The Science of Yoga: Top 5 Yoga benefits

A growing body of research has been showing many health benefits of integrative yoga practice. Today we’re going to learn about the top 5 yoga benefits, the main reasons I practice yoga on my active recovery days. Top 5 Yoga benefits Quality of Life. Yoga is associated with health-related quality of life improvements (HRQOL). Different practice…

The Science of Yoga: Top 5 Yoga benefits was originally published on Self Evolve

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yoga benefitsA growing body of research has been showing many health benefits of integrative yoga practice. Today we’re going to learn about the top 5 yoga benefits, the main reasons I practice yoga on my active recovery days.

Top 5 Yoga benefits

  1. Quality of Life. Yoga is associated with health-related quality of life improvements (HRQOL). Different practice components, such as meditation and postures, are associated with different benefits. In a cross-sectional analysis of 309 healthy adults, people who practiced meditation and breathing exercises showed higher scores in mental-health life quality. On the other hand, people with more years of postural practice scored highest on physical aspects of HRQOL (Birdee, Ayala & Wallston 2017).
  2. Lower-back pain and arthritis. Yoga may be as effective as physical therapy for chronic lower-back pain (Saper et al. 2017). It may also help people with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis (Cheung, Park & Wyman 2016).
  3. Heart disease and diabetes. Yoga may reduce heart disease risks. Heart health improves as a preventative measure or after a cardiac arrest (AHA 2013). Yoga practice may also help people with type 2 diabetes. A study of yoga and people with type 2 diabetes found that yoga is effective in lowering blood-glucose levels. Yoga can also help glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, blood pressure and cholesterol levels (Cui et al. 2017).
  4. Anxiety, depression and PTSD. Yoga practice may benefit those with anxiety, depression and/or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yoga practice that includes breathing, movement and deep relaxation appears to modulate stress response systems and, as a result, helps people regulate stress and pain responses (Harvard Health Publications 2009).
  5. Inflammation and immunity. Yoga practice reduces inflammation and boosts immunity. Research shows that people who regularly practice yoga exhibit decreases in inflammation, increases in chemicals that fight inflammation, and higher levels of antibodies in the blood. These all indicate immune system health (Stephens 2017).

Do you practice yoga?

I’ve done a few classes, but usually do yoga in the comfort of my home with Yoga with Adriene. Check her out today! If you practice yoga, where do you practice? Post up in the comments below!

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The Science of Yoga: Top 5 Yoga benefits was originally published on Self Evolve

My neck, my back, my lats, my traps: Back workout!

One of my favorite days of the week is back workout day! It’s the day I get to hit my back muscles in multiple ways at the gym. One of my favorite things about working my back is that I see results quickly. One of my least favorite things is walking around all stiff like…

My neck, my back, my lats, my traps: Back workout! was originally published on Self Evolve

back workoutOne of my favorite days of the week is back workout day! It’s the day I get to hit my back muscles in multiple ways at the gym. One of my favorite things about working my back is that I see results quickly. One of my least favorite things is walking around all stiff like an old lady the next day or two. But after the stiffness subsides, I feel stronger and my posture is improved. Today I’m going to go over a great all-encompassing back workout and why you should be hitting the back weekly.

Great back workout exercises!

Keep in mind that everyone is at a different point in their training. If you’re new to back exercises, grab lighter weights to start with. You can ALWAYS move up if the weights are too light, but don’t go too heavy to start since you don’t know how you’ll feel during or after the exercise.

  • Barbell Deadlift. This is technically more than a back exercise but it’s the absolute best for overall backside development. Technique is very important, but once you nail it you can progress to lifting monster weights that will recruit maximum muscle and help your muscles grow. If you’re lifting heavy, it’s best to do these near the beginning of your workout. If you’re doing them for repetitions, you can do them later in your workout. New to this? I would highly recommend hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions to learn the proper form. If that’s not an option, look up the proper technique HERE.
  • Bent-Over Barbell Deadlift. This is the second-best back movement in terms of sheet weight you can lift. This exercise will work the larger muscle groups of the upper and lower back equally. This is another technical move that requires excellent form but rewards you with a ton of muscle. Do bent-over rows toward the start of your back workout for heavy set in lower rep ranges. See proper form HERE.
  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Row. This is a great unilateral exercise that allows you to move a lot of weight. You’ll get greater range of motion when training unilaterally and you won’t be restrained if your weaker side fails first. Keep your elbow close to your body and pull straight up. This exercise will focus more on your lower lats. Do it anywhere from the middle to the end of your workout. See proper form HERE.

