Exercise can help us sleep better and reduce our risk for chronic disease—but does it matter when you do it?
New research on mice from the University of California, Los Angeles’s Brain Research Institute suggests that exercising during the daytime can improve your sleep and reduce your risk for health problems that are associated with a
disrupted internal clock, like fatigue during the day, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, and dysfunction of the cardiovascular and immune systems. What they did not find, as some media outlets reported, is that the afternoon is the best time to exercise in order to reap these benefits.
Researchers observed several groups of mice running in their wheels. Some were otherwise healthy and some were bred to have a malfunctioning internal clock, or circadian timing system. Some mice could run whenever they wanted, while others only had access to the wheel at the mouse equivalents of morning and afternoon (they’re nocturnal). Exercise improved the functioning of the internal clock in all of the mice, but in the mice with “broken” clocks, the effect was more pronounced in the afternoon.
Lead author Christopher Colwell, Ph.D., who has studied circadian rhythms for 30 years, says that our brain’s internal clock governs most aspects of our behavior and physiology by telling our cells what time it is and what they should be doing, like maintaining organ function (daytime) or going into repair
mode (nighttime). Aging, nervous system diseases, and exposure to artificial light at night can all disrupt our circadian rhythm and, he says, “disruption of the clock has profound influence throughout the whole body.”
Colwell says this study raises the possibility that there may be a difference in how exercise in the morning versus the afternoon affects the clock in humans, but he’s not aware of any literature on that premise.
“I’ve been getting some emails from people who exercise in the morning and they feel great and they’re saying ‘Well, should I change that?’ Absolutely not,” he says.
“Right now, we feel comfortable saying that exercise during a human’s daytime would be beneficial, while the same exercise during the normal sleep time would be disruptive to these rhythms.”
This study, which appears in the Journal of Physiology, did not
examine the effects of late-night exercise, but unpublished results from Colwell’s lab show that working out at the equivalent of 11pm disrupts the clock.
Colwell says that sweating in the morning and late afternoon and maybe even the early evening are perfectly fine, but he says, “I would caution, as I have observed anecdotally, that if your only option is exercising at midnight, you might want to skip it that day.” It can affect your sleep and throw off the
clock: We get sleepy when our internal body temperature starts to decline and vigorous exercise causes a spike in core temperature, which delays the process.
via Women's Health Magazine
You can’t exercise because the dog ate your workout plan. Likely story. But the common exercise excuses that you make for yourself can be just as absurd. You’re too tired. It’s raining. You’ve got nothing to wear. If you’ve heard them once, you’ve them all. Still, keep pushing exercise off long enough, and the joke’s on you. Here, we’ve exposed 14 silly exercise excuses and show you how to get serious about your health.
Excuse #1: You Can’t Afford a Gym Membership You must be joking: You don’t need to break the bank to bulk up. Gym discounts abound around January in the form of New Year specials, but you might have a better chance haggling down your membership fee during the off-peak months from June to August, says Shayne Adair, spokesperson for the National Exercise Trainers Association. If that doesn’t work, walking, running, and pushups were all free the last time we checked, and the there are a ton of no-cost workout videos online.
Excuse #2: I’m Traveling for Work and My Hotel Doesn’t Have a Gym You must be joking: Skipping a workout session every now and then because you’re on the road isn’t a problem, but if your job has you living out of a suitcase, it’s time to look into other options outside of your hotel. Locate a workout center on the fly with the Men’s Health’s gym finder. You can search by zip code, cost, amenities, classes offered, and equipment.
Excuse #3: I Can’t Wake Up Early Enough You must be joking: Hitting snooze two, three, four more times sounds tempting, but you’re better off bolting out of bed at the first ring, since there are tons of benefits to morning exercise. Research shows that regular morning exercise might actually help you sleep better, and that early birds workout harder. Plus, those who work out as the sun rises are more likely to stick to it than those who hit the gym later in the day. To boost the likelihood of making your morning session, pick out your gym outfit the night before. “I like putting my workout clothes right next to my bed,” says Adair. “If you get up and put on a robe instead, you’re done.”
Excuse #4: I Have to Commute for an Hour You must be joking: We hear you: You’re spent when you clock out of your 9 to 5. Going to the gym before or after work isn’t feasible for everyone, so think about heading to the gym during your lunch hour, or incorporate fitness with family hangout time. (Think Frisbee or even Wii-Sports.) Just inserting ten minutes of exercise three or four times a day can help, too. Little moments of downtime can pass unnoticed, so schedule periodic reminders to pop up on your iPhone, or better yet, add a full workout session to your calendar, suggests Alice Burron, MS, exercise physiologist and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise
Excuse #5: Weather.com Predicted Rain You must be joking: First off, a little rain never hurt anyone. But if the weather is deterring you from going to the gym, try an at-home workout. There are plenty of simple routines that you can do to break a sweat, so pop in a fitness DVD, break out the pull up bar, and try some dumbbell routines.
