Finding the Time To Workout

Finding the time to workout and remain physically active can be a struggle. The modern pressures and 24-hour grabs for people’s attention seem to undermine every health mantra, leaving many unaware of or unable to secure the benefits of routine exercise.

Most people understand that exercise is good for them, that it ensures coordination, mobility, and sustained strength during the aging process. The challenge is demonstrating how exercise is essential, especially when people already struggle to prioritize family, work, and friendship into the all-too-short 24-hour day.

Thankfully, an exercise routine can fit into your current schedule. There are at least five ways to embrace a healthy and active lifestyle without interfering too much with your existing plans.

1. Exercise During Your Commute or Errands

Many people do not consider how much time they spend commuting from one place to another, using trains, subways, cars, etc. Instead of spending that time sedentary, consider using it to exercise. For instance, many people bike to work, which is an excellent way to get aerobic exercise while practicing balance and endurance. Depending on your physical capabilities, you can choose to walk, run, or bike to the grocery store or perform other errands. While it might seem extreme, converting your commute into an opportunity for exercise is one of the best and most effective uses of your time. However, you will need to consider where you can shower once you arrive at work.

2. Embrace a Schedule

Most people schedule everything nowadays. Why should exercise be any different? Think of your physical activity as a crucial meeting or another unavoidable requirement and pencil it into your calendar.

People often overestimate how much time they need to exercise on any given day. 20 to 30 minutes of moderate activity is the requirement for most adults, meaning that the government recommends about two and a half hours of exercise every week.


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3. Get Up Early

There is a solution if you cannot find the time during your existing schedule to exercise: get up earlier. Instead of waking up at seven, set your alarm a half-hour earlier. By waking up slightly earlier, you can guarantee you have enough time in your day to exercise, achieving the recommended 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Join a Gym

Some people need a little encouragement or incentive to workout. If you are one of those people, consider joining a local gym. Many people will go to the gym when they are paying for it, but remember to find a convenient and close place. If you select a gym that is out of the way, it becomes an excuse to avoid it.

5. Change Your Mindset

Most people need to change their mindset about exercise. Too many individuals see exercise as an obligation and not something enjoyable. Healthy activity can be challenging, but the key is to look beyond the activity. What does exercise enable you to do? How will it benefit you now and in the future? The key is to find the joy and motivation in the practice and routine, to change your mindset, and embrace a healthy lifestyle.

In the end, finding time to exercise is about dedication and searching for small opportunities. Do you have a routine that helps you stay healthy? Leave a comment below.

The Importance of Staying Active and How To Start an Exercise Routine

While many people love to say that age is just a number, aging does involve muscular decline, especially when seniors ignore the many benefits of routine exercise. A sedentary life is not beneficial to an aging body; muscle deteriorates, bones and joints lose flexibility and mobility, and balance is nearly nonexistent. To prevent the dangers and postpone the natural decline of aging, people must stay active.

Now, an active lifestyle does not mean that you need to go out and join a track team or play sports unless that is something that interests you. Staying active is about using the muscles and body you have to ensure continued mobility and strength. Despite the initial exhaustion, routine exercise can lead to increased energy, but there are a few things to keep in mind before you start.

Always Talk With Your Doctor

There is an eagerness that often accompanies life changes and choices. While you might be excited to begin an exercise routine, you mustn't challenge yourself too much initially. Depending on your current lifestyle and activity level, an exercise routine could lead to complications.

Before you begin a new exercise regimen, contact your primary care physician. Let them know what you want to do, and ask them if they think it is a good idea. Most likely, any doctor will encourage you to adopt healthier habits, but they might be cautious of a full-on exercise routine for sedentary and overweight people.

Instead of encouraging you to ramp up your exercise, a doctor might encourage you to start slow, introducing one new activity at a time until your body gets used to it.


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2 Hours and 30 Minutes Is an Excellent Goal

A healthy and aging adult should aim for two hours and thirty minutes of exercise per week, which averages out to about 20 to 30 minutes of activity per day. The goal is to complete that time using moderate-intensity-aerobic-activity. For instance, a brisk walk, dancing, raking leaves, or swimming are excellent examples of this activity.

