How Your Workout Can Make Your Hair Even More Lustrous

A recent survey by Voucher Codes Pro found that the British women spend an average of £756 a year on haircare products. That’s nearly £50,000 over their lifetime! We all know that working out has tremendous benefits for your body, but it can also have similar benefits for your hair, and reduce the amount you spend on product to make it look good. A good workout results in increased blood flow, which means your body is drenched in oxygen, which speeds healing and regeneration. This means good things for your muscles and your scalp. Let’s look at some other ways your workout can benefit your hair.

Sweat = Better Sebum

Sebum is an oily substance that the scalp secrets for protection. It’s what we sometimes curse when we have to go a few days between washings, but it’s also essential for keeping your hair moisturised and healthy. Celebrity fitness expert Natasha Sunshine says the more you sweat during a workout, the purer and more conditioning your sebum will be. This is something both straight and curly hair can benefit from. To reap the benefits of that healthier sebum, refrain from washing your hair more than three times a week. Washing more often strips the sebum and dries your scalp out. This can cause itching, dandruff and flyaway hair. Furthermore, when it comes to curly hair, it’s crucial to ensure you use the right diffuser to avoid tangling.

Workouts Reduce Stress

Stress has many troubling effects on the body, and one of them is hair loss. When we’re stressed we release a hormone called cortisol, and it can make hair brittle and dry, which leads to breakage and thinning. Working out is proven to reduce stress and improve mood, and that can keep more hair on your head and out of your hairbrush.

Increased Hair Growth

A good work out increases blood flow which means more oxygen to nourish your hair follicles. The better your follicles are nourished, the healthier they’ll be, and that promotes hair growth. When you sweat during a workout, you flush out toxins from those follicles, resulting in even better health. Exercises, where you hang upside down, are particularly good for increasing blood flow to the scalp.

While eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and taking care of your hair by avoiding harsh hair treatments like bleaching, pulling it back too tightly, or using curling irons and straighteners too much are essential for healthy hair, your workout can help as well. Consider it another incentive to get you to the gym.

Thanks to Jane Sandwood for another great article

Group Fitness And Healthy Ageing

“Exercise is the miracle cure we have all been waiting for” according to the NHS. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of chronic diseases, stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Physical activity becomes even more important as we get older, improving self-esteem, energy, mood and sleep quality. Recent research has shown that having an exercise companion means you are more likely to exercise and that group fitness classes have benefits that go beyond weight loss and muscle gain. Here are a few popular classes to get you started.

Yoga

Over 5000 years old, yoga is a popular form of exercise which focuses on strength, flexibility, and breathing. Yoga increases joint flexibility, reducing muscle soreness, stiffness, and achiness and increases muscular strength. In turn, this improves balance and reduces the risk of falls as you get older. Yoga can also be effective in preventing or slowing bone density loss. Moreover, yoga has great benefits for the mind and relieves stress and the symptoms of depression.

Aquafit

Aquafit is a high energy aerobics class which takes place in the shallow end of a swimming pool. The movements are the same as in a normal aerobics class but with added benefits due to working out in water. Aquafit is a low impact activity where water supports your body putting less strength on joints and muscles. There is also less strain on the heart by being in the water which in turn moves blood around the body, improving cardio fitness. It builds muscular strength due to the added push of the water and the impact of gravity is reduced by the water allowing a greater range of motion and improving balance.

Zumba

Zumba is a relative newcomer to the fitness class circuit, being created in Columbia in 1990. Zumba combines Latin music with moves from Latin dances such as salsa, mambo, merengue, and samba. Zumba has been described as a workout in disguise as the dance moves mask an intense cardio workout with free flowing movements. It is a great way to alleviate stress, reduce symptoms of depression and improve self confidence. Zumba also improves strength, posture and flexibility as well as benefiting coordination and balance.

These group classes all have one common advantage; they offer the social and motivational benefits of exercising with like-minded people. Exercising in a group reduces stress and increases quality of life at the same time as improving fitness levels.

Written by Jane Sandwood

Want Better Gains? Drink Coffee!

