Cycling Colorado

Riding your bike is good for your body, mind, and wallet

May is National Bike Month. Established in 1956, National Bike Month aims to encourage people to take up cycling, educate the public about the benefits of biking and to act as a voice to advocate for cyclists at the local, state and federal levels.

The bicycle was introduced to Europe in the 19th century and has since become one of the most prolific forms of transportation throughout the world. Twice as many bikes have been produced in the world then cars. William Saroyan, a Nobel prize winner, once said that the “bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind”.

Bikes have been the principle form of transportation for billions of people around the world for the past 100 years. Although in America we’ve changed from bike pedals to those on vehicles, biking is making a comeback in the US, and it’s in large part thanks to events like National Bike Month. Read on to learn more about the benefits of cycling.

Cycling is a great form of cardiovascular exercise. Cardio is an important aspect to staying in shape, good for your heart health, and boosts your metabolism even after you’re done exercising (meaning you burn more calories). Biking is one of the best forms of cardio because not only is it fun but also lower impact than many other forms of cardio.

Exercise reduces stress. Studies show that people who bike to work have lower levels of stress than those who drive, and it makes sense. After a long day of work, riding on a bike path is surely more enjoyable than being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. A 180 lb man biking for 60 minutes at 14 mph burns 816 calories; totaling 1600 calories burnt a day just commuting. That’s equivalent to burning two and a half pounds of fat per week.

Biking saves you money. Commute Solutions (a company that specializes in coming up with alternatives to commuting) estimates that the average 10 mile commute to work in your car costs around $10 – when adjusted for gas, insurance, maintenance, initial costs and indirect fees.

It’s a great time to be a cyclist. On top of numerous improvements in technology that have made bikes lighter and more comfortable to ride, cyclists are gaining more traction in both local and national legislatures. The amount of public funds going towards cycling projects like bike lanes and bike paths has increased dramatically and resulted in a large increase in cyclists (289% according to the New York City Department of Transportation).

With more and more people on the road, we need to remember that safety is the most important thing. Always wear a bike helmet and understand the rules of the road. Colorado Bike Law is dedicated to educating cyclists about their rights across our state. Make sure that if you’re out on the road, you understand your rights and how to get places safely.

May is bike to work month and June 24th is bike to work day in Colorado. Take advantage of our great summer weather and get outside and ride your bike. You’ll get in better shape, save some money, and increase your personal satisfaction.

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Mother's day ideas

7 Ideas to Make this Mother’s Day Special

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. One day devoted to appreciating the beloved women in our lives. For someone who did so much (and probably still does) one day is hardly enough, so the least we can do is make sure their day is extra special – beyond just the typical flowers and pedicures. Here are some ideas to show our leading ladies how important they are to us:

  • Grab brunch. It’s her special day, and she’s probably going to want to catch some extra zzz’s by sleeping in – she’s earned it. Bruch is a great way to grab a late breakfast and there are so many places in the Denver Metro area with delicious brunch menus. For something a little different try afternoon tea at the Brown Palace, which features scones, tea pastries and tea sandwiches along with a variety of delicious tea flavors.
  • Check out some art. The Denver Art Museum is the largest art museum between the West Coast and Chicago and is known for its American Indian art. General admission is free for kids. Also check out the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, which features an extensive collection of interior decorative art from 1875 to 1990.
  • Get some gardening inspiration. Mother’s day in Colorado is synonymous with the start of growing season. The Denver Botanical Gardens is North America’s largest collection of plants from cold temperate climates around the world, and features numerous xeriscaped exhibits with drought-tolerant plants from around the world.
  • Take her to a Rockies Game. This Sunday, the Rockies face off against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in what should be an exciting divisional matchup. Rockies games are great fun for the whole family, and Coors Field is one of the most enjoyable places to spend a day outside. After the game, there are plenty of places to grab a nice dinner in LoDo.
  • Bike ride on Cherry Creek Trail. If we’re lucky enough to get a reprieve from the rain, take a bike ride down the Cherry Creek Trail. You can rent bikes from Denver B-Cycle, picking them up at DU or Cherry Creek, and taking them to Downtown Denver.
  • Colorado Chocolate Festival. This festival runs Friday and Saturday of Mother’s Day Weekend. What better way to treat your mom or wife than to “30,000 sq. feet of Chocolate Heaven”?
  • Take a tour at Celestial Seasonings. You’ll see the whole process from raw ingredients all the way to your cup. Along the way you’ll get to sample many of their tea flavors. The trip really gets interesting when you get to the mint room — the smell is intense!

