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9 Ways to Unleash Your Inner Dancing Queen


Shakira didn’t get those world famous abs without dance, which, on its own, is enough to sell us on dancing our way to fitness. Whether it’s Zumba, belly dance or just getting down at a wedding, dancing is a legitimate aerobic exercise that burns major calories. You’ll work muscles you didn’t know you had and get your blood flowing, while simultaneously reducing stress and improving your posture. Still on the fence? Consider this:
  • A dance step counts toward your daily step count
  • Dancing is good for your heart
  • You could burn as many calories as popular forms of exercise, including swimming or riding a bicycle.
To get you started and to celebrate National Dance Day (the last Saturday in July), we've compiled some of our favorite articles and videos that showcase the benefits of adding dancing to your workout schedule. Put on some Britney, Beyoncé, a Bollywood beat, Blondie or whatever it is that gets you moving, and start dancing your way to a healthier you today.

The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Burning Fat Before you get started, educate yourself on the many benefits of kicking up your dancing shoes. You might be surprised by how much your body appreciates a good dance party.
 
14-Minute Cardio Dance Workout If your only taste of Bollywood and Indian dance is the credits sequence of Slumdog Millionaire, you are truly missing out on a colorful and fun tradition. Familiarize yourself with the high-energy dance form with this intense—but so fun!—cardio workout.
 
16-Minute Bollywood Cardio Workout If every form of exercise was this much fun, we would have no problem working out every day! Work your hips, abs and more in this enjoyable workout led by fitness star Hemalayaa.
 
All About Zumba For many people, Zumba, the popular Latin-inspired exercise class, put dance fitness on the map. Your muscles aren’t the only thing that will be sore after hitting a Zumba class—chances are your cheeks will get a workout from smiling as you dance the hour away.
 
5 Dance Moves Anyone Can Do Even if you swear you’ve been cursed with two left feet, you’ll still be able to master these dance moves. Get an introduction to the vibrancy of Cuban Mambo as internationally acclaimed choreographer Kimberly Miguel Mullen leads you through five basic moves.
 
Proof You Can Be a Talented Dancer at Any Size If the thought of dancing makes you cringe with embarrassment, here’s a fun reminder that you don’t have to be a stick-thin principal ballet dancer to twirl your way around the dance floor.

Like us, our friends at Acacia are also dance fitness advocates and have the high-energy workouts to prove it. Check out some of their online exercise videos and DVDs for more dancing that will challenge your muscles and your stamina.
 
AcaciaTV Everyone can be a part of National Dance Day, right in their own living room, thanks to AcaciaTV’s large selection of dance workouts. For a fun sweat that will never be boring, check out the Dance and Be Fit series, which includes Latin-inspired moves, hip hop cardio and more.
 
Shazzy Fitness DVDs Inspirational music fuses with hip-hop beats in two new DVDs from Shazzy Fitness, A Time to Dance and In the Beginning. Led by professional dancers, including two former NBA Atlanta Hawks A-Town Dancers, the DVDs include multiple 10-minute workouts that allow you to mix and match each day. Stream the workouts at home for a family-friendly dance workout that will energize the body and elevate the spirit.
 
Suzanne Bowen Fitness Fitness and lifestyle expert Suzanne Bowen takes the ballet-inspired barre workout to the next level with her BarreAmped DVD series. Combining dance, Pilates, yoga and her own training methods, Suzanne’s unique style and challenging sequences offer a full-body workout for anyone, including pregnant moms. In addition to BarreAmped Sleek & Toned Prenatal Workout for pre- and post-natal fitness, dance fans can also purchase BarreAmped BOOT CAMP, the original BarreAmped, BarreAmped Cardio Fat Burn or stream workouts online.
 
Feeling ready to get down? Tell us: Which dance exercise do you love? Or, which ones would you like to try?

