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This is Your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.

With gyms closing and “stay at home” orders going into effect across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, subscriptions to streaming online workout services are skyrocketing. But if you find yourself going stir crazy, you can still take your socially-distanced sweat session outdoors, which is a smart move anyway—especially if you live near a beach.

Sure, the fresh air and natural beauty will do your mind and body good, but the real advantage lies underfoot. If you’ve ever tossed around a football at the beach, you know how hard it is to move around on sand. It has much more “give” than harder surfaces like asphalt, grass, and dirt, and while that softness reduces the impact on your body, it also requires you to put more effort into every step. Indeed, a small study by Australian researchers found that the energy expended exercising on sand is up to 1.6 times greater than that of exercising on grass.

Plus, because sand is inherently unstable, the smaller stabilizing muscles throughout your body—but especially in your legs—have to work overtime to keep you on your feet. The result: More calories burned and a better total-body workout than you can get on firmer ground.

Your move: If you’re in the mood for cardio, head to your nearest beach and either leave your shoes in the car or keep them on as you work up a sweat (the above study showed similar metabolic benefits to running shod and barefoot on sand). The closer you are to the water, the firmer the sand will be, and the easier your run will become, so keep that in mind as you manage your pace and fatigue.

And don’t limit your sand training to aerobic exercise. The same instability that makes running tougher will also make for a more challenging strength session. Need some inspiration? All you need is a towel for this fat-incinerating bodyweight workout.


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