Eat These Foods After You Workout To Lose More Weight

When it comes to losing weight, there are a whole load of ways that you can maximize the process. While workouts might be high on your agenda, it is the types of foods that you eat before and after you exercise that can make all the difference. Making these products a part of your regular diet can make all the difference to your performance, wellbeing and recovery time.

Sufficient nourishment before a workout can help your body manage its energy production, preventing it from drawing stores from essential organs to help you keep going. During your fitness regime, your body’s glycogen production will become depleted and in order to keep going, it is important that you give them a boost as quickly as possible. Eating while your metabolism is still active can help to burn off excess fat while giving you a quick burst of energy. The sooner you eat, the better you will feel for the rest of the day.

Nuts

Filling your body with the right kinds of foods before you workout will make all the difference to the level of your performance. If you really want to feel good during your routine, try snacking on nuts before you get going. Foods like almonds and nuts contain a hefty serving of carbohydrates, which are essential for you to keep going throughout your workout. An hour before you’re due to start, try eating a small serving of the nuts, accompanied by a bottle of water. Your body will have enough time to digest the food and you can start to feel the effects as soon as possible!

Oatmeal and Berries

If you’re an early morning type of person, there is no better way to get into your workout than by eating oatmeal and berries. As a pre-workout food, oatmeal is one of the best choices there is. The food is packed full of slow release protein, which can keep you feeling fuller and help your muscles to recover during the aftermath. For an extra burst of energy, try topping off your oatmeal with carbohydrate-rich berries. The two foods together have everything that you need for a successful workout and will help to keep you fueled for even longer!

Whole Grain Bread

When it comes to pre-workout fueling, it’s all about filling your body with the right kinds of carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates will do the best job, slowly releasing their energy to give you a steady stream of fuel. To add in a little protein to the mix, try topping your bread with low fat cheese. The nutrients will prepare your body for an intense workout, helping to keep things running internally even when you feel tired.

Whey Protein Drink

After you’ve finished your workout, you need to start refueling your body and building back any muscle wastage. Getting a shot of protein into your system can help to reduce any muscle loss you might have experienced while giving your energy stores a boost. Protein shakes are one of the best ways to instantly refuel and, thanks to their easy nature, they can be easily kept in your gym bag for immediate consumption. While you might want to mix your protein shake with regular milk, almond milk can go one better. Packed full of fiber, potassium and essential vitamins, it will give your body everything it needs and help you to get back on track.

Eggs

Protein packed foods are essential for refueling after a workout and in general, lean varieties are always better. If you’re feeling that post-exercise slump, snacking on a boiled egg can help to get your energy levels back to normal. Eggs are a great source of protein, helping to build back your body’s stores and kick up your energy levels. If you want a little more sustenance, try teaming yours with a glass of orange juice. The drink is loaded with healthy nutrients and carbohydrates, giving you a boost of fresh energy in the process.

Slow Fitness: Why You Should Walk Your Way To Better Health

Exercise is one of the essential parts of leading a healthy life and for many of us, there is nothing more effective than a regular jogging session. While running yourself to good health is one of the best ways to get into shape, there are a number of downsides to the sport that only intensify as you get older. Although running can boost your heart and circulatory system, it puts a great deal of stress on your joints that, if you’re not careful, can only worsen over time. There is another way, however. Walking has revealed itself to be something of a frontrunner in the fitness world and it’s not hard to see why. Good for your heart and gentle on your joints, the activity is a great way to stay in shape and might just be the thing you need for a successful fitness routine!

It Focuses Your Mind

The steady pace of walking makes it a perfect fitness candidate to do a little meditation on route. Exercise is one of the best ways to get past the tensions and stress of daily life, helping you to clear your mind whilst getting a little fresh air. Following a continuous path is a great way to run through any issues that might be on your mind and find a clear solution. Once you reach the end of your route, you might just have all the tools in place to get over any problem you’re facing!

