Regular exercise increases your muscle strength and bone density, and boosts your energy. This can help you avoid accidents such as falls, and improve your resilience as you get older.
Studies show that people who are physically active enjoy a longer life. You don’t need to be an elite athlete to reap these benefits.
People who regularly engage in physical activity have a much lower risk of developing a wide range of long-term (chronic) conditions. These include cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity and even some cancers, such as breast and colorectal. They also have a much lower risk of stress, clinical depression and dementia. In fact, a lack of regular exercise is now considered one of the leading independent risk factors for mortality – ranking right up there with smoking and high blood pressure.
The exact amount of exercise that improves your life expectancy isn’t exactly clear, but most studies suggest that a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week is better than nothing. That is around a little more than an hour of brisk walking each day. However, the more you exercise, the better, with some studies indicating that the optimal amount is closer to 700 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week – four times the official recommendation.
Exercise stimulates certain brain chemicals that may leave you feeling more relaxed, allowing you to better cope with stress. Physical activity may even prevent the negative effects of chronic stress by improving your physical health and heart function.
Moreover, regular exercise may increase your resilience to the negative effects of stress by helping you deal with it in healthy ways such as through regular physical activity rather than drinking or using drugs. It may also increase the number and strength of your immune cells to ward off disease.
Despite the common impression that you need to devote hours to grueling gym workouts or long, arduous runs to reap the benefits of physical activity, all you really need is moderate exercise. Studies have shown that just two to three 2-minute bursts of movement, three times a day significantly reduce the risks of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and even lengthen lifespans. In addition to this, you should incorporate muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days of the week that work all major muscles groups.
Exercise increases energy by promoting the release of hormones and neurotransmitters that metabolize nutrients and increase your body’s use of glucose for fuel. It also helps prevent peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels, which can cause fatigue.
In addition, research suggests that physical activity can help reduce stress and improve mood. When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can significantly lower the risk of many diseases and conditions including heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression and obesity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity, aerobic physical activity each week. It is also recommended that adults do muscle-strengthening activities at least twice per week. Moderate-intensity physical activity includes walking, swimming, cycling, dancing and yoga. Vigorous-intensity activities include running and participating in a fitness class.
In addition to the many health benefits of routine physical activity, it can also boost your self-esteem and mood, improve sleep quality and energy. It can also reduce the risk of stress, clinical depression and dementia. In fact, exercise can increase your brain’s cognition and memory by improving the flow of blood to your brain.
All adults need at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of muscle strengthening exercise. This can be as simple as walking for 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. Even small increases in physical activity have significant mental and emotional health benefits for everyone. It is not a substitute for mental health treatment when needed, but it is an important part of your overall well-being. It can also improve your ability to cope with life’s challenges and help you manage stress in a healthy way.Read More
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat approach to eating that has become popular as a weight loss tool. However, it may not be a healthy way to lose weight because it cuts out whole food groups, such as legumes, fruit and some vegetables. It also requires consuming a lot of meat which may lead to an increased risk of heart disease, blood pressure and blood sugar. Additionally, using artificial sweeteners can disrupt gut health and leads to nutrient deficiencies.
The keto diet can be beneficial for those with certain health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome (a cluster of risk factors that includes abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol). But eliminating carbs from fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and other healthy foods is not sustainable for most people in the long term.
Many popular celebrities like LeBron James and Miley Cyrus are embracing the Paleo diet. This eating plan is based on the notion that humans are best adapted to foods available in the stone age.
The diet encourages a variety of lean meats (ideally grass-fed), fish, eggs, fruits, nuts and vegetables while excluding dairy, legumes, grains, processed sugars and potatoes. Some people may also consume honey and alternative flours.
The Paleo diet can help you lose weight by eliminating a large number of empty calories. It can also improve your energy levels by removing foods that are linked to poor energy and moods. However, it removes healthy foods such as legumes and whole grains that have been linked to reduced inflammation and lower risk of chronic diseases.