AcaciaTV is a leading subscription-based streaming fitness service easily accessible on a variety of platforms/devices. Members have complete access to more than 100 workouts in a diverse range of disciplines which they can stream anywhere at any time. AcaciaTV now features new themed 20-minute workouts each month from trainers Kristin McGeeAmanda YoungDeazie GibsonGerren Liles and Liz LeFrois. Consumers can visit Acacia TV at US.Acacia.TV and easily try out the service with its 10-day free trial. The channel is for all fitness levels, offering workouts from beginners through advanced. Subscription to the service includes access to AcaciaTV’s Facebook fitness community which offers additional support and a group forum for all members.SparkPeople members can receive 25% off any membership for a year with the code ACACIASPARK. 

Posted 7/25/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Alicia Capetillo : 1 comments   6,664 views
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9 Fun Family Fitness Activities


The family that gets active together, stays together. Bringing the family together for a day or an afternoon of movement is both fun and offers an opportunity to stay connected even when schedules are hectic. Plus, you’ll be instilling great health and fitness values in your children. Make a commitment to unleash your inner child and spend valuable quality time with those you love by trying some of these family-friendly activities.

Zoo Adventure Walk Lions and tigers and fitness, oh my! Consider taking your family to the zoo for an educational and fun way to get your move on. Track your steps and the distance covered during your zoo adventure by wearing a pedometer or using an app on your phone. Keep the kids engaged by encouraging them to count the number of steps between animal exhibits and the number of different animals they encounter. Plus, the fun doesn’t have to stop when you leave the zoo! Back at home, take turns acting out all the different animals.

Obstacle Course Earn the title of Parent (or Grandparent) of the Week by creating an obstacle course in the backyard or at a local park. All you need is outdoor chalk, a hula hoop, ball, bucket or trash can, cones and a towel to build a fun and challenging circuit. Do each station once, then repeat the entire circuit for a total of ten times through.
  • Jumping Jacks 10
  • Hula hoop Try to keep the hoop moving for one minute.
  • Push-Ups 10-15
  • Hopscotch Set up the classic game with chalk or tape.
  • Basketball Bounce the basketball 10 times before throwing it into an empty bucket or trash can.
  • Toe Touch Hops Reach to the sky, reach down to touch your toes, then swing arms up and jump hop to the sky. Do this 10 times.
  • Cone Drills With a set of at least five rubber cones, have everyone weave in and out of the cones before running back to the first cone. Repeat this 10 times. If you don’t have cones, be creative by using water bottles or washcloths.
  • Beatle Bug Sit-Ups Start on your back and then bring knees and upper body together like a bug. Stay in this position, then repeat 15 more times.
Bike Ride Hop on two wheels and go for a family bike ride around the neighborhood or local park.

Jump Rope Grab a jump rope and spend some time in the driveway as everyone takes turns jumping. Compete to see who can jump the most consecutive times and challenge each other to try new tricks.

DIY Slip and Slide Spray a large piece of tarp with water and a little baby oil, set the hose at the top of the tarp and you’re in business. Let everyone take turns running and sliding as far as they can along the tarp. (Note: If you live in an area with water usage concerns, use a low flow of water.)

Volleyball Set up your own volleyball fun using a clothesline and ball. Choose teams and play on!

Fire Fly Run Mason jars and a setting sun are all you need for this fun nighttime activity. Hit your local park or another open space where the fireflies will be out in numbers. Run around as everyone tries to spot and catch the fireflies—just remember to let them go after you catch them.

Flashlight Tag Arm everyone with a flashlight and head to the backyard to run around as you try to ‘’tag’’ people by shining a flashlight on them.

Dance Party Gather everyone outside or in the living room for a dance party. Play each family member’s favorite songs while you all do crazy moves and express yourself through dance.

How do you get your family moving? Share you favorite family activity in the comments!

About the Author
Kim Truman is an all-around trainer and nutrition coach based in Dallas, Texas. She is well-known for her enthusiastic and motivational coaching style, as well as her high-energy workout programs. Discover more about Kim and her mission at www.kimtrumanfitness.com
Posted 6/26/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 0 comments   6,239 views
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Treat Mom to a Healthy Day


This year, let’s do Mother’s Day the healthy way. We love delicious, leisurely brunches just as much as the next person, but how did long lines and too many pancakes become the best way to honor all that mom does? Why not show mom you love her by treating her to a healthy outing, instead? No matter where you live, there are plenty of active activities that will get your blood pumping while you spend quality time with the woman who always remembered to cut the crusts off your PB&J. (Or, if you’re a mom yourself, suggest that your kids take you out for one of these fun and healthy events this Sunday.)

Kayak or Canoe If the weather cooperates, seek out the nearest body of water and rent a two-person kayak or canoe. Gliding down a river or through a lake as you admire the great outdoors will be so enjoyable you won’t even notice that you’re exercising your arm muscles and core. You’ll burn over 200 calories in under 30 minutes with this fun warm-weather activity. Plus, there’s no better place to talk about life and love and dreams than out on the quiet water.

Fitness Class Between TRX, barre, Zumba, hula hooping, SoulCycle and others, there’s probably a fitness trend that has caught your eye. Indulge your curiosity and try something new together this Mother’s Day. Grab mom, pick out a class she’s always wanted to try and head out for a morning workout. If you’re not into paying for a class, try an at-home video like this 17-Minute Barre Workout or the 20-Minute Fat Blaster, instead. After you get your sweat on, whip up a batch of smoothies to reward yourself and spend some time laughing about those crazy Zumba moves.

Bike Ride Hop on two wheels and spend an afternoon looping through your local bike trail together. Even on a leisurely ride, you’ll still burn major calories without even realizing. In just 30 minutes riding casually, you can burn almost 200 calories. Pick a scenic trail for maximum enjoyment.

Park Your local park is a great place to spend an afternoon and is especially fun with the family. Challenge your family to a basketball game or see who can swing the highest. You’re all sure to feel like kids again as you work your way across the monkey bars. Make a whole day of it by packing a healthy picnic!

Hike Break out your hiking shoes and water bottle and hit a trail in the woods together. Hike up hills and over uneven terrain to challenge yourself, or find an easy trail where you can work to spot wildlife or identify birds. Thirty minutes on the trail with hills will burn up to 170 calories. Pack some homemade, no-bake protein bars for a mid-hike break to enjoy your surroundings and your company, of course.

Golf Skip the golf cart and carry your own clubs for an extra challenge at the golf course. Walking from hole to hole is a great workout for your legs, and you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on life events as you stroll together. If your long game is a little rusty, head to the driving range for an afternoon in the sun competing to see who can make the ball fly farthest. After exerting so much energy, you’ll enjoy that lunch at the club even more.

Run Many cities host Mother’s Day races, so check your local events guide to see if you can sign up together. If you’re not in prime racing form, why not make Mother’s Day the first day of training? Pick from one of the many exciting or wacky 5Ks out there and draw up a training schedule. Not only will you be building up your endurance and fitness levels, but at the end you get to share another special day with one another. Don’t know where to start? Try one of these flexible 5K training plans.

Garden Sounds leisurely, but any real gardener will tell you that working in the yard can be a full-body workout. Between squatting, raking and digging, a typical day of gardening will challenge all your muscle groups. Plus, the end result will yield beautiful plants and vegetables that mom can enjoy all year round. Get some ideas for gardening in the city, easy vegetables to plant and more in our Gardening Guide.
Posted 5/5/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Alicia Capetillo : 5 comments   9,258 views
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The Awards Show Workout Game: Sweat with the Stars!


It seems like almost every time you turn on the TV there is another award show coming. In January alone, there are the Golden Globes, People's Choice, Critic's Choice, Grammy's (this weekend!) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. Later in winter, the always-hilarious Golden Raspberry (Razzes) Awards take place around the same time as the more serious Academy Awards. And throughout the year, there's a host of music related award shows (like the Country Music Awards) and even MTV has their own Video Music Awards and Movie Awards shows. I'm sure I haven't even listed them all...
 
If you love fashion, celebrity news, or simply think of yourself as a music or movie buff, you'll probably catch at least one of these shows. The performances are entertaining, the jokes and hosts often funny, and the fashion is usually worth seeing.
 
Many people have dress-up parties or get-togethers to watch these shows with friends, often with lots of drinks and appetizers. But you can enjoy the show—and work toward your healthy goals, too—by incorporating SparkPeople's "Award Show Workout Game" at home or with your friends. This workout plan works with any televised award show! It allows you to watch and enjoy the show while also fitting in a serious workout!
Posted 1/24/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 16 comments   18,470 views
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Gear Up for the Perfect Tailgate


Once you've planned the perfect tailgate party, you'll want to stock up on gear to help you celebrate your favorite team and serve up delicious snacks in style.

