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Mental Benefits Of Exercise How Exercise And Mental Health Are Linked

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We already know that exercise is good for the body it improves cardiovascular health, restores hormonal balance, and reverses the ageing process. But have you thought about the mental benefits of exercise and their significance? The broader scientific literature gives enough credence to the idea that physical activity influences some of the most important markers of mental health, and it doesnt require Herculean effort to get started.

In this day and
age, it seems as though we need every coping mechanism available. Rising above
the responsibilities of yesteryear, our modern lifestyle puts a tremendous toll
on the mind as people suffer from restlessness, anxiety, depression and a
garden variety of mental ailments. Moving rootless in between shifting dunes,
we are in a desperate need of an anchor.

Fortunately,
exercise can provide an underlying stability, and clinically measurable
improvements in our mood.

Exercise and Mental Health

Thomas Szasz, a Hungarian-American academic, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, has claimed that most people have problems living, not psychological ones. After fixing these problems, the mental ailments usually subside with a symptomatic statistical curve.

Exercise And Mental Health

Admittedly, it
is borderline insulting to downplay the suffering of people and point to the
trivial, but a long nap, regular sleeping schedule, healthy diet and daily
meditation can often shrink the elephant to the size of an ant. Fortunately,
exercise belongs on the same list.

It is so much
more than just trying to look good. Underneath the physical, you will find
plenty of mental benefits of exercise as well.

One study published in The Lancet Psychiatry surveyed 1.2 million people for their mental health.

Compared to people who reported doing no exercise, people who exercised reported 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health each month a reduction of 43.2% (2.0 days for people who exercised vs 3.4 days for people who did not exercise).

Sammi R Chekroud, Ralitza Gueorguieva, Amanda B Zheutlin, Martin Paulus, Harlan M Krumholz, John H Krystal, Adam M Chekroud.Association between physical exercise and mental health in 12 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study.The Lancet Psychiatry, 2018;

Needless to say, staying active can greatly improve your looks and your physical health. It can help you shed pounds and add years to your life. But the habit of working out regularly can provide many more additional benefits that drastically change the quality of your life.

The enormous sense of well-being that comes with regular exercise is what motivates most people to get off the couch. Stress relief, better quality of sleep, sharp memory and improved mood all of these are reason enough to start moving.

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Long Term Benefits Of Exercise

The
psychological benefits of exercise also include a profoundly positive impact on
anxiety, depression and ADHD these are the miraculous effects of exercise on
mental health. And the good news is that you don`t have to be a fitness fanatic
in order to reap the long term benefits of exercise. When it comes to exercise
and mental health, even a modest amount can do the trick.

Psychological
benefits of exercise

Moderate amount
of physical activity can have a significant impact on your mood and emotional
state. Here are some of the most common physiological benefits of exercise that
greatly improve the quality of life:

  • Better mood
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved self-image and self-confidence
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • Enhanced memory
  • Decreased symptoms of anxiety
    and depression
  • Active readiness instead of a
    passive disposition

So how much
exercise do I need to start noticing these mental benefits of exercise I hear
you asking in concert? Well, not much, it turns out. For long term benefits of
exercise, you should stay active at least 3 times a week for roughly about 30
minutes.

However, if
your current fitness level, injury, or age prevents you from achieving this
bare minimum, have in mind that even a brief low-intensity walk can do wonders
for your mental wellbeing. Walking for mental health is becoming an increasingly
popular concept as it has proven to increase energy levels and improve the mood
just like any other form of more intense exercise.

Social
benefits of exercise

Social Benefits Of Exercise

On an equal note, staying active comes with numerous social benefits. Confidence is a key factor to a good social life, and one of the biggest social benefits of exercise is just that an improved social life. When you feel good about yourself and have a positive social image, socializing becomes much more enjoyable.

Additionally,
exercising in a group or participating in team sports provides new social
outlets and an opportunity to meet new people. It also helps you develop better
social skills and greater empathy.

Physical
activity can also provide a release valve from pressure and stress, encouraging
greater production of endorphins. Not only will this improve your mood, but your
concentration skills as well. Consequently, improved concentration means better
focus on your social and work related activities and helping you become a more
fulfilled, happier individual.

Emotional
benefits of exercise

It is fair to say that when it comes to exercise, we dwell so much on the physical benefits that we overlook the array of emotional benefits that stem from staying active. Emotional health is a huge part of the puzzle that creates a happy and healthy life. So it should come as no surprise that regular exercise can play a crucial role in maintaining good mental health.

Preparing to run

Exercise therapy
for mental health has proven as an extremely useful tool in easing anxiety,
helping with depression and reducing stress.

But how does it work?

