6 Exercises To Alleviate Knee Pain

Are you among the 25% of American adults who struggle with chronic knee pain according to the Administration for Community Living? Often, this issue results from arthritis, overuse, injury, or stress on the joint.

Physical activities that stretch and strengthen the knee often alleviate stiffness and discomfort. You can also build surrounding muscles to remove pressure from the joint. Educate yourself on these six exercises for knee pain that can potentially provide relief. Always warm up with 15 to 20 minutes of walking, cycling or another type of low-impact cardio before you start.

Calf Raises

For this basic leg-strengthening exercise:

  • Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Shift your weight to the balls of your feet, raising both heels off the ground.
  • Lower your heels back to the ground slowly in a controlled motion.
  • Repeat for three sets of 10 reps each.

Hamstring Curls

Bolster these muscles behind the thigh with this simple stretching exercise:

  • Lay face-down on a yoga mat or blanket. 
  • Bend your heels toward your backside and hold as long as you can.
  • Perform three sets, each with 15 reps.

If the hamstring curl starts to feel too easy, try adding light ankle weights to (gently) amp up the intensity.

Leg Lifts

For this exercise, lay flat on your back with a blanket or yoga mat for comfort, then follow these steps:

  • Bend the right leg at the knee, moving your heel toward your rear and keeping your left leg straight.
  • Draw in your abs by pretending an invisible string running from the floor is pulling your belly straight down. Your lower back should be flush with the floor.
  • Slowly lift the left leg off the ground, still straight. Keep the foot flexed. Stop at about 12 inches and hold the pose for 5 seconds. 
  • Lower the leg back to the floor with a slow, controlled movement. 
  • Repeat twice more with the left leg, then do the same with the right leg.

Quadriceps Stretch

This standing stretch benefits the knee joint. Start with feet shoulder-width apart, then:

  • Bend your right knee and bring your heel toward your rear just as you did with the hamstring curls.
  • Clasp your right ankle with your right hand.
  • Hold the stretch for a count of 10 before gently releasing your foot.
  • Repeat on the left side, then do 15 to 20 more reps. 
  • You can increase the intensity by using a yoga strap to carefully deepen the stretch.

Step-Ups

You can use a staircase in your home or an exercise step to work out your glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings and quadriceps:

  • Step up with your right foot, letting your left foot fall behind the stair.
  • Shift your weight to your right foot and hold for about 5 seconds.
  • Lower the left foot back down to the floor, followed by the right.
  • Repeat with the left foot and then complete 10 to 15 sets of both legs.

Wall Squats

For this move, place your back against a wall and feet in alignment with your shoulders, then follow these steps:

  • Bend your knees slowly while keeping your pelvis and back flush with the wall.
  • Hold the squat for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Repeat, holding a bit longer each time.
  • Stop or relax if you feel discomfort or pressure in the knee joint.

Some sources of knee pain won't resolve with exercise alone. See your healthcare provider if you experience joint pain accompanied by a fever, redness and swelling around the joint, pain that doesn't get better with exercise and self-care, or pain that wakes you at night or worsens with activity.

The Fitness and Diet Routine of Jennifer Lopez: Motivation for Everyone, Especially Mature Women

Jennifer Lopez is an icon and a natural beauty. It is hard to believe that this mother of two is 52 years old and still rocking a six-pack. How does she find the time to balance her unbelievably busy schedule with exercise and a healthy diet when most people struggle to do one or the other? If you ask her and her trainers, it is a matter of dedication and perseverance — it also doesn’t hurt having access to some of the best personal trainers in the business.

Still, getting healthy and fit is attainable, but it requires discipline. Jennifer's routine and diet plan is something worth examining, but you also need to remember her routine is not your routine. It is an advanced fitness and health regimen designed for a world-class performer and entertainer. Do not beat yourself up if you find her routine unrealistic for your life and current fitness level.

Jennifer’s Exercise Routine

When it comes to exercise, J. Lo works out four to five days per week. Each workout day incorporates about an hour of her time, and it focuses on different body parts each session.

