Exercise

The Underrated Benefits of Walking

While no one may be posting on social media or bragging about that really long stroll they took yesterday, there are countless reasons to get outside and go on a walk. 

High-impact workouts like HIIT training and running have their place in a well-balanced fitness routine, yet many times, they are not evenly balanced with other low-impact exercise. Plus, for people who need to give their joints and muscles a break, or who want to connect with a friend while getting their movement in, walking is a much better alternative to the couch or your desk. 

Research shows that walking for just 15 to 40 minutes a day five days a week can significantly impact your health, according to Livestrong. Walking has been shown to reduce body fat, improve core strength, ease lower back pain, and prevent heart attack and stroke. It’s also an easy, free way to change your surroundings, get a breath of fresh air, and reduce stress during the day. Walking has been shown to positively impact emotional wellbeing, increase endorphins, reduce fatigue, and decrease stress hormones. 

Like any form of physical activity, walking can increase the functioning of your body’s immune system. Harvard Medical School reports that individuals who are more active are sick for a shorter amount of time, and experience less severe symptoms. 

“Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer,” wrote Harvard Medical School. “But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.”

The Harvard Health article outlined other surprising benefits of walking, such as its ability to counteract the effect of weight-promoting genes, and to curb cravings for chocolate and sugary snacks. 

According to Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, walking is "the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.”

The next time you have a meeting or a coffee date with a friend, why not propose a walk and talk? Instead of that heavy-traffic commute to work or the gym, next time, give yourself time to walk. You may find that you have a more enjoyable time when you get outside of the box, and feel better too.


The Benefits of Shaking Up Your Workout with Dance

Most of us don’t go out for a night dancing in order to squeeze in a good workout. Yet dancing is one of the best exercises for our mental, physical and emotional health. It’s one of those things that immediately after we do it, we ask ourselves why we waited so long. But most of us still don’t consider adding dance to our workout routine. Studies show that getting out of your seat and into a dance flow can help you lose weight, stay flexible, reduce stress, improve your social life, and bring countless more benefits to your life. 

Instead of breaking up the day at your desk with a circuit workout or a short jog, consider turning on your favorite song and dancing like no one's watching.

Since dance is exercise, the physical benefits are similar to that of other cardio workouts. Unlike high impact exercises like running, dancing is gentle on the body. It can also improve flexibility, easing joint pain and alleviating post-exercise soreness. Also unlike other exercises that emphasize repetitive or linear movement, dance allows for the body to move organically and without structure. This not only gives way to creative expression, but can also activate new synapses in the brain and prevent injury. 

"Movements that we typically do in our daily life, like walking, taking the stairs, and common workouts like treadmills and cycling, occur in the sagittal plane, but dance works your body from all planes, including lateral and rotational, which turns on and conditions all muscles, meaning no muscle is left behind,” explains Jonathan Tylicki, the director of education for boutique fitness studio AKT, per HealthLine

Another unique benefit of dance versus other forms of exercise is its ability to improve balance through rhythm and music. 

On a mental level, dancing can improve cognitive performance. While it may be true that the best dancers are those that don’t think about it, most of us can agree that dancing requires a high level of presence and brain power. This is required to learn a new style of dance, tune into the rhythm of a new song, or sync up with a dance partner. 

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine supports the notion that dancing boosts memory and may prevent the development of dementia. According to the researchers, dancing involves both a mental effort and social interaction, which explains why it was the only one out of 11 different types of physical activity that lowered participants’ risk of dementia. 

This may be explained by the fact that aerobic exercise has been shown to reverse volume loss in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory retention, per Everyday Health

Emotionally, dancing can bring about stress relief, improve self-esteem and promote positive emotions. Another study conducted in 2012 by researchers at North Dakota’s Minot State University found that Latin-style dance programs such as Zumba lifted participants’ mood and certain cognitive skills, such as visual recognition and decision-making, per Harvard Medical School

The benefits of dance are boundless and will affect every individual in a unique way. That said, maybe the most incredible thing about dancing is that it is the great equalizer. Anyone with mobility in their body, even if limited, can participate. This makes it a great social activity, and a fun way to connect with others.

With all of the different forms of dance that exist, such as ballet, hip hop, tap dancing, swing dancing, salsa, belly dancing, pole dancing, and more, there’s bound to be something for everyone.


The Health Benefits of Sea Water

From Surfer Today

Excerpt: "The list of sea water health benefits is nearly endless. ...Sea water can be a natural drug and medicine. It stimulates our body and promotes the feeling of well-being that surfers know very well.