Did you know that coffee can improve your workouts by as much as 33%? Yes, you read that right. According to a 2014 Daily Mail article by Deni Kirkova, the British Coffee Association found that instant coffee taken around an hour before working out can help exercisers perform about a third better. And it’s not just limited to weight training. The performance boost applies to virtually all forms of workouts, so you can do pretty much any type of exercise you want and still reap the benefits.

Better resistance against fatigue

According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), caffeine can help athletes train longer by delaying the onset of fatigue. In addition, it can also aid in the facilitation of force production by the body’s motor units. What all this means is that coffee gives you the ability to squeeze more out of your workouts and consequently see better gains.

Of course, sugar-free black coffee is the way to go for this purpose because it adds virtually zero extra calories to your diet. Unfortunately, if you are like most people, you are probably not a fan of drinking bitter liquid. But don’t worry, though, because by simply adding a little salt to your coffee, you can not only easily neutralize its bitterness, but also bring out its natural sweetness without having to actually use any sugar.

Increased fat oxidation

The second way coffee helps you crush your workouts is by literally giving you the energy to do so. In another NCBI study, coffee is shown to improve fat oxidation, giving you more readily available fuel for exercising. Of course, the more energy you have, the more work you can do in the gym.

But that’s not all improved fat oxidation gives you. By burning more fat during your workouts, you also increase the visibility of your muscles. This is probably why a lot of bodybuilders and professional fitness trainers swear by their pre-workout cup of coffee.

Just don’t go overboard

Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much coffee. Experts suggest drinking no more than three cups a day. Any more and you could start experiencing problems like constantly elevated heart rates, sleeplessness and dehydration. In contrast, by keeping your intake within the healthy range, you get to enjoy the performance boost and resulting gains without putting your health at risk.

Jane Sandwood

Fitness Trends Set to Take the UK Market By Storm in 2018

The 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report revealed that the UK health and fitness industry continued to grow throughout the year. The significant growth was primarily driven by the private sector which boasts more clubs, members, and a more impressive market value than before. Last year saw more than 9.7million fitness members in the UK, boosting the penetration rate to an all-time high of 14.9%.

During 2017 UK consumers were presented with more fitness choices than ever before. Old favorites such as Zumba and yoga found themselves competing with German volume training and calisthenics, while multi-purpose training equipment and nutritional supplements all evolved at a similar break-neck speed. While 2017 was considered to be one of the best for the wellness industry, 2018 is bringing with it a variety of exciting fitness trends that are bound to appeal to the multitude of exercise enthusiasts in the United Kingdom.

Fitness trends to look out for in 2018

While spin and climbing classes were very popular during 2017 we can expect to see a hybrid class that combines incline training methods with cardio. Performed on VersaClimbers the classes are performed to music and use interval training, speed and incline to mix up the workout. An added bonus to this workout is that there is less impact on the body than what is experienced during a spin class. The upright standing position will also do wonders for your posture.

Artificial Intelligence workouts

Like personal trainers in your pocket, AI is starting to infiltrate the fitness world in 2018. From slaying playlists to audio workouts, these apps will learn from and adjust to your preferences and progress to enable them to offer you tailor-made training plans that suit your own personal needs and goals. Amazon is said to have invested in body-mapping technology that will be able to monitor your precise movements when you exercise.

Changed rules for recovery

Stretching, massaging and foam rolling have always seemed to be merely an afterthought but this year a lot more focus will be placed on the fascia – the connective tissue that ensures we stay flexible and mobile. While Australia may be leading the way in terms of super physio’s it is also starting to trend in the UK. According to Zanna van Dijk, a Balance Festival ambassador the UK will definitely start to see a rise in recovery-based classes towards the second quarter of 2018.

Moon rituals

While gong therapy made it big last year, this year is all about the moon. Full-moon sound baths, guided moon rituals and new-moon ceremonies might sound like something straight out a Hollywood movie but more and more UK residents are looking to consult the planets as a guide for everything concerning their health and well-being. Women especially are becoming intrigued by the various prophecies of the moon cycle as it is said to be heavily linked to the menstrual cycle.

