The office can be draining. Eight hours of typing, conference calls and watercooler conversation can make quite an impact on the mind. By the time five o'clock rolls around, exercise is the last thing on your mind, but sitting, typing and coffee drinking all day take a toll on the body as well. Remaining stationary at work can cause back pain, joint stiffness and weight gain.
Only 20 percent of American adults reach their daily requirement for exercise according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. But if you're looking for a way to kill two birds with one stone, try some simple and easy desk exercises. Here are five tips to help you exercise out while working:
The morning commute
Changing your route to the office may be all you need to cut a few calories and get a good cardiovascular workout before you clock in. If your office is relatively close, try walking or riding your bike to work. If you are taking a train or bus, get your blood pumping by getting off a stop or two early and walking the rest of the way. Standing for the entire commute can also help stretch out muscles. Even simple adjustments like taking the stairs over the elevator can increase your aerobic activity.
Magic carpet ride
Sitting down legs crossed while your feet are on your chair, grip the armrests with your hands and elevate your body, hovering a few inches above your seat cushion. Hold that position for at least ten seconds, and work in about five repetitions. This is a great way to strengthen your abdominal core as well as your biceps and forearms.
Under desk leg raises
Sit down straight at your desk and put your feet flat out on the floor. Squeeze your abs in, extend one leg out forward and in line with your hip. Hold your leg there for ten seconds, then alternate legs. Repeat between 10 and 15 times for a nice and simple workout on your calves and your abs.
Pack a healthy lunch
Statistics show that one in four Americans consume some type of fast food every day. Skip the fast food and provide yourself with a balanced diet with fresh fruits and vegetables rich with antioxidants. Avoiding the burger and fries is also an easy way to lower cholesterol.
This exercise won't give you that six pack or pulsating biceps, but it might be the best for you in the long run. Those who type frequently at work are more than ten percent likely to develop severe wrist pain in their lifetimes. Stand at your desk, lay your palms down with your fingers facing your body and hold the stretch for a good 15 seconds. Do this multiple times per day to relieve potential carpal tunnel symptoms.
To stay regular, fiber is the name of the game. Adding fiber to your morning shake or smoothie is easy and doesn't have to make your delicious breakfast smoothie bland. Here are some of our best ideas for adding fiber to your shakes, which will both lower cholesterol and help keep you regular:
- VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake has an excellent omega and fiber blend, with more than 6 grams of dietary fiber and 200 milligrams of omega-3s to support a healthy heart, brain and circulatory system.
- One cup of raw oats has a whopping 16 grams of dietary fiber. This is an easy and heart-healthy ingredient to add to a protein and fruit smoothie to give it more fiber and make it a more filling breakfast.
- Chia seeds have 5 grams of dietary fiber in just 1 tablespoon, as well as important minerals, antioxidants and even protein.
- Another great thing to do is to leave the peel on the fruits in your smoothies, such as apples and pears. The flesh has soluble fiber, but the peel is the highest source of fiber and is where you find most of the fruit's important vitamins.
- Nuts are also a good source of fiber. Consider adding a nut butter to your smoothie to give it an extra boost.
When you have children, it can be difficult to find the time to workout between making dinner and shuttling them to and from soccer practice and piano lessons. But you can prioritize an exercise routine by making it a fun family affair – something you and the kids schedule in a few times a week to get quality family time and some much-needed physical activity. Here are some of our best ideas for working out with the kids:
With babies or toddlers
If you have a baby at home, invest in a high-quality jogging stroller to get a great workout with the kids in tow. Bundle them up – during nap time may even work – and set out on a jog or brisk walk. Not only will you be getting great cardio exercise, but you'll also have the added strength-training required to push the little ones in the stroller as you go.
Many parents give their infants tummy time in order to strengthen their neck muscles. While your baby is doing time on his or her tummy, you can do the plank position, holding for 30 seconds at a time, to build and strengthen your core muscles.
Baby weight lunges
Many people strap their babies into chest carriers while doing the dishes, laundry or other household activities. It seems that simply carrying your baby can be a great workout. Add in some plies, lunges and squats for great toning exercises.
