SparkPeople Guest Blogger

5 Smart Exercises to Support Your Knees

Perhaps the most common question I receive from patients is, ''I can’t exercise because of knee arthritis. What do I do?'' Over 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 suffer from knee arthritis. This can make exercising more challenging. As a result, many people with knee pain from arthritis just stop exercising. This can lead to obesity, loss of muscle tone, worsening of the arthritis and depression. You heard that right--exercise improves knee arthritis, and lack of exercise makes it worse!  If you have knee arthritis, there are some moves you may wish to avoid until your symptoms improve:

1. Bending  the knee while bearing weight
2. Flexing the knee past ninety degrees
3. Stressing the ligaments by leaping from side to side

If the above moves cause you discomfort, below are some alternative exercises that will move the knee joint safely while strengthening all the supporting muscles.
You will want to be on the floor for most of these exercises, so take your time getting down and back up again. Use a thick rug or exercise mat for comfort. If you have a firm mattress, you can even do some of these moves in bed. 

Posted 10/9/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 9 comments   33,103 views

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A 15-Minute Lower-Body Workout for Bad Knees

Squats and lunges are two of my favorite classic moves to incorporate into lower-body workouts because they really work! However,as effective as they are, these particular moves can cause knee pain for a lot of people. The good news is that you can still effectively target the lower body with these alternative exercises that won’t strain your joints. This full-length, low-impact workout doesn’t include a single squat or lunge and is designed to be gentle on the joints but tough on your hips, thighs and glutes! 

Posted 9/30/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 9 comments   42,149 views

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You've Never Used Your Microwave Like This Before!

Now that school is back in session and you're getting into your fall routine, you're going to need after-school snacks and quick weeknight meals you can prepare in a flash to keep those kids happy and healthy. And you probably have just the secret weapon to do it—your microwave! From defrosting frozen items to preparing side dishes for dinner, your microwave may be an overlooked tool in your kitchen. 

Posted 9/23/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 2 comments   11,876 views

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Sculpt Your Legs in 8 Minutes (at Home!)

No equipment? No problem! This quick set of exercises is guaranteed to fry your thighs using just your body weight and a small amount of space (making this routine perfect for travel!). Try this lower-body circuit as its own workout (1, 2 or 3 times through depending on how much time and energy you have), add it to your strength routine or try it after a cardio session for one short, but serious, lower body sculpting session.
 
Keep an eye out for Peanut the French bulldog, who also joins us for this workout (well, sort of)!



Leave me a comment below and let me know if you tried the workout. What was your favorite (or least favorite!) move?
 
Want more? Click here to try more of our lower body routines on JESSICASMITHTV!
 
Like this workout? Be sure to subscribe at Youtube.com/JessicaSmithTV to access a full library of over 200 FREE full-length workout videos. New episodes air every Saturday at noon EST!

About the Author
Jessica Smith is co-author of the Thin in 10 Weight Loss Plan (Sunrise River Press, 2012), and a certified wellcoach, personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Having started her own fitness journey more than 40 pounds ago, Jessica knows how challenging it can be to lose weight (and keep it off). Recently named one of Sharecare's Top 10 Online Influencers, she loves finding and sharing the latest info on weight loss, fitness, and healthy lifestyle habits. The star of several best-selling exercise DVDs, Jessica has over 13 years of experience in the industry, and holds a bachelor's degree in Communications from Fordham University.

Posted 8/31/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments   22,475 views

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12-Minute Indoor Power Walking Workout

Short on workout time? Need a quick energy boost? Trying to rack up a few more steps today? Join me for this quick, powered-up walk that is easy to do at home (or even at the office!) in a small space. I've included a few fun intervals to help mix up your steps and get you sweating for this short burst of activity. 
 
Oh, and be sure to look out for Peanut the French bulldog who joins us for this walk (well, in her own way)! 

Posted 8/11/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 21 comments   39,880 views

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The Truth about the Paleo Diet

If you've been in touch with diet trends over the past few years, chances are that you've heard of the Paleo diet. When you Google the word "Paleo" or "Paleo diet," you'll find thousands of blogs, recipes, articles and best-selling nutrition books. But what exactly is Paleo—and is its popularity warranted? Is it all hype and marketing, or is this truly the best diet to adopt for optimal human health? Let's take a look at what the evidence says. 

