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Jump to It: How Bouncing Makes You Stronger

Working hard at strength training or yoga are both enormously advantageous to your fitness, but there’s another workout that maximizes results and is undeniably fun. Jumping and other exercises like plyometrics, jump rope and parkour can bring major benefits — without adding much time to your workout schedule.

“The goal is to train at maximum effort for a short amount of time with explosive movements, giving you the most bang for your buck,” says Sloane Davis, certified nutritionist, personal trainer and founder of the blog Pancakes and Pushups. Not only does jumping benefit leg and core muscles, but you also boost endurance and torch calories, she adds.

PLYOMETRIC DRILLS

Our muscular systems are made of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers, and both types play a role in everyday functioning. Fast-twitch are the kind that give you reactive strength — for example, allowing you to sprint faster or get more power for shooting a basketball.

Fast-twitch fibers are the largest and strongest in the body, Davis says, and they’re best trained through explosive movements that fatigue them quickly. Plyometrics were designed for just that purpose. They incorporate movements like box jumps, burpees and jump squats.


READ MORE > HOW TO MASTER BOX JUMPS


PARKOUR

First developed as obstacle-based military training, parkour is now a quasi-sport that is sometimes called “free running.” According to the World Freerunning Parkour Federation, the sport is the act of moving from one point to another using obstacles in your path to increase your efficiency.

Think of nearly any action movie sequence involving a chase: You’ll see people fighting, but also vaulting, jumping, flipping and sprinting over obstacles like rooftops, garbage cans, couches, cars — anything in their path. In many ways, that’s parkour.

You don’t need to get cinematic to emulate the sport, though. You just need to incorporate different kinds of jumps into your routine. For example, instead of jumping directly over a low bench, you could try vaulting to the side of it and then rolling after you land to soften the impact.


READ MORE > WHY EVERY RUNNER SHOULD TRY PARKOUR


JUMP ROPE

Deceptively simple, jump rope can actually turn into a mental endurance game once you go for longer than a few minutes. But it’s worth the effort, because this easy exercise yields mega benefits. There’s a reason boxers love it so much.

According to Dr. Peter Schulman, associate professor of cardiology and pulmonary medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center, jumping rope is good for the heart, but also has other advantages. He notes that it strengthens both the upper and lower body, and it burns a ton of calories in a short time.

In terms of form, stay high on your toes rather than coming down on your heels, since that will minimize the impact. Also, make sure the rope is the right size for you — the handles should reach your armpits if you’re stepping on the rope.


READ MORE > NASA, THE TRAMPOLINE AND YOU


GETTING STARTED

If you don’t have a sturdy box for plyometrics, a jump rope or a parkour course, that’s no problem, according to Davis.

“The great thing about jumping exercises is that you can basically do them anywhere because they are mostly bodyweight exercises,” she says. “You can use what’s available to you, from a park bench outside to an ottoman at home.” Options like burpees or jump squats don’t require even those, since you can do them anywhere.

Davis recommends warming up by jumping rope for 5 minutes, and then incorporating these jumpstyle movements into your workout routine for 1 minute each: mountain climbers, high-knee jumps, jumping jacks, football shuffle, skaters, burpees and jump squats.

Be particularly conscious of how you land, too, adds Jeffrey Yellin, a doctor of physical therapy and regional director of Professional Physical Therapy in New York. Landing needs to be done in a way that allows the muscles to slow the motion instead of the joints. The best technique is to sit back into a semi-squat position on landing, he advises. Using arm swings for momentum can also be helpful.

“Once you feel comfortable with both jumping and landing, then you can increase intensity,” he says. “Just make sure that you always feel in control and that you advance gradually. But really, any amount of jumping helps to improve reactive strength.”

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4 Signs You’re Eating Too Little When Trying to Lose Weight

If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s pretty cut and dry, right? Cut as many calories from your diet as possible. Unfortunately, it’s possible to eat too little, which not only makes it harder for you to achieve a healthy weight, but can also cause other health problems.

The first thing you should ask yourself is, “Why do I want to lose weight?” This seems simple. It’s usually to fit into smaller clothes or to look better. But these reasons can cause you to make decisions that aren’t necessarily in your best health interest. Eating below your needs is just one example of that and, unfortunately, it can backfire big time.

