Three Aspects of Healthy Living

While there are many different aspects to consider when it comes to healthy living, there are three that are absolutely key. From physical health to mental well-being to social relationships, make sure that you place a priority on each of these parts of your life.

Woman running

Physical Health
There are a number of factors that contribute to an individual’s physical health, but two that you can have full control over are diet and exercise. In today’s world, it is all-too-easy to get the diet part wrong, especially since supermarket shelves are lined with unhealthy, processed foods. Improving on a diet can often seem daunting, so take this one step at a time, making easy and gradual changes rather than dramatic, difficult ones. For example, incorporating a new vegetable into your meals each week could be a great first step, as could making your own healthy smoothies at home. Exercise also plays a huge role in physical health, with the majority of people out there not getting enough exercise at all. Again, this is something else that can seem challenging to initially get motivated about, so begin by picking a few forms of exercise that you genuinely enjoy, such as a certain sport or a dance. Once your fitness levels begin to improve, it will be much easier to branch out and see what else is out there.

Woman meditating

Mental Health
Mental health is an extremely broad topic, but one of the key causes of poor mental health in today’s world is stress. When you experience stress, this triggers an emergency response in your body, which sends the hormone cortisol coursing through you. Chronic stress, which means consistently elevated levels of cortisol, will increase your risk for so many mental health problems, from depression to other forms of mental illness. When it comes to keeping your stress levels under control, you may need to experiment with different tactics before finding one that works for you, whether this may be doing some form of exercise, spending an hour gardening, or spending time on a new hobby.

Friends having dinner

Social Bonds
Healthy relationships are a vital part of healthy living, and there is plenty of research out there that shows that strong social bonds are linked to a longer and happier life. Not only do healthy relationships mean that you are 50% less likely to die prematurely, but they can also boost your immune system and help you to deal with stress better, which, in turn, will be a boost to your mental health. If you are looking to expand your social circle but do not know where to begin, look into local groups or clubs where you can meet people that share similar interests to you, or ask your existing friends to introduce you to some new people.

When it comes to healthy living, there are always areas in which you can improve on. Whether this may be making improvements to your diet to support your physical health, or expanding your social circle to support both your physical and mental health, be sure to pay close attention to each of these three aspects of healthy living.

Simple Exercises to Tighten the Skin Above Your Shoulders

Loose skin can be caused by a number of different factors, from weight loss to aging, and, once your skin has taken on this looser appearance, tightening it back up can seem like quite the challenge. While there is nothing that you can do at home to transform your skin overnight, here are some simple exercises that, when carried out regularly and consistently, will help to tighten up the skin on your shoulders.

woman doing push-up

Push-Ups
While many people perform push-ups to work the major muscles in the chest, this exercise is fantastic for toning the upper arms and shoulders over time as well. It is a common misconception that this is an exercise that needs to be carried out every day, but this actually does not give the muscles enough time to rest in between sessions. Between eight to ten reps is ideal, with two days of rest in between. Place your focus on improving your form rather than increasing reps, and, if you need an added challenge after a while, look into weighted push-ups and decline push-ups. There are many other push-up varieties out there, and not only will these target a different range of muscles, but they will also add some diversity to your workout routine and make it much more interesting.

Woman using dumbbells

Reverse Curls
Reverse curls are known for being able to really help with sagging skin, and are able to help to tone this back up. Hold a five to eight pound dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep the dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing in before curling both hands and bringing them close to your shoulders. It is important to do this without bending the wrists, before ending it by lowering your hands back down to complete the repetition. This should be done in two sets of 20 in order to experience maximum benefits.

woman doing back extensions

Prone Shoulder Extension
The prone shoulder extension is another exercise that requires the use of dumbbells, and this is because weight training is the best way to fill out loose skin and tone the muscles around the shoulders. Lie face down and keep your arms by your side, with a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing upwards. Lift your arms towards the ceiling, before pausing at the top of your range of motion and then slowly lowering your arms back down, stopping right before they actually touch the floor.

The shoulder is quite a vulnerable joint, which means that it is at a higher risk of injury than other parts of the body. While these exercises will be able to help in toning the muscle and tightening the skin, it is important to ease into them slowly, giving your body enough time to adjust to the new routine, as this will help you to avoid injury or muscle pain. You should also try to do some back and chest exercises before working on your shoulders, as your shoulders will still be involved in these other exercises, and will prevent them from being fatigued too early on in your workout.

