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Benefits of Hiking

Summer is just around the corner, and one of the most popular outdoor activities in the summertime is to go hiking! Most people enjoy hiking for the nature aspect, but did you know there are also some great health benefits to hiking? Hiking exercises almost every part of your body-legs, butt, back, arms, and core specifically. It is also great for mental health, and helps increase awareness in all your senses. Check out these other great health benefits to hiking and start planning your summer hikes today!

For adults:

  • Improved cardio-respiratory fitness (heart, lungs, and blood vessels)
  • Improved muscular fitness
  • Lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Lower risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of high cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Lower risk of colon and breast cancer
  • Increased bone density or slower loss of bone density
  • Reduced depression and better quality sleep
  • Lower risk of early death if you are active for 7 hours a week
  • Weight control-hiking can burn up to 370 calories an hour!

Kids get many of the same benefits as adults, plus others including:

  • Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • Better bone health
  • Decreased risk of becoming overweight
  • Decreased risk of developing risk factors for heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
  • Possibly reduced risk of depression and feelings of stress
  • More alertness in school
  • Sleeping better at night


Sun Safety Tips

Now that spring is here and the sun is shining, it is important that we protect ourselves while enjoying the sunlight. The sun may feel good but it can be very harmful to our bodies if certain precautions are not followed.  Having too much sun exposure can cause wrinkles, skin cancer, sun spots and sun burn.

Here are some tips you can follow to stay safe in the sun!

-Apply sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater. Make sure sunscreen is applied 30 minutes before being in the sun.

-Avoid being in the sun during the sun’s peak time 10 am -2 pm.

-Wear full protected UV sunglasses

-Buy cosmetic products with sunscreen protection (moisturizers, foundations, lip balm etc.)

-Protect your head by wearing a wide brimmed hat

-Perform self-skin exams and if you notice any change in size or color in moles or sun spots contact a doctor.


All About Antioxidants

What is an antioxidant?

Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that help protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals. Different lifestyle habits, such as smoking, cause the body to produce        free radicals, which attack our healthy cells. When these cells are attacked by free radicals, they become weakened and more susceptible to diseases. There has been a lot of research linking free radicals to causing cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants help reverse the damage done by free radicals. Some examples of antioxidants include vitamins C and E, and carotenoids.


There are around 600 different carotenoids in foods; however beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein are the most well-known for being leaders in the fight against free radicals. Beta-carotene may be effective against prostate cancer; lycopene helps fight against cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, and rectum; and lutein may help reduce your risk of muscular degeneration. Carotenoids can be found in red, orange, yellow, and green, leafy vegetables. These include tomatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and     squash.

Vitamin E

The main role of Vitamin E is as an antioxidant. It protects your body from cell damage that can lead to cancer, heart disease, and cataracts as you age. It also works with vitamin C to offer protection from chronic diseases. Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, salad dressings,        margarine, wheat germ, whole grain products, seeds, nuts, and peanut butter.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the best known antioxidant. It offers a large variety of health benefits, including protection against infections and damage to cells, helps to produce collagen, protects the body from bruising, and helps in the absorption of iron and folate. Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C,          such as oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines. It is also found in strawberries, sweet peppers,    tomatoes, broccoli, and potatoes.              


Christine Giorgetti, BS, ACM-HFS

Deck of Cards Workout
Flip a card and perform the exercise matched with the card’s suite. The number on the card flipped equals the amount of reps performed, face cards are always 10. For every joker picked perform 50 reps of an abs exercise. Challenge yourself to get through the deck! 
Card Drawn:                            Exercise Performed:

Spade                                       Tricep Dips
Heart                                         Push Ups
Diamond                                    Lunges
Club                                           Squats
Taste the Rainbow

A few weeks ago we talked about the benefits of red fruits and vegetables.  Let’s finish up the color wheel and discuss the importance and benefit of the rest of the colors.


Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, flavonoids, potassium, and vitamin C. Which help your body reduce age-related macular degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer, lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, promote collagen formation and healthy joints.


Green fruits and vegetables contain chlorophyll, fiber, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C, calcium, and Beta-carotene. The nutrients found in these vegetables reduce cancer risks, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, normalize digestion time, support retinal health and vision, fight harmful free-radicals, and boost immune system activity.


Blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain nutrients which include lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and quercetin. Similar to the previous nutrients, these nutrients support retinal health, lower LDL cholesterol, boost immune system activity, support healthy digestion, improve calcium and other mineral absorption, fight inflammation, reduce tumor growth, act as an anticarcinogens in the digestive tract, and limit the activity of cancer cells.


White fruits and vegetables contain nutrients such as beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG, and lignans that provide powerful immune boosting activity. These nutrients also activate natural killer B and T cells, reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, and balance hormone levels, reducing the risk of hormone-related cancers.


~Katie (kbueke@lifestart.net)

Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right

Tasty eating doesn’t have to be loaded with fat, sugar, and salt!  Check out simple techniques to enhance flavor while creating a nutritious & healthy meal or snack!

  • Perform high-heat cooking techniques like pan-searing, grilling, or broiling to intensify the flavors of meat, poultry, and fish.
  •  Add a variety of peppers – fresh green, red, or yellow, or even sweet, hot, and dried varieties to “pep” up the flavor.  Even a dash of tabasco sauce may do the trick. 
  • Grill or roast veggies at a hot temp (450 oF in oven) for a sweet and smoky flavor.  Brush lightly with oil to prevent drying out.
  • Cook onions low and slow in a small amount of olive oil to caramelize them into a rich, dark sauce over protein.
  • Simmer juices to make reduction sauces – heat the juices, don’t boil. Use as a glaze or healthy gravy.
  • Add small amounts of pomegranate seeds, chipotle peppers, or cilantro for bold flavor.  Or enhance sauces, soups, or salads with flavored balsamic or rice vinegars.
  •  Add citrus juice or grated citrus peel from lemons, limes, or oranges for a tangy taste.
  • Top meals or side dishes with grated cheeses like parmesan, sharp cheddar, feta, asiago, or bleu – they are strong in flavor, so a little bit goes a long way!
  • Dried ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, cranberries, or apricots can bring a twist to any ordinary dish.  Try plumping up the dried tomatoes and mushrooms by soaking in broth or cooking wine.  Do the same for dried fruits by soaking in apple juice. 
  • Good-quality condiments like horseradish, mustard, chutney, wasabi, hummus, tapenades, and salsas give a quick burst of flavor!
  • Experiment with new spices and herbs when preparing meats, vegetables, side dishes, and desserts.  Some pre-made seasoning packets are great options, but make sure to read the nutrition facts label to ensure there are no added salts or sugars.  Do you already have a large spice and herb rack?  Check out some popular uses below for those containers sitting in your kitchen cabinet.    
  • Allspice – desserts, quick breads, puddings, and pies; combination of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg
  • Basil – tomato dishes, Italian or Mediterranean dishes; partner with garlic, thyme, parsley, oregano
  • Chives – potatoes/onion dishes or garnishes for soups, salads, and beans; good with dairy products
  • Cilantro (Coriander) – salsas, beans, and Mexican dishes
  • Cinnamon – squashes, apples, or other fruits; partner with nutmeg, ginger, cloves, or cardamom
  • Cumin – curries, beans, and vegetables
  • Dill – soups, salads, tomatoes, cucumbers, dairy, cauliflower, or potatoes; good as stand-alone herb
  • Oregano – tomato sauces, cheese, soup; good with garlic, parsley, thyme, basil, tarragon, and marjoram
  • Peppers – sauces, soups, beans, chili, Mexican/Cajun dishes
  • Rosemary – bread stuffing, vegetables, sauces, lamb
  • Sage – meats or potatoes

~Nicole Olen, RD (nolen@lifestart.net)