Many people are seeking ways to lose weight and improve their health in a healthy way. A low-carb diet can be a great option for some because it restricts carbohydrates while increasing protein and fat, which can help people feel fuller longer. It may also help to ease symptoms of diabetes, reduce blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol and triglyceride numbers.
However, there are a few concerns about this type of eating pattern. One is that it may be difficult for people to meet their daily nutritional needs because it severely limits the amount of carbohydrates they can consume. This may lead to nutrient deficiencies and other health problems. Another concern is that it could increase the risk of heart disease and some cancers, according to a recent study.
A high fat diet is a diet that gets its calories from fats, including saturated and unsaturated fats. Some proponents of the high fat diet claim that eating a high-fat diet causes you to burn more calories and helps you lose weight.
But, this has been proven to be untrue. One study found that when people were given the flexibility to eat as much as they wanted, those who consumed a high-fat diet actually ate more calories than those in a low-fat diet.
The reason for this is that most of the foods in a high-fat diet are filled with sugar. When you eat too many sugary foods, your body will store the excess glucose as fat.
Vegetarians and vegans eschew animal flesh, including meat, fish, dairy and eggs, but do eat plant products like beans, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. These healthy, plant-based diets are typically lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease.
Some people choose to follow a vegan diet out of concerns for animal welfare. They believe that millions of sentient animals are confined, bred and slaughtered to satisfy our taste buds. They also argue that cows produce more greenhouse gases than plants do, so eliminating them from the diet helps reduce our environmental footprint. But there are other reasons to go vegan, such as saving money on food costs and improving health.Read More
Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods that provide high amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. While there is no standard definition for what qualifies as a superfood, some common examples include kale, salmon, berries and kefir.
You can incorporate these health-boosting foods into your diet by making simple swaps. For example, swap guacamole for avocado on your next salad or try a smashed berry and avocado smoothie.
Everyone knows that eating multiple servings of fruits each day is an important part of a healthy diet. However, not all fruit is the same. Each one contains distinctive vitamins, minerals and chemical compounds that work together to support your health in different ways.
Acai berries are rich in antioxidants, which help combat free radicals that cause oxidative stress and can lead to a variety of chronic diseases. They are also high in fiber and healthy fats, including Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.
These little berries are also packed with amino acids, which are absorbed quickly by the body to promote muscle growth and boost energy levels. They are the perfect snack for post-workout recovery.
Berry fruits—like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, bilberries and raspberries—provide potassium, vitamin C, folate, pantothenic acid, manganese, fiber and anthocyanins. They also contain quercetin and myricetin, two flavonoids that help lower your risk for heart disease (1, 2).
The anthocyanins in blueberries combat oxidative stress and inflammation, which are factors for chronic illness, according to research published in 2021 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. These little bite-size berries also boost insulin sensitivity, guard against macular degeneration and help improve brain function, per a 2019 review in the journal Molecular Neurobiology. Plus, they supply 3.6 grams of fiber per cup, which helps support bowel regularity and prevent constipation.
A staple of the Mediterranean Diet, cinnamon is known for reducing inflammation, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It also has prebiotic properties that can promote gut health.
Cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid are bioactive compounds found in cinnamon that prevent oxidation of fat cells. This reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides and helps control blood pressure.
One study found that an aqueous extract of cinnamon bark significantly inhibited tau aggregation and filament formation, two features of Alzheimer’s disease . Add some spice to oatmeal, coffee or smoothies. It’s also a great topping for baked apples or pumpkin-apple chia muffins. Store spices in a cool, dark place.
Many people think of salad when they hear the word leafy greens, but these healthy foods are much more than just a standard lettuce and veggie dish. Leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses that help reduce risk for health conditions like stroke, anemia, high blood pressure and cancer, while boosting immunity, heart, bone and eye health.
Some examples of leafy greens include kale, spinach, broccoli sprouts, bok choy and watercress. You can add them to salads, fold into an omelet, steam or roast them and even use them to make delicious chips! Plus, they’re low in calories and provide vitamin A, C, K, and folate, as well as potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium.
Whether you eat it raw or cooked, this leafy green superfood has tons of benefits. It’s low in calories and contains many nutrients such as vitamins K, A, and C, minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron, and antioxidants.
