Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Yawning While Exercising? Here is Why

A yawn, which is usually associated with being tired or bored, is an innate reflex by the central nervous system — namely, the brain. That means you can't control when and where you yawn.  So just because you yawn a couple of times during a workout, it doesn't mean you should try to make it stop.


But here's why you might find yourself yawning during a workout.


1. You're Stressed or Anxious

The idea that yawning increases the amount of oxygen you take in — you're gulping a big breath of air, right? — has been debunked, according to a November 1987 study published in Behavioral and Neural Biology.  A yawn can, however, increase blood flow to the brain, which can improve focus and concentration.

Perhaps you're about to start a workout or a big athletic event, or you're a few minutes into it, you might start yawning as a way to improve your focus and concentration. That's because yawning can cool your brain temperature.


Before a workout, game or event, you might have anxiety and stress — but the good kind of stress — and that might elicit a yawn.  Your body's fight-or-flight response kicks in, and a yawn opens the jaw, which increases blood flow for the working muscles. A runner, for example, might yawn in the moments leading up to a race due to anxiety. That yawning should stop once she or he is moving because running is a steady-state exercise. When you're in a steady-state of aerobic exercise your brain knows you need to breathe consistently. A yawn disrupts that consistent breathing. In other words, your body prioritizes breathing over increasing blood flow or cooling down your body temperature — another reason you might be yawning during a workout.

2. You're Too Hot

Perhaps the biggest reason you might yawn during a workout is to bring your core body temperature down. This is called thermoregulation.

When you inhale a large amount of ambient air that's cooler than your body temperature, it helps lower your core temperature and brain temperature.

This happens because when you yawn, your jaw musculature contracts, increasing blood flow to those muscles. When you gulp in cool air, it cools the blood in the jaw muscles, which is then delivered to the brain and other parts of the body. This is a type of insensible perspiration — perspiration that does not involve a loss of pure water or associated loss of solute.


A major way we cool is by breathing.

Case in point: Researchers in a May 2014 study in Physiology & Behavior recruited 120 pedestrians to walk during the winter (December to March) and summer (June to October) and found that the participants who walked in the summer reported more yawning than those in the winter. This study supports evidence that yawning is used as a means of thermoregulation.

But when the ambient temperature is hotter than your core temperature, yawning will subside, according to a January 2013 review published in the International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research.


3. You're Doing High-Intensity Work

Whether you yawn during a workout depends on what you're actually doing. The exercises that most commonly cause yawning include high-intensity interval training (during the rest interval) and those that target large muscle groups, like heavy lifting for the lower body. You're using more musculature, which increases the core temperature. When you yawn during a HIIT workout, it will be during the rest or lighter interval. 



If you really feel that you must reduce your yawn frequency, you can try methods to better thermoregulate. Methods that have worked are drinking cold water/liquids, doing an ice water mouth rinse (shown to be very effective for disease populations, such as multiple sclerosis), wearing moisture-wicking clothing and using appropriate ventilation to lower environmental temperatures.


When to See a Doctor

Because yawning is a reflex, there usually isn't any reason to try to stop it from happening. But if you're experiencing excessive yawning during a workout, it might indicate something more serious.

If you're yawning excessively during moderate to vigorous activity, that yawning can lead to lightheadedness or dizziness. It could mean very low blood pressure or a hyperactive vagus nerve.

Low blood pressure is associated with a host of underlying medical conditions, according to the American Heart Association.  Some of those include pregnancy, bed rest, medications, allergic reactions and problems with hormone-producing glands.

A hyperactive vagus nerve can be caused by extreme stress. The nerve works overtime to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, but in some cases, it brings down blood pressure too much, causing severe low blood pressure, according to an article from Society for Science and The Public. 

If you're yawning during exercise but not experiencing any negative side effects, don't worry too much. But if you're dizzy or lightheaded, that warrants a conversation with your doctor.



Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Mobility Training Benefits


What is Mobility?

