Get a Simple and Effective Workout by Power Walking

Photo credit: National Cancer Institute [Public domain]

Power walking is a simple form of exercise that has multiple health benefits. It is perhaps one of the most underrated, simple, and effective forms of cardiovascular activity which is suitable for all age groups, and can facilitate calorie burning of up to 300 calories per hour at a walking speed of two miles per hour. Walking everyday has its own benefits, however, inculcating the element of power walking will add that much needed calorie burn to the cardiovascular system and will ensure that you get the maximum health benefits from your otherwise casual stroll around the park.

Walking is a Cost-Free Exercise with Many Benefits

If you are one of those people who would like to incorporate some extra activity into your day, but are not particularly fond of gym machines or cannot afford a membership to the gym, walking everyday will enable you to reap the benefits of fresh air and activity, while helping you burn fat. Power walking involves brisk walking while moving your arms as you walk. It serves to work more muscles in the body as compared with regular walking since you are using your arms and legs together. More calories are burned as a result, and you will also notice an improvement in your overall muscle tone, primarily in the leg and glutes region. Your arms will feel noticeably stronger, and those who opt to amplify their walking experience with dumbbells and ankle weights will notice more pronounced definition.

Primary Benefits of This Simple Exercise

Power walking can be as basic or as intense as you would like; you could simply wear comfortable walking attire and sturdy walking shoes and head to the nearest park. Or you could, as mentioned, strap on a pair of ankle weights, wrist weights, and add a pedometer to measure your steps in order to follow specific walking goals. Make things fun and add a boost of motivation by forming a walking group with other people in your area who want to get into walking, too.

Technology Enables You to Turn Your Walks into a Community Activity

Thanks to the internet and various mobile and social media applications, you can now walk alongside the millions of other people around the world who are taking to this simple and fun activity; trackers help you monitor your activity, and keep track of your heart rate or the calories you burn, while community applications help you compete with and motivate other walkers to incorporate this healthy activity into their daily lives.

Taking advantage of daily walking is about making a simple lifestyle change with many benefits. It is one of the simplest fitness methods available since it does not require equipment or training requirements of any kind. You can power walk your way to a healthier lifestyle anywhere, and at any time.

Beachbody

Laughing for Health? Laugh Harder and Live Longer!

Photo credit: Eric Ward from Provo, UT, USA (Laughing) [CC BY-SA 2.0]

There is a reason why laughter is considered to be the best medicine. When you are laughing, you are not just amused by a joke or a funny situation; you are actually laughing for health benefits. There are several important benefits of laughter. Laughter reduces stress and relaxes the whole body. A hearty laughter can keep the body calm for as long as 45 minutes, as it is extremely conducive to the overall development of the immune system. It also helps the body to generate infection-fighting antibodies by reducing the level of stress hormones and improving resistance to diseases. Laughing for health is the best way to keep medicines and chemical drugs at bay. You wouldn’t need any other drug to make you feel good, as laughter has its own high. Laughing reduces stress and triggers endorphins that make us feel good about ourselves and render us generally perky. By laughing hard, you are actually improving your blood flow and fending off cardiovascular diseases.

Healthy Body, Sound Mind

Health is not just what the physical body reflects. An overall healthy body entails a healthy mind and favorable interaction in society. Laughter is believed to be a panacea for every biological, mental and social condition. If you are laughing for health, you are also securing your social bonds. Laughing with other people is a great way of bonding and sharing happy thoughts. Isn’t that everything we need to lead a healthy life? Besides, it improves your mood and develops the body’s and the mind’s resilience towards adverse conditions.

Generating Laughter

Unfortunately, in today’s world, laughter has to be generated in laughing clubs and other therapeutic centers. People visit these places and forcefully laugh to enhance their biological processes. This practice can be extremely therapeutic, but it is essentially very sad. Laughing for health has become a prescribed medication as more and more people are falling prey to sedentary and depressing urban lifestyles. The best way to laugh is with your friends and family. If you don’t know how to get your kicks, start watching your favorite sitcom or read a comic book. The serious dearth of laughter in urban places has triggered a number of stand-up comedy cafes and laughter shows. You should not have to look for a reason to laugh, just do it. Laughter is highly contagious and can make a huge difference in your daily life. Laugh to live.

Beachbody

 

Top 3 Tips for Building a Home Gym You Will Actually Use

Photo credit: Andman8 [CC BY-SA 3.0]

People tend to have a love/hate relationship with their local gym or workout center. They are usually paying a monthly fee to be a member, and know they should go. However, after working all day, picking the kids up from school, and fixing dinner, who has time to go to the gym? It would be much easier and cheaper to find ways to workout at home. What if you were to take it one step further, and create a home gym? What are some ways you can do this in order to get the most benefit?

Find the room – The first thing you have to determine when building a home gym, is where you are going to put it. In order to maintain some organization and avoid distractions while working out, it’s important for the gym to be separate from everything else. Choose a guest bedroom that isn’t getting used, a closed off area in the basement, or possibly part of the garage. Make a list of the equipment you want to have and make sure there is enough room for everything to fit.   Once this is done you are ready to start creating your home gym.

