Be fit and in shape with great workouts, fitness tips, and yoga!

For Optimal Brain and Nervous System Health, You Need to Exercise Your Leg Muscles

Daily Walking and a Four-Minute Daily Workout — A Winning Combo Most People Can Do   While exercise is primarily valued for its influence on physical health, strength and mobility, there's ample evidence showing physical exercise, especially strength training, is just as important for healthy brain and nervous system function. A number of studies, which I'll review below, have linked muscle strength, and leg strength in particular, to various cognitive benefits. This fascinating link was again demonstrated in a recent study1,2 published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, which shows that neurological health is as dependent on signals from your large leg muscles as it is on signals from your brain to your muscles. In other words, it's a two-way street, and neither "lane" is more important than the other. As noted by the authors: "Both astronauts and patients affected by chronic movement-limiting pathologies face impairment in muscle and/or brain performance. Increased patient survival expectations and the expected longer stays in space by astronauts may result in prolonged motor deprivation and consequent pathological effects. Severe movement limitation can influence not only the motor and metabolic systems but also the nervous system, altering neurogenesis and the interaction between motoneurons and muscle cells. Little information is yet available about the effect of prolonged muscle disuse on neural stem cells characteristics. Our in vitro study aims to fill this gap by focusing on the biological and molecular properties of neural stem cells (NSCs) … The overall results support the existence of a link between reduction of exercise and muscle disuse and metabolism in the brain and thus represent valuable new information that could clarify how circumstances such as the absence of load and the lack of movement that occurs in people with some neurological diseases, may affect the properties of NSCs and contribute to the negative manifestations of these conditions." The Importance of Leg Exercise for Brain and Nervous System Health According to the press release,3 the finding "fundamentally alters brain and nervous system medicine — giving doctors new clues as to why patients with motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy and other neurological diseases often rapidly decline when their movement becomes limited." In other words, whenever you're unable to perform load-bearing exercises, you not only lose muscle mass due to muscle atrophy, your body chemistry is impacted in such a way that your nervous system and brain also begin to deteriorate. To reach this conclusion, the researchers prevented mice from using their hind legs for 28 days. The animals could still use their front legs, however, and were able to eat and groom normally without getting stressed. At the end of 28 days, the sub-ventricular zone of the animals' brains was examined. This is an area of the brain responsible for the health of nerve cells. Remarkably, neural stem cells — undifferentiated stem cells that can develop into both neurons and other brain cells — had declined by 70 percent in the animals that had not used [...]

2018-10-12T13:28:20+00:00 By |

Study Shows Link Between Strong Muscles and a Strong Brain

Did You Know Aerobic Exercise and Strength Training Affect Cognitive Ability?   Science has linked the benefit of physical exercise to brain health for many years. In fact, compelling evidence suggests physical exercise not only helps build cognitive power1 but also helps the brain resist shrinkage by promoting neurogenesis,2 i.e., the ability to adapt and grow new brain cells. Unfortunately, forgetfulness and “senior moments” are considered by many medical professionals to be a normal and anticipated part of aging. I disagree. In fact, I believe if you’ve noticed memory lapses you may want to seriously consider making immediate lifestyle changes to help reverse or at least minimize further deterioration. Your brain is actually quite adaptable and has the capacity to repair and regenerate, the medical term for which is neuroplasticity. A recent study has found a strong correlation between grip strength and brain health.3 Your Muscle and Cognitive Power Are Connected Researchers from Western Sydney University have found muscle strength, which they measured using hand grip strength, may be a strong indicator of the health of your brain.4 An analysis of data collected from over 475,000 British participants revealed the stronger an individual’s hand grip, the better they performed across every brain function test the researchers used, supporting previous research from the same university.5 During the study, the researchers evaluated reaction speed, logical problem-solving and multiple tests analyzing memory. Interestingly, they also determined the data was consistently strong both in individuals younger than 55 and those over 55. The analysis accounted for age, gender, body weight and education prior to confirming those who were stronger indeed had better functioning brains.6 A comparison of the results between the general population and individuals who suffered from schizophrenia found strong similarities. Grip strength was strongly correlated to brain health, particularly in working memory and processing speed.7 The researchers theorize if grip strength could predict functional and physical health outcomes in individuals who suffered from schizophrenia, further interventions to improve muscle strength could impact cognitive and real-world functioning.8 Although the correlation between muscle strength and physical activity to better brain health and cognitive function in seniors has been demonstrated in previous studies, the results from this study also revealed a strong connection in those younger than 55. Joseph Firth, Ph.D., from the National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University, commented on the results:9 “These sorts of novel interventions, such as weight training, could be particularly beneficial for people with mental health conditions. Our research has shown that the connections between muscular strength and brain functioning also exist in people experiencing schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder — all of which can interfere with regular brain functioning. This raises the strong possibility that weight training exercises could actually improve both the physical and mental functioning of people with these conditions.” Aerobic Exercise and Strength Training Affect Cognitive Ability Previous studies have also linked physical activity with an improvement in cognitive functioning, even for a short time. While studies [...]

