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

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

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.

Kickstart your fitness by taking baby steps to a healthier lifestyle

Making any kind of change in your life can be quite daunting and although we all know the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, many of us don’t really know where to start. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to throw yourself full throttle into several changes all at once. The likelihood is that you will stick to your new routine for a few days but then find it too much and give up, which will demotivate you and lead to feelings of failure.

The best way to change your lifestyle is to make small changes over time. This article will look at some of the baby steps you can make to get started.

1. Drink more water

Increasing your intake of water helps to flush the toxins from your body, keeping you hydrated. Many carbonated drinks contain a lot of chemicals which are known to increase the chances of cancer and other diseases, while fruit juices contain a lot of sugar. You can slowly decrease the amount of these drinks over a few weeks and replace them with water instead. Tap water, bottled water or tea all count and this is a very easy change to make.

2. Think about nutrition

Making drastic changes to your diet is often what a lot of weight loss programmes advocate but instead of thinking about what foods may be good or bad, think about which foods will nourish your body and give you the energy and nutrients your body needs to function effectively. If you feed your body to optimise your health then you will reap the benefits, so read food labels, eat whole foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, lean meat and fish and avoid processed foods full of chemicals and preservatives.

3. Reduce destructive behaviours

We all know the dangers of smoking, drinking alcohol and taking illegal drugs, as well as other forms of self-harm and addictions. If you are serious about changing your lifestyle, then these destructive behaviours need to be reduced and eventually eliminated altogether. This is not something that can happen overnight and you may need support, counselling or other more radical forms of treatment like medication or rehabilitation in order to overcome these damaging habits. The good thing is, there are a variety of funded groups and charities that can help and most accept self-referrals. For more information, contact your doctor or primary healthcare provider.

4. Get ready to move

Before you start any type of fitness regime, it’s important that you visit your doctor and discuss your intentions to find out if you have any medical conditions that you will need to manage during your workout sessions. Many different conditions can be exacerbated by exercise and it’s important to know the precautions you may need to take in order to carry out the exercise safely. You may also wish to invest in some supportive footwear and clothing that you can wear when you exercise. Setting goals during the development of this habit is also useful as you are getting yourself ready for the changes you’re making and this step helps you to create a mindset towards your healthier lifestyle. Start with small, achievable goals and set a date.

5. Take a walk

One of the best ways to build exercise into your life is to start walking. You don’t have to walk for hours, just 15 minutes a day will do; you can build up from there. This helps you create the habit of taking time out for exercise every day.

6. Develop flexibility

When people start to exercise they tend to find something they think they’ll like and jump in with both feet. Many underestimate the importance of developing flexibility through stretching and improving posture. Yoga and Pilates classes will help with these fundamental elements of exercise and provide an introduction to develop not only your flexibility and posture but also your core strength and muscle tone. If you’re looking for classes in your area then search for ‘Yoga classes and Pilates classes near me.

7. Find exercise you will enjoy

Never has there been so much choice in activities than what we have now. New and interesting fitness classes are sprouting up all over the place and vary not only in style and impact level but also in enjoyability and creative factors, too. It’s obvious that you should avoid activities that you absolutely hate because you won’t stick to them; instead find something that’s fun and that you feel you can stick to. Start low impact if you wish, then build up. If you want to try fitness and exercise classes then check out the availability of your favourites here

8. Consider a personal trainer

If joining an exercise class isn’t your thing, then you may want to try a personal trainer instead. Personal trainers can tailor a programme of exercises specifically for you and give you support and advice about nutrition as well as how to get the most out of your exercise regime. They are also great at helping you stay motivated and by committing to a personal trainer you are showing your dedication to your goals. If you would like to consider a personal trainer near you then check our listings here.
Experts say it takes 28 days to change a habit, so don’t expect immediate results and know it’s fine to take a step back as long as you choose not to give up. It’s important that you don’t rush and take the steps above at your own pace. You don’t need to do everything at once, just start taking those baby steps one at a time. The success you’re seeking is best achieved by making small changes over time so open your mind to new possibilities and stay positive. Your healthier lifestyle is just around the corner.