Again, you want to focus on your existing ability. While you might want to do thirty consecutive minutes of moderate-activity, you might need to break that into three 10 minute sessions. Also, moderate exercise is not the same for everyone. Some people might be able to walk for a mile briskly, but others can only handle a few blocks. Knowing your limitations is crucial to ensuring you exercise without injury or burnout.

Exercise Schedule

An aging person has different obligations than a youngster. While someone young might only focus on strength training, an older person might need to focus more heavily on balance, coordination, and flexibility. There is no right or wrong way to create an exercise routine, as long as it focuses on health and safety. However, the typical suggestion for older people is two days of muscle strengthening and three days of balance and coordination.

Strength training does not have to be free weights, which could be dangerous for older people; instead, some experts suggest tension bands, dumbells, or machines. The other days of balance and coordination can utilize practices like yoga.

While age is technically only a number if you want to stay active and independent as you get older, consider a stable and habitual exercise routine. What do you do to stay healthy? Leave a comment below.

Don’t Miss These 6 Perks of Cold-Pressed Juice

Cold-pressed juices are the latest health craze sweeping online influencers, not to mention your fittest friends. While you've probably already enjoyed fresh-squeezed juice from a farm stand or your own kitchen, cold-pressed juice is a category all its own.

The difference is in the production. Fresh-squeezed juice relies on a centrifugal juicer, which removes the good stuff from your produce with a fast-spinning blade. However, the speed of the blade also creates heat and allows air to enter the mixture. These factors create oxidation, which can deplete the vitamins and nutrients in your morning beverage.

A cold-pressed juicer preserves the good stuff with a hydraulic press that slowly extracts the juice without affecting its quality. This process boosts the nutritional value of your juice by making sure all the minerals and vitamins get into every glass. Jump on the juice express by exploring the health benefits of a refreshing cold-pressed bottle of your faves.

Ample Antioxidants

Compounds called antioxidants help the body fight off free radicals. These environmental pollutants can affect the makeup of our cells, increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Some of the best antioxidant sources to look for in fresh-squeezed juice include broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots and sweet potatoes. Most berries are also rich in these valuable compounds, including strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, blueberries and blackberries.

Cold-pressed tomato juice is an excellent source of an antioxidant called lycopene. Studies show it lowers stroke and heart attack risk. You can't beat beets for an antioxidant called betalain, associated with reduced inflammation, heart disease and cancer risk.

Extra Energy

Green veggies contain a substance called chlorophyll that increases your blood oxygen levels. This effect boosts both your physical stamina and your energy to focus on mental tasks. Before your next big work presentation or exercise sesh, grab a cold-pressed juice that contains ingredients like kale, spinach, parsley, celery and cucumbers.


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Increased Immunity

Cold-pressed juice with ingredients rich in vitamin C can help your body fight off unwanted invaders. Fruits and veggies that provide an immunity boost include broccoli, garlic, beets, celery and carrots. If that sounds a bit pungent for your first meal of the day, look for a brand with about one part fruit to two parts veggies.

Lemon, ginger and cayenne pepper provide a spicy vitamin C combo if you can handle the heat. This cold-pressed juice blend also contains lots of beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Tomato juice is another classic choice with high C content.

As a bonus, vitamin C encourages collagen production. This compound helps the skin retain moisture and elasticity as we age; it also benefits bone, muscle and joint health.

Enhanced Relaxation

A healthy dose of spinach, a popular ingredient in cold-pressed juice, infuses your body with magnesium and amino acid. These nutrients help relax the nerves and muscles, promoting reduced stress and better sleep.

Good Gut Health

If you're in a tropical mood, go for a cold-pressed papaya juice if at all possible. This island fruit is rich in papain, which helps your body process protein. Ginger adds a spicy zing while reducing symptoms like nausea and bloating. If you frequently experience indigestion or constipation, add chopped cabbage to your juice for relief.