Posted 8/4/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 44 comments   103,784 views

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Easy Freezer-Friendly Foods for Kids

Now that summer is in full swing, you're probably looking for quick and easy ways to cool down. Although the pool and your air conditioner are the usual suspects, have you ever considered just how much of an asset your kitchen's freezer is?

Your freezer is the little culinary assistant that could—if you know how to maximize it. That doesn't mean that you should stand in front of the open freezer as the chilly air blasts you; in fact, there are ways to get your freezer working for you while you improve its energy efficiency in the process.

You can also use your freezer to make quick, healthy snacks that the kids are sure to love—just a freezer's reach away all summer long. When you have these kid-friendly freezer snacks at the ready, you have even more time to get out and enjoy the pool and do the things you'd rather do, instead of spending all summer slaving in the kitchen.

Here are some freezer-friendly foods that will keep your kids coming back for seconds.

Posted 7/28/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 5 comments   16,208 views

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The Best Inner Thigh Exercises Ever

As a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, people often ask me how to tone up their inner thighs. While certain leg-lift-style moves do target the inner thigh muscles, it is not possible to spot-reduce fat from your inner thighs--no matter how many leg-lifts you do! If you're exercising consistently and eating a healthy diet, your body will tend to lose fat all over, not just in one certain area. However, by following a well-rounded workout plan (that includes total body strength training, cardio and flexibility work) along with a healthy diet, you will gradually help reduce the amount of fat located in the inner thigh region as your total body fat percentage drops.

This video includes moves that work multiple muscles at once through large ranges of motion to help you burn more calories while you strengthen the inner thighs. Since these moves incorporate so many muscle groups, you'll burn more fat in less time! 

Posted 7/18/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 9 comments   160,978 views

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13 Inspiring Instrumental Workout Songs

Editor's Note (Nicole Nichols): Here at SparkPeople, we know just how powerful music can be as a motivator for your workouts, which is why we try to share new music ideas often. My friend Susie (who is an amazing Spinning instructor) uses a lot of instrumental songs in her classes, and I'm always surprised at how motivating and upbeat they are even though they have little to no words—and are often songs I've never heard before. If you are looking for some new fitness music that will push you, inspire you, and help you focus in your next workout (or race), this list is for you! Here are 15 of her favorite instrumental songs that are great for exercise!

Posted 7/14/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 9 comments   31,984 views

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A 5-Minute Wake Up Call for Your Whole Body

Exercise isn’t just about burning calories and building strength. It’s also about improving productivity and quality of life. But when is the best time to exercise? The answer is whenever it best fits into your schedule. One problem with afternoon or evening workouts is that they are often put off by other conflicting responsibilities. In addition, if you exercise too late in the day, it can be hard to “wind down” and fall asleep.
 
Early morning can be a great time to get some exercise in as long as it doesn’t make you late for the rest of your day. As a spine surgeon I have to be “ready to go” with a high energy level by 6 a.m. This doesn’t leave time for a lengthy morning workout so we at MDFitness came up with a 5-minute workout that you can do right out of bed without disrupting your morning routine. In the time it takes to brew your coffee you can have your metabolism revved up to full throttle and ready for whatever the day throws at you.  It works for me and I know it will work for you. We use the same easy-to-follow exercises you will find in our DVD The Doctors Workout.

Posted 6/25/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 28 comments   74,952 views

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Hotel-Friendly Exercise Ideas for Travelers

Starting to think about your summer vacation plans? Let's talk about how you might be able to keep your workouts from falling by the wayside.

As a profesional and Olympic soccer player, you'd think that I work out all the time but the fact is, it's not that easy. I'm on the road about 15 nights each month. Often we go from the airport to practice to bed to the game to the airport. Gym? When's that supposed to happen? I've had to figure out how to get my workouts in any time, anywhere. No space? No time? No excuse in my book! It's really not as daunting as you think.

Here are some of my favorite exercises that can be done without any equipment—right from a hotel room!

Posted 6/20/2014  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 11 comments   28,293 views

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Target Your Entire Lower Body in 14 Minutes

If you love barre workouts (or are ready to try one), check out this ballet-inspired lower-body routine that’s designed to sculpt and shape your hips, thighs and buns (oh, and your abs, too!) in less than 15 minutes. Pull up a sturdy chair (or head to the nearest countertop) for this efficient, effective, squat and lunge-free workout.


