Holiday fitness: Get Fit, Keep Fit or Boost Your Fitness

By Marina Aagaard, MFE
Holiday fitness? A hot topic right now. So here are five fab methods for fitness and exercise on your holiday; for the super exerciser, the recreational exerciser or the (almost) physically inactive …

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Get fit on holiday

Not fit or healthy at all? Then this is for you:
You have to start somewhere / sometime and your holiday is as good as time as ever.
If you are used to doing nothing exercise-wise, then start with just a little bit every day:

1. Move a bit more; than you do during every day living, walk and stand more, take the stairs, not the elevator.

2. Add extra activity; use every excuse to move a bit further than normally (e.g. go to the ice cream store at the far end of the beach).

3. Go for walks: Take a lovely morning or evening walk and get some extra free sight-seeing at a time, when it is nice and quiet.

4. Try out exercise or sports activities: Use your holiday to try some brand new activities, not only for exercise, but for new experiences; e.g. aqua aerobics, hiking, badminton, zumbafitness, (water)bikes, canoeing, etc.

5. Eat healthier snacks. Holiday is holiday, but leave out or replace the most severe calorie-loaded temptations by other alternatives, so it is possible to keep your present weight on your holiday. Also it pays off to “neutralize” the side-effects of steaks, drinks and ice cream with exercise …

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Keep fit on your holiday

Are you used to being fairly healthy and doing some exercise, e.g. 3-4 times a week? Lucky you; you have many options for keeping your fitness level, while on holiday.

1. Maintain fitness with a single bout of high-intensity training: Have an all-out holiday – also from exercise – but with one workout in the middle of your holiday week, a workout with high intensity (heavy/fast) or maybe moderate intensity and long duration.

2. Train short and sweet (hard), time-efficient, with circuit training: Do 2-3 workouts on your holiday, with intense circuit training.

3. Train as usual, but with variation: Train as you are used to, 3-4 times, but with novel exercise variations in your usual program.

4. Train more, but in different ways: Be extra active all through your holiday, but with complete different activities; horseback (or camel) riding, water polo, beach volley, kayaking, hula hooping, rope jumping or lap swimming.

5. Eat strategically. Holiday is holiday, but should you choose to accept … a fattening snack, then combine with an intense workout on the same day (before or after) and be a little more healthy the next day.

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Boost you fitness on your holiday

You are used to working out, either very often og very intensely, and you want to improve your fitness? When away on holiday, locally or abroad, there are sometimes special opportunities, which you can take advantage of.

1. Increase difficulty (and/or intensity). If you are used to running, then run the same distances, but under more difficult conditions, in the sand on the beach or in rugged terrain (watch out for obstacles)

2. Increase intensity (or duration). If you are used to cycling, then cycle the same distance under more difficult conditions; harder terrain, e.g. in hills or mountains or go for extra long rides in new surroundings.

3. Train with other equipment, in different ways. If you are used to resistance training, then work out as hard as you can facilities allowing at your holiday hotel/resort; gyms with other equipment than you are used to, or old, worn facilities with only basic equipment, benches, bars and dumbbells etc. or outdoors with racks, bodyweight, logs or stones (e.g. try throwing exercises).

4. Give your body diverse challenges. Replace 1-2 regular workouts with parkour or obstacle course racing (on proper courses or at playgrounds): Overcome obstacles, do balancing and lift, push and pull yourself up and forward in different ways.

5. Give your body and your mind some variation. Push yourself with different activities involving other muscles than usual; open water swimming, sailing, SUP, inline skating, climbing, rappelling, table tennis, formal dance, soccer.

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Bonus tip
Exercise should be followed by quality sleep and adequate recovery; speed up recovery by having a massage, hammam, thermal bath, jacuzzi, sauna or other wellness activities.
Try it on your holiday; your body will love it (check out: Global Wellness Travel Guide).

Happy holiday!

5 Tips for Smarter Workouts: Avoid Injuries Due To New Years Resolutions!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

On the 1st of January you are full of good intentions and New Years resolutions, which often revolve around getting into better shape … however a 0-100 mph start after a relaxed Christmas (season) often results in physical and mental overload and injury come February. There are smarter ways to do it.

It is a classic mistake to do too much, when you start exercising. No matter if it is running, spinning, strength training or other forms, and whether you are a trained exerciser getting back after a holiday break og injury or you are a total beginner, who wants to get into shape right NOW e.g. because of New Years Resolutions.

Here is a handful of free personal training tips for 1) avoiding overdoing it and injuring yourself and 2) getting better and faster results.

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5 Tips for Better Workouts This Year

1. Start and increase effort gradually. Increase volume (weight, distance) by max. 2,5-10 % per week. Not a lot, but you have to give your body a chance to adapt.

