experience from road running for a number of reasons.

Aside from the peaceful scenery you get to enjoy on back trails, the terrain presents an entirely different kind of challenge to the runner. And because no two natural trails offer the same experience, progressing through water, sand and/or mud, you have to expect and prepare for anything.

With such a range of varied terrain, anything from rocks, sticks and sand can throw you off balance. This is a principle difference between road racing and trail racing; the earth literally moves and shifts beneath your feet.

Because trail running is so different than road running, the equipment you need is also very different. You can’t expect to hit the trail in the same sneakers you use to take on road running. This is because to help you maintain your balance, trail running shoes are designed much differently. These designs include more aggressive treads, deeper lugs, stiffer soles and shock-absorbing plates to protect from the increased shock runners experience from rocks, twigs, etc.

The basic components between trail running and road running are the same. An experienced road runner will have decent stamina to succeed at trail running. However, a trail runner needs much more balance and gains a much stronger core than the average road runner.

What’s the Right Sneaker for You?

23406591_SEvery person has their own, unique pair of feet and for every pair of feet there is a pair of sneakers best suited to fit their athletic and comfort needs. Some feet require more support, some need more cushioning and others require less of both. Many athletic injuries begin with your feet and incorrect shoes. Finding the right balance between support and stability is key to preventing these types of injuries.

For Flat Feet…
Because flat feet tend to pronate, or roll toward the inside, you will need a athletic shoe to maintain your stability. Sneakers which promote stability and mobility should fulfill your needs. If you experience pain in your feet while exercising, you can also add custom-made shoe inserts to correct foot issues.

For High Arches…
Because high arches are by definition the polar opposite of flat feet, you will have opposite needs. This means finding a flexible sneaker to minimize impact to your arches. Flexible athletic shoes with a soft midsole absorb shock. Finding sneakers promoting flexibility and cushioning are your best bet keeping your feet comfortable while exercising.

For Neutral Feet…
If you have normal feet, you can choose from a wide variety of athletic shoes. But stay away from extreme options, offering a lot of cushioning or motion control. The muscles in your feet should be actively working to promote strength in leg muscles and joints.

Your individual feet are as unique as your fingerprint. Your needs aren’t the same as the next guy, especially when it comes to exercising. Equipping yourself with improper or ill-fitting footwear can lead to discomfort and soreness, limiting your potential to excel. Wearing the right shoes will ensure your comfort over an extended period of time, contributing to your overall fitness goals.

Avoid Injury; Don’t Sleep on Your Stretches

joggingStretching prior to a workout is imperative to your safety. The regular practice prevents injury and allows for an efficient workout. That’s because not only does stretching prevent muscle soreness and injury- removing lactic acid- but it also increases your range of motion. Whether you’re a teen athlete or a grown adult just getting back into fitness, stretching can help you sustain and even avoid muscle pulls and strains.



For starters, and this may seem obvious, but stretch the muscle group you are about to use. Your body has several groups of muscles and there are several different ways to work them out. And for every workout there is the right stretch for it. Utilizing dynamic stretching at the beginning of a workout will help to warm up most major muscle groups. The movements within the dynamic stretching routine mimic those movements used during the workout but at a less intense level thereby giving time for the muscles to warm up.



Cold muscles can be likened to an elastic band that needs to be warmed before it can be stretched. A light movement warm up (or dynamic warm up that we use here) for 5 to 8 minutes prior to exercising will add fluidity and mobility to the joints. This will bring blood flow to surrounding muscles and break a light sweat before you start a workout.



If you feel the need to skip either your post or pre-workout stretch (something we highly discourage) make it your pre workout stretch. It is absolutely necessary to stretch after you work out to alleviate the presence of lactic acid and as much residual pain as possible.



Making sure you incorporate at least one stretch session into every single workout regimen is crucial. This is because tight muscles have the tendency to tear easily, whereas well stretched muscles can endure much more without tearing. Stretching also balances your center, keeping your joint pairs in alignment, such as your hips or shoulders.

Recipe Blog

We hear about a lot of great recipes from our clients! So, we decided to start a recipe blog. Post your favorite recipes here! We are interested in all recipes-healthy, less healthy, not-so-healthy… All types of food-including drinks, appetizers, main courses, sides, desserts, snacks-anything you like. We understand that some of your favorite recipes call for a pinch of this or a sprinkle of that. Please include these recipes and just let us know! Happy cooking!!

Virtual Book Club

We discuss books a lot at the gym. Which ones we like, which ones we didn’t, which ones we want to read, etc. So…we thought it would be a great idea to have a virtual book club. Here’s what we were thinking. Every month or so we are going to pick a book-any genre-no restrictions! We will post the title here on our blog. When you finish reading the book, we want you to post comments-liked it, hated it, great writing, awful story-whatever you thought. We will keep a running thread so everyone can comment as they finish the book. No timetables or planning required. Just read, comment and enjoy!