We've rounded up 10 of our favorite products to make your party even more fun.

(We're showcasing Bengals gear here, since SparkPeople's hometown is Cincinnati, but all the team products listed are available for your favorite NFL teams.)
Posted 11/15/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 7 comments   7,388 views
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Festive Football Food Accessories


Whether you're having a get together to watch the big game, a Super Bowl bash or a party for your kid's football team, there are tons of great themed accessories available to help bring your appetizers to life.
Posted 11/13/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 6 comments   10,561 views
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Fun Fitness Halloween Costume Ideas


Since your closet is full of workout clothes anyway, why not use this Halloween as an excuse to celebrate your healthy lifestyle by dressing as your favorite fitness personality? There are tons of possibilities, but here are 10 that are pretty easy to pull off.
Posted 10/10/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 30 comments   46,394 views
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6 Races So Fun, You'll Forget You're Exercising!


Perhaps you’ve considered training for a 5K, but the idea of running or walking a traditional race just isn’t motivating enough to get you off the couch and out the door.  These days, there are a wide variety of races to participate in, from the local run through your neighborhood to some of the more entertaining (and crazy!) runs popping up across the country.  Have you ever thought about running from zombies, crawling through mud or sprinting through glowing trees and tunnels? 

Fun runs like these can break up the monotony of traditional races, and can also be motivation to pick up the running habit even if you’re not that into it.  Here’s a guide to some of the races gaining popularity as people look for fun ways to get up and moving. 
Posted 9/6/2013  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 34 comments   33,448 views
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8 Fun-Filled Hula Hoop Exercises for Better Fitness


In 1958 WHAM-O introduced the world to a new toy after Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr observed children in Australia playing with bamboo hoops in their exercise class. Upon their return to the States they took what they had seen and invented the plastic hoop, what we now know as the Hula Hoop. What started out as a fad in the late 1950's for kids has now turned into a fitness frenzy 53 years later. And if you don't believe swirling your hips can burn calories and tone your body, think again.

Researchers at the Exercise and Health Program at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse led by Jordan Holthusen, M.S. and John Porcari, Ph.D conducted a study of 16 advanced to intermediate female hoopers. And to their amazement, hula hooping expended similar calorie rates and raised heart rates similar to cardio kickboxing, step aerobics and boot camp classes. Although the researchers state that more studies need to be done to determine what the long-term fitness benefits to hooping will bring, one thing is for certain, when we have fun doing an activity we are more likely to participate in it. I always say something always trumps nothing, especially when it comes to exercise.

Posted 5/10/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 70 comments   140,717 views
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Is Hooping Really a Workout? We Tried It to Find Out!


More and more people these days are turning to workouts that feel less like work and more like play. Dodge ball leagues for adults are increasingly popular, and out-of-the-box exercise classes like aerial yoga, circus arts and trampolining (rebounding) are almost as commonplace as kickboxing.  Another fun pursuit on the list of fun fitness trends is hooping—as in hula hooping—which you probably used to do as a kid.

SparkPeople alone has almost 600 hoopers in one SparkTeam, and the website hooping.org has nearly 8,000 registered members. Celebrities rave about the benefits of hooping workouts, and actress Marissa Tomei even released a series of hooping workout DVDs through Gaiam in 2010.

With the popularity of hooping on the rise, we've received a lot of questions about how many calories it burns and whether hooping can actually take the place of more traditional workouts. There has been very little scientific research on this subject, but I always find that it's best to answer these questions not just with the research available, but also personal experience.

So I gathered several of my SparkPeople co-workers to investigate hooping firsthand. We took a class at Shine Yoga Center in Cincinnati, led by hooping instructor Leslie Kreines, and were joined by SparkPeople's most famous hooper, member Shelli (MOSTMOM1), who regularly blogs about her hooping adventures.

What did we discover?
Posted 5/2/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 63 comments   59,640 views
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