With grade school children
Day at the park
Spend a day at the park with your family. Before enjoying a healthy picnic lunch, organize games and contests for the kids, such as a children versus adults soccer match, a vigorous game of tag or a challenging obstacle course – anything that keeps everyone constantly moving!
Family fun run
Many festivals and fairs, especially in the summer, host family fun runs, with 5ks for adults and shorter distances for kids, depending on age range. Sign the family up, ordering matching t-shirts and make sure to practice together a few weeks beforehand by taking jogs around the neighborhood.
Host a family room dance party
Kids need a break from homework, and one good way to do it is to have a 10-minute dance party in the living room. Make it a weeknight thing, and let each family member take a turn choosing the music. It's much better to let kids get their energy out and take a break from doing homework by dancing up a storm, rather than hunkering down on the couch with video game in hand.
Use commercial breaks wisely
If you and the kids are watching TV together, use commercial breaks to challenge each other to a sit-up or pushup contest, or to see who has the best dance moves!
With older kids
Have a Wii competition
If you have the Wii video game system, this is a great way to get older kids to exercise with you. Challenge them to a boxing match, dance-off, baseball game, volleyball match or anything else athletic for a great time and connecting with junior high or high school kids, which isn't always easy.
Train for a triathlon
There are mini-triathlons or marathons for pre-teens and teens. You and your kids can connect over exercising by biking, jogging and swimming and tracking your goals together.
Older kids are more suited for longer hikes or bike rides. Take a family trip where hiking is on the agenda. Not only will you be spending excellent quality time together, but you'll get great exercise and also likely see some amazing sights.
If you think fad diets have been popping up left and right in the past two decades, you're right. The irony, of course, is that per their nature, fad diets come and go, it seems that the "fad" of having these diets has been hanging around for far too long.
In fact, one of the first known fad diets was the "vinegar and water" diet made popular in 1820 by Lord Byron. And in fact, the low-carbohydrate diet we associate with Atkins actually originated in 1825 in a piece called "The Physiology of Taste" by Jean Brillat-Savarin, and in 1863 was again popularized with Banting's Low Carbohydrate diet.
Here are some other interesting and – frankly – weird fad diets starting in the early 20th century:
- 1903: Horace Fletcher introduces "fletcherizing," or chewing food 32 times
- 1917: Counting calories is born in Lulu Hunt Peters' book on dieting and health
- 1925: One cigarette brand promoted smoking when one had the urge to eat sweets in order to lose weight
- 1930: Dr. Stoll's Diet Aid is the first liquid diet drink
- 1934: The bananas and skim milk diet, which is unsurprisingly promoted by the United Fruit Company
- 1950: The grapefruit (Hollywood) diet and cabbage soup diet are born
- 1976: Sleeping Beauty Diet, whereby individuals remained heavily sedated for many days
- 1981: Beverly Hills Diet involves eating only fruit – in unlimited quantities – for the first 10 days of the diet
- 1985: Caveman diet emerges as the first incarnation of the Paleo diet
- 1986: Rotation diet means eating a different number of calories each week
- 1994: Dr. Atkins' ever-present high protein, low carbohydrate diet is introduced
- 1996: The blood type diet first emerges, which involves eating particular foods based on your blood type
- 1999: Juicing, fasting and detoxification are promoted
- 2006: Maple syrup diet, with a syrup and lemon drink
- 2008: Banana diet, with room temperature water and a banana for breakfast
- 2010: Baby food diet – 14 jars of baby food per day, with an optional normal adult dinner
Why fad diets never work
Though many use compelling language and ideas, most nutritionists and experts agree that fad diets just don't work. In fact, many can be downright dangerous. Here's why:
- They often restrict consumption of a particular type of food that is essential to nutrition, and over-promote others, meaning your diet is lacking in essential nutrients. This can have negative effects on immune health.
- Most fad diets operate by severely restricting calories. This causes your body to shut down and the metabolism to slow in order to conserve energy and resources.
- Fad diets are a temporary food plan. They are usually completely unsustainable for the long term. Additionally, they can complicate one's relationship with food, taking all of the pleasure out of eating.
