Tag: fitness

1 Arthur Prelle Bike

Bike to Work This Summer

National Bike to Work Day is May 19, and advocates for more greener transportation are encouraging all who can to give up their cars for a day and commute exclusively with their pedals. Philadelphia especially has made a huge push for greener commutes either on your own bicycle or on one of the public bikes available for rent throughout the city. There are lots of good reasons why you should give up your gas guzzler in favor of a more sustainable vehicle.

Reduced Traffic. If you’re stuck in stop-and-go traffic, you’ll likely call your significant other to say “I’m stuck in traffic,” when in fact, you are the traffic. The fact that you, too, are in a car taking up space means that you’re contributing to the traffic that everyone on the road is experiencing. On a bike, though, you won’t be taking up the space your car does, so you won’t have to deal with the effects of the traffic you would have helped create. Fewer cars on the road means less traffic for everyone. Win win.

Save Money. As costly as gasoline is, you can save significant money by choosing to ride a bike to work. As the old saying goes, cars run on money and make you fat — bikes run on fat and save you money! Just make sure you pack some baby wipes and business clothes so you don’t make a big presentation drenched in sweat.

Much-needed You Time. Especially if your commute has a tendency to be trafficky, you might be starting your day way more stressed than you need to. Studies have demonstrated that spending more time in nature will literally help you destress and find more peace. So, if you need to start your day with less ajida, hop on your bike and pedal your way to some pre-work tranquility.

Let your subconscious do the leg work. Cognition studies have shown that often, walking or biking help people solve problems they’ve been stuck on for a while. If you push some of your pressing issues to your subconscious while you walk or bike, you might be able to figure out what’s been plaguing you while you’re focused on your bike ride.

See Your Neighborhood. If you’re whizzing by on your daily commute, you may have no idea what shops you pass, the landmarks you’re missing, or the hole-in-the-wall restaurant that may become your next favorite. Biking will give you the opportunity to view your neighborhood at a more leisurely pace.

arthur_prelle_lose_weight

Change your House to Lose Weight

Believe it or not, your house might be working against your efforts to lose weight! Certain furniture arrangements or common household items may be discouraging you from being active, or worse yet, actively encourage sloth! If you plan on losing weight this spring and summer, you might want to clean out your living space and make sure it’s conducive to your weight loss goals.

Your plates and bowls might be too big. Instinctively, we fill our plates when we prepare meals and visually decide on an appropriate serving. If you have incredibly deep bowls or dinner plates twelve full inches in diameter, you’re probably regularly doubling or tripling recommended serving sizes. Go for smaller bowls, plates, and cups to encourage more prudent eating habits.

All your furniture encourages sitting. If every piece of furniture is angled towards a TV, your house is designed to encourage sloth — enter the home, sit down. This isn’t necessarily “bad,” but it does reduce your inclination to move. Rearrange your furniture so that you can exercise while you watch TV or stand while you’re working on your computer. These little opportunities add up over time.

Your exercise equipment is hard to get to. It’s not uncommon for exercise equipment like dumbbells, stationary bikes, and weight-lifting contraptions become nothing but expensive clothing hangers in time. If you want to make sure your surroundings encourage activity, fitness, and weight loss, make sure all your equipment is easily accessible and somewhere you see it all the time. If your bike is hidden in the back of your garage under mountains of miscellany, you’ll always find reason not to ride it. But, if you remove most of the impediments to exercising, you’ll find yourself doing it more often.  

Your food is visible and unhealthy. Most people keep their produce in the refrigerator and their junk foods in the cabinets, often overflowing onto counters and kitchen tables. Human brains put the vast majority of its sensory trust in our vision, so if all you see all day is chips and candy, your brain is going to internalize it and crave that. Luckily, this switch is super easy. Keep your fruits and veggies on the counters and visible, and reduce your junk food store to fit in a cabinet. That way, when you feel snacky, the first items in site are healthful and low-calorie.

You don’t get enough sun. For reasons both physiological and psychological, sunshine makes you want to get out and be active! If you spend most of your time in dark and cool spaces, your body takes that as a cue to stay still and conserve heat — that is, wrap up in a blanket and fall asleep to Law and Order. To encourage your body to be more active, set the thermostat in your house a little higher and make sure you let in plenty of sunlight.

These little tips cost next to nothing but could alter your lifestyle enough to ensure that you’re always looking for ways to be active and encourage yourself to be the best you possible.

Arthur Prelle | Walking and Hiking near Malvern, PA

Walking and Hiking near Malvern, PA

Daylight savings time has begun, meaning the days are lighter later, the weather will be steadily improving, and you can return to your regularly scheduled walks and hikes. Recently, National Geographic Magazine ran an article discussing the psychological and physiological benefits of spending more time in nature. In addition to the added exercise, being in nature helps your brain relax and de-stress, since our brains are often exhausted and overwhelmed.Arthur Prelle | Walking and Hiking near Malvern, PA

Arthur Prelle lives near Malvern, PA and enjoys exploring the botanical gardens and woods in south-eastern PA in his free time. Below are some of his favorite places to be immersed in nature.

