Presidents Day and the Presidential Physical Fitness Test

Today many are enjoying a day off of work in honor of some of America’s greatest presidents with the President’s Day holiday. This got us at Zims reminiscing about a memorable era of fitness directed by the president himself: the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. Could this rite of passage in gym classes for so many years be a gauge of fitness today? Let’s take a look.

The Presidential Physical Fitness Test has an interesting backstory. It started in 1956 when President Eisenhower created the President’s Council on Youth Fitness (current name President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition). In 1966 President Johnson created the Presidential Physical Fitness Award which created the idea of the test in schools. It originally included a softball throw, a broad jump, a 50-yard dash and a 600-yard walk/run.

However, where many of us probably first heard about the test is in the late 80s and early 90s when President HW Bush put an emphasis on it and appointed actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to lead the initiative.

At that time the test included 5 main components:

(expected numbers listed are for 10 year old boys and girls)

Pull ups (or sometimes push ups)- 6 for boys, 2 for girls

Sit-and-Reach- 30 for boys, 33 for girls

Sit ups (or curls)- 45 for boys, 40 for girls

30 ft Shuttle Run- 10.3 for boys, 10.8 for girls

One-Mile Run (wasn’t this the bane of every kids existence growing up?)- 8 min for boys, 9 minutes for girls

The problem  with the Presidential Fitness Test is its competitive nature. Instead of focusing on individual health and improvement it pitted kids against each other. By declaring certain kids as athletic and others as below average it may have discouraged athletic participation more than it helped.

However, the test itself is interesting. It covers upper body strength with pull up, flexibility with sit and reach, cardiovascular strength and endurance with the runs and muscle strength with the sit-ups. Theoretically if we worked on these areas we would be a very healthy person.

There isn’t a trainer alive who would argue focusing on these 5 areas is a good basis for physical fitness. The problem is when we compare our results to others and get discouraged. Nevertheless, if you added an element of each of the fitness categories covered to your workout you’d be a healthier person.

This Presidents Day hopefully we can get some inspiration from our past presidents and the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. It’s a fun part of recent American History and a helpful tool in designing a workout program.

Do you have memories of taking the Presidential Physical Fitness Test as a child? Hopefully they aren’t too traumatizing to share with all of us in the comments section!

Happy Valentines: Why Couples Workouts Work

Happy Valentines Day! Here at Zims we believe in cultivating a healthy active lifestyle, and if we are lucky enough to have a significant other this Valentines Day he or she can be a big help in achieving our fitness goals.

There are several benefits to setting fitness goals with our partners:

  1. Companionship- ever since Adam was lonely in the Garden of Eden human beings have worked best in teams rather than solo journeys. A partner or friend can help encourage us when the fitness is difficult. They can distract us with fun conversation. Studies have even shown we can fall in love with our partner more as we exercise together! (Psychology Today, 2014).
  2. Accountability- setting a fitness goal with another person, especially a spouse, is a great way to keep us accountable for our goals. Some mornings it’s hard to wake up and get going. The last thing we want to do is exercise but the helpful encouragement of a person we love can get us out the door. They can also get us to put down that donut and reach for the fruit at the neighborhood potluck. We can fudge details to a trainer or dietician but not to our spouse


  3.  Better workouts- According to Psychology Today working out with another person actually gives us more energy and makes us exercise harder than we do alone. “Even if you already feel competent doing a particular exercise, bringing along your romantic partner may be a fantastic way to boost your energy output. Your partner’s presence will improve your speed, without you necessarily being aware of their influence” (Psychology Today, 2014)
  4. Shared Memories- exercise goals are a lot of work and rather than sharing this intense experience with bland people at the gym why not share it with the person you love most? For example, if you have a goal to run a marathon, doing it with your partner will not only give you a shared memory of finishing the race but all the mini-runs along the way to prepare.

There are many other reasons that exercising with your partner is a great idea and perhaps the most romantic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day the whole year round! If you want some fun ideas for specific workouts you can do together as a couple check out this article from Cosmo magazine click here.

Have you had success exercising with your partner? Does it make it more fun or do you prefer a solo fitness regimen? Let us know in the comments section!  

 

Setting Goals

Goal setting is an important part of improving and growing as human beings. While a certain degree of self-acceptance is necessary for happiness, it is also equally important that we try to evolve and expand our horizons each day. With the start of another year upon us many will be setting New Year’s goals or resolutions. Most of these will fail but even the attempt can be valuable. But what can make us more likely to achieve our goals? We came up with a list of suggestions that will help us achieve our goals but let us know what works best for you.

First, it might sound simple but anything we can do to combat depression and discouragement will help us achieve our goals. Many during the winter experience seasonal affective disorder where the grayness of winter months really starts to get us down. If we are feeling this way we are less likely to be motivated to try new things and stay committed to our goals. There are many solutions for seasonal affective disorder but one helpful tip can be buying a light therapy lamp that simulates natural light we are missing in the winter.

Light Therapy Lamp

Second, try and involve a friend in your goal setting. As human beings we crave companionship especially when trying something new or uncomfortable. We are often lazy creatures and a motivated partner will help us get out of bed and achieve our goals. There are tons of benefits to having an accountability partner or group. These range from getting feedback and advice to psychological factors like performing better in front of others. No matter which particular area you need help with, there’s no denying the benefit of having an accountability partner.

