Friday, 30 September 2016

The Best (and Worst) Exercises for Pregnant Women

It's important to keep moving when you're expecting, experts say, because moderate exercise is good for you and baby too. For mom, the perks include a lower risk of pregnancy-related diabetes; for baby, a reduced risk of obesity and a boost in brain development. But because every pregnant woman is different, it's best to run your fitness plans by your doc, says ob-gyn Melissa Walsh, MD, an attending physician in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Women's Health at Montefiore Health System in New York. She also suggests taking it slow, especially as you enter the third trimester, so you don't overexert.

Another good rule of thumb: Skip any movement that makes you feel off-balance, says Dr. Walsh. "Your body's sense of the center of gravity changes during pregnancy," she explains. 

Here, we've found up six exercises that are considered safe for moms-to-be-plus, a few activities you should put on hold during pregnancy.

RELATED: 6 Things You Must Know About Working Out During Pregnancy

It's okay to do...


Gentle yoga is a-okay for pregnancy, according to research and experts. In a recent study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers concluded that yoga poses do not place undue stress on mom or baby. "Yoga will help with joint flexibility, limit your chances of injuries, and work on total body toning," adds personal trainer Jenn Mathis, a regional fitness director at Gold's Gym. "Not to mention, it will help mental clarity and focus."

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However, Dr. Walsh recommends that pregnant women avoid hot yoga classes. And for any poses that require putting your head upside down, ask the instructor about modifications, she says, since "the normal changes the body undergoes for pregnancy will make you more prone to dizziness." You can also check if your local studio offers prenatal classes, which include sequences specifically for moms-to-be.

RELATED: The Best Yoga Moves for Anxiety, Pain, and More

The quadruped move

For this exercise, start out on your hands and knees in tabletop position. Raise your right arm in front of you and your left leg behind you (while keeping them both straight). Pause, then lower and switch to lift your left arm and right leg. "This move is great for getting a total body stretch, while activating your back muscles and controlling your breathing," says Mathis. 


With your elbows on the floor, directly beneath your shoulders, hold your body in a straight line. If that's too difficult, try moving onto your hands, in push-up position. Focus on your breathing, squeezing your glutes, and pulling your shoulder blades toward your back pockets. (Watch this video to see How to Do a Perfect Plank.)

"This will work on total body endurance, while toning your core, upper body, and legs-which you'll need throughout your pregnancy and delivery," says Mathis. "Just make sure to keep your belly from sagging to the floor by keeping your spine in a straight line."

RELATED: 5 Fresh Ways to Do a Plank


Whether it's a few laps in the pool or a low-intensity water aerobics class, "water is great for adding resistance to a full-body workout or cardio session," says Mathis. Another perk: Because your weight is supported by the water, your joints are protected from impact. 

The elliptical

Now's the time to become BFFs with the elliptical: This machine offers full range of motion for your legs, sans the heavy impact that comes with running on pavement or a treadmill, making it a great cardio workout for moms-to-be. No gym membership? Dr. Walsh recommends going for a brisk walk to get your heart pumping. 

Body weight exercises

Good news: You can continue to do basic strength training moves-such as squats, push-ups, rows, raises, and curls-during pregnancy. "Strength training will make it easier for you to lose the baby weight and get back into shape after pregnancy," Mathis points out. However, Dr. Walsh recommends using a lighter set of free weights (no heavier than 20 lbs.), especially for women who are new to strength training.

RELATED: 9 Things Every Woman Must Know About Her Fertility

It's probably better to skip...

Overhead weight-training moves

Because your balance can be off during pregnancy, you should stay away from any moves that require you to push weights up over your head. "This puts you at a fall risk and there's also the potential for dropping [the weights]," says Mathis. "Plus, your core isn't as strong, and neck and back injuries happen more frequently when your arms are in the overhead position."

Supine exercises

When you're in the second and third trimester, it's common sense not to lie on your stomach. But you also should avoid laying on your back, according to Mathis. "The additional weight in your belly can compress organs and vessels that could cut off blood flow to parts of you and baby," she explains. Instead of laying on a bench or the floor, she recommends choosing alternative exercises that let you stand or sit down. This way, you can "keep your core engaged without overdoing it," Mathis says. 

Contact sports

Needless to say, Dr. Walsh suggests skipping sports that involve a risk of getting hit in the belly, like soccer, baseball, volleyball, and basketball. 

Anything too adventurous

Same goes for sports where there's a good chance of falling. Save the skiing and surfing until after your little one has arrived.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

This Foolproof Trick Will Convince You to Work Out Even When You Don't Want To

Ever feel like you just can't get motivated to exercise? Or that you don't have enough time in your day to fit even the quickest of workouts? We've all been there. Even if you've set yourself up for success-you've laid out your gym clothes the night before (or even slept in them!), you've put together a high-energy playlist, you have a friend waiting to meet you-sometimes even the thought of a delicious brunch isn't enough to get you going.

Good news: we think we've discovered a potentially life-changing motivational trick, courtesy of Holly Rilinger, a celebrity trainer, FlyWheel master instructor, and Nike master trainer, as well as a trainer featured on Work Out New York.

It's all about shifting your mindset: “If you're going to say, 'I don't have enough time to work out,' you should say instead, 'it's not important enough to me to work out,'” Rilinger says. Whenever you find yourself low on motivation, or feeling like you're short on time, she says that this subtle change can make a huge difference. “If you change that, you're going to change the way you think,” she says. “And see what happens.”

