Fitness trends come and go, but experts have found a favorite—and you’ll be surprised how good it really is.
What is HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training, also known as HITT, is a refreshing cardio workout that specializes in alternating between really intense and take it easy. Start out with 1 minute at a dead sprint, then ease up and walk for 2 minutes. You repeat this interval four or five times and—BAM—you see results pretty darn fast.
Why We Love It
Efficient, fun, and endlessly creative, HIIT is quickly becoming the people’s workout choice. In fact, a recent poll discovered that “The top two fitness trends for 2014 are high-intensity interval training, and body-weight training such as push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and planks,” shared USA Today writer Nanci Hellmich.
Ideal for people with a busy schedule, HIIT is fast and effective—which could be why it’s catching fire. You can sneak a workout in during your lunch break or between errands on the weekend. “Research shows you can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than the girl jogging on the treadmill for an hour,” explained Charlotte Hilton Andersen, in her article on shape.com.
HIIT is also incredibly adaptive. So you like running, great. Cycling. Push-ups. Hiking. Dancing. Sit-ups. Burpees. Dribbling. Pilates. Ladders—Ok, you get the idea. No matter what you feel like doing for the day, you can apply it to HIIT. “This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short, you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is this format offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers a quick way to see results,” Andersen added.
Results usually come with a price. What about the HIIT cost? Hellmich quoted Walt Thompson, lead researcher on the trends report and a regents’ professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University in Atlanta. “We are seeing people going back to basics and using relatively low-cost ways to get in shape.”
How It Works
Quick, adaptable, low cost, and motivating, no wonder HIIT is more popular than even zumba, according to the study. Let’s take a look at another study that backs up the benefits of HIIT. The American College of Sports Medicine released a study in 2011 that broke it down. “Just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training,” shared Andersen.
So, how exactly does HIIT work its wonder? The secret is in the recovery time. Initially, the equation is one part intense to three parts recovery. But as you get fitter, you will boost the ratio to 1:2. “This recovery is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC, which means that there is a substantially large increase of oxygen intake to replenish the oxygen deficiency that you just experienced. This is important because you will actually be burning calories long after the workout is over,” explained John Hartmann on active.com.
Apparently, you don’t reach the EPOC level until you’re in one hour on a treadmill. HIIT gets you there in a fraction of that time.
Stamina is also a big winner when you train with HIIT. Your VO2 max, also described as the maximum volume of oxygen your body is able to absorb, increases. “Meaning that you can last longer during all sorts of exercises. Also, HIIT increases your VO2 max quicker and faster compared to static cardio,” said Hartman.
One 2006 study Andersen referenced showed that “After 8 weeks of doing HIIT workouts, subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.”
With all these amazing results, one may wonder if HIIT would negatively affect muscle mass. Nobody wants to lose the bulk as they slim down. I mean, that’s what we’re going for—that toned, healthy look. Andersen shared that steady cardio does actually encourage muscle loss; but two types of training don’t. “Weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters to preserve their hard-earned muscles while ensuring most of the weight lost comes from fat stores. Win/win!”
Another cool aspect is that HIIT “stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout,” added Andersen. HGH helps with two pretty essential things: increased caloric burn and slowing the aging process. No big deal.
Give It a Try
So how do you get started. Well, here is just one quick way to train with HIIT on a stationary bike. This session was taken from Hartman’s article on active.com.
Warm up for 3-5 minutes: I usually have the resistance at a medium level so if its on a 1-20 scale I keep my warm-up and recovery time at around 10-12. When it comes time to do the intense interval, I bump it up to 15-18. Know that I am very fit and have been doing this for years, so if you are starting from ground zero don’t go this intensely unless you want to throw up after your attempt.
30 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity (repeat 4 times)
40 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity (repeat 4 times)
30 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity (repeat 4 times)
Give this workout a try or invent your own using whatever activity you love. But whether you are dancing, running, or cartwheeling, if you train with the HIIT ideology, your body and your motivation will benefit.
Welcome to December. For many, this means it is time to assemble the Christmas lights. Whether you plan to hang a couple hundred or a couple million twinkling strands of Christmas wonder, the holiday season is an excellent time to combine your workout and winter fun.