Everyone has a set amount of calories, or energy, they need to simply be alive. Consistently eating less than this can cause your metabolism to slow down and your body to begin preserving what it can to survive. Hunger and feeling full aren’t the only indicators of whether you’re fueling your body appropriately. In fact, if you aren’t eating enough consistently, you may notice some of these other signs as well.

1. YOU’RE TIRED

Our bodies are fueled by the foods we eat, so if we don’t eat enough, our energy levels can also wane. Whether you’re skipping meals or limiting the types of food you eat, eating too few calories also means you’re taking in too few nutrients. Research shows you need all the macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fat – for sustained energy. That said, vitamins and minerals are also essential in regulating the production of energy. When you skimp on calories, it becomes much more difficult to get all these important elements your body needs to function properly.


READ MORE > ASK THE DIETITIAN: SHOULD I EAT BACK MY EXERCISE CALORIES?


2. YOU’RE CRANKY

Feeling more irritable than normal can be another key indicator you aren’t supplying your body with enough fuel to get through the day. Skimping on carbohydrates can be particularly problematic when it comes to mood stabilization. Without enough carbs, your blood-sugar levels may dip too low because the body doesn’t have enough sugar, or glucose, to use as fuel.

3. YOU’RE CONSTIPATED

To help preserve energy, your digestive tract may move food through your system more slowly when you restrict your intake below what your body needs for an extended period of time. This can cause constipation. In addition, not getting enough fiber regularly — which is challenging to do even when you do eat enough to meet your needs — can also increase the likelihood of constipation.

4. YOU CAN’T LOSE THOSE LAST FIVE POUNDS

More isn’t necessarily better. You usually lose weight when you run a calorie deficit — burning more calories than you’re consuming — you can actually hold on to weight for a period if you’re creating too large of a deficit. If you’re finding you just can’t lose those last few pounds, it’s possible you’re either training too hard, eating too little or some combination of the two. Smaller deficits (think 250-500 calories) are all you really need to see longer-term weight loss. Plus, this won’t trigger your body to go into self-preservation mode, which may provide you with quick weight loss in the beginning, but set the stage for you to gain it back in the future.

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Adductor and Abductor Machine Alternatives

Of all the machines at the gym, the hip adduction and abduction machine is perhaps the most misused and misunderstood. While most people think they’re toning their inner thighs for more shapely legs, they’re probably compressing their lower back and grinding away at their hip sockets. Not good.

Skip this awkward machine and consider simple band exercises to build stronger hips and a shapely backside.

FORWARD AND BACKWARD BAND WALKS

Simply walking forward and backward with a band around your knees builds and strengthens your glutes. This takes care of hip abduction and improves your hip external rotation.

  • Take a light resistance band and place it around the top of your knees (double loop the band if it’s too long for more resistance).
  • Bend your knees and hips slightly with your feet facing straight ahead.
  • Push your knees outward gently to create tension against the band. Don’t let your feet turn out.
  • Take slow, deliberate steps straight ahead without losing tension in the band. Walk heel to toe and pause for one second after each step.
  • Then, reverse direction to walk backward. Step toe to heel without letting the band pull your knees inward.
  • Perform 3 sets of 10 steps per side, per direction.

SHORT SIDE BRIDGE WITH INTERNAL ROTATION

Many people lack hip internal rotation range of motion, which makes it challenging to perform many athletic movements, including squats. Rather than focus on only hip adduction, try this exercise to strengthen your glutes and improve hip internal rotation.

  • Loop a short band around your ankles.
  • Place a quarter foam roller or similar object between your knees and actively squeeze it with your thighs (this is the hip adduction part).
  • Get into a side-plank position but with your knees bent at 90 degrees instead of legs straight.
  • Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes so your lower back doesn’t arch.
  • Lift your top foot into the air without moving your knees apart (this is the internal rotation part).
  • Slowly return your top foot to the starting position and repeat.
  • Perform equal reps on both sides.

