Yippee! It's not snowing and there aren't salt rings on the bottoms of my yoga pants every day!
Spring is the perfect time to join a team and take up a new sport! Not all sports provide a great workout... you won't stay fit bowling or riding in a golf cart all summer. You will, however, have better access to beer. It's all about tradeoffs, people.
So what are some of the best outdoor sports to help you stay lean, fit and strong?
1. Rowing. Although seated, rowers burn tons of calories with the number of strokes and the amount of force they must exert against the water. Keeping up with a team can definitely motivate you to work harder than you would on the rowing ergometer at the gym, for example. Since most of us struggle with poor posture, the emphasis of rowing on the back & shoulders makes it a perfect sport to improve your fitness in a meaningful way. Check out your local rowing club or find a dragon boat team.
2. Tennis. Tennis players have to be quick on their feet, so staying fast and light is important. Tennis involves quick footwork to challenge your coordination and plenty of upper body and core work, thanks to the racquet. You will get plenty of cardiovascular exercise during a fast-paced tennis match, but one caveat here: until your game improves, you'll probably spend more time chasing the ball (or waiting for the ball if your partner is a newbie) than hitting it.
3. Soccer. Of all the team sports, soccer offers one of the best cardiovascular workouts since you will spend most of the game running. Even newbies can jump right in and get a great workout! The kicking and dribbling of soccer offers a challenge for the core and legs, plus builds coordination to improve your performance in virtually any activity. Most towns & cities offer co-ed as well as men's and women's leagues.
4. Swimming. So it's not always a team sport, but just picture a swimmer's body and you can see what a good workout the water provides. Swimming is one of the most well-rounded and safest workouts. The water's resistance strengthens the legs, hips, core, back, chest & shoulders. Despite the refreshing setting, swimming provides a decent cardiovascular workout and burns plenty of calories, whether you're just working on your stroke or a seasoned swimmer. Community centres and local pools offer time for swimming lengths.
5. Volleyball. Lots of jumping and quick changes of direction build power and coordination, and using both the legs and the arms simultaneously makes volleyball one killer core workout. Aside from swimming, this is the only sport whose players are fit enough to play in bikinis! The uneven sand terrain makes beach volleyball even more challenging, and provides a soft landing surface to help prevent injury. Most cities offer men's and women's leagues; watch for signage around beach areas.
Of course, I've had to leave a ton of amazing sports off of this list to narrow it down to my favourite 5...
What is your favourite outdoor sport to keep your fitness routine fresh and fun?
In my last blog, we tackled the most common question I get (other than "Mommy, can I have a glass of milk?"):
"How Many Calories Should I Be Eating?"
To review, there is a simple formula you can use that takes into account your gender, height, weight, age & activity level, and that will provide you with a reasonably accurate estimate of your calorie needs in an average day. This Total Daily Energy Expenditure is the number of calories you need to consume in a day to balance out what you've used; in other words, to maintain your weight.
But what if you want to lose weight?
In order to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than your body actually requires at its current size. Sounds like starving yourself? It kind of is starving yourself. But if you're overweight or obese, you're usually cutting down from an excessive amount of calories which has landed you at that overweight condition to an appropriate number of calories that will land you at and mantain a healthy weight.
So let's go back to our drawing board.
A pound of fat consists of 3,500 calories. In other words, if you want to lose a pound of fat, you must cut 3,500 calories from your diet or burn 3,500 calories through exercise, or use a combination of calorie restriction and exercise.
It is generally accepted that a weight loss of 1 to 2.5 pounds per week is safe and easy to maintain in the long term. If you want to lose 1 pound of weight (equivalent to 3,500 calories) per week, you must create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories per week, or 500 calories per day. If you want to lose 2 pounds of weight per week, you're looking at 7,000 calories per week or 1,000 calories per day.
Let's go back to our example from the last blog post on Total Daily Energy Expenditure. Our gal was 40 years old, 160 pounds and 5'5" tall. She was moderately active, and we determined that her TDEE (the calories she needs to maintain her weight) was 2,276 calories/day.
Now let's say our gal wants to lose 2 pounds per week. She needs to trim 1,000 calories from her daily budget.
2,276 (TDEE) - 1,000 = 1,276 calories/day
Our gal can either cut 1,000 calories out of her diet (YIKES!) and eat just 1,276 calories per day, or she could use a combination of exercise and diet to accumulate that 1,000 calorie deficit. If our gal jogs for one hour and burns approximately 500 extra calories, she can consume 1,776 calories instead of just 1,276 that day and stay on track for her 2-pound goal that week.
The most effective way to lose fat, by a landslide, is a combination of calorie restriction and exercise. Why? Trying to cut too many calories from your diet can leave you missing out on vital nutrients and feeling so hungry that you're likely to fall off the wagon and binge. Trying to burn off all of your calories through exercise can be tricky unless you've got a couple of hours each day to work out. A bit of moderation in your diet coupled with manageable bouts of exercise is the sanest method.
To lose 1 pound per week > TDEE - 500 calories = your daily budget
To lose 2 pounds per week > TDEE - 1,000 calories = your daily budget
So you don't have to exist on just spinach and egg whites, use exercise to add extra calories to your daily budget. Find out how many calories your favourite fitness class is burning here, and use this extensive list of calories burned per activity to choose the workout that gives your the biggest burn for your time.
Finally, use a food journal to help you count calories while you work toward your goal weight, & to keep you mindful of where you might be going wrong. A food journal is one of the most effective weight loss tools, and coupled with an understanding of your caloric needs, makes for a foolproof weight loss plan. And it's all FREE! Hmmm... maybe I should have charged for access to this article...
Do you count calories? Use a food journal?
Need help determining your TDEE or calculating the number of calories you should eat to lose weight? Reply below!