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FitLink Newsletter: May 20, 2009 - Bike your way to better health!

Who doesn't fondly remember their first bike ride, the houses flying past, the ground rolling away and the feeling that you could go anywhere fast? Maybe you still have the scars from your first couple of falls. Maybe you kept your first bike bell. Or, maybe you still have a picture of your first 10-speed. Once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget. Therefore, it is never too late to get back on your bicycle. Remove your bike from its winter storage hideout, put some air in the tires, dust off your helmet and re-live what was so exhilarating about that first ride.

Some 50 years ago, The League of American Bicyclists declared May as National Bike Month and the celebration continues today. Bicycling is a fantastic form of exercise that utilizes numerous muscle groups from your shoulders down to your calves. As a cardiovascular activity, bicycling provides low-impact, high-intensity movement that gets the heart pumping, lungs breathing and blood circulating. Bicycling is also an inexpensive exercise form and has the additional benefit of being a form of transportation. Bicycles are still less expensive than cars and, thanks to advancing technologies, they are lighter, more compact and more durable than their older models. For individuals weighing between 140 and 195 lbs, riding a bike at a moderate pace can burn between 500 and 700 calories per hour. If you ride 30 minutes to work and 30 minutes home, you can easily burn 600 calories and commute to work in an earth-friendly and body-conscious way! Contrary to popular belief, cycling does not make your leg muscles bulky; it burns fat and tones muscles (which will make them more slender) and contributes to greater bone density.

Join the rest of the nation and look for Bike Month events in your neighborhood. New York City is celebrating Bike Month by having daily cycling events throughout the city including ride-your-bike-to-work events, bicycle commuter breakfasts, training rides, scenic rides, bike repair workshops and Critical Mass meetings. Cities like San Francisco, Chicago and Boulder have special Bike Month events as well. Many cities have begun promoting cycling as a way to cut down on emissions and lessen our dependence on gasoline. Saving the environment and getting in shape are now synonymous with bicycle riding. You can choose to commit to celebrating National Bike Month this May, but you can also commit to future bike riding and taking care of the environment.

Cycling doesn't have to be a solitary activity. Most people are more likely to exercise if there is someone to hold them accountable for showing up. You can enjoy longer rides and explore new bike trails with a cycling partner. Find a Cycling Partner near you today!

Special Welcome to: Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

Did You Know?

If you are a personal trainer, you can fill out our FitLink Online Personal Trainer survey and enter to win a free iPod! We are currently researching how to better serve our personal trainer members by creating the best in cutting-edge trainer software and we want your opinion.

Focus Muscle: Core

This edition of the FitLink newsletter is focusing on the core muscles. Your core includes abdominals, obliques and lower back muscles. Listed below is a workout that you can do whether you are a competitive athlete and need strength and power or you just want an aesthetically pleasing midsection.

New FitLink Workout: Best Core Workout for Athletes

This workout was developed to strengthen all of the core muscles in order to build strength and prevent injury. It is great for athletes such as cyclists and runners because it requires isometric strength and will also help you build core strength needed while your legs are in motion. It should be combined with an upper body and lower body strength-training workout for optimum strength and injury prevention.

Oblique Engagement Dead Lift Crunches with Leg Lift Captains Chair
Woodchopper Alternating Knee Lifts Advanced Bosu Sit Advanced Plank

Core strength is essential for optimum sports performance as well as for everyday activities like lifting groceries or small children, and moving from a prone position to standing. Your core muscles support your entire body, especially your torso because there are so few bones in your midsection. Light conditioning can be done every day of the week to keep your core engaged, and intense training can be done 2-3 days per week in order to strengthen your core and prevent injury and discomfort. Use gravity for resistance when training, or use a stability ball, medicine ball, exercise tube, or any other type of resistance to constantly challenge your abs and keep your entire body conditioned.

Shapely Tip: Maintain your wardrobe!

If you notice that your pants are getting a little tight, use that information as a reminder to intensify your workouts. Ramp up your training for two weeks, then put those pants back on and make sure they fit a little looser. If not, give yourself another two weeks and re-measure your progress with those same pants. This is a good way to make sure you are not allowing yourself to gain unnecessary weight by buying larger clothes over time.

May is a great month for bright and colorful in-season fruits and vegetables like strawberries, asparagus and spinach. This month's recipe includes spinach which contains numerous nutrients including calcium, folic acid, iron and fiber; it also includes quinoa which contains all 8 essential amino acids required for building strong muscles, high levels of magnesium (great for lowering blood pressure) and fiber for healthy digestion.

Warm Spinach Quinoa Salad

  • - 1 small container of baby spinach (or other baby greens)
  • - 1 cup quinoa, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed well
  • - 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • - 2 cup water
  • - unrefined sea salt to taste
  • - Goat cheese to taste (optional)
  • - 1 green onion, sliced thin
  • - 1 red pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • - Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • - Sprig of fresh rosemary, removed from stem and chopped fine
  • - 1/2 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
  • - Juice of half a lemon

Heat a medium-sized saucepan on medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add quinoa to pan, allowing it to toast a bit on the bottom, stirring frequently. After a minute or so, add water slowly, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiled, turn down to a simmer and add apinch of sea salt. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. When all the water has been absorbed, remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Toss spinach, green onion, rosemary and tomatoes in a salad bowl. Crumble on goat cheese (optional). Pour on organic extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Toss well. Add warm quinoa allowing spinach to wilt with the heat. Toss again and serve.

Thanks to Doug DiPasquale of LoveAndBlueberries.com for this recipe.