FRN lead dietitian Nichole Dandrea-Russert, MS, RDN, loves to massage 2-3 cups of kale leaves (reserving the stems for another meal) with lemon and olive oil. She adds other veggies and some protein for a complete meal.
A cup of kale provides vitamin K, a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin (which can reduce age-related macular degeneration), and some vitamin A (good for eye health). It’s also high in potassium, which is needed to make the blood able to carry oxygen.
Swiss Chard is a green leafy vegetable rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs. It can be eaten raw or added to stews, soups, salads, stir-fries, frittatas and pastas. It may help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, promote weight loss and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
It is rich in vitamin K that is required for proper blood clotting and various cellular functions. It is also a good source of vitamin C and contains magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and potassium.
It is also rich in carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that protect against eye disorders like macular degeneration and glaucoma. It also has a range of phenolic compounds and flavonoids that fight free radical damage and inflammation.Read More
Mindfulness is a practice that requires dedication and time, but it is possible to integrate into your daily life. By developing awareness of your environment and internal state, you can build stability and clarity of mind.
Throughout the day, look for opportunities to be mindful. Notice sounds, smells, tastes, touch and sensations — even when doing mundane tasks like washing dishes or sweeping the floor.
Breathing exercises are an easy way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine. The goal is to focus on your breath, letting it calm the mind and relax the body. You can do this while driving, eating, or even cleaning the house.
Another simple mindfulness exercise is to practice progressive muscle relaxation. This involves tensing and releasing each part of your body, one at a time.
Another breathing exercise that incorporates mindfulness is anchoring your attention on your breath and counting each inhale and exhale. This can be done sitting or standing, and can be as short or long as you want. The more you practice this technique, the easier it will become. Even one minute of mindful breathing can help eliminate distraction, release negative thoughts, and quiet a racing mind.
As you move throughout your day, be aware of the sights, sounds, smells and tastes around you. Notice how your body feels when you wash the dishes, the sensation of the wind blowing through your hair, or the warmth of a hot shower on your skin.
Instead of getting impatient in a checkout line, take that moment to notice the sights, sounds and smells around you. You might even play the “move and freeze” game: blindfold yourself, let your body move freely until someone yells “freeze,” then notice how you feel once you’re back in place.
It can be hard to build a mindfulness habit in our culture of hyper-productivity. But you can start small and practice wherever you are: a walk around the block, while eating, or before a presentation at work.
Meditation can be done anywhere and at any time. It involves consciously and intentionally focusing on the present moment over and over again.
This can be a formal type of meditation, like the one mentioned above, but it also can be as simple as counting your breaths or engaging in sensory exercises. For example, a body scan meditation is when you systematically pay attention to the sensations in your body, starting at the toes and working your way up.
Another form of mindfulness is active listening, which can be practiced when you’re having a conversation with someone and giving them your full attention. This can help you retain information and build stronger relationships with others. It can also help you understand and address patterns of negative thinking, such as catastrophizing and personalizing.
Writing in a journal is an excellent mindfulness practice that can help you understand your thoughts and feelings. You can choose a journal with prompts if you’re new to the practice or a blank journal if you want more freedom to express yourself. Choose a time of day that works best for you, such as the morning or evening.
Engaging in mindful activities can help you connect with others and become more aware of your body, mind, and emotions. Being aware of what you’re doing can also help you make better choices when it comes to your health, such as avoiding fast food and opting for a walk. Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine can help you feel calm and grounded, even in the midst of a hectic lifestyle.
The benefits of mindfulness are widespread, including improved decision-making and conflict resolution, better concentration, lowered blood pressure, reduced stress levels, increased pain tolerance, enhanced creativity, and more. It has also been linked to reduced anxiety, depression, and PTSD, as well as improved physical health, sleep, and mood.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness on your own. You can do it in a meditative setting or during everyday activities such as walking or cooking. Just pause and notice your surroundings, and be aware of the sights, sounds, smells, and touch sensations.