Lifestyle Changes for the “Skinny Fat”

Woman in mirror

The skinny-fat phenomena is one that affects up to a quarter of average-weighted people, and describes those who look fit and healthy from the outside, but actually have a number of health problems brewing beneath the surface. If you feel as though you may fall into this category, these are the lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to bring your health back up to scratch.

Healthy Oils
Many people who are skinny-fat try to stay away from oily foods, believing them to be unhealthy. While there is no denying that a greasy bag of fries will bring absolutely no benefits to your body, there are certain oils and fats that are necessary for good health. The most important of these are omega-3 fats, which can be found in highest concentrations in oily fish, such as salmons and sardines. Incorporating more of these into your diet will help to stabilize your cholesterol while reducing blood pressure.

Build Some Muscle
Building muscle mass is vital if you are skinny fat, and the best way to do this is through weight training. This encourages your body to store its lean muscle, rather than use it as fuel, and will help to add some more tone to your body. In order to support your increasing muscle mass, be sure to consume plenty of protein, whether in the form of eggs, meat, or seeds, as this will protect your newly acquired muscles.

Woman doing pushup

Support Your Natural Metabolism
While you may think that you have a naturally fast metabolism, there are many lifestyle habits that actually alter this, and it is likely that your true metabolism has been hidden for a while. Soft drinks, which contain artificial sweeteners, can interfere with the chemicals within your body, affecting your metabolism, as can sleep deprivation, which also increases sugar and carbohydrate cravings. In addition to watching your diet and ensuring you are getting sufficient sleep, you should also be incorporating regular cardio sessions into your routine, as this will boost your natural metabolism while helping with your fitness levels.

Keep Stress Levels to a Minimum
Stress is actually one of the main factors behind the skinny-fat phenomena, and while stress can often be unavoidable, there are still many ways in which you can take control over this and bring your stress levels back down. Different methods work for different people, so you will need to try out a few and see what helps when you are really stressed. Whether it may be ten minutes of meditation, taking some time to work out, or spending a couple of hours on a hobby that you are truly passionate about, keeping stress levels to a minimum will help your body to thrive.

Research has shown that being skinny-fat puts the body under incredible amounts of stress, and can actually be even worse for you than obesity. If you think that you are skinny-fat, then now is the time to implement these lifestyle changes, so that you can soon get back to your healthiest self.

Five Reasons to Try Vegetarian

While the popularity of vegetarianism is rapidly on the rise, there are some who still feel as though giving up meat would be too big of a sacrifice to make. However, there are so many benefits that come with a vegetarian diet, so here are five reasons to persuade you to give vegetarianism a try.

Vegetarian

Slow Down the Aging Process
A study recently published in the British Medical Journal discovered that vegetarians outlive meat eaters by up to six years, which is hardly surprising considering all of the nutrients that come with a plant-based diet. Not only are these rich in fiber, but they are alo high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, all of which play individual roles in slowing down the aging process. In addition to this, a plant-based diet can also prevent, as well as reverse, certain chronic diseases, giving vegetarians a longer, and healthier, life.

Prevent the Three Biggest Killers
Heart disease is the number one killer out there, with cancer and strokes being the second and third, but a healthy, well-balanced vegetarian diet is able to protect the body from all three of these. In fact, doctors have even had success in unclogging arteries and reversing heart disease purely by prescribing a vegan diet.

Woman with ferret

Support the Environment
Countless studies have shown, and the United Nations has also confirmed, that eating meat is the reason behind some of the most serious environmental problems that we face today. For example, the meat industry is responsible for 40% more greenhouse gases than all of the cars, trucks and planes in the world combined, and are also linked to everything from land degradation to water pollution to climate change to loss of biodiversity.

Animal Welfare
While you may like to think that your meat has been raised on lush green pastures and happy farmyard homes, the reality is far from this, and if the general public really knew what happened in factory farms today, there would be many more vegetarians in the world. Animals that are commonly eaten, such as chickens and pigs, are actually known to be smarter than animals that are usually kept as pets, such as dogs and cats, so rather than supporting the abhorrent conditions that these creatures are kept in, give vegetarianism a try. It is believed that an individual who gives up meat is able to save around 100 animal lives each year, which is a good enough reason in itself for any true animal lover.

Woman standing on weighing scale

Weight Loss
More than two thirds of the general public are obese, but vegetarians on average tend to have a lower BMI, which is the measure of body fat, than meat eaters. Vegetarians are much less likely to be obese, and are significantly lighter than meat eaters, making vegetarianism the healthiest of weight loss diets.

As you can see, a vegetarian diet brings with it so many incredible benefits. Not only would you be making huge improvements to your own health, but you would also be supporting the world around you, so make 2017 the year in which you give vegetarianism a try.

Understanding Healthy Sleep Patterns

While it was once believed that the body was in quite a passive state during sleep, studies have now shown that the brain actually experiences specific patterns of activity during different periods of sleep, and is often more active at this time than it is while the body is awake. This all shows exactly how important sleep is when it comes to maintaining good health, and if you want to improve this area of your life, then it is vital that you first understand the basics behind healthy sleep patterns.

5 Stages of Sleep
The Five Stages of Sleep
There are usually five specific stages to sleep, with the first being a light sleep from which you can drift in and out of easily. The second stage is when eye movements stop, with muscle contractions often occurring, before the slow brain waves of stage three start. Once stage four is reached, there is no more eye movement or muscle activity, and it is usually much more difficult to wake a person that is in this stage of sleep. The final sleep stage is the REM stage, which is when breathing becomes irregular, the eyes jerk around, and heart rate increases. It usually takes between 90-120 minutes for an entire sleep cycle to be completed, at which stage it all just begins again.

Factors that Suppress REM Sleep
The REM stage of sleep is extremely important to the body, but there are many lifestyle factors that can suppress this, therefore preventing the body from following normal sleep patterns the next night. Antidepressants usually do this, as does smoking, which causes the smoker to wake up every three to four hours due to nicotine withdrawal. Alcohol does the same, because while it may help you to initially fall asleep, it robs the body of all of the more restorative stages of sleep.

Woman sleeping
How Much Sleep is Healthy?
While there is plenty of debate surrounding the topic of exactly how much sleep is needed by the body, general consensus points to around seven to eight hours of sleep each night. However, sleep patterns can still vary greatly depending on everything from age to environmental conditions, so you need to take this into account too.

Healthy Sleep Habits
The best way to ensure that your body is receiving the amount and quality of sleep that it needs is to set yourself a few healthy sleep habits to follow. To begin with, you need to keep a consistent sleep schedule, meaning that you sleep at the same time on the weekends as you do on weekdays. Specific bedtime rituals will help with this, but, if you do not fall asleep within the first 20 minutes, you should get out of bed and not return until you are actually sleepy. Avoiding large meals, alcohol and caffeine before bedtime will help your body to adjust to healthy sleep patterns, as will regular exercise and a balanced diet throughout the day.

There are many ways in which you can encourage your body to settle back in to healthy sleep patterns, but it does take some dedication on your part in order to do this properly. Sleep plays such an important role in the way in which the body functions, so be sure to take this part of your life seriously, and do what needs to be done in order to give your body the sleep that it needs.

Advice From Exercise Icons

There is so much fitness advice floating around out there, but, if you want to make some real progress, you need to pick the right people to take this advice from. These exercise icons, from Jane Fonda to Richard Simmons, all have a great track record behind them when it comes to fitness, so take a look at some of their most useful words of wisdom.

Woman working out
Jane Fonda
With 22 different workout videos produced, all of which have sold over 17 million copies, Jane Fonda is, without a doubt, legendary when it comes to exercising. In terms of fitness advice, Fonda has plenty to offer, with one of her top tips being that one needs to work out at least three times a week, on alternative days, for at least 30 minutes at a time, at least if you want your exercise to be effective. Your workout should also contain three different types of exercises, including stretching, resistance and aerobic exercises, the latter of which is the only type of activity that is able to remove the marbled fat that lies deep within muscles.

Richard Simmons
Richard Simmons rose to fame in the 80’s, and while many expected him to fall into obscurity as the years progressed, Simmons is still making frequent appearances on television, and is an extremely successful fitness instructor. When it comes to his top piece of advice, Simmons stresses the huge importance that he places on setting rules for every part of his life, from eating to exercising. Simmons believes that not only is it important to workout every single day, but you must also always follow clean eating habits, and ensure that these rules are sacred to you.