...So, what does sea water contain? On average, sea water has 3.5 percent of salt (sodium chloride). In other words, for one liter of water, you get 35 grams of salts. And then, small parts of magnesium, sulfate and calcium."

From regenerating your skin and strengthening your immune system to eliminating anxiety and preventing insomnia, salt water has many benefits.

For the complete article, click here.

 


Fitness and Nutrition Plans Key to Cancer Survival and Recovery, Says New Report

Newly diagnosed cancer patients that place an emphasis on their physical and psychological wellbeing have a better chance of survival and recovery, according to a report published by a group of charities. It could also help them access treatments which would have otherwise not been tolerated. 

“People are less vulnerable to the side effects of cancer treatment if they are as healthy as possible, physically and psychologically,” read the paper. 

The report by Macmillan Cancer Support, the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the National Institute for Health Research Cancer and Nutrition Collaboration, supported the notion of preventative action and “prehabilitation” as soon as possible. The charities suggest that cancer patients should seek out personalized recommendations to optimize their lifestyle, so maximize their resilience to treatment and improve quality of life. 

Prehabilitation includes quitting unhealthy habits, like smoking, intaking excess alcohol, sugar, and drugs, and adopting a more active lifestyle. Specifically, the new report says that those diagnosed with cancer should increase the percentage of fruits and vegetables in their diet, limit alcohol to a maximum of 14 units a week, maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking, and exercise at least 150 minutes per week. 

The report was backed by a series of studies showing that exercise can reduce chances of survival. For example, Yale University researchers found that a daily brisk walk of just 25 minutes lowered the mortality rate among women with breast cancer by nearly 50%. 

While the mental and physical weight of a diagnosis may make it difficult for people to jump to change their lifestyle for the better before treatment, the study offered expert advice for exercising with pain. 

Recommendations include “knowing your boundaries,” which means stopping before you feel significant stiffness and pain, and being okay with moderate soreness. For pain that will not resolve itself, it is important to connect with a physiotherapist or a personal trainer. 

To get all of the benefits of your workout while staying safe, you must also know the correct form. “Learn the right way to do big moves such as squats and deadlifts, as these are the moves where you can injure yourself or feel more pain,” said chartered physiotherapist Joseph Moore, from the Center for Human Performance. He recommends giving your body a 48-hour wait period between heavy or high impact muscle work. Within that period, you can do exercises that work other muscles, such as swimming.

Moore emphasizes the importance of stretching, which is vital for recovery and also lengthens and builds up muscle. 

“It takes the muscles through a full range of movement and helps blood flow, which flushes out the waste products such as lactic acid that might build up from your exercise programme.” He recommends yoga or Pilates once or twice a week.

“We want to see prehabilitation implemented soon after diagnosis so that people living with cancer feel empowered to improve their health and get the personalised care they need,” added Moore.


The Health Benefits of Kayaking

From Health Fitness Revolution

Excerpt: "How about taking a look at the world from a whole new angle? Grab a kayak and go exploring. Kayaking is great exercise and gives you an intimate view that really immerses you in nature. Its health benefits include:

  1. Weight loss
  2. Reduces stress
  3. Upper body workout
  4. Mental health
  5. Community
  6. Great source of vitamin D
  7. Builds positive self-image
  8. Core strengthening
  9. Tones legs
  10. Improves heart health

For more detail on the many benefits of kayaking, click here.

 


Why Do Muscles Shake After a Workout?

While it may feel alarming to experience muscle shakes after a workout, most of the time it is completely normal. Involuntary muscle shaking is typically caused by muscle fatigue or low blood glucose.

Muscle trembles after a workout can indicate that you are just not used to the level of intensity of your previous exercise, and therefore your body is not yet able to support that level of exertion without experiencing fatigue.

The means by which your muscles move efficiently is through different motor units, a group of muscles and a motor nerve in the spine, that work together to create a smooth muscle contraction. When you work out when you are tired, malnourished, or exerting above your ability level, some of the motor units simply cease to function and lead to shaking, as explained by Dr. Loren G. Martin, professor of physiology at Oklahoma State University, as cited by LiveStrong.

This is why we tend to get the shakes in or after a barre or Pilates class. Contrary to popular belief, our muscles don’t tremble during these exercises because we haven’t used them, but because we are isolating them more than we do in other forms of exercise, and therefore they become fatigued more quickly.

Working out on an empty stomach could also be the culprit. If your body does not have enough nutrients to fuel your muscles, your level of glucose, or blood sugar, will be depleted. This condition is known as hypoglycemia, and may lead to muscle trembles.