 
Want more? Click here to try more of our barre and ballet inspired routines on JESSICASMITHTV!
 
Like this workout? Be sure to subscribe at Youtube.com/JessicaSmithTV to access a full library of over 150 FREE full-length workout videos. New episodes air every Saturday at noon EST!

About the Author
Jessica Smith is co-author of the Thin in 10 Weight Loss Plan (Sunrise River Press, 2012), and a certified wellcoach, personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Having started her own fitness journey more than 40 pounds ago, Jessica knows how challenging it can be to lose weight (and keep it off). Recently named one of Sharecare's Top 10 Online Influencers, she loves finding and sharing the latest info on weight loss, fitness, and healthy lifestyle habits. The star of several best-selling exercise DVDs, Jessica has over 13 years of experience in the industry, and holds a bachelor's degree in Communications from Fordham University.

Posted 6/16/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   98,181 views

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Father's Day Success Story: 'I Want to Be There for My 3 Kids'

Brad Milligan (BRADMILL2922)

Weight Lost: 197 pounds
Hometown: Jeffersonville, IN
 
What was life like before losing weight?
I was a big kid and a big teenager. Being 6'7", I was never going to be small. I never enjoyed exercise much, but I did it because it was part of playing sports. I was always an athlete growing up, including playing baseball in college. When sports ended for me, I stopped exercising. I steadily gained weight in my 20s from lack of exercise and poor diet. When I was at my highest weight of 509 pounds, I didn't feel like doing anything. I didn't want to go out of the house and hang out with friends because I was embarrassed of myself. I really couldn't participate in many sporting activities or physical activities in general because it made me tired. I had no energy.

What was the main motivation behind your weight loss?
My main motivation was my kids. I am a single dad of three children and I wanted to be around for them, be more active with them and set a good example.  I realized that the way I was going, that wasn't going to happen. I had a lot of "dieting" stops and starts over the years that failed every time. I had lost myself and who I was. On May 4, 2012, I weighed in at 466 pounds and I decided that on May 5 (Kentucky Derby Day around here), I wasn't going to do this anymore. I came up with a plan of diet and, eventually, exercise that I thought would help me lose the weight. No shortcuts. No fad diets. No trainers. No surgery. No diet pills. It was going to be hard work and I knew I needed some help along the way which is where SparkPeople.com came in. I set a goal to lose 167 pounds, which would get me down to 299 pounds. I would be less than 300 pounds for the first time since college!

Posted 6/15/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 205 comments   37,834 views

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Easy & Healthy Ways to Grill Indoors

How great are summer barbecues? There's just something about gathering together with family and friends to enjoy a fantastic meal and share favorite stories from the past while you build new memories for the future.

But did you realize you don't have to wait until summer to grill? Or go outside at all for that matter? Indeed, congregating with your companions can be a year-round indoor activity as well. And the star of the show: Your range!

Grilling items with your range can be done in at least two specific ways, and rather than your typical heavy hamburgers or sauce-slathered barbecue, there are so many more options at your disposal. This is true not only because you have the luxury of grilling whatever's in season no matter the weather outside (outdoor barbecues aren't overwhelmingly popular in December for a reason!) but also because you have much more control over the temperature of the "fire."

Here are two completely separate grilling options using two different preparations, both of which can be made inside your kitchen using your range. 

Posted 5/23/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   13,616 views

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Clean Eating 101: Healthier Eating Made Easy

Are you curious about the term clean eating? Have you ever wondered what it is exactly or whether it might benefit you?
 
In my experience as a "clean eater," this way of eating can be a fabulous way to improve your health.
 
Clean eating in the most simple terms means eating real food—foods that are whole (unprocessed) and in their most natural state. In other words, people who subscribe to clean eating try to avoid foods altered or processed by humans or manufacturers.
 
That being said, there are many different approaches to eating clean, and none of them are wrong. Everyone from carnivores to vegans can eat clean and it doesn’t have to be complicated. While some people put lots of strict dieting rules around their "clean" diets, that's not the case for everyone. Eating clean really can be delicious, fulfilling, filling and simple! Here's how.

Posted 5/22/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 20 comments   114,715 views

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