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6 Reasons to Spend More Time Outside

Getting outside this time of year is a no-brainer. There’s something about the warmth of sun on your skin and the cooling of wind in your hair that instantly makes you feel better. Food cooked or eaten outside feels nostalgic and, in some circumstances, even seems to taste better. Plus, trading stale air-conditioned air for fresh air is, well, refreshing.

All of these mental benefits aren’t only in your head. A growing field of research shows spending time alfresco is good for our mood, memory and more. The key is to indulge in the moment.

“Being in nature is the idea of being away. The more immersed you are, the better,” says David Strayer, PhD, professor of Cognition and Neural Science at the University of Utah. “Put your phone away, walk out to a grassy area and watch the birds, clouds, all those things.”

So concentrate on your surroundings next time you have a picnic or go for a walk around the neighborhood, and you may benefit from these positive effects of being in the great outdoors.

1. LESS STRESS

If you find yourself feeling less tense when you hit the park, you’re not imagining things. In a Japanese study, researchers reported that forest therapy — basically, spending time in a forest without any tech — can reduce stress. At the end of the study, subjects who sat in natural surroundings for even a short time had decreased cortisol levels, blood pressure and heart rates. Furthermore, their parasympathetic nerve activity increased 55 percent, which is the part of your nervous system referred to as “rest and digest.” No wonder people also self-report feeling more comfortable, soothed and refreshed in a forest than in an urban setting.


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2. DECREASED NEGATIVE SELF-TALK

You know that little voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough, not talented enough, not fit enough … simply not enough? That’s what scientists call “rumination.” And you might be able to shut it up with nature. In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, people who went for a 90-minute walk outside reported lower levels of rumination. On top of that, brain scans showed reduced activity in a part of the brain associated with rumination.

“We’re drilling down deeper now to see if that drop in rumination explains other kinds of mood impacts of nature,” says study author Greg Bratman, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher at Stanford University.

3. REDUCED ANXIETY

One of these potential mood impacts is reduced anxiety, and the main theory behind this effect relates to evolutionary psychology. In simple terms, it states that because our ancestors associated open fields of plants, water and lack of predators as being safe, these things engage the parasympathetic nervous system and have a restorative effect, even though we don’t have to worry about the same kind of predators our ancestors did.

Bratman adds that decreased rumination could lead to decreased anxiety, but at this point we don’t have concrete data.

4. INCREASED POSITIVE MOOD

Taking a walk in the forest has been shown to boost vigor, vitality and positive effects, which is scientific talk for ‘improving your mood.’ Other research has found decreased negative mood, Bratman says. But whether nature is increasing good feelings or reducing bad ones, it all sounds good to us.

5. BETTER MEMORY AND CONCENTRATION

Take a 15-minute walk in the park on your lunch break (you do take a break, right?), and you may boost your concentration and feel less fatigued in the afternoon, according to a recent study. And in previous research published in Psychological Science, scientists gave students a memory test, then sent half of them to walk an arboretum and the other half to walk a city street. When they came back, the nature group improved their test scores by almost 20%.

Researchers believe time spent outdoors allows the frontal lobe of the brain — which controls executive function, attention and rumination — to rest. “If you walk 30 minutes to an hour without technology, the reserves of energy that part of the brain works on are replenished,” Strayer explains.

6. MORE CREATIVITY

This power nap for the frontal lobe may also explain why spending four days in nature improved adults’ creativity scores 50% in a study by Strayer. “There’s something about being in nature, letting go, de-activating the ruminating frontal lobe and operating more in the moment,” he explains. “When you are in nature, the default mode of the brain becomes more activated, and that’s associated with mind-wandering, restfulness and restorative properties.”

Bottom Line: Get Outside

Although we don’t know exactly why, it’s clear spending time outdoors is good for you. How much exposure you need is still up for debate and seems to depend on the benefit you’re hoping to achieve — for example, it takes less time to lower blood pressure than to reduce feelings of depression. But any amount is good, and more is probably better.

“The average American spends over 10 hours in front of a screen, plus an hour or more in commute,” says Strayer. “We are becoming a nation of people tethered to digital devices and technology we invented, and we don’t unplug or get enough exercise.”