You Don’t Need Equipment

While you might have to travel a certain distance in order to reach your nearest gym, walking can be done practically anywhere; all you need is a good pair of shoes. If you’re trying to cut back on your spending, explore the local area or just get out of the house, walking gives you the perfect opportunity in order to do so. You can get just as good an effect in the city as in the countryside; all that matters is that you’re switching off, getting outside and focusing on your own thoughts a little.

It Works Out Your Body

Walking, even when it is done at a relatively steady pace, can give your body everything it needs in order to get in really great shape. Steady, regular exercise can work wonders on your muscle strength and tone, helping you build up your fitness and endurance as you move. If your body is aching from a long day in the office or you’re simply feeling restless, going for a brisk walk will help you loosen up. By the time you get home, you will have tired out your body and mind, helping you completely switch off at the end of the day.

It’s Easier On Your Joints

The constant jarring between the sidewalk and your feet can rattle your joints and if you’re not careful about it, running can really begin to affect the way you move. On the other hand, walking can give you all of the same health benefits while going a little easier on your bones and joints. The slower pace provides more of a cushion between the tarmac and your knees, making it easier for them to absorb the shock. If you want to pick up the pace a little bit, you just need to walk a little faster. Your heart will get a workout and your joints will still get the rest they need.

It Will Shut You Off From DIstraction

Do you ever feel like you’re not really connecting with the present moment? With the constant call of social media, digital tools and work, many of us find it hard to exist in the here and now, choosing instead to live our lives through our smartphones. Over a course of time, this kind of activity can have a negative effect on your wellbeing, leading to greater bouts of stress and anxiety. If you really want to focus on what’s in front of you, try using walking as a healthy tool. You can explore your local environment, leave your worries behind you and work through your day in the office. Turn your phone on airplane mode and bring along a little music as white noise if you like. The freer your mind is, the more easily you will be able to focus on what’s in front of you.

Want To Get Healthy? Take Your Habits From The Best

Staying healthy starts with you. The types of habits that you pick up in your younger years can make all the difference as you get older and for that reason, it pays to think about what you’re doing before it’s too late. The trouble is, with so much information out there, knowing where to start can be the biggest struggle of all. Not so fast. By looking at the healthiest people out there and taking cues from them, you can implement a few basic changes in your lifestyle that will see you well into the future. Picking up these daily habits could be all that it takes to give your life the change up it really needs!

Start Your Day With Hot Water and Lemon

The kinds of things that you put inside your body before you’ve even started your day can make all the difference to how it plays out. Drinking lemon juice is a great way to get your digestive system into gear and cut down on any bloating that might come your way. Hydrating yourself can help to wake up your brain, get your body moving into gear and shed that sleepy feeling. If you’re feeling a little under the weather, this drink can work wonders, too, so make sure you’re getting your daily fill each morning.

Take Time Out To Meditate

If your mornings pass you by in the blink of an eye, it could be worth taking your time a little more on your daily routine. Getting up a little earlier might feel that bit more painful but it can give you the chance to dedicate yourself to a slower and more meaningful routine. If your mornings are a point of stress, try taking a little extra time after you wake up in order to quietly meditate. Sitting without any distractions can help you to streamline your thoughts and set an intention for the day ahead. After a few weeks of meditating, you might be feeling all the more refreshed and focused.

Get Out and Exercise

While it might not be something you had ever considered, fitting in a workout over the course of the morning can make all the difference in your day. Getting your workout in after you’ve woken up can give you a burst of energy to get going, making your subsequent tasks all the more easy. Better yet, exercising first thing in the morning means that the task is out of the way before you’ve even started your day, giving you the time you need to really focus on the important jobs that need to be done.

Keep Your Snacks Handy

Are you the type of person that eats on the go, picking up whatever is closest to you? It’s time to make a change. By planning ahead and taking your snacks with you, you can control the types of foods you’re putting in your body and boost your health in the right direction. Whipping up a batch of granola at the start of the week can help to keep you going whenever hunger calls. Just pack an individual bag of the stuff in your work bag and dip into it if you feel yourself flagging. Hunger, solved!

Detox From Your Devices

In our digital world, many of us find ourselves to be constantly connected. While checking in with work and friends can help us to stay on top of things, spending too much time online can soon begin to interfere with our levels of stress. If you really want to commit to a healthier lifestyle, it might be worth scheduling in time away from your phone and computer. Giving yourself at least an hour each night in which to wind down can make falling asleep all the more easy, allowing you to get a rich and fulfilling night’s sleep. In the morning, you will be ready to take on anything the day throws your way!

5 Ways To Naturally Maintain Your Weight Loss

You’ve stuck to the diet, you’ve done the exercise and now you’ve finally lost all the weight that you set out to do. What’s next? While the process of losing weight can feel like the hardest step, actually knowing how to go on with your life afterwards can be just as big of a deal. Going forwards with no plan or outline to follow is a very scary thing indeed and before long, you might find yourself back where you started all over again. Maintaining weight loss takes a little getting used to but by adapting your routine, it can be easily done. Rather than looking to extreme fixes to show you the way, you can keep a healthy figure through a series of balanced lifestyle changes. You lost the weight in the first place, you can keep it off into the future.

Don’t Call It A Diet

Going on a crash diet and then expecting your life to go on as normal is not likely to happen. Eating routines that promise unhealthily fast results can never be maintained for a long period of time and unfortunately, they often are built up to fail. If you’re serious about leading a healthier life, then try thinking about your eating habits over the long term. Aiming for a healthy and nutritious spread of food can serve you much better, helping you to lose weight gradually over time. Calling something a diet means that it comes with an end point. Instead, think of your new eating habits as lifestyle changes. You can look into new recipes, plan out your meals and research what you’re eating. You’re in it for the long haul.

Don’t Associate Food With Emotions

We’ve all been there, face first in a tub of ice cream after a long and tiring day, but could there be another way? So many of us associate what we eat with how we’re feeling and by doing so, we fail to recognize the importance of what we’re putting into our bodies. Eating to make yourself feel better is only going to warp your relationship with food, making it harder for you to select healthier choices. Rather than cutting out your emotional attachment entirely, try instead changing it up. You should thinking about your food as a source of nourishment and energy, rather than comfort. The more nourished you want to feel, the better you will eat!

Work Out Your Stress Elsewhere

Just as food is often used as a tool to make us feel better, so too can it be used to get through moments of stress. Eating your way through a problem might seem like a good idea but over time, it can simply have negative ramifications. There are other sources of comfort at your disposal. Working through stress via conversation, exercise or meditation is a better use of your time and will have a more effective long term effect. If stress if really getting you down, try making sure you’re getting enough rest, and are following a naturally balanced diet. Your wellbeing starts from the inside out.

Forget About Cheat Days

When you label food as either being “good but uninteresting” or “bad but tasty”, you make a very dangerous distinction. Assuming that because food is healthy, it’s boring will lead you more likely to “cheat” by eating things that simply aren’t good for your health. Allowing yourself cheat days also validates the fact the healthy food you are supposed to be eating really isn’t what you want to be eating, setting up yet another tricky relationship. If you’re struggling to find recipes you really like, try extending your search. There are a ton of simple recipe books out there that include healthier versions of your favorite meals. Just because a dish is healthy, it doesn’t mean that it can’t taste great.

Choose An Activity You Love

Feeling forced to go to the gym is a sure fire way to lose interest in fitness. Loathing working out only makes getting fit a whole lot more difficult and over time, you simply won’t be able to keep up your routine. If you’re struggling with the gym, try taking your exercise elsewhere. You can try signing up for exercise classes, taking up a new sport or even using Youtube videos to work up a sweat. The key is to find something that you really like. Once you do, it will be so much easier to keep on going.

Beach Running: Here’s What You Need To Know

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If you’re anything like a whole load of fitness fans out there, then running will be a major part of your routine. Great for the muscles and even better for the heart, the activity helps you to work up a sweat and boost your metabolism in the process. Want to push yourself even further? Try taking to the sand. Running on the beach is an effective way to up your fitness game even more and take your workout to the next level. Providing an extra level of resistance, beach running requires your body to work ever so slightly harder in order to get the task done. What else is good about the activity? After seeing just how good it can be for the way you move and feel, you might never work out any differently!

Easier On Your Joints

Running might be a great way to whip yourself into shape but if you’re not careful, you could risk doing serious damage to your knees and joints. Over time, the resistance from hard surfaces can put extra stress on your knees, ankles and feet, meaning that you will be more likely to suffer from leg injuries and pains throughout your life. If things are already starting to become a little painful, taking to the sand can help you out no end. Running on sand not only provides your legs and joints with a softer surface to work with but also, promotes smaller muscles in your legs to build up their strength. The stronger they are, the more stable your legs will become!

Boosts Your Athletic Ability

If you’re searching for a way to boost your health fast or get into shape for a race, then sand running could be all that it takes. As well as making you fitter, the exercise can improve your strength, speed and balance, too. Think of the process like running with weights. The more difficult it is for your body to propel itself forward, the harder it will have to work in order to do so. It might be hard at first but before long, the process will become a whole lot more easy. More resistance can lead to a fitter body!

Works Out Your Lower Body

Want to get your legs and lower body into shape? Beach running is the activity for you. Providing a great deal of extra resistance, the activity gives muscles in this area a more intense, effective workout. Over time, your performance in exercises directed towards your lower body will be improved, as will be your strength and general fitness. The harder you work, the better you will look as a result.

Provides An Intense Workout

If you’re trying to lose weight, intense workouts can help you get to your goal at a faster rate. Running on the sand requires as much as 1.6 times more energy than running on a flat surface. While this might not sound like much, over time, the differences can be clear to see. Forcing your body to use up more energy to keep going, sand running allows you to burn off more calories and boost your weight loss power. Better yet, the intensity of the workout can make you work up a serious sweat, ridding your body of any toxins and helping you to get into even better shape.

Works Out Your Whole Body In Less Time

When it comes to making the most of your workout, you don’t necessarily have to keep going for a long period of time. Depending on the intensity of the workout, you can have a fitness regime that lasts as little as half an hour and still see lasting results. Running on the beach increases the number of benefits you can experience while reducing the time span in which you can enjoy them. As well as burning more calories, you can add further resistance, build strength and bolster your body’s endurance. That’s no mean feat for a quick run up the beach!

Whatever kind of workout you’re looking for, sand running can help to seriously whip your body into shape. Boosting your health and improving your wellbeing, the activity will make you feel stronger and fitter in no time at all!

Work It Out: The Guide To Free Fitness Apps

How do you track your workout? Getting fit has gone onto a whole new level and now, there are countless ways in which to mark your progress, set goals for the future and try a whole range of different activities. Fitness apps are steadily on the rise and now, there are a ton on the market that are designed specifically in order to make your fitness life more easy. Helping you to workout in a range of diverse and effective ways, fitness apps can significantly help to improve your health and motivation in one fell swoop and now, you can take them with you wherever you might be. But what are the best out there? These apps are not only great for whipping you into shape but also, they are entirely free! It’s time to get your fitness on.

RunKeeper

Do you like to run as a way of keeping fit? Tracking your progress while you jog can help you to set goals for yourself, see how fast you’ve been going and even count how many calories you have burned in the process! As far as running apps go, RunKeeper is one of the best on the market and after just one use, you might never want to workout without it again. As well as being able to track every activity you do, the app let you link up with friends, create new running routes and hear up to the minute information on how fast you’re going. It’s not just for running, either; you can use the app for walking and biking sessions, too, gaining insight into your level of fitness.

JEFIT Workout Exercise Trainer

Using a personal trainer when you workout is a great way of tracking your progress, getting the correct technique and understanding more about the movements that work for your body. Unless you’ve got enough time and money on your hands, however, you might not always get to use a personal trainer in your workouts. Enter JEFIT Workout Exercise Trainer. A fitness app that is designed to supplement your personal trainer, JEFIT can help to show you correct lifting techniques, give you a load of fitness techniques and helping you to create your own fitness plan. You can workout with activities designed specifically for you!

StrongLifts 5×5

Want to get into weights? You need StrongLifts 5×5. Depending on what you want to achieve in the gym, you can adapt the app to meet your personal needs, changing the setup between muscle building, weight loss and strength building programs. When you use the app, you are instructed by a virtual trainer that shares the types of exercises you should be undertaking and how you light progress into the future. If you want to use the program’s advanced features, you can even gain insight into lifting techniques to avoid, schedule for missed workouts and see what to do about performance plateaus.

My Diet Coach

If you’re looking to get into shape then the chance are that you’re watching what you’re eating and if you want an app to supplement your healthy lifestyle, My Diet Coach might just be the one for you. A platform designed specifically for beginners, My Diet Coach shares tips on how to manipulate your diet for a healthy weight loss, incorporate steady lifestyle adjustments and generally, become a fitter person! You can track your calories and even take a look at how to avoid things like food cravings and the loss of motivation.

Google Fit

If you prefer to do your fitness tracking through the use of a smartwatch, there are a great deal of apps on the market that can easily incorporate into your existing technology. If you have an android device, Google Fit is one of the best out there and can help to significantly improve your level of health. After a number of changes and updates, the app is now one of the most functional out there and can help you to gain insight into practically every facet of your health. You can track how many calories you’ve burned over a specific period of time, understand how you’ve been using your energy and set yourself daily goals. With you at all times, the app will effectively track everything you do without you even realizing it!

5 Best Calorie Counters To Mark Your Performance

(source: pexels.com)
(source: pexels.com)

Are you getting the most out of your workout? Tracking the amount you move and exercise throughout the day can be a tough challenge and unless you got some kind of equipment behind the task, you might end up looking over some of the important details. No more. Thanks to the rise and rise of calorie counters, staying on top of your daily activities has never been more easy and now, you can accurately track how much you consume in a day. Want to whip yourself into shape? It might be time to get behind the calorie counter app.

My Fitness Pal

Understanding the amount that you consume is about so much more than what you eat and in order to get a good idea of the state of your health, you need to track food, activities and progress over time. Exercise app My Fitness Pal can help you to do all 3, integrating into existing workout apps to give you a more complete picture of your overall health. The database itself contains more than 5,000,000 foods and drinks, giving you up to date calorific and nutritional information on a huge range of different items. Better yet, the app comes complete with a barcode scanner, helping you to get all the information you could possibly need on packaged foods. What’s simpler than that?

Spark People

Want to lose those few extra pounds? It’s all about what you eat and how much you move and thanks to fitness app Spark People, you can track both things at the same time. Not only a calorie counting app, Spark People also comes equipped with hundreds of exercise demos, healthy recipes and insider articles by experts in the health industry. Getting a better grip on your overall health has never been so easy and if you start using the app, you might notice your health improving dramatically.

Fooducate

When it comes to food, it’s all about getting the right kind of information and as well as watching what you’re eating, it might be a good idea to understand how it might be affecting your body. App Fooducate will do just that, incorporating an informative system into its database to help you better understand exactly what it is you’re eating. Foods are presented alongside a grading system, ordered according to nutritional content and the quality of ingredients inside. You can get a simple overview of the kinds of foods you’re consuming in one glance, making staying on track of things a real breeze.

Nutrition Menu

Want to watch what you’re eating when you’re out and about? Nutrition Menu might just be the app for you. Taking information from hundreds of different restaurants across the United States and Canada, the database covers thousands of various menu options, helping you to make better nutritional choices when you’re eating out. The app lets you automatically log what you’re eating, when you’re eating it, giving you a much more in depth picture of the amount you consume each day.

My Diet Diary

Committing to weight loss is all about taking it one day at a time and in order to track your progress, you might want to keep a note of exactly what you’re eating. As well as helping you to track your calories, the app enables you to note down your weight, the amount of exercise you have undertaken and it can even connect with other fitness apps. If you want to get a really thorough picture of your health, you can synch My Diet Diary up with MedHelp.org to take information along with you to doctor’s appointments. Keeping in shape is about so much more than counting your calories and with My Diet Diary, you can really understand what it is that you’re consuming.

Marking your progress over time is a great way of staying on top of your health and in order to track your goals, you might want to invest in a fitness app. Giving you all the information plus a few handy wellness tips, these calorie counting apps are about so much more than the amount of food you eat and the more that you use them, the better shape you might find yourself in. Want to really get on a health kick? It’s time to start tracking your progress.

Age Well Through Exercise

 

Exercise is a fundamental component of a healthy lifestyle at any age. But as good as exercise is for children, teens and young adults, it grows more and more important with each passing year.

“Multiple studies have demonstrated the benefits of regular exercise for health in older adults,” says Nathan Wei, MD, clinical director of the Arthritis Treatment Center in Frederick, Md. “Beneficial effects occur in the brain, heart, and muscles.  Sarcopenia [muscle loss] is retarded.  Plus, exercise increases endorphin production, leading to less perception of pain.”

Expert Advice on Exercise: Make it a Habit

The key to reaping the benefits of exercise as you age is to develop a regular, consistent exercise habit. “Consistency trumps intensity when it comes to exercise,” says Joseph Barry, MD, an internist and geriatrician at SignatureMD in Camillus, NY. “If you push too hard, the likelihood of injury increases. If you aren’t consistent with your exercise, like a daily walk, you won’t develop the habit and you won’t keep at it.”

Wei also recommends exercise consistency, as well as variety. “Exercise regularly – I mean every day – and incorporate cardio, resistance, and stretching or yoga,” he advises.

What the Science Says About Exercise and Aging

Here are the top 5 reasons to keep exercising as you age, and the research behind them:

  1. You’re less likely to injure yourself by falling.

Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults, according to the National Council on Aging. Maintaining a steady exercise routine as you age could decrease your risk of falling and hurting yourself. Yale researchers found that regular physical activity, including moderate walking and exercises to increase flexibility, strength and balance, resulted in fewer injuries from falling in older men.

  1. Your brain will look younger.

Americans spend millions of dollars each year to maintain the youthful appearance of their faces, bodies and skin. But most never worry for a second about how old their brain looks.

It might be time to start. Normally, as you age, the volume of the gray matter in your brain decreases. With MRI imaging, scientists can assess the age of your brain based on the volume of its gray matter. The lower the volume, the older the brain looks.

A recent study shows that climbing stairs has an impact on the volume of your brain, and consequently how young or old it looks. Researchers from Concordia University’s Montreal-based PERFORM Centre found that the more flights of stairs a person climbs, the more youthful his or her brain appears in MRI images. For every flight of stairs climbed in a day, the age of the brain decreases by 0.58 years.

  1. You’ll cut your risk of Alzheimer’s in half.

The decrease in brain volume that usually occurs with age increases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A study from UCLA Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh indicates that you can drastically lower your risk of Alzheimer’s through aerobic exercise.

Study participants, with an average age of 78, performed a variety of aerobic activities, such as dancing, gardening, walking, and riding an exercise bike. The researchers discovered that increased physical activity was associated with larger volumes in the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes of the brain. Those who experienced these higher brain volumes due to exercise were 50% less likely to suffer from dementia due to Alzheimer’s.

  1. You’ll lower your chances of developing other age-related conditions too.

One of the reasons people develop various health issues as they age is a process called cellular senescence, in which cells lose the ability to replicate. When senescent cells build up, they contribute to age-related diseases and conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic recently looked at the impact of diet and exercise on the process of aging in mice. They found that the mice that exercised gained less weight, had less body fat, and were protected against the accumulation of senescent cells. This slower rate of cell senescence led to a decrease in the development of age-related conditions in the more physically active mice.

  1. Exercise eases pain and improves mobility in arthritis sufferers.

Approximately half of adults 65 years and older suffer from arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis causes achiness, pain, stiffness, and swollen joints. Many sufferers avoid exercise, thinking it will exacerbate their symptoms.

Not so, says Linda Russell, MD, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York. “People believe that if you have arthritis you shouldn’t exercise, but appropriate exercises actually help decrease pain,” she said in a news release from HSS.

HSS offers a low-impact exercise program in senior centers throughout New York City. In a survey of 204 program participants, many reported that they experienced less pain and were able to perform their daily activities more easily.

 

Article sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Arthritis-Related Statistics”

Joseph Barry, MD, board certified in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, member of SignatureMD, Camillus, NY

Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR, Clinical Director, Arthritis Treatment Center, Frederick, MD

National Council on Aging: “Fall Prevention Facts”

News release, Concordia University

News release, Hospital for Special Surgery

News release, Mayo Clinic

News release, University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

News release, Yale University

 

 

 

Why the Brain Gets a Boost from Exercise

New research explains why exercise improves our mental health and mood.

 

Exercise is not only good for the body, but for the brain as well. Vigorous physical activity has a positive impact on brain function, mental health and mood. Now researchers from the University of California-Davis Health System have discovered one of the reasons why.

The results of their recent study show that high-intensity exercise results in increased levels of glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. These two neurotransmitters regulate the chemical messaging that occurs in the brain.

Within the brain are cells that control physical and mental wellbeing. GABA and glutamate facilitate the flow of messages between these cells. Low levels of these neurotransmitters can lead to depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

In a news release from UC Davis, study lead author Richard Maddock said, “Major depressive disorder is often characterized by depleted glutamate and GABA, which return to normal when mental health is restored. Our study shows that exercise activates the metabolic pathway that replenishes these neurotransmitters.”

The findings of the study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, also provide new insights into brain metabolism. Intense physical activity causes the brain to consume large amounts of glucose and other carbohydrates. In fact, it devours more of this fuel during exercise than during other demanding activities, such as solving complex math equations or strategizing during a game of chess. The researchers now believe that the brain uses the extra energy to produce more neurotransmitters.

38 healthy volunteers participated in the study. The subjects rode on stationary bikes to reach 85% of their maximum heart rate. The research team used MRI imaging to measure GABA and glutamate levels in two areas of the brain before and after exercise. They did the same for a control group that did not exercise.

While there was no significant change in the neurotransmitter levels of the control group, the subjects who exercised showed increased levels of both glutamate and GABA. These increases occurred in two different parts of the brain: the visual cortex (where visual sensory input is processed) and the anterior cingulate cortex (which regulates heart rate, emotion and some cognitive mechanisms).

While the increased levels of glutamate and GABA appeared to diminish with time, there appear to be more enduring effects as well.

“There was a correlation between the resting levels of glutamate in the brain and how much people exercised during the preceding week,” said Maddock, who is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “It’s preliminary information, but it’s very encouraging.”

Maddock and his team hope to perform further research using brain-imaging combined with exercise to determine the impact of less intense physical activity on neurotransmitter levels. They also plan to investigate which specific types of exercise are most beneficial for those suffering from depression.

 

Article sources:

News release, University of California-Davis Health System.

Voss, M. Journal of Applied Physiology, .