Physical
activity leads to relaxation of the brain which helps shift our focus on better
things than those making us anxious and stressed. Even more importantly, exercising
triggers all those hormones responsible for good mental health, the key ones
being serotonin (a lack of which can play a part in depression), endorphin and
dopamine.

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So when it comes
to exercise and depression, activities such as running, biking and yoga have shown
to be most beneficial for serotonin production and, consequently, alleviating
the symptoms of depression.

Endorphins (the feel-good chemicals) are also primarily produced through cardio exercise, while dopamine is produced during and after workouts.

Finally,
exercise disrupts the continuity of negative emotions. Anxiety, stress, and
compulsive behaviours often exist in a staccato sequence break the sequence,
and their occurrence starts to dwindle. Cut the chain, and they reduce in frequency,
as well as potency, loosening their grip on your mind. The emotional benefits
of exercise are similar to that of becoming more aware through the practice of meditation.

Other reasons for adopting an exercise routine

Adopting A Routine For Mental Health

It is well documented that grounding oneself in a routine can have a positive effect on mental health. That is why unemployment, retirement and unlimited spare time are often detrimental to sanity. When the mind lacks a structured day, it starts to dwell in the abstract.

And here is where working out comes handy. You can have your daily session serve as part of a routine. Tie around it other activities such as taking a shower and preparing a healthy meal, and you have an additional anchor. If you need extra motivation, just read these motivational workout quotes.

Furthermore, one of the long term benefits of exercise includes acting with intention. Having in mind that it is not a compulsory activity, but one which requires effort, it can easily condition you to act by intent and volition, instead of inertia. Which is one of the most important mental benefits of exercise.

Conclusion

The link between exercise and depression,
anxiety or general stress is well documented. Next to pharmacology and
meditation, it is the only notable treatment that directly influences the
physical state of the brain.

The mental benefits of physical activity are measurable in a clinical setting, and therefore valid for consideration. Regardless of whether you struggle with something or simply want to employ preventive measures, the effects of exercise on mental health are undisputed. Fortunately, staying active for three days every week is all that you need in order to enjoy the mental benefits of exercise.

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5 Tips from a Dietician to Get Started with Plant-Based Eating

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Whether you’re looking to make the move to a vegetarian or vegan diet, or just looking to add more plant-based foods into your diet that also may include animal-based proteins – we can all benefit from eating more plants. We get vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients from plant-based foods and research shows diets rich in these foods improves cardiovascular health, supports a healthy functioning immune system and good gut health, better controls blood sugar levels, and improves brain health!

 

With all these great health benefits, let’s talk through some simple tips for incorporating more plant-based eating into your diet:

 

Start small

 

If you’re new to plant-based eating, you’ve probably got some new habits to master. You’ll be modifying the way you grocery shop, plan, and cook and developing new habits and skills takes time. Rather than completely changing your diet all at once, set some small goals that will help you build toward your end goal.

 

For instance, you could have a Meatless Monday and eat all plant-based for one day of the week to start, or even just pick 1 meal to swap for now. Starting small will allow you to navigate your new habits and adjust as needed as you work to scale up.

 

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Replace meat with a plant-based protein in a meal you already make

 

Rather than starting from scratch with new recipes, adopt meals you’ve already mastered to a plant-based version. For instance, instead of a beef hamburger or beef chili make a bean hamburger or bean based chili. Instead of an egg scramble, make a tofu scramble.

 

Plant-based proteins include lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, soy, tofu, tempeh, edamame, quinoa, nutritional yeast, and spirulina. Keep in mind there will be nutritional differences between an animal protein source and a plant-based protein source and you may need more of the plant-based protein in order to meet your protein needs.

 

Add more plants to your current meals

 

Along the same lines, instead of swapping the protein source, you can simply add more plants to your current meals alongside animal-based proteins. Add extra veggies to your pasta sauce, to scrambled eggs, on a sandwich, in a smoothie, soup, or in a casserole, on a pizza, in stir-fry, or in tacos.

 

Pre-prep plant-based snacks

 

Including more plants in your diet can be accomplished in a number of ways throughout the day. Make eating more plant-based easier by pre-cutting fruits and veggies that you can eat as a snack. Pre-cut bell peppers, cucumbers, mango, and pineapple. Dip veggie slices in hummus or a cashew-based dip.

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Order a plant-based meal at a restaurant

 

Eating more plant-based doesn’t always have to mean cooking at home. Try a vegetarian or vegan restaurant or order a plant-based meal off the menu. Check out ethnic restaurants – many Indian dishes are plant-based. Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean restaurants typically have plant-based dishes as well.

 

 

 

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How 3 Moms Use Life Time

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Motherhood can be a challenging world: From work demands and kids’ schedules to household chores and other obligations, there’s a lot to juggle. However, some of the most critical items on that agenda include mom’s efforts to maintain her own health and wellness.