Now, we just need to pick the first book. Any ideas? Post away and we will pick one from the ideas!


So you’ve gone to the gym 5 days in a row and now you can barely get out of bed. Feeling some pain after a workout is normal, even desired. However, if your muscles hurt to the touch or your range of motion is limited after a challenging workout, you have overdone it. Pain after a workout results from microscopic tears in muscle fibers caused by intense activity. The technical term for the torn muscles is Exercise Induced Muscle Damage (EIMD). That’s the post workout pain which then leads to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) 24-48 hours post workout. It’s why you are more sore 2 days after an intense workout. Watch how sore you are-working out damaged muscles often leads to injury. Further, research is now demonstrating that working out while very sore can make the workout session less effective and much harder to complete. The safest option is to avoid training for few days. What do you think? Have you ever been too sore to walk? Climb stairs? Sit…?


Today is the start of the Lent season and many people will be giving up something for the next 40 days. We have heard some interesting ones but some of the most common ones include not eating chocolate, no dessert, no alcohol, no fast food and/or no red meat. Giving up something that you enjoy for 40 days can be challenging-for some even impossible. We all start with the highest expectations but as the days pass, our resolve can weaken and we give in to temptation. Maybe a better idea would be to begin with moderating our intake instead of complete restriction? We talk about moderation often here at Fit-EST. Moderation in food, drink, fitness (a separate blog on this one coming soon)…pretty much everything. We live in a society where if a little is good-then a lot is great but we know that mindset can get us in to trouble quickly. What, if anything, are you giving up for Lent? Have you given up things before? Why? What is the hardest part about giving it up? Have you been able to quit something that you thought was bad for you? What is the craziest thing you have heard of someone giving up? We would love to hear from you!

New Year’s Resolutions

The holidays are now over. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone, and some of you may have gained a few pounds eating all the delicious foods that accompany this wonderful time of year. Along with the festivities, many will make New Year’s resolutions to lose those extra pounds or to spend the next year getting in shape. Most Americans (88 percent in 2010 according to a recent poll) make at least one resolution, with the majority being related to health and fitness. In 2010, 55 percent promised to eat healthier, 50 percent resolved to exercise more, and 38 percent wanted to lose weight.

While health and fitness resolutions are well-intentioned, unfortunately most people fail at keeping them. With all the excitement surrounding these promises, it’s easy to get caught up in it without really taking them seriously. So how do you insure that you actually lose those few pounds, get in better shape, and spend the next year healthier and fit?

We have some suggestions to help you keep your New Year’s resolutions:

  • Set exercise as a top priority, budget time into your daily routine to exercise and plan healthier meals/snacks. Importantly, be consistent with your routine.
  • Be realistic about the type of workout you plan and the results you expect to see by choosing an obtainable goal. Find a workout routine that’s appropriate to your fitness level, the time you have to spend, and the results you’d like to achieve.
  • Avoid choosing a resolution that you’ve struggled with achieving year after year. This will only set you up for failure, frustration and disappointment. If you are tempted to make a promise that you’ve made before, then try altering it.
  • Incorporate physical exercise into your workday and your daily life (use the stairs, park at the back of the lot, etc.).
  • Create a game plan. At the beginning of January, write a comprehensive plan that includes your fitness and health goals. By writing your own personal plan and you’ll be more likely to succeed.
  • Break your goals down and make them less intimidating. Rather than one big end goal, divide your goals into smaller pieces. Set several smaller objectives to achieve throughout the year that will help you to reach your ultimate goals.
  • Don’t assume sticking to your plan will be easy. Plan on obstacles, set-backs and frustrations along the way and be prepared with specific ways to overcome them.
  • Be patient. Most experts agree that it takes about 21 days to create a habit and six months for it to actually become a part of your daily lifestyle. The first few weeks will be tough, but it will get easier.
  • Reward yourself along the way. If you’ve stuck with your resolution for 2 months, treat yourself to something special, like a professional massage or spa treatment.
  • Limit the number of resolutions that you make. You’ll spread yourself too thin trying to make multiple changes in your life. This will just lead to failure of all of your resolutions.
  • Remain flexible and realize that things change frequently. Your goals and needs may be very different in June then they were when you made your resolutions in January. Embrace change, even if that means that your resolution is altered.

Lasting lifestyle changes are possible, and they can start with a New Year’s resolution! Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year? What were they and what strategies will you use to keep them? Do you think resolutions are a waste of time? Post your thoughts…we would love to hear from you! Stop by Fit-Est or call 203-557-4900.