Keeping to your running routine is a challenge at any time of year. Finding the energy to get up out of bed at dawn or go for a jog after work takes dedication – which may be in short supply more often that we’d like.
Still, one way to make running a little easier is to wear comfortable clothes and gear. This is especially true in winter, helping to maintain a pleasant temperature and prevent overheating.
If you’re keen to stay in shape through the colder months, take a look at our clothing rules for winter running for the advice you need …
Layer Up, Strip Down
Don’t just head out into the cold wearing a bulky hooded top with nothing underneath. Why?
Well, as you get into your rhythm, you’ll start to warm up – and if you feel too hot, you’ll want to pull that heavy thing off. Unless you love jogging topless, this is unlikely to be the best move.
Wear a base layer (ideally, a wicking thermal, with long sleeves), a T-shirt, and a zip-front hoody. As you heat up, you’ll be able to take that outer shell off, and then the T-shirt, leaving yourself with a base layer.
Be sure to buy your workout gear in fairly loose sizes, so you can remove tops easily and quickly.
Be Seen at All Times
Unless you’re running between daylight hours, chances are you’ll be out there in the dark during winter. Most of us find time to run before and after work, putting you into a slightly more dangerous situation.
When you’re running along roads, down country lanes, and in the city, you have to stay visible. It only takes one driver to miss you as you’re crossing the street to cause an accident.
Wear a high-visibility vest over your top, illuminated armbands, or strobing LED lights that clip to your clothes.
Be Willing to Change Straight Away
After your run, be sure to take your sweaty clothes off right away. Leaving your running gear on can leave you vulnerable to catching a chill, and make you colder as your body starts to sweat to cool you down.
Don’t Forget your Hands
Make sure you wear gloves. It’s easy to focus on keeping your torso and legs warm, but your hands are still just as vulnerable to the cold when you’re running.
Wear thin gloves which are resistant to the wind and rain. Ideally, they will be small enough to roll-up into your pockets if need be. Your gloves should also be fine enough to let you handle drinks and eat snacks without dropping them.
You may also want to put your gloves into a waterproof backpack, as with any snacks or drinks.
Spray your Sneakers Dry
Waterproofing your sneakers will help your feet stay dry and comfortable when running on wet days. We all know the frustration of tramping through a puddle and having to cope with damp socks the rest of your run.
Invest in a waterproofing spray, and treat your sneakers every couple of weeks.
Get a decent wardrobe of running clothes and accessories together for winter, and you’ll likely find your motivation staying at a high level – it’s easier to get yourself out there when you know you’ll stay comfortable.
People at almost every level of fitness can try cycling to stay healthy.
From young children accompanying Mom and Dad on a leisurely ride to Grampa enjoying a Sunday trek, cycling holds universal appeal. However, if you’re looking to compete in races, master high-octane tricks, or break world records, you have to be in the best shape possible.
Why? Not only do you need strong muscles and powerful reflexes for maximum control over your bike, you also have to work on your endurance. After all, the longer you can perform at the peak of your abilities, the better your results.
You’ll need to actually get off your bike to build a tougher body, though. Check out these four exercises for a little inspiration …
Crunches to Hone your Core
Don’t confuse crunches with sit-ups. You don’t need to bring your torso upright to make maximum impact on your abs.
Instead, lie flat on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor (you might want to slip them under your bed or ask a friend to hold them in place). Put your arms behind your head (without pushing on it) or stretched forward, with your hands on your thighs.
Now, curl your torso up, slowly, towards your knees. Get your shoulders elevated around four or six inches, without actually sitting fully. Lower yourself, and repeat.
Aim for between three and five sets of 10 to start with.
Squats to Refine your Legs
Squats are a fantastic way to strengthen your calves and thighs, building explosive power. They do take a toll on your first attempts, but you’ll notice the difference to your cycling over time.
Stand with your feet in line with your hips, and your abs taut. Then, bending your hips and knees, lower to a squat position. Stop when your thighs are parallel with the floor, and then rise.