“This is the same concept as the blood and muscle glucose availability,” explains Lauren Kanski, a NASM-certified personal trainer based out of New York, as cited by Mind Body Green. “Working out fed versus fasted can make a huge difference in glycogen depletion. With regards to muscle fatigue, some muscle fibers tire faster than others, which causes irregular contractions, or shaking."

When muscles eventually rest, the shaking should stop.

So while the shakes may feel off-putting, they may actually be a sign of a successful workout and may indicate that we are growing stronger. Kanski notes that the idea behind strength training is to damage our tissue so that the body can regenerate new, stronger, and more durable tissue. That is the reason our bodies become sore.

If you wish to stop muscle trembling, the easiest way would be to lower the intensity of your workout until you are able to strengthen your muscles to a higher level. Another option would be to consider lowering the number of reps you perform per set, or increasing the length of time between your sets.

Eating a nutritious meal at least an hour before your workout can also help prevent muscle shaking. In particular, snacks high in carbohydrates or natural sugars, such as peanut butter or a glass of orange juice, can ease muscle shaking from hypoglycemia.

Other factors that may contribute to shaking after exercise include consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, alcohol withdrawal, caffeine intake, or other medications. Individuals experiencing stress and anxiety may also see it manifested in their body through trembles. In rare cases, a medical disorder that affects the nerves, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, can be behind muscle trembles.


Beach Volleyball: Fun and Fitness in One

From Health Fitness Revolution

Looking to get outside in the sun but need to make time for that workout? You may want to try beach or lake volleyball. There are many benefits to this fun outdoor exercise that you might have not even realized.

For starters, beach or lake volleyball can help improve hand-eye coordination, muscle tone, agility, flexibility, balance and increase energy. Along with all of that, you are getting outside, absorbing some of the sun’s health-giving vitamin D.

Playing volleyball on the beach or lake actually delivers more health benefits than a regular indoor game. The sand adds resistance, prompting your muscles to work harder which leads to greater strength and endurance. You’ll also burn more calories and expend more energy than running on the road which means you’ll get the same return on your workout in less time.

According to Health Fitness Revolution, “Sand volleyball offers the same energy-boosting benefits as all other physical activity in addition to being invigorating because the workout is outdoors and extremely social.”

For more on the many benefits of beach volleyball, click here.

 


Foundation Training: Laying the Groundwork for Health & Wellness

If you suffer from chronic back pain or want a way to boost your energy while minimizing your vulnerability to pain and illness, consider Foundation Training. It’s beginning to make a lot of noise in fitness and wellness circles. Here’s why: Our lives today come hand in hand with much hunching, slouching and sitting, an unhealthy mix of poor posture and inactivity that can add up to painful, life-limiting joint compression. Often, we don’t even realize we are putting ourselves at such a physical disadvantage or how it is impacting our mental health as well. Foundation Training is the effective antidote.

Foundation Training is a simple sequence of movements and breathing techniques designed to reverse the effects of joint compression. It can even minimize, if not eliminate, chronic pain from past injuries or illness.

According to FoundationTraining.com, “Through a series of postures, poses and movements, Foundation Training activates your posterior muscle chain, anchors the hips, decompresses the spine, and teaches you to take the burden of supporting the body out of your joints and put it where it belongs: in your muscles.” This workout relieves chronic pain by strengthening the muscles in our bodies that hold us upright every day, in other words, our foundation.

"Foundation Training enables one to reach, achieve and experience incredible health and wellness."

For more information, including where to find Foundation Training instruction, click here.

 


Surf's Up

From Live Happy Media | By Megan Michelson

Excerpt: Looking to reclaim your energy, your strength, your confidence, your life? Consider tapping into what surfers have long known: Surfing makes you happier. Ocean therapy researcher Carly Rogers says, "Surfing provides a positive, natural environment; a chance to build self-confidence and a catalyst for change."

No wonder it is becoming a go to for treating PTSD and other mental illnesses. There are many benefits for cancer survivors as well.

Diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2010, Britte Roossien quickly became an echo of the vibrant  young wife and mother she had been. Even after she beat a second bout of cancer, she couldn't find the bridge back to her life, until she discovered surfing through the Mission-supported First Descents Adventure Retreats. "I (learned) that I wasn't going to break, that I was much stronger than I ever realized," said Britte. “Surfing taught me that cancer was just a small part of my history. ...I finally felt separate from cancer.”

"The ocean can have its way with you; it has no empathy. But even when you're out there struggling and the ocean is giving you a beating, it's still rewarding, still cleansing," said surf instructor Rover "Farmdog" Farmer who worked with First Descents participants.

Five months after her surfing experience, Britte ran her first marathon.

Read more here.

For additional information, click here.