 Put your back into it!

back workout
©Ozzie Ramsay Photography | ALL Rights Reserved 2017

Your goals will determine how many reps and sets you do, but in general it’s best to do 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps. Like I said, start light then add more weight over time as you nail down the proper form. If you need help getting your technique down, I highly recommend working with a certified personal trainer like myself. Even just a few sessions will give you a lot of feedback to work with and learn from! Avoid bad form which leads to injury!

What’s your favorite back exercise?

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My neck, my back, my lats, my traps: Back workout! was originally published on Self Evolve

How to find the right gym for you: What to ask

Whether you’re training for that next race or looking to lose a few extra pounds, getting a gym membership should be one of the first few things on your to-do list. Many people don’t know where to start, so today I’m going to go over the best way to find the right gym for you.…

How to find the right gym for you: What to ask was originally published on Self Evolve

Whether you’re training for that next race or looking to lose a few extra pounds, getting a gym membership should be one of the first few things on your to-do list. Many people don’t know where to start, so today I’m going to go over the best way to find the right gym for you.…

How to find the right gym for you: What to ask was originally published on Self Evolve

Rest and Recovery: Epsom Salt Baths

Have you tried Epsom salt baths? I had never used Epsom salt prior to training for a marathon this past year. But I’m here to tell you, they are amazing for recovery, especially after those painful long training runs (I’m talking 15+ miles, bro). Soak in salt.. First of all, who doesn’t enjoy a nice warm…

Rest and Recovery: Epsom Salt Baths was originally published on Self Evolve

Have you tried Epsom salt baths? I had never used Epsom salt prior to training for a marathon this past year. But I’m here to tell you, they are amazing for recovery, especially after those painful long training runs (I’m talking 15+ miles, bro).

Soak in salt..epsom salt baths

First of all, who doesn’t enjoy a nice warm bath? The idea of drawing up a steaming hot bath always makes me feel better, even before getting into the water. Maybe it’s just me, but I am actually naturally lazy. Whenever I get 20 minutes to be lazy and warm, I usually take a bath. And if I’m sore, Epsom salt will be included. Whether it’s after a hard run or a hard training session at the gym, the Epsom salt works it’s magic and I feel better afterwards. Especially as we enter Flu season, rest and recovery are very important.

Facts about Epsom salt

  1. It is named after a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England.
  2. It isn’t actually a salt, it’s a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate.
  3. Both magnesium and sulfate are readily absorbed through the skin, which makes Epsom salt baths an easy and effective way to enjoy the benefits (see below).
  4. Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body including regulating the activity of over 325 enzymes, reducing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function, and helping to prevent artery hardening. Sulfates help improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins, and help ease migraine headaches.

Benefits of Epsom salt bathsepsom salt baths

  1. Eases stress and relaxes the body. Stress drains the body of magnesium. Magnesium helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. Magnesium also increases energy and stamina by encouraging the production of ATP, the energy packets made in the cells.
  2. Relieves pain and muscle cramps. Epsom salt baths help ease pain and relieve inflammation, making it beneficial in the treatment of sore muscles, bronchial asthma, and migraine headaches. Epsom salt softens skin and will even neutralize foot odor in addition to helping your achy feet feel better.
  3. Helps muscles and nerves function properly. Studies show that Epsom salt can help regulate electrolytes in your body, ensuring proper functioning of the muscles, nerves, and enzymes. Magnesium is critical in the proper use of calcium, which serves as a main conductor of the electric impulses in your body.
  4. Helps prevent hardening of arteries and blood clots. Epsom salt improves blood circulation, protects the elasticity of arteries, prevents blood clots, and reduces the risk of sudden heart attacks. This alone makes the salt baths worth it!
  5. Eliminates toxins from the body. The sulfates in Epsom salt help flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells. This helps ease muscle pain and helps the body to eliminate harmful substances.

The best part is..

It’s cheap! You can get a big bag of Epsom salt that will last you weeks for only a few dollars. Hit up your local drugstore, or find some great buys below.