Connecting to your inner world through mindful practices can trigger uncomfortable or distressing emotions, so it’s important to work with a mental health professional who is trained in trauma-informed mindfulness practices. A therapist can provide emotional tools that will help you cope with any negative effects and make mindfulness a permanent part of your life.Read More
Stress can be a powerful force in the lives of individuals and organizations. When unmanaged, it can undermine relationships and contribute to physical health problems and mental illness.
Fortunately, there are several methods to manage and reduce stress. Short-term stress relief strategies focus on calming the body’s reaction to a specific event. Long-term stress reduction techniques are based on addressing the root cause of the problem.
Almost everyone can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. These strategies help to slow your breathing and focus your attention on a calming or comforting image or place. They can also help you become more aware of your stress warning signs. There are many ways to learn these relaxation techniques, and you should practice them regularly. Complementary and integrative health specialists and mental health providers can teach you, or you can find self-help guides or classes in your community.
One of the easiest techniques is to close your eyes and use diaphragmatic breathing, focusing on the inhale and exhale. Try repeating a calming phrase to yourself. You can also imagine a relaxing location such as a beach, waterfall or forest to relax. Sufficient sleep is critical to nurture your mental and emotional well-being, so strive for 7-9 hours of restful sleep per night.
Managing stress is important for our mental and physical health. Stress is a normal physical and psychological response to change in a situation that our bodies and minds find challenging or overwhelming. It can help us cope with difficulty, but long-term negative stress can contribute to poor health outcomes like chest pain or depression.
According to the ADAA’s online poll, 14 percent of students use exercise as their primary stress management technique. Other popular coping mechanisms include talking to friends or family; watching TV or movies; eating, sleeping and listening to music. Independent samples t-tests and linear regression models showed that four PSS-10 items significantly predicted whether or not students used exercise as a stress management tool. The predictors were gender, race/ethnicity and GPA.
Many people turn to food to comfort themselves during times of high stress. Eating a healthy diet that includes protein (fish, lean meats, poultry, eggs), whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts can help support mental health.
When stressed, your body releases hormones like cortisol and insulin that can ramp up hunger and cravings for unhealthy foods. Sugary foods may provide a temporary energy boost, but the blood sugar crash that follows can make you feel worse in the long run.
A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you establish a healthy eating pattern that supports your mental and emotional well-being. A balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients including antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and magnesium (found in leafy greens, avocados, beans and nuts) can help manage stress.
Getting enough sleep is key to overcoming stress and maintaining a balanced life. A good night’s rest can reduce day-to-day worries, lower blood pressure, and even alleviate the symptoms of certain health conditions.
Stress management techniques can include things like positive reappraisal and putting the situation in perspective, which help to lower depression and anxiety symptoms. Practicing mindfulness and engaging in guided meditation can also help.
Everyone faces stress in their daily lives, and high levels of unwanted stress can impact our overall sense of well-being and even contribute to mental illness. But it’s important to recognize when we need to take steps to improve our quality of life. The first step is identifying the sources of stress. Often, it’s easy to identify big stressors such as a job change or divorce, but everyday habits can be hard to pinpoint.
Positive thinking is a mental and emotional attitude of expecting good results. It doesn’t mean seeing the world through rose-colored glasses or ignoring unpleasantness. It’s about approaching stressful situations more productively and avoiding unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Identify negative self-talk, and replace it with positive thoughts. If a negative thought pops into your mind, correct it right away and practice redirecting your attention to something more constructive.
Avoid black-and-white thinking, where every outcome is either good or bad and there’s no middle ground. Life is more complicated than that, and many things have shades of gray. Medical professionals are often faced with unforeseen events that they cannot control, such as an emergency surgery or the death of a patient. Practicing positive thinking can help medical professionals cope with these situations and reduce their stress levels.Read More
Each person has a unique network of microorganisms that is determined by their DNA. Most of these bacteria are friendly and have a symbiotic relationship with the body, but some can be pathogenic (causing disease).
A healthy gut requires eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while avoiding processed foods, artificial sweeteners and excess salt. It also involves drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly.