So unplug your devices, put on some sunscreen and gather some friends for a meal, workout or chat under the sun or stars. Your body will thank you.

Written by Brittany Risher, a writer, editor and digital strategist specializing in health and lifestyle content. To stay sane from working too hard, she turns to yoga, strength training, meditation and scotch. Connect with her on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Life Hacks for Weight Loss, Better Health & More | This Week in Fitness

Whether it’s a trick to lose weight, a key to better workouts or everyday items to help us feel better, we all need some good life hacks. And there are a lot more out there than we think. That’s where This Week in Fitness comes in. Every other week, the Under Armour Connected Fitness editorial team hand-curates the biggest stories, trends and goings-on around the world so you can strive to be as healthy as possible. Bring on the hidden tricks!

That’s What I Call a Pick-me-up

A cup of joe wakes you up, but you shouldn’t drink it before exercising or competing, right? That’s the old conventional wisdom talking. A new study documented by The New York Times suggests that drinking a cup of coffee an hour before exerting yourself may actually improve performance. On the flip side, here’s how coffee can actually help you nap. Either way, make ours a double!

Scale, We Need a Break

The scale is what tells you you’re losing weight — that’s the most consistent way to track, especially if you’re a MyFitnessPal user. But can going cold turkey with your scale lead to results? This cyclist tried it for a month and wrote about her surprising findings for Bicycling magazine. For more strategies, check out our five signs you may need to reevaluate your relationship with your scale.

How to Fall Asleep at 30,000 Feet

We’ve all been there: trying desperately to catch some shuteye while flying. Well + Good has four holistic hacks to fix this conundrum and none involve alcohol or sleeping pills.


WATCH > FIT TIPS: WORK OUT WHILE TRAVELING 


Get Out — Literally

Last time around, we recommended slowing down for better health. Getting outside often might be even better for you. Here’s some scientific proof:  A British study found that adding a bit of nature to your day can help reduce stress, depression and anxiety.

You Need to Cool Off

No, not because the mercury is increasing. Big-wave surfing legend Laird Hamilton shares six of his favorite health hacks with GQ (including the aforementioned coffee boost). Perhaps our favorite? Taking an ice bath — or at least a cold dip — to reduce inflammation. Says the 53-year-old: “If you had one bio-hack, icing would be the king.”

Unicorn Food 4Eva

We thought cloud eggs had pulled ahead of anything unicorn-related in the latest food trends, but it appears your favorite fantasy horse has grabbed the spotlight back in the form of Unicorn Noodles. It’s less complicated and easier to make than it sounds, and the results are gorgeous, according to this recipe from The Indigo Kitchen.


READ MORE > WE TRIED BARRY’S BOOTCAMP — HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW


#TheyWill

Admit it, half the reason you love Under Armour is our athletes. A handful of the brand’s biggest made ESPN’s “World Fame 100” list, which combined endorsements, social media following and search popularity for an aggregate score. Check out where Stephen Curry, Jordan Spieth, Tom Brady, Andy Murray and Cam Newton ended up.

He Stops Shots … and Writes for Kids

How about another UA athlete up to cool things you probably didn’t know about? By day, Jeff Attinella is a journeyman goalkeeper for the Portland Timbers. On the side, he’s a budding children’s author. Attinella has written a series of sports books for kids, including yarns about the curse-breaking Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Cavaliers and five-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady.

Solidarity in Manchester

A somber, but uplifting note here. Despite the tragic bombing in Manchester, England, last month, the Great Manchester Run went on as scheduled with a half-marathon and 10K. The theme among the participants was continuity and togetherness. A minute of silence kicked off the event and was followed by an Oasis singalong that will give you chills.

Yoga for Muggles

Theme yoga is all the rage these days. So if you’ve tried goat yoga and beer yoga but you’re still in the market for a gimmick, have we got spell-binding news for you: Harry Potter yoga is a thing in Austin, Texas, complete with wands. Cosmopolitan has the proof, in photos.

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Foods That Burn More Calories Than They Have!

Foods That Burn More Calories Than They Have – Check it out!

Hello All!!!