For session one, J. Lo might focus on abs. She’ll perform three sets of a combination of ab workouts:

  • 50 Rope crunches

  • 50 Hanging ab raises

  • 50 incline sit-ups with a 45-pound plate

In sets two and three, J. Lo performs fewer reps. Set two includes 35 reps and set three is 21.

Session two will include several lower body exercises. Some of the performers favorite go-to exercises include:

  • Supported lunges

  • Weighted leg presses

  • Single dumbbell sumo squats

  • Weighted hip thrusts into calf raises

  • Single leg extensions into weighted leg curls

  • Platypus walk

Finally, session three focuses on arms. Unfortunately, there is not much information on her arm workout, but her trainer has explained that Spiderman push-ups have been a part of her routine in the past.

J. Lo’s Diet

While J. Lo’s workout routine might seem overwhelming, her diet is also fairly strict. Her diet is built on high protein and fresh, whole foods. Her diet is nutrient-dense and does not leave a lot of room for treats. However, she does allow herself a cheat day once per week.

There are times when the star’s diet is hyper-regimented. When she is being super strict, she does not allow herself to eat sugar. She also avoids caffeine and alcohol, choosing to drink lots and lots of water instead.

Should You Try Jennifer Lopez’s Diet?

While everyone should strive to be as committed to health and fitness as J. Lo, her specific routine is not for everyone. If you are just starting your fitness journey, focus on the basics before diving into rigorous and demanding exercises.

One of the problems with jumping right into a celebrity routine is that you might not be ready for such a commitment, which can be counterproductive. Part of getting fit and staying healthy is staying motivated. If you try to join a routine that is too advanced, you might become discouraged.

Instead of focusing on celebrity routines, consider focusing on the basics of nutrition and making small life changes. By building habits over time, you are more likely to stay committed to healthy changes.

With all that said, if you feel up to a challenge and your doctor believes it is safe, go ahead and give J. Lo’s routine a shot. Keep in mind that J. Lo’s body is a result of years of dedication, and it will take time for you to see positive results from a similar workout.

What do you think? Will you give Jennifer Lopez’s routine a try, or will you start with something more manageable? Leave a comment and keep the conversation going.

Amplify your fitness routine with these 7 free apps

If you're like me, your smartphone serves as your source of news, your morning wake-up call, and your connection to friends and loved ones. With these seven amazing free apps, your device can also become your guide as you embark on your fitness journey.

Strava

Those who jog, swim or bike can find the motivation to push workouts to the next level with this competitive app. Strava uses GPS to track your route, speed and distance and analyzes your performance for each segment of your course. You can compare each workout to your history to see your progress or compete against friends on the app. Strava gets high marks from new users and serious trainers alike.

All-Out Studio App

With this free app, you can access hundreds of exclusive workouts from sources such as Prevention Magazine, Runner's World and Women's Health. All-Out Studio App allows you to sort by skill level with instruction from professional trainers. Learn new strategies and techniques whether you're a novice or simply looking to shake up your routine. 

Map My Run

Despite the name, you don't have to be a runner to take advantage of the features of this highly-rated app. With Map My Run, previously known as Map My Fitness, you can log more than 600 different types of physical exercises from cross-training to cycling and beyond. Robust data import and analysis features connect with more than 400 different devices, so chances are it supports your smartwatch of choice.

My Fitness Pal

If you want to keep track of both diet and physical activity, My Fitness Pal can help you organize your data in one easy-to-use interface. You can stream more than 350 different workouts and log more than 11 million food items, as well as create and track your progress toward custom fitness goals. You can integrate My Fitness Pal with dozens of other apps and devices. It even allows you to log meals at your favorite restaurants! Set a goal to lose, gain or maintain your weight and then take advantage of the available tools for success. You'll see why this choice has more than a million positive reviews on Apple's App Store.

7 Minute Workout

Do you feel like you never have time to squeeze in a workout? This ingenious app by Johnson & Johnson circuit programs that last just seven minutes and range from high to low intensity depending on your preference and goals. The workouts have been developed and tested by exercise physiologists to thoroughly work each of your muscle groups in the allotted time. With clear instructional videos, 7 Minute Workout is a smart choice for exercise beginners

Charity Miles

If you run, walk or bike, you can feel even better about your workouts when you use the Charity Miles app. Every time you log a workout, the app makes a donation to the charitable organization of your choice, with options such as St. Jude's Children's Hospital and the Wounded Warrior Project. You can also create your own pledge drives to raise even more money for a worthy cause. 