The gut microbiome refers to the collection of bacteria and other microscopic organisms that live in our intestines. These microbes are responsible for many of our body’s processes, including digestion, hormone regulation and immune system function. They also influence our mood and emotions.
In simple terms, a microbiome is a community of commensal, symbiotic or pathogenic microorganisms that live together in a defined habitat with unique physio-chemical properties. Microbiomes have a huge impact on the health of our bodies and our lives.
Studies have shown that people with lower levels of good bacteria in their intestines have more symptoms related to stress, depression and anxiety than those with higher amounts. Researchers believe that this may be because certain species of bacteria produce chemicals that send messages to the brain through millions of nerves in our gastrointestinal tract. Exercise and a nutritious diet can improve the overall balance of our gut microbiome.
Your gut microbiome influences pretty much everything that goes on in your body. It impacts your digestion, immune system, mood, sleep cycle, and more. Nourishing this ecosystem helps your overall wellness and can even prevent many health conditions.
Each person has a unique set of microorganisms that make up their gut microbiome. These microorganisms are determined by the genes inherited from their mother and then further modified through diet and other environmental factors. The balance of friendly microorganisms and pathogenic ones is critical for normal functioning.
The composition of the microbiome can be influenced by eating healthy foods and avoiding unhealthy foods. The types of bacteria in the digestive tract are influenced by diet, especially when it comes to proteins, fats, digestible and non-digestible carbohydrates, probiotics, polyphenols, and phytochemicals. Studies demonstrating the impact of specific dietary components on gut microbiota composition have included randomized controlled trials, cross-sectional studies, and case-control studies. Various diets such as vegan, vegetarian, and omnivorous diets have been shown to significantly alter the gut microbiota.
Your gut microbes play a major role in mental health. They allow nutrients to enter the body and keep opportunistic pathogens out. They also produce neurotransmitters that impact your mood and stress response.
Mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are associated with less diverse gut microbiota and lower levels of bacteria that promote anti-inflammation, according to a 2020 study published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews. Other factors that can lead to imbalances in the gut microbiota include exposure to antibiotics, medications and comorbid conditions.
Researchers have discovered that gut bacteria send signals to the brain through a special cell type known as the vagus nerve. These cells sit in the lining of the gut and form a synapselike connection with nerves that run throughout the body. Scientists believe that microbial molecules secreted by the gut bacteria travel through these nerves to reach the brain, where they affect cognitive function and mood. The good news is that you can balance your gut microbes by eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep and exercising regularly.
In a healthy gut, bacteria help digest food, metabolize nutrients and reduce inflammation. They also produce vitamins, antioxidants and neurotransmitters. But if the balance is upset, the microbes can become pathogenic, which leads to illness.
Eating a diet rich in both prebiotic and probiotic foods helps boost the number of good bacteria, which can reduce inflammation and stimulate the gut’s natural immune system. This means eating more fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso and kombucha.
Regular exercise also can improve gut health. In one study, researchers found that participants who regularly engaged in three 30-60 minute sessions of aerobic exercise, such as running on the treadmill or cycling, had healthier gut bacteria.
Other ways to support a healthy gut include maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before bed, and practicing good sleep hygiene. Getting enough sleep allows your body to regulate hormones, including those involved in gut-brain communication.Read More
Like a well-rehearsed orchestra, your immune system works at its best when all components are working together. You can give it a boost by incorporating nutrient-rich foods into your diet and practicing well-studied healthy habits.
Leafy greens are rich in Vitamin C, antioxidants and other nutrients that support the immune system. Try them in salads and stews.
There’s no one superfood or supplement that can boost immunity, but a healthy diet is key. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which offer nutrients like Vitamin C and E that help support immune function.
Also add in protein-rich foods, like berries, nuts, hummus, fish, eggs and poultry. The amino acids in these foods help build and maintain immune cells, explains the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Exercise, too, helps to strengthen the body’s defenses. A moderate amount of aerobic activity, like brisk walking, can activate immune cells and increase the strength of cellular immunity, a 2019 study suggests. Just make sure to get your doctor’s okay before starting a new exercise program. And don’t overdo it; too much physical activity can actually decrease immune function.
