Friday, August 26th, 2011 at
7 Easy Steps to Raise Your Mood
Studies have shown that our current lives are much more stressful than they were 30 years ago. Too much stress can lead to people feeling overworked, fatigued and depressed. Do you know things that you can do to combat a low mood?
- Have a banana a day. Think about what bananas look like and you will notice that bananas are in the shape of a smile (Mother Nature giving us clues perhaps). Popular anti-depressant drugs tend to adjust the level of serotonin in your brain and also regulate levels of dopamine. Bananas however do this too and they taste much better! Bananas also contain tryptophan that your body converts to the needed serotonin and dopamine which makes you naturally feel good.
- Have a bowl of muesli for breakfast. Muesli has a large amount of fibre and it’s a good source of protein ensuring this food is filling and satisfying. It’s also rich in vitamins and minerals – including vitamin E, the B vitamins, and iron. The oats found in muesli contain beta-glucans which is a soluble fibre which lowers cholesterol levels. The dried fruits added to muesli contain anti-oxidants in addition to vitamins and minerals. The nuts add heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and if you buy a brand that contains walnuts, you get alpha-linolenic-acid which is converted to omega-3’s by the body. (Omega 3 and Vitamin B are essential in raising your mood)
- Exercise 3 to 4 times a week. Cardiovascular exercise is the best type of exercise to give your mood a real lift. Try running or swimming for 20-30 minutes a few times a week and rate how you feel.
- Walk in Nature, Appreciating your surroundings. If you are feeling down it is easy to get lost in a sea of confused thoughts and feelings. Simply go for a walk for about 10 to 15 minutes (preferably in nature such as a park or somewhere quiet) and really appreciate everything around you. Think about the trees which have been around for years and years and appreciate the effort it has taken for that tree to be there to this day.
- Listen to relaxing music. I’d recommend classical as it’s been shown to relax you however you can listen to anything you like really as long as it has a slow pace (so that your heart matches the beats per minute (bpm) of the song). Don’t listen to sad songs because they will make you feel… sad! Try something that has a good vibe or even skip the music and watch something funny online!
- Do something kind for someone else. “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer someone else up” - Mark Twain. It doesn’t have to be a massive act, maybe go and chat to one of your lonely neighbours and get them some shopping, or even just compliment one of your friends (boosting both of your self-esteem). If you struggle for ideas try Googling “Random acts of kindness”
- Make a smoothie. Not only is this really good for you but also quite fun! Grab lots of fruit, a blender, ice and milk and you’re ready to go. I tend to base all my smoothies on bananas (see point no.1 ) and you can really mix anything together that you like. Use about 4 ice cubes, 12ml of milk and blend away. Your body will thank you for giving it such great fuel and as you’ll have fun using the blender you’re likely to be smiling by the end of this.
For those cases where you don’t have the blender at hand or you are simply short of time then consider a healthy energy boost with a great tasting gel. Click here for more info.
Do you have any tips for others that help you to lift your mood when you feel down? Please share below.
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 at
Yoga Bound Angle Pose
- Begin in a seated position. Bring the bottoms of the feet together with the knees bent out to the sides and interlace your toes with your fingers.
- Inhale and keep the hips pressed down while you stretch the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. Drop the shoulders down and back while pressing the chest out towards the front. Press the knees down towards the floor to open the hips.
- Ensure your back remains straight with your chest open and exhale, pulling your torso forward. The goal is to lower your head towards the floor however only go as far as you can. You are not in competition with anyone including yourself.
- Inhale and exhale slowly and hold this position for 3-8 breaths. Inhale to come back up and repeat the movement if you so wish.
For a more advanced version of this pose, try leaning back and lifting your feet off the floor an inch or two. Slowly lift the feet up to the level of the heart, keeping the bottoms of the feet together. Pull the feet towards the chest while pressing the chest towards the feet. The key is to balance on your bum and try staring at your toes for balance. Remember to breathe while holding this pose for 2-6 breaths. Exhale slowly while bringing the feet back to the floor and then release your arms.