MyZone Workout App

Do you want to keep track of your heart rate during your workouts? If so, strap on your heart-rate enabled smartwatch or monitor and download the MyZone Workout App. You can track the percentage of maximum effort you use during your workout, the number of calories you burn, your beats per minute and other statistics. If you're the competitive type, you can also share your workout data with friends on social media. 

Harness the power of technology when you take these top 2021 workout apps for a spin. 

Maintaining Your Fitness Levels While on Vacation

People tend to view vacations as a time of relaxation, meaning limited activity and stress. Unfortunately, depending on the length of your vacation, your fitness levels can quickly degrade if you ignore exercise and most physical activity. Some reports suggest a decline in aerobic power between 5% and 10% in only three weeks. Additionally, most studies imply the fitter you are, the quicker the reductions can occur. While taking a week off to rest and enjoy might not make much of a difference, you should include some form of exercise to maintain your current fitness levels if you plan on vacationing for longer.

Incorporate Aerobic Exercise Into Your Vacation

Exercise does not have to be torture or consist of miles on a treadmill. You can have fun while incorporating aerobic exercise into your vacation; to demonstrate, consider playing beach volleyball, walking along the shoreline, taking a hike, or going on a leisurely bike ride. People tend to overthink exercise, assuming it has to include strict routines and methods. Still, as long as you can maintain moderate aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes a day, you are good.

A Simple Body Weight Exercise for the Hotel Room

If your hotel has a gym, by all means, take 20 to 30 minutes to do your typical workout. However, if you do not feel like venturing through the lobby in your workout gear, consider doing a simple hotel room workout. The activity relies on body weight, balance, endurance, and your luggage. To increase your heart rate, set a timer for 15 to 20 and see how many circuits you can complete.

You want to start with bodyweight squats. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. With your back straight and your arms fully extended in front of you, squat down slowly into a sumo-like pose. To complete the squat, return to a standing position, keeping your arms in front of you. You will want to do 20 reps before moving onto the next exercise.

Without hesitating, transition into an incline pushup position. Place your hands, palms down, on the edge of the bed or a desk, with your feet on the floor. With your body angled out, approximately 45 degrees, push down then up slowly. Perform 15 reps before moving onto the third exercise.

For the third exercise, grab a piece of luggage. You will be performing one-arm luggage rows. Stand with one leg extended behind you and the opposite leg bent slightly in front. Bend slightly at the waist, keeping your back straight. Whatever leg is extended back, you want to use the same side arm to slowly pick up and then lower the bag, keeping your back straight. Perform 10 reps before moving onto the fourth and final exercise.

For the last exercise, lay flat on the floor with your legs bent, forming a pyramid. Keep your arms extended at your sides with palms on the floor. To perform a reverse crunch, you will use your abs to lift your legs, keeping them bent. Bring your knees above your chest and then bring them back down, being sure to engage your core the entire time. Perform 10 reps to complete the circuit. Then, repeat all four exercises and keep repeating until your timer sounds.

While a vacation is a time to relax, there is no reason you can’t maintain your fitness goals. How do you exercise on vacation? Leave a comment to keep the conversation going.

5 Reasons Restrictive Diets Will Never Work

A restrictive diet is one where you lose weight by giving up certain foods. Sometimes, this is a healthy choice, such as avoiding junk food. But most of these diets tell you to cut out entire food groups, such as carbs. Some force you to carefully measure the amount of calories you take in. The big question is, do restrictive diets work?

Why Don't Restrictive Diets Work?

According to expert nutritionists, any diet that is restrictive is practically doomed to fail from the very beginning. Why?

  1. Old habits: As I think most of know from personal experience, restrictive diets tend to be a temporary thing. No one really wants to eat cabbage soup every day or give up on chocolate for good. After 3–6 months, most people go back to eating how they used to, which adds on all those pounds again.