There are lots of pills, drinks and super foods that claim to boost immune function. But the truth is that it’s hard to directly link any one of these with healthy immunity. The immune system is a complex and interconnected system, and what researchers know about it is still limited.
But there are some basic habits that can help, such as getting enough sleep and exercising regularly. Moderate, regular physical activity boosts levels of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies and also reduces stress hormones that can depress immunity.
Just be sure to avoid over-exercising, as that can have the opposite effect and suppress immunity. And try to cut down on the amount of processed and sugary foods you eat, as these can also weaken your defenses.
Like a well-tuned orchestra, your immune system relies on a balance of lifelong habits to function optimally. Immune health expert and registered dietitian Julia Zumpano explains that “The innate immune system, our first line of defense, is composed of several essential white blood cells.”
These first-line cells help restrict access to the body by targeting bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. If these initial efforts fail, the acquired immune system will kick into gear, attacking invaders with targeted white blood cells that kill intruders and create antibodies to prevent future infections.
Exercise is a big part of this equation. Studies show that moderate-intensity workouts stimulate cellular immunity, so aim to get active daily. And make sure to rest in between sessions as well.
While there is much we still don’t know about the immune system, we do know that it is important to take a multivitamin. Vitamins and minerals are needed for the body to function properly, but many people may not be getting enough in their diet.
Taking the time to exercise regularly can also help strengthen your immunity. Research suggests that moderate-intensity exercise such as a brisk walk daily activates different types of immune cells and allows them to circulate more quickly, potentially detecting illnesses and attacking invading microbes before they can do much damage (2).
However, it is important not to overdo exercise. Exercising too hard and too long can actually suppress your immune system, putting you at greater risk of infection. For this reason, it is best to focus on moderate-intensity exercise for most people.
As we enter the heart of cold and flu season, it’s important to keep our immune systems working at full capacity. There are many ways to do this, and while supplements may play a role, incorporating well-studied healthy habits like getting enough sleep, eating a nutrient-rich diet and exercising regularly can help.
A simple glass of water is a great immune system booster, especially when infused with lemon or other citrus fruit. Vitamin C boosts the immune system and improves circulation.
Zinc is a key nutrient for white blood cells, the intrepid immune system cells that seek out and destroy invading bacteria and viruses. Foods high in zinc include lean meat, oysters and pork. Vitamin E is another important nutrient for immune function. It’s found in a wide variety of foods, including avocado, dark leafy greens and nuts.Read More
While genetics play a role in heart problems, many can be prevented or delayed by eating a healthy diet, not smoking and getting regular exercise. Keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels in the normal range also can help prevent heart disease.
The six key lifestyle changes to supporting cardiovascular wellness include: eat a whole-food, plant-predominant diet, limit alcohol consumption, get regular physical activity and sleep well.
While many risk factors for heart disease cannot be changed, your diet is a factor that can. A heart-healthy diet can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels, control diabetes and maintain a healthy weight.
A heart-healthy diet limits red meat, which is a source of saturated fat, and instead emphasizes foods that are high in plant proteins such as nuts, seeds and legumes. You should also choose lower-fat dairy products and cook with vegetable oils like olive or canola, rather than butter.
Finally, a heart-healthy diet limits added sugars, which add calories without essential nutrients, and sodium, which can increase blood pressure and make your heart work harder. You can make these changes by starting with one change, such as replacing butter with olive oil, and gradually adding other healthy habits to your routine.
A diet based on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins can greatly improve heart health and help control other controllable risk factors like blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. It’s also important to limit sodium and saturated fats and opt for unsaturated fats.
Regular physical activity also helps to strengthen the heart. Just like other muscles, the heart requires exercise to stay strong and healthy, but when it isn’t used regularly, it can become weak and diseased.
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking or swimming, each week. If that isn’t feasible, try to incorporate small bursts of exercise throughout the day — take the stairs instead of an elevator or walk your dog. You may even consider interval training, which alternates brief bouts of intense exercise with short recovery periods.
Smoking causes chemicals to build up in your body, which can damage your heart and blood vessels. It also lowers oxygen levels, which makes it harder for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. As a result, smokers have twice the risk of heart disease as nonsmokers.