Thursday, June 16th, 2011 at
This is a great exercise for increasing your overall body power and muscular control. Using smaller weights makes this exercise great for burning fat while using heavier weights helps with muscle building.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Begin in a Sumo wrestler type stance, but feet not so wide apart. Grab the dumbbell with palms facing you and arm slightly bent. Wrap your index and middle fingers over your thumb instead of placing your thumb over your fingers
2. Now you are ready to start pulling the weight upwards. Remember – push with your legs first and thrust your hips forwards. As you get some speed, then pull up with your arms. But DO NOT START the movement with your arms! As the weight rises up to chest level, use your trapezius muscles to shrug the weight even higher
3. As the dumbbell rises to your chest, you need to squat down and get underneath the weight. Now your knuckles are facing you (upside down). Immediately thrust upwards again using your legs. At the same time push up with your shoulders and arms to raise the dumbbell over your head
4. Do a “controlled drop” to lower the weight back to the ground
Friday, June 10th, 2011 at
It goes without saying that the ability to see is something special. We should do everything we can to ensure that our eyes remain healthy. Here are a few tips for things you can do at home that don’t require much effort at all!
- Every morning as soon as you wake up, before you talk to anyone or go to the toilet, splash cold water in your eyes. Do one eye at a time, holding your eyelids open with your free hand while you splash with the other. You might find this a little uncomfortable at first but this gets easier through time.
- Do some eye muscle strengthening exercises at least once a week. This involves simply moving your eyes about in all directions:
Roll your eyes clockwise and then anti-clockwise a few times, ensuring you make big circles.
Look up as far as you can and hold for around 10 seconds. Then look down and hold for the same time. Do the same for left and right.
- In the morning when stretching your muscles, press your palms into your eyes and move your eyes in all directions. You’ll feel pressure when pressing your palms into your eyes however stick at it to strengthen the muscles.
Healthy Eating for Healthy Eyes
A rapidly growing body of evidence seems to indicate that certain substances, called lutein, and its variant zeaxanthin, help protect the eyes against the harmful effects of the sun and may help prevent the onset of eye disease.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are deposited in the eyes and act as antioxidants, “mopping up”, or neutralising, the free radicals, which can cause cell damage. One cause of free radical oxidative damage is overexposure to the sun’s UV radiation.
There are also indications that one or both of these substances can act like natural sunglasses, physically helping to filter out harmful blue light and stopping it from reaching and damaging the back of the retina. At least one study has shown that lutein and zeaxanthin may also play a role in preventing cataracts. (Diet and Vision, 2011)
Lutein and zeaxanthin are often found together in many, usually dark-coloured, fruits and vegetables.
Please remember to always go for a check up with a qualified optician at least once a year.
Diet and Vision, http://www.healthyeyes.org.uk. <Accessed June 2011>
Thursday, April 28th, 2011 at
Cable Machine - Triceps Press Down
As has been discovered already, the triceps is a great muscle to exercise if you want to increase your arm size. The gym’s cable machine is something which might have intrigued you but which you never ever used. It is actually a great bit of equipment which helps isolate and sculpt certain muscles.
For this exercise, you want to get the attachment which looks like 2 ropes attached in a V shape. You should hook this into the machine and adjust the machine until the pulley is at the highest position.
- Select your desired weight and stand in front of the pulley
- Grip the ropes and when you’re ready, exhale and pull the ropes down until your arms are straight in front of your legs. You should keep the triceps pressed against your body so that only your forearms are moving down.
- Bend your arms and raise the ropes back towards the starting position. Don’t go all the way back to the start though so that you keep some tension in your muscles
You may find that you can do quite a lot reps and I find this a really useful exercise towards the end of a routine (after having already worked my triceps with dumbbells for example). Aim for 3 sets of 15 to start with at a semi-heavy weight.
Leave a comment if you have used this machine before.
Thursday, April 21st, 2011 at
Who’s Keeping You On Track?
So it’s getting to that time of year again when you start to see the sun and more importantly start to feel the heat from the sun, well here in Edinburgh it’s a nice surprise to feel the heat because we don’t get much of it. Spending time in the parks at every opportunity and taking advantage of the sun and the heat as much as possible. Ever time the sun comes out do you ever feel you wished you were in better shape than you are right now regardless of your fitness levels.
If you are working out regularly why don’t you challenge yourself to give yourself an extra boost. Even if you aren’t working out as much, why do you try what I am about to suggest to motivate you to working out more so you can feel great in the summer hot days we will hopefully get.
