There is no better feeling than collapsing into your bed after a long morning or afternoon for a short, yet extremely satisfying cat nap. Remember the scheduled naps you used to take in kindergarten or preschool? If it were up to most of us, those naps would be implemented in offices everywhere. These naps don't just help you to feel more well rested and alert, they offer several benefits that many are unaware of. In fact, they may be more productive than we think. Even well-known men like Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush have been known to value a solid afternoon nap. There are even different types of napping: planned, emergency and habitual napping. But whichever you choose, you're sure to feel more alert and awake when you wake up. Next time you lay down for a nap, here are all of the health benefits you're getting out of it:
Helps you stay alert
Perhaps one of the most obvious benefits of napping is that it can help keep you alert for the rest of the day. Even just 20 minutes of sleep has been shown to have a positive affect in perking up office workers. According to a NASA study, pilots who took a 40-minute nap showed much higher levels of alertness than those who didn't nap.
Do you have a lot of things you need to get done by the end of the day but don't feel you can quite tackle them? Lay down and take a nap. While this may feel slightly counterproductive, trust us, you're doing yourself a favor. A short power nap can be the perfect pick-me-up, maybe even proving to be more effective than your average cup of coffee.
A nap is quite relaxing and can take your mind off of any stressful occurrences that may be happening during your day. By relieving stress, you can help boost your body's immune system and feel more ready to tackle whatever the day brings. In other words, think of your nap as a little mini-vacation. You may not be on a beach, but you'll certainly be relaxed.
Improves memory and learning
While a longer nap may leave you more groggy than you intended, your brain may be benefiting from it. Brain activity remains higher in nappers all day when compared to people who don't take a moment to catch some zzz's. A 90-minute nap could help mental fatigue vanish.
Tips for getting the best nap:
- Keep the nap around 20 to 30 minutes, which provides you with the best benefits for improved alertness and performance without leaving you groggy and even more tired than you were.
- Find a restful place with little noise and light. Also make sure the temperature in the room is comfortable to help you fall asleep.
- Choose the proper time – if it's too late in the day, you may not be able to fall asleep at bedtime, but if it's too early, your body may not be prepared for more sleep.
Without stress we wouldn't know relaxation. In fact, sometimes just a little bit of stress can be a good thing – it keeps us aware of what's going on. However, too much stress can lead to health problems, including throwing the immune system out of whack. And frankly, being stressed out isn't a feeling many chase after. Thankfully, there are plenty of healthy ways to naturally bring down your stress levels to feel more relaxed and at ease.
When you break a sweat, your body releases feel-good endorphins, also known as the body's natural pain killers, which help to boost your mood and calm you down. Exercise also reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol.
The best part about meditation is that it can be done virtually anywhere – at work, the gym, at the store or at home. It only takes about 15 to 30 minutes per day, making it easy to ward off stress even on a busy schedule. Find a quiet place and let your thoughts run free, just focusing on breathing in and out.
Filling up on junk food can actually tend to make people depressed. Calorie-packed foods momentarily relieve the stress, but too much can contribute to an unhealthy weight and only leave us coming back for more shortly after. Eating healthy, however, can help you to manage stress. Fruits, veggies, antioxidants and vitamins fuel the body to keep it strong for the entire day, helping you to maintain both physical and mental health.
Much of the stress we experience during the day comes from our phones and computers. Set aside some time each day to disconnect from all of your electronics. By doing so, you can block some of the causes of stress and allow you to really take in the moment.
Listen to music
Pop in some headphones and let the music do the rest. This is an effective way to reduce stress by lowering heart rate and blood pressure. According to Greatist.com, music may also help to calm down those who are visiting the dentist or the doctor.
Laugh it off
You know that euphoric feeling when you laugh really, really hard at something? Well, not only is that feeling unbeatable, it may help lower your stress levels. Laughter increases blood flow and even boosts the immune system by increasing levels of interferon gamma-1b, a key compound in the fight against infection. According to a study in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences, mirthful laughter has been linked to lower blood levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. So if you're stressed, take a moment and watch that funny YouTube video or talk to a friend who can always get a laugh out of you.