Rebecca Brown, with shape.com, shared that “If you focus on using your core to stabilize you while stringing lights, you can burn around 90 calories per hour. Fitness tips like isolating different muscles and working on your balance is a great way to turn this holiday activity into a low-impact workout.”
For winter fun the whole family can enjoy, “Venturing outside for sledding works your quads, calves, and even forearms and biceps (from holding on!). Only 15 minutes of sledding burns 121 calories, which is just about enough to offset the 110-calorie candy cane you’re craving,” Brown added.
*These estimates are based on a 145-pound woman.
Other outdoor activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice-skating can pack a serious calorie-burning punch. WebMD writer Wendy C. Fries quoted Julia C. Jackson, owner of Friends in Fitness Corporate Wellness and Personal Training in California when she said, “Snowshoeing is fantastic because absolutely anyone who can walk can snowshoe.” And guess what? You can burn right around 560 calories per hour snowshoeing.
Cross-country skiing burns 650 calories an hour while building balance and coordination. Downhill skiing cuts about 350 calories an hour and ice-skating sweeps nearly 500 calories in the same amount of time, according to Fries.
Another fun idea that includes a little holiday generosity is running in a fund-raising charity race. Participating can burn up to 700 calories in 60 minutes. Look up a race near you on www.runningintheusa.com.
And the best part is that now you really can sit back after a family sledding day and enjoy some holiday treats. Dancing around the kitchen to “Jingle Bell Rock” while snitching another sugar cookie is the perfect cool down after another winter workout.
Thanksgiving is just days away. As you search out new recipes to add to the festive feast, consider adding a little more flavor—you will be surprised the health benefits a little spice can bring to the table.
According to Fitness magazine, herbs and spices actually beat out most fruits and vegetables where disease-fighting antioxidants are concerned. Author Anna Roufos recommended how to start incorporating top spices in your meals.
Known to lower blood sugar and inflammation, cinnamon also alleviates nausea, reduces blood triglyceride levels, LDL, and total cholesterol in people with Type 2 diabetes. It’s also a good source of calcium, iron, and manganese, Roufos shared.
According to Men’s Fitness writer Tina Benitez-Eves, “Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tropical evergreen tree and has one of the highest antioxidant values of any spice.” And because cinnamon is also known to kill bacteria, as a first aid tip, you can sprinkle the spice on small cuts to fight infection.
When incorporating it into your daily diet, try adding cinnamon to oatmeal, yogurt, or even peanut butter. Sprinkle it on carrots or sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving for extra flavor.
Commonly used in mustard, butter, and cheese for its yellow color, turmeric is a favorite spice in curries and sauces as well. It’s also said to relieve pain better than popular over-the-counter medicines. And it’s currently being tested for its “potential benefits for those with Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and cancer. An incredibly powerful antioxidant, turmeric contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties while helping to digest fats quickly,” said Benitez-Eves.
Roufos wrote that turmeric “contains curcumin, which can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.” She recommends 500 to 800 milligrams a day.
Add it to water when cooking rice (1/4 teaspoon for 1 cup rice) for fun Indian flavoring.
This delicious herb can be used in a variety of dishes from breakfast to dinner. And from what research has found, it is an excellent cancer and heart attack fighter. Roufos explained that the rosemary herb “Stops gene mutations that could lead to cancer and may help prevent damage to the blood vessels that raise heart attack risk.”
Include it as a tasty rub for your next chicken roast when you combine:
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
½ teaspoon thyme leaves
This popular herb’s scent is easily recognizable—especially in your favorite Italian dishes. From Mediterranean pizza to hearth-baked breadsticks, most people don’t have to be told twice to eat more garlic.
Shown to kill cancer cells, garlic may also disrupt the metabolism of tumor cells. Roufos quoted Karen Collins, RD, nutrition advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research when she said, “Studies suggest that one or two cloves weekly provide cancer-protective benefits.”
Follow her advice by sautéing garlic over low heat before mixing with pasta, Parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes. For full benefits, let the garlic sit for 10 to 15 minutes after chopping and before cooking. This allows for the “active form of the protective phytochemicals” to develop, Collins said.
