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examine the effects of late-night exercise, but unpublished results from Colwell’s lab show that working out at the equivalent of 11pm disrupts the clock.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
Core fitness exercise has become synonymous with abdominal conditioning. In terms of core stability, the abdominal muscles do little. Without proper strength and conditioning of all core muscles, injury, aches and pains can occur more frequently. The core of the body is responsible for supporting the back, spine and shoulders. Core fitness exercises should aim to strengthen all muscles related to these areas.
Choosing Effective Core Fitness Exercise
In order to choose effective core fitness exercises, you must first learn the muscles supporting the core of the body. The core muscles begin at the top of the abdominal trunk and run down to the lower torso. These muscles include the:
Strength and power originate in the core of the body. When the trunk, torso and pelvis are strong and stable, power is transferred to all other muscles. Powerful contractions, such as rapid muscle movements, require a strong core. The more stable the core, the more energy transferred to the muscles leading to quicker repetitions and more effective training.
Core fitness exercises also support proper posture. Imbalances of posture can lead to improper weight lifting form, injuries, and undue pressure on the lower back. Pressure and pain of the lower back is a common symptom of weak core muscles.
The abdominal muscles are important to core stability and strength. When the abdominal muscles are weak, the lower back holds additional pressure and weight from simple daily tasks like walking. When exercising, this pressure grows exponentially leading to painful back injuries. Strengthening the abdominal muscles allows the weight of the upper body to be evenly distributed over the front and back. When weight is distributed, balance improves.
Working the Torso as a Solid Unit
The torso can be pictured as a solid unit. This unit needs to be strong and stable like the frame of a car. If the torso is weak, the muscles of the body will not perform at optimal levels. Core fitness exercises can help build stability of the core. Building strength in the core of the body does not require weights or gym machines. The most common core exercises include:
Personal Trainer’s Reasons for Weight-Loss
By: Sondra Lieder, CSCS, CPT
You’ve followed your personal trainer’s instruction. You've put in the hard work and the weight has melted off. You've cleaned up your diet and put in countless hours at the gym and on the trail. And then it happens: you hit a weight-loss plateau. Hitting a plateau is frustrating and discouraging. Fear not--this eventually happens to nearly everybody who has tried to lose weight, and it's perfectly normal for your weight loss to gradually slow down or stall. Don't let this cruel trick mess with your mind and throw a loop through your efforts. Work with your personal trainer to adjust your home workout schedule
because with the proper personal training plan, you can continue to shed pounds and tone up.
Any personal trainer in Austin will agree that the more weight you lose the fewer calories are needed to maintain the lighter
weight. When you initially reduce your caloric intake through a
reduced-calorie diet, exercise or both, you drop weight quickly.
Another reason for plateaus is muscle loss. This is especially
true if you lose a lot of weight in short amount of time. Muscle needs more calories than fat for maintenance and activitiy. The more muscle you lose, the more your metabolism slows down. This translates to fewer calories burned performing the same activities you had at a heavier weight. This is why it’s especially important to incorporate a strength component to your personal
With continued weight loss, you need to exercise more or consume less in order to continue to create a calorie deficit that will lead to further weight loss.
Consulting a local personal training expert will guide you in the
proper home training program that will help you achieve all your health and fitness goals.
Personal Trainer’s Program for Overcoming Weight-Loss Roadblocks
•Step up the frequency and/or intensity of exercise. Even adding an extra 15 minutes to your personal training regimen can produce huge results. Consider adding an extra mile to your walk/jog or extending your warm-up and cool down routine.
•Cut calories with small changes to your diet. Cutting just
150-200 calories per day, the typical amount in a snack, can result in a couple pounds lost per month.
•KEEP A FOOD LOG! Track your food intake and
exercise. Make sure you're not increasing portions or slacking off on your workouts.
•Talk to your trainter to switch up your personal training routine. As you become fitter the body becomes more efficient at performing the same activities. Take up a completely new type of exercise to keep challenging your muscles. Add another
strength or personal training session to your workout. Weight-lifting adds calorie burning muscle which helps you burn more calories all day long, even while your body is at rest.
Remember to try not to lose sight of what is most important--your health. The majority of my personal training clients whose motivating factor is improved health instead of a certain body size or weight have had the most success with losing and maintaining that weight loss over a long period of time.
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