READ MORE

> 3 Steps to Bulletproof Your Hips
> 5 Easy Fixes to Keep Your Knees Straight During Squats
> The Weirdest-Looking Exercises You Should Start Doing


RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE

Why fight against the awkward hip adduction and abduction machine when you can use a simple band to achieve better results? The above exercises provide a more effective workout with less embarrassment.

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5 Ways Mindful Eating Can Help You Lose Weight

Snacking while cooking dinner, eating while writing emails, munching on the drive to work. Multitasking might save time, but when it comes to eating there is also a cost: distraction.

Multitasking while eating makes it challenging to be mindful. Ever sat in front of the TV with a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream and magically, the food vanishes before your eyes and you wonder what that last bite tasted like? Or maybe you find yourself at 10PM with calories remaining for the day so you go for the cookies, despite still feeling full from dinner. Whether eating is a result of physical or emotional distraction, both have the same end result: mindless eating.

Mindful eating is being aware of the taste, texture, aroma, presentation, and your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Getting to know your hunger and fullness is the secret to losing the weight for good and keeping it off.

1. EAT WITH BALANCE

Eating a variety of foods at each meal not only provides balanced nutrition, it can also help with meal satisfaction. Make sure that your plate has 3 foods: Fiber, Fat, and Protein. These three ingredients take the longest to break down causing a slower release of energy and keeping you fuller for longer. Find fibers through fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Opt for healthy fats like avocado, nuts, nut butters, seeds, and olive oils. Get protein from a variety of sources including meat, fish, poultry, tofu, tempeh, beans, and nuts.

READ MORE > 9 WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT THAT AREN’T JUST DIET AND EXERCISE

2. TIME YOUR MEALS

If you’ve been dieting or eating sporadically for some time, it’s time to recalibrate your hunger and fullness meter. Many people say that when they begin mindful eating that they don’t really feel hungry or full; that’s likely because your hunger and fullness meter is off. Begin to get back on track by eating food in regular intervals, about every 4 hours or so–paying close attention to portion size. This is enough time for your body to recognize the swings in energy levels without getting overly hungry. Keep in mind if you still are not hungry after 4-5 hours of eating, you might have eaten a bit too much at that last meal. Not to worry though! Simply wait until your body tells you it needs more fuel in the tank before eating again. Check out this article to dive deeper into understanding and listening to your hunger cues.

3. BE PRESENT

It can’t be overstated that to become a mindful eater, the mind and body must be present with the plate. Eat with intention, turn off the TV and shut down the computer while dining at the table. Distracted eating is a major contributor to unintentional overeating. Focusing on your meal or snack will not only lead to greater enjoyment of whatever you’re eating but a greater awareness of your hunger and satiety cues.

4. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

Becoming aware of the body’s internal cues to hunger and fullness will keep blood sugar stable and increase energy levels. Mindful eating requires trusting the body to know “how much” food is needed and when to stop. When you sit down to a meal ask yourself, “How hungry am I”, and give it a number from 1 to 10 with 1 being starving and 10 being stuffed. We tend to eat with our eyes over our stomachs; mindful eating is a turn from that norm. Even though mindful eating is a skill we were born with and have lost along the way, it will take some time to relearn. Instead of eating on autopilot and cleaning your plate out of habit, challenge yourself to put the fork down when you are actually satisfied (6-7) vs. stuffed (8-9). Remember to not let your body get overly hungry and eat when you feel a gentle hunger (3).

5. ACCEPT THE HERE AND NOW

So you want to make changes to your body composition and/or lose some weight, first start with loving your body just the way it is. If you find that you cannot accept yourself as you are, this is the first place to start on your mindful eating journey. The confidence that you find from within will keep you grounded and able to trust your body enough to be a mindful eater.

Mindful eating takes guts and can be scary, but on the other side there is freedom from the diet trap. Consider weight loss and improved body composition as a side effect of eating mindfully, instead of the end goal. For some this step can be achieved by finding an activity that you truly enjoy, cleaning out the closet and buying clothes that fit and look fabulous on you, or tossing the scale if it’s defining your self worth every time you step on it.

Lastly, remember to be patient with yourself as you begin eating mindfully. You might not feel good at it at first, but like with anything practice is key. Keep focused on your true goals and weight loss will be a side effect of your new healthful relationship with food.

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