  2. Cheating: Let’s face it, denying yourself things that taste good is hard work. It feels like you’re punishing yourself. That opens up the door to “cheating,” weekend splurges that undo a whole week’s worth of progress.

  3. Unrealistic expectations: Any diet that sets your caloric intake really low is never going to work long term for most people. When you start to experience extreme hunger, nausea, headaches, dizziness and other symptoms, you’re probably going to give in to what your body is telling you: “I need more energy!”

  4. Changes in metabolism: You can try to fight your body with restrictive diets, but it’s a losing battle. Your metabolism starts to work against you. Burning calories takes longer because your energy production slows down. It’s like your body is saying: “You think you can starve me? Think again!”

  5. Band-Aid “fixes”: Restrictive diets don’t work because they’re superficial. They only focus on food, completely overlooking other causes of weight gain: stress, sleep problems and low activity levels. Ignoring these underlying issues makes weight come back sooner rather than later.

Overall, eating tasty, nutritious foods is good for you. It makes you happy, and it should. This healthy feeling goes against the rules of restrictive diets, so it’s always going to be hard to follow this type of diet.

How Can You Lose Weight for Good?

If you really want to lose weight, you need to focus on making long-term changes, not following short-term fad diets. It’s absolutely possible to stay slim, love your body and feel happy at the same time.:

  • Choose a balanced diet that you can realistically live with: Make sure you have a wide range of healthy options for meals. Then, stick with this type of eating.

  • Eat food that's naturally good for you: Include more fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, probiotics and lean proteins.

  • Get more physical activity: This is one of the biggest keys to long-term weight loss. It’s better to burn up those 2,000–2,500 calories by exercising for 15 minutes a day than to eat an unrealistic 1,000-calorie diet.

  • Drink plenty of water: Many people feel hungry when they’re actually thirsty. Avoid weight gain by drinking a full eight glasses of water a day. That’s good for your kidneys and heart anyway.

  • Use healthy proteins to calm the munchies: The next time you have the munchies, don’t say "no." Say "yes," but eat filling protein instead of junk food. Grab some almonds, pistachios, Greek yogurt, cheese, hard-boiled eggs or smoked salmon.

One diet did work great long term in studies. The Mediterranean diet. It helps you stay slim because it’s focused on heart-healthy, natural foods.

4 Ways To Maintain Good Colon Health

Let’s cut to the chase: It can be awkward — downright embarrassing even — to talk about colon health. No one enjoys discussing such sophisticated topics as fiber intake, constipation or what it’s like to get a colonoscopy.

The thing is, your colon’s health is crucial to your overall well-being. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most prevalent cancer in the United States. One in 24 women will face a colorectal cancer diagnosis in her lifetime. That number’s not much better for men, either. One in 22 men is diagnosed with this type of cancer.

If that’s not enough motivation to make you long for the healthiest colon this side of the Mississippi, know that your colon is a major player in your digestive system. The better shape it’s in, the better shape your entire body is in. Here’s how to take good care of your colon.

1. Eat Lots of Fiber

You likely know that a diet that’s high in fiber helps you stay “regular.” What you may not realize is that simply keeping things moving down there is one of the best ways to prevent diseases affecting the colon.

Most people should shoot for 25-35 grams of fiber each day. Some of my favorite fiber-rich foods to nosh on include:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Lentils
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli

These are some of fiber’s heaviest hitters. Generally speaking, however, a diet that’s full of virtually any fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a tremendous way to boost your daily fiber intake. What’s more, individuals who eat a healthy, colorful diet tend to weigh less, which also decreases the risk of colorectal disease.

Still not convinced that it’s time to swap out those potato chips for carrot sticks? The antioxidants and nutrients present in most fruits and veggies have been linked to a lower risk of colorectal illness, too.

2. Exercise Regularly

Another great way to move your bowels is to move your body. Whether you take a fitness class at your local gym or simply take regular walks after dinner, that boost to your blood flow and overall circulation helps your digestive tract become more efficient.

3. Drink Up

Is there no limit to the wonders that drinking enough water can do? When it comes to your colon, quenching your thirst helps flush waste and other toxic materials out of your body, lowering your risk of disease.

If you struggle to squeeze your eight glasses of H2O in each day, consider using a water tracking app on your phone or charting it the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper.


