Danger Zone Gym

When others are crackin', we're still attackin'

Don't Exercise on an Empty Stomach

Put some gas in your tank before starting your workout. Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for exercise, so 30 to 60 minutes before exercise eat something that is easily digested and carbohydrate-rich. Great pre-workout snacks are:

  • Low-fat fruit yogurt 
  • A banana 
  • A slice of 100 percent whole grain toast with fruit preserves 
  • A small bowl of oatmeal with sliced strawberries or apples

Before workouts lasting 90 minutes or more, a more substantial pre-workout meal is appropriate to help your stomach feel satisfied throughout the exercise session. A balanced meal before a workout could be:

  • Low-fat fruit yogurt with a sprinkle of granola and sliced pecans 
  • Sliced banana and natural peanut butter spread on 100 percent whole grain crackers 
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies and a slice of 100 percent whole grain toast with fruit preserves 
  • A bowl of oatmeal with sliced fruit and a side of cottage cheese or chicken sausage

Power Up Your Runs

Adding wall sits to the end of every run will strengthen your quads, hamstrings and glutes, improving your speed and endurance. Lean against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart, then squat until your knees are bent at 45 degrees. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds; work up to doing 10 sets. Add a challenge by including heel raises: Lift your left heel, then the right, then lift both together twice.

Just 20 Minutes

Holidays are certainly joyous, but family gatherings, holiday parties, and office functions can bump running right off your to-do list. Fortunately, you don't need to run for hours to maintain your fitness during this busy time of year. The following 20-minute (or less) workouts cover all the bases of strength, speed, and endurance well enough so you can start the New Year strong.

BUILD STRENGTH Find a nearby hill. After a five-minute jog, run up the incline. At the top, walk for 30 to 60 seconds, then run back down. Walk for one to two minutes. Repeat the sequence two to three times. Do the workout once a week, adding an additional one to two repeats.

BUILD SPEED Go to a local track or jogging trail with distance markers. Jog for five minutes. Run at an easy pace for half a lap (or one-eighth of a mile). Note how long it took to run the half-lap. Walk the remainder of the lap. Continue walking for two minutes. Repeat the sequence two to four times, each time aiming to complete the run portion of the lap one to two seconds faster. Do this once a week, adding segments as you feel comfortable.

BUILD ENDURANCE Stringing together several 20-minute runs across a single day can boost your stamina. Identify a weekend day that's destined for a lot of "hurry up and wait." Run for 20 minutes at a pace that's three minutes per mile slower than your regular pace. Return home, spend the next 30 to 90 minutes doing work around the house, then head out for another run. Every seven to 14 days, do up to three of these segments.

BUILD WHOLE-BODY FITNESS Make up a home-gym circuit: Walk (or run) the stairs for one minute, do push-ups for 15 seconds, walk for one minute, do crunches for 30 seconds, walk for one minute, lift hand weights for 30 seconds, then walk for one minute. Repeat as time allows.

Rules for Good Nutrition

Eating healthfully doesn't have to be a chore. In fact, small changes in your daily routine can mean huge gains in health and fitness levels - no calorie counting necessary.

Eat More Whole Foods - Here’s a rule of healthy eating that will serve you well when picking out foods: The shorter the ingredients list, the healthier the food.

Drink Responsibly - Be extra careful about the juice you purchase. Too many “juices” are little more than sugar water masquerading as the real thing. Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry, for instance, has just 15 percent real fruit juice. The other 85 percent? High-fructose corn syrup and water. Make sure the juice you buy says “100 percent Fruit Juice” on the label, and try to choose one made from a single fruit, not a mix of high-sugar fruits like white grapes, which are commonly used in fruit juice blends.

Snack With Purpose - There’s a big difference between mindless munching and strategic snacking. Snacking with purpose means reinforcing good habits, keeping your metabolic rate high, and filling the gaps between meals with the nutrients.  Combat portion distortion by eating healthy snacks: Triscuits and peanut butter; string cheese; or a sandwich bag filled with homemade popcorn.

Never Skip Breakfast - People who skip breakfast are less likely to exercise, and more likely to follow fad diets or express concerns about body weight. Common reasons cited for skipping were lack of time, lack of hunger, or dieting.  People who eat breakfast tend to have higher total calorie intakes throughout the day, but they also get significantly more fiber, calcium, and other micronutrients than skippers do. Breakfast eaters also tended to consume less soda and French fries and more fruits, vegetables, and milk.  Breakfast eaters were approximately 30 percent less likely to be overweight or obese. (Think about that—people who eat breakfast eat more food, but weigh less!)