Most people know what flexibility is. But often, people confuse this with mobility. There is a difference between the two. Flexibility refers to the ability of your joints to move pain-free and without stiffness through a range of motion. For example, flexibility is when you are able to lift your leg further with the assistance of your arms.

However, with mobility, you are able to control the whole range of motion with just the muscles. Mobility refers to the strength of the muscle in this range of motion. For example, you would be able to control the entire movement of the leg with just the leg muscles. Unlike flexibility, there is no requirement for any assistance to perform the move.

Now we’ve covered what it is, let’s look at how mobility training benefits your workout.


The Importance of Mobility

Mobility is essential because it prepares our bodies for the stress of training. It is a vital contributor to reducing the risk of injuries as well as improving technique and range of movement. It is important to note that strength alone isn’t enough to have good mobility.

Commonly, an individual will walk into the gym, go straight to the resistance area and begin lifting. At best, they may do a quick 5 minute warm-up on an exercise bike or elliptical trainer. The warm-should not be neglected. This being said, it is the bit in between that warm up and hitting the weights room that is important. This is where mobility training comes in. We will now discuss the mobility training benefits that all gym users should take advantage of.


How Mobility Training Benefits Your Workout


1. A More Effective Warmup

Mobility training benefits your workout in ways that a quick warm-up cannot. During mobility training, blood is being moved to the surrounding tissues. Synovial fluid, the fluid in our joints that helps them to glide freely, is carried into the working joints. An example of this would be to perform hip circles to warm up the hips. The blood is transported to the hip flexors, glutes and external rotators, which are the muscles that move the leg. Synovial fluid lubricates the hip in preparation for exercise.


2. Reduced Risk of Injury

One of the biggest mobility training benefits is the reduced risk of injury. If there is any restriction to a moving joint, then there is a high risk of injury, especially if you like to lift heavy.


3. Improved Technique and Range of Movement

Mobility training benefits your form. When muscles and joints are more flexible, we get an increased range of motion. This allows us to perform exercises with better technique. For example, if we have tight leg muscles, then we will struggle to lower in a squat or perform a deadlift with correct posture. Having a better technique, especially in such a compound movement, can further reduce injury risk. 

Many people believe that merely performing static stretches can achieve the above. However, there’s a difference between the effect of static stretching, and how mobility training benefits your workout.


Static Stretching Versus Dynamic Mobility Stretching

Stretching prevents injury, decrease soreness, and improve performance. Many people incorporate static stretching into their routine. However, dynamic stretches – part of mobility training – are not so widely used.

This being said, research shows that dynamic stretching, or stretching while moving, appears to be more effective than static stretching as part of your warm-up. Below we discuss the mobility training benefits of dynamic stretching in comparison to static.


Static Stretches

Static stretching usually consists of holding positions with no movement. They tend to only focus on the main muscle groups, such as quads, hamstrings, calf and arm muscles. While they are useful in increasing range of motion if performed correctly and for long enough, they can, in fact, be detrimental as part of a warm-up.  For example, static stretches are linked to a decrease in leg press performance and knee extensor concentric torque.

static stretches appear to actually decrease muscle-force production capacity. This loss of strength and performance has been named “stretch-induced strength loss.”  Static stretches, therefore, shouldn’t be part of a warm-up. Instead, they should be and performed in the cool-down. They also need to be held for long enough (30+ seconds) to be beneficial. However, it is easy to rush through static stretching without proper form. This is not so much the case for dynamic stretching.


Dynamic Stretches

Dynamic stretches, on the other hand, are often a static stretch performed with movement. Doing these results in many mobility training benefits. For example, dynamic stretches keep your heart rate higher than static ones. This is important during and after a warm-up, and better suited to sports that require running or jumping. An example of a dynamic stretch would be a set of walking lunges, instead of a static lunge forward. This being said, you need to ensure that you perform enough dynamic stretches, with the right quality.

Now we have discussed the numerous ways mobility training benefits you, let’s look at how to do it.


Types of Mobility Training Exercise

There are many ways to reap the mobility training benefits above. Mobility exercises take many forms. For example, some require only your bodyweight, whereas others use various types of equipment. This can include resistance bands, foam rollers, barbells or poles.