Why don’t you announce to your whole world whether that is on facebook or twitter or even in person at work, your Fitness Workout intentions for the next 30 days. Before you announce to your world what you intend to do what I suggest you do is choose a friend to workout with and give them permission to give you a kick up the back side to keep yourself on track and vice versa.
Once you have decided who you accountability partner is then work out how often you are going to workout and how often you are going to report back to each other. This is about learning to dedicate to a decision you have made to achieve a result.
Now that you have your accountability partner its time to announce it to the world. Send a facebook status update to all your friends to let them know of your intentions and what you plan to do and even invite people to join you to see if you can get some more accountability partners to keep yourself motivated.
Let them know where you will be and keep them updated with your progress every time you work out.
Why don’t you give this a shot for the next 30 day to see if it keeps you on track.
Let us know of other ways you have kept your self motivated to workout?
Thursday, April 14th, 2011 at
A very important exercise for your shoulders is the lateral raise. This exercise works the medial deltoid which is often forgotten about by those wanting big shoulders.
If you’ve never done this exercise before then you’ll want to grab a couple of small dumbbells to start with as you’ll find this quite difficult with big weights.
- Start with the dumbbells at your sides and ensure your back is straight
- Exhale as you slowly raise your arms out while keeping them straight. Raise them until your arms are in line with your shoulders and parallel to the floor.
- Inhale as you bring your arms back down to your side in a controlled manner
Start with 3 sets of 12 for a few weeks until you get used to this exercise. If you are an intermediate user you may wish to increase the weight and/or decrease the number of reps you do e.g. 3 sets of 8 at 10kg.
Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 at
Muscle Confusion Or Muscle Memory?
If you do the same workout every day or week then over time your body and muscles will develop a memory. If you workout just to get in good shape and have a great toned body then you may not want your muscles to develop a memory. The reason I say this; as you workout and you do the same thing every time you will not challenge the muscles when you workout as much as you did when you first started to workout because your body will know already how to move in the way you are exercising.
What you may want to do is do some research on different ways of doing weights and resistance work. By working out and mixing up the way you do your Fitness Workout you will not give our muscles to develop a memory and and you will start to challenge them and also workout muscles that you may not have before just doing the same workout every time.
Saying that, there are still benefits to developing a muscle memory for when you workout. If you workout for specific reasons like playing in a specific sport then you may want to exercise in the same manner every single time so your body does get used to the movement. A great example of this could be working on a golf swing, so every time you take a swing at the ball you just do it without much thought.
Comment below to tell us what do you do to give your workout some variety?
Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 at
Strengthen Your Forearms
Your forearms are probably something that you’ve not thought too much about when exercising. However, it can be useful to work your wrists and forearms in order to help reduce injury, increase grip and to break through training plateaus.
The wrist curl can be done with a light dumbbell and if you’ve never done this before you are sure to feel the benefit!
- Sit on a bench or a chair with your (light) dumbbell in one hand. Alternatively you can kneel with your arms on a bench (as shown)
- Rest your arm on your thigh with your palm facing upwards and wrist on the knee
- Flex your wrist down so that you’re palm is facing away from you (the dumbbell should roll down your hand)
- Curl your wrist towards you as far as you can
- Continue these motions for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
You can also use a barbell if you become more experienced.
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 at
Skip To A Fitter You
Tired of running on a treadmill or out in the rain? Feel like you’re cycling and not really getting anywhere? Ever tried skipping?
Skipping is a great cardiovascular exercise which targets your shoulders, calves, thighs and bum. You can do this in the garden, the park, the gym, or in your home (in a room with high ceilings!)
Wear soft trainers and use a rope which is the correct length. As a rule of thumb, stand on the middle of the rope and the handles should come up to your armpits.
- Stand tall but relaxed – breathing naturally
- Elbows remain at waist level with arms extended sideways at about a 90 degree angle
- Use a circular wrist motion to turn the rope
- Hold the rope loosely, using thumb and index finger for control
- Jump on the balls of the feet landing softly
- Jump just high enough for the rope to pass under the feet
Sixty to seventy turns per minute is a good starting pace (roughly 1 turn per second).
Skipping for 20 minutes will burn around 250 calories so grab that rope and start having fun!!
Do you like skipping? Leave a comment and tell us what you like about it!