Friday, September 25, 2015

Benefits of Cycling

While on our amazing trip to Vancouver, B.C., we biked through Stanley Park and throughout the downtown areas. Cycling gave us a close-up overview of the whole city while moving our bodies and enjoying the outdoors. Add biking to your fitness plan and reap the benefits.

Easy and Low Impact - Biking can be enjoyed by people of all ages. That makes it a perfect match for family fun or socializing with friends. Once you learn, you always remember how to combine balancing and pedaling. Riding a bike is a great way for beginners to start an exercise program. It is low impact, so there is less stress on achy joints and can be a fun way to ease into moving your body regularly. The low-impact aspect is also great for athletes recovering from an injury.

Fits into your Day - Riding your bike to work can be a great way to fit an exercise routine into your work week. Many people report that the ride home from work is a welcome decompress session that helps them transition to evening activities. Riding to school with your children can be a great way to model a healthy lifestyle. When you cycle to the gym, you arrive having already completed your warm-up and cardio sessions!

Can Vary Intensity - Bicycling is very versatile. You can do a fun family ride, stopping often and talking with your children. Biking can be a relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors on your own and notice details in your neighborhood that you might miss if you were driving. Or cycling can be an intense workout, challenging cardio limits and strength.

Try Cycling This Week! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Blue Mind

In modern life, we all experience chronic stress. Our "always on" lifestyle can eventually result in memory problems, poor judgement, anxiety, depression and over-reliance on alcohol and drugs for relaxation. Current research in cognitive neuroscience indicates that spending time around water shifts your psyche to Blue Mind. Water seems to amplify nature's soothing, healing qualities. A watery environment can provide rest for the brain.

In a natural environment on or near water, there's a high degree of predictability. A body of water is largely the same from moment to moment. This allows our brain to relax. Against this consistent background, the brain continues to search for something that wasn't there before. When the brain notices a disturbance on the surface, like a wave or water bird, there's a sense of novelty and surprise accompanied by a pleasure hit of dopamine. Because bodies of water stay the same and change simultaneously, we experience both soothing familiarity and stimulating novelty. The brain shifts to a state of involuntary attention - essential to creativity and problem solving. This dreamy state is a key characteristic of Blue Mind.

It might be easiest to access Blue Mind at the beach. Near the ocean there is an abundance of negatively charged ions in the atmosphere which have been found to lower blood lactate levels and elevate mood. But there are plenty of ways to interact with water and receive its benefits.

The feel-good effects of swimming are similar to hatha yoga. Muscles are constantly stretching and relaxing accompanied by deep, rhythmic breathing. The combination of cognitive effort and aerobic exercise involved in swimming can provide the brain with the satisfying, stress-reducing feeling of "flow".

One of the huge advantages of water is that you don't need to meditate to realize its healing effects, because it meditates you. Watching and listening to splashing water can produce a quieting effect. In one study, cancer patients experienced a 20-30% reduction in stress hormones after watching a nature video of waterfalls. Even something as modest as a fishbowl or a tiny fountain on your desk can be enough to markedly reduce your body's reaction to stress.

Immersion in water reduces stress, partly by balancing the flux between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. A 2006 study found that spa bathing significantly reduced levels of salivary gland cortisol in college students. Other studies have found that hot tubs and five-minute hot showers can measurably lower anxiety levels. Hydrotherapy was shown to help reduce the psychological stress and physical symptoms of a group of 139 people with rheumatoid arthritis. Add Epsom salts to assist with muscles soreness.

Connect With Water This Week To Reduce Stress
Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food

Friday, September 4, 2015

Protein Shakes for Busy Mornings

School has started and we are all back on our fall schedule. Maybe you are making a protein shake to simplify your busy mornings. While getting nutrients from whole foods is best, protein powder is an easy and convenient way to boost your daytime intake. It can be a viable option fro those who are trying to lose weight or gain muscle. When you scan the shelves, there are so many choices. How can you choose the right one for you?

Whey is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids. The body absorbs it efficiently so it is a good option for replenishing muscles after a workout. Sip a smoothie that contains a three to one ratio of carbs to protein after your workout to help your muscles function at their peak.  
123 calories/28 g protein

Your body digests this dairy-based complete protein more slowly than whey. Casein is absorbed steadily and can help you feel full longer. It is naturally high in glutamine, which helps reduce muscle soreness.  
137 calories/24 g protein

This is a plant-based complete protein. It contains isoflavones, which improve bone density and may fight free radicals in the body. The strong flavor is best combined with bananas, peanut butter or cocoa powder. Be cautious - a high consumption of soy protein can increase breast cancer risk among some women. Soy may also reduce the effectiveness of your natural thyroid hormones.  
120 calories/25 g protein

This plant-based protein powder is absorbed slowly, like the casein, and can help keep you from feeling hungry. Check the label to make sure the supplement has at least 2000 mg of leucine, an amino acid that enhances muscle repair and growth. Pea protein is not a complete protein, so eat other sources throughout the day. 
103 calories/23 g protein

This is a near-complete protein with nine grams of fiber per scoop. This combo helps promote satiety and weight loss. Hemp powder contains omega-6 fatty acids, good fats that can reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease. Hemp is more expensive and has less protein per scoop than most others.  
100 calories/12 g protein

Brown Rice
This grain creates a protein powder rich in B vitamins, fiber and iron. As it is easy to digest, it is a good option for those with stomach problems or allergies. The naturally occurring arsenic in rice can concentrate in a powder. Read labels before choosing a brand. 
50 calories/10 g protein

Eat a Healthy Breakfast This Week
Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food