Essential Eye Support

Juices that contain cantaloupe, squash, kale, broccoli and carrots have tons of vitamin A. This nutrient helps ward off age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration, which leads to blindness. Vitamin A also supports immune function, strengthens the bones and reduces risk for certain cancers.

The cold-pressing process helps keep the nutrients in the juice so you get even more noticeable benefits from this healthy regimen. When shopping for cold-pressed juice, look for ingredients that address your personal health concerns.

The Rise of Meat-Free Alternatives

These days, those of us who decide to go meat-free have countless options at just about every grocery store. While many vegetarian meals focus on veggies (of course), sometimes a meat alternative can spice up your supper by providing nutrients along with new tastes and textures. If you're new to the land of tofu and seitan, start your search with this guide to my go-to alternatives to my former favorite meats.

Tofu

Popular in Asian fare and a long-time staple of vegetarian diets, tofu is a versatile choice. This soy-based product can be used in place of chicken or beef in a stir-fry since it takes on the flavors of your favored seasonings. Crumbled tofu is ideal for tacos, chili and lasagna. Shop for different textures, including firm, extra-firm and soft. You'll learn which you like best for different purposes as you experiment with tofu.

A 4-oz serving of tofu has just 60 calories but contains multitudes. You'll get your full recommended daily dose of vitamin B12 along with lots of iron and calcium.

Jackfruit

When I decided to limit my meat intake, I truly missed pulled pork barbecue. Now that I found jackfruit, I'll never go back. You'll be shocked at how close this shredded, pulpy fruit mimics the texture of long-smoked pork. Pile it on a bun with your go-to barbecue sauce for an unforgettable meal.

A cup of jackfruit provides most of the major vitamins and minerals, including but not limited to potassium, vitamin C and protein. Each serving is also packed with healthy fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants.


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Tempeh

Another soy-based choice, tempeh provides a "meatier" experience than tofu without sacrificing the nutrients. It can stand up to flavorful marinades and sauces and features a firm texture that works well sliced in a sandwich, salad or wrap. Some varieties incorporate other healthy beans and grains to enhance flavor and texture.

This protein-rich product is free of cholesterol and sodium. You'll get the benefit of B vitamins, calcium and iron.

Seitan

If you eat gluten, consider this wheat-based meat substitute. Seitan has a chewy texture that swaps out seamlessly for beef or chicken in soups, stews, stir-fries and just about any other recipe. I love throwing this so-called "wheat meat" on the grill instead of a traditional veggie burger. The earthy flavor will be a win for mushroom fans.

A 3-oz serving of this selection has just over 100 calories. Seitan is also a low-carb choice that will give you a boost of protein and iron.

Texturized Vegetable Protein

Commonly called TVP, this soy flour product is the cornerstone of all those frozen veggie "chicken" nuggets and other processed options. You can also purchase dehydrated TVP for home use, especially if you want to enhance the protein content in your diet. You can add a scoop to just about any recipe.

Mushrooms

Speaking of mushrooms, these fungi provide a classic crowd-pleasing alternative to meat. Try grilling a portobello instead of a burger or slicing smaller mushroom varieties to give your salad a nutritional punch. This low-cal, high-fiber fare is a smart choice if you're trying to lose weight since mushrooms keep you feeling full.

Science supports the benefits of reducing meat intake. Vegetarians tend to have lower obesity rates, lower risk for heart disease and cancer, and lower cholesterol. Eating less meat is also associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

With all these delicious meat alternatives (and so many more I don't have space to cover), it might be time to give a meat-free diet a try. If you're new to the veggie game, try starting with one meatless meal each week.

Combat Back Pain Symptoms With the Valsalva Maneuver

How often does back pain bring down your day? If you struggle with chronic back pain, stiffness and discomfort, you're far from alone. In fact, this is the most common cause of disability for American adults.

If you're looking for natural relief, you've probably explored supplements, stretching and support pillows, but have you heard of the Valsalva maneuver? This breathing method has been used to enhance relaxation since ancient times, when it was invented to address middle ear infection.