Rilinger, who gave us this gem during a Facebook Live segment, also dished with us on her morning ritual, how she uses meditation to stay focused, the essential items she always keeps in her gym bag, and the one thing she recommends that her clients do every day for wellness. Watch the video above for all of her great tips.

10 Yoga Poses to Do with a Partner

Partners can use their body weight to help you increase your flexibility

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

18 Moves to Tone Your Butt, Thighs, and Legs

Exercises that tighten and tone your legs from butt to ankles and everything in between

Sorry, But Yoga Might Not Count Toward Your Weekly Exercise Goals

Do you rely on yoga to meet your 150 minutes of moderate physical activity in a week? You might actually be falling short of your goal, suggests a new review of studies on the physical benefits of the popular mind-body practice. That's because not all forms of yoga are intense enough to count as moderate exercise-although, depending on how you practice, certain styles certainly can be.

It's estimated that as many as 20.4 million Americans practice yoga. With its increasing popularity, says study author Enette Larson-Meyer, PhD, it's important for students and health professionals to understand exactly what type-and how intense-of a workout it really provides. Larson-Meyer is an associate professor at the University of Wyoming, and a certified yoga instructor.

Her new research looks at 13 previously published studies on Hatha yoga and several of its variations. Hatha is an umbrella term that describes a practice that integrates physical postures, breathing, and meditative elements; popular Western styles such as Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Bikram can all be considered branches of Hatha yoga.

RELATED: Yoga Poses to Know Before Your First Class

The review, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, found a wide range of metabolic equivalent (MET) values for yoga practices and poses between the 13 studies. MET values are a measure of how hard the body is working, and can be used to calculate calorie burn. According to American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines, an exercise with a MET value less than 3 is considered light intensity. Moderate intensity is between 3 and 6, while vigorous is 6 METs and up.

In the studies included in Larson-Meyer's review, MET values for full yoga sessions ranged from 2.0 to 7.4-suggesting that yoga can vary from very relaxed to quite vigorous. The lowest value came from a study evaluating a Nintendo Wii Fit yoga practice, while the highest value came from a group of experienced practitioners flowing quickly through four rounds of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar), a series of 12 poses that's practiced in many modern yoga classes.

The review found that most individual yoga postures, when evaluated on their own, had MET values in the light-intensity category. The few that did reach moderate levels included Dandayamana-Janushirasana (Standing Head to Knee), Dandayamana-Dhanurasana (Standing Bow), Trikanasana (Triangle), and Tuladandasana (Balancing Stick). Inversions, such as Sirsasana (Head Stand) only received MET values up to 2.5-although the studies did not measure some of yoga's most difficult poses, such as Bakasana (Crow) or Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Hand Stand).

RELATED: Restorative Yoga Poses

Interestingly, the one study that looked at Bikram yoga did not find significantly higher energy expenditure than those found in studies of other yoga types. Bikram classes follow a set series of poses and are held in 105-degree rooms, and they're often touted as major calorie burners because of how much participants sweat.

But the MET values of Bikram “were within the same range as yoga practiced at room temperature,” Larson-Meyer wrote. Bikram does not incorporate Sun Salutations or flowing transitions from move to move, she points out, so it may require less energy than other styles. (If the sequences were exactly the same, a person may indeed burn more calories in a hotter room.)

“I know a lot of people who attend hot yoga and they feel like they get a better workout, and that's great,” says Larson-Meyer. “But for people who might be uncomfortable in the heat, it's good to know that's not necessarily true-you can get a similar workout in a room at normal temperature.” 

RELATED: How to Have a Home Yoga Practice That Sticks

The bottom line, says Larson-Meyer, is that yoga can be whatever you want it to be: a relaxing, light-intensity stretch session or a full-on workout with plenty of high-intensity moments.

Choosing a restorative class with more seated poses will likely give you the former, while one that incorporates lots of fast-paced transitions (jumping rather than stepping, for example) can give you the latter. Sessions that include standing poses and Sun Salutations are also likely to give you a greater burn.

“Most studies show that yoga is pretty comparable to walking,” says Larson-Meyer. “But if you really did want to get a higher MET value, it's still possible by doing some specific harder poses at a faster pace than you normally would.”

RELATED: 8 Body Weight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Certain poses can count, in small amounts, toward the ACSM's and American Heart Association's recommendation to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, she concludes. But if you're just starting out or prefer a gentler style of yoga, a good portion of your practice may not be intense enough to meet those criteria.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't practice this type of yoga, if that's what you like. Even light-intensity yoga has been shown to boost strength, improve balance and flexibility, calm the mind, and reduce stress, says Larson-Meyer. It's great cross-training for people who do more intense workouts on other days, and it may be a sustainable form of exercise for older adults or people with joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis, or back pain.

“The most important thing is that you're doing it in a safe environment with a qualified instructor, and that you're getting the benefits of centering and focusing on things other than the physical body,” she says. “Other than that, people should find a higher- or lower-intensity style that works for them and their fitness goals.”


This article originally appeared on

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

How to Do a Side Lunge

The perfect exercise to help you stretch your inner thighs and calves.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Traveling For a Race? Here's Your Packing List

They say that they best way to see a new city is by foot, so what better way to do that than by signing up to run a race somewhere new? A few years ago, I decided to use races as an excuse to see the world, and have traveled to three international races, and one here in the United States. I discovered my new favorite city, Vancouver, when I traveled to the SeaWheeze Half Marathon. I also learned at the Safaricom Marathon in Kenya that that running alongside wild animals is as scary and as exhilarating as it sounds.

But traveling for a race has its challenges, especially when it comes down to what goes in your suitcase. Ultimately, you need to pack all of your race day essentials, right down to the very last gel. At the same time, you need to bring anything else you might need to explore the city.

Before I get into all the specific items you need to pack, here's an important piece of advice: Pack everything you might need-right down to the hair tie-in your carry-on luggage. Be prepared to pack both a carry-on and a checked bag if you need the extra space for anything you won't need on your run. Why? Imagine this: You've been training for months, and you have your perfectly broken-in running shoes packed neatly in your checked luggage-and when you land in your race city, you learn that your bag didn't make it there with the rest of your flight. Now you have to face the starting line in brand-new running shoes, making you prone to blisters,

Besides your clothes and shoes, here's a quick rundown of what to pack, including what you might overlook, so you can be sure to have a stress-free race (and vacation).

Comfortable walking shoes

In addition to your race sneaks, you'll need a comfortable, supportive pair of kicks that you can wear around town. You don't want to suffer through your race with sore arches and achy legs because you were stuck with unsupportive shoes in the days leading up to the race. You might not want to bring your high heels at all-no matter how comfortable they are-but you could benefit from podiatrist-recommended sandals and fashion sneakers.

Compression socks

Wrestling into a pair of compression socks can feel like a workout in and of itself, but after your race, you're going to want to put in the extra effort to slide them on your feet. A study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that runners who wore compression socks in the 48 hours following a marathon performed better on a treadmill test than those who didn't, which means that the sock-wearing runners had improved functional recovery. Additionally, since you'll likely be in a car or cramped into an airplane to get to and from your race, you could benefit from the increased circulation. This pair from Vitalsox ($20-$35; covers your entire foot up to beneath your knee, and comes in a host of vibrant colors.

An empty water bottle

It's vital to stay hydrated in the days leading up to and after your race-but you already knew that. If you're traveling by air, you can bring an empty water bottle with you and fill it up with water after you get through security. Beyond the flight, carry your water bottle with you everywhere.

The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that the low humidity levels in an airplan cabin (usually below 20%) can cause dehydration-but externally only. So while your skin and eyes may feel dry and itchy, there is no risk to your health. But if you do feel dehydrated, it's probably because you're not drinking enough water in the first place.

The fuel you need for your race

You spent months training for your big race and found the type of nutrition that works perfectly for you, so you want to make sure you're equipped with what you need. Don't assume that you'll be able to find your favorite gels where you're going (especially if you're flying internationally or to a remote location).

Healthy snacks

Pack nutritious bites that you're used to eating leading up to a big training run, as well as the foods you would like to eat the morning of the race. You shouldn't change anything about your established routine for race day, so be sure to have the type of food that you can stomach. Having healthy snacks on hand are also useful for long plane rides or car drives when snack choices may otherwise be less-than-stellar. You can store these in your hotel room or your bag for easy access to nutrition while you're on-the-go.

Gear for all the weather possibilities

Forecast says no rain? Great! Pack a raincoat anyway. You never know what Mother Nature will do on race day (or the days leading up to it), and you should pack anything you might need to make your trip as seamless as it can be. Overpacking is O.K.-for this one time in your life, do not feel guilty for packing too much for your race.

Eye mask and ear plugs

While you might not sleep too well the night before a race anyway, take precautions to make sure that nothing will disrupt the rest you do get. You won't know until you show up whether your hotel room faces the quiet courtyard or the noisy street, or if the guests down the hall will be having a rowdy party. (When I raced in Kenya, there were tree monkeys screaming outside my window throughout the night).

Foam roller and/or lacrosse ball

If you're also bringing checked luggage, packing a foam roller is much easier than you might think. If you have one that is hollow, like this one from TriggerPoint ($40;, you can stuff your clothes inside and not lose too much space in your bag.

You'll want to be foam rolling in the days leading up to your race and immediately following it. Try these 5 foam foller moves that prevent pain and injury to make sure you stay healthy for race day. 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

9 Reasons to Never Skip a Workout, As Told To Trainers

Photo: Pond5

Sure, it would be nice if you bounded out of bed in the morning and into your running shoes. Or rushed home from work and went straight to the gym multiple times a week-no bribes or pep talks required. But let's be honest, that doesn't always (uh, rarely?) happen. However, some people have found that one no-excuses method to moving more. They get their butts in gear, even when it's tempting to stay on the couch. So we asked Daily Burn 365 trainers and fitness pros what their clients say is the best workout motivation. Next time you're thinking of skipping out on fitness, steal one of their secrets.

RELATED: 275 Exercises to Shake Up Your Workout Routine

1. “I'm doing it for them.” You often hear that exercise should be a time you invest in yourself. It's all about you. But sometimes, it's even better to look at the big picture. Figure out who else your health benefits-whether it's just for bragging rights or something more. “One client told me, 'I'm exercising to prove to my wife that I can do this,” says Daily Burn 365 trainer Prince Brathwaite, who's also the CEO and founder of Trooper Fitness. Another said, 'I want my kids to have something positive to look up to.'”

2. “There's comfort in routine.” No matter how busy life gets, think of your workout as something that keeps your life in line. Amid the chaos, a sweat sesh can feel pretty darn good. “One of my clients who takes barre just finished her nursing residency. After 12-hour shifts, she'd come to class simply because she wanted to maintain a normal life and have something for herself,” says Krystal Dwyer, instructor at Flybarre and CityRow in New York City and DB365 trainer. “That's motivation. She inspires me.”

RELATED: 7 Reasons to Never Miss a Monday Workout

3. “Because Jon Snow is waiting.” Rewarding yourself for a workout well done is the way to go. (Err, as long as your prize isn't always a double scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough.) Bentley Garton, elite trainer at LA Rox and Daily Burn Fitness/Nutrition Coach, had a client with a unique prize in mind. “She would only let herself watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones if she had done four workouts that week,” she says. You might prefer a new sports bra or an hour of Instagram surfing and that's good too. Whatever gets you to the finish line!

4. “It makes sense financially.” If you pay for a gym membership or monthly subscription, you better use it, right? Sometimes thoughts of throwing cash away can help you get up and at 'em. “One client sat down with her husband and made a chart with the total cost per month of a gym membership and what that would make each visit cost-for instance, one trip would cost the full monthly amount,” explains Cheri Paige Fogleman, a New York City-based fitness instructor and Daily Burn 365 trainer. “So she turned it into a game and challenged herself to get the average cost of each visit as discounted as possible.”

RELATED: 7 DIY Pinterest Projects to Get You Motivated

5. “It's on my schedule-in pen.” You know you should put your workout on the calendar and treat it like any other really important, non-negotiable appointment in your life. Well, Becca Pace, owner of In Your Pace Fitness and Daily Burn 365 trainer, has many clients who take that to heart. “They'll tell their bosses and co-workers that they have a 'meeting' every week. Then they can run to class during their lunch hour,” she says. Everyone deserves a break.

6. “I'm helping the world.” With apps like Charity Miles, you can log your activity to raise money for more than 30 non-profit organizations. Knowing that your sweat turns into real equity may help you get to the gym more often. At least that's what it does for a bunch of Erika Shannon's trainees. “A few of my clients are currently participating in a fundraiser where every time they check in on social media at a gym or fitness studio, they raise money to help build schools,” says the DB365 trainer. “I love it!”

RELATEDHate Crunches? 6 Better Core Moves for Beginners

7. “I sure look the part.” Gone are the days of baggy throwaway tees and shorts you found at the bottom of the hamper. “I hear from women all the time that if they look good, they feel good. So they'll wear cute workout outfits to feel better heading into a class,” says Lauren Danzinger, creator of Sweat Sessions in New York City, a program that offers complimentary fitness classes for New Yorkers. Permission to buy those sweet sneakers you've been eyeing (as long as that means you're inspired to wear them).

8. “Well, I'm already in my leggings.” If you pop out of bed, brush your teeth and head out for a workout class, you won't know what happened until you've got weights in hand. “One client told me she sleeps in her workout attire so there is no excuse not to make my 6:30 a.m. class,” says Dara Theodore, trainer for DB365 and the Fhitting Room in New York City. “It might not be the best pajama choice, but it works!”

RELATED: 8 Running Apps for Marathoners, Skeptics and Everyone in Between

9. “I don't have a backup wardrobe.” If you have to force yourself to break a sweat in order to fit into certain clothes, then do what works. That's what one client of Daily Burn Fitness/Nutrition Coach Sarah Snyder thinks. “When she purchased a dress a couple sizes smaller for an upcoming occasion with no other options, she had to make it fit,” she says. The horror of the outfit being too snug in all the wrong places encourages her to torch those calories.


This article originally appeared on

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Sumo Jump Squats

It can be challenging to do cardio at home, especially if you don't own a treadmill or elliptical machine. Plyometrics, or jump-training can blast fat and boost your heart rate without a lot of space or equipment. Here fitness expert Kristin McGee demonstrates an exercise you can do anywhere to get in shape: Sumo Jump Squat.

Stand with your feet wider than hip distance apart, toes outward. Keeping your back straight, lower into a sumo squat. Make sure your knees don't extend beyond your toes. Then jump as high as you can, arms overhead, land in a squat position and repeat for 30-60 seconds.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Here’s What Happens to Your Body During an Aerial Yoga Class

It is well-documented that I'm a huge fan of Savasana, the final resting pose at the end of yoga class. So when I heard that aerial yoga classes offer particularly relaxing Savasana sessions, I signed up for what I thought was a restorative class at Christopher Harrison's AntiGravity Fitness Lab in New York City. Gently rocking back and forth in a hammock? That's a Savasana lover's dream.

Once the class started however, I quickly realized I'd accidentally registered for an open level session. In other words, I was going to have to do some pretty intimidating hanging-upside-down poses in order to earn that glorious Savasana. As someone who has never-not once, not even almost-done any kind of inversion in a regular yoga class, this was a big deal. Cue panic mode. Can I escape without the teacher noticing? I wondered frantically. (It was a six-person class, so that was a no.)

But after my initial fear, I found that moving into an aerial handstand with the support of the very encouraging instructor was surprisingly easy-and awesome. I left class feeling extra-stretchy and accomplished. I thought my skin even looked a little glowy, maybe thanks to all the blood that had rushed to my face. I was so impressed by my experience that I convinced the team to film a Facebook Live video at AntiGravity Fitness Lab a few weeks later. (You can check it out here.)

While yoga in general offers a slew of health benefits, I wondered if aerial yoga could provide its own unique perks. To find out whether hanging upside down is especially good for you, I called Allan Stewart, MD, director of aortic surgery and co-director of the Valve Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

RELATED: Can Yoga Prevent-Even Reverse-an Osteoporosis-Related Hunchback?

The answer, he said, is yes and no. There are plenty of reasons to love yoga in general: It can increase flexibility, improve your blood pressure and cholesterol, even whittle your waist. You'll reap all these benefits during an aerial yoga class. And if you suffer from back spasms, scoliosis, or a herniated disc, hanging upside down may ease painful symptoms. "It can lengthen your ligaments, and at least temporarily relax your muscles," Dr. Stewart explains.

You may also notice temporary changes in your skin, such as an improvement in varicose veins, a subtle reduction in fine lines, and more color in your face, says Dr. Stewart. (Hence my #glow.) But the claim that hanging upside down can somehow improve overall circulation is simply untrue, he says. 

That's because your circulation system knows how to direct the flow of blood; it doesn't need gravity to help it do its job. When you're upright, oxygenated blood gets pumped to your entire body (including your brain), and deoxygenated blood returns to your heart. Hanging upside down sends more blood to your head, but both oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood. "You're not increasing the amount of nutrients in the blood going to your brain," Dr. Stewart says, "and you're actually reducing the flow of 'good' blood." This explains that lightheaded feeling you get when you're inverted. 

RELATED: How Yoga Can Relieve Back Pain

"I'm not saying that hanging upside down is necessarily bad," he says. But any positive effects, like a flushed face, are transient. If you're specifically hoping to ease back pain, you may be better off using an inversion table, which is designed for therapeutic use, says Dr. Stewart. "A few studies suggest [inversion tables] can reduce the need for back surgery if you have a herniated disc," he adds. But you should consult your doctor before using one, he cautions, "and make sure there's someone nearby who can help you get out of it should you become stuck."

It's also important to note that some people should skip aerial yoga and inversion tables (and avoid going upside down entirely), says Dr. Stewart, including "anyone with heart failure, defined spinal problems, or glaucoma."

Finally, a Non-Slip Yoga Mat That Really Works

It's the enemy of all yoga aficionados: sweaty, slippery hands. I've been doing yoga regularly for more than 15 years, and whether it's a hot yoga class (I take one or two a week) or a midwinter session in my underheated neighborhood studio, at some point during every practice, my hands get damp and start sliding around during Downward Dog. My usual fix has always been to have an old towel handy, to place under my palms and absorb the sweat, but often the towel starts slipping too (though if it gets soaked enough, it'll cling to the mat).

So I've been on a decade-plus quest to find a yoga mat that really grips, even when sweaty. For a while I used a mat so sticky it would make tape-ripping sounds whenever I moved my feet and pull on my hair in savasana-and it still got slippery when wet. I had a brief love affair with a gorgeous mat printed with patterns and yoga phrases, but the printed overlay was so slick I'd slip even at the beginning of class. And of course I've used studio-provided mats all over New York City.

RELATED: Which Type of Yoga Is Best for You?

Well, the search is over. I'm here to tell you that the best mat for yogis who sweat is the Gaiam Studio Select Dry-Grip Yoga Mat ($70; It's designed for hot yoga, but it works great for any type of yoga practice. It grips my hands and feet without being sticky, and even when I get super sweaty, my hands never slip. The surface wicks moisture and actually seems to get more grippy the sweatier you get-though for a hot yoga session, you might still want a towel to help avoid puddles.

Bonus: It's 5mm thick (a standard yoga mat is 2 or 3mm), which means it's extra cushy; no more having to put a blanket or towel under my knees in low lunges. And I love the cool black-on-black design (it comes in purple and blue too). The downsides are that it's heavier than average, and of course it's on the pricey side. But it's worth the investment to be able to settle in and think about my breathing-instead of worrying about sliding out of my pose.

Friday, 16 September 2016

As People Age, Exercise Levels Dropâand Thatâs Bad

THURSDAY, Sept. 15, 2016 (HealthDay News)-More than one-quarter of Americans over 50 don't exercise, a new federal report estimates, increasing their risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

"Adults benefit from any amount of physical activity," said study co-author Janet Fulton. "Helping inactive people become more physically active is an important step towards healthier and more vibrant communities."

Fulton is chief of the Physical Activity and Health Branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the study, the researchers analyzed results of a 2014 national survey about health, focusing on people aged 50 and older. The investigators defined inactivity as moving around only to accomplish routine daily duties.

Based on that definition, 31 million older Americans are inactive-just over 29% of women and nearly 26% of men.

One-third of Hispanics and blacks were inactive, the findings showed. That compared with 26% of whites and 27% of people in other racial and ethnic groups.

The older Americans get, the less exercise they get, according to the study. Thirty-five percent of people aged 75 and older were inactive, as were 27% of those between 65 and 74, and 25% of those aged 50 to 64.

Southerners were least likely to exercise: 30% were inactive. In comparison, 28% of older people in the Midwest, 27% in the Northeast, and 23% in the West were inactive.

Colorado had the most active older Americans, with 82% getting daily exercise. People in Arkansas were the least active, with only 61% getting daily exercise, according to the report.

People carrying extra pounds were less likely to be active, while those with more education were more apt to exercise, the study found. And, not surprisingly, people with a chronic disease were more inactive (32%) than those who were not ill (19%).

Physical activity can boost life span and lower the risk of conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some kinds of cancer, according to the CDC. And among older people, exercise also can reduce the risk of falls and broken bones.

"More work is needed to make it safer and easier for people of all ages and abilities to be physically active in their communities," lead author Kathleen Watson said in a CDC news release. Watson is an epidemiologist in the CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.

The report was published in the Sept. 15 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about exercise and physical activity.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Are You Doing These Yoga Poses All Wrong?

Photo: Pond5

Ideally, you'd have a personal yoga teacher to tell you every time your feet or hands aren't in the proper places for key yoga poses. That way, you'd feel the “oohs” and “aahs” in all the right spots. But unfortunately, instructors can't be everywhere at once, so a few form mistakes may slip by them. That doesn't mean you can't get aligned like the pros, though. We asked experts to ID the most common missteps, whether they're committed by beginners or experienced yogis. Keep reading to ensure your yoga game is as on point as possible.

RELATED: 8 Things Experts Wish You Knew About Yoga

Mistake #1: Putting your feet too close to your hands in downward-facing dog

This happens all the time, says Rhode Island-based yoga instructor Jessie Dwiggins. But its easy to position your hands and feet properly. “Start in a high plank with the hands directly underneath the shoulders,” Dwiggins says. “Then lift the hips up and back.” If your heels don't touch the floor, that's OK-it's just a sign that your hamstrings are tight. You can always slide a blanket under your heels to have something to press into. What's more important is that your weight is evenly distributed between both of your hands and feet, and that you activate your upper-arm muscles and core. You should notice a stretch down the backs of your legs.

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Mistake #2: Letting your shoulders tense up in chaturanga

If you sit at a desk most days, you probably roll your shoulders forward without even realizing it. Well, think of the chaturanga as the opposite of that hunched-over-your-computer posture. “Chaturanga requires the shoulder blades to slide down the back, as the head of the shoulders lift away from the floor,” says Dwiggins. (You should feel an opening in your chest.) With your shoulders by your ears, you could put unnecessary strain on your upper body, which can lead to rotator cuff issues, Dwiggins says.

RELATED: How to Maximize Your Yoga Calorie Burn

Mistake #3: Leaning into the balls of your feet in mountain pose

The idea here (and in any pose): No matter what part of your body is touching the floor, you should have a firm, grounded connection. So putting too much pressure on your pinky or thumb in poses like plank or downward-facing dog is also problematic. “In down dog, people get a lot of wrist pain, often because they're leaning on the pinkies,” says Gwen Lawrence, yoga coach and owner of Power Yoga for Sports. Think about plugging your whole hand or foot into the floor and distributing the weight as evenly as possible.

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Mistake #4: Rounding the lower back too much in forward bends

People tend to push their hips back when bending forward in poses like standing forward fold, dolphin and pyramid, because it seems easier. But that can compromise your lower back, says Dwiggins. Instead, keep your hips directly over your heels, maintain a flat back and reach your tailbone up toward the ceiling. Using blocks under your hands can also help you avoid back aches. “This adjustment brings a much better stretch into the hamstrings, and it's a little safer,” says Dwiggins.

RELATED: Can Yoga Help Relieve Your Asthma?

Mistake #5: Looking straight down in crow

If you want to master any arm balance, where you look is crucial. “You need to focus away and out,” says Lawrence. “This gives you three points of balance, with two being your hands and the third being your gaze.” You're also less likely to fall forward if you're looking ahead, not down. During your next attempt at crow (or if you get crazy with a one-leg arm balance), try switching your stare from the floor, forward and you might find you're suddenly able to stick it. (Need more tips on pulling off crow pose? Follow these three steps.)

RELATED5 Relaxing Yoga Poses to Do Before Bed

Mistake #6: Doing headstand against a wall to prep for a real headstand

If you don't have the strength needed to do a headstand, it's best to keep a foot or two on the floor, rather than using a wall for assistance. “It gives a false sense of security, and people can get hurt when they attempt it without the barrier,” Lawrence says. Instead, try this modification that'll help you work your way up: Start on your hands and knees. Put the top of your head on the floor and bend your elbows 90 degrees (upper arms parallel to the floor). Experiment with straightening one or both legs. Eventually, try resting your knees on your upper arms to get used to the pressure on your head and neck. Soon enough, you'll be able to lift your legs toward the ceiling and rock a solid headstand.

Ready to progress to a handstand? Check out this video that shows even beginners how to nail it.


This article originally appeared on 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Hate Yoga? 8 Reasons You Really Should Change Your Mind

From tech-savvy new ways to flow to some serious health benefits, there are many reasons to love the ancient practice.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Why You Crave Food After Mentally Taxing Tasks—And How Exercise Can Help

Could the solution to post-study session cravings be a 15-minute jaunt on the treadmill? According to new research in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, short but strenuous workouts may curb the hunger pangs that tend to follow challenging cognitive tasks.

For anyone who's ever ordered Domino's after pouring over a spreadsheet, or wrapping up a complex report, the brain-fried binge is all too familiar. “Mental work utilizes the brain's energy resources, and the brain then signals that it needs additional energy," researcher William Neumeier, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), explained in an email to Health. "If food is available, the brain will use it to replenish energy. This could lead to overeating."

Neumeier and his colleagues suspected that physical activity might counteract that urge to eat: “Exercise, especially high-intensity exercise, can increase available energy in the body's bloodstream, and promote satiety in the short term,” says Dr. Neumeier. The researchers hypothesized that the brain could replenish its energy deficit from a mentally-taxing chore by utilizing byproducts of exercise-primarily glucose and lactate-and halt cravings for more food.

To test their theory, they offered 38 healthy college students pizza (to see how much they ate under normal circumstances). On another day, they had the participants do 20 minutes of math and reading comprehension problems to tire out their brains. Afterwards, one group rested for 15 minutes while another group did interval training on a treadmill. Then the researchers served a pizza lunch, and tracked how many calories the volunteers consumed.

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The results lined up with what the researchers expected: “Mental work increased food intake by 100 calories, unless there was an intense bout of exercise in between,” study co-author Emily Dhurandar, PhD, an assistant professor in UAB's Department of Health Behavior, said in an email. “Among those who exercised, there was no increase in food intake resulting from mental work.”

More research is needed to investigate the effects of workouts of varying types, lengths, and intensities. But the current findings might be helpful for workhorses looking to lose a few pounds. “People who find themselves hungry after completing mentally-demanding tasks should consider adding a bout of exercise to their schedule to help curb their appetite,” says Dhurandar. 

So next time you finish a big item on your to-do list, try reaching for your running shoes before a bag of chips, and you may leave your cravings in the dust.

Monday, 12 September 2016

CrossFitters May Need Rest Days to Keep Their Immunity Up, Says Study

CrossFit enthusiasts may be smart to take a break after two consecutive days of hard workouts, suggests a new study, especially if they're new to the sport. Otherwise, they may experience a temporary drop in anti-inflammatory immune system proteins.

Study author Ramires Tibana, PhD, is a CrossFitter himself. Writing in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, he notes that the fitness phenomenon-which has more than 13,000 affiliates around the world-clearly has a lot of benefits.

CrossFit has been shown to improve muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness, and body composition, he says. And its model-different high-intensity workouts every day, in a group environment with lots of community support-keeps members coming back and helps them commit to regular workouts. 

But CrossFit has also been criticized for focusing on results rather than technique, which some say can fatigue muscles and raise injury risk. And Tibana, a professor at the Catholic University of Brasilia in Brazil, was curious about research that suggests that repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise can put stress on the body, temporarily impairing immunity.

So he recruited a group of nine male CrossFit participants, all of whom had been following the program for at least six months. The men did intense CrossFit-style workouts two days in a row-including Olympic lifting, power lifting, strength-training moves, and aerobic drills-aiming to finish them as quickly as possible without compromising their technique.

RELATED: 7 Things to Know Before Trying CrossFit

During and after each workout, Tibana and his colleagues measured the participants' muscle power, as well as levels of inflammatory cytokines and metabolic markers in their blood.

The good news? Two days of intense exercise didn't compromise the CrossFitters' muscular strength. The bad? After day 2, participants had reduced levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines-proteins produced by white blood cells that fight off threats to the body, like illness or infection.

The study was small, only included male CrossFitters, and didn't show that the workouts definitely increased vulnerability to illness. And the results don't mean CrossFit isn't safe, says Tibana, but they do suggest that following the same workout schedule may not be best for everyone. Beginners, especially, may need more rest days than people with higher fitness levels and more experience.

RELATED: CrossFit's Camille Leblanc-Bazinet: 'I'm Glad I Don't Have a Thigh Gap'

"For non-athlete subjects who want to improve their health and quality of life through Crossfit training, we recommend that they decrease their training volume after two consecutive days of high intensity training to prevent possible immunosuppression," he says.

This is particularly important for people recovering from an illness or who already have compromised immune systems, or during times of the year when viral illnesses are prevalent. (Healthy, well-trained athletes, Tibana adds, can likely tolerate a higher workout volume without negative effects.)

If you're new to CrossFit or want to give it a try, Tibana recommends finding a facility with trained professionals that encourages gradual progression. He also suggests taking rest days after exhaustive workout sessions, and making time for alternative recovery techniques such as massage, and gentle, restorative exercise.

RELATED: 5 Lacrosse Ball Moves to Speed Recovery and Prevent Soreness

Still, there's no hard and fast rule as to how often you should sit out a workout, he says-it depends on a lot of factors, including how hard you push yourself every day. “The main concern is to control training volume and intensity,” he says. If health and safety is your main goal, he adds, aim for a combination of high- and low-intensity sessions.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Why It’s Especially Important to Work Out If You Drink Alcohol

Drinking alcohol at or above recommended levels has been linked to an increased likelihood of disease and early death-but a new study says that getting regular exercise may offset some of these risks. The paper, published online yesterday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, is the first to examine the opposite influences that physical activity and alcohol intake seem to have on mortality due to cancer, heart disease, and other causes.

Alcohol consumption is an “integral part” of western culture, the study authors write. In 2013, 88% of American adults said they'd had alcohol at some point in their lifetime, while 56% had imbibed in the past month. That's true despite some troublesome statistics. While low to moderate levels of drinking may provide some health benefits, it has also been shown to raise the risk of certain cancers.

The consequences of heavy drinking are clearer, still: Many studies have shown that drinking in higher-than-moderate amounts (in the United States, that's considered more than 7 servings a week for women and more than 14 for men) increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer, and death from all causes.

Exercise, on the other hand, is known to help people stay healthy and live longer. In fact, the study authors write, physical activity and alcohol consumption “may be linked to chronic disease through shared pathways but acting in the opposite directions.” 

RELATED: How Much Exercise Do You Really Need to Protect Against Disease?

