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The Secret to Becoming an Early Morning Exerciser

You’ve heard of those people who get out of bed with a pep in their step — no caffeine necessary — and tackle the day head-on. They even get in a workout when most of us are still tucked snuggly in our beds, then they eat a well-balanced breakfast and arrive at the office early and get a head start on their to-do list.

This isn’t a myth; these people are real. You can become one of them. First, you need to get enough sleep — at the right time.

WHEN AND HOW LONG TO SLEEP

Both when and how much you sleep matters equally. Being in tune with your body and knowing when to cut out sleep deterrents, such as blue light and caffeine, goes a long way in assisting your circadian rhythm.

As sleep science has become more sophisticated we are learning that the quality and the length are both critical to optimizing our sleep,” explains Wayne Andersen, co-founder and medical director of Take Shape for Life. “In general, an adult should have 7–9 hours of high-quality sleep per night.”

Andersen says the optimum time to go to sleep is between 8 p.m. and midnight, but understandably, our schedules don’t allow many of us to lay down quite that early. Should you want to adjust your sleep habits, do so in small increments by going to sleep 10–15 minutes earlier each night. Also, don’t stray from that schedule on the weekends, at least as you are adjusting your sleep cycle.

“Regardless of when you chose to sleep, it should be consistent,” adds Pete Bils, vice president of sleep science and research for Sleep Number. “Recent studies have shown that those who deviated an hour or more on their ‘days off’ have higher triglycerides, lower ‘good’ cholesterol, larger waists and have trouble with blood sugar/insulin management. Coined ‘social jetlag’, these inconsistent sleep routines create similar issues as traveling through several time zones, throwing our body’s rhythms off.”

A great way to learn your body’s rhythm is to go to bed a few nights at the same time and see what time your body wakes up without an alarm. From there, you can use Andersen’s incremental method to adjust the time you go to sleep.

TRAITS OF EARLY BIRDS

It turns out that there are a few differences between early birds and night owls, however, your sleep choices can have an effect on which you ultimately are.

“Studies show that the brains of early risers are structurally different, with an increased white matter in their brain as compared to late risers and intermediates [those in-between the two],” Andersen notes. “Although, to be fair, night owls are usually more productive, have more stamina during the day and have greater reasoning and analytical abilities.”

Andersen also references the ‘social jetlag’ that Bils mentions, which often involves eating more, fatigue and being more prone to alcohol intake. Night owls aren’t doomed to be late to rise forever, however, and can adjust their schedule regardless of any genes that may be at play.

So if you want to become an early morning exerciser, consistency is key.


READ MORE > 18 WAYS TO FUEL FOR A 6 A.M. WORKOUT: WHAT DIETITIANS EAT BEFORE THEY WORK OUT


BECOMING AN EARLY MORNING EXERCISER

“As a marathoner, I’ve learned that my best long, difficult workouts are most effective in the morning, so I gradually shifted them in that direction,” divulges Bils. “I did this for a practical reason, too. Many people lose control of their day as it unwinds. Having morning workouts guarantees they will happen.”

If you’re getting adequate sleep, morning workouts are fantastic. But don’t cut short your sleep to squeeze in a morning workout — that’s misses the point. You don’t have to skip your workout; Andersen recommends modifying the duration and intensity of your workout to avoid injury or excessive fatigue on mornings when you’re crunched for time.

Exercising in the morning will help and has so many other benefits on our overall health and well-being. Together these things help our productivity and set us up for cognitive, emotional and relational coherence throughout the whole day.”

Again, none of this is possible without that solid night of sleep. Adjusting gradually and staying consistent is what will help get you there.


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Stress Fracture – How To Avoid It?

How To Avoid A Stress Fracture?

Hello All!!!

Have you heard of the term ‘stress fracture’? It is a very common running injury. But what is it exactly? To find out keep reading this post!

What is a stress fracture?

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When muscles are fatigued and cannot handle additional shock, the muscle transfers the stress to the bone and that causes tiny cracks or stress fractures. The pain in this case is similar to shin splints or heel spur. However, if left untreated, a stress fracture can cause a lot of trouble.

You can avoid a stress fracture if you are careful about it. Have a look for yourself!

1) Intensify your workout slowly

When you are training you shouldn’t increase the intensity drastically. When the intensity of training increases your bone takes a month to become stronger. Thus, you should intensify your workouts gradually so that the bones can adapt well to the added stress.

2) Work on the flexibility of the calf

Another common cause of stress fracture is calf tightness. According to a study, individuals with tight calves are 4.6 times more likely to suffer from a stress fracture. This stresses the importance of stretching to lessen the muscles especially that of the calves. Thus, it is important to let the muscles recover properly so that they are not tight all the time and the risk of stress fracture is reduced.