Body Weight

There are many different exercises that can be used to increase mobility. Using your bodyweight is a wise place to start. Most exercises have regressions for those just beginning. There are also progressions if you are more advanced. If you’re just beginning, these mobility drills will get easier with practice and patience.


Foam Rolling

Many mobility training benefits can come from foam rolling. However, some people shy away from foam rolling because it can hurt. Unfortunately, if it is painful, this is probably a sign that you need to do more of it. Also, it is common to spend too little time foam rolling. The foam roller needs to move slowly over the muscles, while you use as much of your body weight as possible to increase the tension.


Resistance Bands, Poles and Barbells

Resistance bands, as well as poles and barbells, are a fantastic way to get the mobility training benefits that bodyweight stretching cannot achieve. If performed correctly, this equipment will allow you to take the muscles to a much greater stretch.

As mentioned, for those just starting out, try bodyweight drills first. Below are some exercises to get you started.


Body Weight Mobility Exercises

Below are some bodyweight and floor drills that are easily performed, in a gym or at home.


1. Thoracic Spine Windmills

The thoracic spin runs from the base of your neck to the area between your shoulder blades. Good mobility in this area allows you to move your arms freely over your head and turn side to side. If you have reduced mobility you can get shoulder problems and pain, develop poor posture and upper back pain.

To perform the windmills, first, lie on your side, and bend your knees and hips to just past 90 degrees. Rest your knees beside you on the floor. Then, straighten the bottom leg and rest the top leg on a foam roller or towel. Extend both arms together straight out in front of you, keeping your palms together. Lift and rotate your top arm away from you, opening up your chest to the ceiling. Hold for about 3 seconds and then slowly return it to the starting position. Repeat a few times on each side.


2. Shoulder Pass Throughs

If you are a sufferer of poor posture, you are likely to be tight through your chest and the front of your shoulders.
To perform the shoulder pass through, hold a broomstick or pipe in the overhand grip, as wide as you need to. Maintain straight arms and begin to lift the stick in front of you to above your head. Avoid hyperextending your back. Once you have taken it as far back as possible, hold in the end position for a couple of seconds before returning to the start position. Then repeat a few more times.


3. Hip Openers

It’s vital to warm up the hip joints as they contribute significantly to balance and stability. Hip mobility training benefits all types of workout.

To perform the hip openers, lift one knee up to your chest and make a circle with your knee. Bring the knee across your body and then out to the side. Repeat on the other side. You can perform these static or walking.


4. Spiderman Walks

One of the best exercises for mobility training benefits is the spiderman walk. This is because it hits multiple joints. To perform the spiderman walk, start with a forward lunge with an extended range of motion to stretch out the hip flexor. Stay there for a few seconds and push the hips down to increase the stretch. From there, bring your pelvis back, straightening the front leg and stretching the back of your hamstring. After this, return to the starting lunge and take your hand closest to your forward foot and twist it to the sky, with your head following your hand. Swap sides, and repeat a few times.


5. Deep Squat

This exercise as part of mobility training benefits the hips and ankles. To perform the deep squat, start with your feet shoulder width apart. From there, lower your hips down towards your ankles. Ensure that your feet stay flat on the ground. If this is difficult, work your way up to where you can sit with your chest up for several minutes. Feel free to support yourself a little at first to allow you to get lower.




Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise


People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also a powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.

Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a real difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to deal with mental health problems, improve your energy and outlook, and get more out of life.

Exercise and depression

Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course. As one example, a recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.

Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.

Exercise and anxiety

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out.

Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindfulness element—really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise—you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.

Exercise and stress

Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.

Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.

Exercise and ADHD

Exercising regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention. In this way, exercise works in much the same way as ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

Exercise and PTSD and trauma

Evidence suggests that by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD or trauma. Instead of allowing your mind to wander, pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles, even your insides as your body moves. Exercises that involve cross movement and that engage both arms and legs—such as walking (especially in sand), running, swimming, weight training, or dancing—are some of your best choices.

Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skiing (downhill and cross-country) have also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.

Other mental health benefits of exercise

Even if you’re not suffering from a mental health problem, regular physical activity can still offer a welcome boost to your mood, outlook, and mental well-being.

Exercise can help provide:

Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline. 

Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.

Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

More energy. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise per day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.

Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you build resilience and cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.

Getting started with exercise when you have a mental health issue

Many of us find it hard enough to motivate ourselves to exercise at the best of times. But when you feel depressed, anxious, stressed or have another mental health problem, it can seem doubly difficult. This is especially true of depression and anxiety, which can leave you feeling trapped in a catch-22 situation. You know exercise will make you feel better, but depression has robbed you of the energy and motivation you need to work out, or your social anxiety means you can’t bear the thought of being seen at an exercise class or running through the park.

Start small. When you’re under the cloud of anxiety or depression and haven’t exercised for a long time, setting extravagant goals like completing a marathon or working out for an hour every morning will only leave you more despondent if you fall short. Better to set achievable goals and build up from there.

Schedule workouts when your energy is highest. Perhaps you have most energy first thing in the morning before work or school or at lunchtime before the mid-afternoon lull hits? Or maybe you do better exercising for longer at the weekends. If depression or anxiety has you feeling tired and unmotivated all day long, try dancing to some music or simply going for a walk. Even a short, 15-minute walk can help clear your mind, improve your mood, and boost your energy level. As you move and start to feel a little better, you’ll often boost your energy enough to exercise more vigorously—by walking further, breaking into a run, or adding a bike ride, for example.

Focus on activities you enjoy. Any activity that gets you moving counts. That could include throwing a Frisbee with a dog or friend, walking laps of a mall window shopping, or cycling to the grocery store. If you’ve never exercised before or don’t know what you might enjoy, try a few different things. Activities such as gardening or tackling a home improvement project can be great ways to start moving more when you have a mood disorder—as well as helping you become more active, they can also leave you with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Be comfortable. Wear clothing that’s comfortable and choose a setting that you find calming or energizing. That may be a quiet corner of your home, a scenic path, or your favorite city park.

Reward yourself. Part of the reward of completing an activity is how much better you’ll feel afterwards, but it always helps your motivation to promise yourself an extra treat for exercising. Reward yourself with a hot bubble bath after a workout, a delicious smoothie, or with an extra episode of your favorite TV show, for example.

Make exercise a social activity. Exercising with a friend or loved one, or even your kids, will not only make exercising more fun and enjoyable, it can also help motivate you to stick to a workout routine. You’ll also feel better than if you were exercising alone. In fact, when you’re suffering from a mood disorder such as depression, the companionship can be just as important as the exercise.

Make exercise a fun part of your everyday life

You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or force yourself into long, monotonous workouts to experience the many benefits of exercise. These tips can help you find activities you enjoy and start to feel better, look better, and get more out of life.


Monday, March 7, 2022

How To Take A Break From Work & Why We Need It


Risks of Chronic Stress

The body is designed to respond to short bursts of stress. When stress is prolonged and the stress response is triggered repeatedly and regularly—as can happen in a stressful job or a conflict – ridden relationship - the situation turns into one of chronic stress, and real health problems can set in.

Chronic stress may make you more susceptible to conditions ranging from frequent headaches and gastrointestinal issues to high blood pressure, which brings an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. When your "allostatic load," or overall level of stress, accumulates to a certain level, stress can snowball because you're constantly in a state of reactivity.

At this point, even positive events can feel overwhelming if they take energy to enjoy. You're not able to respond from a place of strength and wisdom, but rather from a place of anxiety, or you work on auto-pilot.

Signs That You Need a Break

Sometimes, it's obvious that you need a vacation. In other cases, stress can sneak up on you. You may not necessarily recognize when you're at risk of being overwhelmed and burned out. 

Everyone responds to stress in unique ways, which means that the signs of being overwhelmed are also highly individual. However, there are some general warning signs that apply in most cases.