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA: A gem in the multi-million dollar DuPont crown, Longwood Gardens is an enormous botanical garden with specimens of flowers, fruit trees, trees, and other plants from all over the world and from various stages of the earth’s development. From the vast outdoor walking gardens organized by color to the huge indoor greenhouses and mansions open to the public, Longwood gardens is the perfect place for either a stroll or a jog now that everything’s in bloom.

Horse-shoe Trail in Valley Forge, PA: This beautiful wooded trail has a strong history connected to the iron industry in the US during the 1700s and 1800s. According to the website, “The many furnaces and forges were connected by trails leading through the charcoal forests between them.  Portions of these trails have survived to become today’s Horse-Shoe Trail.” Today, the trail is maintained by the Horse-shoe Trail Conservancy and has been since 1935. For a historic walk through a wooded area, this is the trail for you.

The Scott Arboretum in Swarthmore, PA: Most of Swarthmore College is a registered arboretum maintained by students and members of the arboretum. The “Garden of Ideas” is open to the public from dawn until dusk for you to walk or jog through, read the plaques, and revel in the little liberal arts college feel for a little while.

Schuylkill River Trail: Extending upwards of 130 miles, the Schuylkill River Trail is a multi-use path for walkers, joggers, hikers, bikers, and more to explore and discover south-east and south-central PA. Four counties contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the trail, which was once just disconnected short trails. The trail is home to much Revolutionary War history, as the Schuylkill River was an important asset in the US fight for independence.

The Farm Park Preservation Association in Montgomery, PA: A non-profit organization, the FPPA prides itself on keeping up a 690 acre park safe from modernization. The park features buildings from the 18th century, a trout farm for fishing, paths for walkers, joggers, hikers, bikers, and more, and lots of wildlife for birding and nature photography. Visiting this park is like going back in time to a simpler age in American history.

Arthur Prelle | kettlebells

Kettlebells for Fitness

Arthur Prelle loves the intensity and pump of a kettlebell workout. The low-tech wonder of kettlebells offers a super-effective full-body workout in a short time frame.

Kettlebells are sometimes tucked away in the corners of health clubs and may look a bit weird, but they can provide one of the simplest, most effective workouts around. There is a wide range of challenging lifting and swinging movements that build both strength and cardio endurance. And unlike many resistance exercises, a kettlebell gets your whole body working at once.

Kettlebells keep Arthur Prelle in shape with only an hour or two of use per week. Pavel Tstsouline has several great resources for workouts including “Enter the Kettlebell!” Pavel says, “Whether your goal is losing fat, building muscle, or training for powerlifting, swimming or even golf, you can perform better if you work with kettlebells.”

Invented in the 18th century, kettlebells are particularly popular in Russia, where they have long been used to train elite soldiers. By the early 1980s, kettlebell competitions began to spread across the globe, and U.S. bodybuilders started bringing the techniques to their hometown gyms.

The secret behind this Russian import’s effectiveness? Its weight is centered below the handle, so when you swing it, nearly every muscle in your body has to work hard to counteract the momentum. “Unlike traditional free weights — which isolate certain muscle groups while the rest of your body is static — kettlebells are used in a continuous-motion, interval-style format that, research has shown, results in faster, more dramatic fitness gains,” says Michele Olson, PhD, FACSM, CSCS, an exercise scientist and strength coach at Auburn University Montgomery in Alabama.

In short, the kettlebell is a tool with tremendous work capacity; it’s designed to provide a brief but intense workout — for nearly anyone.

“Their simple design and versatility make it the ideal tool for beginners, while the cardiovascular and strength-endurance components of kettlebell training challenge even the most conditioned athletes,” says Dallas Hartwig, PT, MS, CSCS, a longtime kettlebell enthusiast and CrossFit trainer in Brunswick, Maine, who uses the tool to improve his own performance in mountain biking, competitive volleyball, climbing and skiing.

No matter what your fitness level, kettlebell workouts can increase your strength, endurance, agility and balance.

How you use kettlebells, like any fitness tool, depends on your goals. “If you want to increase work capacity and endurance, focus on the ballistic [fast-moving] exercises such as jerks, swings and snatches, all of which keep your muscles moving and your heart rate up,” suggests Mike Mahler, a Las Vegas kettlebell instructor and creator of Mahler’s Aggressive Strength: Beginner Kettlebell Training Workshop (Aggressive Strength LLC, 2002).

For example, you can pick one exercise and do as many repetitions as possible in a 10-minute time frame — and set a goal not to put the kettlebell down for the entire 10 minutes. “In addition to getting you in great shape, this builds incredible mental toughness,” says Mahler. “If you want to build muscle as opposed to endurance, focus on compound strength exercises such as the clean and press, and do five to 10 sets of five to seven reps with one-minute breaks between sets.” (See “Clean & Press” below.)

Beginners should opt for a moderate weight (men usually start off with a 35- to 55-pound kettlebell; women usually start with between 15 and 35 pounds) and don’t increase it until you can do the moves with perfect form. Experts caution against going too light, however, because that can lead to cutting corners. “You’ll cheat because lighter weights are easier to move — you may not make your larger leg and hip muscles work as much as they should,” says Olson. “You also won’t get a whole-body workout, and you’ll burn fewer calories,” she says.