3) Let your bones heal fully after an injury

Returning to your workout schedule before letting the injuries heal completely can increase complications. If you are already suffering from a stress fracture, get an MRI done before you resume your workout.

4) Eat dairy

milk and cheese

According to researchers, when you consume more calcium, skim milk and other dairy products, the rates of stress fracture are lower. Higher intake of dairy and calcium rich foods, animal protein and potassium are associated with an increase in whole body bone mineral content and density.

5)  Increase your vitamin D and calcium intake

Research says that when you consume foods rich in vitamin D along with foods rich in calcium, your bones will get strengthened and the risk of a stress fracture will reduce.

6) Say no to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

It can be harmful to use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat a stress fracture.

7) Don’t run on hard surfaces

running practice India

There can be an increased stress on muscles and bones by running on a hard surface. For example, when a tennis player starts playing on a hard court instead of the usual soft one, there is an increased risk of developing a fracture. If you are running outdoors just ensure that the surface is not too hard.

8) Wear right shoes

Choose the right running shoes to avoid a stress fracture. If you are not sure about the kind of shoes you should wear, ask the store assistant at the shoe store. He will guide you. Find the right running shoes for you here!

Keep the above things in mind and stay safe!

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Life, Death & SoulCycle with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King

Why do you run? Why does Michael Phelps swim? That’s what we take on in “Why I…,” our series in which we explore the passion of athletes — from all walks of life, at different levels and with diverse interests — in their own words. Finding your passion is key to staying motivated to live a healthy lifestyle.

For this stop in our series, we check in with Peter King, dog lover, grandfather, legendary football writer and editor-in-chief of The MMQB, Sports Illustrated’s pro football microsite. When he’s not working on his weekly 8,000-word column, he’s working out. Here’s why…  

My ulterior motive is to avoid death.

Both of my brothers died way too young. My older brother, Ken, wasn’t in great shape, but he walked a lot. He was 64 and had a tumor on his liver they didn’t discover until after he died. My other brother, Bob, who died of a faulty heart valve at 55, was an avid bicyclist, ran many marathons and was a lot healthier than me.

When I was 18, I was disciplined. As captain of my high school soccer team, I knew I had to run a certain number of hills every day to be in shape. But now my goal is to not get fat. I want to be able to cash in some of the chips I’ve earned over the years and have a pretty good life in addition to what I do.

When I came home from covering Super Bowl XL in 2006, I weighed 288 pounds. For 25 years of my life, I never worked out. That’s a lot of time to be idle. That year, I was determined that, for the next six months, the only thing I was going to do was work out 56 days a week and eat five small meals a day. When I started my training camp trip that summer, I weighed 217 pounds. People were positive I’d had gastric bypass surgery.

I weighed 228 pounds this morning. I ran for 30 minutes on the treadmill and did some other work with my trainer. I’ll be at the gym almost every day this week, SoulCycle on Saturday and take Sunday off. I live four blocks away from both places here in Manhattan. I feel a lot better walking away from the gym than I feel walking to the gym.


READ MORE

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I’ve done so many different forms of exercise: the elliptical, the cross-country ski machine, the recumbent bike. I consistently do SoulCycle once a week. I love it because I walk in there and 45 minutes later, I’m drenched in sweat and feel like I’ve been part of some sort of team activity.

I’m indoors now, but when the weather gets better, I’ll either be in the gym, in Central Park or Riverside Park. There’s a 10K most weekends in Central Park, which is basically one loop around the park. I’ll pick one and do that.

I can’t say I like running. I like having run. But if I don’t do it for a while, I miss it. And I start to feel creaky. I’m 59 years old. The way to feel 59 is not get any exercise.

— As told to Danny Bonvissuto

Raised in: Enfield, Connecticut
Roots for: Boston Red Sox
Dream job: Owning a minor league baseball team
Travels for work: 60–70 days a year
Number of readers per week his “Monday Morning Quarterback” column draws during football season: 2 million


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Blueberry Smoothie | Recipe

Blueberry-Smoothie-Blueberry-Council

Smoothies are a delicious and refreshing way to enjoy frozen blueberries while adding more fruit to your diet. This simple blueberry smoothie is perfect for an on-the-go breakfast or a refreshing dessert.

Blueberry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 container (5.3 ounces) peach Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 banana
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Optional Toppings

  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced frozen peaches, thawed
  • 1/4 cup granola
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons flaked coconut, toasted

Directions

Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into two glasses, dividing evenly.

If desired, add optional toppings to create a smoothie bowl. Recipe makes 2 servings.

Nutrition (per serving without toppings): Calories: 230; Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 2.5g; Monounsaturated Fat: g; Cholesterol: 10mg; Sodium: 35mg; Carbohydrate: 44g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugar: 34g; Protein: 7g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 289mg; Iron: 4%; Vitamin A: 3%; Vitamin C: 30%; Calcium: 11% 

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