Equipment – You can create a gym that revolves completely around your likes and dislikes. If you hate the treadmill or stationary bike, don’t bother making one of these a part of your home gym. Strength training would require a weight machine or free weights as part of your workout routine. Yoga mats, steppers, elliptical machines, fitness balls, and stretch bands are part of the endless supply of workout equipment to help with your daily mantra. The important thing is creating a gym around your likes and dislikes in order to keep you motivated and active.

Create a Routine – The only thing better than having a home gym is using it. Even though you have easy access to workout now, it’s still going to tough to keep up with it if we don’t have a daily routine. Carve out an hour or two during the evening, or possibly before you go to work in the morning to use the home gym. Grab another family member and workout together. This is one way you can avoid the excuses and maintain the motivation to keep at it.

A home gym is one of the best ways for your family to create and stick to a daily workout routine. It’s also the cheaper route when you think about how much a gym membership is on a yearly basis. You can motivate and encourage each other to reach your fitness goals and have a great time while doing so. Not only are you getting in shape, but spending important quality time with your whole family.

Beachbody

Are You Suffering From Brain Fog?

Photo credit: Shannan Muskopf [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Almost everyone experiences brain fog from time to time. So, what exactly is brain fog? It’s a condition where you feel a general lack of mental clarity. You may feel forgetful, confused, or have trouble concentrating. Brain fog can be caused by a range of factors, such as nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, stress, sleep disorders, or environmental toxins. Once you understand why you are suffering from brain fog, you can then take proactive steps to fix it.

Here are 5 possible reasons you are suffering from brain fog –

 

Poor Nutrition

Eating a diet filled with highly processed foods, aka junk foods, will leave you feeling foggy. There isn’t much, if any, nutrition left in these foods after they’ve been stripped of their natural state, taking this and that out and adding in more chemicals than we can count to come up with something that will stay on the shelf indefinitely.

You know when you put bad gas in your car how it makes your car sputter, cut out and just run poorly. Well, think of highly processed foods as bad fuel for your body.

Get more fresh whole foods into your diet to combat brain fog. Eat organic as often as possible and fill your body with the goodness that comes from real food.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Leading a life without much movement can be a cause of brain fog, because your brain isn’t getting what it needs to be sharp and alert.

Your brain needs oxygen and vital nutrients, which is carried to it through the blood stream. If you don’t get your blood pumping to increase blood flow through exercise, your brain is lacking the very things it needs to do its job properly. Exercise improves brain function, so get off the couch. Even a quick 10-minute walk will go a long way towards improving your brain power.

Toxic Buildup

Our bodies can get polluted from chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat. If you don’t eat healthy and get some exercise, these toxins can build up, causing your body – and your brain – to function at sub-optimal levels.

Detoxifying can be an unpleasant experience the first time because we’re stirring up all the crud that has built up over our lifetime. The more often you do this, the easier it becomes and you will feel the effects of having a cleaner body and a clearer mind.

Stress

If you’re under a lot of stress on a regular basis, this can lead to physical and mental problems. Stress elevates a hormone in your body called cortisol that causes inflammation in your brain and body. Chronic inflammation can cause a host of issues including fatigue, damaged brain cells, depression, weight gain and glucose imbalance.

You need to have an outlet for your stress. Adding an exercise regimen will help you to not only feel better by releasing endorphins in your brain which cause you to feel good, it can even help you shed unwanted weight. You can also choose to pamper yourself by taking a hot bath, getting a massage, meditating or trying yoga.

Dehydration

If you don’t consume enough water, you may suffer from dehydration. Water helps flush the waste and toxins out of your body that can accumulate in your intestinal tract.

You should consume at minimum a half gallon of water per day. An easy way to incorporate more water into your day is to drink a full glass upon rising and another before each meal.

If you find yourself feeling foggy on a regular basis, chances are good you’re suffering from one or all of these issues. Get some exercise, eat better, drink lots of water and release your stress, and you’ll feel sharper in no time.

Beachbody

 

4 Ways PiYo Can Improve Your Running

Photo credit: J. Vilchez [public domain]

PiYo is a low-impact, well-rounded fitness program that combines the mind/body practices of pilates and yoga, which will sculpt and define your whole body. Pilates strengthens and tones the body, while yoga promotes flow of movement, body awareness and relaxation. These two fitness disciplines combined are a perfect complement to any running program. Here are 4 ways you can improve your running with PiYo.

1) Strengthens your core

Good running form is key to becoming a better runner and avoiding injury. A strong core will improve the stability of your pelvis, hips, and even your knees during running. Strong abdominal muscles go hand-in-hand with strong running. Abdominal muscles stabilize the pelvis and support the torso while you run. Runners with weak abs tend to run out of steam quickly. Also, they tend to have a less stable pelvis which can lead to hamstring and lower back pain injuries. Runners with strong abs tend to have a more stable gait, better posture and have fewer lower back problems.