Quitting smoking has a direct effect on reducing your risks of heart disease. The benefits of quitting begin almost immediately. It decreases your risk of a heart attack, and it slows the progression of atherosclerosis.
Tobacco cessation also improves your lung function. This is important because it helps to prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). It also reduces your risk of stroke and other conditions. It may even reverse some plaque deposits in your arteries. It’s best to work with your primary care provider to develop an effective strategy for quitting smoking.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America. While some risk factors, such as family history or sex at birth, can’t be changed, there are many ways to help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
Getting a good night’s sleep can be just as important for heart health as exercise, diet and not smoking. In fact, a recent study found that adults who sleep seven to nine hours each night have a lower risk of developing hardening of the arteries than those who don’t get enough sleep.
A lack of sleep increases your chances of developing calcium buildup in the arteries and can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. These factors increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
While you can’t change some risk factors for heart disease (such as age, family history or sex at birth), there are plenty of things you can do to protect your heart. Changing your diet to one based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and protein is a great start.
A healthy diet also helps lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol and keep excess weight under control. Avoid salty foods and processed food to avoid high sodium levels, which increase your risk of developing heart problems.
Drinking water is another important part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Make sure to drink enough to stay hydrated, especially when spending time outside on a hot day or exercising. Incorporate other beverages that are rich in water such as low-fat milk, 100% fruit or vegetable juice and herbal teas, avoiding those with added sugars.Read More
Adding exercise to a busy schedule may seem impossible, but it is not. With a bit of strategy, flexibility, and a mindset shift, it is entirely doable.
Encourage clients to make their workouts a non-negotiable appointment by writing them down in their calendar. In addition, encourage them to use lunch breaks or short breaks throughout the day for a brisk walk or bodyweight exercises.
HIIT workouts are short and intense, typically lasting between 10 to 30 minutes. They incorporate short bursts of high-intensity exercises such as mountain climbers, push-ups, or jump squats separated with low-intensity periods to maximize the body’s calorie burn. HIIT workouts also promote overall muscle-toning and can be done using body weight only which makes them easy to integrate into busy schedules.
HIIT is an ideal exercise method for busy professionals because it provides the same impact as an hour-long session but in a shorter timeframe. In addition, the intensity of HIIT workouts helps to promote a fast metabolism that will continue burning calories long after your exercise session is complete. This type of workout requires a thorough warm-up that includes light cardio exercises like jogging in place or jumping jacks to increase blood flow and decrease the risk of injury before the intense exercise session begins. Workouts should be performed two to three times a week and allow at least 48 hours between sessions to ensure proper recovery.
A fitness routine is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. It improves physical strength and stamina, enhances mental clarity and boosts energy levels. For busy professionals, it may be challenging to make time for exercise, but with efficient time management strategies and effective workout options, it’s possible to incorporate fitness into daily routines.
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is an ideal exercise option for busy professionals. With short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest periods, HIIT provides an efficient cardiovascular workout that maximizes calorie burn and promotes healthy weight loss.
Another effective workout option for busy professionals is circuit training. This type of body conditioning involves endurance and resistance training. It is performed in a group setting and is often instructor-led. This allows beginners to get feedback and correct any errors in technique. Additionally, it helps to motivate beginners through extrinsic factors like a sense of community and social support. Lastly, it can be done at a time convenient to the individual’s schedule, such as early morning or during lunch breaks.
Bodyweight exercises are a great alternative for busy people who want to keep up with their workouts while on the go, or don’t have access to a gym. They are flexible in time and space, affordable (no need for expensive equipment or memberships), and intense. They also provide a variety of movements to target different muscle groups, and are easy to modify depending on your fitness level. Examples include burpees, push-ups in all of their varieties, mountain climbers, squats, free bicep curls, and jumping jacks.
Total-body bodyweight workouts will build and tone your muscles, and burn calories that last for hours after the exercise session. Add a short bodyweight routine to your daily schedule, or try incorporating one of the high-intensity interval training workouts that have been proven to be so effective in the gym and at home for busy professionals. These workouts can be performed in less than 30 minutes, and will help you make that healthy lifestyle a priority.