- If you do not get enough protein from your diet, you can have muscle loss, low energy and hair loss.
- Fad diets can interfere with one's metabolism because of their strict schedules.
How to spot a fad diet
There are many characteristics in common between fad diets, including:
- Not recommending or including physical activity in the diet plan.
- Encouraging unlimited consumption of particular foods.
- Severely limiting carbohydrates or fat to unhealthy levels.
- Promising rapid weight loss – more than 2 pounds per week, which is both unhealthy and unrealistic.
- Promising a quick fix, like taking a pill, which requires little effort.
- Requiring the purchase of a particular product.
- Avoiding the mention of portion control.
- The combination of particular foods in each meal.
- It sounds too good to be true.
A balanced and healthy eating plan, complemented by daily cardio exercise, is always the best way to manage your weight and be healthy. If you have questions, contact your doctor, who can help you plan or refer you to a registered dietician.
By the looks of it, this winter is not going away any time soon. If you're lucky enough to live in the Midwest, on the East Coast or anywhere else that experienced an abundance of snow this winter, you might be saying "Enough already!" But why not have a little fun in the snow while getting an excellent cardio workout to boot?
Grab an old-school toboggan, a plastic saucer or an ultra-slick tube and venture to your local sledding hill for some family fun racing down the hill. Naturally, you'll want to go down again and again, but that will require climbing the hill over and over as well. However, this is actually an excellent aerobic workout and a great way to tone your leg muscles. In fact, if you're on a medium-height and sled and climb for just 30 minutes, you'll burn between 200 and 300 calories.
Take a break from the sledding to build a snow fort or have a snowball fight before heading home to warm up with hot cocoa. Who says you can't get excellent cardio exercise in the winter?
If you aren't familiar with lactoferrin, now is the time to learn about it. This iron-binding protein, which is found in large quantities in both human and animal colostrum, has many positive health benefits. Just in case you haven't heard of colostrum, it is the first milk that a mammal mother delivers to her newborn offspring, and it's important because it kickstarts the immune system.
Lactoferrin is important because it deprives invasive bacteria of the iron they need to reproduce. It also controls cytokine releases and sends iron into the red blood cells, which is important in providing oxygen to the body's tissues.
Benefits of lactoferrin
This important protein can increase iron levels in the blood and possibly decrease inflammation. There's also some evidence that it promotes bone health in women and works as an anti-fungal.
Lactoferrin is just one component of colostrum. If you're interested in lactoferrin for the boost it can provide to your immune health, try Symbiotics Lactoferrin, which has been isolated from bovine colostrum, or consider a total colostrum supplement like Symbiotics Lactoferrin with Colostrum Plus, which naturally supports immune health and improves digestive health.
Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes baseball season, the return of outdoor runs and light sweater-weather! But if you have pollen allergies, as at least 10 percent of the U.S. population does, you're probably stocking up on tissues, eyedrops and antihistamines, and prepping for the inevitable questions about why you're crying when you're eyes well up and your nose turns red.
Vow to take control of your allergies this spring for your overall and immune health! Here are some tips and information:
Why do allergies happen?
Allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to a foreign protein that is either eaten, touched, injected or inhaled. These foreign substances can include pet dander, particular medications, certain foods, products and even insects. However, pollen is classified as a seasonal outdoor allergy, though pollen can also be ingested from certain fruits or vegetables.
What are common symptoms of pollen allergies?
The two main symptoms of pollen allergies are allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis. Allergic rhinitis translates to frequent sneezing, runny nose, congestion, post-nasal drip and an itchy palate or throat. Conjunctivitis translates to watery, itchy, swollen red eyes. People with severe conjunctivitis often feel like they can't open their eyes upon waking in the morning due to swollen and watery eyes.
When does pollen season begin?
Typically, trees begin pollinating in mid-March and end in late-May, while pollen from grass and spring weeds starts to appear in early May and lasts throughout the summer. However, as scientists have confirmed, rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels have caused the spring season to arrive sooner.
What can I do to minimize my pollen allergy symptoms?
It's pretty hard to completely avoid pollen, especially if you plan to leave your house some time between mid-March and August. But there are some things you can do to minimize your exposure to pollen, especially when pollen counts are very high, and reduce its effects. Here are some ideas:
Reduce your exposure
- After you've been outside – gardening, running or whatever else you love to do in the spring – change your clothes. It's also a good idea to take a shower to wash pollen from your skin and hair.
- While doing outside chores like pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and gardening, wear a dust mask, hat, sunglasses and thick gardening gloves to limit your exposure to pollen.
- Know the prime times for fun outdoor activities if you have pollen allergies. Plan an event or a long run after it has rained, which clears pollen from the air. Avoid too much time outside on very windy and dry days.
- Don't hang your laundry on an outdoor clothesline in the summer. The worst thing you can do is make your home a haven for pollen as well!
- Monitor pollen counts by checking your local weather channel. When experts forecast very high levels, start taking an allergy medicine or herbal remedy of your preference before your symptoms even start.
- Keep your windows and doors closed at night or during high pollen counts.
- If you want to take a run or bike ride outside, avoid doing so in the morning when pollen counts are typically highest.
- Keep the indoor air clean and pollen-free by using a dehumidifier, using a HEPA filter in your bedroom and a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and using high-efficiency filters in your home's air conditioning system.
Of course, taking a decongestant or other allergy medicine and using nasal spray might be necessary, despite the above precautions. People with very severe allergies may need regular allergy shots. Check with your doctor to see what is best for you!
If you're new to trail running or running in general, you should know that the sometimes rough and uneven nature of the terrain requires specific footwear that will stand up to the unpredictability of trail running and protect your ankles in the process – road-running shoes just won't do the trick. As spring is just around the corner, here are some helpful tips for purchasing your perfect pair of trail-running kicks:
Trail-running shoes are great for muddy conditions and wild paths that are covered with potential tripping hazards. The outsoles on trail shoes are stiffer than road shoes, and they also have deeper lugs – the raised rubber parts on the bottom of your shoes. Additionally, the tread is made of a stickier material that adds an extra layer of traction. The most important thing to know about trail shoes and their traction elements is that you should not use them on pavement for long periods of time because the lugs and entire tread will wear down very quickly.
Shoes for trail running typically have a stiffer sole as well as protective toe counters at the very front of the shoe to protect you from toe injuries, so keep an eye out for this element, which is easy to overlook. Good trail shoes do not have a mesh toe, which can be easily punctured.
Of course, it's very important that your trail-running shoes are comfortable and have some cushioning. However, it's a good idea to look for a shoe that has a thinner midsole than what you might expect. Yes, cushioning for support and comfort is important, but too much could keep you from sensing irregularities in the trail, which could actually cause your ankle to wobble and experience less stability. By having some sense of the brush, twigs, rocks and uneven trail surface underfoot, you'll be more able to adapt.
In general, people prefer lighter shoes. You might expect trail shoes to be a bit heavier due to the added structure necessary for protection and support. But do your best to find a shoe that is just light enough while still having the necessary toe protection, traction and other elements to be stable and supported on the trail. This is because the heavier a shoe is, the more energy you expend running.
There's a new trend in all types of running shoes known as minimalism. The point is to allow your foot to move in a more natural way, as if you were barefoot. These shoes are typically almost feather-light, and many people suggest this is better for your body because the sneakers are very flexible. However, regarding running on trails, minimalist shoes – even if marketed for rugged terrain – really are not ideal as they have less stability, ankle support, foot protection and durability than standard trail-running footwear.
If you'll be trail running in hot or dry climates, go for a breathable mesh upper portion of the shoe to reduce the likelihood of blisters. But try to find a weatherproof upper with a tight weave, which will keep out debris when you're running in environments with loose rocks, sticks and brush. A waterproof upper is good if you're running in very wet climates so as to avoid blisters caused by the rubbing of wet socks against shoes.
Mid-foot, trail shoes should be pretty snug. However, toward the front of the shoe, you want a space about the width of your thumb. And, when your foot lies flat, there should be no pinching along the sides. This is very important because during long runs, our feet usually swell. It's good to have al little room for that or you will be very uncomfortable. Also, pick trail shoes that fit well in the heel so your foot doesn't slide around.
Healthy core muscles are essential in providing a link between your upper and lower body. Practically every motion your body goes through is conducted through your abdominal section due to the body’s need for stability and balance. Along with the intake of vitamins and antioxidants, a proper workout regime is the key component to losing the gut and sculpting perfect washboard abs.
When you think of improving your abs, typically simple crunches and sit-ups spring to mind. Though minor improvement can arise from these standard exercises, they’re often executed poorly, resulting in lower back pain as well as little progress in strengthening the muscles. Instead, here is a list of six quick and easy exercises to build your abs and see results.
This is a quick activity that requires no machinery. First lie flat on a mat, face up, with your hands behind the back of your head. Bring your right knee up to your chest while lifting your shoulder blades up, tilting them to the right side of your body. Do the same with your left leg while shifting your shoulders to the opposite side, and continue the process with your legs simulating a pedaling motion. Do 3 sets of 15 pedals to start to feel the burn.
Position an exercise ball under your lower back with both feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Cross your arms over your chest and raise your torso off the ball, dragging your ribs down to your hips. Descend back to the ball and repeat the motion. Speed isn’t a factor with this exercise, so take your time and work out multiple reps of 10 for a few minutes
Vertical leg crunches
Here’s another workout you can do in any location. Lie on your back and extend your legs vertically, crossing them at the ankles. With your hands supporting the back of your head, lift your shoulders up toward your feet, holding that position for a few seconds and then release your chest back to resting posture while keeping your legs raised. Repeat the exercise, completing 4 sets of 15 crunches.
If you have access to an Ab-roller machine, this is a great exercise to do. To start, sit on the seat and grab both handles. Rock back and forth, making sure to move your body by contracting your abs, rather than swinging your body for momentum. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Lie back on the floor, placing your hands at your waist. With your feet together, raise them in the air until your body is positioned at 90 degrees. Contract your abs as you lift your legs so your hips curl up a few inches from the floor. Avoid simply swinging your legs upwards and focus on the lifting aspect of the exercise. You’ll especially feel the burn in the lower section of your abs with this exercise. For a good conditioning, do three sets of 15.
Put yourself into a pushup position, resting on your forearms. Push off the floor with your toes, resting on your elbows and hold that posture for 30 to 60 seconds. Keep your back flat and don’t let your rear tilt up in the air. Do three to five reps.
These are a number of quick and simple workouts constructed to strengthen your inner core muscles. Sturdy abdominal muscles are the secret to making all those hours bending over at work or at home much more comfortable. Merely doing a few of these exercises every day will provide the toning you need to finally attain that six-pack you’ve been dreaming of.
Many of us who love getting in an intense workout often wonder – "Does more sweating equal more health benefit?" It sure does feel like it. Working up a great sweat during running, kickboxing, hot yoga or even giving the house a thorough deep clean feels even better than an intense workout where we don't sweat as much.
However, there's no evidence that sweating – in and of itself – is better for your health.
"There's this entrenched idea that it's good to 'sweat things out,'" said Dr. Oliver Jay, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Ottawa in Canada, in a recent New York Times article. In fact, said Jay – who is also the director of the Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory – "sweating, per se, provides no health benefits."
More sweat is only beneficial to the body in that it equals more exercise. The reason we sweat more when the air is humid is because the perspiration doesn't evaporate from our bodies as it otherwise would, and evaporation is the mechanism that cools our bodies. Perspiring is how the body naturally regulates its temperature. Thus, in a humid situation, we sweat more, but it does not have extra health benefits over doing the same exact workout routine in a less humid environment.
And sometimes, more sweat can actually be dangerous if you don't stay hydrated. The more you sweat, the more water you should drink to stave off dehydration. Aside from during exercise, sweat is normal and common when people, are anxious, have low blood sugar, eat spicy foods or are in warmer environments.
If sweating can't be explained or is accompanied by chest pain, pressure, fever, rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath, make sure to see a doctor.