As a rapidly-evolving market, the remainder of 2018 is bound to see many more advancements within the fitness-related industries of the UK. As long as consumers remain open-minded and level-headed with regards to the imminent changes they will be able to embrace all developments with ease.

Once again, thanks to Jane Sandwood for this great contribution

Benefits of Tai Chi for Seniors

The benefits of Tai Chi in general cover all ages, but older people love this form of exercise for its low-impact, time-saving options. A twenty minute workout will present physical and spiritual results as it works on the body and mind as one fluid unit. It is an ancient Chinese martial art form that includes 19 movements with one pose to combine meditation with basic muscle improvements. Many retirees are practicing this art because it is low-impact and has many additional benefits. Tai chi classes are offered in many assisted living environments, with local instructors, and through local gyms, as more people realise the amazing benefits of this simple workout.

Focusing and Relieving

The breathing and movement combination helps focus the mind with the body while relieving stress from both entities. The deep breathing involved relaxes the muscles, expands oxygen intake, and helps the person focus on nothing but the movement. This helps the mind reset, centering thought around what works best for the body. This method has also been proven to help relieve arthritis pain through the slow stretching of the joints. The senior benefits when breathing and stretching are paired with the mental imagery of the exercises for a complete workout. This workout is designed to build lean muscle, rather than larger muscle mass.

Keeping the Mind Sharp

While continuous learning is essential for brain function, this form of exercise assists in keeping up mental facilities. Oxygen supply is increased, supporting brain function, and the meditation helps the brain focus on areas other than logical thought. The senior exercises different parts of the brain during tai chi, which helps the brain stay active and in a continuous state of flux. This helps reduce the amount of brain lost through the aging process, and may help slow the onset of certain brain issues.

Helping the Skeleton and Cardio System

As mentioned, this exercise relieves arthritis. It also helps ward off osteoporosis and its symptoms, as well as speeding recovery after strokes or heart attacks. The slow movements push the blood through the veins at an even pace, helping previously weak muscles improve over time. The bones move slowly, moving calcium through the system and helping to improve their overall structure. The lower leg bones strengthen their bond with the muscles, helping to reduce falls and increase balance. The exercises help relieve some symptoms of Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, as the movements work most muscle groups throughout the body.

 

Thank you to Jane Sandwood for the great post

Tips to Beat the Curse of the Middle-Age Spread

The middle-age spread is not a myth. It’s an evil curse of aging that can be more stressful than wrinkles, joint problems, or other signs of time passing. Studies have found that for women, the middle age spread happens around the age of 38 while for men it occurs around 44. At these ages, our metabolism slows down, making fat harder to burn and on average, we gain 30 pounds before the age of 50. One good thing about the curse though is that there is a remedy. Check out these tips to beat the middle-age spread.

Foods that Prevent the Spread

A study conducted by Tufts University found that certain foods can help control blood glucose levels and control weight gain in the long run. Some of these foods include Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, fish, chicken breast, nuts, and eggs. These magical foods can help battle the curse of the spread, but you should also avoid bread, rice, alcohol, soft drinks, and processed foods. There are even diet programs designed for people over 35 that incorporate these food suggestions if you would like an outlined schedule to follow.

Eat Breakfast Later

The time that you eat could determine your glucose level and how much you are able to burn during the day. According to health coaches, you shouldn’t eat three hours before going to bed and then eat breakfast later so that you fast for about 16-18 hours. By fasting like this, the body uses stored glycogen for energy which burns fat faster. The process works even better if you exercise before breakfast.

Eat Smaller Portions

Smaller plates will help to maintain a good diet during our adult years. A good way to eat smaller portions is to eat on smaller plates. This allows your mind to match up with your stomach and ensure you don’t overeat. According to dieticians, your meat portion shouldn’t be large than your palm, while your carbs, fruit, or vegetable options should be about the size of your fist.