2018-10-04T12:46:57+00:00 By |

Strength-Building Exercises Decrease Risk for All Causes of Disease

Check Out These Simple Strength Exercises Anyone Can Do!   From birth to approximately 30, your muscles are growing in strength and size with little effort from you. However, once you're in your 30s you begin to experience sarcopenia, the natural loss of muscle mass and function.1 With inactivity you can lose as much as 5 percent of your muscle mass each decade after 30. This loss may speed up as you reach 65. Only 23 percent of people over the age of 45 report meeting strength training recommendations.2 However, strength exercises are the most important type of exercise you need to stay strong and healthy as you age. Gaining and maintaining muscle strength is just one of the benefits. This form of exercise may help prevent osteoporosis, improve your balance and control, prevent injuries and improve your ability to perform day-to-day movements. Strength exercises are an integral part of a well-rounded exercise program and are important for every age group, from children to seniors. Unfortunately, many ignore this aspect of exercise as they may believe a gym is required, or that strength training will create bulk. Intensity, not higher weights, can achieve beneficial changes on a molecular, chemical and hormonal level in your body that may help slow or prevent many of the diseases triggered by a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, research has confirmed that exercise is one of the best preventive strategies you may use3 against many common diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.4 Recent research now demonstrates that strength training is vital to your longevity and could add years to your life.5 Strength Exercises May Reduce Risk of All-Cause Mortality In one of the largest studies to compare mortality outcomes using different types of exercise, researchers discovered those who incorporated strength training in their routine experienced a 23 percent reduction in premature death from any cause and a 31 percent reduction in cancer-related death.6 Researchers from the University of Sydney studied over 80,000 adults and found that promoting muscular strength may be as important as aerobic activities. Some find strength-based exercises more intimidating or less attractive as they seem more demanding or boring. Aerobic exercise has also been the focus of many studies, demonstrating they improve executive functioning7 and cardiovascular fitness,8 improving your endurance and stamina throughout the day. However, this featured study suggests strength exercises may reduce the risk of all-cause and cancer-related deaths.9 The World Health Organization's (WHO) Physical Activity Guidelines for adults 18 to 64 recommends 150 minutes of aerobic activity with at least two days of strength-based exercises each week.10 Lead author Emmanuel Stamatakis, Ph.D., believes public health authorities have neglected to stress the importance of strength exercises and misrepresented how active Australian citizens were as a nation.11 Stamatakis cites the Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey as an example of the increased risk of disease from lack of activity Australians suffer.12 The report finds 53 percent of Australians are inactive. However, when strength-based exercise [...]

2018-10-04T12:49:05+00:00 By |

Exercise Four to Five Times a Week to Prevent Arterial Stiffness

Exercise is the Source of Multiple Health Benefits!   Many associate the normal aging process with hypertension, chronic disease and heart disease. However, while these conditions are common in an aging population, many studies have demonstrated they are not inevitable outcomes of aging. Heart disease affects approximately 1 in 13 Americans over the age of 18.1 It continues to be the leading cause of death in the U.S., as 1 in 4 deaths is associated with heart disease.2 Mortality from coronary heart disease has been on the decline, likely attributable to improved treatments following heart attack, but the number of individuals living with the disease has not. Those at higher risk for heart disease have high blood pressure, smoke, are overweight, drink excessive amounts of alcohol and are physically inactive.3 In the U.S., the percentage of adults over age 20 with hypertension is near 33 percent.4 The condition is responsible for 3.7 million outpatient hospital visits each year, and 32,000 deaths from essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease. Hypertension is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, with a significant contributing factor being physical stiffening of the large arteries.5 A recent study finds exercising may reverse the aging of your heart and blood vessels as measured by the stiffness of your arteries.6 Activity Reduces Risk of Arterial Stiffness Recent research published in the Journal of Physiology7 analyzed the effect of differing amounts of exercise over 25 years on arterial stiffening in older adults. The study enrolled 100 people in their 60s and evaluated their exercise history throughout their lives.8 After measuring arterial stiffness, they found those who exercised two to three times a week for at least 30 minutes had more youthful middle-sized arteries supplying blood to their head and neck. However, the most impressive results were in those who exercised four to five times a week. They had healthier large central arteries as well as healthier midsized ones. Data found there was little effect on the smaller peripheral arteries in either of the groups.9 Researchers measured the larger arteries supplying the chest and abdomen but did not take into account confounding factors, such as diet, education and social background. While these factors may have had an impact on the results, lead author from the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Dr. Benjamin Levine commented:10 "This work is really exciting because it enables us to develop exercise programs to keep the heart youthful and even turn back time on older hearts and blood vessels." In another study, researchers found relatively short aerobic exercise in older adults could reduce arterial stiffness in those who have Type 2 diabetes, hypertension or hypercholesterolemia.11 One study put participants through a 12-week combined exercise program and found improvements in arterial stiffness, functional capacity and body composition in postmenopausal women who suffered stage 1 hypertension.12 Individuals with metabolic syndrome have a threefold increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease, in part due to an increase in arterial stiffness. In a study published [...]

