Saturday, October 31, 2020

How Alcohol Affects Your Athletic Performance


First: alcohol doesn't affect everyone equally

The effects of alcohol on a person depend on the amount consumed and individual tolerance. Some studies show that a small amount of certain kinds of alcohol (namely red wine) may have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system, but even a few drinks can nullify your hard work by erasing the effects of your workouts, reducing your endurance, and compromising your mental fortitude. Bottom line, keep track of the number of drinks you have, and how you feel during, the morning after, and in the following days to get an idea of your personal tolerance.

The effects of alcohol on muscle development and recovery

Muscle health is the key to successful athletic performance, and science shows that alcohol can rob you of your hard work in the weight room. Here’s why:

It impairs muscle growth

Not only does working out under the influence increase your likelihood of injury, but it can also impede muscle growth. Long-term alcohol use diminishes protein synthesis, resulting in a decrease in muscle growth. Even short-term alcohol use can affect your muscles.

It dehydrates your body

If you want to optimize your athletic performance, then you want your recovery from sore muscles to be as fast as possible. Alcohol has been shown to slow this process because it is a powerful diuretic, which can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. And when dehydrated, an athlete is at a greater risk for cramps, muscle pulls, and muscle strains.    

It prevents muscle recovery

Getting enough rest is essential to building bigger and stronger muscles. However, because drinking alcohol negatively affects your sleep patterns, your body is robbed of a chemical called human growth hormone (HGH) when you drink.1 HGH plays an integral role in building and repairing muscles, but alcohol can decrease the secretion of HGH by as much as 70 percent. Additionally, binge drinking can reduce serum testosterone levels. Decreases in testosterone are associated with decreases in lean muscle mass and muscle recovery, which can impair performance. 

It depletes your energy

After alcohol is absorbed through your stomach and small intestine and moves into your cells, it can disrupt the water balance in your body. And an imbalance of water in your muscle cells can hamper their ability to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the essential fuel for all cells, including those in our muscles. A reduction in your body’s ATP can result in a lack of energy and loss of endurance.

It slows reaction time

Lastly, even small amounts of alcohol can result in a slowed reaction time and decreased hand-eye coordination. Not only can this impair performance, but a slowed reaction time can increase your risk for injury.


The effects of alcohol on memory

Performing your best often involves learning plays or strategies for an event. Alcohol impairs the functioning of the hippocampus, a part of your brain which is vital to the formation of memories. If you can’t form new memories, you can’t learn and store information.

Creating memories is a complex process that takes a long time, and many memories are established even when you’re not actively thinking about them. In fact, the majority of memory formation happens when you sleep. Alcohol disrupts the sequence and duration of your sleep cycle (even if you drink up to six hours before you go to sleep), which reduces your brain’s ability to process and store important information, including key performance notes.


The effects of alcohol on nutrition

It can't be used as energy

We tend to think that only carbohydrates, protein, and fat can provide energy (in the form of calories). But actually, that's not a comprehensive list – alcohol has 7 calories per gram (about halfway between the calorie value of carbs and fat). But unlike calories from the food we eat, your muscles are unfortunately not able to use alcohol calories for fuel.

Alcohol calories are not converted to glycogen, a form of stored carbohydrates, and are consequently not a good source of energy for your body during exercise. Your body instead converts the energy from alcohol into fatty acids and stores them in our fat tissue. As a result, alcohol consumption increases fat storage and can adversely affect your percentage of body fat.

It inhibits nutrient absorption

Alcohol itself is devoid of vitamins and minerals, and therefore is extremely limited in its nutritional value. But beyond that, it also keeps your body from absorbing these nutrients from other sources:

Thiamine (vitamin B1)

Thiamine is involved in metabolizing the food we eat into fuel as well as the formation of hemoglobin. Because vitamin B1 plays a role in metabolizing carbohydrates, it is essential for optimal performance. 


Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy red blood and nerve cells. Because alcohol prevents b12 from being used in key processes in your body, chronic excess alcohol consumption may contribute to b12 deficiency symptoms, which manifest as anemia.