Get lost in a book
Next time you find yourself a little worse for wear, crack open a book. Even just six minutes of reading is enough to bring down those stress levels. Have a book with you if you have some down time at work or on your commute home for a bit of relaxation.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle means exercising and eating right. But sometimes, the vitamins and minerals your body needs aren't as easy to get through diet and exercise. In fact, we need certain nutrients that our bodies don't make, but require to function properly. Many women turn to supplements to complete what their bodies need to stay healthy. But with all of the pills on the market, how are we supposed to know which one to take? Here is a guide to the best supplements and vitamins for women:
A lack of iron in the diet can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath and even a weakened immune system. Iron carries oxygen in the body and helps to produce red blood cells, support immune health and regulate body temperature. Iron can be found in foods like red meat, fish, turkey, chicken, cereals, whole grains, dark leafy green vegetables and beans. However, if you're a vegetarian or don't get enough iron in your diet, consider opting for a supplement as well.
Vitamin D, which comes from sunlight, is great for strengthening bones and promoting joint health. Without it, your bones can become thin or brittle. You can find this powerful vitamin in fatty fish like salmon, tuna and fish liver oil. There is a smaller concentration found in vitamin D-fortified milk, orange juice, beef liver and cheese.
Also found in fish are omega-3s. These are fatty acids that promote heart health, ward off memory loss and strengthen bones. They're found in fish, walnuts and flaxseed. However, one of the best sources of omega-3s are fish oil supplements. Women's Health Magazine suggested taking less than three grams per day because fish oil can thin your blood.
This powerful supplement aids in digestion and even keeps keep reproductive health in check. It can be found in yogurt and other dairy products. But if you're not into dairy, Naturade Probiotics 30 B CFU naturally supports your body's defenses and helps to restore and maintain intestinal flora.
This antioxidant is great for protecting the skin against damaging UV rays and can even promote heart health, boost memory and help the immune system. While you can find vitamin E supplements, it's also found in almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, wheat germ, safflower oil and spinach.
Magnesium helps to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps the heart rhythm steady and even supports a healthy immune system. It can be found in supplements as well as green vegetables like okra and beans, nuts, seeds and unrefined whole grains.
Now that summer is almost here, your travel plans are nearing as well. Whether you're headed to the beaches of Florida or are exploring the streets of Rome, you'll want to make sure that you arrive to your destination healthy and stay feeling great throughout your trip.
Traveling can take a toll on the immune system, whether it's from the stressors of getting to your destination or staying up late and taking part in more social engagements. Here are a few tips to keep your immune system in tip-top shape so you can enjoy your summer vacation without the sniffles:
Drinking lots of water can ward off dehydration – which is one of the most common contributors to summer sickness. You're sweating more, which means you're losing moisture. Replace the water you've lost by amping up your fluid intake. This doesn't have to mean just chugging water, however. Fruits like cantaloupe and watermelon have high H2O content to keep you full and hydrated.
Consume more vitamin C and D
Both of these vitamins ensure that your immune system is ready to go prior to your trip. Think of vitamins C and D as the guardians standing at the front gate of your immune system. Without them, bacteria and unwanted substances are more likely to get into your body and wreak havoc on your summer vacation. Vitamin C and D can be found in many foods as well as in supplement form. Also found in supplement form is Naturade's Symbiotics Colostrum Plus which further helps to produce a balanced immune response.
Opt for fresh air
While hot and humid summer days may prompt you to spend all day enjoying the air conditioning in your hotel, this may not be helping your chances for warding the summer sniffles. Recycled air can give unwanted substances a chance to flourish and spread. Air conditioning also removes moisture from the air, causing dryness. Take the time to enjoy the great outdoors and breathe in some fresh air.
If you know you're leaving for vacation in a week or so, get an ample amount of sleep beforehand to prepare your immune system. Sleep deprivation can weaken the system and make it more susceptible to developing an illness. Sleep produces more natural levels of melatonin, restoring the immune system.
Maintain good oral health
While your oral health may be an afterthought when it comes to preventing a cold, it can play a big role in your overall health. Brush and floss and use antiseptic mouthwash before and after your trip to keep bacteria away.
Wash your hands
The cardinal rule of staying healthy has always been to wash your hands – and that is no different when you're on the road.
It's often hard to find the motivation to get out of bed in the morning and head straight for the gym. In fact, simply making yourself exercise is often more difficult than the physical activity itself! But working out improves the immune system and may even lower cholesterol among many other health benefits, so it's important to schedule a workout into your calendar. One thing that may help to increase your motivation and get you on your way to exercising to the best of your ability is music.
According to a study conducted by the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, music can indeed have a profound effect on a workout. In the study, 12 healthy male college students were asked to ride stationary bikes while listening to music of various tempos popular among the undergraduate population. The results showed that when the tempo decreased, their pedaling did too, along with their heart rate and mileage. On the other hand, when they listened to more upbeat tunes, they produced more power per pedal and covered more miles in the same period of time. A faster tempo often forces the body to move in time with the rhythm of the music.
