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I remember the days when I had time to drive to the gym for a workout multiple times a week. Now as a busy mother of four, those days long gone! However, that doesn't mean my fitness level has to suffer. I'm still able to squeeze in a good workout in the morning before the rest of my family wakes up. By investing in a few key pieces of equipment, I've been able to create quality, low-cost workouts without ever leaving the house—and you can, too! Read More ›
Over the past decade alone, yoga has exploded into a multi-million dollar industry. Nearly 21 million Americans actively participate in yoga, spending more than $10 billion a year on classes and products (including equipment, clothing, retreats and videos), with the majority of novice practitioners citing general wellness, stress management or weight loss as one of their primary motivations for taking up the practice.
However, the roots of yoga are spiritual, not physical, which is the way we think of yoga today. Body-focused yoga styles (that focus on toning, weight loss and physical transformations) are a modern, Western phenomenon. There's no doubt that the benefits yoga offers for the physical body appeals to Americans, even though yoga can be so much more than a physical fitness regimen.
So can yoga really help you lose weight? Is there any truth or science to claims that any set of yoga postures can boost your metabolism, help you slim down, or give you that coveted "yoga body"? Read More ›
It sounds like you're referring to a "calories in vs. calories out" type of equation. First you need to understand that one pound of fat is made up of roughly 3,500 extra calories. So in order to lose one pound of fat, you need to create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories. Read More ›
Last summer, I surprised a few family members by asking if they wanted to form a team to do a mud run. I’m not known as adventurous—or as someone who likes to get dirty—but mud races were becoming so popular among runners (and non-runners alike) that I was ready to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. To my delight, the race was lots of fun and definitely something I’d do again in the future.
Mud runs have exploded in popularity over the past few years. One example is the Warrior Dash, which started as one run in 2009 with 2,000 participants. In 2012, 65 Warrior Dash events were held across the world, involving more than 1 million participants. Today, you have no shortage of mud-related "obstacle" races from which to choose. Each race is different, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into before you sign up. Read More ›
Fasting has long been touted as a healthy process with many benefits such as cleaning the system, ridding the body of so-called toxins, benefiting the intestinal track, boosting metabolism, and jumpstarting weight loss. However none of these notions is true, nor is any of them backed up by medical research.
While a short-term fast probably won’t harm most people, it could be quite dangerous for others, depending on their medical conditions, health histories, and medication use. I strongly urge you to talk to your physician before ever starting or considering a fast.
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When recovering from a sprain, the first goal is to slowly regain a full range of movement. The first 24 hours are important for icing, rest and elevation to reduce the amount of inflammation. It's important to start rehabilitation exercises as soon as possible, depending on the severity of the sprain.
If you can’t do weight bearing exercises, try this: Rotate your ankle and point your toes in different directions, spelling the alphabet with your toes to improve range of motion. You can also use a towel or resistance band to provide a little resistance at the ankle to help build up strength again.
Once you feel comfortable with weight bearing exercises, try this one: Stand against a wall (with your side to the wall) with your sprained foot supported on one side by the wall. Put all weight on that one foot. Start with 5-10 seconds and work your way up to longer times. If you are able to walk on it, take out the hills and inclines if you can, until you don't feel any pain. Taking shorter walks--if you don't feel pain when walking-- is also a good idea.
Additionally, you could try a seated workout that will get your heart pumping without putting weight on your ankle at all. Be patient and listen to your body; you don't want to push yourself too hard and risk further injury.
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Yoga has seen a steady rise in popularity over the past few years. According to a 2008 report released by Yoga Journal, 15.8 million American adults were practicing yoga. In 2010, that number grew to 21.9 million. The majority reported that they practice yoga for a number of health benefits, stress reduction and relaxation. Yoga is a great complement to a well-rounded exercise routine, no matter what your fitness level. It offers a variety of modifications (as needed), styles and intensities, giving it a wide appeal among exercisers of all fitness levels and goals.
But one of the questions I get most about yoga isn't whether I recommend it (I do), but whether it counts as a cardio workout. Could yoga replace one or more of your weekly treadmill or elliptical dates? Read More ›
The information on cardio machines can be deceiving. The "fat burning zone" is a myth that is based on a fact, but taken out of context.
It's true that higher intensity exercise uses more glucose and glycogen (the form of energy your body gets from foods) in proportion to fat, but remember that "high intensity" in this context means exercise that you can only maintain for a couple of minutes before becoming exhausted (i.e. anaerobic exercise). It’s also true that low intensity exercise uses more fat as fuel; moderate intensity exercise that you can maintain for 20 minutes or more is aerobic exercise, and will burn both fat and glucose.
You're better off exercising in the aerobic zone as much as you can because exercising at higher intensities burns more total calories. The "fat burning zone" business is very misleading. You will burn a larger percentage of fat in relation to glucose when you are working at a lower intensity, but you will also burn fewer total calories and less total fat.
Bottom line: The relative percentage of fat burned has nothing to do with weight loss—it's the total amount calories burned that counts. So just ignore the machine and continue to exercise aerobically. As a bonus, aerobic exercise also strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, and improves cholesterol levels.