You might want to perform this with a dumbell in each hand, or with your arms out in front of you.
Aim for three sets of 12, and then stop.
Planks for your Core, Back, and Shoulders
While crunches work your core too, planks also strengthen your shoulders and lower back at the same time.
These bodyweight exercises are simple to perform, requiring no equipment. Just lie on your front, and then come up onto your forearms and toes. Tighten your abs.
Hold this position for between 10 – 20 seconds, rest, and then repeat two more times.
As you get more used to it, increase the number of seconds or add more sets.
Burpees for your Whole Body
Anyone who’s had experience with burpees may break out into a cold sweat … but don’t worry: they’re not as bad as you remember!
Start off standing, before dropping into a squat, with your fingertips on the floor in front of you. Then, press your palms flat to support your weight as you kick your legs back behind you.
You should be in position to perform a push-up, without actually doing so.
Now, bring your legs back in, adopt that squat posture again, and rise into your stance. Repeat.
This will tire you out faster than the above three exercises, so just keep going until you really feel the burn.
As you get better at this, try actually mixing-in a push-up or two, but not until you feel ready.
With the right bike, cycling can be a fantastic way to stay fit, engage with the world around you, and get your adrenaline racing. These four exercises will keep you cycling faster, further, and better – so what are you waiting for?
However, please note that if you’re not currently exercising or you’re recovering from an operation or injury, speak with your doctor before embarking on ANY of these activities.
Playing sports, either indoors or in the great outdoors, offers numerous benefits beyond the obvious physical perks.
We all know taking part in cycling, competitive running, football, basketball, swimming, baseball, and more helps develop more muscular definition, increase endurance, and lose weight. Obviously, if you're playing outside, you'll get to enjoy fresh air, soak up sunlight (to produce more vitamin D), and play on varied terrain.
Yet what else do sports do for you?
Join us as we take a look at the various benefits of getting yourself out there …
You can Improve your Social Skills
Socializing is a major aspect of most sports. At any age, from kindergarten to adulthood, taking part in sport requires you to play as part of a team or against at least one other opponent.
For example, on a basketball team, you have to figure out who will play which position, who will mark which opposing player etc. This demands you be able to decide which role suits you best, which will suit others best, and generally be willing to compromise to maintain a fluid, effective team.
Even if you’re playing one-on-one, you have to be willing to admit to mistakes, accept losing, and maintain a friendly atmosphere.
The more you spend time with people on your own team and your opponent’s side, the better your social skills will be.
This is especially helpful if you need to meet new people or want to work on your communication skills.
You can Combat Stress and Depression
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), seven in 10 adults across the USA suffer from stress or anxiety on a daily basis.
They go on to point out that exercise can help to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. How? It produces endorphins, those all-important feel-good chemicals, which helps to lift your mood.
This also helps to improve your quality of sleep, which in turn leads to feeling better overall. Their research also indicates that as little as five minutes’ worth of aerobic exercise has the power to generate anti-anxiety effects.
As anyone who experiences stress, anxiety, and/or depression on a regular basis will know, these have an incredibly powerful effect on your ability to live. Playing sports is not a cure, but it has been shown to at least help.
You can Improve your Self-Confidence
Just as playing sports has the power to improve your social skills and lift your mood, it also gives you a confidence boost.
As you develop in your chosen sport (or sports), you’ll start to learn new skills, discover abilities you never thought yourself capable of, and realize that you’re able to accomplish goals you might have thought beyond your reach. You may find yourself leading a team as you never have, or proving to be more useful than ever before.
You’re also likely to find yourself growing as a person, and having a better outlook on your own capabilities. This can carry outside of the sports hall and into your daily life, helping to improve your performance at work and your personal pursuits.
Learning a new sport can be daunting, as can getting involved in exercise following a period of inactivity. You’re likely to feel self-conscious or intimidated. However, the important thing is to remember that everyone has to start somewhere, even world-class athletes.
