Walk More to Keep Your Heart Healthy (and Happy!)

Strengthening your heart is so important, and while many may think that running and other more vigorous forms of exercise are the only way to properly do this, walking is an activity that is just as beneficial. Studies have shown that, when it comes to heart health, walking brings about many of the same advantages as other forms of exercise, and is an activity that just about everybody can easily partake in.

Woman walking on bridge

The Health Benefits of Walking
A brisk walk each and every day will bring your body so many different benefits. Not only does this lower high cholesterol, as well as high blood pressure, but it also cuts down your risk of diabetes. All three of these conditions are risk factors when it comes to heart disease and stroke, meaning that making an improvement in this area will significantly boost the health of your heart. In addition to this, regular walking is able to prevent depression, protect against dementia, and reduce the risk of so many other health issues, from colon cancer to erectile dysfunction to obesity.

How Much Walking to Do Each Day
The American Heart Association recommends that adults need around 30 minutes of physical activity each day, and brisk walking can definitely be a large part of this. If you find 30 minutes quite challenging to begin with, start off with smaller, achievable goals, and built this up slowly as your fitness levels increase. Alternatively, you could split your 30 minutes of exercise a day into two or three sessions, walking for just 10 or 15 minutes each time.

Woman walking along beach

Ways to Incorporate Walking Into Your Life
There are many different ways in which you can incorporate more walking in your life, and the more that you do so, the more enjoyment you will gain from it too. Taking the dog for a walk is a great way to exercise the both of you, as is taking your children to the park every afternoon. If shopping is a passion of yours, spend more time window shopping, making a conscious effort to cover the entire mall in a certain amount of time. When it comes to being at work, simply park your car further away from your workplace than you normally would, so that you have some walking to do to get there, and always take the stairs rather than the elevator. Rather than spending your entire lunch break sat at a table, take some time to walk around outside, as you will also gain so many benefits from the fresh air.

Walking Shoes
If you have decided to make the commitment to start walking more, then a reliable pair of shoes is a must. Many of the major athletic brands out there offer shoes designed specifically for walkers, with everything from a shock absorbent sole to a roomy toe box. Before purchasing a pair, make sure to try on your walking shoes while you are wearing athletic socks, so that you will really know how well they fit.

Physical activity is a must, but if you do not tend to enjoy the more traditional forms of exercise, walking could be perfect for you. Not only will this keep your heart strong, while boosting many other parts of your body, but it is also an activity that is easy to squeeze into your day, no matter how busy you may be.

Advertisements

Creative Ways to Replace the Carbs in Your Diet

Quinoa salad

It is now common knowledge that refined carbohydrates do not deserve a place on your plate, but without having an alternative to turn to, people are still consuming huge amounts of unhealthy carbs. From spiralized vegetable noodles to vegetable crusts on pizzas, here is some inspiration for the next time you are looking for a creative way to replace the carbohydrates in your diet.

Zero-Calorie Pasta
Zero-calorie pasta is made from starch that has been extracted from a yam-like vegetable, which is then mixed with water and limewater before being shredded into pasta shapes. Rather than being a trendy invention, these types of noodles are actually authentically traditional to Japan, and not only are they easy to prepare, but they are also satisfyingly tasty.

Zucchini noodles

Spiralized Vegetable Noodles 
The spiralizing trend has been around for a while now, and is a great way to replace noodles or pasta with vegetables. Spiralizers are easy to use, and only cost a few dollars, or you could even just begin by using a potato peeler, and there are so many vegetables that you can experiment with. For example, rather than eating a standard bowl of pasta that usually amounts to just under 600 calories, spiralized courgettes provide just 30 calories per portion, along with so many more vitamins and minerals.

Vegetable Rice
Rice is a staple food that accompanies just about every meal for so many cultures around the world, but this is another refined carbohydrate that often brings very little benefit to the body. For a healthier alternative, try turning one of your favorite vegetables into rice, using that instead of the traditional version. Whether you use cauliflowers or turnips, all you need for this is a food processor with a chopping or shredding blade, or you can even use a box grater to create the rice by hand. The rice that you will end up with will be extremely versatile, and can be used in so many different types of dishes, from simply roasted with garlic and lemon to flavorful and spicy in a Mexican-inspired dish.

Vegetable pizza crust

Vegetable Pizza Crusts 
Pizza is one of the hardest foods for many people to give up when they are trying to cut back on carbs, and while there may be many gluten-free varieties available, these do not usually even come close to comparing to a standard pizza crust. However, there are many ways in which you can create a crust from vegetables, all of which will hold their shape and structure while providing you with an extra boost of nutrients. From cauliflowers to sweet potatoes to red pepper and flax, if pizza is one of your favorite foods, these are some great ways to make your meals healthier.

A nutritious diet is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, but it can definitely be tricky finding alternatives for all of those staple foods that usually accompany meals. From zucchini pasta to cauliflower pizza crusts, give these dishes a try the next time you find yourself reaching for a bag of pasta or rice.

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.

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.

Your February Healthy Lifestyle Reboot

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions out there is making the commitment to living a healthier life, but when February rolls around and people realize that they have not made any changes, it can be all-too-easy to simply give up, accepting yet another failed resolution. However, it is never too late to begin making adjustments, so make February the month that you do so.

Whole grain food
Changes to Your Diet
Just about everybody knows that they could be eating healthier, but giving up indulgent treats in favor of healthier alternatives never sounds appealing. The key here is to begin by making really small changes and gradually adding to these, as this will mean that you are far more likely to stick to your goals. A variety of foods is important, as each food has its own unique nutrients, so aim to incorporate a new ingredient into your diet each week. Whole grains are also much better for you than refined, so slowly work on swapping your white rice and white bread for brown versions. Sugar is an ingredient that you should really try to cut out, and this is another area where you are likely to be much more successful if you do this slowly, beginning by setting a limit on how many sugar-filled treats you can eat per week.

Exercise Motivation
Physical activity is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle, but motivating yourself to do some exercise can often be quite difficult, especially in cold winter climates. There are a few ways in which you can motivate yourself, and you are likely to need to try them all before finding which works best for you. Picking rewards for yourself after you have reached certain exercise goals is always a good idea, with the reward depending on how difficult the goal was. You could also set a few goals with some friends, so that you have their support when you are feeling uninspired. Alternatively, try to come up with a few ways to make exercise fun and enjoyable, so that you look forward to it rather than dread it. Learning a new sport could be exactly what you need to engage your mind as well as your body, or signing up for group dance classes will allow you to workout in a fun and laid-back environment.

Woman exercising
Deal With One Bad Habit at a Time
Just about everybody has a bad lifestyle habit that they would want to change, but trying to tackle all of these at once is only setting yourself up for failure. Whether you want to quit smoking and exercise more, or cut back on drinking alcohol, as well as caffeine, prioritize each one and pick the most important to deal with first. This will enable you to focus all of your attention on improving that particular habit, and once you have fully mastered this, you can then move on to the next.

There are always ways in which you can make your lifestyle healthier, but if you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed with this, then chances are that you are simply trying to do too much too soon. When working on improving your lifestyle, a chain of gradual, small adjustments are always easier to deal with than quick, major changes, so try to set yourself mini goals that you know you will be able to achieve.

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.

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.

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.

What You Can Teach Your Children About Healthy Living

children eating healthy food
Helping your children to develop healthy living habits while they are still young will really set them up for success in the long run. From educating them about food to making exercise fun, these are a few ways in which you can easily teach your children about how to live a healthy, and happy, life.

Food Education
Many schools do not include modules on healthy food and nutrition in their syllabus, meaning that it is up to you as the parent to ensure that your child learns as much as possible on this subject. There are so many ways to do this, and it is best to use a variety of methods to ensure that they do not become bored. Taking your child grocery shopping with you, and then helping them to prepare a healthy meal by themselves, will teach them about making healthy food choices when shopping, while learning how to read food labels. For those aspiring young chefs out there, help them to create their very own cookbook that features healthy recipes, and introduce them to some television personalities that promote healthy eating, so that they have positive role models to look up to.

mom and kid exercising
Make Exercise Fun
The recommended amount of physical activity for children is one hour a day, but with children these days spending more and more time indoors, this can be quite difficult for some parents to implement. The key here is ensuring that physical activity is always fun for your kids, and perhaps starting off with a smaller amount before gradually building this up as their fitness levels improve. There are many activities out there that children can get involved in, from dancing to cycling to team sports. For younger children, fun games such as tag or hide and seek will keep them on the move, while older children may enjoy the challenge of a fitness app that tracks their steps.

Positive influence
Be a Positive Influence
Your children will look up to you as a role model, so you need to make sure that you are providing them with a positive influence to follow. This means that, not only should your children be making healthy food choices and staying active, but so should the rest of the family. By working on a healthy lifestyle together, you will increase your chances of success, as you will have so much extra support, and it will also help with family bonding. When it comes to picking out rewards for your children, do not veer towards the standard, unhealthy, choices, such as extra television time, and opt instead for a reward that is in line with your healthy living practices, such as a family outing to the local national park.

As a parent, there are many ways in which you can encourage your children to be making healthy choices from a young age. By doing so, you will be helping to set healthy habits that they will be able to carry with them for the rest of their lives.