 

 

5 Easy Ways to Squeeze Exercise into Your Day

 

You already know you should exercise more. You’ve heard that it’s good for your heart, helps maintain a healthy weight, strengthens muscles and bones, improves mental health and mood, reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers and could increase your life span. Even knowing all this, it still can be tough to find the time to exercise when your day is jam-packed with work and family obligations.

The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise to improve cardiovascular health and decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. That works out to approximately 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week.

Michael Jonesco, DO, a sports medicine physician at the Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center, suggests that shorter spurts of intense exercise could be just as good for your health. “More intense activity is equally effective at preventing premature morbidity,” he says. “The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests 20 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days per week as a less time-intensive alternative.”

Jonesco goes on to say that, according to the ACSM, “duration matters little, meaning 10 minute bursts of activity several times a day are equivalent to one longer duration of exercise.”

If you’ve been skipping exercise altogether because it feels impossible to fit in long sessions at the gym, this is great news. Scattering short bouts of exercise throughout your day feels more manageable than carving out 30 minutes to hit the gym. Several mini workouts can add up to a huge impact on your health.

We asked health and fitness experts for simple ways to squeeze exercise into a busy day. Here are their suggestions.

  1. Walk to work

You have to get to the office somehow, so why not exercise on your way to work? Ditch the car, subway or bus, and lace up your walking shoes instead. Walking is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that people of all shapes, sizes and ages can do.

What if it’s too far to walk the whole way? Brad Thomas, a fitness trainer, wellness expert and founder of Brad Thomas Mind Body in New York City, suggests you “stroll the final forty [city] street blocks. This distance is equivalent to 2 miles. The average man or woman would burn over 300 calories walking just one-way.” If you don’t live in the city, park your car a reasonable distance from your workplace and walk the rest of the way.

  1. Take the stairs

Once you’ve made it to work, “take the stairs instead of the elevator”, says Dan Inglis, director of Sports Performance at the OSU Wexner Medical Center. Climbing stairs has numerous benefits. It increases aerobic capacity, raises the amount of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the blood, strengthens the legs, and improves bone density in post-menopausal women.

  1. Core work on the couch

You don’t have to be a couch potato when you’re lounging around watching TV after a long day. Exercise your core muscles while catching up on your favorite shows. Mindy Kim, a yoga instructor at TruFusion in Las Vegas, NV, suggests the following exercise: “Sit up and lean back, back long, belly button to spine. Lift legs onto the coffee table and do toe taps up and down with the option to alternate legs. You’ll start to feel the burn!”

  1. Cut loose with the kids

What could be better than spending quality time with your kids while reaping the health benefits of exercise at the same time? Activities that kids do all the time just for fun are also excellent workouts for adults. Playing hopscotch, jumping rope, running around the yard, riding bikes, doing jumping jacks, and splashing in the pool are all ways to increase your heart rate and burn calories.

From Dr. Jonesco: “I use my toddler as my own personal kettlebell.  I lift her overhead, let her ride my back as I do pushups, or add some knee bends when I’m rocking her to sleep.  She sleeps, I sweat. It’s a win-win.”

  1. Strengthen at the supermarket

While walking up and down the aisles of the supermarket, use your groceries to strengthen your arms. Cristina Osorio, a kettlebell instructor at TruFusion, suggests using baskets instead of a cart. Baskets full of food act as weights to challenge your arm muscles.

The trip home from the market is an opportunity for exercise too. “Pile up as much as you can carry and walk home (if you can) with bags in-hand,” says Osorio. “Two miles with about 10-15lbs of groceries in your hands leaves you sweaty by the time you get home.”

 

Article Sources:

Dan Inglis, director of Sports Performance at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Michael Jonesco, DO, sports medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Mindy Kim, yoga instructor, TruFusion

Cristina Osorio, kettlebell instructor, TruFusion

Brad Thomas, ACSM, MFA, MA, fitness trainer & wellness expert

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “The Benefits of Physical Activity”

American Heart Association: “Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults”

Duke University: “Benefits of Taking the Stairs”