Just focus on what you want to achieve from taking part, and take it one session at a time.
It goes without saying that you’ll want to introduce your children to the joys of the open road, but this is easier said than done.
Getting them interested in exercise can be tricky enough, while keeping them safe and happy is a challenge you may not relish.
After all, when you bike alone, you only have yourself to worry about. Each turn, each set of traffic lights, and each descent you come to, you are your sole concern.
With kids, this all changes. You want to make sure they’re observing the rules of the road, learning the necessary techniques, and not developing bad habits. You also have to make sure they’re having fun from start to finish.
If you’re looking to start taking your children out on bike rides with you, there are certain things you can try to make it easier.
Consider a Child’s Seat for Young Starters
If your child’s too young to ride their own bike, they can still go along for a day out. Fitting a child’s seat to your bicycle is a simpler alternative to a trailer, and might give you more peace of mind knowing they’re right behind you.
After you fit the bike, you should practice riding with a bag of potatoes or rocks of a similar weight to your child. This will help you get used to managing the extra pounds and handling the bike with another person on-board.
By being out on the road without the responsibility of managing their own bike, your children will get used to the activity and other vehicles early. You also get to take direct charge of their safety, rather than simply riding alongside them.
How Far Should they Ride on their Own Bike?
When your child’s ready to ride their own bike on a family day out, how much distance should you aim to cover?
Start small. Aim for around two or four miles on your early rides, and add more over following sessions, but don’t rush them. If they appear too tired or grow frustrated over shorter distances, let them stop.
Be sure to make stops after every mile, even for just a few minutes. Let them stretch their legs, catch their breath, have a drink.
The important thing is to ensure they enjoy cycling and develop an affection for it. Pushing them too far too soon may cause them to lose interest.
Be sure to take snacks with you on your family bike-rides. A delicious, healthy snack makes a great treat to reward your kids with at the end of your journey, and can be used as an incentive to keep going if they start to flag when you only have a little further to go.
You also need to pack drinks for everyone, ideally something sweet that will give them energy (or at least appear to do so). Pack fresh fruit-juices, such as OJ, or flavored water. Make sure to carry these in a waterproof backpack, to avoid little accidents and minimize problems caused by potential spillages.
Another great way to prepare for a fun, successful bike ride with your kids is to make the destination a real incentive. Suggest a ride to the theater when they want to see a new movie, or to a restaurant you’ve all wanted to try for some time.
Follow these tips, and you may well encourage your children to fall in love with cycling for life.
Buying a tent for your first camping trip might seem simple, but once you actually step foot into a store or browse online catalogs, you’ll see just how hard it can be.
Why? There are many, many different tents available on today’s market.
As with buying any new product, you want to be sure you’re investing in the best model for your needs, which is easier said than done.
Depending on the specific camping trip you plan to take, various factors will affect your purchasing decisions. Are you going alone, as a couple, or with your family? Are you staying in a hot location or a national park prone to drizzle?
Don’t let yourself be too daunted by the sheer variety on offer. Read our buying guide to get the answers you need …
Size: How Big Does your Tent Need to Be Anyway?
Generally, you’ll see tents sized by their berths, or the number of people it can comfortably accommodate.
Without doubt, this is one of the most crucial factors. Choose a tent designed for two bodies for a five-man camping trip, and you’re likely to face problems. Likewise, a family-sized tent might leave a solo holidaymaker feeling a tad small.
Typically, two adults will be perfectly comfortable with a four-berth tent, while families of three or more people will need to go for at least double this. 10-man tents are available at the bigger end of the spectrum, but remember that the larger it is, the longer it takes to build.
Design: A-Frame or Pop-Ups?
There are numerous different types of tent, and we haven’t the space to explore them all here. Instead, we’ll look at the two most common.