One day a year doesn’t seem like enough time to appreciated the awesome women in our lives, but we can at least make their day at little more special. What are you planning for Mother’s Day?

Brain Health Shmrain Health: Keys to Healthy Brain Living

When you think about health what comes to mind? Nutrition, fitness, maybe even stress-relieving activities? What about brain health? Cognitive decline is a scary concept, but what can we do about it? Studies have shown that embracing healthy lifestyle habits not only improves one’s overall health but can also slow and even halt cognitive decline. It’s never too late to actively protect your brain. From teenage years into elderly living, the brain continually rewires and adapts. Start protecting your brain by adopting a lifestyle that includes plenty of exercise, a nutritious diet and staying cognitively and socially active. Read on to learn how these easy changes can keep your brain mentally sharp.

Exercise
Staying physically fit is the number one way to stay mentally fit. Similar to car care, brain tune-ups will not only increase performance but longevity as well. Sedative lifestyles without physical fitness negatively impacts brain function. The number one cause of Alzheimer’s and dementia is the building up of plaque in the brain. Decreased blood flow from lack of cardiovascular activities allows unchecked plaque growth, increasing the chances of, amongst other factors, cognitive decline. It’s never too late to start. Join the local gym, take exercise classes and start running, jogging, or walking. Start improving your brain and body health today.

Nutrition
Like mom used to say, always eat your veggies! Vegetables and fruit should be consumed everyday. Alzheimer’s Association research has indicated that low-saturated and low-fat diets reduce chances of heart disease and cognitive decline. Decrease your intake of fats, red meats, sweets and sugared beverages and sodium. Focus on fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Instead of butter, try healthy fats such as olive oil. Instead of salt, try incorporating herbs and spices. Many diseases of the body are linked to diet and consumption. Choose a healthier diet to protect your heart and mind.

Mental Sharpness
Challenging yourself is a sure way to improve mental fitness. Learning a new skill, developing a hobby and reading more are just a few examples of positive mental activities. Start playing table tennis. Table tennis is the best activity for your brain, and is one of the few physical activities considered a ‘brain sport’. Table tennis improves motor skills, strategy, memory and is a great social activity. Stay mentally sharp, use it or lose it!

Socially Active
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, social engagement is associated with reduced rates of disability and may also reduce the risk of depression. Instead of messaging someone online, talk to them in person or call them on the phone. Strike up conversations with others and listen to what they have to say. Social engagement is a fundamental element for self-sustainability and preservation. Protect your noggin and get social.

Start protecting your brain today. Body builders did not become chiseled by exercising every now and again. Dedication to their craft got them to their goal. You too can reach your goals by setting small objectives to reach, building up confidence and genuine fulfillment. Make plans to set aside time for your brain. Make notes and keep track of activities. Log your achievements and work towards bettering your mind and body. Brain health should be a serious concern. Living a healthy lifestyle has permeable effects on your life and those around you. Stay active, eat healthy and socialize. Challenge yourself along the way and promote healthy living in everything you do.

Get Up! Sitting Too Long is BAD for Your Health

Everyone sits. Whether in the car, at work, or on the couch, sitting is part of our everyday lives. Colorado is one of the healthiest states, but even the slightest idle lifestyle can have lasting negative effects on your body. We all sit from time to time, but when does too much warrant health concerns?