2. Train regularly and stick to it – no matter what. If possible Work out 3-4 times (up to 6 times) per week. However, less is o.k. when starting out and 1-2 times a week is a lot better than nothing and fine for maintaining fitness, if you are pressed for time.
The most important thing is stick with your healthy and rewarding new habit.

3. Enjoy variety, mix and match cardio, strength, neuromotor and mobility exercises in your programme. It is more fun and an all-round good shape improves performance in all sports and function in everyday life.

4. Train smart; e.g. get help to design a time-efficient functional training program.
Far too many people Waste precious time with poor programs and exercises; avoid that and get better results faster.

5. Listen to your body; during the workout and afterwards. It is o.k. if it feels hard and challenging, but pain or irritation is a warning signal. Go for a feeling of ‘smiling’ and ‘ease of movements’, it is a better and more fun way of working out.

In the days after you should feel more energetic. If you feel tired and moody, it may be a sign of over-training and the training program should be re-designed.

Note: DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness, which is often felt in your muscles 2-4 days after hard, different or eccentric training, is normal and only natural (a good sign of you body recovering after beneficial training).

Enjoy your workout – at home, at the gym or on the travel.

Slimming sensation: 100 % guaranteed weight loss with the 7:0 diet!

Af Marina Aagaard, MFT

Another one? Yes, I know, what I am thinking, but what do you think??? First there was the 5:2 diet and a multitude of 5:2-ripoffs, then cleverly came the 6:1 diet and just now the 4:3 diet. Oh no, what is left …. oh yes, my brand new 7:0 diet!

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What is the 7:0 diet? A brilliant new ‘diet’; no aids required; no books, no bathroom scales, no kitchen scales, no measuring cups, no calorie tables and it works:

0 days a week do you follow diets, that stress, worry and harm you.

7 days a week do you listen to your body and use your head to make the right choices and generally eat healthy with room for less-healthy choices as needed (think strategic, eat slow and with maximal enjoyment)..
Combine with easy physical activity during the every day and internally motivated exercise (fun (and games) with friends) which gets the heart rate up 2-3 times a week.

Then you will get real results; lower body fat percentage, flatter abs and especially a much, much better mood (and life) – without side effects such as increased body weight, frustation and lots of disheartening diet failures!

Have your cake apple and eat it!

Weekend Wellness Walk: Get Up, Get Out, Get Well

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Easter time is holiday time for some. If time and money is tight, a day trip or two to a place near you, preferable one you have not visited before, is an o.k. holiday travel substitute. As always it is good to grab the chance of getting some free exercise; going for a run or brisk (as in heavy breathing) walk. I did.

Weekend weather was wonderful … and springtime was in the air and colours everywhere. The small national park of Mols Bjerge (Bjerge means Mountains, but they are really just small hills), Jutland, Denmark, and surroundings, was waking up after ‘hibernation’ and is, I think, well worth a visit and a walk.
Outdoor fitness at its best behaviour.

Mols Bjerge tree photo Marina Aagaard

Kaloe kroget treeKaloe grene himmel distantKaloe skovbund blomsterdaekkeKaloe traerThorsager skovbundMols kidMarina Aagaard og Kaloe slotsruin photo Henrik ElstrupTrees and water black and white Henrik Elstrup and Marina Aagaard

Kaloe gren artLast three photos by husband Henrik Elstrup going overboard with filters,
lenses and photoshopping. This is quite popular on 500 px, though …

Happy outdoor fitness workout, where ever you are.

Day Trip: Gone-Away Lake Walk

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Sometimes you do not need to travel very far to come a long way away from home…

This weekend I went for a walk in three different areas of the neighbourhood; in the woods, at the beach and, especially interesting, a new walk by a hidden, spooky lake …
Suddenly, I not only had some walk variation (for the benefit of the dog, too), but my mind wandered years back to my childhood.

I was an avid reader and loved the books by Elizabeth Enright; ‘Gone-Away Lake’ and ‘Return to Gone-Away’, about a forgotten lake and old, abandoned houses …
the stories came back to life at this weekend’s walks.

Walking, weather and wonders of nature made me feel, as if I was in the middle of a (fairy) tale, A Danish Late Winter’s Tale …

Photos by my husband, Henrik:

By the lake Langesø Djursland Denmark Photo Henrik ElstrupTrees by the lake Langesø Djursland Denmark Photo Henrik ElstrupMoss on tree by the lake Langesø Djursland Denmark Photo Henrik Elstrup 

By Følle Strand Djursland Photo Henrik ElstrupBy Kalø Slot Djursland Photo Henrik ElstrupEbeltoft Djursland Photo Henrik ElstrupEbeltoft Ved fregatten Djursland Photo Henrik Elstrup

Take a walk … it truly is mind-body travelling … and healthy, too.

