Five Surprising Benefits of Exercise

Five Surprising Benefits of Exercise

Many people choose to start a workout regimen so they can lose weight, build muscle, recover from injuries or train for an event like a road race. But apart from these more obvious reasons to exercise, there are other benefits that may not come to mind as readily. Below you’ll find five surprising perks of moving your body on a regular basis. 

More Energy
While it’s true that exercise requires an output of energy (and it can be a lot of energy, depending on the type of exercise you like and the length of your workout), it will also help you feel more energized afterward. The reason: When you’re sedentary, everything in your body becomes sedentary as well. Your circulation slows down (see: “get your blood pumping”), your muscles weaken, your joints get tight and your brain gets foggy. These effects can even compound, which is why it’s harder to start moving and exercising the longer you go without it. But working out reverses all of these slowdowns, literally reenergizing your body and helping you feel lighter, stronger and like you have more in the tank to take on the day. 

Improved Mood
There are a few reasons that fitting in a workout will help you go about your day feeling sunnier. When you exercise your body releases endorphins, brain chemicals that work on a cellular level to help improve your mood and brighten your outlook. What’s more, completing a workout, regardless of whether it’s ten minutes long or an hour long, is going to give you an incredible feeling of accomplishment. You chose to use that time to do something healthy and beneficial for yourself, and there’s nothing better than that feeling. 

Higher Metabolism
You know that while you exercise your muscles are working hard, which requires them to burn fuel for energy at a faster rate than if you were just sitting. This rate at which your muscles are using fuel is your metabolism, which is naturally higher during a workout. However, studies have shown that your metabolism doesn’t drop back down to previous levels as soon as your workout is complete. In fact, you can continue burning fuel at that higher rate for hours after you exercise—and if you’re working out on a regular basis, you can get to the point where you are spending more time in this state of increased metabolism than not. 

Stronger Joints
Strong muscles are key, especially as you get older, but so are strong joints. The good news: Exercise is going to work both of them. Any movement that is weight-bearing is going to strengthen and reinforce your ankle, knee and hip joints, which play a crucial role in maintaining balance and flexibility and lowering your risk of injury. Likewise, consistent exercise prevents all your joints from getting stiff or inflamed, which can lead to problems like pain and limited range of motion.  

Less Stress
Most people think of stress as a mental issue, but it is physical as well. Your feelings and experiences of stress are caused by increases in levels of certain hormones, and when these hormones remain at high levels for an extended period of time it can cause other physical problems. In addition, feelings of stress can manifest physically as pain or stiffness, often in the neck and shoulders for most people. But exercise helps keep levels of stress hormones in check, plus prevents stress from getting stuck in your body. And of course, if you can use a workout to release your stress and anxiety that can also go far towards helping you feel less stress overall in your daily life.

If you live in a P4LF community and want to get your body moving, join us for one of our free virtual fitness classes, taking place 7x per week. To view the schedule, reach out to your leasing office, or follow along with us on Instagram or Facebook.

Three Recipes to Help You Eat Cleaner this Spring

Three Recipes to Help You Eat Cleaner this Spring

Clean eating is a term that’s been bouncing around the health and nutrition world for a while. The simple idea behind it: Eat as many fresh, whole, minimally processed foods as you can. In the process, you’ll automatically avoid packaged foods, added sugars and refined grains. If that sounds complicated, it isn’t! Clean eating is just about choosing foods that you can eat in their natural state—and there’s no better time to clean up your plate than spring, when fresh produce is in abundance. Here, three tasty recipes that will help you eat cleaner this season. 

Tomato, Watermelon and Feta Salad with Fresh Herbs
Serves: 4
3 large heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into a large dice
2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs, such as basil or mint
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. red wine vinegar

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Toss to combine.

Quinoa Pesto Primavera
Serves: 4
1 cup quinoa
1 cup snap peas
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups cooked cubed chicken (optional)

For pesto:
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. pine nuts
1 large garlic clove
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions. Transfer to a bowl. 
  2. Cut the asparagus and snap peas into 1-inch pieces. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus, snap peas and peas, season with salt and pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the quinoa and add the chicken, if using.
  3. In a food processor, process the basil, pine nuts and garlic to a fine paste. With the machine running, pour in the olive oil and keep processing until it’s incorporated. Add the cheese and pulse just to combine.
  4. Scoop the pesto into the bowl with the quinoa and veggies and toss to coat. 