According to the MayoClinic, Americans live in a sitting culture. The MayoClinic describes this problem as “Sitting Disease.” By sitting most of the day you increase the risk of health problems. Researchers at Northwestern University and the Journal of Physical Activity & Health both found a strong connection between inactive lifestyles and an increased chance of future physical disability. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys advocates for Americans to cut their daily sitting time in half. By reducing sitting time to three hours a day or less, you can increase life expectancy by two years.

Ergotron is one company at the forefront of promoting, “healthier, more productive environments for digital life and work styles around the globe.” In efforts to reverse the sitting standard, Ergotron launched JustStand, aimed to educate about dangers of excessive sitting and provide simple solutions. Compared to sitting, standing:

  • Increases energy and burns calories
  • Strengthens blood flow and enhances focus
  • Improves posture and relieves stress

Although we live in a sitting culture, we can take measures to live healthier standing lifestyles. Here are some tips to combat Sitting Disease:

While Commuting

  • Choose an alternative mode of transportation, such as walking or riding a bike.
  • Park further away, allowing for a longer walk to the office.
  • If using public transportation, choose to stand instead of sit.

In the Office

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. More time on your legs increases circulation and reduces idleness.
  • Sitting for long periods? Stand and stretch. Set a timer to remind yourself to stand up and relieve tension and stress.
  • Making a phone call? Stand and walk around. Movement increases focus and brain activity.
  • Sending an email in-house? Walk to your recipient’s office instead.

At Home

  • Make food at home. Move around the kitchen and get cooking!
  • While watching TV, get up and move around during commercials.
  • Clean up around the house. Afterwards, you’ll be glad you did!
  • When sitting, improve your posture by sitting up and straightening your back.

Similar to other addictive behaviors, sitting can be just as costly to the mind and body. As detrimental as this problem can be in our daily lives, there are easy ways to improve movement, circulation and focus. As we become accustomed to inactivity, we must continually be reminded of lasting negative effects. By making one easy change every day to move more, you can make positive and lasting health improvements. What simple changes are you incorporating to move more? Share your tricks in the comments below.

Our Favorite Family Friendly Ski Resorts

Skiing is a core component of living in Colorado, an integral part of our history and culture, and one of the most enjoyable ways to spend time outdoors during the winter. We are lucky to have nine ski resorts along the Front Range within a two-hour drive. However, with rising costs and heavy traffic sometimes the hassle may not seem worth it.

We have compiled a list of our favorite family friendly ski resorts along the Front Range to ensure everyone has a great day:

1) Loveland Ski Area Situated 12 miles outside of Georgetown right at the Eisenhower tunnel, Loveland ski area provides all the aspects of a world class ski resort for a fraction of the cost. They have a separate bunny hill away from the rest of the mountain, which means less pressure on beginners, and an excellent ski school. Couple all that with an average of 423 inches of snow per year (more than any other Front Range resort) and you have a hidden gem. Cost of a day pass: Adult $63, Children (6-14) $28, children 5 and under free.

2) Eldora 21 miles West of Boulder, above the town of Nederland, lays Eldora ski resort. Eldora stands out for its inexpensive ski passes, non-existent lift lines, and easy terrain—making it a great choice to learn how to ski. Added bonus: since Eldora is situated off the beaten path there’s no having to jockey traffic to get up and down I-70. Cost of a day pass: Adult $89, Children (6-15) $49, children 5 and under free.

3) Arapahoe Basin The Legend—one of the oldest ski resorts in Colorado, A-Basin has great expert terrain for those who are looking for more of a challenge. Their high alpine terrain also means that they are one of the first resorts opened in all of North America each season, and one of the last to close. The atmosphere at A-Basin is second to none, and everyone is in high spirits, making this as fun a place as any to ski. They also offer ski lessons that accommodate all types of skiers and snowboarders. Cost of a day pass: Adult $85, youth (15-18) $70, child (6-14) $40, children 5 and under free.