4. Don’t Skip That Colonoscopy

Colorectal cancers may be common, but they’re also very treatable if caught early. That’s why regular colonoscopies are crucial to your health.

What constitutes a “regular” colonoscopy depends on your age and various risk factors, which include not only your personal and family history with colorectal cancer but also other digestive issues such as IBS. The average person, for example, should likely have the procedure done once every 10 years, starting at age 50. (If you have a family history of colon cancer, talk with your doctor about how much earlier you should start.) During the procedure, your doc will not only check for signs of cancer but also remove any polyps or other abnormal growths that may develop into cancer or otherwise cause harm if left unchecked.

Being proactive about your colorectal health is critical to your overall health. Sure, it often means having an indelicate chat with your physician, but remember: It’s his or her job to talk about that stuff! More to the point, your doc talks about bowel movements as often as you do Real Housewives and your grandkids. Don’t let the potential for an awkward moment prevent you from taking the best care of yourself that you can.

My Thoughts on “Cycle Syncing”

OK ladies, who here feels like nutrition and health information is constantly changing? You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand over here! It seems like every time I think I understand the “right” way to lose weight and obtain optimal health, I’m suddenly told my “right” way is now the “wrong” way, and there’s a new-and-improved “right” way out there!  It can be pretty confusing. That’s why I was wary when my neighbor first told me about this new thing she is doing, called “cycle syncing.”

To put it simply, cycle syncing is the practice of altering your exercise and diet routine depending on where you’re at in your menstrual cycle. Many ladies swear by it, so I decided to see what all the hype is about. Here’s what I found out about this new trend.

Understanding Cycle Syncing

When it comes to hormones, women have it rough. One day we may feel energetic, happy and unstoppable. The next day we may feel completely drained of energy, grumpy and unmotivated. We have our hormones to thank for these very real dips and spikes in our mood and energy levels.

The idea of cycle syncing is to help women “maximize their hormonal power” with the help of certain activities and foods. The term “cycle syncing” was first coined by Alisa Vitti, who is a functional nutritionist. She is also the author of the book WomanCode and is the founder of the FloLiving Hormone Center.

How Cycle Syncing Works

Though there is not yet a lot of research confirming the benefits of cycle syncing, there are many women who claim the practice has changed their lives for the better. Here’s how to do it properly.

Track your cycle. You need to know which phase you are in (menstrual, follicular, ovulatory or luteal) in order to follow a cycle syncing lifestyle. It’s recommended that you download some sort of cycle-tracking app to make things easier. Here’s what to do during each phase of your cycle:

  • Menstrual: Your estrogen is rising during this phase, which can lead to cramps and other unpleasant symptoms. During this time, avoid fatty or salty foods, caffeine and alcohol. Opt for warming soups and stews and nutrient-rich foods instead. Focus your exercises on muscular activation rather than intense cardio, since your energy levels are low during this phase.

  • Follicular: During this phase, your energy levels will start to rise. Try eating fresh, lightly prepped foods (such as steamed vegetables and sauteed fish or chicken). Eat plenty of vegetables, seeds, lean proteins and dense grains that will help sustain your energy. You now have the energy to do more cardio-based workouts and lift heavier weights.

  • Ovulatory: You’ll probably notice an increase in strength and endurance during your ovulatory phase. To support your energy while protecting your muscles against breakdown, eat a lot of leafy green, fibrous foods. You’ll also feel physically powerful and should make the most of your workouts by engaging in HIIT, plyometrics (if your joints allow it) and other high-energy workouts.

  • Luteal: This is the phase we ladies don’t like so much. It’s when you start to feel more sluggish than usual and your motivation starts to wane. To help you combat PMS symptoms, eat foods that are rich in calcium, magnesium, b-vitamins and vitamin D. Plan to eat more calories during this time to help you fight cravings. Scale back your exercise intensity and give yourself more time to rest.

This is a simplified version of cycle syncing. Although it requires a lot of thought, I’ve heard it becomes easier with time. My thoughts on this practice are that it seems to show a lot of promise for women who become frustrated because they have a difficult time sticking with their eating and exercise habits during certain times of the month. So I say give it a try and see if it helps you!

