Monday, October 29, 2018

What You Should Do After EVERY Workout

1. Commit to a Cool-down
When you're especially crunched for time, you might decide it’s best to head to the locker room right after cardio. Not a great idea. A proper cool-down—where you move around at a light intensity—only takes a few minutes and helps you stay safe at the gym.

Allowing your body to comfortably come down from moderate or intense exercise provides a smooth, gradual transition away from increased heart rate. And cooling down helps prevent lightheadedness from blood pooling in the lower extremities, among other benefits. 

2. Turn Off Your Workout App
Analyzing and comparing your tracker metrics from one workout to the next can be motivating—plus it helps you keep improving toward your goals. While some smart workout apps detect when you’re done exercising and stop collecting data automatically, many don’t.

Forgetting to turn off a workout app can be frustrating: The longer the app runs when you’re no longer exercising, the more messed up the metrics get. One fix is to set a standing reminder on your phone for times when you typically work out (such as a weekly fitness class or personal training appointment). The reminder will prompt you to tap the app off at the appropriate time.

3. Stretch the Muscles You Worked
You’ve heard it before, and for good reason: Stretching is an important components of fitness. Taking the time to perform a good stretch after working out—when your muscles are already warm—can help improve posture, increase mobility and range of motion, and enhance muscular relaxation. Plus, it’s nice to take a few minutes to mentally relax before carrying on with your day. If possible, tack on a few minutes of foam rolling to further iron out muscle tension.

4. Wash Your Hands
You don’t hear this tip all that often in relation to exercise, but it can go a long way toward keeping you healthy so you don’t miss workouts due to illness. A lot of people handle (and sweat all over) gym equipment, such as dumbbells, weight machines, kettlebells and bike handlebars. Before leaving the gym, wash hands thoroughly in the shower or at a sink to prevent the spread of germs. 

5. Swap Out Your Shoes
If you typically wear the same fitness shoes at the gym as you do walking around town, consider tweaking your approach. Change sneakers before heading out so you get in the habit of wearing a designated pair only at the gym. This will keep your kicks feeling new and supportive for longer—and the gym floor cleaner, too.

6. Refill Your Water Bottle
It’s easy to drink water right before and during a workout because your water bottle is at arm’s reach. But people often stop sipping as soon as they move on to other things. To stay hydrated for longer, top up your water bottle as you’re leaving the gym. Keep it handy so you can drink from it for the rest of the day.

7. Have a Post-workout Bite
Aim to eat a healthy snack within about half an hour after a moderate-to-intense workout. Experts recommend a combo of carbs to replenish glycogen stores (fuel for the body) and protein to help repair muscle. Good post-workout snacks include almond butter spread on banana slices or whole-grain bread, or a plain yogurt smoothie with fruit.

8. Prep Your Gym Bag for Next Time
Preparing for your next workout just as you’re finishing your current one can help set the stage for long-term fitness success. Once you’re back at home, re-pack your gym bag right away with socks, a towel, shoes and anything else you might need. When it’s time for your next workout, you’ll be ready to grab your bag and go, reducing barriers to exercise like lack of time. Plus, knowing you’ve already prepped for the workout is a great motivator.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Why You Should Train For Dynamic Balance

When we hear the word balance, we usually think of standing still on one leg or trying not to fall when walking on a slippery surface. While standing on one leg can certainly help improve static balance, maintaining control of a moving center of mass over a changing base of support is probably more relevant to many of life’s activities. This type of training is known as dynamic balance, and can help enhance skills that are relevant to a number of sports and activities of daily living. Dynamic balance training is also an effective way to help you achieve your fitness goals. 

Optimal balance is achieved when multiple sensory systems provide information about the body’s position as it moves over the ground. The eyes (visual), inner ear (vestibular) and skin (kinesthetic) contain numerous sensory receptors that provide important feedback to the central nervous system (CNS) about which muscles to activate and when. Maintaining static balance as the body remains in one position is relatively easy because you can concentrate on which muscles to contract to remain stable. However, many activities of daily living happen quickly, which means you have to rely on conscious thought to control which muscles to activate. 

Here are five reasons why it’s important to train dynamic balance and how adding it to your exercise program can produce results.

