How to Speed Up the Muscle Recovery Process

muscle recovery process

Working out can leave you feeling a little sore the next day. While a little soreness is nothing to be concerned about, it can also prevent you from really putting in 100% in your next session. If you are wondering help speed up the muscle recovery process so that you can fit and ready for the gym the next day, here are some tools that you can use and their benefits.

Tips to Speed Up the Muscle Recovery Process

Cool Down & Stretching

You should never skip your cool down following a gym workout. There are many advantages to cooling down and stretching, and one of them is helping to reduce muscle fatigue.

During your workout, your heart rate would have increased, so your cool down gives it time for your heart to return to its normal state at a more regulated pace. This will reduce the release of lactic acid (which is released during exercise).

More oxygen is circulated around the body, relaxing the muscles. The time you take to cool down is hence so critical to helping speed up the muscle recovery process.

Foam Rolling

A common sight at the gym is people using foam rollers before and after a workout. A foam roller aids in myofascial release; it helps to loosen the muscles and joints while also increasing mobility.

With foam rolling, you release muscle tension, especially if this is done after a gym workout. This is an alternative to a massage, where you can do it yourself. One advantage of this is that you can really focus on areas that are sore for you and spend a bit more time foam rolling there.

If you feel a knot or sore area, try to hold the foam roller over it for a bit long, or even roll back and forth in that space.

Releasing this tension means that you are also promoting better blood and oxygen circulation around the body. This will ultimately help to speed up the muscle recovery process and decrease DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

Massages

Massages are a great muscle recovery tool. While once-off massages are useful, to really reap the benefits, it is best to receive regular massages. Long-term use helps to relieve muscle tension, preventing the risk of injuries.

Other advantages of massages include:
– Gets the blood flow moving around the body by dilating the blood vessels, bettering bloog circulation
– Loosens muscles, hence increasing range of motion

Dry Needling

Another option to speed up the muscle recovery process is through dry needling. If you are scared of needles, however, maybe it is best to avoid this one.

Dry needling consists of a very thin needle penetrating through the skin to hit a specific trigger point such as a muscle knot. You know when you have hit a trigger point when you feel resistance or a twitch. Once the unhealthy muscle tissue is pinpointed, you use the needle to gently manipulate the area before removing it. This process is repeated several times.

So what is the benefit of dry needling?

Dry needling helps to speed up muscle and tissue recovery. With that twitch or resistance you feel, it sends a signal to the brain to start repairing that damaged area. This will help to restore normal tissue function.

Not only that but dry needling decreases inflammation while also increasing circulation around the body.

Sauna

The sauna is passive heat therapy. If your gym has a sauna, definitely take advantage of it so that you can speed up the muscle recovery process.

The sauna is a room that is heated, which helps the body emulate the effects of moderate exercise. You may feel your heart rate slightly increase and you will most definitely sweat. Not only that, you will also feel your muscles relax.

What the heat does in the sauna, is encourage the waste buildup (from your exercise) in your muscles and joints to go to the surface of the skin. This then disapparated as sweat.

Not only that, a sauna increases the flow of blood around your body. This means that your muscles are provided with more oxygen, helping in muscle recovery.

By heading to the sauna after a good workout, you will loosen your muscles, which will help to alleviate some of the soreness you may potentially experience.

Cryotherapy

A fitness trend gaining more traction the past few years is cryotherapy. Cryotherapy is when you go into a chamber for approximately 3 minutes in sub-zero temperatures. The point of this is to provide a safer and healthier alternative to the typical ‘ice bath’ that athletes and gym goers use to speed up the muscle recovery process.

Compared to the ice bath that promotes muscle stiffness, cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to submit the body to cold temperatures without stiffening the muscles or damaging the skin.

The benefits of this post-workout recovery tool are to alleviate inflammation, pain and soreness. It aids in discharging toxins from the tissues and directs blood flow to your vital organs, improving circulation. There is a reason why many pro athletes, like Lebron James, now have cryotherapy tanks in their own homes.

While getting cryotherapy, you wear protective gloves, socks and slippers. My wife and I actually tried our first cryotherapy session recently at Restore Hyper Wellness in Delray Beach, FL. It was a great overall experience.

Eat, Sleep and Hydrate

Along with these tools, basic functions such as eating and sleeping well and making sure you stay hydrated can really aid in the muscle recovery process.

A post-workout meal that is protein-rich can promote faster muscle repair and growth. Sleeping well at night gives your body the proper time it needs to rest and recover while staying hydrated can ensure that your bodily functions and organs are all performing at its optimum level.

Hopefully, you would have found one or more ways to help speed up the muscle recovery process in this article. While some should be mandatory after a workout session, such as cooling down and stretching, others like cryotherapy may be new territory. Try out different options to see which ones give you the better muscle relief so that you can head back to the gym feeling 100%.

Jefit is a gym workout app that helps all gym goers and athletes keep on track with their fitness goals. It has the largest exercise library complete with free workout routines to help mix up your training. It also gives you the ability to update and share your workout log with the supportive community.

What other tools or therapy do you use to help speed up the muscle recovery process? Which ones on this list have you found to be the most effective for you? Leave us a comment below, we would love to know!

5 Useful Health & Fitness Products Now and After the Pandemic

Hard to imagine but we’ll soon be ending a year of dealing with this tragic pandemic. One of the by-product of this is we’re more motivated to work at staying healthy and strong for 2021. The following list of health & fitness products will shed some light on a few additional ways to stay fit this year.