Saint Valentine’s Day Hug and Kiss: It is Healthy and a Bliss!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Today is the day, when lovers express their love for each other, and a liturgical celebration instated around 495 AC; a day named after the Roman priest Valentine.
Valentine, later Saint Valentine of Rome, continued – in spite of the laws against marriage of Christians – to marry soldaters; this unfortunately lead to his dimise on 14.2.269 (exact year unknown).
Saint Valentines Day is big business for flourists, chocolatiers and Hallmark … but also a day, when you without any expense and with great rewards can cultivate romance and health. Hug around right now.

Whether you are in a romantic mood or not, it is clever to pamper yourself with warmth and touch for physical, mental, emotional and social wellness; touch, stimulation of the skin, can improve recovery, reduce stress and increase overall well-being.

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Social Bonding Bonus (apart form health and wellness): Researcher Christian C. Nocera tells, that “touch and greatings involving touch, such as handshakes and kisses on the cheek, can have great impact on our social interactions.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have A Merry Christmas: Christmas Food and Fitness Strategies

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Christmas is not just Peace, Joy and Happy hearts … it is also nice food and sweets. Accept this as a good thing. Abandon all worries about overeating and gaining weight. Instead: Be smart, prepare and stay in shape.

Christmas decoration on the fireplace photo Marina Aagaard

A green Christmas Heart on the fireplace.

Per Braendgaard Myth calendar 20/24 (quote): Myth: It is not what you eat between Christmas and New Years Eve, that makes you gain weight. It is what you eat, between New Years Eve and Christmas! So you might as well eat like crazy in December and then diet in January. Fact: What you eat between Christmas and New Years Eve can also make you gain weight, so you might as well be on (the right healthy) diet in December, not just January.

Marina Aagaard Mythbuster: Yes! I have completed thorough investigations! It is what you eat from New Years Eve to Christmas and what you eat between Christmas and New Years Eve, that makes you gain weight! That’s life … 1) make your choice, 2) enjoy it, 3) wipe your eyes, when the damage is done … or:

1. Initiate your Christmas meal with a drink of water (or just before the meal); Water is healthy and you won’t feel as hungry.

2. Continue to drink water (limit alcohol consumption, XXX calories!)

3. Eat slowly, so the great taste lasts much longer, mmmmmhhhhhhhh.

4. Have small portions – you can have two servings if needed (avoid wasting food).

5. Start with vegetables (and avoid white bread, which makes you hungry); high fiber foods makes you feel full and healthy – and you won’t overeat the less healthy stuff.

6. Enjoy your Christmas dinner(s), every bite of it, it’s only Christmas once a year. But ensure that your food is of good quality and savour it; mindful eating.

7. Make the right choices. If you are surrounded by candy, then choose wisely: Go for 2 home-made pralines with dark chocolate and marzipan, it is filling and satisfying, rather than 20 mass-produced pieces of sweets … think strategically.

8. Move more (as much as possible); walk the dog, the family or the trash. Even small amounts of movement count, e.g. after your meal, it is good for you and your digestion.

9. Be physically active during Christmas, this is a good time; you have time for it. Take a trip to the countryside or the seaside and go for a walk; it is wellness with a touch of fat burning … a  little is a lot better than nothing.
And: Work out, there are plenty of ways of working out properly between Christmas and New Years Eve. Do you own outdoor (or home) fitness program or go the fitness center, which offers exciting group exercise classes. It is also a brilliant time to kick off a new exercise habit (instead of January, when everyone else has the same idea).

Proper exercise is an effective means of weight maintenance during Christmas.

10. Think wisely. Apart from positive thinking in general it is a smart move to tell yourself: “I will never go on a diet and most certainly not in January” (a diet is an almost foolproof method of gaining weight over time). When you pass on that option, you will take better care of yourself during Christmas and the rest of the year.

A moment of truth: Any risk of uncontrolled over-eating; the big irresistable Christmas dinner (or buffet)? Then an option could be to neutralize the effect by having a day or two of fasting, e.g. the day before and/or after – or the intermediate solution of 12 hours of fasting (in the fast (5:2) diet; 1 small meal is allowed). Not just to save calories; but you get to know your body and appetite better, which is great.
Note: Do not skip eating two days in a row, as it results in muscle protein breakdown, and you do not want to lose muscle mass: The muscles are more metabolically active than fat!
In the fast diet you eat like you normally do for 5 days and fast (partially) for 2 days (not consecutive). In IF, Intermittent Fasting, you eat one day and go one day without eating. Note, there are different IF strategies.
In these types of diets you
retain lean mass, ie muscle, which is not seen with standard calorie restricted diets.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!