A-frame tents are the traditional design. These are pretty easy to put together when you’ve had a little practice, with poles running along the center and meeting at either end with your fabric laid across them.
Pop-up tents are much easier to put together, as the poles are already inside the fabric. Once you set them up, the tent will just pop-up by itself, saving plenty of time. This can be a big help if you get caught in heavy rain or you want to get in out of the cold in a hurry.
Layers: Single or Double?
Not every tent has two layers of fabric protecting you from the elements. Some basic designs come with just one sheet, which is fine for a warm night in dry weather.
However, for lower temperatures in rainy seasons, you’ll want two layers to keep you as warm and safe as possible. Check how much space sits between the two layers: if you can fit your fist in there, you’ll be fine. With both layers touching, you’re less likely to escape the dreaded leak in wet weather.
Whichever tent you choose, be sure to practice setting it up at least two times before you take it out into the world. You don’t want to arrive at your camping site with no idea how it works or that it’s way too small.
Be sure to keep your valuables in a waterproof backpack during the night, just in case a leak should occur. With a good-quality tent, it’s unlikely, but not impossible.
Ask friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations. Someone may be able to help you find the ideal tent to ensure your camping trip stays as warm, dry, and safe as possible.
For most of us, sport is a fun way to relax and unwind. For others, it’s a pulse-pounding experience that pushes you to the very brink of your limits, danger be damned.
Extreme sports are popular right across the globe, and particularly so here in America. As anyone who has ever watched a documentary or movie about extreme sports will know, these involve a staggering degree of risk and can take a massive physical toll.
Still, there’s no denying that extreme sports are incredibly attractive to even the most inactive observers. While you might never actually want to take part yourself, the extreme-sports community continues to enjoy great popularity, and cutting-edge recording technology lets spectators get right into the action with online videos.
Curious adventurers looking for a way in should familiarize themselves with the full range of activities, to find the one best-suited to their skills and experience.
Want to know more? We’ve compiled a list of four extreme sports to inspire you …
Snowboarding might get your adrenaline pumping and accommodate all kinds of high-flying tricks, but it’s accessible to almost anyone at an indoor-slope or snowbound resort.
Investing in the right snowboarding gear may not be cheap, but once you have the equipment, all you need is a reputable teacher to show you the ropes. Consider getting involved by attending an indoor training center and taking a lesson or two.
Staying upright on your board and learning to move your body with the required precision takes a lot of practice, so don’t be afraid to take it slow. There are around 7 million people snowboarding regularly in the USA, so you’re in good company if you take it up!
Even though paintball involves nothing so dangerous as leaping off a cliff, it still asks participants to be brave. As anyone who’s taken part in paintball knows, taking a pellet or two does bring a certain amount of pain – but the thrill of synthetic combat is undeniable!
Around 3 million people take part in paintball across the States, and there are both indoor and outdoor versions available. With the right safety gear, paintball is a safe way to have fun and unleash your competitive side.
Like snowboarding, windsurfing is incredibly exciting to watch, with the rigs themselves featuring a cool, sleek design.
This on-water sport blends sailing with surfing, placing participants on a board with a sail and a mast. Being able to windsurf is a skill demanding considerable dedication, discipline, and physical fitness – but it’s terrific fun.
At the last estimate, there were around 1.7 million windsurfers in the USA.
Surfing is, without doubt, one of the world’s most well-known extreme sports. Not only do surfers enjoy a cool, laid-back image (true or not), they also get to engage with the awesome power of nature in a way few of us do.
Around 1.7 million Americans people take to the sea in their board at least once each year, and there are 23 million surfers across the globe. Interested in learning? You’ll be able to find lessons pretty much anywhere in the States, but don’t expect to be riding waves within an hour or so. You’ll have to familiarize yourself with balancing on a board, changing position, and managing your direction.
Having the right equipment in any extreme sport is vital. Whether this is safety gear, waterproof storage, or the proper type of clothing, you need to invest in the best available to maximize your enjoyment and performance.