2018-09-18T17:49:10+00:00 By |

Strength Training Can Relieve Depression

One Hour of Exercise a Week Can Prevent Depression!   Resistance exercise training, commonly referred to as weight training or strength training, is often viewed as an activity aimed at building large muscles. While it certainly does build muscle mass and strength, its benefits don't end there, as strength training offers bodywide benefits from your heart to your brain. In fact, recent research published in JAMA Psychiatry revealed it's even beneficial for your mood and may help to alleviate symptoms of depression.1 A meta-analysis of 33 trials involving nearly 2,000 people showed that strength training led to a significant reduction in depressive symptoms, and this held true regardless of the participant's health status, improvements in strength or how much strength training they completed. According to the study's lead author, Brett Gordon, a postgraduate researcher in the department of physical education and sports sciences at the University of Limerick in Ireland, the greatest improvements were seen among people with symptoms of mild to moderate depression, as opposed to those without depression, which suggests strength training may be most effective for people with greater depressive symptoms.2 Strength Training May Be as Effective as Antidepressants While strength training may not provide an all-out cure for depression, Gordon noted in an email to Time that it may improve depressive symptoms as well as antidepressants and behavioral therapies.3 Many different strength training programs turned out to be beneficial, so Gordon recommended strength training for two days a week, with eight to 12 repetitions of eight to 10 strength-training exercises, to boost mental health, which are the guidelines suggested by the American College of Sports Medicine.4 The World Health Organization's (WHO) physical activity guidelines for adults 18 to 64 also recommends at least two days of strength-based exercises each week.5 Past research has also highlighted strength training's psychological benefits, including a study on stroke survivors, which found improvements in strength are associated with a reduction in levels of depression.6 Yet another review revealed impressive mental health benefits of strength training in adults, including:7 Reductions in anxiety symptoms in healthy adults Improvements in cognition among older adults Improvements in sleep quality among older adults with depression Reductions in symptoms of depression among people diagnosed with depression Improvements in self-esteem Further, in a study of older depressed adults, 80 percent experienced a significant reduction in depressive symptoms after taking up strength training for 10 weeks, such that researchers concluded, "PRT [progressive resistance training] is an effective antidepressant in depressed elders, while also improving strength, morale and quality of life."8 In yet another study of older adults with depression, those who took part in high-intensity strength training three days a week for eight weeks experienced a 50 percent reduction in depressive symptoms,9 whereas separate research showed strength training exercise reduced depressive symptoms in older Hispanic/Latino adults as well (endurance, balance and flexibility exercises were also beneficial for mood).10 What Makes Exercise so Good for Your Brain and Mood? The featured study in JAMA Psychiatry [...]