3 Steps To Building Your Perfect Home Gym

Many people want a home gym, but they don't know where to start; they often purchase equipment that is too big or too advanced. There are three steps to building a home gym that is useful and motivational.

1. Find Right Space

The problem most home gym enthusiasts run into is inadequate space for the equipment they already purchased. Never buy gym equipment without knowing where it will go, and make sure that you measure the space.

You do not need a huge space for your workout, depending on the exercise routine you have or plan on using. However, some workouts do require more area, such a HIIT. If you are just starting out, you can likely make room within a bedroom, garage, basement, or another unused space in the house. Depending on your climate, you can even try setting up something outside.

2. Purchase Quality and Effective Equipment

People often assume that quantity leads to a better quality setup, but that is not always true, especially in a home gym. Most homes do not have space for multiple pieces of heavy, bulky equipment, so you need to focus on the necessities. When thinking about the equipment you want to purchase, consider the following three categories:

  1. Strength
  2. Cardio
  3. Recovery

When people think of strength training, they jump to the cumbersome weight and cable machines. There is no need for such large pieces of equipment, especially in a beginner’s gym. Instead, focus on small, portable weight training solutions, like kettlebells, dumbbells, resistance bands, stability balls, or balance discs. None of this equipment is particularly expensive, and it is more than enough to get you started.

When it comes to cardio, the typical purchase is a treadmill, which is an excellent machine if you have the money and space for it. However, if you are tight on space or cash, consider picking up a jump rope — perhaps a weighted one for added resistance. Cardio is meant to increase your heart rate, which requires movement. If you do not want to spend any money on equipment, go for a jog or go up and down your basement stairs, anything to get your heart pumping.

Unfortunately, many people neglect equipment for recovery. Sure stretches are a decent way to cool down after a workout, but you can help your muscles a lot by investing in some foam rollers. According to some research, rolling out your muscles after a workout can reduce soreness and muscle fatigue.

3. Create an Inviting and Motivational Space

Your gym must motivate you to work out. If you do not even like to walk into the space, how will you feel about working out in it several times per week? Your gym should be filled with bright lights and colors. It would help if you filled the walls and gym with things that make you feel energized for a workout, including a playlist. 

Remember, without action, a home gym is just decorative and pointless. The entire reason to bring the gym home is to encourage physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. How do you plan to make your gym a place you want to be, and do you have any tips for the rest of the Smarter Science of Slim community? Leave a comment below.

Prescribing Nature? Why Some Experts Say That Nature Is the Key to Staying Healthy

Everyone loves vacation. Some families prefer tropical getaways and others adore the Rocky Mountains. My favorite memory is a time our family visited the Amazon rainforest, swimming in a cove with lush plants and waterfalls. These trips all have something in common: beautiful nature.

What Are the Health Benefits of Nature?

The effects of nature are so positive that doctors are starting to write prescriptions for ecotherapy, or nature trips:

  • Fighting stress and depression: One of the biggest benefits of being in nature is that it improves your mood. Stress, anxiety and depression practically disappear. You feel relaxed, positive and energized.
  • Increasing your sense of wellbeing: Studies show that people who spend time in nature are more likely to feel deep satisfaction, meaning and joy in life.
  • Protecting your body: People who spend time outdoors every week have a lower risk of heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes and overweight.
  • Strengthening your immune system: An excursion into the woods or a weekend at a national park can boost the effectiveness of your immune system, helping you stay healthier.
  • Relieving pain: When you get plenty of sunlight, it can trigger pain relief for your entire body. In fact, these rays may even increase healing, curing cuts and some injuries more quickly.

You don’t need to go it alone to improve your health. An enjoyable outing with friends or family members can actually increase the mental, physical and emotional benefits you receive.

Why Is Nature So Good for You?

Think back to the last time you visited a park, beach or forest. First, imagine the sights. Do you see gorgeous fields of wildflowers, colorful hummingbirds or majestic mountains?

The reason beautiful vistas are calming is because they interrupt the negative thoughts that stress makes you replay over and over in your mind. Nature captures your attention and gets you to focus on something positive, interesting and wonderful instead.