Exercise 150 Minutes a Week

We lose muscle mass naturally at the age of 40 so diet alone will no longer be enough to lose weight during our middle-ages. Once you reach the age of 35, you will need to allot 75-150 minutes of physical activity a week, and ideally about 30 minutes a day for at least five days a week. You should mix up your workout regimen between aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, biking, and swimming, with strength training at least twice a week. Studies have also shown that if you get at least 10,000 steps daily, you are sure to stay fit and maintain a healthy waistline.

Although we become cursed the older we get, these tips will help you battle against the middle-age spread. As long as you incorporate healthy eating habits and regular exercise, you can ward off the unnecessary weight gain associated with aging.

 

Once again, thanks to Jane Sandwood for this great contribution

Why You Should Stay Hydrated During Your Workouts

The NHS recommends drinking around 6 to 8 glasses of water per day, roughly 1.2 litres of fluids to keep the body hydrated. However, the amount of fluid needed by the body when working out increases, and many people still only drink water when they are thirsty during exercise. Keeping hydrated before, during and after exercise is essential for overall health and lack of water or fluids may have detrimental effects,

Effects of Dehydration on Performance

During exercise, the body’s performance is impaired when dehydrated. Studies have shown that performance is inhibited by approximately 30 percent when the body is dehydrated. Dehydrating cells also results in raised histamine levels in the body leading to inflammation and pain. Water revitalises the body at a cellular level by transporting oxygen in and waste products like carbon dioxide out. Without water, all cells, including muscle cells, would be poisoned by these waste products leading to loss in strength. Sticking to water is healthiest but an electrolyte filled energy drink can be added as dehydration and heat combined can lead to muscle cramping.

Effect of Hydration on Bodily Health

As your body is made up of over 60 percent water, the more you replace during exercise, the better. Dehydration induced before exercise has been shown to increase heart rate, body temperature and even reliance on carbohydrates as a source of energy. This is particularly worsened in hotter environments according to a 1999 study published on the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology. Chronic dehydration can result in fatigue and energy loss, both of which will decrease motivation for exercise. Other adverse effects include high blood pressure and obesity due to craving foods to replace water.

Effects of Hydration on Appetite

Have you ever noticed you feel fuller when drinking fluids during or before a meal? It is not recommended that fluids replace meals entirely as we retrieve some of our daily fluid intake from food too. A 2010 study published in Nutritional Review shows that the total energy intake at meal times decreased with increased fluid intake.. Lack of fluids also increases craving for sweet things. The liver uses water and reducing this may reduce its ability to function and release glucose into the bloodstream. As a result, you may eat more sweet foods such as chocolate to compensate.

The body can survive without food for longer than it can without water showing how essential it is to get enough fluids. Avoid drinking only when thirsty and try to drink as much water as possible. Your body will adapt to the extra fluids and will thank you for it.

Thanks to Jane Sandwood for this great contribution

Getting your Recovery right is essential

The time you spend working out is only one part of the equation you need to achieve your fitness goals. Exercise is the process of applying a physical stimulus to the tissues of the body. One thing that is often forgotten is the fact that your body becomes stronger and fitter after you exercise .. during recovery. The right type of recovery, will help you maximize the results and help ensure achieve the best results.

So it’s important to understand the types of recovery. Short-term, which occurs immediately after a set to allow the muscles to eliminate the waste products of contraction; and longer-term, which refers to the period of time between workout sessions. Short-term recovery can be anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and is important to ensure that you replace energy stores after each set. The longer recovery period between workouts is the one to focus on because it is the time period after the workout when the body adapts to the stimulus applied during the exercise session. The proper care of your muscle and connective tissue, consuming the right type of post workout nutrition, the quality and quantity of sleep and, believe or not, the types of clothes you wear, can all promote the post-workout recovery necessary to help you maximize the results from your time spent sweating.

COMPRESSION CLOTHING: You may have noticed a recent trend of athletes, (especially the long distance runners) exercising while wearing knee-high socks, tights on both their legs and upper bodies, or sleeves over their calves or arms. Wearing compression clothing before and after a tough workout is a relatively new form of recovery treatment that, according to the research, may be an effective solution. The pressure from the tight clothing can improve circulation; specifically, the return of blood back to the heart, which helps remove metabolic waste from muscle and promotes the flow of oxygenated blood to help the tissue repair and rebuild.