One of the more important areas where many need help is with nutrition. Healthy eating during stressful times has a tendency to go out the window. When the body gets stressed, a hormone known as cortisol is released. “Cortisol shunts sugar and fats into our bloodstream” and as a result, makes us crave sugar and fat-rich foods. Now you understand why you get cravings for sweets or junk food. Cortisol is important because it’s needed to regulate metabolism while helping the body to also manage stress.

This hormone, known as the stress hormone, “directs us to store visceral fat rather than subcutaneous fat” according to Professor Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University and author of the new book, “Exercised”. A little cortisol in the body is normal. Chronic low levels of it, however, “are damaging because they promote obesity and chronic inflammation”.

Give More Attention to Nutrition

Over the past year, eating poorly, less exercise, minimal sleep, and feeling stressed-out, have become the new norm. After almost a year of dealing with with the pandemic, and everything that comes with it, we are starting to witness changes in our body. Both physical and mental changes that are just a few of the many by-products via the pandemic.

One of the best ways to help yourself with all of this is to get your diet under control. You can do this by starting to record what you eat. Do this for 5-7 days and include a weekend. Be honest with your food tracking. Use one of the many nutrition apps on the market to help analyze your macronutrient intake. You may be surprised at what you’re actually eating. This can act as a first step to begin to get things under control. Make sure you take a look at your daily added sugar intake while you’re at it. Here are some suggestions to help get you started: Myfitnesspal, LoseIt, Lifesum, MyPlate and Fooducate. These are five of the better health & fitness products when it comes to nutrition apps.

In addition, think about moving to a plant-based diet or a better way of eating, like following a Mediterranean diet, can end up being good for overall health. They each come with a ton of research showing this type of eating can, among other things, bolster your immune system. Lastly, work on adding more fruit & vegetables to your diet, in case you’re not interested in the diets mentioned above. It is a great, inexpensive way, to increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Specifically, more Vitamin A, B12, B9, Vitamin C, D, and zinc. A pill or a handful of vitamins will not have the same effect.

Some of the Best Health & Fitness Products – Meditation Apps

Find time to engage in this because it will undoubtedly help to manage your stress. Honestly, it’s one of the best health & fitness items on our list. Finding even a few minutes a day to shut things down to “reboot” and “reset” via meditation will do wonders for your overall health. There are many meditation apps you can download to your phone, two of the best ones are Headspace and Calm. They are both great as an introduction into the therapeutic world of meditation.

Another side avenue to explore is listening to a good podcast during your walk or run outside. Millions of people already know that a good podcast is a great way to create “headspace” not to mention, it keeps the listener informed on topics of interest. For me, listening to “The Daily” published by the New York Times, fits the bill.

Add Bouts of Weekly Recovery

Restoration or “recovery” is needed just as much as a vigorous workout, especially if you’re training hard or a bit older. Recovery can mean different things to different people, but basically the goal is to commit time each day to work on restoring your body. It may come in the form of foam rolling pre/post workout, a therapeutic massage, cryotherapy, or maybe a myofascial release session from a qualified physical therapist. Maybe it’s as simple as having a good old fashion foot soak with epsom salt for 30-minutes one evening to treat your neglected feet. When is the last time you did that? The body also benefits from a good stretch or mobility session. Try an online yoga class or something totally out of your realm to help restore your body. You get the idea. Now is the best time to work on self-betterment.

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Exercise Outside: Solvitur Ambulando

We are probably all sitting a little too much these past few months. Make time to get out and exercise. “The total time Americans spend sitting has increased 43 percent between 1965 and 2009”. One of my favorite and most used apps on my phone is called All Trails. It shows the best spots to hike, bike or run – no matter where you’re located or traveling in the U. S. – check it out and find a great course or trail that you never tried in your area. It is also perfect to use when you’re not really familiar with the area while on vacation or away on a business trip. Remember, solvitur ambulando, meaning, it is cured with walking.

Use Jefit App to Track & Assess Your Workouts and More

The award-winning Jefit app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts to shake things up a bit. Stay strong with Jefit.

We hope by incorporating some of these options into your lifestyle, they in turn, end up helping you on multiple levels (i.e. improving mind/body/spirit). For the most part our list of health & fitness products are inexpensive ways to improve the way you look and feel.

Reference

Lieberman, D., Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. Pantheon Books: New York, 2020.

Don’t Miss Out on the Great Benefits of Leg Day

benefits of leg day

If there is one day that most people dread at the gym, it is leg day. Often, people tend to skip training their legs in favor of other parts such as the arms or chest. However, there are many benefits of leg day which means that you should absolutely not skip your leg training. To get you motivated to train legs, here are the reasons why leg training day is so important.

What Are the Benefits of Leg Day?

Work Out Your Entire Body

While the arms, chest and shoulders seem to reign supreme in the gym in terms of aesthetics and perceived strength, skipping leg day means that you can create a muscle imbalance in your body. Your upper body will be more toned and stronger than your lower body, which is not what you want.

You want an overall, proportionate figure that is in symmetry. Not only is that better for your body on the inside, it also makes for better aesthetics.

So don’t skimp out on the legs and make sure you evenly workout your entire body.

Reduce Injury Risk

The benefits of leg day also extend beyond appearance. It assists in reducing injury risk. This is because you are training and strengthening your lower body, which can help you across all other sports and activities, even just walking and running.

By incorporating functional leg strengthening exercises, you will be able to work on your hamstrings, quadriceps, and even hip flexors. These are all muscles that you use in your everyday life, so by working on them, you increase stability and endurance.

Leg training is especially important if you play other sports in minimizing injury. Runners, for example, can prevent runner’s knee by incorporating lower body strength training into their routine. So ensuring that you remain in optimal health is always a good reason to do something, like training your legs.

Burn More Calories

Your lower body holds the largest muscle in the body, which is your gluteus maximus. By training this area more, your body will work harder, meaning that you will be burning more calories.

Your metabolism will also increase. This is because the body will require more calories to repair the muscles in this area than it would for the smaller muscle groups.

Improve Your Lifts

Legs are such an important part of your body, especially in terms of lifting and sports. The benefits of leg day mean that you will be able to actually improve other areas of your workout, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

For example, the bench press uses your legs as well. Your legs play a vital role in the bench in providing support and stability, so by working on your lower body, you will be improving your other important lifts.

Help with Other Sports

Not only is training your legs beneficial for gym movements but it is also advantageous for other sports. You get your source of power from your legs and training them means you can increase explosive leg power and balance.

Just think about how much work your legs do when it comes to running and cycling. If you think about it – you really do use your legs a lot and by working on this area, you can really improve your athleticism, speed and endurance.

Work Other Parts of the Body Simultaneously

When we talk about the benefits of leg day, one thing to remember is that it is not just your legs that are going to benefit. In fact, when you work out your legs, you also train other parts of your body as secondary focuses.

Take the squat for example. When you squat, you should also be engaging your core, giving you a good ab workout. When you deadlift properly, you should be working your chest as well.

So if you are thinking about skipping leg day, just remember you will be missing out on more than just leg training.

What Leg Exercises Should You Do?

So now that you know what the benefits of leg day are, what exercises work best? Compound movements are those that engage more than one muscle group. By using two or more different joints, you really get a good workout that forces muscles to work together.

For leg day, focus on compound movements like the squat, deadlift and leg press. Lunges are also a great move that works the hamstrings, glutes and quads.

It is also a good idea to go heavier (but remember to do fewer reps) to really encourage muscle growth throughout the body.

Jefit is a gym workout app that helps all gym goers and athletes keep on track with their fitness goals. Not only does it you the ability to update and share your workout log with the supportive community, it has the largest exercise library. It comes free workout routines to help mix up your training, with many lower body exercises so you can reap the benefits of leg day.

Do you agree with these benefits of leg day? What are some of your favorite leg exercises? Leave us a comment below, we would love to know!

Winter Motivation Tips to Get You Out of Bed and into the Gym

winter motivation

Winter is a great season filled with Christmas, the start of the New Year, warm cups of coffee and staying in bed. However, if you are trying to maintain your healthy lifestyle, the cold weather can also be a hindrance to your progress. To help get you out of your cosy bed and into the gym, here are some winter motivation tips.

8 Winter Motivation Tips You Need to Hear

1. Get a Personal Trainer/Workout Buddy

It can be easy to skip your workout time and time again if you have no one there to let down but yourself.

To help counteract this, get a personal trainer or workout buddy.

By having someone there, you hold yourself accountable to not let them down. After all, if they can spend their time making it to the gym for you, then you can do the same for them.

You don’t have to have just one workout buddy either. You can form a group. The more people that you have expected you to turn up to a session, the more motivation you will have to always go. Plus, the cold will be much more bearable if you have your friends there with you.

2. Find a Supportive Community

If you can’t find a workout buddy or trainer, or just want extra support, then find a community of like-minded people. There are many ways you can do this, such as finding group training classes, clubs or even online ones such as with Jefit.

By having people available there at the tips of your fingertips, you can keep up your winter motivation by sending and receiving encouraging messages to keep going. By staying in touch with people who want to remain fit and healthy, even throughout the winter months, you will be more inclined to get out of bed and into the gym.

3. Set a Goal

Waking up to head to the gym in the cold weather can be difficult. It is even more difficult if you have no goal to work towards. This is why one of our winter motivation tips is to set yourself a goal.

It could be to lose x amount of weight by summer or to be able to lift double what you can do now.

By setting yourself a goal, you can a specific motivating factor in mind that will help get you out of bed as opposed to just going to the gym to do whatever.

Whatever goal you set, just make sure that it is realistic otherwise it could have the opposite effect and de-motivate you.

4. Get New Winter Workout Gear

When in winter, wear winter workout gear! This can help alleviate the cold weather and make it easier to go to the gym. Winter workout clothes may be longer skins, thermal tops, tights or windbreakers. The key to remember when it comes to winter clothes is layers, so layer it up!

Don’t underestimate the value of new winter workout clothes. There is nothing like a new gym outfit or accessories that can really pump up your motivation and help you get to the gym. After all, if you look good, you feel good.

5. Change Your Alarm

If you are a morning gym goer, then one way to get your winter motivation going in the am is to set yourself a song that excites you.

Change your generic alarm tone to an upbeat song that really inspires you and gets your blood pumping. Stronger by Kayne West is always a good one to choose.

6. Reward Yourself

To help get you through a workout in the cold, focus on a reward you can have afterwards. A simple reward can be a nice hot cup of coffee or tea afterwards.

A simple drink is one that can really help motivate people because it tastes delicious and warms you up. It will also taste that much nicer knowing that you worked hard for it.

If you heed our first couple of tips and find yourself a workout buddy or community, then you can turn your coffee run into a group reward and use it to socialize with your friends. This will definitely make going to the gym in the cold worth it.

7. Think About Summer

Summer bodies are made in winter. By the time summer rolls around, people start to panic and try to get the beach bodies that they want. Unfortunately, by this time, it is often too late.

By remembering that summer bodies are made in winter, this will give you the encouragement you need to go to the gym.

It will also help to prevent any weight gain from creeping up on you during the colder months. With layers of clothing on, it is all too easy to miss it. By remaining active though, you can prevent this and stay fit and healthy.

8. Look at Your Progress

Nothing can help you with winter motivation than seeing how far you have come. While it takes time to make progress and get results, unfortunately, it takes far less time to lose it all. So look back at your workout log and see how far you have come. 

You’re not really going to let a bit of cold weather undo all your hard work and effort, are you?

Jefit is a gym workout app that helps all gym goers and athletes keep on track with their fitness goals. It has the largest exercise library complete with free workout routines to help mix up your training. It also gives you the ability to update and share your workout log with the supportive community. With Jefit on your phone, you will be able to share your grip training progress with your fellow gym goers!

What winter motivation tips do you have? Leave us a comment below, we would love to know!

Causes of Back Pain as Explained by Orthopedic Surgeon

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Nearly 65 million Americans report a recent episode of back pain. Some 16 million adults experience persistent or chronic back pain, and as a result are limited in certain everyday activities. Back pain is the sixth most costly condition in the United States. While many of us think of slipped and herniated discs as the many causes of back pain, there are other lesser known causes of back pain. Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo is an NYC area spinal and orthopedic surgeon who explains how less obvious culprits can affect the back. He is the head of The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care and is Board-certified and fellowship-trained. Dr. Okubadejo specializes in the treatment of degenerative spinal disease, spinal deformity, and cervical, lumbar, and thoracic conditions. Here are eight causes of back pain that are not as well known according to Dr. Gbolahan, who is also the developer of 360CoreBoard.

Causes of Back Pain: Kidney Stones

Kidney conditions may cause back pain because the kidneys are located toward the back of your body at the level of your mid-back. Kidney stones are small pieces of calcium that form in the kidney. Many people have kidney stones and are never aware of them, as they are small enough to be passed with urination. However, larger kidney stones that grow in size over time can cause excruciating pain as the body tries to work the stone out of the narrow ureter
Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is sometimes referred to as “brittle bone disease,” in that increased bone weakness over time leaves bones more susceptible to breaking. You may think of osteoporosis as something that happens to older women. It is true that osteoporosis is most common in older women, but men may have osteoporosis as well. As the bones lose density, or mass, they become weak and more likely to break. The bones of your lower back might break even without any obvious injury, causing lower back pain.
Stress
When you’re stressed, your breathing patterns change and cause strain and tension in the mid-back. Your shoulders hunch up and cause pain throughout the upper and middle back. Low-back pain includes the tailbone and lower half of the back muscles. These muscles affect flexibility and posture.
Sedentary Lifestyles
Many of us spend a lot of our waking hours on our behinds thanks to jobs that have us in front of computers all day. But unfortunately, such a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of chronic low back pain. The answer is to stretch and get moving!

Additional Causes of Back Pain: Poor Posture

Poor posture can either cause lower back pain or make it worse. This doesn’t only mean slouching or slumping at your desk; poor posture could also include leaning on one leg while you stand, or walking with your bottom so far out you have an arch in your lower back. While these postures aren’t inherently “poor” for a moment in time, maintaining these positions for prolonged periods can increase the strain on the muscles and ligaments around the lumbar spine.
Excess Body Weight
Every extra pound adds strain to back muscles and ligaments. Over time, the spine can become tilted and develop an unnatural curvature. Research has shown that obesity poses more than a mechanical stressor on joints: excess body fat also produces chemicals that contribute to joint damage.
Lesser Known Causes of Back Pain: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual Syndrome is that dull, persistent, crampy, achy pain in, under, and around your sacrum (the area of your back between your hips). PMS-related back pain is a visceral pain — one that comes from a body organ (your uterus) instead of from one of the structures of the back. As your uterus cramps, the pain is referred to your back, and you can have back cramps.
Pregnancy
Lower back pain is one of the many common discomforts of pregnancy. As the weight and size of your baby (and your belly) increase, there is a tendency to tilt the pelvis forward, exaggerating the curve of the lumbar spine. This posture, called lordosis, puts strain on the lower back muscles and may even cause impingement of the sciatic nerve (sciatica). Pregnancy-related back pain can be relieved by strengthening core muscles, maintaining proper posture, and wearing an abdominal support garment meant for use in pregnancy.

Back pain can show up in many different areas of the body. Hopefully these eight lesser known causes can lend a better understanding to those who are dealing with acute or chronic back pain. Stay strong with Jefit!

Healthy Lifestyle Makes a Positive Impact on Metabolic Health

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The majority of Americans were classified as unhealthy prior to the pandemic hitting. With many of us self quarantining at home since then, that number, sadly, has probably only increased.

Many people actually think “healthy” refers to how much they weigh or what someones outward appearance looks like. Good overall health, however, starts internally. This is where the term metabolic health comes in. Some also refer to this as metabolic fitness. In any event, metabolic health is the absence of metabolic disease. The numbers in this country are not good. About 88 percent of Americans are considered to have metabolic disease. The good news, though, metabolic health can improve through healthy eating and regular exercise, especially a short walk after meals.

“Flying blind, 45 million Americans go on a diet each year. Using their best judgment, 59% of people say conflicting nutrition information makes them question their choices. Worse, only 12% of all Americans are actually metabolically healthy.”

Anthony Vennare – Co-Founder, Fitt Insider

Research on Metabolic Health

In a 2019 study published in the journal Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, a group of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reviewed data from 8,721 adults as reported in the 2009 to 2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They found that just 1 in 8 adults living in United States had optimal metabolic health.

A second study published in 2016 in the journal Circulation, applied seven lifestyle and risk factors criteria from the American Heart Association to national data published between 2011 to 2012. The results found virtually 0% of U.S. adults met all the ideal levels. These levels included: not smoking, having a healthy diet, physical activity, normal weight and total cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose level.

Finally, it has been determined through research that 23 percent of adults have metabolic syndrome. This condition occurs when a person fails to meet at least three of the ideal measurements with things like blood pressure and glucose levels (seen below).

What Constitutes Metabolic Health?

Using most recent guidelines, metabolic health was defined as having optimal levels of the following six criteria.

  • Waist Circumference (WC <40/34 inches for men/women respectively).
  • Glucose (fasting glucose <100 mg/dl).
  • Hemoglobin (A1c <5.7%).
  • Blood Pressure (systolic <120 and diastolic <80 mmHg).
  • Triglycerides (<150 mg/dl).
  • High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (≥40/50 mg/dl for men/women), and not taking any related medication.

Likewise, the International Diabetes Federation, states metabolic unhealthy individuals were defined as those who presented at least one of the following criteria:

  • Systolic/Diastolic Blood Pressure ≥130/85 mm Hg or use of antihypertensive drug.
  • Triglycerides level ≥150 mg/dl.
  • HDL-Cholesterol Level < 40 mg/dl in men or < 50 mg/dl in women or use of lipid-lowering drugs.
  • Glucose level ≥100 mg/dl or use of antidiabetic drug.

Intermittent Fasting and Metabolic Health

A possible tool to help improve metabolic health is intermittent fasting (IF). There has been a great deal of research over the years on the effects of IF on the body, including metabolic health. A review published in the revered New Journal of Medicine by Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D., and Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D., looked at the powerful effects of IF including glucose regulation that could help your metabolic health cause.

Intermittent fasting elicits evolutionarily conserved, adaptive cellular responses that are integrated between and within organs in a manner that improves glucose regulation, increases stress resistance, and suppresses inflammation. During fasting, cells activate pathways that enhance intrinsic defenses against oxidative and metabolic stress and those that remove or repair damaged molecules.”

Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D., and Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D

Therefore, continue to focus on regular exercise each week. Specifically, strength training and various forms of high intensity interval exercise. Mix this into your cardio at least 1-2 times a week. In addition, have your blood profile checked yearly or better yet, every six months to keep a handle on your metabolic health.

Get Strong and Stay Strong with Jefit

Millions of members have had great success using the Jefit app, equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

Taking Care Of Your Body Greatly Affects Your Mind

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What part of your body weighing about 3-pounds has more than 86 billion nerve cells? That’s right, the brain! One part of your brain, the cerebrum, makes up about 85 percent of those 3-pounds. We have a good idea why it’s so important to take care of the one body and mind that we are given. In respect to our mind, what are we doing to take care of that?

Let’s take a look at why taking care of your body and mind are so important especially in respect to the mind-body connection.

While there are so many amazing reasons to look after your body, the most prominent one is due to the effect it has on the mind. The human brain is an incredibly complicated tool, and looking after it is no easy task. Let’s look at a few fun, interesting facts about what we have upstairs.

Incredible Facts About the Body and Mind

The most advanced computer on earth is still nowhere near as remarkable as the human brain, here are a few fun facts that will help you see just how incredible it really is:

  • The human brain will triple its size in the first year of life.
  • Hard to believe but information in the brain travels at a speed of 268 mph (between neurons).
  • Your brain’s storage capacity is considered virtually unlimited
  • Research suggests the human brain consists of about 86 billion neurons. Each neuron forms connections to other neurons, which could add up to 1 quadrillion (1,000 trillion) connections. Over time, these neurons can combine, increasing storage capacity.
  • A small piece of brain tissue, the size of a grain of sand, contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses.
  • Research has shown the human brain can generate about 23 watts of power (enough to power a lightbulb).
  • Finally, it’s a myth that we only use 10 percent of our brain. You actually use all of it (source: Northwestern Medicine).

And that is only a few facts about the brain. From these seven facts, though you can probably see how important the body and mind connection really is.

How Exercise Helps the Brain

When we exercise, the benefits to the brain are incredible, and the long term effects are just as positive. The science behind your body and mind connection is quite fascinating. When we perform aerobic exercise or any exercise that has cardiovascular benefits, the brain will always benefit. Aerobic exercise increases your respiration and heart rate therefore the flow of blood to the brain increases. At the time your heart rate increases further, this is generally accompanied by heavy breathing. The increase in breathing will then lead to the pumping of more oxygen to the brain, and this will lead to something called neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is simply the production of neurons in certain cognitive regions of the brain. Neurogenesis has also been shown to increase brain volume, and it’s widely believed that this can be highly beneficial against early signs of Alzheimer’s.

What’s the Best Exercise to Improve Both Your Body and Mind?

Well, if you are trying to take care of your body and mind, you should be aiming for a well-rounded and complete exercise program. The routine should include more than just strength training; adding in aerobic exercise, mobility, flexibility and balance. Another huge factor when it comes to brain health is to be mindful of your diet. Eating processed food and junk food has been shown to have detrimental effects on both physical and mental health. By using a combination of both healthy food and a good, sustainable exercise program, you’ll be on your way to a healthier body and mind in no time at all.

Workout with Jefit

Looking to get back to the gym after taking a long break? Want to connect with like-minded people to keep you motivated? Download the Jefit app to track your workouts and join our members-only Facebook group. You can record your training, set a schedule, and talk to fellow Jefit members. Stay strong for a health body and mind.

Want to Get Stronger in the Gym? Develop Core Stability

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One of the leading back experts in the world is Stuart McGill, PhD. He has spent his career, spanning more than 30-years, researching spinal biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada. His core stability program, known as the Big 3, is one of the most often performed core exercise programs. His routine is so good, we are going to show you what’s involved.

What is Core Stability Anyway?

When the body is inactive, muscle weakness occurs along with joint laxity which can lead to instability according to Dr. McGill. Core stability is the ability of the stabilizers in the lumbar-pelvic area to maintain the correct trunk and hip posture during static and dynamic movement. The stabilizers refer to the following muscle groups that make-up this important area. These are the transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, and lumbar multifidus. Also playing a critical role are the spinal erectors and rectus abdominis. The key muscle in terms of spine stabilization, however, is the deep transverse abdominis. Why is all this important? Simply stated, if the area is strong, you move better. In essence, when the body has a stable base for the four extremities to perform from, the nervous system allows for greater force development to occur.

What is the McGill Big 3?

Through his research, Dr. McGill determined the combination of the following three exercises were most beneficial for developing core stability. Understand we’re talking muscle endurance here (not strength). The three exercises in his program include the side bridge, a version of the curl-up and a bird dog exercise. Each of the exercises are performed from their basic or beginner level before progressing, over time, to more advanced versions of the exercise. The key to each exercise is locking in with abdominal “bracing” prior to the start of each exercise and maintaining it throughout. Dr. McGill explains that the abdominal brace “enhances stability.” This is done by placing two fingers on both sides of the navel. Your fingers should be a few inches away from the navel, resting on the obliques. Now tighten the abdominal area and you should feel the fingers raise up a bit.

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Side Bridge
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McGill Curl Up
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Bird Dog
SIDE BRIDGE

The bridge or called a side plank by some, is a basic core exercise and is ideal for developing endurance in the core stabilizers like the internal and external obliques. It is also a great exercise to help strengthen the quadratus lumborum, an exercise that helps not only with low back pain but is important for pelvic stabilization too. The side bridge pictured above is considered more of a progression from a basic side bridge performed with knees bent and the arm positioned on hip not raised as seen in the picture. Lift hips off the floor and pause for 10-seconds and repeat for desired repetitions.

CURL UP

The idea behind this type of curl up is to protect the lumbar spine by keep that area flat. This is done by placing the hands under the lumbar curve. Begin by performing abdominal bracing. Once the scapula clear the floor pause for 10-seconds and return to the starting position. Look up towards the ceiling at all times not down at your feet.

BIRD DOG

This is one exercise you may have done while in yoga class. The starting position for the McGill version is to actually not raise the arm. First, perform abdominal bracing. Begin by just raising the extended leg only. The opposite arm can be raised over time as you advance to the next progression. When this becomes easy to do, bring the extended arm down touching the knee of the opposite leg. Hold arm and leg extension for 10-seconds, return and repeat. Perform on both sides.

How Does all this Build Core Stability and Get You Stronger in the Gym?

The easiest way to start thinking about all this is in the vein of “transferring” power throughout the body when training. An underdeveloped or weak core will create a “leak” or an escape of stored energy via the trunk during exercise. We want to utilize 100 percent of this stored energy. An example would be lifting a barbell, dumbbell, medicine ball or kettlebell off the floor and pressing it overhead. When the core stabilizers are not up to par, and abdominal bracing is not utilized, these types of movements become extremely difficult to perform. Further, even if somehow you’re able to perform such an exercise, lacking core integrity, you’ll likely end up using poor body mechanics and a future injury is likely. Stay Strong and try the Big 3 as either a new core routine or as a warm-up prior to strength training.

Exercise Prescription

Exercise Sets & Reps.
1A. Side Bridge 6, 4, 2
1B. Curl Up6, 4, 2
1C. Bird Dog 6, 4, 2
*Perform in a circuit format – 1A, 1B, 1C – for 6 repetitions per set followed by 4, 2 repetitions for subsequent sets.

7 Health & Fitness Podcasts for Mind, Body and Spirit

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Ditch the music and try listening to a podcast the next time you exercise. In fact, combining exercise with a good, educational health & fitness podcast has been a savor for many people, myself included. To nourish the mind, body and spirit with a little “food for thought” is a good thing.  A Runner’s World survey found that nearly 20 percent of runners listen to podcasts while jogging. Maybe it’s time to change things up for the next workout by replacing music with an informative podcast, what do you think?

The Explosive Growth of Podcasts

It feels as though we’re getting new health & fitness podcast recommendations seemingly on a daily basis. More than one-third of Americans (104 million) now listen to one or more podcasts each month. In 2017, 40 percent of Americans 12 or older had listened to a podcast, compared to 55 percent in 2020. That is a significant jump according to The Infinite Dial 2020® research group. A 2018 article featured in Fast Company reported 525,000 active podcast shows with 18.5 million total episodes consumed. That number now, only a few years later, is at 29 million episodes. In 2020, more than 155 million people listen to a weekly podcast.

With so many podcast out there, where do you even begin to look to find the best rated shows? There are always recommendations from family and friends that you can check out. If you’re looking for other suggestions though, take a look at our list that includes some of the better health & fitness podcast. If time is an issue, try to listen to one on your next walk, run or at the gym. You can click any of the show icons below to visit and download the podcast if you desire.

Best Health & Fitness Podcast

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An informative podcast from former ABC News Anchor Dan Harris. After leaving his news job he started the company 10% Happier. I read his meditation book (that was great) and you’ll love his podcast – to help set your mind right. Podcast #286 in particular, with Dr. Mark Hyman titled “Feeding the Mind” was a great episode that I really enjoyed and you will too.
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Katy Bowman, MS, has a great book out as well with the same title that I highly recommend. She has a great YouTube video out on The Difference Between Movement vs. Exercise. Katy is one of those movement experts who really gets it and “walks the walk.” This is a must-listen to podcast to find out new ways to add more movement into your day. Love her “movement as nutrition” philosophy. This is one health & fitness podcast you should like.
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Robb Wolff, PhD, has a very informative podcast – not to mention a few best-selling books. The show can get deep into the weeds sometimes. His knowledge base, though is off the charts and you’ll learn a ton. I know he owned a well-known Crossfit on the West Coast at one time (and may still do). If you’re looking for more knowledge on eating clean, Paleo diet and nutrition – this would be a great start.
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Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, is among other things a registered dietitian. Her weekly show will offer great insight into the current diet culture in this country.

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TED Talks have always been informative and now you can listen to health-related shows daily. To make life easy, here is a link of the 10 best health & fitness TED Talks.
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Dr. Mark Hyman has long been a favorite doc and author of mine. Now you can listen to him to “fuel” your mind and body. After reading one of his earlier books, UltraMetabolism, I knew I liked his way of thinking. Since then he has 13 books on the NYT best seller list. You can get a taste of his knowledge by listening to an interview by Dan Harris in the 10% Happier podcast.
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Pete McCall is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), international presenter, host of the All About Fitness podcast, fitness blogger and an author of several articles, textbook chapters and the book Smarter Workouts: the Science of Exercise Made Simple. This is a great, educational podcast to pick up more than a few exercise tips.

Our list includes just a few of the many great health & fitness podcast currently available. Lastly, we could all use a fresh perspective during these uneasy times and listening to an insightful podcast while exercising can help in that area and now you have a new show for each day of the week. Stay strong!

Four Dynamic Stretches You Need To Be Doing Regularly

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Think about a few of the dynamic stretches you typically like to use. Now picture stretching a rubber band for a moment. Take hold of both ends of that imaginary band and simply pull. The size and thickness of the band allows you to stretch it only so far. The rubber band in this case could be either your connective tissue or a muscle. Let’s choose a muscle. One more thing I want you to do. Place that rubber band in your freezer for a few minutes. Take it out and try to pull both ends again and stretch it if you can. That’s right, you can’t. A cold rubber band has limited range of motion and is now stiff in the same way a cold muscle would be before it gets warmed up.

Many of us though, never allow extra time to dynamically warm-up a muscle or group of muscles prior to using them in a strength or cardio workout. Both our muscular and nervous systems perform significantly better when they are put through a series of dynamic warm-up exercises. This should be long enough to promote a light sweat prior to a workout or any athletic event. Our muscles and nerves “fire” and perform much better when warmed up compared to when they’re stiff and cold, like the example of the rubber band.

Do Muscle Perform Better in the Morning or Afternoon?

Many of us exercise in the early morning and if you’re one of those people, it’s even more important to make time to warm-up. Our muscles are typically weaker during the morning and gradually increase in strength throughout the day. The body’s muscles reach peak strength sometime around early evening. Knowing this and the fact that it takes a few hours from when you wake-up to “turn on” and fully activate our neuromuscular system; a warm-up using dynamic stretches becomes even more important to do.

Muscles Have Less Chance of Injury When Warm-up

There is research that shows a warm-up may be beneficial in terms of helping prevent injuries, as this 2012 review showed when looking at knee injuries. A well thought out and planned dynamic warm-up increases power, flexibility, range of motion and helps balance; and as we’ve said, may help reduce injuries. In a study of female college soccer players, non-contact ACL injuries were cut in half among players who followed a warm-up program that included dynamic stretching exercises. In a second study of college athletes, this time with golf, researchers at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania found golfers were nine times less likely to be injured if they warmed-up dynamically before they played.

Here are four easy-to-do dynamic stretches that you can start doing before you exercise.

INCHWORM

  • Begin in a standing position with your legs together.
  • Bend at the waist until both hands are flat on the ground (bend knees if needed).
  • “Walk out” forward with hands until back is almost fully extended and you’re basically in a plank position.
  • Maintain a strong, “engaged” core.
  • Keeping legs straight, inch feet towards hands.
  • Then walk hands out forward away from feet.
  • Repeat 5 times.

SCORPION

  • Lie prone (on stomach) with arms outstretched, palms down and feet flexed so only toes are touching ground.
  • Kick right foot toward left arm, return to start and then kick left foot toward right arm.
  • Do not force anything – follow your breath and relax as you perform the movement.
  • Begin slowly and repeat 5 times to each side.

HIP SWING (Hip Abduction/Adduction)

  • Face a solid wall placing both hands on the wall, keeping arms extended.
  • Start with feet pointed straight and hip-width apart.
  • Move the right leg away from the body (abduction) the swing back in front of the body
  • Keep the leg fully extended and foot straight during the movement.
  • Repeat on the opposite.
  • Perform 5-6 repetitions on each side.

TOY SOLDIER

  • Begin with feet shoulder-width and toes pointing straight.
  • Maintain a tall posture and engaged core.
  • Flex one leg upward like you were kicking a ball.
  • Have the arms extended and straight out in front of the body.
  • Attempt to kick to the height of the extended arms (if possible).
  • Return and try on the opposite side as though you were marching.
  • Move forward with each step as you kick.
  • It’s important that the core muscles are engaged throughout.
  • Perform 5-6 repetitions with each leg.

Adding these four dynamic stretches is a good start. There are hundreds of different dynamic stretches available that you can find online. Making the extra time before your workout will better prepare the body for the upcoming workout. Stay Strong!

Maintaining an Active Lifestyle Now Impacts How You Age

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When we’re young we can feel invincible, but as we age, that invincibility can slowly deteriorate. The short-term goal for many is to maintain an active lifestyle throughout their twenties and thirties. The thinking behind this is that if you start young, the habit will carryover into the golden years. One of the key ingredients in this scenario is sustainability. The long-term goal should be to maintain a healthy lifestyle no matter what decade of life someone is in.

An Active Lifestyle is a Mindset

In its simplest form an active lifestyle incorporates physical activity into every day life. The time invested in activities like walking, biking, running and strength training are well worth it. Maintaining a consistent routine with such activities will keep chronic disease at bay. A physically active lifestyle is beneficial for the body and the mind. The by-product of an active lifestyle improves everything from quality of sleep to

Three Types of Physical Activity

Physical activity consists of three components, muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. It’s important to focus on these individual components and add each one into your weekly training program.

  • MUSCULAR STRENGTH

Muscular strength is defined as the maximum amount of force a muscle or group of muscles can produce during a single bout of exercise. There are many reasons why this is so important to maintain throughout ones life. One of those big reasons is lean muscle mass. If you don’t engage in regular strength training you lose muscle mass. Period. If you do not strength train regularly, as you age, you become part of a statistical group that loses approximately 5-8 pounds of lean muscle mass with each passing decade starting at about age thirty-five. Let’s just end by saying those numbers get much worse after fifty.

  • CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE

Is the ability to move the body over a sustained period of time. It’s critical to improve and maintain cardiovascular fitness throughout your lifetime. By doing so, you’ll reduce your risk of developing heart disease by increasing the efficiency of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

  • FLEXIBILITY

This is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to move through a range of motion. Flexibility is a component of mobility.

“Given what we know about the health benefits of physical activity, it should be mandatory to get a doctor’s permission not to exercise.”

~ PER-OLOF ASTRAND, MD, PHD, KAROLINSKA INSTITUTE, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Benefits of Maintaining a Lifelong Active Lifestyle

Here are a few examples of the benefits associated with enjoying an active lifestyle.

  • Research published in 2013, in the journal Lancet, reported among people with early signs of pre-diabetes, taking an extra 2,000 steps each day, or the equivalent of a 20-minute moderate-paced walk, helped lower their chances of heart problems.
  • Over the course of a yearlong study, an additional 8 percent lower risk of heart disease was observed for every 2,000 steps walked a day.
  • Scientists from University College London performed a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed journals between 1970 and 2007. The studies evaluated 459,833 test-subjects who were absent of cardiovascular disease at the start of the investigation. The subjects were followed for an average of 11.3 years with all cardiovascular events recorded. Their analysis makes a strong case for the benefits of good old walking. The study showed walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31 percent and decreased the risk of dying by 32 percent.
  • The Harvard Alumni study found men who average at least eight flights of stairs a day enjoy a 33 percent lower mortality rate compared to men who are sedentary.
  • Research shows that people who sit the most have a 112 percent increase in the Relative Risk (RR) of diabetes and a 147 percent increase in the RR of cardiovascular events compared to people who sit the least.

Review of Physical Activity on Awareness & Mood Levels

A research paper published by Berger titled Psychological Benefits of an Active Lifestyle looked at the key benefits derived from an active lifestyle. According to Berger, “exercise has many benefits…, it is important to explore ways in which exercise might become something one “wants” to do several days a week. Possible sources of enjoyment and motivation for physical activity may include “feeling better” or mood alteration; stress reduction; and enhancement of self-concept, self-awareness, and even self-knowledge.”

Adding the components of physical activity (strength, endurance, flexibility) into your workouts will allow you to make the most of each day. Finally, turning this into a habit now when your young will pay back stronger dividends when you’re older. Stay Strong!

Dropping Knowledge: Exercise and Nutrition Book Review

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More than a million books are published in a typical year, as a result, it can be difficult to know which ones are really worth your time to both buy and read. The Jefit team has put together a short list of some of the best health and fitness related content that we thought may peak your interest. This is part one of an upcoming series highlighting some of the best books available that you’ll hopefully get an opportunity to read soon. A goal of the initial list, and future posts on the topic, is to help save our readers time and money offering a cliff notes version of some of the best reading the fitness industry has to offer. Our recommendations will focus on topics like exercise, nutrition, recovery, supplements, HIT, and strength training.

Click on any of the 24 links below to read a quick preview or review. If you have any personal recommendations, please let us know.

Exercise Related

Movement & Mobility

Nutrition

Health & Fitness Related

The list above includes some of the biggest names in their respective fields via coaching, training, research, and writing (like Bill Bryson and Alex Hutchinson). Further, the books named to our initial list are more than just informational; we feel they can help improve the way you function and move beyond the gym. One that made the list, “Breath” by James Nestor, was recently published. During a recent workout, I heard the author being interviewed on a podcast I was listening to at the time and immediately downloaded it after my workout, which proved to be interesting reading.

Hopefully this is a helpful start for you in terms of finding, informative, science-based, topics written by respected industry leaders that you can hopefully read soon. Having read them all, I can highly recommend each one. Please do the same and share this post with any book lovers you know – thanks!

Stay strong with Jefit.