Woman taking exercise class
Denise Austin
Dubbed as “America’s Favorite Fitness Expert”, Denise Austin is full of advice when it comes to exercising and keeping healthy. Austin believes that it is extremely important to keep your workouts fun and enjoyable, which is why you should frequently mix them up, seeking out new classes, techniques and routines whenever you can. Austin also places huge importance on strength and weight training, believing that the best way to keep your body looking and feeling youthful is to build muscle tone. Austin herself works out every day for at least 30 minutes, and usually does this first thing in the mornings. On the weekends, workouts take a more unstructured form, and can include everything from tennis with her husband to walking with friends.

Kathy Smith
Not only has Kathy Smith sold millions of fitness DVDs, but she has also written several successful books, and her top piece of advice when it comes to exercising is to view this as something that is non-negotiable in your life. Rather than giving in to excuses that you may make to yourself, from having no time to being too tired, find a way to work around these and make exercise a priority in your life.

Physical activity is such an important part of staying healthy, but many people simply do not get enough regular exercise. If you have been feeling unmotivated, follow the advice from these fitness icons and make 2017 the year in which you get back into shape.

Weightloss Tips That Are Just Wrong

Weight loss is something that many struggle with, and this comes as no surprise with the amount of weight loss tips out there that are just wrong. From avoiding all fats to the concept of a cheat day, these are tips that you should definitely not be following if you want to in a healthy way.

Woman measuring waist
Avoid All Fats
Many assume that all fats are bad, and will only cause you to put on more weight, but this is not at all the case. While the fats that you will find in greasy foods and processed snacks will definitely add to your calories, while also increasing your cholesterol and risk of certain diseases, there are other fats out there that are vital for a healthy mind and body. These good fats come from sources such as salmon, avocado and nuts, and when consumed as part of a balanced diet, do so much to support your overall health, and certainly not be the cause of any weight gain.

Cheat Days
Those who have really been watching their weight always highly anticipate a cheat day, which is a day when they can indulge and eat whatever they want. While some believe that this will help to keep the metabolic rate high, if you over-eat on a cheat day, then this excess food is likely to simply be stored as extra body fat. This means that the weight that you have lost over the rest of the week is likely to just be piled back on, so you still do need an eating plan for those days when you want to indulge.

Woman eating
Skipping Meals
One of the biggest weight loss myths out there is related to the skipping of meals, with the belief that a skipped meal would mean that you have saved yourself from all of those extra calories. However, your metabolism actually increases each time you eat, and chronically skipping meals can end up slowing this down in a huge way, resulting in rapid weight gain.

Juicing Instead of Eating
There is no denying the many health benefits that come from juicing your fruits and vegetables, but replacing your meals with green juices will only end up making you feel much hungrier. The reason for this is because, although these juices would be packed with nutrients, they are lacking the fiber that is found in whole fruits and vegetables. This fiber, which is found in the skin, seeds and pulp, is what helps to keep you feeling full, while also maintaining your blood sugar levels, so while a green juice is definitely beneficial, do not let this replace a meal too often.

Healthy weight loss methods not only focus on diet and exercise, but also the other aspects of your life. From sleep to stress to your environment, there are so many different factors that can have an influence on weight gain and loss, so be sure to consider all of this when coming up with a weight loss plan.

How a Bad Night’s Sleep Affects Your Health

While you may think that the only consequence to a night of poor sleep is that you will be yawning much more the next day, there is actually much more to it than this. From cognitive dysfunction to high blood pressure, here are just a few of the ways in which a night of bad sleep can affect your health.

Woman who cant sleep
Cognitive Dysfunction
Sleep is absolutely vital when it comes to your cognitive ability, which, in other words, means how fast and how well you can think. A night of bad sleep can affect cognitive processes in many different ways, impairing everything from attention and alertness to concentration and problem-solving. Sleep cycles also have an impact on memory consolidation, meaning that a night of poor sleep will lead you to have memory issues the next day.

Higher Risk of Serious Health Issues
While one night of poor sleep will not immediately lead to serious health issues, chronic sleep loss drastically increases your risk of many medical conditions. From high blood pressure and heart disease to diabetes and strokes, these are just a few of the conditions that have been linked to sleep deprivation.