MYOFASCIAL RELEASE: Foam rollers, compressions balls and rolling-pin-like sticks all help reduce muscle tightness, and at least one of them should be a part of your regular recovery program. If a muscle doesn’t experience a proper cool-down, or is held in a shortened position for an extended period of time, collagen, which are inelastic fibers that are a component of the connective tissue surrounding each muscle, can bind between layers of muscle and create adhesions or knots. Traditional massage therapy works by manually manipulating muscle tissue to break up adhesions, allowing the layers of muscle to slide against one another without restrictions. The pressure and motion of a muscle moving on a foam roller can help break up adhesions and realign muscle tissue to be able to function normally. In general, foam rollers provide the greatest response when an individual places a body-part directly on top of the roller and moves rhythmically to apply pressure to the underlying muscle and elastic connective tissue. Breaking up adhesions can help reduce muscle tightness and improve joint range of motion. Because it is not practical to hire a massage therapist after every workout, foam rollers, rolling sticks or compression balls can be used to apply the necessary pressure to break up collagen and promote optimal muscle recovery.

SAUNA OR HOT TUB: The heat from a sauna or hot tub increases the body’s circulation, which removes metabolic waste products like hydrogen ions, while also carrying oxygen and other nutrients necessary to help repair tissue used during the workout.

ICE, COOLING BATHS OR CRYOGENIC CHAMBERS: Another less comfortable, but extremely effective option for recovery is the use of cold treatments. Ice baths, ice packs or cooling vests. Cold treatment can help cool down the body’s core temperature, which is essential when exercising in hot weather, and can reduce inflammation and promote healing in tissue that was used during the workout. The cold from the application of ice to a sore muscle or joint brings more blood to the area, which brings nutrients and oxygen to help promote healing.

POST-WORKOUT NUTRITION: During exercise, your muscles expend energy and experience physical stress. Recent research in the field of nutrient timing suggests that when nutrition is consumed relative to exercise may be as important as what is consumed. After exercise, the body needs to replenish energy with carbohydrates and repair tissue with protein. Having a post-workout snack or drink with a proper ratio of carbohydrates-to-protein can help with both needs. The carbohydrates refuel energy needs and increase insulin levels, which helps to promote the post-exercise utilisation of protein for muscle repair. Proper nutrition is especially important after high-intensity exercise. Evidence indicates that having a snack or drink with a 3 to 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio within 30-45 minutes post-exercise can help you recover from the day’s activity and get ready for tomorrow’s workout.

SLEEP: Sleep is probably one of the most important components of a total wellness program that can help improve your overall health and fitness levels. Your body produces most of the hormones needed for tissue repair during the deep REM cycles of sleep. If you are planning a high-intensity workout, it is important that you have the ability to get a full night’s sleep to allow the endocrine system, which produces hormones, to play its role in the recovery process.

In summary, too much exercise without proper rest and recovery can lead to injury or illness, both of which could keep you out of the gym for lengthy periods of time. Insufficient rest and recovery does not allow for optimal muscle protein synthesis and could lead to an accumulation of energy-producing hormones such as epinephrine and cortisol, which can reduce the ability to generate new muscle tissue. Loss of sleep or appetite, lingering illness and cessation of gains from exercise are all symptoms of overtraining, which can significantly affect your ability to achieve your fitness goals. If you have a busy period of work, travel or family obligations, adjust your exercise program accordingly and do low- to moderate-intensity workouts until you can return to your normal sleep patterns, which can support higher-intensity exercise.

Group Exercise is More Effective

Group exercise is typically described as exercise performed by a group of individuals led by an instructor. There are a wide range of group exercise classes available and many can be found with a simple web search. Studies have shown that group exercise is much more effective than going to the gym and working out alone. Could this be true? Could working out in a group setting be more effective and provide better results? We decided to take a look at this study and see why group exercise is being hailed as the best way to get in shape or lose weight.

Group exercise offers exposure to a social and fun environment, a safe and effectively designed workout, a consistent exercise schedule, an accountability factor for participating in exercise, and a workout that requires no prior exercise knowledge or experience.