What Is the Valsalva Maneuver?

When you experience pain, your autonomous nervous system causes changes in your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. With the Valsalva maneuver, you can use your breathing to affect these biometrics and bring yourself back into a relaxed state.

Each part of the Valsalva maneuver triggers specific responses in the body. These steps force the blood pressure to quickly rise by forcing blood to circulate. After this spike, the blood slowly flows back from the organs, allowing you to enter a relaxed state as blood pressure returns to normal before dropping for a few moments. At the end of the Valsalva, your blood pressure will rebound again into a normal range.

How Do I Do It?

A successful Valsalva maneuver requires these simple steps:

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. 

  • Take a deep breath and hold it in. 

  • Hold your nose like you're about to jump off the high dive.

  • Keep your mouth closed.

  • Pretend you are blowing up a balloon as you attempt to exhale without opening your nose or mouth.

  • Pretend that you have to go "number two" and bear down just as you would in the ladies' room.

Hold these actions for 10 to 15 seconds before releasing. Try the Valsalva whenever your back pain causes a spike in heart rate. Most people report relief of this pain-related symptom within about 20 minutes.


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Why Does It Work?

While we need more research to truly understand the applications of the Valsalva technique for pain relief, clinical studies support this use of the maneuver. Most current research focuses on pain alleviation during spinal tap and other invasive low-back procedures.

Scientists suspect that Valsalva helps tone the vagus nerve, the main information superhighway in our nervous system. Strengthening the vagus by performing this breathing technique may promote optimal digestion, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and even speech.

You can also take a cue from weight lifters and use the Valsalva maneuver during your workouts. If you lift weights, this trick can help stabilize your core during bench presses, deadlifts, squats and other exercises.

Doctors also use the Valsalva method to diagnose certain cardiac problems. They may recommend this technique for patients who experience a rapid heart rate (tachycardia).

Is It Safe?

Most people can safely perform the Valsalva maneuver. However, ask your doctor first if you have a history of heart health problems, such as high blood pressure or stroke. You should also avoid Valsalva if you have retinopathy or other issues with eye pressure. The first time you do this technique, a health care provider can ensure that you're performing the actions correctly; otherwise, it won't work as expected.

Side effects rarely occur with this maneuver. Some people briefly lose consciousness or feel lightheaded. If the Valsalva maneuver doesn't fix a speeding heartbeat, go to the emergency room if you also have weakness, fainting, lightheadedness, difficulty breathing, or pain in your arm, chest, back, neck or shoulders.

If you frequently experience uncomfortable cardiac symptoms when back pain swells, give the Valsalva a try for relief in those difficult moments. Consider another tool in your arsenal against chronic pain.

4 Changes To Make to Your Beauty Regimen in 2021

The new year is a great time to embrace a new you. As you replace one calendar with another, it only makes sense to replace bad habits with better ones. Here are four changes to consider making to your beauty regimen now that 2020 is finally in your rearview mirror.

1. Skip the Soap at Bedtime

You may already know that you should always wash your face before you crawl under the covers, but did you also know that you should leave the face wash in the medicine cabinet? As women age, their skin’s oil glands slow down. The result? Drier skin. While soap is great for taking off the day’s makeup, it’s not great for retaining moisture. In fact, most soaps actively strip your skin of moisture.

Instead of working against your skin’s natural anti-aging properties, work with them by skipping the soap when you wash your face before bed. If that’s a deal breaker, choose a very gentle cleanser so you can avoid robbing your skin of so many beneficial oils.

2. Make the Switch to Natural Beauty Products

How closely do you examine the label when you buy a new bottle of shampoo or tube of mascara? You might be surprised to discover how many toxic ingredients are in the skin care products, hair care items and cosmetics that line the shelves of your local pharmacy or beauty supply store. From parabens, which can disrupt hormone function, to formaldehyde-filled preservatives, there’s often more to that new conditioner than its enticing coconut scent.

The good news is that it’s never been easier to avoid potentially harmful chemicals in your beauty regimen. More and more companies are committing themselves to clean beauty, and most major retailers now carry a wide array of clearly labeled non-toxic products.