Folic acid is a part of a coenzyme involved in the formation of new red blood cells. A deficiency in folic acid can result in a reduced VO2max, which can negatively affect your endurance.


Zinc plays an important role in the process of energy metabolism. Alcohol depletes your body’s zinc resources, which can result in a reduction in endurance.


The effects of exercising with a hangover

Hangovers are actually caused by alcohol toxicity, dehydration and the toxic effects of congeners (or the byproducts of fermentation) that are present in most alcoholic drinks. If you’ve ever experienced a hangover, you’ve probably felt the symptoms of nausea, soreness, depression, and headaches that frequently coincide... with a proclamation to never drink alcohol again. The symptoms can lead to decreased athletic performance and have been known to decrease aerobic performance capacity by as much as 11%. So, if you have a lingering hangover, it’s best not to exercise, as it can increase your risk of injury and further dehydrate you.


The verdict on alcohol's effects on performance

If you’re physically active, take the above points into consideration with  how drinking will affect your athletic performance. If you choose to drink, avoid anything excess of low-volume drinking (ex. a single glass of red wine) for 48 hours before your event, and be sure to rehydrate and eat before consuming alcohol post-exercise. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

It's Important To Workout With Consistency


Creating a Workout Plan to Achieve Consistency

Committing to a fitness regimen means mapping out a plan for an activity or a series of activities that can be done with consistency. For some people, it is common to become energized about working out and jump right in. In these cases, unless there is a long-term plan in place or some thought has gone into how the fitness activity will be sustained, there is often a drop off in enthusiasm, resulting in inconsistency.

A well thought out fitness plan will go a long way in helping you to reach your goals. To achieve consistency, you will want to think about the types of exercise that you can do on a regular basis. You will want to exercise at least three to four times per week for the best results. Getting a gym membership, purchasing home exercise equipment, investing in exercise DVDs or buying a bicycle may be some of the things you want or need to work out with consistency.

Scheduling Your Workout

Once you have decided on the type of exercise you want to engage in, creating consistency means being realistic about how much time you need to devote to your regular exercise regimen.  Create a workout schedule that involves at least a few minutes a day for a warm up, 20 minutes for a cardio activity and additional time for strength training and a cool down.  You might write down your schedule to solidify your commitment to your exercise plan.  

The Impact of Consistency on Physical Health

Working out with consistency is important for your physical health. Running for five miles on one day only to avoid exercising for the next two weeks will only leave you feeling sore. It is too straining for the body to experience sporadic spurts of strenuous exercise. For optimal results, you will want to build up to higher and higher levels of cardiovascular strength, flexibility and strength training. A gradual increase in intensity will allow your muscles, tendons and ligaments a chance to adjust to the strains and challenges of a fitness regimen.

Consistent Workouts and Mental Health

A consistent workout regimen reduces stress and increases your mental well being. When you work out regularly, your body releases endorphins that enhance your mood. You have probably experienced these positive feelings after finishing a cardiovascular workout. You might also find that when you go for days or weeks of not exercising, your energy level decreases and your mood is not as heightened.

Sticking to a regular exercise regimen will keep you feeling revived both physically and mentally. When you exercise with consistency, your muscles will develop gradually and your mind will experience reduced levels of stress and greater relaxation.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Breathing Techniques To Sooth The Soul


Breath is vital. When we are stressed, happy, or exercising, breath causes a feedback loop for that physical state. However, breathing can be either voluntary or involuntary—which means that we can affect our physical state. Being conscious and breathing in a particular way can lead to deep relaxation, decreased pain, and improved mental state. 

Abdominal breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, changes the oxygenation levels in your body as well as strengthening the diaphragm. Many people feel calmer and more centered afterwards, and it may help to reduce negative emotions. Since it can be practiced anytime, anywhere, for free, and has been associated with a host of positive physical effects, why not try it today? 