  1. Group exercise keeps you interested in the workout and helps to avoid the boredom of working out alone. It also offers camaraderie and accountability among participants, as well as between the participants and the instructor.
  2. Group exercise shows you what to do and what not to do. Most people avoid going to the gym because they don’t understand the machines or they don’t know what they should be doing. Group exercise offers a workout for all levels, ranging from beginner to advanced and you don’t have to have any experience at all.
  3. Group exercise offers structure, something many people new to the gym want. Group exercise classes often follow a particular structure which includes a warm-up, workout and a cool down period. People who work out alone don’t often follow these steps and they end up getting injured.
  4. Group exercise classes offer consistency in scheduling and are perfect for those on a time constraint. Many classes last 30 to 45 minutes and offer a full body workout.
  5. Group exercise offers diversity. From boot camps at a local park or yoga on the beach, to trekking on the bike trails or fun fitness classes for seniors, group exercise offers people a chance to try new things and get in shape with others in a social setting.

Are you looking for an exercise class in your area? Try My Fitness Times and find one today!

Why Pilates should be part of your fitness routine

There are loads of reasons you should include Pilates in your weekly routine, but let’s begin with this short list.

  1. Pilates is a full-body exercise. It focuses on the core while training the entire body as an integrated system. The workouts include ones that improve strength and balanced muscle development, flexibility and increased range of motion.
  1. Pilates sessions are tailored to individual needs. Pilates is for everyone, including elite athletes, the injured, seniors, pregnant women and everyone in-between. There are literally hundreds of exercises and modifications for each client.
  1. It lengthens the spine and improves posture. Poor posture creates a string of structural changes throughout the body that can cause pain and imbalance in the shoulders, neck and head as well as a tilt of the pelvis or a shift of the hips adding pressure to muscles and joints. This, in turn, may cause migraines, neck, lower back, hip, knee and foot pain. For example, if the head is tilted forward 20 degrees it is forced to bear twice the weight than if it were vertical. Pilates targets the deep postural muscles creating a strong, aligned core from which to move.
  1. Pilates heals and prevents back injuries. Dr. Vijay Vad, sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, states that in a recent study of patients with back pain, the participants that included Pilates in their exercise routine saw ”dramatic improvement” compared with those taking only pain medication. Doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists recommend Pilates exercise for most back pain. “Lasting improvements come with regular exercises that stretch and lengthen the spine, loosen up tight hip muscles and strengthen the abdominals, “ says Dr. Daniel Mazanec, Medical Director of the Cleveland Spine Institute.
  1. Muscular balance. For example, the golfer will repeatedly bend over a ball and twist in one direction. This overuse of the same muscles creates imbalance in the shoulders, neck, hips and feet, but the most vulnerable is the lumbar spine (low back).  Pilates works to restore the balance and re align the body.
  1. Core strength. If the trunk of a tree is not strong, what use are its limbs? We can train our arms and legs to be strong with weight training, but in Pilates you are never working just one muscle. Why not get more results in less time? Train your center while stretching and strengthening other muscles. This is called functional fitness.
  1. Weight loss, really! If you practice Pilates regularly, you will change your body. Pilates creates long, lean, strong muscles. Just because it is low-impact does not mean it is easy. Once you have the routine down, expect to work up a light sweat. The formula for weight loss remains the same: burn more calories than you consume. Because Pilates is a full-body exercise, it will help you do just that!
  1. Breath efficiently. Pilates will increase your lung capacity and your ribs will move more freely.
  1. Mind and body connection. Joseph Pilates was insistent that Pilates was about “the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit”. Pilates practice gives complete attention to each movement by instructing the brain to release tension, center oneself, control movement and breath with precision and flow.
  1. Improves balance and circulation. Strengthening the core and working one limb at a time will improve balance. The classic “Pilates Hundred” exercise is meant to get the blood circulating and act like a “rain shower” inside your body.

Try Pilates today! As Joseph Pilates once said, “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 2 you will see the difference, and in 30 you will have a whole new body.”