Food is fuel – that is what people say! Each every kind of food is unique when it comes to calorie count or the way they get digested. Have you ever heard of negative calorie foods? Intriguing isn’t it? You may ask how something can have a negative calorie count when every food on Earth has calories? These are foods that burn more calories than they have.Lose Weight With Negative Calorie Foods

No prize for guessing that these negative calorie foods are usually plant based ones with high water content and lots of fibre. The ones that fall in this category are veggies, fruits, grains and legumes. However, you cannot include fatty fruits such as avocados and olives in the list. It takes longer for your body to burn off fibre loaded foods, and this revs up your metabolism and gives your weight loss a jumpstart!

These negative calorie foods can be considered as sources of essential micronutrients and are free of fat packing calories. This works because when your tummy senses that it is full it will send signals to your brain to ask you to stop eating.

Believe it or not, simply drinking a glass of water before every meal is a great way to lose weight. Water fills your belly and this reduces the space left for other solid food.

All-Day-Drink-More-Water

This is a common property of all negative calorie foods. They have a lot of water in a fibrous matrix. Talking about water fruits, you cannot miss out on apples, grapes and obviously watermelons. There are many veggies that are water vegetables, which means they have lots of water. A classic example of water vegetables is the celery. It is a water-rich food that is regarded as a negative calorie food.

Here is a list of negative calorie foods (essentially fruits and veggies). You can choose foods from this list and stay in shape!

  1. Watermelon
  2. Apple
  3. Lettuce
  4. Papaya
  5. Orange
  6. Broccoli
  7. Celery
  8. Cucumber
  9. Tomato
  10. Radish

Include several servings of fruits and veggies in your daily diet plan. Not only will they help you lose weight but also keep your overall health intact!

So, what are you waiting for? Load your refrigerator with the fruits and veggies mentioned above and add them to your meals or snacks.

Stay healthy and fit!

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Get More Beets On Your Table

Beet salads have taken over restaurant menus nationwide and for good reason: They’re sweet yet earthy, roast up nice and tender, and can be pickled or grilled for more texture. Best of all, beets are nutritional powerhouses. They’re an excellent source of folate, rich in fiber, potassium and vitamin C, and a good source of iron. Their pigments, called betalains, have also been shown to have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Raw, boiled, steamed or roasted beets are typically more nutrient-dense than canned, but let’s be honest — preparing fresh beets can be intimidating, if only because it tends to be messy.

Using disposable gloves makes getting your hands clean much, much easier after working with red or pink beets (it’s cleaning under the nails that is a real pain). Lining pans with foil helps, too. Just think of protecting any surface the cooked beet, especially once it’s peeled, will touch.

Second, know that once beets are cooked, their skins slip off easily. So, consider scrubbing them clean, cooking them, then peeling them for less work.

Still not convinced? Luckily, pre-cooked beets are readily available. Canned and jarred beets oftentimes contain added sugar, salt and preservatives. Instead look for “steamed and peeled” beets in the refrigerated aisle of the produce section. They’re a healthier, no-fuss option since they’re vacuumed-packed and contain only one ingredient: beets!

WHAT TO DO WITH COOKED BEETS

Once you have cooked beets on hand, there’s a thousand things to do with them. A few ideas to get you started:

  • Drizzle with vinaigrette and a few dollops of fresh goat cheese or feta cheese for a super-simple salad.
  • Grate a beet and cook as hash browns. Top this “flannel hash” with a fried or poached egg for a tasty breakfast.
  • Slice, chop or grate along with a bit of onion, heat up in some chicken broth and you have the world’s easiest beet soup (aka borscht). A sprinkle of dill and a spoonful of yogurt makes a nice addition.
  • Add chopped beets to a tossed green salad.
  • Add a slice or two of beet to a burger instead of tomato — it’s how they roll in Australia (often using pickled beet, but the key is the bright sweetness).
  • Use the staining ability of beets to brilliant effect by grating a beet, stirring in some yogurt, adding a clove of minced garlic and seasoning with salt and pepper. Is it a salad? Is it a dip? How you use this shocking pink, delicious concoction is entirely up to you.
  • Use them to top a pizza.

However you use them, know you’re adding nutrients, flavor and beautiful color to your table. That’s what healthy eating it all about.

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