While these fast-beat songs didn't seem to take away from the toughness of the workout, participants of the study did notice that they seemed to be more motivated to push themselves.
As many may already know, working out isn't always the most mentally stimulating activity. It often gets boring and we need a way to keep that motivation going throughout the duration of the exercise. Listening to music is a way of keeping your mind busy so you're not as focused on how hard you're working. It may not be that music directly motivates you – it's a combination of your body responding to the music even before your mind realizes it and your heart rate increasing in correspondence with tempo.
Here are some upbeat songs that may pump up your workout and take it to the next level:
- "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes
- "Harlem Shake" by Baauer
- "Wolfmother" by Joker and the Thief
- "Troublemaker" by Olly Murs & Flo Rida
- "Take A Walk" by Passion Pit
- "Here It Goes Again" by OK Go
- "Please Don't Stop the Music" by Rihanna
- "Shake It Out" by Florence & The Machine
- "Come & Get It" by Selena Gomez
- "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk & Pharrell
When you're trying to drop the pounds, a snack doesn't have to consist of one cracker and then starving yourself until your next meal. In fact, snacking on the right foods will keep your metabolism going so that you burn more calories, even when you're sitting! Following a few general snacking rules can help keep you on track.
- Stick to a 100-200 calorie snack
- The best time to snack is three hours after breakfast and another three hours after lunch
- Mix it up – go for foods containing fiber, protein and nutrients
- Go with small portions
When you open up your kitchen cabinets or your fridge, however, it's not always easy to find a snack that pleases your palate that is also healthy. Snacking doesn't have to be boring. Here are a few snacks to keep you full in between meals and help you stay on track to losing weight:
Now that summertime is almost here, tomatoes are about to be at their peak of flavor. There's nothing better than a fresh tomato on a summer day. Slice one up and top it with a bit of olive oil and feta cheese for a quick snack that won't leave you overly full.
Next time you hit the couch and are craving a snack, make yourself a bowl of popcorn sans butter and tons of salt. You can eat four whole cups of the stuff and get healthy grains, fiber and even a little protein.
Pick up a few cantaloupes at the supermarket and when you get hungry, grab a spoon and dig in. This super sweet fruit isn't only delicious, it contains beta-carotene and lots of water to keep you hydrated (and full).
Brush corn tortillas cut into wedges with 1 tablespoon melted low-fat butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes and you have crispy chips to dip into cool nonfat vanilla yogurt that will completely transform snack time.
Strawberries and cool whip
If you have quite the sweet tooth, satisfy your craving without overindulging with some strawberries and 3 tablespoons of nonfat cool whip. You'll be getting antioxidants while still filling up on sweetness.
As you're running out the door, whip up a chocolate or vanilla meal replacement shake to keep you full. Add in a few scoops of Naturade Total Soy protein powder and enjoy a cool snack filled with protein, fiber and amazing taste.
Maintaining a healthy heart throughout your life is essential for keeping a healthy body and improving factors like flexibility, endurance and strength. While eating a balanced diet is a key part of keeping a healthy heart, exercise is the other vital component. Here are some exercises that are going to benefit your ticker:
Finding your Zen could mean improved heart health. Yoga has been shown to decrease stress, which helps to lower blood pressure and put less impact on the heart. It also increases lung capacity, improves respiratory function, heart rate and immune health, and boosts circulation and muscle tone.
This aquatic activity is not only great for the joints, it works wonders for the heart as well. Due to the resistance from moving in the water, your muscles have to work harder to move, helping to improve your muscle strength and tone. Swimming works the heart and lungs and trains the body to use oxygen more efficiently, which often results in a decline of the resting heart rate.
If running is too hard on your joints, walking at a particularly brisk pace is great for improving your fitness and helping your heart to stay healthy. In fact, a brisk walk wards off poor heart health just as much as running does.
Interval training includes combining high intensity exercise with a normal speed and switching off between the two. If you're walking, you might walk at a faster pace for about a minute, then go back down to your normal speed for three minutes, then repeat the process. By doing so, your heart has to work harder to continuously lower and raise your heart rate. This burns calories, improves cardiovascular function and essentially makes the body better at getting fat and sugar out of the blood. You can do the same with strength training exercises by doing more reps or moving to a higher weight.