Friends Waving

Third, have confidence in yourself. If we don’t believe we can achieve our goals, who else will? In the end, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy if we don’t believe we can do it and then we don’t do it. We shouldn’t set goals that are unrealistic or out of our control to accomplish but we should start out with as much confidence as we can muster and then try to keep that confidence as long as we can throughout the project or goal.

Can Cant

Fourth, have a plan for how you want to accomplish your goal. As the saying goes, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” Part of planning for a successful goal is setting mini goals you can achieve along the way. So if your goal is to read 100 books in 2019 you can set a mini-goal to read 10 in January. This helps us feel like we are accomplishing our goals when they may actually be pretty far off.

A Goal without a plan

Lastly, remember to have fun with your goals! If the entire thing is a miserable process, what’s the point of all of this? After all, you don’t want to improve into being an unhappy person! Whatever our strategy is, setting goals is very important, if only to help us determine what we want out of life and where we hope to go. Hopefully these tips have been helpful. We would love to hear what you do to achieve your yearly goals. Let us know in this blog or on our social media!

When to Use External Analgesics

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You’re sore from your workout. You’re hurting from chronic aches and pains. Maybe you went too hard playing back yard football with the kids and now you’re paying for it. Whatever the source of your achy muscles and joints, you want relief. If you’re looking for a solution besides OTC internal analgesics, external analgesics may be what you need. Also known as topical pain relievers, these products are applied on the skin directly at the source of the pain, rather than going through the digestive system and liver to be disseminated through the body. There are many great reasons to use external analgesics and we’re going to cover them, as well as some of the cons, so you can make the most educated decision possible when looking to relieve your pains and discomforts.

Despite being generally accepted as safe, ingesting internal analgesics can have negative effects on the body, especially the liver. The FDA has some good tips on avoiding liver damage, which include not taking the medication if you consume over a certain amount of alcohol daily and following proper dosage amounts. More powerful ingested pain relievers can have very addictive properties, unfortunately contributing to the opioid epidemic. For these reasons, and others like them, external analgesics are preferred. Zim’s MaxFreeze is non-habit forming and is not digested. Instead, it is applied directly to the source of the pain, outside of the skin.

Along this same line, because external analgesics are applied directly to the location of the pain, they act very quickly. Ingested medications must be processed in the body before being sent out all over. External analgesics are put right on the source and work fast. No pain-relief is wasted on areas that don’t need it. Zim’s offers three convenient means of application: continuous spray for fast, convenient application, roll-on stick for no mess application, and gel for total coverage and absorption.

The biggest downside to many external analgesics is that they have a strong, not-always-pleasant, scent. This usually comes from the primary active ingredient, which could be menthol or salicylate. Zim’s MaxFreeze has a quick vanishing scent, so you can apply it to your sore spots then get on with your day.

It’s Rainy and Cold but the Cardio Doesn’t Stop

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Thanksgiving is over. You’re still sporting a food baby of turkey, dressing and all sorts of delicious foods. Outside It’s cold. It’s rainy. You just want to stay home and nap. So there’s no better time to crank out some cardio.

There are plenty of great options for doing cardio indoors (where it’s not freezing and raining). You don’t even need equipment, though if you have some, that’s great! From fat burning to cardio-improving to muscle building, there’s an option for every exercise journey.

Body weight exercises

Body weight exercises are the tried and true methods of working out. People have been using body weight exercises since Ancient Greece. Back in those days, it was mostly exercises mimicking combat and sports, but the idea of using just body weight and the environment was the same as today. Instead of practicing throwing spears and swinging swords, modern body weight exercises are more about getting the heart rate up in a limited space. Some great, general exercises include jumping jacks and jogging in place. More advanced, high-intensity exercises include burpees and mountain climbers. Though we’ve all done jumping jacks and jogging in place since grade school, don’t underestimate exercises like burpees just because they’re body weight exercises. Those can kick your butt from here to next Tuesday and you’ll be feeling them for days.

Now you’ve chosen which body weight exercises you want to do, now you need to put your plan together. Consider building a circuit to hit all your muscle groups and keep your heart rate up.

Exercise Videos

Maybe you’d rather workout with a group, instead of by yourself. Sometimes it’s good to have someone encouraging you (or yelling at you) to help you push yourself. There are tons of great workout videos available free online. Many serve slightly different purposes, like teaching you proper form to workout on your own or helping you understand why certain exercises work. Check out a lot so you can find what works best for you. Just make sure to wear your brightly colored leotard and matching headband for best results.

Exercise Games

Video games that help you exercise and get in shape are a fairly recent development in the world of fitness. The first and most obvious of these games is Wii Fit. It’s fun, inviting and offers a number of exercise options. It has yoga, strength building, aerobics and even balance, all of which give a very robust set of exercises to fit most everyone’s fitness plan. Another great type of “exergame” is any dancing game. There a plenty of options in this category as well. Some are strictly for fun while some help you track progress. All of them will make you sweat and laugh. Some people wonder if you can even actually lose weight by just playing dancing games (with a little diet help). The answer? Yes. Just one song will have you breathing heavily and feeling your heart rate. Now try 30 minutes. The downside to “exergames” as a fitness method is you have to have the hardware to play them on. Game systems and kinetic trackers can easily run you a few hundred dollars, but these are a great option if you already have a game system of some sort.

These are a few great ways to stay on track of your fitness journey even when the weather outside is trying to convince you to grab a blanket and a movie. And don’t let that post-workout soreness slow you down. Grab some improved formula, fast-acting Zim’s Max-Freeze and keep on your journey!