Stay Fit This Fall

The arrival of fall doesn’t mean you have to give up exercising and do away with all the progress you made over the summer. Outdoor exercise in the fall can be even more enjoyable than in the summer months. Here are some tips to help you enjoy a safe and productive fall season of fitness.

Focus on safety. In the fall, the sun rises later and sets earlier. These shorter days make exercising outside a little trickier in terms of safety. If you find that your regular workout time has suddenly left you in the dark, be sure to wear reflective clothing so passing vehicles can see you. If you are running or walking, bring a flashlight or wear a headlamp. When riding a bike, consider outfitting it with reflectors, a headlight and a taillight. Also, pick a route you are familiar with.

Dress accordingly. One benefit of working out in the fall is the absence of the grueling summer heat. However, the change in weather does warrant more preparation for your outdoor workouts. Remember to wear layers of clothing that protect you from the wind and the cold.

Remember to enjoy the scenery. While working hard to achieve your fitness goals this fall, don’t forget to take in the extraordinary beauty around you. After all, the colorful foliage of autumn is a short-lived delight! You might even consider varying your usual routine to explore nearby parks or mountain trails where the changes in leaves are more prevalent. Other characteristically fall activities like apple picking, pumpkin picking, visiting a haunted corn maze and raking leaves are also fun alternatives.

Continue to drink plenty of water. Even though the heat of summer has given way to the cooler temperatures of fall, staying hydrated is just as important. Remember that hydration helps your body recover from your workouts. Although you may not feel as thirsty in the cooler weather, your body still needs those fluids.

Explore new activities. Autumn is a season of change, perhaps it’s time to bring on some change of your own. This fall might be the perfect occasion to give a brand new activity a try. Depending on your interests, you might consider tap dancing, spinning, fencing, boxing or yoga.

As the summer sun fades, safely discover all the exciting and new opportunities that the fall has to offer! As always, make sure to talk with your doctor before you begin any intense physical regime. Do you have any fall fitness tips? Please share below!

Gift Ideas for a Healthy Father’s Day

Father’s day, a time to thank the men in our life for all they do. This Sunday, give your dad a gift that will remind him you are thinking of him long after Father’s day passes by giving him something that will help keep him healthy and active.

enohammock

Let your dad kick back with the ENO Hammock. These are awesome, and quickly gaining popularity – for good reason. They can transform nearly any place into a personal lounge; all you need is two trees. Buy them with the attachable straps and you have an easy to set up, hassle free, relaxation tool. Where these really shine is in portable size, you can take them literally anywhere.

Get him into yoga with a Brogamat. A fun twist on a healthy activity, Brogramats have created yoga mats with a masculine twist. Mats and cases feature images of firewood, burritos, and toy soldiers. Durable quality, these mats are helping to shake the feminine image of yoga.

Help him find a new hobby: homebrew starter kit. Homebrewing is going through a renaissance in the United States. An easy, and inexpensive hobby to start, you can help your father find a new and exciting hobby brewing his own beer. He’ll love showing off his homebrew collections to friends and family when they visit his house, and if your lucky he’ll share some with you.

tenkara

Get him outside more with this tenkara kit. Tenkara is a form of traditional Japanese fishing. Similar to fly fishing, Tenkara differs in that you only need a rod and a line, whereas fly-fishing requires a reel. With less fly patterns, this type of fishing relies much more on technique than gear, and its minimal nature has only broadened its Zen appeal.

Help your dad find a movie with the Google Chromecast. The Chromecast is one extremely cool device. A less expensive alternative to the Apple TV and Amazon Fire, the Chromecast transforms any television into a fully capable streaming device. With a growing number of supported apps (HBOGo, Netflix, ESPN, etc.), and an expansive collection of movies and shows on the Google Play store, the Chromecast will keep your dad entertained for days on end and makes sure he will never miss his show.

Of course, great gifts don’t need a hefty price tag attached. Spend some quality time with Dad on Sunday by having a picnic in the park, going on a hike or organizing a neighborhood baseball game. This weekend’s forecast is calling for lots of sun, so the weather should be perfect to enjoy some outdoor time together – just don’t forget the sunscreen! How are you planning to celebrate on Sunday? Tell us your favorite things to do with Dad in the comments below!

mosquitoes are the world's most dangerous animal

Avoid Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus this Summer

It’s not lions, tigers, or bears (oh, my!) but rather the mosquito that is the deadliest animal in the world. It’s not even close. Known for carrying numerous diseases ranging from Dengue to Malaria, these tiny flying bugs kill more than 1 million people each year! The diseases they spread sicken millions more, and in some of the most infested areas they have altered human activity by forcing people to dislocate to avoid them.