4) Copper Mountain Copper is a local favorite of many Denver area skiers offering naturally divided terrain, large 4-person and 6-person lifts that access beautiful corduroy groomers and inexpensive and discount lift tickets. Coupled with their ski school, Copper Mountain offers a ski school program known as Copper Choppers, which buses kids up and back from locations throughout the Denver Area, and takes them to the mountain where they get ski and snowboard lessons. Cost of lift ticket: Adult $138, Children (6-12) $69, Children 5 and under free.

5) Winter Park/Mary Jane Another local favorite, Winter Park sits on the other side of Berthoud Pass and avoids much of the dreadful traffic that is associated with I-70. This Mountain has everything: great easy terrain for beginners, a separate mountain “Mary Jane” for more difficult skiing, free and easily accessible parking, and a great atmosphere. They also offer a program similar to Copper Choppers known as the Eskimo Club. Cost of a day pass: Adult $129, Child (6-12) $74, children 5 and under free.

If you are looking for affordability, numerous ski resorts offer reduced lift ticket prices and 4-pack deals, which are far more inexpensive to buy in the summer. The State of Colorado also has a program where 5th graders can ski at 20 different ski areas for three days apiece, free of charge! And 6th graders only have to pay $99 for four days! Learn more about this program here. Remember, with any physical activity safety is of top importance so be sure to wear a helmet and proper equipment.

Skiing and snowboarding is one of the best ways to spend one’s winter, and our family favorite resorts are affordable, easily accessible, and provide great terrain to learn to ski and snowboard. What is your favorite resort to ski/snowboard? Why should your resort be on our list? Tell us in the comments below.

Take Care of Yourself First to Stay Merry and Bright this Holiday Season

Hanukkah has started and Christmas Day is just one week away, quickly followed by Kwanzaa and New Years. This special time is synonymous with spending time with family and friends, feasting, opening presents, attending holiday parties and more. However, too often we lose the meaning behind what makes this time of year special by getting overwhelmed with our holiday to-do lists. Amid the rush of last minute shopping, wrapping and baking stress can take the “ho-ho-ho” out of the festivities.

According to Everyday Health (http://bit.ly/1wZYocY), stress can cause forgetfulness and concentration loss, acne, headaches, nausea and a weakened immune system. Here are some tips to help de-stress so you can enjoy every minute of holiday magic:

Plan Ahead: Balancing numerous responsibilities and expectations is one of the primary causes of stress during the holidays, especially during the final days of preparation. Plan ahead to manage your time. Some things can wait; make lists to prioritize tasks and take care of the most urgent matters first. Utilize evenings after the kids are asleep to wrap gifts or address Christmas cards while cookies are baking in the oven. Don’t forget to schedule time for the fun stuff also: watching holiday movies, decorating the tree or going ice-skating.

Exercise. The importance of this can’t be reiterated enough. Exercising is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Whether running, walking, doing yoga, lifting weights or skiing—get moving! Health.com promotes physical activity, which give you natural stress relieving endorphins and boost your mood for up to 12 hours (http://bit.ly/1wGrlIL). You will also sleep better if you keep active – and sleep is key to stress reduction. Plus, a little daily sweat will keep those extra pounds off and ensure you feel great at every holiday party!

Eat Well. We are what we eat. Eating well is essential for improving overall mood and staying stress free. Eating unhealthy foods can make us feel sluggish and tired, not to mention adding unnecessary pounds during an already indulgent time of year. Make sure you eat breakfast everyday, especially before shopping and baking marathons, to feel full and satisfied. Pack a granola bar, some fresh veggies or a few hard-boiled eggs to eat on the go when hunger strikes rather than resorting to fast food or treats. When you do try those cookies or sweet treats, add something with protein to temper the sugar high – and low.

Practice Mindfulness. We can spend far too much time looking forward to and preparing for an upcoming event that we forget to enjoy the present – and the event. Stop and look around to see all you have for which to be grateful. In addition – try as much as possible to stick with your normal routine—continue book club, yoga, or whatever ‘me’ time you take for yourself. Living in the now can help you appreciate what you already have, rather than thinking about what isn’t done. Watch a holiday movie with your kids, go-out for a romantic date night—before we know it, the season will be past. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, close your eyes and take three or four deep breaths to re-center your mood. And remember the joy of the season – research shows that doing a small something that’s nice for someone else – as simple as smiling – will improve your day even more than theirs.

Say no. Learning to say no is important for staying stress free. Getting caught up trying to please everyone makes us forget about ourselves. If you don’t have time to do a favor for a friend or committing to another social engagement might increase stress levels, it’s fine to say no. Sometimes, simply accepting that not everything needs to be perfect can greatly reduce stress. Again, prioritize what is most important, and be willing to let some other stuff slide in favor of your mental well-being.

Appreciate the true magic of the season by keeping your stress in check. Have other tips to keep calm and still celebrate? Share them with us in the comments below.

3 Ways to Keep off those Holiday Pounds

It might seem early for Christmas music and Hanukkah lights, but every year the holiday season seems to start a little sooner. As soon as the Halloween decorations are put away it’s time for Christmas lights, Hanukkah celebrations, pilgrims and turkey. Last week we talked about national diabetes awareness month, and how staying at a healthy weight greatly reduces your risk of developing Type II diabetes. The holidays make it hard to prevent putting on a few extra pounds, but we want to give you some ways to be proactive against those pounds.

Here are three areas that are most effective to help stave off the holiday weight gain:

Stay Active. People spend far more time indoors during this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you should allow the cold to keep you from exercising and staying active.

Colorado is arguably one of the best states for winter recreation look into picking up a winter hobby like skiing or snowshoeing. Or, if you really don’t like cold weather, get yourself a gym membership to avoid the shivers entirely.

Another idea is to take up a fitness class or join an indoor sports team (hockey or soccer, anyone?). Group activities are fun and make it easier to fulfill your fitness commitment. You can always find fitness videos online too, and there’s enough variety to do just about anything you want. BeFit’s YouTube Channel is an amazing resource for numerous types of workouts (abs, yoga, aerobic and anaerobic cardio) that you can perform without ever having to leave your living room. Remember, lack of exercise is the number one reason why people gain weight during the Holidays, so get moving.

Smart Tip: Aim for 3-30 minute sweat sessions a week minimum to elevate heart rate and kick start your metabolism and keep off the holiday weight gain.

Drink Water. It’s perhaps the unofficial motto of our state, and staying hydrated is just as important during the cooler months. Doctors recommend you drink at least eight-8oz glasses of water a day. Staying hydrated promotes a healthy body overall, and helps fight infections and illness as well as stimulating your metabolism to burn extra calories.

Drinking water also helps curb appetite. People often mistake thirst with hunger pains, and will grab something to snack failing to satisfy the initial craving. Try this—next time you start to feel hungry, grab a glass of water instead. Having 2 glasses of water during meals will help you feel full faster and has the side benefit of helping your metabolism process your meal.

Smart Tip: Carry a full bottle with you to drink in between meals-must finish before next meal.

Find healthy substitutes. Who doesn’t love the holiday feasts? But many holiday favorites are high in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fats—substitute them for healthier alternatives. Everyday Health has some great suggestions for substitutes of popular holiday food and drinks.

A personal favorite are roasted sweet potatoes. Simply cut and brush the sweet potatoes with a little olive oil, maybe some honey and cinnamon for additional flavor, and stick them in the oven for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. They are naturally sweet, full off vitamins and nutrients, and at only 100 calories a serving they make for a great substitute for candied yams.

Smart Tip: Indulgences help us not feel deprived. Look at your calendar and decide when to indulge each week, maybe at your company holiday party, or best friends cookie exchange. You deserve that treat!

There’s a reason Santa is a fat and jolly ol’ man. It’s because he eats cookies and drinks milk all day. Exercise, stay hydrated, and make smart and informed decisions with your diet and you’ll be on your way to a healthy holidays and an even healthier New Year.