2018-09-17T19:12:52+00:00 By |

Exercise Not Only Boosts Immunity, It Protects You from Cancer: Study

Did You Know Working Out Can Help Fight Against Cancer?   We all know that regular exercise can certainly improve overall health in often immeasurable ways, but a new study suggests that it could also enhance your immune system and maybe even help protect against cancer. The small study, conducted by researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in conjunction with the Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute, found that a large number of the immune T cells in cancer survivors managed to improve their ability to fight disease after they participated in an exercise class for 12 weeks. "What we're suggesting is that with exercise, you might be getting rid of T cells that aren't helpful and making room for T cells that might be helpful," said researcher Laura Bilek, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in a statement. "If exercise indeed strengthens the immune system and potentially improves cancer surveillance, it's one more thing we should educate patients about as a reason they should schedule regular activity throughout their day and make it a priority in their lives," she added. 'A variety of positive associations between exercise and cancer' A press release from the American Physiological Society said the exercise program was implemented after patients finished chemotherapy, and that "their immune systems remodel themselves to become more effective, potentially fending off future incidences of cancer." The new research, presented at the Integrative Biology of Exercise VI meeting Oct. 10-13, which was sponsored by the APS, has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal so the findings should be considered preliminary. Nevertheless, researchers said, "previous research had turned up a variety of positive associations between exercise and cancer - notably, that exercise can reduce the risk of getting initial incidences of several different types of cancers, can often improve prognosis in cancer patients, and can reduce the risk of recurrence and secondary cancers survivors of some types of cancers. However, the mechanism behind these phenomena has been unknown." 16 people who survived cancer were included in the study; all but one of whom had just finished chemotherapy. Researchers took initial blood samples from participants and analyzed the numbers of senescent and naive T cells (senescent T cells do not fight disease well, while naive T cells do). Then, participants went through a 12-week program of exercise where they performed cardio, strength training and flexibility workouts. At the end of the program, researchers drew more blood samples to reexamine T cell levels. Researchers discovered that in most participants, the ratios of their T cells changed from more senescent and fewer naive T cells to fewer senescent and more naive T cells. 'A litany of positive benefits from exercise' "What we're suggesting is that with exercise, you might be getting rid of T cells that aren't helpful and making room for T cells that might be helpful," says Bilek, adding that the findings highlight the importance of exercise for everyone, including those suffering from [...]

2018-09-11T17:42:50+00:00 By |

Top 4 Ways to Get an Unfair Advantage (naturally) with Your Workout Results

Get More Out of Your Workouts with Natural Supplements!   Let’s face it, everyone is looking for ways to do things faster and more efficiently. Whether it is an insane work week, active family, or a combination of both, it can become difficult to become physically fit without spending an obnoxious amount of time in the gym. Then, for those who do manage this herculean task, they are often seen walking around awkwardly or limping due to excessive wear and tear on their body. It doesn’t have to be this way. When you understand how to eat, recover, and repeat, you can legitimately get an unfair advantage over those who don’t understand these core concepts. In addition to that, when you get your hands on high end supplementation that dramatically improves workout results and recovery, you can begin to get more from less time in the gym. The first step in maximizing your workouts is to increase your overall energy, and augment your energy levels just prior to your workout routine. To do this, oxygen levels in the body need to be very high, which means your nutrition has to be dialed in and your toxic load very low. To gain incredible levels of oxygen, especially prior to a workout, consider a daily superfood smoothie 60-90 minutes before your workout. (Try the Ultimate Warrior Smoothie Recipe.) During your workout, don’t eat any food but make sure to drink fluids to lubricate your muscles and organs with important nutrients like minerals, electrolytes, and naturally occurring sugars. A great option is raw coconut water or highly mineralized spring water, or purified water with a pinch of sea salt. It’s very important to note to avoid energy drinks during the workout (and altogether) as they actually will eventually cannibalize your ability to recover and generate great results. After your workout, you want to eat as soon as possible, ideally between 30-60 minutes after the workout. At this stage, you want to make sure to alkalize the body to offset lactic acid build-up at inflamed sources of the body, replace glycogen and nutrient stores that were depleted during your workout, as well as consuming quality sources of protein to repair and rebuild muscle. Now, surprisingly, many workout enthusiasts do not maximize any of these stages, and typically get the results they do from a sheer amount of work ethic and eating constantly. This may work to some degree, but wouldn’t you like a way to get great results without obsessing about it and make that little time you have for the gym more productive? Or maybe you have time for the gym, but would like to improve your endurance, performance, and recovery to become more physically fit and a better athlete? Good news, there’s a better way. 4 ways to naturally augment your workout results Keep in mind that to make the most of your workouts, your daily food regimen is paramount. There are no magic tricks to outwork a bad [...]

