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.

Try Deep Cleansing Breaths for Better Sleep

Woman sleeping

Quality sleep is so important for a healthy mind and body, but everything from stress to bright screens often prevent this from happening. For those that find it difficult encouraging their body into a relaxed state each night, these cleansing … Continue reading

Your Hands Can Tell a Tale

Beautiful hands

Your hands, as well as your nails, can reveal so much about you, from giving away your age to showing tell-tale signs of various health issues. In addition to knowing how to take care of your hands, you should also be aware of the many different stories that they can tell.

Your Age
Studies have shown that the best way to accurately guess a person’s age is by looking at their hands, with factors such as veins and blemishes being a huge part of this. While these blemishes may have slowly built up over your lifetime, there are a number of ways in which you can eradicate them. The easiest is by putting together a skin care routine for your hands, and this does not need to be anything complicated. Simply use the same steps that you would on your face, from cleansing and exfoliating to toning and moisturizing, on your hands, as the skin here requires the same nourishment. Chemical peels are another option, which will be especially beneficial for those that have several age spots on their hands.

Trembling Hands
There are a number of different factors that can cause trembling hands, from too much caffeine to stress to particular medications, and if your trembling is only temporary, and can be attributed to one of these factors, then there is not too much to worry about. However, if you frequently experience unexplained tremors, this could indicate a neurological disorder, or even Parkinson’s, making it important to speak to a doctor about this as soon as possible.

Woman touching her fingers

Swollen Fingers
Just like with trembling hands, swollen fingers can be caused by several different factors, from PMS to mild dehydration, as well as from too much salt in the diet. However, if you feel as though there is another factor at play here, a visit to the doctor would be advised, as swollen fingers can also be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid problems.

Fingernails
In addition to your hands themselves, your fingernails can also reveal plenty about you. Pale nail beds, meaning those that do not immediately turn pink again after you press down on them, can signal an iron deficiency, as there are not enough red blood cells circulating around your body, while dark streaks on your nails could indicate skin cancer. If your nails are discolored, this could be a sign of a fungal infection, as well as an early sign of diabetes, but multiple white lines or ridges are likely to be due to the fact that you have just recovered from an illness, as the nails stop growing when the body is seriously unwell.

Whether you like it or not, your hands are able to reveal plenty of information about you, and it is important that you listen to what they are saying. If you are experiencing any of the more serious problems mentioned above, it is advisable to speak to your doctor soon, as the state of your hands can often be a huge indicator of health issues within.

Rely on Your Instructor for These Yoga Poses

Woman doing yoga

Yoga has been linked with so many different health benefits, so it only makes sense that an increasing number of people are starting to give it a try. However, when it comes to the way in which yoga is promoted in the media, advanced poses are often highlighted, and these can be extremely dangerous for a yoga newbie to try to copy. Even if you already have some yoga experience behind you, make sure that you ask your instructor to assist you when trying these following poses for the first time.

Firefly Pose
The ninja-like appearance of the Firefly Pose makes it appeal to many, and while it may be an arm balance pose, it actually requires much more core strength than arm strength. The most difficult part of this pose is extending the legs fully, but being already accustomed to the Crow Pose can really help with this.

Dancer's Pose

Dancer’s Pose
The Dancer’s Pose is one that looks beautifully elegant, and not only stretches the chest, hips and shoulders, but also improves the balance. While this one may not look that technically difficult, the perfect amount of tension is needed between the arms and legs, in order to maintain your center of gravity, which is why success with this pose is much more likely when you have some assistance.

Handstand Scorpion Pose
There are a couple of variations to the Handstand Scorpion Pose, but all of them require you to balance on your hands rather than on your forearms, which is how the regular Scorpion Pose is carried out. Even if you have already accomplished the regular Scorpion Pose, rising up from your hands can really be quite challenging, but your instructor can help you to do this in a safe way.

Lotus Peacock Pose

Lotus Peacock Pose
The Lotus Peacock Pose is a combination of two other poses; the Basic Peacock Pose and the Seated Lotus. While the Lotus Pose requires a large amount of hip flexibility, the Peacock Pose depends on glute strength, and it is essential that you have fully mastered both of these poses individually before attempting the Lotus Peacock Pose.

Head to Foot Pose
Also known as Sirsa Padasana, the Head to Foot Pose is one of the most intense backbends that you will find in yoga, and unless you have the right amount of muscle strength in your back, as well as a flexible spine, you could end up causing your body quite a bit of damage. This pose requires a huge amount of mental focus and balance, making it wise to seek assistance when trying it out for the first time.

When it comes to practicing yoga, do not forget that yoga postures are only a small part of this. The foundations of yoga go much further, encompassing everything from ethical choices, such as non-violence, to breathing exercises and meditation, so if you want to make the most out of your yoga experience, be sure to spend some time on all of these other yoga aspects too.