1. Training for dynamic balance could help you improve your running technique. The gait cycle, whether walking or running, requires the body to maintain control of its center of gravity as it changes position over a constantly moving base of support. During the gait cycle your body must maintain control of your center of gravity—usually found near the belly button—as you transition from one leg to the other. As your right foot hits the ground, the left leg prepares to swing forward; at the same time your left arm is swinging forward while your right arm is moving backward. The motion created by the swinging of the arms and legs results in a counter rotation between the upper back and pelvis to generate the momentum to move the body in a forward direction.

2. Dynamic balance training is an effective way to strengthen and tone the obliques and the muscles of the hips, thighs, glutes and low back. These muscles connect your hips to your pelvis and your pelvis to your spine. Increasing the strength of the core muscles can help improve your balance and coordination, while also improving your appearance.

3. Having good dynamic balance can help improve your coordination and ability to react to sudden changes of direction, both of which can help reduce the risk of an accidental fall. Controlling dynamic balance should be a reflexive response that happens automatically. If you feel that you don’t have good balance, it is extremely important that you do the work necessary to improve it.

4. Dynamic balance exercises can easily be added to the warm-up phase of a workout to prepare for lower-body strength training, a long run, an obstacle-course race, or for recreational sports such as tennis, basketball or soccer.

5. Dynamic balance exercises can be used as low-intensity recovery exercises between sets of high-intensity interval training or as a low-intensity bodyweight workout to help promote recovery the day after a challenging training session. These exercises can also be used on those days when you can’t make it to the gym, but still want to do something active. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What To Look For In A Fitness App

Does it fit your skill level? 
Apps come in all shapes and sizes and it’s important to find one tailored to your workout regimen. Someone who is a newbie or does not like exercising may need an app that is in their face and is going to continually stimulate and encourage them. On the other hand, people who are already fit and know the basics are often looking for something more data driven to help them reach that next level.

Is it personal? 
Everyone’s body is different, so no fitness app should take a one-size-fits-all approach to your health. It’s important to look for apps that tailor their recommendations to you. The more the app knows about you, the better it’s able to help you. If an app doesn’t get any information about your height, weight, age, sex and intensity level, that’s a sign you should uninstall it.

Does it use all your phone’s features? 
Your phone is a marvel of technology, and the best apps take advantage of all your phone has to offer. The best apps use your GPS and accelerometer to track your workout.  Some will use sound to motivate you, and others use your phone’s camera to help you nail down the correct form for an exercise.

Is it connected? 
The fitness app you choose shouldn’t be a standalone program – it should work with your other phone apps to give you as large a view of your health as possible. We know that fitness and health is a combination of diet, exercise, sleep and more.  Having apps that work together and talk to each other to track all of those factors is imperative.

Does it have good reviews? 
While you shouldn’t base your decision solely on reviews, a poorly reviewed app is a sign that it isn’t the one you want.  Check for reviews that go into detail about what the reviewer did or didn’t like about the app.  You can always test it out for yourself, but if a lot of reviews mention similar issues, you might want to just stay away.

Is it social? 
One of the hardest parts of getting into shape is sticking with the program, which is why having people to encourage you and keep you accountable is  key to reaching your goals. Many apps will allow you to share your workouts to Twitter and Facebook.  You can have a comparison and competition with friends, and if you see that you’re behind, it might encourage you to work out more to try and beat them.

Does it keep you interested? 

Downloading the best app in the world won’t make a difference if you never actually use it.  That’s why the right app for you is the one that keeps you interested and keeps you coming back. Simply having the app on your phone isn’t going to help you lose weight. They make it easier to engage in good behaviors, but it’s ultimately up to you to go out and exercise.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Why You Should Add Pumpkin Seeds To Your Diet

Pumpkin seeds are truly a gift from nature. They don’t just taste great (actually fantastic!), but can also serve as a healthy protein option too. Keep in mind that raw, organic darkly colored heirloom pumpkin seeds or raw, organic bright green pumpkin seeds will offer more nutrients than other varieties that are salted, roasted or sprayed with pesticides, so be sure you choose the best source. (These versions also tastes the best too!)

Here’s what these seeds have to offer:

Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron and are one of the best sources in such a small amount found throughout the plant-based diet. Though beans and some legumes are much higher (along with grains), pumpkin seeds are pretty impressive, offering 16 percent   of your daily needs in just 1/4 a cup. Raw, organic pumpkin seed protein powder is even available now, which would be an even denser way to get your fill of iron from this healthy seed, providing 40 percent, almost identical to hemp protein protein powder. 