Get Started 

n Sit or lie down comfortably, with your feet flat on the floor. Put one hand on your upper chest, and the other on your abdomen, just under your ribcage. Feel yourself breathing and become aware of how deeply or shallowly you are breathing 

n Take a deep breath, feeling your abdomen rise as you breathe.Your upper hand should move very little, while your abdomen lifts your other hand. Imagine a feeling of warmth as the breath moves from your mouth, down your throat, into your lungs, and your diaphragm expands. 

n Hold the breath for a count of four. 

n Exhale slowly through your nose for a count of four. 

n Inhale slowly to a count of four, feeling the warmth of your breath and your abdomen rising.Try to keep your chest relatively still. Hold the breath for four, then exhale slowly, and repeat. 


n Consider how your body feels different from before practicing conscious breathing. Are your shoulders more relaxed? Do your thoughts feel any different? 


n Five minutes is a good amount of time to affect your physiology, decrease anxiety, and improve mental state. However, even one or two abdominal breaths can be helpful! Although best learned sitting or lying down, any time you can consciously breathe is an opportunity, including standing in line at the grocery store. 

As you become proficient in abdominal breathing, you may want to tense your abdomen slightly at the end of the exhale, to push out the remaining air. If lying down, you can also try putting a book on your abdomen and lifting it with your breath. 

Over time, you may not need to involve your hands. Some people use visualizations, for instance, a half circle that represents in the inhale and hold, and a semicircle finishing the loop for the exhale and hold. Other people repeat a word as a mantra, like peace or joy, letting that word center their thoughts. 

Practice whenever you can. Because of how abdominal breathing affects your mental state, it may be especially useful when you are stressed out, tired, frustrated, or confused. Abdominal breathing can help you to relax, reset, and refocus. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

The Amazing Health Benefits of House Plants

Allergy Relief

Researchers found that rooms with plants have less dust and mold than rooms without any foliage. Leaves and other parts of the plants act as natural filters to catch allergens and other airborne particles. Common low-light houseplants like Chinese evergreen or the peace lily can do the job. Violets and other plants with textured leaves might be even better trappers. Avoid plants with pollen or spores.

Happy Blooms

Plants not only can brighten up your surroundings, but they can lift your mood.  Employees who work in offices with plants tend to feel better about their jobs, worry less, and take fewer sick days. Flowers in particular are a good pick-me-up. So liven up your room with blooms, like a lipstick plant, or a fresh bouquet and see if your outlook improves.

Spider Plants for Moisture

Furnaces and air conditioners can sap humidity indoors, especially in the winter. That can raise your chances for catching a cold or the flu, or make your skin itch. Houseplants add moisture to the air. One study found a collection of spider plants boosted the relative humidity in a bedroom from 20% to a more comfortable 30%. 

Air Purifiers

Carpets, paint, cleaners, printer toners and inks, and many other indoor objects give off pollutants called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They can build up in the air and irritate your eyes and skin, worsen your asthma, or make it hard for you to breathe. Houseplants can soak up VOCs. Some good air-scrubbers are English ivy, asparagus fern, and dragon tree. 

Herbs for Better Digestion

Mint may help tamp down bloating, gas, and other problems after you eat. Common varieties you can grow in containers include peppermint and spearmint (essential in mint juleps). Basil, another herb for cooking, also can help calm your stomach. Try steeping the leaves in hot water.

Relaxing Lavender

This fragrant purple plant has been an important herbal medicine for centuries. You can inhale lavender oil or massage it on your scalp for aromatherapy. You can also boil the leaves for tea. Some studies suggest it may help calm you and help lower any anxiety. But more proof is needed.

Aloe for First Aid

Gel from this plant is a popular home remedy. It can treat sunburns and other minor burns. It can soothe your psoriasis and other skin conditions. Juice from the aloe plant can even help you poop if you’re constipated.

Restful Sleep

Plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. It’s how they turn sunlight into food, a process called photosynthesis. Some, like gerbera daisies, keep giving off oxygen even after the sun goes down. Put a few cheerful pots in your bedroom and the extra oxygen may help you sleep more soundly.

Stress Relief

Feeling the weight of daily pressures? Try and add a heart-leaf philodendron or a snake plant to your d├ęcor. It may help you relax. Several studies have measured people’s levels of blood pressure, heart rate, and the stress hormone cortisol while they handled a tough task or were under mental stress. Being around plants has a calming effect on people.