Fresh Berry Smoothie
Serves: 1
1 cup your favorite milk
½ cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 banana
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 cups mixed berries, like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
1 cup ice

  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender in order. Blend until smooth.

Do you have a favorite recipe that highlights fresh spring produce? Share it with us by tagging us in your posts on Instagram or Facebook!

3 Strategies for Developing Healthy Eating Habits

3 Strategies for Developing Healthy Eating Habits

Not only is spring the time of year when most people start thinking about ways to improve their health, but it is also the easiest time of year to do so (March is National Nutrition Month after all)! Longer days and warmer temperatures encourage people to get outside and be more active. Sweaters giving way to shorts and sundresses provide added motivation to get fitter and healthier. And the rich bounty of fresh foods available in the spring makes it a cinch to change your eating habits for the better. Here, three simple strategies that will help you eat healthier this year.

Visit the Farmer’s Market
There’s nothing better than heading to the farmer’s market on a breezy, spring Sunday morning. You can pick up some fresh flowers, maybe a gourmet coffee and support local businesses. But the focal point of any farmer’s market is the fresh fruits and vegetables. Make a point of browsing these stalls and picking up some produce. Most of what’s available at the farmer’s market has been picked at the peak of its freshness, which will inspire you to use it in your cooking right away. If you’re unsure how to use anything, the food sellers can offer advice on preparation—though when in doubt, fresh, in-season vegetables will always be delicious raw. 

No farmer’s market nearby? Consider signing up for a CSA, in which you will be sent a box of assorted fresh produce (and sometimes eggs) on a chosen schedule. This is another great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. 

Try One New Vegetable
Even if you’re picking up all your produce at your local grocery store, one smart strategy that can help diversify your cooking and make it healthier is to pick up one new vegetable or fruit each time you go shopping. Maybe it’s one you’ve never heard of, one you always walk by and wonder about, or one that a friend or family member loves and you’ve been meaning to try. Worst case scenario you don’t like it and won’t purchase it again, but best case you discover a delicious addition to your produce rotation that also delivers powerful health-promoting nutrients. 

Cook and Freeze
It’s pretty common knowledge that the more you choose to cook at home over dining out, the healthier your diet is going to be overall. But if the idea of cooking every single day feels intimidating or impossible, consider cooking just one or two days a week and freezing healthy foods to enjoy later. You can prepare and freeze individual ingredients to then put together and use in your favorite recipes or cook entire meals that just need to be popped in the oven or in a pot to get you a healthy dinner on the table an hour or two later. Utilizing your freezer is a simple, stress-free way to ensure you have good-for-you options on hand all the time, even on busy days when cooking is the last thing on your mind. 

Need some help staying accountable? Show us how you’re staying healthy this spring by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook @powerforlifefitness.

Three Healthy Tips for Springing Forward

Three Healthy Tips for Springing Forward

With daylight savings coming up on March 14, we’ll be turning our clocks ahead one hour. On the one hand, this means we’ll be losing an hour of sleep this weekend. But on the other, it opens up a host of new opportunities for enjoying the spring season. Here, three tips that will help you spring ahead with ease. 

Stick to Your Schedule
Even though losing an hour of sleep may make you feel groggy for a couple mornings, try to stick to your previous wake up time as much as possible. Not only will this keep you from having to make any adjustments to your schedule for the remainder of the day, but it will also help you eliminate that morning sleepiness that much faster. And this advice doesn’t only apply around daylight savings: Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule has been shown to have countless health benefits. 

Open the Curtains
The easiest way to adjust to the time changes: Let the sunlight in! Opening up your blackout curtains will help your body sync up its circadian clock with that of the sun, which will help you feel energized when you want to be during the day and relaxed when you want to be at night. It will be especially helpful in the morning, as the brightening light outside will alert your body that it’s time to wake up and start the day. 

Take Advantage of the Evenings
Sure, it may be darker for a bit longer in the mornings, but that means we get those covetable daylight hours back in the evening. Especially with temperatures finally climbing, take advantage of this extra time at the end of the workday to get outside. Go for a walk or a run around your neighborhood, attend an outdoor group fitness class or just sit outside on the patio or the roof deck and breathe in the fresh air. This will further help your body adjust to the new daylight schedule, plus deliver perks of spending time outside like less stress and sunnier moods. 

