If you love your furry friend or are considering adopting a pooch, you should know that despite being human's best friend, the benefits of having a dog are abundant. Research has shown that dog ownership – and even interacting with and petting someone else's pup – has positive social, emotional and physical benefits. Here are the health benefits of having a loyal dog:
People with pet canines are more likely to be physically active because dogs need walking. This is especially true of people with large pooches – weighing over 45 pounds – because they need more exercise than smaller breeds. Other studies have even found a link between petting a dog and lowering blood pressure, and that pet owners may have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, suggesting that dog ownership or regular visits with one might contribute to improved heart health. One study even indicated that dog ownership significantly increased the survival rate of people who had a heart attack.
Additionally, other studies have shown that growing up with a dog or other pets is good for a child's immune system. According to one study of 397 1 year olds, those with dogs at home had fewer respiratory and ear infections than those without a furry friend in the home. Additionally, babies with a canine friend in their homes were rated as healthy 81 percent of the time, while babies without dogs in the house were healthy only 64 percent of the time. Researchers believe that exposure to dogs' germs is actually what helps to improve immune health in children.
Dogs can also improve emotional health. Pets have been shown to reduce depression, stress, loneliness and anxiety. Owning a pet helps to give structure to a person's day, as animals need to be taken care of regularly. Studies show that touch is very important for emotional well-being, and for those living alone, pups can provide this important physical contact. Additionally, children and adults alike often find comfort from a dog during times of grief. Dogs are often used as therapy animals in hospitals to bring comfort and happiness to children and adults with serious illnesses.
Aside from the myriad emotional and physical benefits of dog ownership, these loyal pals can also provide vital social benefits. When people go outside to walk them, they're more likely to have conversations with people around them like other pet owners – animals provide an easy topic of conversation. In one study at a veterans' hospital, people were more likely to talk with each other when a dog was in the room. This is very important for people who live alone, such as elderly adults who are more likely to be isolated.
Also, children with autism who have difficulty connecting with people are able to interact more comfortably with their pets, which may help to build a sense of empathy and promote better interactions with other people over time.
Have you seen your social media contacts post about how that extreme Piloxing workout just kicked their butts or that they're heading off to their Zumbarobics class in 10 and wondered "What am I missing?" There are some interesting new fitness fads that have everyone on their toes – literally. The question is, will they last? Here's the scoop on the latest workout trends:
Ballerinas are graceful, slim and strong, but it takes a lot of work to get that way. Pure Barre is fitness routine that was developed by a choreographer and dancer Carrie Rezabek Dorr in 2001. It's based on small isometric movements, done at a ballet barre, that tone and burn fat from the entire body. Each one-hour routine is set to motivating music. Pure Barre does not involve jumping or bouncing, so it's easy on the joints while still being an intense workout that requires meditative focus. The benefit of Pure Barre over other routines is that it creates long, lean muscle by alternating strength-training with stretching.
The intense lifestyle known as crossfit seems to have exploded on the workout scene lately, but it was actually developed in 2000 as a training for general fitness and preparedness. Workouts are typically less than 30 minutes but are high intensity and extremely varied. Some examples include climbing rope, flipping tires, jumping rope, weightlifting, pull-ups, bodyweight exercises like gymnastics and sprinting – exercises that build a lot of muscle. People who do Crossfit often also eat a Paleo diet and consider it a lifestyle.
This dance-based workout has its roots in Latin American dance. The developers of this routine call it a "calorie-burning, dance-fitness party" because it's so fun that you won't even realize you're getting a workout. Its basis is aerobic activities, which are important for heart health, including interval training, resistance training, and fast and slow rhythms to the beat of lively music.
High intensity interval training (HIIT)
This workout style has been around since the 1970s, but it's coming back with a vengeance as people seek to find ways to pack more and more into their busy days. High intensity interval training relies on alternating between periods of intense activity, followed by periods of rest or lower-intensity movements. HIIT exercises are highly efficient and can be done anywhere, and they provide heart healthy and fat-burning exercises. For example, one basic workout is to run as fast as you can for one minute and then walk for two minutes, repeating this four more times for a 15-minute workout.