Outdoor Running Rules… Don’t Be “That Guy (or Girl)”

The weather is finally warming up and you are ready to hit the ground running! Before you lace up your new kicks and head outdoors, there are a few precautions to keep in mind for trail newbies or those who forgot manners over the cold winter. J

  1.   Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Never fails, the first nice day of the season, the streets and sidewalks are flooded with runners…  you can always spot the newbies, they look like they are being tortured! Why? Probably because they decided to start running today and that 8 miles was a good idea…  or didn’t realize running outdoors is much harder than the treadmill …or possibly took off at lightning speed and wore themselves out too quickly. Don’t let this be you! Start slow and build up. Start with 1-3 miles, at a pace that feels comfortable, take walk breaks if you need it. Keep in mind conditions like wind and elevation are going to affect your muscles, be prepared for some soreness in your calves, shins, knees, hips and back. Your muscles have to generate more power to push you forward than on the treadmill and they are taking more impact on the harder surface.
  2.  Runners etiquette.. there are some “understood” rules between other runners. We can’t control cars, pedestrians, bikers or unruly children that get in our way but we can respect fellow runners. Generally driving rules apply, stay on the right side, pass on the left, avoid blind spots, etc. Try not to run in someone’s wake or use them as your pacer. It is acceptable to ask someone if you may pace off of them or run with them but stay quiet, not the time to make a new friend. Otherwise, stay 50 meters behind or move to the other side of the street. If you need to pass another runner, do so on the left, don’t sneak up (announce your intention to pass), don’t look back (this is taunting- not nice), make sure you are clear before cutting back in front of them. Don’t be “that guy” who sprints past and is walking a ½ block later.
  3. If you must run with music, keep it at a level where you are still aware of your surroundings, can hear other people and no one else has to hear your music.
  4. If your dog is your running partner…. USE A LEASH!!! Keep a short lead, someone could come from behind or around a corner at any minute.  Even the most-friendly well trained K9s are unpredictable. Other runners don’t know your dog, don’t like being jumped on and shouldn’t have to detour their course to avoid your best buddy.
  5. If you run with a human partner, you do not need to hold hands (I’ve seen this) or be side by side at all times and watch the road. Share the road, run single file in congested areas. Others shouldn’t have to squeeze between or around you.

Follow these simple rules and hit the road!

Starting a Walking Program

With spring just around the corner, many people are looking to spend more time outdoors in the nice weather. Walking is one of the simplest and cheapest options to increase your physical activity outside in the spring and summer months. Walking can also improve your overall health and allows you to get the benefits of physical activity recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association.

Benefits of Walking

-Significantly reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity

-Works several major muscle groups at once; knee extensors (quadriceps), hip extensors (hamstrings and gluteal muscles), and muscles of the lower leg (gastrocnemius, soleus, anterior tibialis, and arches of the feet)

-Weight bearing exercise that helps to maintain bone density

-Easy on the joints

How Do I Start a Walking Program?

-Find a place to walk safely. This can be around your neighborhood, in a park or recreational facility, or even in a mall or shopping center. Many malls have hours they are open for walkers before the stores open. Airports are also great places to walk while waiting for a flight

-Wear comfortable shoes that were made for walking. They should support your arches and have cushioning for your heels.  Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes appropriate for the weather. If you’re walking at dawn, dusk, or at night, wear light, reflective clothes.

-Start slowly and build up the time you are spending walking to keep up your motivation and avoid overuse injury. Walking at a brisk pace (3-4 mph) will cover 1-2 miles in 30 minutes. ACSM recommends 150 minutes per week for health benefits. For weight loss, 250 minutes or more is recommended per week.

-Keep walking fun by mixing up your route. Add in hills or rough terrain. Vary your pace by adding in some speed or power walking. Walk with friends to make it more social.