Show us how you are prepping for daylight savings this year by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook @powerforlifefitness.

4 Yoga Heart Openers to Help You Move with Heart

4 Yoga Heart Openers to Help You Move with Heart

In honor of American Heart Month, we’re highlighting some of the yoga poses known as heart openers. This category of poses, which stretch the chest and the front of the shoulders, are thought to enhance compassion and our ability to connect to others. Why? They are literally opening the heart to the world around us, a stark contrast from the inward-facing, hunched position many of us spend hours in while sitting at a desk each day (they also feel amazing for this reason). Below you’ll find four heart-opening poses that will help you open your heart Chakra, releasing tension in your chest, shoulders and upper back, plus make you feel more compassionate and loving.  

Camel Pose
Kneel on a mat or soft surface with your knees hip-width apart. Roll your shoulders back and down, lift your chest and your gaze to the ceiling and reach for your heels with your hands. If you can reach your heels, hold onto them, if not just extend your hands toward the ground. Hold for three deep breaths.

Bridge Pose
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Press your heels into the ground and your hips up to the ceiling. Reach for your heels with your hands, scooting your shoulder blades together to lift and open your heart. Hold for three deep breaths. 

Puppy Pose
Come onto all fours with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Keeping your hips aligned over your knees and your tailbone pointed at the sky, walk your hands forward until you can rest your forehead, chin or chest on the floor. Hold for three deep breaths. 

Cactus Pose
Lift your arms to the sides, at shoulder height, and bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Keep your upper arms horizontal, your forearms vertical, then spin your palms to face your head. Press your elbows back, but don’t let your belly or head pop forward. Inhale to extend your arms to the sky, and on your exhale, lower them to cactus. Staying for a full inhale and exhale before repeating.

To open your heart with our team of fabulous instructors, join us for one of our virtual yoga classes taking place Monday’s, Friday’s and Saturday’s! In the meantime, to stay up-to-date with us, follow us Instagram or Facebook.

Three Tips for Making Attainable Resolutions

Three Tips for Making Attainable Resolutions

With 2021 right around the corner, we’re ready to put 2020 behind us and look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead in the new year. One way we’re anchoring our focus on the future is by setting resolutions that will help us make positive changes and spark joy in the coming year. Here, three tips for how to make resolutions that are constructive, attainable and will help you make 2021 a year of hope and inspiration.

Have an Action Plan

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when it comes to setting attainable resolutions, you should have actionable steps in place that you intend to take that will help you meet your goals. Your goal itself can be general or vague, such as “spread kindness,” but then you should come up with a few specific ways you intend to do that, such as holding more doors open for others or always telling the barista at your local coffee shop to have a nice day. It’s also best for these actions to be small, like cooking a homemade dinner once a week, even if your goal is big, like to eat healthier and more naturally. When you stick to them, taking small steps is often the best way to achieve big changes. 

Be Broad

While your action plan should be specific, the breadth of your goals can be broad—in fact, this may help you achieve them faster. The reason: If you set too many resolutions around getting healthier, such as eating better and exercising more and meditating once a day, you may start to feel overwhelmed and as if you won’t achieve any lasting change if you don’t meet every single goal. Instead, spread your goals out into different categories. For example, choose one specific strategy you are going to focus on for getting healthier, another that focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and another centered on personal growth. Since these are less likely to interfere with one another, it will be easier to pursue them all simultaneously—and then after a few months perhaps you change them up. 

Spread Them Out

Not every resolution you make for the new year needs to go into effect on January 1. You may set a resolution that’s tied to specific dates throughout the year, like sending everyone in your family a birthday card in the mail, or one tied to a specific season, like signing up for a CSA box in the spring to help you cook with more fresh produce. In fact, choosing resolutions that vary in breadth or time of year in this way, so that you don’t feel like you’ve created a lengthy to-do list for yourself that you need to start on the first of the year, will make them feel easier to achieve and your whole batch of resolutions more attainable overall. 
Are you setting resolutions this year? Is there anything you’re doing differently than you have in years past? Share your strategies with us on Facebook or Instagram @powerforlifefitness—it may even take you one step closer to winning our December challenge!

Prep for Friendsgiving 2020

Prep for Friendsgiving 2020

With many states recommending smaller gatherings this holiday season and traveling long distances to see family up in the air, Friendsgiving is a great way for apartment dwellers to spend time with people they care about and spread some festive cheer. Here are some tips on how to prepare for a safe, fun and delicious Friendsgiving. 

First, if you’re concerned with passing dishes around the table from one person to the other, you can eliminate this from your gathering entirely. Have each household attending Friendsgiving bring their own mini meal that they can eat in the company of their friends. If you’d prefer to go the more traditional route, with some guests supplying the turkey, others the stuffing, and others still the dessert, you could ask for each dish to be portioned out by household ahead of time so that dishes and serving cutlery are not being passed back and forth across the table.

Speaking of the table, bigger is always better. If your apartment building has a patio or a club room, consider reserving one of these spaces for your gathering. If not, many parks have tables and gazebos that can be reserved and used for these types of parties. These also likely have grills, which can provide a fire for warmth on chilly days. 

Finally, planning your menu is key—for many, it’s the most important part of Thanksgiving. There are the traditional recipes that you make every year, like grandma’s stuffing or corn bread, but the other side dishes provide plenty of opportunities to get creative. This year, try mixing up your recipes, pairing traditional ingredients like sweet potatoes with surprising ones like yogurt or mint, or transforming fall classics like butternut squash into new preparations. Curious about some of these? Check out our virtual Thanksgiving cooking demo on Thursday, November 19 at 6pm EST.

CLICK HERE to join us for the cooking demo on 11/19 at 6pm ET.

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Share it with us on Instagram @powerforlifefitness.

Three Ways to Give Back During a Pandemic

Three Ways to Give Back During a Pandemic

Most charitable organizations ramp up their activities during the holidays in an effort to make everyone feel loved and cared for during the festive season. But this year, with social distancing guidelines still firmly in place, you may be less inclined to volunteer to serve food at your local soup kitchen or wrap and hand out gifts at the shelter. 

The good news: You can still give back to your community without putting your own health and comfort at risk. Here are three ways you can make a socially-distant difference this holiday season.  

Make Deliveries

If you don’t feel comfortable serving food directly to people in need and you have a car, you can deliver prepared food and other necessary items instead. Vulnerable populations like seniors and others who need to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe and healthy still need holiday meals and local churches and service groups are likely delivering those straight to them. Reach out to see if they are looking for people to pick up these items and deliver them to homes or facilities in your area. 

Participate in a Food Drive

Nonperishable food drives may be more important this year than ever before. Why? People may be less likely to help prepare cooked items if it requires close proximity with others. But food drives don’t have that requirement, nor do they necessitate much of a time commitment either. So this year if you notice a food drive in your apartment building or nearby, take a moment to stop and peruse the list of requested items and then pick up a couple on your next trip to the grocery store. Or if there isn’t a food drive in your building, consider asking the property manager if and how you might set one up.

Send Holiday Cards

A great way to engage with charitable organizations both in your community and beyond without ever leaving your home is to make and send holiday cards. Many homes and charities, from children’s shelters to assisted living facilities and more, will put out requests and information regarding the types of notes and cards you can send to their residents to brighten their season. Check out Cards for Hospitalized Kids, which provides card-making guidelines and instructs you on where to send them, or The Angel Card Project, which gives you the opportunity to send cards to the less fortunate.
Are you giving back in a new way this holiday season? We’d love to hear about it! Tag us on Facebook or Instagram @powerforlifefitness and share how you’re spreading holiday cheer!

The Four Best Outdoor Activities to Relieve Stress

The Four Best Outdoor Activities to Relieve Stress

Over the last few months, you’ve no doubt found yourself searching for some sort of magic solution that will instantly eliminate all of your stress. While a stress-relieving spell or potion has yet to be discovered, one of the easiest ways to banish anxiety and boost mood during the warm summer months is to head outside into the sunshine. You’ll get a much needed dose of vitamin D, which will deliver benefits from strong and healthy bones to improved exercise performance and muscle strength to an efficient and powerful immune system. And depending on the activity, there are countless ways that being outdoors can help get rid of your stress. Read on for four of our favorites.

In addition to the physical perks of going for a hike, hiking can go far towards lowering your stress levels. Simply being surrounded by nature’s greenery has been shown to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, while the tranquility and beauty of an impressive vista will help you forget your worries and to-dos. Hiking also requires the engagement of all the senses, helping you unplug from your responsibilities and be present in the moment, a practice that will promote calm and feelings of zen.

While not as active as some other options, setting up a picnic in a local park with friends or loved ones can do wonders for your mental health. Studies have shown that people have higher levels of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin on sunny days than they do on cloudy ones, while others have identified a relationship between UV light and the release of feel-good endorphins. When you’re on a picnic, you’re getting these perks while spending quality time with people you enjoy, which will also help banish your stress quickly. 

Outdoor Group Fitness
Taking your go-to group fitness class outside is a no brainer. You’ll reap all the benefits of regular exercise, including improved cardiovascular health, stronger muscles and more self-confidence, plus you’ll get to enjoy them in the fresh air and sunshine. Another of these benefits: Improved moods and freedom from stress. In fact, studies have shown that exercise can be as effective, if not more effective, than medication for treating depression. Plus, it can help lower levels of stress and anxiety by relaxing and releasing any physical tension you are holding in your body and prompting the release of mood-boosting brain chemicals. And if you live in a Power For Life Fitness property, you may be able to reap these benefits for free right now! Ask your property manager if your building is offering outdoor group fitness classes today. 

Maybe you don’t have hiking trails or a park near your apartment and you don’t have access to outdoor group fitness classes. Don’t worry! Simply heading outside for a walk, even if it’s through your busy downtown neighborhood, will deliver many of the benefits mentioned above. Regardless of your fitness level, walking will help you strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your flexibility and coordination, and reduce chronic pain. It will also help prevent or manage conditions like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. And of course, it will offer a health-promoting respite from your busy day, serving as a powerful stress reliever. 

Three Reasons to Switch Up Your Fitness Routine

Three Reasons to Switch Up Your Fitness Routine

Perhaps you’re a diehard yogi and can hold a tree pose for hours. Or you’re a boot camp pro and laugh in the face of burpees. Or maybe you can salsa circles around your neighbors in Zumba class. If one of these sounds like you, congrats! It sounds like you’ve found an exercise regimen you love and you’re sticking to it, which is admirable. Even so—and no matter how much you love your child’s pose or jumping lunges—there are benefits to mixing in a different exercise format or class every once in a while. Here are three. 

Prevent a Plateau
The more you practice a particular exercise format, the better you will get at it. Why do you get better at it? Because your muscles are getting used to the movements, improving their ability to complete them efficiently. Adapting to the movements takes work, and your muscles are going to be toning and strengthening as they do so. But eventually, after doing the same exercises over and over again, they will become too easy for your body to complete and you’ll hit a plateau, at which point you will stop seeing results. The simple solution: Try a new workout! Even doing one or two yoga classes and then going back to Zumba will challenge your muscles in a new and different way, instantly restarting your gains.

Avoid Burnout and Boredom
You’re most likely to hit a plateau if you’re so in love with one exercise style that you never try anything else. On the other hand, only going to boot camp classes can breed boredom that has you dreading and maybe even skipping your workout. It can also lead to fatigue and burnout, which can increase your likelihood of injury. Switching up your routine can help you avoid both of these issues, promoting balance and all-over strength plus keeping you excited to head to the gym.

Keep Your Mind Fit
Exercise isn’t just about physical fitness. Mental health is equally as important and mixing up your fitness routine can help you keep your mind fit. The reason: Just as you can hit a physical plateau and stop seeing results, the same thing can happen with your mind as exercises become easier to do well and max reps grow less difficult to achieve. But mastering the merengue is going to be both physically and mentally challenging if all you’ve been doing are push ups and squats. Switching up your workouts every once in a while will provide a challenge that will keep your mind sharp, increasing your brainpower and self-confidence. 

Is it time for you to switch up your fitness routine? Power For Life Fitness’s livestream and on-site programs offer a wide variety of classes, from yoga and Zumba to boot camp and Pilates. Ask your property manager how you can access these classes and start seeing results today!