Turn up the heat when you add a little cayenne pepper to your meals. In fact, that warmth factor, or capsaicin, is what makes cayenne pepper so good for you. “Highly therapeutic, the substance helps relieve aches and soreness…. Other medical benefits include improved circulation, heart health and helping fight prostate cancer and ulcers,” explained Benitez-Eves.
Add to turkey, vegetables, and tuna this Thanksgiving. If you’re up to the challenge, tackle some really hot peppers like habanero of Scotch bonnet. For a milder introduction, try jalapenos, Spanish pimentos, or cherry peppers.
Feeling a little queasy on your holiday road trip? Ginger is famous for decreasing motion sickness and nausea. It “may also relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis,” Roufos shared. “Ginger can also hinder blood clotting, so if you’re about to have surgery or are taking blood thinners or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor first.”
This spicy herb can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Popular among Asian cuisine and baked goods, it is an easy addition to any meal. Benitez-Eves recommends trying ginger tea for an upset stomach—a nice tip for the Thanksgiving feast aftermath.
A powerhouse of an herb, thyme has strong antimicrobial properties. “Researchers looked at the essential oils of thyme, clove, rose, eucalyptus, fennel and bergamot and found that they reduced COX-2 expression in cells [COX-2 is an enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain] by at least 25 percent. But the real star was thyme oil, which lowered COX-2 levels by nearly 75 percent,” explained Rachel Grumman Bender, Huffington Post writer. Thyme oil “almost completely eradicated bacteria within 60 minutes. Yet another study showed that thyme oil was able to inhibit antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.”
So stop by the spice aisle at your local grocery store this week and check out the many spices and herbs available. Surprise your guests by tossing in these aromatic and health-boosting additions—and give thanks for good food, a warm home, and a life of health.
By Erica Colvin, ProForm writer
Hunter Kemper joins the ProForm blog—sharing his Olympic training strategy, how he finds balance in life, and what the sport of triathlon can offer America’s youth.
Most Decorated U.S. Triathlete
Four-time Olympian – 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012
Seven-time U.S. National Champion
World Ranked #1, 2005-2006
2013 Chicago Triathlon Winner
2013 Hy-Vee IronKids Midwest Series Official Ambassador
Born May 4, 1976
Hometown: Orlando, FL
Lives in Colorado Springs, CO
Married to Val, former U.S. National Volleyball team member
Father of four – Davis (6), Hudson (3), Case (2), Price (7 days old)
PF: What makes your sport unique?
HK: The sport of triathlon is growing quickly. People are looking for goals—fitness goals. They ultimately want an end result, whether that is to lose weight, get healthy, or get fit. They think, “Let’s do it with a race.” There are 5k and 10k running races to work towards, maybe even a marathon. Running is huge. The sport of triathlon is dynamic and unique because it contains three sports in one, swimming, biking, and running. This new goal of doing a triathlon is exciting for people and they want to give it a try.
PF: Why do you think the sport of triathlon is growing?
HK: Triathlon is a fairly new sport. Its popularity picked up in the 2000s with the Sydney, Australia Olympic Games. One reason triathlon is growing is that it is much lower impact than many other fitness goals. Swimming and biking are easier on your body than running. Triathlon is a lifestyle sport that people can do at any age.
The different triathlon distances are Sprint, Olympic, Half-Ironman, and Ironman. When people finish a race they feel like they have accomplished something, it boosts their self esteem. It’s a journey where people can set goals, work to achieve those goals, and feel a sense of accomplishment.
PF: What is your motivation for competing in triathlon?
HK: As a kid I always had the dream of competing in the Olympic Games and representing my country. In 1986, I won my first triathlon at the age of ten and went on to win my first Ironkid’s National Championship. I fell in love with the sport from that day on.
It was announced that triathlon would become an Olympic sport in 1995 while I was in college at Wake Forest University and I thought, “This is my ticket to making a U.S. Olympic Games team.” I made that Olympic goal a reality in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics and fell in love with the Olympic Games. I finished 17th in Sydney and was the top American. I’ve finished as the top American at all four of my Olympic Games.
PF: When competing, what are some highlights of the experience?