In the United States, we’re lucky that mosquitoes rarely carry diseases as severe as these, but they can still cause damage beyond disrupting a camping trip. West Nile Virus (WNV) is the biggest threat from these bugs in the US, and in Colorado we have one of the highest rates of contraction of this mosquito carried disease. In the 2003 West Nile outbreak, there were roughly 3000 reported cases of WNV and 63 deaths in Colorado alone. Every year we hear about cases of West Nile popping up across the country; here are some steps to avoid pesky bites and avoid this dangerous disease.

Wear long sleeved shirts and pants outdoors. The proboscis (the “straw” the mosquito uses to suck up blood from its victim) isn’t long enough to penetrate most clothing, so wearing long sleeves and pants can go a long way to keep mosquitoes off your body. Hats, gloves, scarves also go a long way in keeping these bugs off you (though they may not be practical during the summer heat). If it’s covered up, the mosquito won’t be able to get to you. If you want to go even further, you can wear netting over your head. You might look a little silly, but you’ll have the last laugh when everyone else is applying calamine lotion.

Avoid or remove standing water. Nearly any standing water can house mosquito larvae. In nature these bodies of water include streams, wetlands, ponds and lakes. In your neighborhood and yard they breed in retention ponds and any other body of water, including small spaces such as an open bucket or plastic covers. Be sure you are proactive when you are near these types of areas, wearing appropriate clothing and applying repellant. If you have standing water on your property, remove it.

Try a Natural Mosquito Repellant. If you are worried about the chemicals in traditional bug sprays then you should try a natural bug repellant. Many oil extracts from sources like cinnamon, thyme, soybean and citronella provide natural relief from mosquitoes. If you’re sitting outside consider lighting a citronella candle, or burning rosemary over an open flame, to thwart those pesky critters. If you do use a DEET based repellant, remember you don’t need to spray these repellants on your open-skin; The American Mosquito Control Association states that people should avoid spraying high concentration DEET (50 percent or more) on their skin.

Avoid Mosquitoes’ Active Time. Mosquitoes are most active during the early morning and in the evening, although they are active around the clock. If you are going to be out during these peak times, make sure you take the necessary steps to avoid being bitten by covering your skin and using repellants (natural or DEET).

With all the rain we’ve gotten in the last month, there will be plenty of mosquitoes flying around this summer. If you take the necessary steps and precautions to prevent mosquito bites in the first place, you will greatly reduce your risk of contracting West Nile Virus. Make sure your family and friends know how to avoid being bitten and we can all enjoy a happier and healthier summer together. Do you have any other tips to avoid mosquito bites? Let us know in the comments below.

The Butterfly Pavilion is a great way to spend a rainy day

Making the most of a rainy day in Denver

From the beautiful scenery to wonderful weather, living in Colorado certainly has its advantages. Lately though our state hasn’t felt like itself, with rain and snow hitting the Front Range nearly every day for the past month – which doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. Don’t let a rainy day dampen your spirits, or ruin your memorial day plans; here are some fun ideas to have a great time with the whole family regardless of the weather.

Ski A-Basin. There’s one ski resort in the state with lifts still running. All the rain along the Front Range means snow at higher elevations. With a 60 inch base and all of its blue and black diamond runs open, not to mention reduced ticket prices for spring, there is still plenty of skiing to be had.

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science. From sprawling exhibits of dinosaurs, some of which once roamed the very grounds the museum is located on, all the way to the depths of space – The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has so much to offer to young and old alike. Its dozen or more (depending on new exhibits) exhibitions will keep you entertained through the day. A planetarium and IMAX screen on site are also great ways to combine entertainment and education.

Butterfly Pavilion. The Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, CO features more than 5000 species of invertebrates. These misunderstood creatures constitute over 97% of species on Earth, and there is so much to learn about these creepy crawlies. At the end of your tour you might even get the opportunity to hold the famous Rosie, a rose haired tarantula.

Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. Constructed in 1994 on the grounds of what is former Lowry Air Force Base, this museum features about 40 aircraft which once flew over our skies. You can view the history of the Air Base from the early 30’s across the century, seeing the airplanes that led our armies to victories in numerous theaters of war around the world.

Denver Aquarium. The largest aquarium between California and Chicago, the Denver Aquarium features more than 500 different species from all corners of the globe. A trip to the aquarium will take you to the jungles of Southeast Asia where Tigers roam, to the deserts of the Southwestern US putting you in the middle of a fast flood. It’s a great resource to learn about the importance of water in the Western US.

A rainy doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. Make the most out of this weather by taking advantage of many of our great local museums and zoos, learning a thing or two along the way.

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.

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?

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Obesity is something that has become a continuous struggle for America. What’s worse, obesity has become a problem for adolescents and children, as well. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (http://1.usa.gov/1kchnoB), obesity rates among children and adolescents have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. In 1980, only 7% of children 6-11 years old, and only 5% of adolescents from 12-19 years old, were considered obese. Today, those numbers are 18% and 21%, respectively. This is an issue that we must address for the health of our communities.

Health Concerns

Children who are obese are far more likely to have medical complications than other children. Some of the basic health concerns they are more likely to face include: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and bone & joint problems. These concerns affect millions of Americans, and can lead to more serious health issues.

Obesity in children makes them high-risk for several more serious conditions as well, such as: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis. At best, some of these conditions make life more difficult; at worst, these conditions can lead to death.

Prevention

Prevention of childhood obesity requires a conscious effort to instill good habits in both your children and yourselves. Fortunately, the two best ways to prevent obesity are also fun and tasty. The two basic practices that have the strongest impact are eating a healthier diet (whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, lean meat and other proteins) and getting regular physical activity (have fun! – sports, family walks or just running around the back yard).

Two places that play vital roles in preventing childhood obesity are the home and the school. Home is where the foundation for these healthy habits is laid, and consistency is key. Everybody in the household must be accountable for following and modeling this lifestyle. School is another place that has a huge impact on preventing childhood obesity. Help your schools do a better job providing healthy food options and daily physical activities for students. Some ways you can do this is by asking the school to include healthy options on the lunch menu, to provide healthier snack options other than candy machines and to promote activities during and after school to promote physical activity. Volunteering to sponsor an intramural club involving physical activity is a great way to “walk the walk.”

Beating and preventing obesity is often a challenge because it isn’t something that can be fixed with a doctor’s prescription. It takes a conscious effort and lifestyle change. For many, this is a constant struggle, but your kids are worth it.

For more information on National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, visit their website here: http://bit.ly/1lj1512

New Study Shows Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee and Tea

Here’s some good news for coffee and tea lovers.  A study released last week in Diabetalogica (http://bit.ly/1je8hdU) shows that drinking coffee and tea may lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes. In the study, individuals who consumed 4-6 cups of coffee or more than 5 cups of caffeinated tea per day saw a 42% decrease in their risk. This evidence joins a list of other health benefits that can be found from your favorite morning pick-me-up including reduced risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and dementia, plus a host of antioxidants.

This study was conducted through the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Over a 10 year period, questionnaires were sent to more than 40,000 participants. The benefit from increased coffee or tea consumption was seen after only 4 years and was statistically significant, even when other risk factors for diabetes were taken into account.

Diabetes occurs when the body can’t make enough or absorb insulin. Insulin signals cells to soak up glucose, formed from simple carbohydrates and sugar. Type 2 diabetes, often referred to as adult-onset diabetes, currently affects more than 20 million Americans (http://bit.ly/1jkerdI). More alarming, 9 out of 10 cases could be easily avoided by maintaining a healthy weight through exercise, diet and not smoking. As childhood obesity rates rise, the appearance of type 2 diabetes in children does as well. Coffee and tea, especially when coupled with healthy lifestyle changes, can drastically lower your risk for this disease.

It is still important to remember there are side effects to coffee and tea that should be taken into consideration. Primarily, the caffeine we all crave is a stimulant and can cause feelings of anxiety and racing heart rates. People with heart disease or who are prone to feeling anxious should talk to their physician before increasing heart rate. There also can be effects on the liver from drinking large quantities of green tea, so again, having a discussion with your physician is important if you are on other medications or have liver problems.

As with any lifestyle change, including increasing your consumption of coffee and tea, you should always talk to your physician first.