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Rest and Recovery: Epsom Salt Baths was originally published on Self Evolve

Whistle while you work: music helps pass the time

Classic Snow White.. Just whistle while you work And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place So hum a merry tune It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace While the seven dwarves may have been funny, they knew a good thing once they discovered it. Whistling/singing a…

Whistle while you work: music helps pass the time was originally published on Self Evolve

Classic Snow White.. Just whistle while you work And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place So hum a merry tune It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace While the seven dwarves may have been funny, they knew a good thing once they discovered it. Whistling/singing a…

Whistle while you work: music helps pass the time was originally published on Self Evolve

Never too late to start: Age is just a number

I’ve heard the saying “I’m too old to start working out” more times than I’d like to count. My normal response to these people is that age is just a number and that it’s never too late to start. I usually get eye rolls and even more excuses as to why they can’t (or rather,…

Never too late to start: Age is just a number was originally published on Self Evolve

I’ve heard the saying “I’m too old to start working out” more times than I’d like to count. My normal response to these people is that age is just a number and that it’s never too late to start. I usually get eye rolls and even more excuses as to why they can’t (or rather, won’t) work out. I’m here to prove that it’s never too late to start exercising, even if you think it’s impossible.

Picking up a new exercise regime at age 100

never too lateJulia Hawkins, a.k.a. Hurricane, is a 101-year-old Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native new runner who just started running a year ago- at age 100. She earned the nickname “Hurricane” last summer, when her speed and spunk on the track fascinated live spectators.

“I like the fact that hurricanes are fast and that I was fast, but hurricanes do damage and I don’t want to do damage,” Hawkins says.

But she’s already done damage, to the record books at least. Her numbers are amazing, especially for a centenarian. But she doesn’t do it alone.

Never too late

How does Julia make it work? How does she pull off not only starting but also excelling at running at age 101? Here’s a few tips from the record-breaker herself.

  1. Get a good support system. Hawkins credits her four children for providing unrelenting moral support. In addition to this, she relies on track-side assistance to keep her going. She finds herself out of breath and exhausted at the end of races, so someone there to catch her helps a lot.
  2. Maintain realistic expectations. At an advanced age, it’s unlikely you will get better at what you’re doing. Each day, you will likely be a little bit worse. Hawkins doesn’t train much for her races, but she does keep busy, spending significant time tending to her backyard. “I do a little running around each day-not a certain amount or time-but just age is just a numberto keep everything going.”
  3. Don’t stretch too much. Julia’s warm up consists of jiggling up and down a little, and she saves the stretching for afterwards.
  4. Find a talisman. Shortly before her race in Birmingham, Hawkins opened a fortune cookie that prophesied: You will make a sudden rise in life. She believes this ties into that race. She kept the slip of paper and often tucks it into her pocket for on-the-go good luck.

It’s no mystery why Julia is smiling. The next time you think to yourself that you’re too old to start, think of Julia and where she’d be if she thought the same thing.

Age is just a number

What motivates you to exercise? What’s holding you back if you haven’t started yet? If running isn’t for you, maybe you’d rather lift weights.

Great resources to start running at any age

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Never too late to start: Age is just a number was originally published on Self Evolve

What does athletic mean to you?

When you hear the word athletic what comes to mind? A runner? A swimmer? A weight lifter? What does it take to be considered athletic? The average person is active for about two hours a week, which is just below the recommended two and half hours a week. The average athlete works out 1-2 hours…

What does athletic mean to you? was originally published on Self Evolve

When you hear the word athletic what comes to mind? A runner? A swimmer? A weight lifter?

What does it take to be considered athletic? The average person is active for about two hours a week, which is just below the recommended two and half hours a week. The average athlete works out 1-2 hours a day with a rest day each week, so about 10 hours week. And the type of training depends on what they’re preparing for, but across the board most athletes incorporate strength training and cardio into their workout regimes. And high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a common go-to training style across the board.

In addition to athletes using HIIT, there are many benefits being seen through recent fitness studies on this style of training. Beyond it being one of the best ways to train, it has benefits on the cellular level. HIIT combined with weight training can improve cellular function and slow the aging process at a cellular level. So not only will you look athletic and fit, you’ll also feel younger and better! But back to the image that comes to mind..

When you hear athletic, do you think about muscles or just a slim body? Do you like the athletic body or do you prefer a little more cushion? Do you think athletic is sexy or scary?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

What does athletic mean to you? was originally published on Self Evolve