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As a whole, we are made up of 70% water. Water regulates every function in our bodies. Water flushes out waste and toxins. It also transports all the necessary nutrients we need to look and feel good. It flushes out impurities in the skin; when skin cells are hydrated, they plump up to give you a good complexion. Also, muscles that are hydrated look more toned because they are made of 70% water. Not drinking enough water is similar to depriving that less-than-vibrant plant you water every few weeks. The plant will survive, but at what expense. Read More ›
We're all busy. But we can't let that get in the way of our desire to be fitter and healthier. That's why we need to know the best ways to maximize our efforts in the gym.
Recently someone asked me, "What is the best workout I can do for my core?"
It's a common question! And no reason it's so confusing. There are so many abs gizmos, belly-fat-burning pills, and ab-centric workouts available, that it's hard to make sense of it all.
So what works best? Here's my answer. Read More ›
It's common for beginners to experience muscle soreness that lasts for a week or two, just as seasoned exercisers will be sore after a tough workout. Yes, you should keep working out even though you are sore, but there is more to it than that.
Muscle soreness has two primary causes. The first soreness you experience happens during your workout ("the burn") and should subside within a couple of hours. This is caused by lactic acid production. When you are training and your muscles are not getting enough oxygen (anaerobic glycolysis), lactic acid builds up. You can break down lactic acid by continuing to move and by doing light aerobic exercise (such as walking) after your workout. This is why cool-downs are so important, especially for beginners. The longer you cool down, the faster that lactic acid will leave the muscles (typically within an hour).
The type of muscle soreness you are experiencing, up to a day or two (and sometimes even three) after your workout is known as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). DOMS is caused by microscopic tears inside the muscles, resulting from weight-training or fully exhausting the muscles during cardio. This is normal. Again, beginners will be more sore and usually for longer, but if you really worked as hard as you should have during a weight-lifting session, you should be somewhat sore for the next day or two.
This is where rest comes in. You absolutely must rest the muscles you worked for 1-2 days after a workout. Take at least one day off between strength training sessions, and if you are still very sore, take 2 days off. (This means from lifting, not from all exercise such as cardio). If you don't let your muscles recover and repair, they will continue to break down and you will actually get weaker.
To help prevent soreness in the future, and alleviate some of it now, be sure to:
1. Always warm up for 5-10 minutes and cool down for at least 5 minutes.
2. Stretch after a warm-up, during your workout, and after you are done. Only stretch when your muscles are already warm from some kind of light activity.
3. Stay active. The more your muscles move, the faster they will recover from exercise and soreness. If you choose to rest completely instead of "actively recovering" with light exercise, you'll probably be sore longer.
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Fiber plays an important role in your health. Most adults need to eat between 25 and 35 grams of fiber each day. (To learn more about fiber sources and health benefits, read Figuring Out the Facts on Fiber.) Despite all its health benefits, you can overdo it on fiber. Eating more than 50 grams of fiber a day might…
- decrease the amount of vitamins and minerals your body absorbs, among them zinc, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
- move food through the digestive tract too quickly for some nutrients to be absorbed properly.
- cause gas, diarrhea, bloating, diarrhea or stomach discomfort.
- decrease your appetite for other nutrient-rich foods that are needed by the body for proper health.
Most Americans are encouraged to consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day. With certain disease conditions such as hypertension or congestive heart failure, 2,000 milligrams or less is encouraged. However, the average adult American takes in around 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams daily.
Try to tame your salt-craving taste buds by slowly decreasing the amount of salt in your diet to a moderate level. The preference for salt is learned. It will take time to adjust. Read More ›
We get this question a lot. And we don't list sex in our cardio tracker for several reasons.
For reference, a cardio workout is anything that raises your heart rate for an extended period of time, usually 20-30 minutes. It works all of the major muscle groups, and you should find yourself sweating and breathing hard during the most intense part of the workout.
Cardio works large muscle groups repetitively (such as how running uses your large leg & arm muscles and swimming uses your whole body). Sex does not typically use major muscle groups (or at least not in a full range of motion the way that these examples do).
Cardio must reach a specific level of intensity, meaning that you must elevate your heart rate to an aerobic level and sustain it there—about 60-85% of your max heart rate, or on a Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale (where you estimate how hard you are working on a scale of 1-10, about a 6-8.5). Although you may be breathing heavily during sex, this isn’t necessarily because your heart rate is up. It has more to do with hormones and what’s going on with your nervous system. (Think of how you may breathe harder or feel your heart rate increase if you’re scared—that doesn’t mean you’re getting a cardio workout.)
How many calories you're burning during sex really depends on too many factors. It's like asking "does walking burn a lot of calories?" It depends on your speed, distance, duration, intensity, etc.
Now, if you really feel that your sexual activity meets all of these requirements—although I'd recommend taking your heart rate several times during it to make sure—then you could probably count it as cardio. But according to most calorie counters, the calorie burn is pretty minimal—less than walking and not much more than just sitting. Plus, how accurate is that?
It’s important to distinguish that not all activities are a workout. Sure, being "active" burns more calories than not being active. But just because you’re burning a few additional calories does not mean you are exercising or that you’re receiving the same benefits of a true workout.
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Is one day of high-cholesterol eating going to hurt your health? Great question!
Dietary cholesterol usually gets a bad rap, but did you know that your body actually needs cholesterol? That's because cholesterol is a building block of body cells and hormones. It makes up 50% of your nervous system and is necessary for metabolism, too. In moderate amounts, it is essential to good health. But like many things in life, too much of a good thing can lead to problems. Read More ›