Physical activity, healthy eating, and stress management can often fall by the wayside amid the daily to-dos, but prioritizing them is not only essential for mom to stay healthy, happy, and strong, but it’s also a great opportunity to show kiddos the importance of cultivating healthy habits — while including them in your activities.

Get inspiration from these moms who use our spaces and offerings to support their family’s healthy way of life.

Kellie McLarney

Member at Life Time in Mount Laurel, N.J.

What is your favorite thing to do at Life Time?

Honestly, my favorite thing about being at Life Time is the community. It’s like my home; I feel so comfortable there. I love walking in and being greeted by Janelle at the front desk, then taking a yoga class taught by Jaime Marrero. We also really appreciate the Kids Academy team — they’re so great with children, and our kids truly enjoy all the staff there.

How do you and your family spend time together at Life Time?

My family enjoys going to the indoor pool to play and relax together. It’s always so warm, it feels almost as if we’re at a resort on vacation.

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Do you have a Life Time “hack” you could share?

These days, it’s using a silicone insert inside my face mask. I don’t even feel it’s there during class!

What’s your go-to Life Time offering?

For sure the yoga classes. That’s when I get my me-time. My favorite is the FLOW format — I leave feeling refreshed and, of course, extra sweaty.

What does your ideal Mother’s Day look like this year?

We’re looking forward to spending the day together as a family at the Jersey Shore.

Idell Brown

Member at Life Time in Florham Park, N.J.

What is your favorite thing to do at Life Time?

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My favorite way to work out at Life Time is in the small-group training classes or with a personal trainer. I thrive on working out in a group setting — a little competition never hurt anyone!

How do you and your family spend time together at Life Time?

Family time for us is typically spent at the pool. Lately, after my youngest son finishes his swim class, we’ll have lunch before enjoying family swim for about an hour. I’m sure when the outdoor pool opens for the season that will end up becoming a full day at the pool!

Do you have a Life Time “hack” you could share?

As a full-time working mom of two boys with a husband who works six days a week, the Kids Academy is a genuine lifesaver. I typically take both boys to Kids Academy while I go to my Saturday morning Zumba class, which falls perfectly before naptime. After my class, we have a “picnic style” lunch in the back seats of our car with the trunk open, which the boys love doing now that the weather is getting warmer. On the drive back, both boys fall fast asleep.

What’s your go-to Life Time offering?

The Alpha and GTX classes. Both are an amazing way to work out with others, develop perfect form, and build strength and endurance.

What does your ideal Mother’s Day look like this year?

Mother’s Day for me will be sleeping in until 9 or 10 a.m. (my boys are up by 6:30 a.m.!) then having a spa day before meeting up with my family for an earlier dinner. I’m a firm believer in self-care.

Melissa Moore

Member at Life Time in Peoria, Ariz.

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Melissa Moore with her husband and daughter.

What is your favorite thing to do at Life Time?

I love taking the barre and yoga group fitness classes, particularly the SURRENDER format for yoga. The instructors are professional, motivating, and always have great high energy.

How do you and your family spend time together at Life Time?

Most days we drop our daughter, Zoe, off at the Kids Academy. While she’s there, I like to take a barre class and then sit in the whirlpool. On Sundays, we all swim together in either the indoor or outdoor pools.

Do you have a Life Time “hack” you could share?

Always sign up for a class even if it looks full and you get added to the waitlist. Nine times out of 10, I end up making it into the class because of cancellations or no-shows.

What’s your go-to Life Time offering?

The barre and yoga group fitness classes. I love the barre classes in particular because I can get in a great full-body workout in just an hour. I also enjoy getting a massage at the LifeSpa.

What does your ideal Mother’s Day look like this year?

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A day of relaxation at the spa — totally unplugged!

The post How 3 Moms Use Life Time appeared first on Experience Life.

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How to Get Razor-Sharp Abs

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Most guys will tackle their abdominal training with a few sets of sit-ups or some version of crunches. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great start – but if the sides of your waist are soft and covered with fat, crunches may not be enough. Of course, your calorie intake needs to be in control and your diet has to be clean, and you must boost your cardio to drop body fat – but to carve hardness into the sides of your waist, you must target these weaker areas of your abdomen. Lying windshield wipers tighten and strengthen the major muscles on the sides of your waist and the lower part of the abdomen. A few months of lying windshield wipers and a good diet will eliminate any hint of love handles and replace them with razor-sharp abs.

Muscles Used in Lying Windshield Wipers

There are two major muscles and two deeper muscles that are responsible for maintaining the lateral boundaries of your abdomen. The external oblique muscle is the more superficial of the two muscles. This muscle begins on the lower ribs and extends to the hip bones. Small bundles of muscle fibers connect from lateral to medial, in the same direction that your fingers would point if you were to put your hands in your pockets.