HK: I love cheering on my fellow American athletes when competing at the Olympic Games. My goal has always been to win a medal and I’ve tried my best at every one to achieve that. However, triathlon is a one shot deal, so it’s very difficult. So much time is put into training and it comes down to one day, one event. I’m one of only two men in the world that has been able to compete at all four Olympic Games (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012) in the sport of triathlon. I’ll make history if I make it to my fifth Olympics at the young age of 39 years old. I believe that is what my story is all about — persistence. The idea of never giving up and that age is only a number. There are always new things to learn about training, about how to recover, about how to improve and I always enjoy the process in my quest for the pursuit of excellence.
PF: What advice would you offer to our ProForm readers?
HK: It is important to know what your goals are and to constantly visualize them. Write your goals down. In order to reach your goals, you will need to set a series of process goals in order to get there. Process goals are the small achievements that are put in place, to make sure that the bigger outcome goal is achieved.
When setting goals, encourage others to join you. For example, get a group of friends together and take a spin class together. Hold each other accountable. Training is more fun when you do it with others. When you reach the highest mountaintop by yourself, it’s rewarding; however, it’s a whole lot better when you have others to celebrate with after you complete a triathlon you never thought possible.
PF: What do you do in your training that is key to your success?
HK: One key to my success is being consistent. I never stop pursuing my goals. I love being a professional athlete and I appreciate it more and more the longer I compete. I have down days, weeks, or even months like when I broke my elbow and then had a serious staph infection after my surgery. However, it was important that I kept moving forward. I always surround myself with people who believe in me and encourage me.
It’s also important that I have balance in my life. I find balance by relying on my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in all that I do. I also find balance in my life when I spend time with my family. I love bringing my family with me when I compete. It’s great to have them at my races. They are my sense of balance. Whether I finish first or 41st, they are always there for me. Being a husband and father is much more important to me than what happens on the race course.
PF: How are you specifically training for Rio?
HK: It’s a great question, and it’s something that will be on my mind for the next few years until Rio 2016. It’s a constant juggling act to have your swim, bike, and run going well at the same time. It’s great to be in that sweet spot when you are at your best in all three sports, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes your bike and run are on fire, but your swim is off.
As our sport continues to get faster and faster, it’s very difficult to continue to be the best in the world for a long period of time. I will be focusing on my swim and run speed—two of the most important parts to success in Olympic draft-legal racing. The run speed that I have gained over the past few years will be important for me to maintain. I also need to be constantly working on improving my swim start speed. As an elite athlete it’s important to identify what your weaknesses are and constantly work on turning them into strengths. I’m excited about the opportunity to once again represent my country at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
PF: What makes you different from other athletes?
HK: I think the best athletes definitely have talent. They are born with it. God gave me talent for endurance, but you have to have more than that. To be truly successful you have to have incredible work ethic, drive, and determination. It’s the will to win—the pursuit of excellence—that gets you to the top. You can’t be even a little lazy. I am all the way committed in trying to be the best.
The older you are, the smarter you have to be. I take care of my body more and understand it better. It’s great when you can have balance in life. I have four kids, three boys ages 6, 3, and 2 and a new baby girl born on November 13th. I love the sport of triathlon and I want to be the best. However, in the grand scheme of things, it is more important to me that I’m the best father and husband I can be to my family. First comes my faith, then my family, and finally my love for triathlon.
PF: Do you have a word or mantra that you repeat to yourself when competing?
HK: My favorite scripture verse is Isaiah 40:31.
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
I draw my strength from Christ and try to focus on Him instead of thinking that I can do it all on my own.
In the race, I also think about the process of what I am doing. In the difficult times, you’ve got to be present in the race. So many times athletes think negative thoughts. It’s an hour and 50 minutes of racing for me when competing in an Olympic distance triathlon (.93 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike, 6.2 mile run). For example, getting pushed down beneath the water when you are swimming in the open water can be difficult and scary sometimes. It’s important to try and relax. The mind can be very powerful and it’s never helpful when negative self-talk takes over your thoughts. I work hard to be positive and present in all my races.
PF: What are you looking to accomplish in your career?
HK: I would love to have another run at one more Olympic Games. I’m getting older as a pro and I’m training really hard to go back for my 5th Olympics. I feel very blessed to be able to train and race triathlons for a living. I try to appreciate every day that I’m able to call myself a professional athlete.