Alkalizing and Anti-Inflammatory
Raw, green pumpkin seeds are green because they have a high amount of natural chlorophyll in them. Chlorophyll is found in all green foods, which alkalizes and naturally cleanses the body (no need for a detox here!). Pumpkin seeds offer the most of any seed or nut since they are denser in the green hue, though hemp and even purely raw sunflower seeds are other good sources. Chlorophyll alkalizes the blood, which prevents inflammation that occurs from a high acidic diet or other lifestyle factors.

Pumpkin seeds also have more fiber than many nuts, boosting 5 grams per 1/4 cup. This can help regulate your blood sugar, enhance regularity, and the fiber in pumpkin seeds is easier to digest than from some other sources like beans or hard-to-digest grains and nuts. Pumpkin seeds have also been linked to improving insulin regulation, which can help those with blood sugar issues or even diabetes.

If you have a nut allergy, you’ll especially want to jump on board the pumpkin seed train! Pumpkin seeds and other seeds should be enjoyed since they provide beneficial fatty acids that one might miss out on when they can’t enjoy the healthy fat from nuts. Even if you don’t have an allergy to nuts, these seeds will provide other nutrients that you won’t get in such a small serving from other foods. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of soy-free protein for those that have a soy allergy or just want to avoid it.

Of course, we can’t forget protein! Pumpkin seeds have a good amount of protein in a small serving, containing 5 grams in just once ounce. They’re a rich source of amino acids and contain an especially high amount of tryptophan, the amino acid that enhances serotonin production in the body. They’re true mood-boosters and make a great addition to any meal to up the protein content. Think smoothies, oatmeal, salads, soups, stir-fries, and more!

These seeds are also a fantastic source of zinc, which helps carbohydrate metabolism in the body, hormone production, and even improves immune health and even your skin, hair, and nails. Pumpkin seeds contain 23 percent of your daily zinc needs in just 1/4 cup serving. Cacao, nuts, seeds, and some grains are also good sources.

Healthy Fats
Pumpkin seeds might be high in fat, but it’s the fat your body loves! They’re an especially good source of omega 3 fatty acids and a rich source of mono-unsaturated fats that protect your heart, prevent inflammation, and help manage your weight. Like all healthy fats, they’re not meant to be consumed in massive amounts, but eaten in single serving portions at each of your meals or as a healthy snack. Healthy fats ensure good heart health, help balance your blood sugar, and are an important factor in your mood, digestion, and overall health. Always choose whole food based sources of healthy fats which also have fiber and whole food sources of vitamins and minerals.

Pumpkin seeds have even been shown to eliminate seriously dangerous microbes from the body, including parasites!  These seeds are no joke when it comes to keeping you healthy all the way around. Just 1/4 cup a day has been shown to be beneficial at improving immune health and also eliminating (not just preventing) various unhealthy microbes from harming the body. Keep in mind an overall healthy diet, rich in whole, plant-based foods is a key primer for keeping unhealthy microbes away, though some specific foods like pumpkin seeds, garlic and coconut have been linked to especially impressive treatment benefits as well. Even for yeast infections like candida, pumpkin seeds have been shown to prevent yeast overgrowth, inflammation, and can improve skin conditions in those with skin-based yeast infections.

Magnesium is such an important mineral for your health.  It’s commonly called the ‘forgotten mineral’ because many people suffer health issues, all because of magnesium deficiency (headaches, low blood sugar, constipation, insomnia, lack of energy, and a foul mood, just to name a handful). Some people believe this is because the important mineral that’s found in the soil has been destroyed by factoring farming, soil depletion and other agricultural factors, while some people simply don’t eat enough naturally magnesium-rich foods (plant-based foods). Animal foods, sugar, refined grains and processed foods don’t contain the true magnesium that whole plant-based foods do. Pumpkin seeds are some of the richest sources of magnesium in such a small serving, while greens, grains, beans, legumes, cashews, almonds, and cacao are other especially dense sources.

How to Use Pumpkin Seeds:
As you can see, protein is just one of the many nutrients found in pumpkin seeds. Be sure to enjoy them in oatmeal, smoothies, chia pudding, raw energy bites, granola bars, muffins, salads, soups, and whole grain dishes, which are all easy ways to add the seeds to your diet. Toss them into one of your meals each day, or enjoy them in a healthy trail mix!

You might also like to try some of these deliciously healthy recipes with pumpkin seeds that we love: