Friday, October 26, 2018

Essential Hormones #2

Every time you exercise, special hormones in your body spring into action. They give you energy, or spark your motivation, or boost your mood. Dr. Katherine Borer at the University of Michigan says, "Hormones are essential for your ability to workout effectively. They improve heart and lung function, they bring fuel to your muscles, and they help your body recover afterward." Check out this up-to-the-minute info on workout hormones.

Growth Factors
When you workout, the body releases hormones such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and proteins like brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). IGF-1 and VEGF help repair the muscle damage caused by exercise which builds the fibers back stronger. These growth factors also strengthen memory and cognitive function.

Different workouts stimulate different hormones. HIIT exercises raise VEGF, heavy weight lifting raises IGF-1, and endurance activities raise BDNF levels.

Take Away? Change up your routine regularly.

This increases the activity of the genes that convert white-fat cells into brown, a beneficial type of fat that can burn calories. Irisin may reduce white-fat stores, too.

Workouts that target large muscle groups like glutes or pecs typically release more irisin that exercises that work smaller muscles, like calves and biceps.

Take Away? Endurance activities like running, or heavy weight lifting like CrossFit, can stimulate irisin production. 
Additionally, there's also evidence that increasing levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone, may bump up irisin production. Sleep well and burn fat, too!

Take Away? Eat melatonin-rich foods like walnuts and tart cherries as an evening treat.

Interested in more information? Learn about BDNF in these posts:

Find out more about irisin here:

Stay Active, Keep Moving (with a varied workout)
 and Enjoy Your Food

Friday, October 12, 2018

Move More #2

We're a nation of sitters. TV binge-watching, desk jobs, and the allure of the internet all contribute to that fact that most of us spend at least 50% of our day sitting down. The more we sit, the higher our risk of first-world diseases of affluence: diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

We need to recognize that it's as important to decrease overall sedentary time as it is to maintain a regular practice of intense, formal exercise. How can we resist the call of the sofa and work more movement into our daily lives?

Empower Yourself
Strangely enough, fitness programs can make us feel less empowered to be physical on our own. Remember, the point of formal training, like a group fitness class or a morning run, is to make movement more accessible and joyful in your life outside the gym.

Start putting your gym fitness moves into play everywhere else: play Frisbee, run up a flight of stairs, jump off a low wall, kick a soccer ball. Make those lunges, squat jumps and push kicks you do in the gym pay off playing in the park with friends and family. Enjoy moving!

Treat Your Feet
Your smallest muscles can dramatically affect how you feel and move. Experts suggest focusing on the feet for big results. There are 33 joints in the foot but we use about 3 of them. Hard-soled shoes and flat walking surfaces offer the feet little stimulation.

Solve that by going barefoot whenever possible and massaging your feet with a small ball daily. Massage can open up the fascia and musculature that runs between and around your foot joints. Surprisingly, this small action can also release the hamstrings, hips, and lower back - setting you up for more freedom of motion later on.

Have confidence in your body's ability to move this week and 
give your feet some well-deserved TLC.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food