Depressed woman
Depression and Anxiety
In addition to having an impact on your physical health, a lack of sleep will also affect your mental health. While one or two nights of poor sleep is not going to immediately cause depression, this is a condition that can soon occur after chronic sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that insomnia is often one of the first signs of depression, making good sleep absolutely necessary for a positive and healthy outlook on life.

Weakened Immune System
Your immune system works hard while you are asleep, producing infection-fighting cells and antibodies that battle bacteria and viruses, keeping your body healthy. If you experience a lack of sleep one night, this means that your immune system will not have had the opportunity to properly defend your body, meaning that not only are you more susceptible to foreign invaders, but it will also take you far longer to recover from any illness that takes you down. Even when it comes to the common cold, those that average less than seven hours of sleep at night will find themselves three times more likely to develop cold symptoms, and will also have a much harder time fighting these off.

Digestive System and Obesity
Studies carried out by the Harvard Medical School have shown connections between a lack of sleep and weight gain, making sleep deprivation one of the primary causes of obesity. A night of poor sleep will raise the levels of ghrelin in your body, which is a biochemical that stimulates the appetite. Sleep deprivation also triggers the body to release higher levels of insulin after eating, which not only promotes fat storage within the body, but can also quickly lead to diabetes.

Quality sleep is absolutely essential when it comes to a healthy mind and body, and a night of poor sleep can really have some adverse reactions. From a weakened immune system to rapid weight gain, make sure that these issues do not affect you by ensuring that you are receiving enough sleep each and every night.

Celebrities Who Never Seem to Age

Celebrity

There are some celebrities out there who just never seem to age, and while a part of this is likely due to the media’s airbrushing skills, they do still tend to retain their youthful glow in person too. From Pharrell … Continue reading

Fitness Trends for 2017

The fitness industry is currently thriving like never before, and, as more and more people strive to keep their bodies in shape, the industry is being pushed to really up its game. While 2016 saw many interesting trends make an appearance, 2017 is set to be more exciting than ever, with plenty of new trends to inspire the masses to take more of an interest in fitness.

Workout Apps
Fitness apps have been exploding in popularity recently, and you are likely to see many more workout apps created in 2017. These enable users to engage in an exercise routine wherever they may be, whenever they have a bit of time to spare, giving them a convenient and extremely cost-effective way to work out.

Live-Streaming Fitness Classes
For those who do not live in a big city, you have likely been frustrated at the lack of variation in fitness classes near you, but, thanks to technology, this is soon to change. Rather than having to opt for yet another DVD workout or YouTube tutorial, these live-streaming sessions will take place, in real time, on platforms such as Facebook and Periscope, and will be broadcast from some of the hottest fitness studios around.

Woman working out in adult playground
Adult Playgrounds
Adult playgrounds have been popping up quite a bit this past year, but you can expect to see them take quite the surge in 2017 as they become much more mainstream. These outdoor gyms are not just appearing in public parks as you would expect, but can be found in many more unusual locations, from office roof terraces to spacious sidewalk spots, ensuring that everybody is able to easily access one.

Functional Fitness for the Elderly
Fitness levels can really begin to decline with age, unless an active effort is made to prevent this. In 2017, there is likely to be quite the rise in fitness classes for the elderly, but rather than them being standard fitness classes, these will be focussed more on functional fitness. This means focussing on areas such as strength and balance, as well as joint mobility and general mood, all of which will significantly help to elevate daily living standards for this generation.

Outdoor Obstacle Courses
While intense outdoor bootcamps may be declining in popularity, outdoor obstacle courses, such as the Tough Mudder, are steadily on the rise. The majority of these that are currently available are more suited to those with advanced fitness levels, but the newer courses that you will see next year will make this activity available to all.

Woman boxing
Boxing
Boxing has always been loved by many, but it was often difficult for beginners to become involved with this sport. 2017 sees that beginning to change, not only with the introduction of boutique boxing studios, which practice a no-contact style of boxing, but also due to the increasing number of beginners classes that are now being hosted by traditional boxing gyms.

Fitness is key when it comes to healthy living, and an increasing number of people are beginning to become aware of this. Thanks to this mainstream attention, the fitness industry is now witnessing a surge in adrenaline-pumping trends, all of which promise to help keep your body, and mind, in perfect condition.