Sharper Focus

Plants may help raise your test scores, make it easier to concentrate on your tasks, and strengthen your memory. Students in classrooms with three potted plants performed better on math, spelling, reading, and science tests than kids in classrooms without any greens. Bring home a golden pothos or a bamboo palm and you just might clear that to-do list.

Faster Healing

Taking a bouquet of flowers or potted foliage to a loved one in the hospital can be more than just a thoughtful gesture. It may actually help them recover more quickly. Researchers found that people who had surgery got better faster if they had plants in their room or even a view of the nature from their window. They also tolerated pain better and needed fewer medications when surrounded by greenery. Try an orchid or a peace lily.

Better Mental and Emotional Health

Some therapists use gardening to help treat depression, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric conditions. Learning to nurture a living plant may help lower anxiety, improve attention, and lessen the severity of depression. Plants also might help people recovering from trauma, as well as those with dementia or who live in long-term care facilities


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Fun Fall

The crisp, cool air and colorful, changing leaves mean autumn is officially here. But before you resort to months confined in a stuffy gym to stay active until spring, consider taking your workout outdoors. Chillier temps help keep you alert and make it harder for your body to become overheated. And, if you’re lucky enough to live near a park or wooded area, the scenery is more entertaining than TV or people-watching at the gym.

Bundle up and break free from the sound of clanging weights and pounding feet on treadmills with these fun, calorie-burning and muscle-toning outdoor activities:


Fall is a great tie to go hiking, with cool weather, no bugs and, of course, magnificent views.  Plus, hiking burns mega-calories as you increase your elevation and really work those legs.  Hiking works multiple areas of fitness, it focuses on strengthening your muscles by climbing but also increases your cardio endurance as well.  Hiking up an incline gets your heart rate up, helping you burn calories and get fit. You’ll also be working multiple muscle groups.  As you hike up and down even small inclines involve the glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, and feet.  Best of all hiking gets you outside, lets you get back to nature, clear your head and helps you remember there is a world outside.  

Touch football or soccer 

Got kids? If not, got friends? Gather a group and head outside for a game of flag football or soccer. Sports activities are a great way to blow off steam, have fun and work out without feeling like you’re exercising. An hour-long football game will get your heart pumping, work several different muscle groups and burn off about 400 calories. When you’re finished, celebrate the win by sipping a steaming mug of hot cocoa.

Mountain biking
Autumn is the perfect time for bike riding. Surrounded by nature’s beautiful colors and feeling the chilly breeze against your skin, you won’t even think about how much time you’ve clocked or how many calories you’re burning. But burn, you will. An hour-long ride will knock off 500 calories or more.

Horseback riding
So it’s not your typical workout. But heading out to the country and hopping on a horse feels so fall, and it’s a surprisingly good way to work your leg muscles. You’ll also burn 350 calories an hour. Bring the kids or a friend and make it a memorable day.

Stadium training Head over to a local high school or sports stadium for a mini personal bootcamp or training session. Jog or walk around the track, do lunges across the field, climb the stadium stairs and incorporate pushups and sit ups.

Run a trail
Instead of taking a hike or running on pavement, challenge yourself by blending the two. Combining these activities works both the muscles and cardio because of the uneven and continuously changing terrain. It’s a great, challenging workout, especially if you’re already a runner. This type of running burns about 10 percent more calories than regular running and also helps develop agility, core and balance.

Run or walk for a cause 

Are you passionate about a particular cause? Find a charity run and sign up! Whether you run or walk doesn’t matter. Just being there and participating is what counts, and you won’t even realize the calories you’re burning along the way.

Trainer tips:

• Be sure to stay hydrated before, during and after an outdoor workout. When the weather isn’t as warm you may not feel as thirsty and forget to hydrate. Always keep water handy in a reusable, BPA-free bottle. 

• Just because it’s cool outside doesn’t mean the sun’s rays aren’t strong. Apply sunscreen before heading outdoors.