Drawing some inspiration from the military, boot camp workouts have become increasingly popular lately. They're fun because exercises have a lot of variability – based on the principles of strength, agility and cardio, and they're convenient – you need little more than your own body weight and an instructor. These bare essential exercises include things like jumping jacks, squats, sprints and pushups with little rest in between.
For some people, their playlists make all the difference between lackluster cardio workouts and the most refreshing workouts. The key to choosing your perfect cardio jams is to pick songs that match where you want your heartbeat to be during each part of the workout. Here are some tips for engineering your playlist:
Of course you should choose songs that you enjoy and that really pump you up, but it's important to place songs in the correct order for the maximum effectiveness. Pick songs based on their beats per minute (BPM). If you aren't sure how to find the BPM, you can use the site jog.fm to search for your favorite songs and determine where to place them in your routine. This site also offers playlist suggestions based on the time it takes you to run 1 mile. If you don't have time to engineer your own list, there are two new iPhone apps – Tempo Run and Cruise Control: Run – that will choose music for you based on your pace.
Keep in mind that the pacing of the music you choose will differ depending on whether you're running several miles or going for a fast-paced 5k. If you're running a marathon, most of your songs will be between 120 and 130 BPM, with a few higher BPM songs to get you pumped up when you need it most. If you're running shorter distances, here are some song ideas for each part of the workout:
Whether you're biking, running or spending time on the elliptical, it's important to have a warm-up so you don't pull anything. Pick two warm-up songs that are around 120 BPM. Here are some ideas:
- Song of the summer: "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke, Pharrell, 121 BPM
- Song of last summer: "We Found Love" by Rihanna, 128 BPM
- Alternative: "Hearts on Fire" by Cut Copy, 125 BPM
- Throwback: "Push It" Salt-N-Pepa, 128 BPM
Depending on how hard and long you plan to run, your cardio songs will probably be more than 145 BPM for sprints and between 130 and 140 for your recovery period. Here are some good ones:
- Song of the summer: "Ceiling Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, 146 BPM
- Song of last summer: "Rude Boy" by Rihanna, 174 BPM
- Alternative: "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure, 151 BPM
- Throwback: "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" by The Police, 165 BPM
A cool-down is also important for a cardio workout because it will reduce your muscle soreness later on and it allows your heart rate to gradually decline, helping you stave off post-workout dizziness. Pick two cool-down songs that are around 110 BPM, such as:
- Song of the summer: "Some Nights" by FUN, 108 BPM
- Song of last summer: "What Doesn't Kill You" by Kelly Clarkson, 116 BPM
- Alternative: "Gives You Hell" by The All-American Rejects, 100 BPM
- Throwback: "Rock Your Body" by Justin Timberlake, 101 BPM
Stand up paddleboarding, also known as SUP, has become an extremely popular sport for anyone living or vacationing near a body of water. Why has SUP become so popular? Besides the cool name and the fact that, unlike surfing, no massive tidal waves are involved, SUP is pretty strenuous, making it an excellent workout. Here are the basics about SUP:
What is it?
Stand up paddleboarding is a sport in which you stand on a board, similar to a surfboard, and use a single paddle to travel around on the water. It first originated in the 1960s in Hawaii as a way for instructors to take photos of the tourists learning to surf. Additionally, experienced surfers found that standing on their surfboards with a paddle was an efficient way to travel further distances to catch big waves.
SUP started gaining traction as a sport in the mid-2000s, partly because it's easy to learn. Surfers, snowboarders, skiers and other athletes use SUP as a cross-training activity because it provides an awesome full-body workout.
Everyone else is catching on, too. You can rent paddleboards and take lessons at virtually any tourist spot that is located near a body of water.
How can you get fit with SUP?
While standing on a paddleboard provides excellent views, it also provides a great core workout because it takes a lot of balance to stay upright.
The body's core is composed of abdominal muscles and the small muscles in the lower back. Getting a good core workout is important for athletes because it's transferable to any sport one plays. During SUP, you must continuously adjust your body weight from one foot to the other as you paddle to maintain balance on the board on an uneven surface – the water. You might only be slightly aware of it, but the motion of paddling causes you to rotate your torso while at the same time shifting your core muscles to balance against the force of your foot on the board as you lean forward to paddle. This twisting provides an excellent core workout. Just make sure to stretch before you hit the water!
There's also a new trend emerging in paddleboard fitness – SUP yoga. As balance and a strong core are important in yoga, doing different positions on a paddleboard is taking blanace and core strength to the next level! It's not recommended for beginners in either SUP or yoga, but one can likely work up to that point.
If you're buying a gym membership or fitness class package for your significant other as a gift – at his or her request, of course – a good accompaniment is brand spanking new workout clothing. Here are some tips for picking the right outfits to help your spouse be ready to hit the gym:
The type of workout gear needed depends on what your spouse likes to do for exercise. If he or she is a yoga fanatic, long pants for men and cropped pants for women are the ideal garb because they're comfortable for a meditative state and allow people to do interesting poses without accidentally revealing too much. If your spouse enjoys biking, long spandex shorts are preferable to prevent chafing. The necessary fitness clothing also depends on where your spouse will be working out, and when – a run in an air-conditioned gym is much different than a run outside in 90-degree weather.
Also, look for products made from breathable fabrics, like 100 percent cotton or a cotton blend. Another excellent rule of thumb is to look for clothes made from dry-fit materials, which keep the skin dry by removing moisture from the body. This is particularly important in cold weather, where any extra moisture from sweat can cause the body to cool too much.
Buying for her
If you don't know what color to buy for her, black is always good for pants or tight-fitting wear. Bright, colorful options are good for running shorts and loose-fitting tanks or tops. Workout clothing doesn't have to be highly fashionable, but oftentimes, people feel more confident and are more motivated when they're wearing something they like. Unless you know your spouse's exact brand, style and size preferences in sports bras, it's best to avoid guessing and buying her one. Women often have to try on several styles before they find one that works perfectly because fit is really important in support garments. When in doubt, stick to the workout basics!
Buying for him
If you're shopping for him, it should be pretty easy to find workout wear as men are notoriously unconcerned about what they put on to run or hit the gym. However, if your spouse is into yoga, you'll have to shop online or look at specialized yoga stores to find yoga pants – you're unlikely to find these at typical department stores. When shopping for support garments, the same goes for men – unless you know the exact brand, size and style that he prefers, avoid buying compression shorts and other supportive underwear.
Whether she's playing svelte Quorra in the "Tron" film series or the secretive-but-sexy Dr. Thirteen in "House M.D.," others look to Olivia Wilde for tips on how she stays healthy and fit.
It's a well-known fact that Olivia is a fully committed vegan. In fact, she was named PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity in 2010. In an interview published in the January/February 2011 edition of Women's Health Magazine, she and the interviewer spent some time at a vegan macrobiotic hut on Venice Beach. Though one can't speculate what Olivia eats, a vegan diet is typically much lower in fat and cholesterol than that of meat-eaters, and it includes several other health benefits: it can lower cholesterol and blood pressure and decrease one's risk for cancer and heart disease. Olivia said she likes to experiment with leafy greens and other veggies she finds at the farmers' markets.
In the same article, Olivia also reveals that she has a varied and active workout routine, including biking, hiking, taking ballet and modern dance classes, doing yoga and attending spin classes. She said that to fit into her snug and sexy cat suit for "Tron" she did 45 minutes of cardio per day and added in martial arts, weights and cross training to get her fabulous muscles. Olivia revealed that, though it was fun, being muscular is not a priority – at least not until the next film.
"It's not my natural resting state," she told the magazine, "Striving for physical perfection takes a lot of energy."
Tips from her "Tron" Trainer
But if you liked Olivia's look in "Tron", you can get her results. After the first film, Olivia's trainer, Patrick Murphy, revealed to Self magazine that Quorra's role required a demanding combination of strength, balance, stability and grace, all of which Wilde perfected with a specially designed routine. He said that many of his celebrity clients use his circuit workout:
"These multi-dimensional, compound exercises help many of my clients gain muscle and burn mass calories, giving them the lean look that they strive for," Murphy told the source.
The regimen includes 5 to 10 minutes of cardio, followed by a circuit of various lunges, squats, bicep curls, shoulder presses, rows and pushups. This routine is very similar to the one Olivia used for her role.
Yoga and Pilates both focus on flexibility and strength training of the entire body, as well as breathing, and they both have benefits ranging from heart to immune system health. However, yoga and Pilates are different in that yoga is often more spiritual – it's about the union of the mind and body - while Pilates is an exercise routine focused on precise movements to target particular areas. Here are the basics of both types of exercise along with an overview of their respective fitness foci:
Most people don't realize that pilates was actually developed by a man named Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, though it didn't become popular until the 1980s. This exercise program focuses on strength, flexibility and balance through controlled movements based on dynamic tension – exercising muscle against muscle for self-resistance. You need very little equipment to practice Pilates – a majority of the exercises can be done on a mat.
Pilates exercises often require repetitive, quick and controlled movements for the best results. The most basic Pilates exercises are the hundred, the roll-up, the one-leg circle and the saw.
The practice of yoga has a much longer tradition than Pilates and is more focused on achieving the unison of mind and body in a meditative state. There is evidence of yoga in remnant Shamanistic texts dating back to 3000 B.C. Yoga is also deeply connected to Buddhism and the sought after goal of attaining self-enlightenment. Today, there are more than 100 schools of yoga, though all are based on meditation, breathing, relaxation, and proper diet and exercise.
The most common form of yoga practiced in the U.S. is Hatha yoga. Another popular practice is Bikram yoga, or hot yoga, were a series of 26 postures are performed in a room that is 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 percent humidity. Many people like Bikram because it raises your heart rate and tires your muscles with demanding poses. However, exercising in such high temperatures can be dangerous so people are encouraged to check with their doctors before practicing.
Some basic and popular yoga poses for beginners include cat, cow, downward dog, tree, lotus, and warrior one and two. Advanced practitioners of yoga may be able to complete demanding poses like crow, peacock and standing split – all of which require supreme balance, strength and flexibility.
This is by far the most important and hardest skill to have when you are training the human body. Why is it so important? The body is a very complex system but it can do so much more than any of us can imagine. It does not happen overnight and it requires patience, time, consistency, proper intensity, nutrition, timing, and a great work ethic. Some people listen to their bodies and succeed and then some people listen to their inner voice and fall short of their fitness goals.
There is a certain skill that one needs to obtain to differentiate between “my body really is physically exhausted and it needs to stop working out so it can be repaired”VS. “I really just want to quit because I’m mentally tired and mentally ready to give up, but truthfully my body is not tired, it’s just in my head”. We can be our biggest hero, or biggest enemy, but self honesty and self awareness will help us accurately listen to our bodies and become mentally and physically tough. It may seem like a simple thing but you would be very surprised at how many athletes have absolutely no idea what is going on with their own bodies.
We listen to our bodies to:
- Identify injuries before they become serious.
- Figure out if we are working TOO HARD or NOT ENOUGH.
- Measure progress or decline in our fitness.
- Identify if our nutrition is adequate.
- Identify if our sleep / rest is adequate.
- Hey, you only get one body… So listen to it!
Here are some tools that can help you become more self aware of what is happening with your body.
Heart Rate Monitor (or HRM) – Helps to measure heart rate during exercise or to measure your resting heart rate. An HRM will help you maintain the proper intensity needed to obtain your specific fitness goals.
Weight Scale - Your weight is not the main factor of determining your health. BUT, a scale can provide raw data that can help you become more aware of how your body is reacting to the training you are putting your body through.
Calorie counter on your smart phone or computer - Try this! Don’t change anything and for one week and track every single calorie that you consume. Most people will be utterly shocked at the large number of calories they are consuming. Others will be shocked at the lack of calories they are consuming. Either way you can track the amount of food you are taking in and figure out if you need more or less food to increase your overall performance with your fitness goals.
I’ll leave you with this, more data equals a greater chance of success, period. Flying blind and constantly guessing will eventually lead to failure, decline, or inconsistency in your fitness performance. Inform yourself by learning to listen to your body.
Cheers and Happy Training!
I’m Dustin, and this is my son Boston… First, I’m a dad before anything else, after that I’m a 31 year old vegan expatriate Hoosier living right outside of New Orleans, LA.
On June 12th, 2011 I had a bit of a wake up call and began my road to the ironman 140.6 mile endurance event and after that I’ve got some big plans, so it won’t end there… This is my outlet to vent, rant, promote, and let everyone know what’s up.
Busy people don't often have time to eat three balanced meals daily. If you need to have lunch on the go, you might find yourself in a situation where your only option is a bag of potato chips, a handful of cereal and a candy bar. If you're a vegan, your quick lunch options are even more limited due to a restricted diet. However, there are still choices that are fast, healthy and even tasty.
One great option is the VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake, which comes in chocolate, vanilla or chai flavors. These shakes have everything you need for a great addition to your well-balanced meal, including 20 grams of non-GMO, plant-based proteins; 6 grams of dietary fiber; 200 mg of Omega-3s; 22 vitamins and minerals, including more than a full serving of vitamin B12, which can be difficult to find in a vegan diet; whole foods with natural antioxidants and flavonoids (from nine different vegetables and fruits); probiotics and digestive enzymes.
The VeganSmart nutritional shakes are also healthy because they include no trans fats, cholesterol, or artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors or preservatives. Additionally, they are gluten, dairy and soy free.
Whether you choose to use VeganSmart for a quick addition to your meal on a busy day or you hope to cut junk out of your diet by filling up on a healthy shake instead, it's a great vegan option. Mix 2 full scoops of VeganSmart into 11 ounces of cold juice, water or another beverage, then shake it up and you're done. The best thing about this nutritional shake is that it is a well-balanced option. Keep a container of it at home, at work or even in your car if you roll like that.
Doctors often warn vegans and vegetarians about the importance of getting enough protein, but having a good protein intake isn't as simple as eating a steak every now and then. The truth is that even the most avid meat eater can have too little protein in their diet, while some vegetable lovers may have too much! There are pros and cons to a diet that's high in vegetable protein as well as one that's high in animal protein, so here's what you need to know about both of these lifestyles.
Most muscles and organs are made up of proteins, as protein is responsible for nearly all of the processes that occur in the body. The body doesn't store protein, which is why it's so important to ensure that you're getting enough in your diet each day.
According to Mother Nature Network, protein is made up of amino acids, which our bodies break down to form new proteins. From there, protein allows us to build cell and muscle tissue in our bodies. It also helps with tissue repair in the event of an injury, keeps you feeling energized and contributes to healthy hair, skin and nails. The key difference between animal and vegetable protein is in their amino acid profiles and the rate at which our bodies can absorb amino acids and put them to use.
Because animal protein is more similar to protein found in the human body, it is used up more rapidly than those found in plants. Protein that comes from animals is considered to be more complete, because it contains all of the essential amino acids that the body needs to function effectively.
But despite these proteins' completeness and compatibility with the human body, there are risks associated with animal proteins. They can be high in cholesterol and fat – especially saturated fat – and a healthy diet shouldn't contain too much of either. Many animal proteins are also high in sodium.
Veggies are great because they're low in calories and fat, and packed with vitamins and minerals - but most don't contain nearly as much protein per serving as meats do. In addition, the proteins that they do contain are less complete than those found in animal meat, meaning that they don't contain all of the various amino acids that the body requires.
However, there are vegetable products that are high in protein and can act as a great substitute for meat in most vegan and vegetarian diets. FitDay reported that tofu and other soy-based products actually do contain all the essential amino acids, and can therefore be a protein-packed alternative to red meats. Additionally, lentils and other legumes are a well-rounded snack that's high in protein, iron and fiber. Beans and peas are both versatile vegetables that are full of protein and vitamins like folate and zinc that aid in cell growth. Artichokes are another veggie that's full of protein and fiber and low in calories, making them a great choice for those who don't get a lot of animal protein on a daily basis.
Finding a balance
Vegetarians and vegans need to ensure that they're getting a variety of different vegetable proteins in their diet, including nuts, legumes and grains but also fruits and vegetables. This ensures that your body is getting all of the various amino acids it needs to perform at its peak.
For meat eaters, it's important to strike a balance between animal and vegetable protein. It's a good idea to limit your intake of red meat, as it's higher in cholesterol and fat, and instead opt for fish or poultry. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike should also consider a protein meal replacement like VeganSmart All-in-One Nutritional Shake or a healthy protein-rich snack like pea protein powder to ensure that they're getting enough.