If you’re not ready to detoxify your entire beauty regimen just yet, start with those items that make the most contact with your skin, such as lotion or foundation. Think of it this way: Any product that you literally rub into your skin probably shouldn’t be full of carcinogens or other harmful chemicals.


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3. Break Out the Dry Brush

While you likely have no room for dry skin in your beauty regimen, 2021 is a great time to embrace the dry brush.

Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like: rubbing a dry, stiff-bristled brush against your skin, particularly your arms and legs. The effect? Supremely — and naturally — exfoliated skin.

It may be trendy, but don’t let that turn you off. While some claim that dry brushing can help with circulation and other issues, the jury’s still out on those claims. It is a powerful way to remove dead skin cells, though, so before you jump in the shower, spend a few moments dry brushing. You may even feel like you're at the spa.

Just don’t overdo it: Brush firmly, but not so hard that you break the skin or it’s painful. Beauty shouldn’t hurt.

4. Stay Out of the Sun

If you think it’s too late to safeguard your skin against the sun, think again. Shielding your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is important at any age, but it becomes paramount as you grow older. When you hit the backyard, beach or bike trail, show your skin some love by always wearing sunscreen from head to toe. Keep your face extra-protected with a hat and chic sunglasses, too.

New year’s resolutions get a bad rap. It’s only natural that as one year gives way to the next, you become more introspective and more motivated to find a better tomorrow. As you craft your plan to make 2021 the best year yet, consider upgrading your beauty regimen to look as good on the outside as you feel on the inside.

Soothing Recipes for When You’re Feeling Sick

When you're not feeling well, cooking is probably the last thing on your mind. However, to get better, you need good nutrition! Also, you're probably hungry. When figuring out what to eat when you're sick, you should consider a few different things. First, you need to stay hydrated, so soup is always a good choice, right? Plus, it's warm and soothing, and it feels like a giant hug in a bowl. Second, your body needs vitamins, minerals, and protein to boost your immune system. Third, you don't feel like cooking, so you need something quick and easy. Better yet, think about making some "sick day" meals when you are well and stashing them in the freezer. With all these points in mind, here are a few tried and true recipes to make your next sick day a little less miserable.

Nourishing Soup

Homemade soup is a fantastic option when you're sick, for many reasons. When you make your own soup, you can avoid adding sodium levels normally found in canned soup. You can also customize the dish however you like, without worrying that the store will run out of your favorite type. Soup is often filled with healthy vegetables and protein, which can help you feel better, and all the liquid broth is good for keeping you hydrated. For a simple vegetable soup, use bone broth or stock and add whatever diced veggies you have on hand, roasting them first for more flavor. Add in whatever sounds good, from leftover rice to quinoa to diced chicken, beans, or ground beef. Remember that any grains you add will take up some of the liquid, so be prepared to add water or broth at the end.


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Nutritious Smoothie

When you have a sore throat or a stomach ache, you may find that the thought of food makes you feel worse. In that case, a cold, blended, fruit-and-vegetable smoothie may be the answer. You'll get an extra boost of nutrition without feeling bogged down by a big meal. To make a basic green smoothie, add two cups of liquid, such as water or almond milk, and two cups of leafy greens, such as spinach or kale, to a blender. Puree. Next, add three cups of chopped, frozen fruit to the mixture and blend again. For an extra boost, add a small amount of ginger or turmeric before the second blend.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are delicious, easy to prepare, and, when cooked, have a soft, creamy consistency that warms and soothes. They're also packed with nutrients like potassium and vitamin C. To roast sweet potatoes, scrub them, poke them several times with a fork, rub them with oil, and bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for around 45 minutes. Once they have cooled slightly, slit the tops, lightly mash them inside, and fill with warm toppings of your choice. Try white beans with wilted kale, or a simple salt, pepper, and butter mixture.

The beauty of all these recipes is that they are packed with powerful antioxidants and are easy to either make ahead or throw together even when you don't feel like being in the kitchen. Here's to a speedy recovery!