Excuse #6: I Don’t Have Anything to Wear You must be joking: Nobody’s expecting to be picked up at the gym, but according to a Zobha survey, 53 percent of women say that they’re more likely to work out if they have something flattering and well-made to wear. If your fashionista sensibilities are getting in the way of your fitness goals, go ahead and buy a cute outfit as added motivation.
Excuse #7: I Don’t Want to Look Stupid at the Gym You must be joking: Don’t worry about it. “There’s always going to be someone who’s going to judge, but that’s such the minority,” says Robert Reames, CPT, official trainer and nutritionist for the Dr. Phil Show and spokesperson for Gold’s Gym International. “In the gym, there’s a camaraderie of work. There’s a respect that if you’re there and you’re working out, you’re one of us.” However, when you are trying out new equipment for the first time, ask a trainer to help demonstrate the proper form and technique. Fumbling around with equipment may be embarrassing, but, even worse, it can be dangerous.
Excuse #8: I Can’t Miss Modern Family You must be joking: Don’t let the tube dictate your exercise routine, that’s what DVR and Hulu.com are for. If you insist on watching your favorite shows in real time, there are a number of ways to sneak in exercise in front of the television. Many gyms include individual TV screens with their cardio machines, so head over early and plug in your headphones.
Excuse #9: I Don’t See Any Improvement You must be joking: Keep at it. The great thing about working out is that there are tangible benefits—it just takes some time. That said, there are a number of factors that could be sabotaging your exercise efforts. Take a look at your diet and see if you’re munching on extra calories. Little tweaks can go a long way, so you might want to consult a nutritionist or trainer about how to maximize your workout and eating habits. In the meantime, rest assured that you’re getting a wealth of other benefits that you can’t see: a sharper brain, a better heart, and an energy boost.
Excuse #10: I Have a Cold You must be joking: If you’re just feeling a little under the weather, you’re probably not going to get sicker if you head to the gym. A study in the Journal of Athletic Training found that students who exercised while infected with the common cold recovered at the same rate as those stayed in. In fact, they felt a little better after working out, owing to the endorphin high. “Start off at 50 percent of your usual intensity and maintain it for a while. If you feel fine, then bump up your intensity to the normal level” says Thomas Weidner, PhD, professor of physical education, sport, and exercise science at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. A general rule of thumb: It’s okay to work out if your symptoms are "above the neck" (runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or sore throat), but stay home if you’re feeling ill “below the neck” (chest congestion, hacking cough), have a fever, or achey muscles. And seriously, wipe down any gym equipment you touch.
Excuse #11: I’m Too Tired You must be joking: “If you’re dealing with 2 hours of sleep, then it might actually be better to sleep in and come back the next day with a stronger workout,” says Reames. “But often, being tired is synonymous with lack of motivation.” Ironically, exercise can help you shake off that lethargy and boost energy. A review study published in Psychological Bulletin found that whether you’re old, young, healthy, or not, consistent exercise boosts energy. Combat your laziness with the knowledge that you’re going to feel better, stronger, and more accomplished at the end of your session.
Excuse #12: There’s Just No Time You must be joking: “Not having enough time is probably the number one excuse I hear,” says Reames. “What that really means is that exercise is not a priority.” Ouch. Talk about tough love. Once you’ve decided to make exercise a priority, put it down in writing to remind yourself why you’re motivated to stay healthy. Don’t underestimate the value of short workouts either. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to exercise for over 45 minutes for the gym to “be worth it”: a recent Massachusetts General Hospital study found that your body starts showing metabolic changes after 10 minutes of exercise, and its effects last for over an hour. Researchers documented an uptick in the number of compounds that help burn calories and blast fat.
Excuse #13: I’m Sore. My Body Needs Time to Recover You must be joking: Research shows that active recovery (a light workout on days following an intense session) helps clear lactic acid from your body, so you’ll actually be less sore if you stay active. If only part of your body is tender, work another part of your body and let the aching parts rest and recover. “Mix it up. That way your body will get the benefits of cross-training,” says Reames. “If you work out your upper body one day, focus on your legs the next. If you do cardio one day, do strength training the day after.” Prevent future soreness by paying particular attention to your warm-up and cool-down.
Excuse #14: My Workout Buddy Bailed You must be joking: Studies show that you’re more likely to exercise consistently with a workout partner than without one, but if your exercise buddy is bringing you down, it’s time to think about finding a new one. While it ultimately comes down to your individual commitment to staying fit, it helps to make friends with gym regulars or ask a coworker to tag along. Alternatively, schedule a standing appointment with a trainer. If people don’t motivate you to exercise, maybe money will.
via Men's Health
Despite what nearly every diet plan in the late '90s led you to believe, carbs are not your enemy. Yes, if you overeat them, you'll gain—just as with any other food. But when it comes to weight loss, your total calorie balance is what matters. If you eat more than you burn, the unused calories turn into fat that gets stored in your belly (and elsewhere), regardless of what particular foods those calories come from. Make sure most of your carbs are the complex kind found in whole grains and raw fruits and vegetables. Because these tend to fill you with fiber, it's easier to eat them in controlled portions than it is with highly processed refined carbs like white bread, pasta, and rice.
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