My future goals are to one day run my own kids triathlon race series and manage events across the country. I love getting kids involved in a sport, like triathlon, that they might not normally think about ever doing. It’s important to give kids a feeling of self worth and to help them feel the accomplishment of finishing the race.
When I grew up I was always the kid who said, “There’s only one winner. And it’s going to be me.” Now I’m looking at it from the other side working with the Hy-Vee IronKids Tri Series. I love to see all the kids’ expressions as they cross the finish line. Maybe they aren’t the first kids chosen on the playground, but for many, our sport isn’t about that. It’s about giving it a try. T-R-Y not T-R-I. Kids can tell their friends, “I just did this cool sport called a triathlon.”
We have a big problem today in our country with kids being too sedentary. Too many kids play video games, are glued to their phones, and are stuck in their house all day. They need to get outside and maybe even set a goal of at least 60 minutes of activity a day. I look forward to promoting health and wellness in a fun way amongst our youth through the sport of triathlon.
PF: What was the best advice you were ever given?
HK: The best piece of advice my Dad ever gave me was to always treat others how you would like to be treated. What’s important to me is being respectful, courteous, and kind even when you don’t have time. It’s about being a good person no matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you come from. It’s the whole “pass it on” mentality. Open that door for a friend or a stranger; they will do the same for others. Pass that advice on to your kids and they will grow up as strong men and women who are kind, courteous, and respectful to others.
As told to Erica Colvin, ProForm writer.
Connect with Hunter:
Earlier this month many of us enjoyed a rare and luxurious extra hour of sleep thanks to Daylight Savings Time ending. Aside from feeling more rested the next morning, studies have found significant health benefits associated with adding just one extra hour of sleep to your regularly hectic life. The Huffington Post released an article November 3 highlighting several advantages.
“The key to training may be more sleep, not more practice,” the HP reported. Research has found that adding just one hour of sleep can “boost your athletic performance—and an extra hour on a regular basis is even better.”
Learning and Memory
Experts recommend getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. This allows for adequate REM sleep (or rapid eye movement), which is the “phase of slumber most closely linked to learning and memory,” HP reported.
Regular, sufficient sleep may also aid muscle memory. This is important for those athletes learning a new skill or task.
Blood Pressure and Hypertension
If you’re starting to think that a little extra shut-eye sounds like a good investment in your training, you are right. A 2008 study showed us that adults who slept for the recommended amount had a “33 percent lower chance of having calcium deposits build up in their arteries than adults who slept for only six hours a night,” HP shared.
This boost to your heart health can be compared to dropping your systolic blood pressure by 16 points. Wow! Another study the HP article included reported that short-sleeping people with hypertension or prehypertension who then enjoyed an extra hour of sleep “significantly decreased their blood pressure levels.”
One intriguing experiment divided a small pool of volunteers into two groups. Over the following seven days one group slept for just six and a half hours. The other group enjoyed seven and a half hours of sleep. The second week of the study, the two groups switched schedules and researchers administered blood tests and a number of cognitive tasks.
“The blood tests revealed that around 500 genes were switched on or off by that additional hour of shut-eye—for the better. The changes in genetic expression due to extra sleep helped protect against diabetes, cancer, inflammation and stress,” HP reported.
From the time we are young, sleep is sacrificed for productivity, entertainment, education, and a host of other priorities. We embrace the habit of late night hangouts with friends, early morning practices, all-nighters cramming for college exams, and then stress-induced insomnia as we navigate through our careers.
When it comes to training physically for an upcoming race or competition, it is common sense for players and coaches to know the importance of good sleep—but so many times it is the first thing sacrificed. Study author Cheri Mah explained, “Healthy and adequate sleep hasn’t had the same focus as other areas of training for peak performance.”
While an extra hour of sleep can help boost your performance, aid muscle memory, improve learning, decrease hypertension, and unlock cancer-fighting genetics—losing sleep has an even longer list of disadvantages.
Writer Florence Cardinal explored sleep deprivation and its specific effects on athletes.
She found that an athlete’s glucose metabolism can be slowed by 30 to 40 percent. This leads to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to “memory impairment, age-related insulin resistance, and impaired recovery in athletes,” Cardinal reported.
She referenced a finding that after losing just one week of adequate sleep, glucose levels in young healthy males were no longer normal. In fact, they showed a “rapid deterioration of the body’s functions” comparative to glucose management found in the elderly. “Glucose and glycogen (stored glucose) are the main sources of energy for athletes. Being able to store glucose in muscle and the liver is particularly important for endurance athletes.”
Tissue Repair and Growth
Cardinal cautioned athletes: “Elevated levels of cortisol may interfere with tissue repair and growth. Over time, this could prevent an athlete from responding to heavy training and lead to overtraining and injury.”
Sleep deprivation certainly has some scary effects on an athlete’s performance. But what about other aspects of our lives? In an article titled “Sleep Habits: More Important Than You Think” by Michael J. Breus, PhD, we learn that “Reducing your nighttime sleep by as little as one and a half hours for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32%,” Breus reported.
One study found that “reduced sleep time is a greater mortality risk than smoking, high blood pressure, and heart disease.” With more than 85 sleep disorders identified by the American Sleep Disorders Association, we learn that as many as 70 million Americans are affected. “Some researchers suggest that sleep deprivation should be recognized with the same seriousness that has been associated with the societal impact of alcohol,” Breus said.
Weight Gain and Fatigue
The Mayo Clinic released an article titled “Sleep deprivation: Know the Risks”. They explained that sleeping less than five hours a night also seriously affects your physical performance. Hormones that regulate hunger and stimulate appetite are influenced by sleep deprivation and can lead to weight gain and fatigue.
Sleep deprivation can also impair memory and cognitive processing—essentially your ability to think and process information is seriously debilitated. This excessive sleepiness is responsible for a “twofold higher risk of sustaining an occupational injury.” And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that every year “drowsy driving is responsible for at least 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities,” Breus reported.
The Mayo Clinic also included research showing that inadequate sleep can lead to irritability, decreased libido, poor judgment, and decreased performance of complex mental tasks.
And I’m sure it goes without saying that insufficient sleep can wreck havoc on your immune system. You’re much more likely to get sick when exposed to a virus. And your recovery time is much longer if you do get sick.
Long term untreated sleep disorders can also lead to serious medical illnesses like high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, psychiatric problems, Attention Deficit Disorder, fetal and childhood growth retardation, and mental impairment, the Mayo Clinic reported.
Ok, ok. You may be thinking an earlier bedtime is definitely in order. We’ve taken a quick glance at the benefits of increasing your sleep time—even if it’s just one extra hour a day. We also looked at the significant disadvantages of losing sleep. Luckily, the Mayo Clinic offers some advice for overcoming fatigue caused by sleep deprivation.
Start with sleeping in until you wake up on your own. Do this for several days in a row to get a better idea of how much sleep your body wants and needs.
Another option is to take strategic short naps that are less than 30 minutes. And if you know you have a late night coming up, grab some extra pillow time beforehand to help combat the negative impact on your alertness and performance.
Many of us are tempted to cope with caffeine, prescription medications, or physical activity. But it is important to realize “there’s no substitute for getting enough quality sleep.”
So whether you are an athlete trying to get the edge on performance, or a regular Joe trying to increase productivity in your life, make a plan to get some extra hibernation time as we move toward shorter daylight hours. It is so worth it.
So, have you heard about Bernie Bates: the Guinness World Record holder of oldest yoga instructor—at 91? Yep. At 105 pounds, 5-feet 2-inches, and in excellent health, Bates shared with NBC News contributor Lisa Flam “I’ve never had anything I had to go to the doctor for, except checkups. That should say something.”
She begins her day practicing vinyasa—before even getting out of bed. “…A series of seven or eight postures that gets her blood flowing. She puts her arms above her head for a stretch and a yawn, pulls her knees to her chest, ‘walks’ the ceiling with her feet and stretches her shoulders and hands,” Flam said.
Bates’ eight-minute morning routine helps her get ready to walk first thing in the morning. “Instead of slopping around … you’re ready to go,” Bates shared. “I think yoga is the best exercise there is.”
She’s had an active life—and still enjoys swimming laps. She started practicing and teaching hatha yoga in 1960. And her passion carried her through the years to the Guinness Book of World Records. She especially loves that yoga is non-competitive and it “involves the whole body — muscles, ligaments, organs, she says, and gives you energy without exhausting your body,” Flam wrote.
Bates’ feelings and experience with yoga are in fact backed up by the medical world. In an article titled “Yoga: Fight Stress and Find Serenity,” the Mayo Clinic shared that “Yoga is considered a mind-body type of complementary and alternative medicine practice. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax and manage stress and anxiety.”
Utilizing poses: “a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility” and breathing, which “signifies your vital energy, controlling breathing can help you control your body and quiet your mind,” the Mayo Clinic wrote.
Potential health benefits of yoga span from stress reduction to improved fitness to managing chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, pain, anxiety, and insomnia. The Mayo Clinic also included that practicing yoga on a regular basis may help reduce the risk of injury—which is great news for many athletes.
Men’s Fitness recently blogged about 10 major athletes who practice yoga to improve focus, self-control, flexibility, strength, and mindfulness. Dropping names like Coach K, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team, and Ray Lewis, they focused on the fact that yoga is beneficial for all athletes—male and female. And apparently, age doesn’t separate yoga enthusiasts either.
So take the lead from athletes and record breakers, yoga could be the next great thing for your training.
The New York Times released a fascinating article earlier this week citing the rise of bottled water sales—and the decline in soda consumption. “By the end of this decade, if not sooner, sales of bottled water are expected to surpass those of carbonated soft drinks, according to Michael C. Bellas, chief executive of the Beverage Marketing Corporation,” wrote Stephanie Strom.
This exciting loyalty to good old H2O could be attributed to the public’s concern about health problems like obesity and related diseases. When you take a look at the volume of tap water supplied by the U.S. water utilities—“more than 1 billion gallons of tap water an hour, every hour of the day”—bottled water hardly competes. “The total amount of water in the bottles Americans buy in a year would only supply U.S. tap water needs from midnight until 9 a.m. on January 1,” shared a National Geographic news article.
Whether you prefer tap water or an on-the-go bottle of water, athletes have long understood the benefits of proper hydration. But it’s great to hear the rest of the world is catching on as well. Strom pointed out a recent endorsement by our very own First Lady. “Last month, Michelle Obama heavily endorsed water … to persuade Americans to drink more of it.”
After all, water makes up two-thirds of muscle tissue and 25 percent of fatty tissue. It serves an important function within each individual cell transporting nutrients and dispelling waste. Water regulates body temperature allowing heat to evaporate in the form of sweat. And in just one hour of exercise, “the body can lose more than a quart of water, depending on air temperature and the intensity of exercise,” explained Richard Seven in his article titled “How Much Water Do Athletes Need?”
So let’s take a look at three self-tests you can try before, during, and after a good workout to find out if you are staying sufficiently hydrated.
The Sweat Test
1) Weigh yourself on a digital scale.
2) Run on a treadmill for one hour.
3) Towel off and weigh in again.
“This will tell you about how much fluid you are losing from sweat—and about how much you will need to replenish during exercise. (A gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds, so if you’re down a pound you’ve lost about a pint,)” Seven shared.
1) Write down your body weight in pounds.
2) Times that number by 0.5.
3) If you exercise heavily, consider multiplying that number by 0.75 or 1.
The resulting number tells you how many ounces of water to drink per day. This test and the next were provided in an article titled “How Much Water Should You Drink?” written by Elizabeth Quinn.
The Two-Hour Test
1) Two hours before your workout, drink 2-3 cups of water.
2) Then weigh yourself immediately before you begin your workout.
3) Begin your workout.
4) Drink one cup of water every 15 minutes throughout your workout.
5) When you finish your workout, weigh yourself again.
6) Drink 2-3 cups of water for each pound you lost during exercise.
Now, if you are exercising more than 90 minutes at a moderate to high intensity, your body is going to want more than plain water, explained Quinn. “You need to replenish glycogen stores with easy-to-digest carbohydrates. Sports drinks can be an easy way to add the necessary energy.” She recommends choosing a drink with “60 to 100 calories per eight ounces and consume eight to ten ounces every 15 to 30 minutes based upon your preference.”
Staying hydrated is more than important—it is essential to maintaining your best health. Take it on the go throughout your workday and be sure to keep your water bottle close through your daily workouts. Drink up!