When both left and right sides of the external oblique muscles work together, they flex the trunk and move the head toward the feet. When working one side at a time, the muscle flexes the trunk to the opposite side. For example, the right side of the external oblique strongly contracts when you bend or twist to the left side.

The second important muscle is the internal oblique muscle. It sits just deep to the external oblique muscle. The fibers of the internal oblique run around the side of the trunk at right angles to the external oblique muscle, fanning out from the origins and running toward the head (superiorly). It attaches on the lowest three or four ribs, where it becomes continuous with the internal intercostal muscles (respiratory muscles of the rib cage).

Similar to the external oblique muscle, the internal oblique flexes the trunk at the waist and moves the head toward the feet, if both left and right portions contract together. However, unlike the external oblique, if you twist to the right, the right side is most active.

Two other muscles act as abdomen stabilizers during lying windshield wipers. The transversus abdominis muscle helps to pull your abdomen inward. It is the deepest abdominal muscle, beginning on the inner surfaces of the inferior five to six costal cartilages of the ribs, the posterior side of the vertebral column, and also from the iliac crest region of the hip.

The second stabilizer is the iliopsoas muscle. This is a posterior abdominal muscle that consists of two fused muscles. The psoas major is a long and thick muscle that lies beside the thoracic and lumbar vertebral column. The iliacus muscle is a large triangular muscle overlaying the iliac bones of the hip and it lies along the lateral side of the psoas major. The fibers of the iliacus and psoas major combine into a single tendon that attaches near the head of the femur (thigh) bone. The iliopsoas is the most powerful flexor of the thigh at the hip joint. This muscle assists in stabilizing the femur of the thigh during each repetition of windshield wipers.

Windshield Wipers

This exercise targets both the internal and external oblique muscles.

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  1. Place a flat bench under a Smith machine. Lie on the bench in a supine position (face upward). Place the bar at arms’ length above your face and grasp the bar. Your hands are here solely to stabilize your upper body and to prevent you from falling off the bench as you are twisting to one side or the other.

 

  1. Put both feet together. Extend your legs and hips so that there is a straight line from your torso down your legs.

 

  1. Inhale and raise your legs and hips so that they are perpendicular to your torso, with the toes pointed directly upward, straight toward the ceiling.

 

  1. Lower the legs to one side (e.g., to the left), until they are at an angle of about 45 degrees to the floor. Exhale as you lower your legs and try to pull in your abdomen as much as possible.

 

  1. Reverse the movement and inhale as you are coming up to the perpendicular point. Do not stop there. Go slowly to the other side until you have reached an angle of about 45 degrees. Exhale and pull in your abdomen on the way down. Continue to move your legs back and forth like a windshield wiper. Start with 10 reps to each side, but work up to 30. Three sets should be enough to make it feel like a tiger has been gnawing at your sides.

 

You should make an effort to pull the transversus in as much as possible as the legs are going downward. A strong transversus abdominis also acts to stabilize your spine and pelvis when you are lifting heavy weights in squats or rows. The iliopsoas largely acts to stabilize the thigh. You should not go down lower than 45 degrees on each side, because this puts too much strain on the lumbar vertebral discs and any further abdominal benefit is simply not worth risking any injury to your back. You will find that this smaller range of motion will get the job done, without any back risk.

 

References:

Hubley-Kozey CL, Hanada EY, Gordon S, Kozey J and McKeon M. Differences in abdominal muscle activation patterns of younger and older adults performing an asymmetric leg-loading task. PM R, 1: 1004-1013, 2009.

McGill, SM, Karpowicz, A (2009). Exercises for spine stabilization: motion/motor patterns, stability progressions, and clinical technique. Arch Phys Med Rehab, 90, 118-126.

Parfrey, KC, Docherty, D, Workman, RC, & Behm, DG (2008). The effects of different sit- and curl-up positions on activation of abdominal and hip flexor musculature. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 33, 888-895.

Teyhen DS, Williamson JN, Carlson NH, Suttles ST, O'Laughlin SJ, Whittaker JL, Goffar SL and Childs JD. Ultrasound characteristics of the deep abdominal muscles during the active straight leg raise test. Arch Phys Med Rehab, 90: 761-767, 2009.

Teyhen, DS, Rieger, JL, Westrick, RB, Miller, AC, Molloy, JM, & Childs, JD (2008). Changes in deep abdominal muscle thickness during common trunk-strengthening exercises using ultrasound imaging. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 38, 596-605.

Workman, JC, Docherty, D, Parfrey, KC, & Behm, DG (2008). Influence of pelvis position on the activation of abdominal and hip flexor muscles. J Strength Cond Res, 22, 1563-1569.

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