What Everyone Gets Wrong About Turmeric

I’m a big believer in the healing power of turmeric, mainly because I’ve experienced its effects for myself. Turmeric delivers natural pain relief that’s just as powerful as extra-strength Tylenol or Advil, but without any dangerous side effects. So, what’s the problem?

Well, with all the hype going around, most people don’t actually understand how turmeric works, so they end up using it wrong. This cancels out pretty much all of the benefits you should be getting, so it ends up being a complete waste. If you follow the instructions I’m going to tell you, I promise you will see a night and day difference.

The Real Power Behind Turmeric

When you see fantastic news articles and TV shows raving about the power of turmeric, they’re not wrong. What they don’t often explain, however, it that it’s not the yellow powder on its own that has such a huge effect. The real secret is actually a tiny antioxidant in turmeric called curcumin. This medicinal compound only makes up about 3% of turmeric.

Curcumin is the real powerhouse that shines when it comes to relieving pain. This tiny antioxidant packs a huge punch, fighting inflammation in every part of your body, from joints and muscles to veins and nerves. There are a lot of scientific studies that back up the great effects of turmeric, but most of them focus specifically on curcumin.

The Idea Most People Have

Most people think that it’s enough to add a little turmeric to meals and they’re going to magically get all of the benefits that curcumin offers. They may find a spicy banana smoothie recipe that calls for sprinkling some turmeric on top and think they’re good for the day. Unfortunately, that’s not even close to true.

To enjoy the phenomenal anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric, you need around 500–1,000 mg of curcumin a day. So, how much curcumin is in 1/2 teaspoon (1,000 mg) of turmeric? Just 50–100 mg. That banana smoothie suddenly needs a LOT more turmeric to give you any anti-inflammatory benefits.

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The Right Way To Take Turmeric

Don’t get me wrong, if you want to add turmeric to curry, or drink golden tea, or stir some turmeric into a smoothie, there’s nothing bad about it. Your food will have some extra flavor and you’ll get a small amount of antioxidants, which is better than nothing.

To really experience the benefits of this amazing Indian spice, however, you need to take a supplement. Before you buy, look at the amount of curcumin on the supplement’s label. It should have concentrated turmeric with at least 95% curcuminoids added.


One More Thing

The final thing that most people don’t know is that the body isn’t very good at absorbing turmeric on its own. Most of its antioxidants and vitamins get lost. Adios curcumin and pain relief.

I told you I was going to share all of my secrets, though, so here’s a great one that makes a huge difference: use black pepper extract, or piperine. When you pair turmeric with piperine, suddenly your body can absorb 2,000% times more nutrients! High-quality turmeric supplements should have piperine or BioPerine.

Trust me, just take a supplement. It’s so much easier than trying to think up ways to add a teaspoon of turmeric to everything. And it works!

Breathing Right: Using the Valsalva Maneuver To Improve Your Workout Routine and Protect Your Spine

When people are first learning to workout, the focus is more on form and technique. Few gyms or fitness centers discuss breathing because it is a natural skill. However, while people do know how to breathe in a typical setting, the inhale and exhale are not the same while working out.

If you are not taking a breath at the right time and in the correct way, you can injure yourself. Breathing comes naturally, but when you learn how to breathe with the Valsalva maneuver correctly, you can see an immediate improvement in your endurance and ability.

How You Breathe Matters

Consider the squat. Most people tell you to exhale on the way up and inhale on the way down, but if you adhere to this advice, you can injure your back, especially when doing weighted squats. In truth, inhaling before you go down and holding your breath protects the spine and ensures you have enough follow-through to push up. You begin the exhale during the most challenging part of the lift through pursed lips.

Inhaling deeply and holding creates intra-abdominal pressure, engaging several parts of the abdominal cavity, from the diaphragm to the pelvic floor. The pressure provides support and stability to your spine as you move through the exercise. You should reset this intra-abdominal pressure before every rep.