Now, remember the scents. Do you smell a salty ocean breeze, fresh green plants, delightful roses or irresistible cedar?

These aromas do more than tempt your nose. They contain natural aerosols, tiny bits of essential plant oils, that can trigger certain hormones in your body. That’s one reason why pine forests are so calming.

What about the sounds? Can you remember the chirping of birds, the gentle rustling of leaves or the smooth crashing of waves at the ocean?

Nature sounds are proven to have a soothing effect on your brain, making you feel relaxed and helping you sleep better at night. Even the absence of sound is enjoyable, that total peace and quiet you only find in nature. 


Where Can You Go?

Going outdoors doesn’t have to be complicated. The important thing, according to studies, is to get at least two hours of ecotherapy every week. The two hours can be split into 20 minutes every day or a full morning on the weekend.

Go for a walk in the park or plan a bonfire with friends in the country. National parks are the purest form of nature, but not everyone lives close enough to go regularly. If you have woods near your house, enjoy a hike through nature trails. Take a trip to the beach or the lake.

Get as far away from the noise pollution and air pollution of the big city as possible. You can even get benefits by working in your garden or watching hummingbirds on your patio. Don’t plan too much — just do it!

Do you have a favorite nature getaway you want to share? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Why I Prefer Exercise Out of the House

It’s no secret that exercise is good for the body and mind, but when I see so many people choosing to exercise indoors on treadmills or stationary bicycles, I don’t understand it. While I may be a little old-fashioned, I think there’s nothing better than getting your heart pumping while enjoying the great outdoors. Here are some of the reasons why I prefer to exercise out of the house.

It Helps With Insomnia

Now, hear me out. When you exercise outdoors with natural sunlight surrounding you, it helps to regulate your body’s internal clock (also known as your circadian rhythm). If you’re always inside soaking up artificial light, your body can become confused and you may have trouble sleeping at night. Plus, breathing fresh air regularly may help improve the quality of your sleep at night!

It Helps Your Body Create Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for your body’s immune system. It also helps the body absorb calcium from dietary sources. Unfortunately, many adults in the United States have low levels of vitamin D, which can lead to a deficient immune response and can affect bone health in a negative way. Since exposure to the sun is necessary for our bodies to create vitamin D from cholesterol, regular outdoor exercise sessions are important.

You don’t have to do typical “exercise” to benefit from the sun, either. Working in the garden, doing yardwork or playing with grandkids outside are all great ways to get outdoor exercise and boost your vitamin D levels without feeling like you’re “working out.”

It Provides a Natural Mood Boost

If you’re feeling grumpy or sad, spend some time outdoors on a lovely day and watch how quickly your mood improves. There’s no doubting that natural light and fresh outdoor air help provide the mind and body with positive energy. I’ve noticed that when I regularly exercise outside of my house, I’m less likely to feel down or depressed. Being outside is one of Mother Nature’s most under-utilized natural mood-boosters.

It’s Free!

The cost of a gym membership adds up over time. If you’re looking for ways to save money, ditch the membership and ride your bike or take a walk outside. It’s completely free of charge!

It Reduces Stress and Lowers Blood Pressure

Whether you take a simple stroll outside or you engage in a vigorous hike, you’re doing your body good in a lot of ways. Studies show that people who engage in physical activity outdoors lower their heart rate and blood pressure. If you’re not in peak physical activity, just take things slow to get started. As your cardiovascular health improves, you’ll be able to exercise longer and harder than before.

It’s Fun

I’ve tried working out on a treadmill with dozens of other people working out on either side of me. I got bored really quickly. Even when you have a television show in front of you, walking on a treadmill without going anywhere just seems like a waste of time. Walking outdoors, on the other hand, is always interesting and fun. Whether you take a stroll around your neighborhood or along a walking trail at a nearby park, you’ll find plenty of people to talk to or small creatures to watch. The entire experience is much more fulfilling than exercising indoors, in my humble opinion.  

These are just a few of the top reasons why I think exercising outside is one of the best things people can do for their health and sanity. If you’re not convinced, give it a try! I have a sneaking suspicion you’ll decide exercising outside is a better choice than working out in your home.