Adding a workout routine to a busy schedule is often a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right tools, a healthy lifestyle is achievable from the comfort of home.
HIIT, bodyweight training and yoga can all help improve flexibility, build muscle mass, burn calories and even promote weight loss. They can be performed anywhere with little to no equipment like kettlebells or dumbbells.
A key to success is to start with manageable workouts and progressively challenge yourself as you grow in strength and endurance. This prevents injury and mental fatigue and fosters a long-term commitment to fitness. Ultimately, any exercise is better than nothing at all. A sedentary lifestyle is a serious health crisis that can have just as detrimental effects as smoking. It is time to take control and make the commitment to a healthier life. The results will be well worth it. Start with one of these effective workouts for busy professionals and see how much better you feel.Read More
Nutrition is the foundation for achieving fitness goals, supporting muscle recovery, and weight management. It involves a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and hydration.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy during exercise. Consuming a carbohydrate rich food or liquid about an hour before workouts optimizes energy levels and reduces fatigue.
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel for exercise. When you eat carbs, they are broken down into sugar and then absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose, where it is used for energy during workouts. Insufficient carbohydrate intake can impair performance.
Healthy carbohydrates provide energy for workouts and can also supply nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates are found in foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and legumes. They should be a large portion of the overall diet.
It is generally recommended to consume a small amount of carbohydrates (around 50-75 grams) within 30 minutes of starting your workout. The majority of these carbs should be high-glycemic carbs, such as fruit juice, a sports drink, a banana or a slice of toast. These carbs enter the body faster and spike insulin, helping to transport fuel to working muscles. The high-glycemic carbs should also be eaten regularly to keep energy levels consistent and allow for steady progress toward fitness goals.
Proteins are the darling of exercise nutrition, with many high-protein beverages, bars, and cookies touting their effects on workout performance. While it may seem that proteins are over-hyped, they are critical for muscle recovery after a sweat session and to maintain muscle mass.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel for long bouts of endurance training, while protein is important for muscle repair and growth. It’s also important to note that consuming carbs and protein together (pre- and post-workout) enhances protein synthesis and prevents a decline in energy levels during prolonged exercise.
Choose lean meats, dairy products, fish, tofu, eggs, whole grains and legumes as a source of protein. The essential amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine are also beneficial because they independently stimulate protein synthesis during exercise. Consuming foods and/or drinks rich in these amino acids prior to resistance exercise enhances muscle protein synthesis.
As the body’s primary source of energy for low-to-moderate intensity exercises, fats help maintain endurance and prevent premature fatigue. Fats are also a key player in muscle repair and growth, providing essential amino acids that are broken down to fuel your muscles during exercise.
Healthy fats can be a great addition to your pre-workout nutrition as they digest more slowly, which can help delay the depletion of glycogen stores and keep energy levels steady throughout your workout. However, it’s important to avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans fats such as rib-eye steaks, whole milk, full-fat yogurt, bacon and fried chicken.
Since protein takes the longest time to digest, you should aim to consume it within a couple hours of your workout so that it can provide energy and support muscle repair. Good sources of protein include fish, skinless poultry, skim or low-fat milk, eggs, tofu and beans.
Water is the best drink for your body to satisfy thirst and replace fluid lost during exercise. It’s natural, free, readily available, and contains no kilojoules. Drink it before and during exercise, but avoid high sugar sports drinks.
Intake of macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – directly impacts energy levels during workouts. Carbohydrates are your primary source of fuel and help you maintain endurance, while protein supports muscle repair and growth. Fats provide a backup energy source and also regulate hormones that impact performance.
Proper nutrition also includes the intake of micronutrients – vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – that support overall health, aid in muscle recovery and optimize performance. Focus on eating a variety of whole, nutrient-dense foods and monitor calorie intake to manage weight and meet nutritional needs. It’s important to start with small, realistic nutrition and hydration goals that are sustainable. As your fitness level and needs change, tweak your goals accordingly.Read More