If you're experiencing one or more of the following, start planning some downtime. This might mean a real vacation or even just a weekend staycation to recharge your batteries.

Key signs you need a break include:

  • Changes in eating habits
  • Cynicism about work
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Getting sick more frequently
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low mood
  • Frustration
  • Feeling unfocused or fuzzy-headed
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches
  • Poor performance at work
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope with stress
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, or co-workers

In fact, unless you already feel energized, motivated, excited, creative, and fully engaged at work and in your relationships, you'd likely benefit from a vacation, because it's a good idea to manage stress before it feels overwhelming. Vacations, mental health days, and regular self-care can keep you functioning at your best.

Think of these breaks as preventative care. We need to participate in them on a regular basis in order to be able to manage our stress and prevent burnout. The key is to prevent ourselves from getting to the point that we absolutely need the break.

Benefits of Taking a Break

Vacations and even shorter breaks (take an afternoon off) where you get some physical and psychological space from the demands of life can bring many rewards. Some of the benefits you may enjoy when you take a break include:

  • Reduced stress: Obviously, you feel less stress when you're not in a stressful environment. But taking breaks bring more than that. They interrupt the cycle of stress that can lead to being overwhelmed.
  • Rest: By breaking out of the cycle of chronic stress, you can restore yourself physically and mentally to a healthier place.
  • Clearer thinking: Because a chronically triggered stress response can lead to decreased creativity, memory problems, and other issues, this break in the stress cycle can lead to sharper thinking and increased creativity in all areas of your life.
  • Increased productivity: All of this can make you better at your job, more available in your relationships, more energetic with your families, and more able to enjoy life after you return.

How to Take a Break

If you need a break, there are several different options for getting one. You can go for a long and luxurious break, a relaxing and simple one, or something short and sweet. You can even have minutes-long breaks that you take throughout the day to keep productivity higher and to keep from feeling overwhelmed.


A vacation is a real break, in the classic sense of the word, and taking a vacation is more important than many people realize. That's why many vacation days go unused when they should be enjoyed to the fullest.

The key to a restful vacation is to prioritize rest and fun when you go; don't overbook yourself with tourist activities or bring so much work with you that by the time you return you feel you need a vacation from your vacation.


The staycation is becoming more and more en vogue, especially as people have a greater need to take a break, but with fewer means to pull off an exotic trip. The staycation is all about rest and relaxation, and enjoying home sweet home—a place you are often too stressed and busy to really enjoy.

The key to a refreshing staycation is the same as the key to a restful vacation, though somewhat trickier to pull off: Don't overdo it, and don't let work creep in. That means no cleaning, office work, or dealing with regular responsibilities. You can either turn off the phones, ignore email, and make it a point to both rest and play at home, or go to a nearby hotel to make it easier.

It's important to still put your "out of office" up on your email and try to resist checking your email regularly.  You can still check it occasionally as this sometimes helps decrease stress and anxiety while "on vacation," but just because you are home on a staycation, does not mean you are supposed to work.


Few people talk about having a playcation, but it's a great idea: Stay home, but make it fun! The difference between a staycation and a playcation is that staycations tend to focus more on resting and relaxing, while playcations are for—you guessed it—fun!

With the hard work and stressful routines that characterize many people's lifestyles, it's important to have some fun (like Billy Crystal did to "get his smile back" in the classic movie City Slickers) as a way to recharge your batteries and be sure you're enjoying life. You can devote several days to taking a playcation, or just be sure you pepper in some fun on a regular basis.

Short Breaks

Sometimes you just need to take a break from stress long enough to disrupt the body's stress response cycle, and then get back into action. If you just need a quick break, take a hike or a bike ride, enjoy a movie, or even have a five-minute meditation session.

Spending time outdoors in the fresh air and physical activity can also be great stress relievers. Incorporating these into your short break, such as going for a walk outside around the block, can help you get more bang for your buck from your short break.

Final Thoughts

Everyone needs a break from time to time in order to relieve stress. Even if you can't take a big vacation, a staycation or short break can be a valuable way to feel restored and refreshed.