-Use a pedometer to keep track of the number of steps you are taking. A daily goal for most adults is around 10,000 steps a day, which will qualify them as “active”. If your baseline is under that, try to add 1,000 more steps each day to get up to 10,000.


~Christine Giorgetti, BS, ACSM-HFS

Interval Training

How it works:

Your heart rate slows, you use oxygen more efficiently, you get faster - quickly, and you feel great from all those endorphins running around in your bloodstream.  Doing bursts of hard exercise not only improves cardiovascular fitness but also the body’s ability to burn fat, even during low- or moderate-intensity workouts.

It doesn’t take a lot of time so if you are in a crunch give it a try!


Warm up: 3 min

2 min- 4.5/ jog

1 min-3.4/ brisk walk

2 min- 5.2/ run

1 min- 3.4/ brisk walk

1 min- 6.5/ sprint

1 min- 3.4/ brisk walk

2 min- 5.2/ run

1 min- 3.4/ brisk walk

2 min- 4.5/ jog

1 min- 6.5/ sprint

Cool down: 3 min

* Speed given is a suggestion, adapt to your personal fitness level.  For variation change the grade with each level.

Interval training is not for everyone:

For anyone with heart disease or high blood pressure or who has joint problems such as arthritis or is older than 60, experts say to consult a doctor before starting interval training.  Although, it’s smart to consult a doctor if any preexisting health issues are known before starting any type of exercise routine.

~Katie (kbueke@lifestart.net)

Simple De-stressing Techniques

Stress affects everyone differently. Signs and symptoms include; headaches, backaches, neck aches, stomachaches, tight muscles, and clenched jaw. In addition, stress could affect your energy level and sleep schedule, i.e. feeling tired for no reason, having trouble sleeping, and having vivid dreams.  Emotional signs of stress are feelings of anxiety, anger, depression, helplessness, tension, short-temper, forgetful, impatience, or being easily irritated. Fortunately, stress can be dealt with in different ways. Below are 4 healthy, positive ways to deal with stress:

  1. Positive Self-Talk: to help you feel better, practice positive self-talk every day. This can be done in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed, or whenever you notice negative thoughts. Example: “I’ll do the best I can” instead of “I can’t do this”
  2. Emergency Stress Stoppers: These are little things you can do when you feel especially stressed out. Examples of these include: counting to 10 slowly, taking 3-5 deep breaths, stepping away from the situation and going for a walk, setting your watch 5-10 minutes ahead to avoid the stress of being late, breaking down big problems into smaller parts, or avoiding busy roads to stay calm while driving.
  3. Finding Pleasure: Find something you love to do in times of high stress to take your mind off it for a little while. This can be anything you love to do, such as: starting an art project, take up a new or old hobby, read a favorite book, have coffee with a friend, play golf, tennis, or ping-pong, sew or knit, listen to your favorite music, watch a favorite movie, play cards or board games, or go for a nature walk.
  4. Daily Relaxation: using relaxation techniques can help with keeping your mind calm. A popular technique is to lie down, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and picture yourself in a peaceful place. Picture the place clearly in your mind, keeping your eyes closed and focusing on deep breathing for 5-10 minutes. Try to do this every day to stay relaxed.

Christine Giorgetti, BS, ACSM-HFS

Nutrition Myths: Setting the Record Straight!

Myth: Carbs make you Fat

Take Home Message: Typically, 45-65% of total daily calories should come from carbohydrates for fuel and energy.  Choose complex carbs with lots of FIBER.  Excess calories, regardless of the source (carbs, protein, or fat), lead to weight gain.

Myth:  Fat is Bad

Take Home Message: Fat is essential in the diet.  Fat is filling, enhances taste, and supports fat burning.  Therefore, it is needed for weight loss.  Increase healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and eat less saturated and trans-fats! 

Myth:  Fat-Free Foods are Calorie-Free

Take Home Message: Fat-free foods are often lower in calories than the full-fat portion, but many have added sugar, flour, starch, or thickeners to improve texture and flavor after removing fat – which add calories.  Check nutrition labels. 

Myth:  Sea Salt is Healthier than Table Salt

Take Home Message: Both salts are roughly identical.  Sea salt is typically more expensive. 

Myth:  High Fructose Corn Syrup is worse than Table Sugar

Take Home Message:  Both HFCS and table sugar are built with roughly a 50-50 blend of two sugars: fructose and glucose.  Your body can’t tell one from the other.  HFCS is added to more food items because it’s cheap.  It’s best to cut out all unnecessary sugars.

Myth:  Organic Produce is Healthier

Take Home Message: Organic produce is almost nutritionally identical to its conventional counterpart. The only issue is pesticide exposure.  If worried about pesticides, buy organic produce with edible skins like grapes, apples, peaches, celery, and cucumber.  Save your money on produce with impermeable skins like avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, bananas, onions, and mangos.

Myth:  Dark Bread is Healthier than White Bread

Take Home Message: Can’t judge bread by its color!  Read the nutrition facts label.  Choose breads with the 1st ingredient as 100% whole wheat/whole grain or another whole grain like oats or barley.  Beware of enriched wheat flour, which is basically white flour.

Myth:  No Calories after 8 PM

Take Home Message: It’s more important what you eat versus when you eat!  Calorie intake and output needs to be balanced for weight maintenance.  It is typically the overconsumption, not the 8 PM curfew, which is affecting your weight control!  If you are hungry at night, then eat.  However, make sure to fuel your body with the right foods over the course of the entire day.

Myth:  Eating Extra Protein Builds Muscle

Take Home Message: Protein, calories, the right strength routine, and most importantly carbs are essential for muscle growth. Carbs are the main fuel source for a weight-training workout.  After workouts, carbs need to be consumed for replenishment, muscle growth, and recovery.  Carbs help build muscle by allowing the building blocks of protein into the muscle cell for production.

Myth:  Margarine is Always Better than Butter

Take Home Message: Not all margarines are created equally!  Try switching to a margarine that doesn’t have trans-fats but has a very high monounsaturated fat count, which is very heart healthy.  Margarines typically have less saturated fat compared to butter, but check the ingredients label for added trans-fats or hydrogenated/partially-hydrogenated oils, which are the same thing.

Myth:  Gluten-Free and Paleo Diets are Healthier

Take Home Message: Gluten needs to be avoided by individuals with Celiac disease.  Gluten is typically found in whole-grain foods which are high in B vitamins, iron, & fiber, which can help lower risk of certain diseases!  Therefore, it is not recommended for the general public.  While the Paleo diet promotes good nutritional patterns like more fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and less processed foods, it also discourages intake of dairy, legumes, and grains.  All food groups are essential for a well-rounded diet!

Myth:  It’s got to be Fresh

Take Home Message: Frozen and canned produce can be just as nutritious as fresh.  Buy fresh in season, and opt for frozen and canned items when on sale. Make sure to check food labels for no added sugar/salt and no added cheesy or creamy sauces.  

SUMMARY: How does one decide between nutrition fact and nutrition fiction?  Be wary of the media and seek out the advice of a Registered Dietitian! RD’s are nutrition professionals that use evidence-based science and continued education for all nutritional recommendations and suggestions!

Nicole Olen, RD, LDN – General Manager, LifeStart at Hamilton Lakes Athletic Club

100 Rep Countdown Workout

Perform all repetitions before moving on to the next exercise*   

Exercises can be performed at home or in the gym, good-luck! 

  • 100 Jumping Jacks
  • 90 Swiss ball Crunches
  • 80 Squats (add weights for a challenge)
  • 70 Second plank
  • 60 Alternating Lunges
  • 50 Mountain Climbers
  • 40 Bicep Curls
  • 30 Jumping Jacks
  • 20 Push-ups
  • 10 Squat Jumps  
  • 5  minute run on treadmill or elliptical 
  • 1 minute Wall-sit