2018-09-11T15:03:44+00:00 By |

Try This Bodyweight Workout, No Equipment Needed

Strength Training Can Help Prevent the Development of Cancer   Exercise is one of the foundational pillars of developing and maintaining optimal health. Strength training is just one type of exercise that may be used to maintain muscle mass, strengthen muscles and, when done without rest between sets, can be part of a cardiovascular high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session. For some, strength training, or weight training as it is also called, may be out of your comfort zone. It may feel intimidating to walk into a weight room filled with men “pumping iron” or you may feel that strength training is only for those who want to “bulk up” and train for a Mr. Universe competition. However, there are strategies you can use that reduce your discomfort and result in strong, flexible muscle tone. Below is a training routine you can use at home to maintain and improve your muscle development, all without equipment. Bodyweight strength training has been popular for decades since it’s efficient, cheap and effective. Before I share this simple, yet effective, routine, let’s quickly discuss why you want to include this form of exercise in your weekly routine. Why Weight Work? Strength training has a number of benefits to your health and wellness. As you age, your body naturally loses muscle mass. The medical term for this condition is sarcopenia, and it is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults.1 Sarcopenia is defined as both a loss of muscle mass and functional strength. In one survey, seniors expressed greater fear of loss of independence than of death.2 Loss of independence is also costly. The Family Caregiver Alliance estimates that by 2050 the number needing paid long-term services will rise to 27 million.3 Lost income and benefits of individuals caring for family at home averages $303,000 over a lifetime. You may reduce your potential risk for loss of independence by using simple strength-training exercises to slow sarcopenia, improve muscle strength and improve your balance and coordination. Strength training may also help prevent the development of cancer. In a recent study, scientists found strength training, even without using weights, cuts your risk of cancer.4 The study showed that strength training at least twice a week reduces your risk of death from cancer by 31 percent.5 When combined with aerobic activities, the risk of dying from any cause is reduced by an impressive 30 percent.6 When strength training is combined with optimal levels of vitamin D, the benefits are even greater. In my previous article, “How Vitamin D Can Help Slash Your Risk of 7 Different Acute and Chronic Disease,” I shared how the combination of strength training and vitamin D could reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes and the deposition of visceral fat. Your waist-to-hip ratio, which is a numerical indicator of the amount of fat deposited in your abdominal cavity, is a far better measurement to determine your risk of Type 2 [...]

2018-09-05T13:16:44+00:00 By |

New Twists on Yoga

Did You Know Yoga Can Reduce Food Cravings?   Fitness trends come and go, and time will tell if the latest craze is here to stay: goat yoga. That's right, yoga sessions with goats. The CBS News video above features some of the instructors and enthusiasts of this unusual pairing. At Laughing Frog Yoga studio in Santa Monica, California, pygmy goats Floyd and Rosco are part of the ensemble. According to Michelle Tritten of Hello Critter Care, goats have the uncanny ability to "bring out the best in people." Many others agree. Lainey Morse, one of the first to introduce goat yoga to the world in 2016 at her farm in Albany, Oregon, tells CBS "it's impossible to be sad and depressed when you have goats around you." Since then, goat yoga has spread around the country, with a number of celebrities testing it out and spreading the word on social media. Writing for Viva Glam Magazine, actress-writer Malorie Mackey writes about her goat yoga experience at Laughing Frog, saying:1 "As the goats enter, giggles and happiness ensue. Roscoe enjoys jumping and climbing on people while Floyd enjoys walking under them. Together, they move around the class jumping on yogis and having fun under the supervision of Michelle. Perhaps it isn't the most calm, meditative yoga class, but it breaks up the norm and adds lighthearted fun to your yoga routine." Yoga Is a Powerful Mind-Body Practice While I believe anaerobic exercise such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is key for optimal health, there's no doubt yoga can be an important part of a comprehensive exercise program. And research reveals potent mental and physical benefits from yoga, regardless of your current state of health or fitness. Yoga has been around for about 5,000 years, and while many regard it as just another form of exercise, it's really a comprehensive lifestyle practice that integrates mental, physical and spiritual elements. With regard to the latter, yoga can be viewed as a form of meditation that demands your full attention as you move from one asana (yoga position) to another.  As you learn new ways of moving and responding to your body and mind, other areas of your life tend to shift and change as well. In a sense, you not only become more physically flexible, but your mind and approach to life may also gain some much-needed flexibility. A report2 by the Institute of Science in Society details how meditative practices such as yoga, tai chi and qigong, just to name a few, can actually alter your genetic expression through their impact on your mind. Indeed, thousands of genes have been identified that appear to be directly influenced by your subjective mental state. Examples of genetic effects obtained through yogic- and other meditative practices include the down-regulation of cellular stress response genes and genes associated with the pathway responsible for the breakdown of proteins, while expression of heat shock proteins and immune function are increased. One study [...]

2018-09-04T17:50:30+00:00 By |