2) Corrects Posture Imbalances

Your running technique is completely dependent on your posture. The efficiency of your running technique is directly proportional to the quality of your posture. Poor posture makes your body’s muscles work harder to hold you upright, and it restricts the circulation of blood to your muscles and organs. Pilates helps to stretch and lengthen all the major muscle groups in the body in a balanced fashion. Yoga brings the mind and body together and is built on three main elements – exercise, meditation and breathing. Pilates and Yoga both improve postural and muscular strength.

3) Improves Your Focus

Yoga is one of the best ways to improve your focus, because it teaches mindfulness and breathing techniques for relaxation. The warrior pose, for example, requires intense concentration and focus because your whole body has to be engaged, and your gaze must be fixed on one place. Once you learn what it truly means to quiet your mind and breathe into discomfort, you’ll add a very useful tool to your running arsenal, especially during those grueling long runs when you just can’t find your groove. You’ll also gain a greater appreciation for the sport of running when you learn to be present in your races, appreciating the sights, sounds, smells and sensations that only an endurance event can offer, instead of always looking at your watch to achieve your best race time.

4) Increases Muscular Endurance

Increasing muscular endurance will make longer duration activities feel easier and help prevent injury. So, if it’s easier to run longer, you will run much farther. Our bodies work as a system and with better posture, gait and movement everything will work at optimal capacity. Poor movement, on the other hand, will not only increase the risk of injury and chronic pain from poor mechanics, but also cause fatigue to set in much quicker. PiYo is an ideal cross-training program for runners, as it’s designed to increase physical endurance, posture, flexibility, coordination, and core strength. It involves focused, controlled movements that can be adjusted to create different levels of difficulty. Breathing, centering and flow of movement are also part of the program.


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4 Benefits of Training with a Stability Ball

The stability ball is an effective tool for mastering balance, control, core stability, and strength. Stability balls, also known as exercise balls or fit balls, are used in home gyms, weight rooms, and fitness classes. Using a stability ball on a regular basis will provide many benefits and make any exercise more challenging.

Spine and Back Health

According to a study published in the May 2006 edition of “The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,” using an exercise/stability ball may decrease the risk of back pain in sedentary individuals and improve stability of the spine. The study found that when the stability ball is used on a regular basis, spinal stability and core strength improved. Researchers concluded that individuals who are prone to back pain or spend a lot of time sitting could definitely benefit from frequent use of the stability ball.

Muscle Balance

Muscle imbalance is caused when one muscle group is stronger than its opposing muscle group. For example, your quadriceps (front of thigh) and hamstrings (back of thigh) need to work together to perform a certain task, as do your triceps and biceps. Your anterior muscles (front of body) are naturally stronger than your posterior muscles (back of body), because they are used more frequently throughout the day. Also, most people tend to neglect their posterior muscles and over-train their anterior muscles, which can lead to additional imbalances and bad posture. The ball is an ideal choice for correcting these imbalances because it strengthens the posterior muscles and supports the lower back.

Aids in Sports Performance

The soft, unstable surface of the exercise ball stimulates all of your core muscles, and improves proprioception, balance, posture and coordination. Not only will these skills help protect you from injury, but also improve your sports and fitness performance.

Core Stability

Your core plays a critical role in stabilizing and supporting all your movements. The abdominal muscles or “midsection” consists of deep core and back muscles that work to balance your entire body. The deep muscles in the abdominal wall, such as the lumbar multifidus and transverse abdominis, form a belt around the vertebrae to help control breathing and support posture. These muscles work together to help with everyday activities, such as throwing, reaching, lifting, running and bending, so keeping them in good shape is very important. Otherwise, you risk injury and simple movements like walking, pulling, and running go unsupported when the stabilizer muscles are not well conditioned. Three great exercises for stabilizing the core include the Plank, Prone Cobra and Floor Bridge. When you perform these exercises, focus on slow, controlled movements. For best results, perform at least 2 sets of these three exercises at least three days a week, non-consecutively, for 4 to 6 weeks.

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References

Flax Seed Uses and Health Benefits

Photo credit: Dvortygirl CC-BY-SA-3.0

Flax seed has been a widely grown crop for thousands of years, and it is believed that it was one of the first plants that humans domesticated and farmed. The flax plant is one of the most versatile in the world, capable of being made into fabrics (especially linen), paints, fishing nets, dyes, soap, medicine, and all sorts of other things. The seeds produce an oil known as linseed oil or flaxseed oil.

Linseed oil is one of the most commonly used vegetable oils. In addition to being used in food, it has also been used as a finish and polish for wood and painted surfaces, in putty and caulk, and perhaps most notably in linoleum, which many people wrongly believe is made from man-made materials. Linoleum is actually wood or cork dust on canvas, overlaid with solidified linseed oil, making an all-natural floor covering that is especially suitable for people with allergies. Wood is also treated with linseed oil when making bats for some sports, including cricket.

The popularity of linseed oil for food preparation has been steadily growing again, because people have been paying more attention to the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seed contains an abundance of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a plant-derived omega-3 essential fatty acid. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ALA may help reduce systemic inflammation that often leads to various chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and high blood pressure. Flax seed also contains fiber-rich lignans, which have antioxidant and phytoestrogenic properties in the body. Lignans possess anti-cancer properties as well.

References:

University of Maryland Medical Center

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/alphalinolenic-acid

 

 

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