The Valsalva Maneuver

While breathing is the crucial part of the Valsalva maneuver, it is not the only part. The maneuver also requires engaging your obliques, abs, and back muscles, keeping them stiff during the rep. Going back to the squat as an example, when standing, breath in deep, filling your abdomen. Engage your core and back muscles, keeping them tight and stiff. Squat down into position, and return to your standing position. Exhale completely. Repeat the process for however many reps you are doing.


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Perfecting Your Breathing

Before using the Valsalva maneuver, you need to perfect your breathing. Vertical breathing is common, and it involves the movement of the chest and engagement of the shoulders and neck. Using this breathing technique is not productive and leads to a swath of potential injuries.

Diaphragmatic breathing engages the abdominal region. Breathing in this way ensures that you create the pressure pocket of protection during a workout. To improve your breathing skills, lay on the floor, and take a deep breath in. Your stomach should expand in all directions, but your chest and neck should experience limited movement. Laying on the floor makes it easier to engage the correct muscles, allowing you to experience the way Valsalva feels.

Taking Necessary Precautions

While the Valsalva maneuver is preferred among weight lifters, it is necessary to state that it is not appropriate for everyone. Using this technique will temporarily increase your blood pressure. For people with existing blood pressure problems, it can be better to avoid the risk, or at the very least, schedule an appointment with your physician.

What do you think about the Valsalva maneuver? Will you use it? Leave a comment below with any questions or observations you might have, and as always, continue reading the Smarter Science of Slim for more exercise and nutrition information to help you live your healthiest life.

Carb-Loading: Necessity or Fad

There are too many myths and “facts” circulating on any given day when it comes to nutrition and fitness. So-called fitness gurus tell you to eat on a consistent schedule, some even suggesting interrupting your sleep schedule to stick to the routine. Fortunately, getting healthy and staying healthy is a lot simpler than people make it out to be, which likely stems from health and fitness being a multi-billion dollar industry.

When it comes to carbs, people have a longstanding love-hate relationship. Some people believe that carb-loading before a workout is ideal. Others believe that consuming too many carbohydrates before an activity will make you sluggish, leading to ineffective exercise. The truth is somewhere in between.

Eating Carbs Before Working Out

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, consuming carbs can affect the intensity and duration of intense exercise. For the study, participants either consumed high-carbs at 1.5g of body weight or low-carbs. The group consuming more carbohydrates maintained performance levels longer than those consuming less. However, the low carb group did experience greater fat oxidation.

Therefore, eating carbs before a workout depends on the exercise and its intensity. For lower intensity activities, like walking, you can avoid the extra calories, but if you want to extend your workout, even light exercise, carb-loading can help your performance.


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Carb-Loading and Endurance Work Outs

If you are planning a long-lasting activity requiring high endurance levels, carb-loading can help. If you want to go for a 90-minute bike ride, and you want your performance to remain strong throughout, consuming 1.5 carbs times your body weight in kilograms is a safe and effective formula. For example, a 120 lb female (54.4 kg) should consume 81.6 kg before the activity, and a 180 lb man (81.6 kg) should consume 122.4 g.

However, it is necessary to listen to your body. Every person is unique, meaning that their carbohydrate requirements for endurance are not the same. Some people do better with less; the important thing is to uncover what works for you.

Maintaining Sustainable Behaviors

Typically, the longer the exercise, the more critical it is to carb-load, but it should never feel forced. If forcing yourself to eat carbs before a workout drains your ambition, don’t do it. While there are some minor benefits to consuming carbohydrates before an endurance activity, it is more important that you complete the exercise.

The goal of both health and fitness is to find sustainable behaviors. You want to do things that encourage active participation in your life, something that motivates you to live healthily and thrive. If carb-loading is an uncomfortable practice that leaves you feeling lethargic or unmotivated, then avoid it. Focus on the behaviors and habits you enjoy that still move you in the right direction.

Carb-loading is not a myth, and it can be useful for certain exercises. If you do not perform endurance activities like sustained sprints or biking, you might not experience a tremendous benefit from the practice. Have you ever tried carb-loading? What was your experience, and would you recommend it to others? Leave a comment below.