Children are extremely impressionable. If you go outside and go for a run, they're going to want to do the same. If you yell at the football game on TV, they're going to want to do the same. And if you reach for a big piece of cake to snack on, they're going to want a piece as well. All of these habits stick with children well into adulthood, so it's important to get your children on a path to eating healthy while they're young. But that isn't always an easy task. Here are a few ways to promote healthy eating to your little one:
Bring them along to the store
Have your child be your little shopping assistant. Shop around the produce department and have them pick out fruits and vegetables that they would like to try out. They may be interested in certain item due to its name, color or shape. This way, they're going to want to try it when they get home.
Let them help out at home
When you're making dinner, encourage your children to help you out. Even the youngest of children can help wash vegetables or peel potatoes. If they're the ones making the food, they're going to be excited to try out what they created, including new foods as well as fruits and vegetables containing lots of antioxidants, helping them to eat healthier without even realizing it.
If you have to whip something up really quick, it's likely you're going to reach for food that can easily be microwaved. However, those are the foods that often aren't the best when it comes to nutritional content. Instead, try to plan dinners ahead so they're all well-balanced and include a variety of food groups, such as fruits, whole grains and vegetables.
Offer a fun dip
Vegetables alone won't look appealing to kids. But when you pair it with hummus or some ranch salad dressing, those vegetables look much more appetizing. When you offer these dips to children, they'll have fun dipping and munching their healthy treat.
When you work an eight-hour workday, there's not much time (or energy) left at the end of the day for a workout. Packing up and making a trip to the gym is sometimes just not an option. But what if the office was your gym? You may not be able to hop on the treadmill while you're on a conference call, but there are plenty of other ways to sneak in a workout at the office.
Take the stairs
You may be used to just grabbing your coffee and heading straight for the elevator in the morning, but you may want to think about taking the stairs instead. A little cardio can even boost the immune system. It may not seem like much, but that little bit of exercise everyday can really add up. Every stair is a quarter-calorie burn. If you come into work a little earlier than usual, go up and down the stairs a few times to burn even more calories and get those leg muscles toned. You could even do squats right on the stairs. Stand sideways on a stair and do half-legged squats on each leg – you'd be surprised how difficult they are!
Squeeze at your seat
Sitting in a chair for eight hours can be rough on the body. Keep yourself moving right at your desk by squeezing your buttocks for five to 10 seconds, then release. You could also try squeezing a pen and focusing on your forearm muscles. You'll be burning calories while just sitting there doing your work – and you won't even have to get out of your chair.
While sitting at your desk, straighten either one or both legs and hold them off the ground for five or more seconds. Then lower them back toward the ground without letting the feet touch the floor. If you want even more of a challenge, try putting a book or a briefcase on top of your feet for added weight.
To work your core, hold onto your desk and lift your feet off the ground. Use your abs to swivel the chair from side to side for about 15 reps – you'll be on your way to a more toned core.
While many have the goal to shed pounds, there are also those who wish to bulk up a bit and raise the number they see on that scale every day. Whether you wish to gain weight to achieve a more muscular and toned body or for health reasons, here are a few tips that are going to help speed up the process and get you to your goal weight:
Work on gaining muscle
Strength training is essential for speeding up your weight gain. Muscle weighs more than fat, helping you to get that much closer to packing on the pounds. Next time you hit the gym, try to do a combination of cardio and strength training to not only help you build muscle, but to stimulate your appetite as well. Work all muscle groups, doing exercises like squats, bicep curls, planks, seated rows, chin ups and more. As a general rule, lifting fewer reps with larger weights will help you gain bulky muscle, while lifting a greater amount of lighter weights will promote leaner muscle gain.
Consume lots of protein
Gaining weight fast means eating more calories. However, this doesn't mean that you can fill up on greasy fast food all the time. Instead, look for items that are packed with protein to help promote muscle growth. A meal replacement shake is the perfect way to consume more calories without all of the added fat. Reach for a protein powder like Naturade Weight Gain. It's packed with protein, carbohydrates and calories to enhance your weight training routine. Put a few scoops into your favorite shake and drink it for a post-workout meal that will feed your muscles.
If you expect to gain weight, you have to consume more calories than you expend. This means eating five to six times per day, at least. When you eat, your metabolic rate increases, helping muscle to grow. Stick to reasonable portions to avoid that overly full feeling. You can have three to four meals with snacks in between. Make sure you're eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein. Incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein sources like beans, dairy, nuts, and meat or fish. It's not about simply packing your stomach, it's about what you put in it.
Have snacks on the go
Instead of reaching for a donut when you're running out the door, have protein-packed snacks ready to go. Foods like trail mix, peanut butter, dried fruit, veggies and dip, smoothies and sunflower seeds are perfect for getting extra calories without the added fat.