So they set out to see whether staying active might help cancel out the harmful effects of alcohol consumption over the years. To test their hypothesis, they looked at survey responses about health and drinking from more than 36,000 adults in England and Scotland, recorded between 1994 and 2006.

Over the next several years, nearly 6,000 of those adults died. After accounting for other factors that could potentially influence their results, the researchers found that drinking any amounts (compared to lifelong abstinence) was associated with a heightened risk of death from cancer-and the more people drank, the higher that risk was.

Heavy drinking (defined in this study as more than 14 servings a week for women and more than 21 a week for men, a now-outdated British guideline) was also associated with increased risk of death from all causes.

But when they factored in physical activity, they saw a more nuanced picture. The links between drinking and death-from all causes as well as from cancer-remained for people who got less than the recommended 7.5 MET hours, which is equal to 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, a week. For those who moved at least that much, however, those risks were lessened or canceled out.

In fact, people who were physically active and drank occasionally (not every week) seemed to have lower risk for cardiovascular death than those who were complete teetotalers.

RELATED: Is It Risky to Drink Alcohol While Taking Medication? Depends on the Drug

Occasional drinkers who were sedentary didn't reap the same benefits. “This suggests that low and irregular alcohol consumption has cardioprotective effects, but these effects need some physical activity to ignite,” says study co-author Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, associate professor of exercise, health and physical activity sport sciences at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Because this was an observational study, and because it didn't look at specific drinking or dietary patterns, the authors can't draw any definite conclusions about cause and effect. But the findings do indicate that physical activity has the potential to curb some of the harmful effects of drinking, they say. What's more, these benefits start at relatively low levels-just 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, the minimum amount recommended for overall health by the U.S. government. 

That doesn't mean, though, that people who exercise regularly shouldn't worry about drinking in excess. “Our study examined specific long-term health outcomes in relation to alcohol drinking, and it says nothing for all other alcohol harms such as liver disease, mental health conditions, brain damage, or car accidents and alcohol-fueled violence,” says Stamatakis.

Given that drinking is so prevalent in society, it doesn't make sense to recommend abstinence, he adds. But he does suggest limiting consumption to moderate levels at most. (Taking into account differences in serving sizes and recent changes to British guidelines, the definition of “moderate” varies only slightly between the U.S. and the United Kingdom.)

RELATED: 15 Ways Exercise Makes You Look and Feel Younger

“As long as people remain physically active, consumption within these guidelines would be wise advice,” he says. “And it may be a good idea to take a break from alcohol for a week or a few weeks from time to time.”

Overall, Stamatakis says, the findings highlight what we already know: how important it is to stay active. “Exercise is such a powerful influence that may even offset some of the damage done by other unhealthy behaviors,” he says. “If we were to interpret our results causally, it looks like physical inactivity and alcohol drinking is a very toxic combination.”

Monday, 5 September 2016

3 Boxing Workouts to Get Fit and Strong

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

You don't need to start a fight to throw a few punches. Think of boxing as your go-to stress-relieving workout. You'll not only knock out frustrations by releasing some feel-good endorphins, but you'll also get a blend of hardcore cardio and strength training. In just 30 minutes, the fighting moves squash more than 375 calories and sculpt your back (lats, in particular), shoulders (or deltoids) and core.

Before you step into the ring, though, you'll want to follow a few pointers on technique. Enter Rob Piela, owner of Gotham Gym in New York City and creator of Gotham G-Box (a group exercise class) in connection with WellPath. Heed Piela's tips on how to pack a serious punch, then tackle one (or all!) of his three beginner-friendly boxing routines. Whether you want to kick up your cardio, build stronger muscles or do jab-cross combos with a buddy, there's a plan for you.

RELATED: 3 Quick HIIT Workouts for Beginners

Boxing Basics: 5 Steps to Look the Part

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

Step 1: Master the Boxing Stance

Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart (a). Step your left foot forward. Turn both feet 45 degrees to the right and bend knees slightly (b). Bring your fists up to your cheekbones, keeping your elbows in by your sides. Your left shoulder should be in the front and the right shoulder behind. Get ready to punch (c).

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

Step 2: Practice Your Main Punch, The Jab

Start with the left hand. Keeping your elbow in by your side and your right fist up by your face, extend your left hand straight out in front of you (a). When your arm is almost fully extended, turn your wrist so your thumb faces down toward the floor. The jab should be quick (b). Snap your fist in and out, like a whip, with your hand coming right back to your face after you execute the punch (c).

RELATED: 3 Breathing Techniques for a More Effective Workout

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

Step 3: Put Power Behind Your Cross

For the right cross, starting from the bottom: Pivot your right foot so it turns inward and you're on the ball of your foot (a). Your right hip and shoulder should turn forward with it, while you push your left shoulder and left hip behind you (b). With your left fist up by your face, move your right arm forward (keep your elbow in) and punch it straight out (c). Turn your wrist at the end of the punch, so your thumb faces down toward the floor (d). After you fully extend your right arm, snap it back to your boxing stance (e).

RELATED: 8 Killer Treadmill Classes to Try Now

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

Step 4: Add Upper Body Oomph to Your Hook

For the left hook, from your boxing stance, turn to your right as you bring your left elbow up (bent 90 degrees) to about shoulder level (a). At the same time, your left heel pops up off the ground, as you pivot on the ball of your foot and shift your weight back onto your right leg (b). Bring the punch back to your face, resetting into your boxing stance (c).

RELATED: Hate Crunches? 6 Better Core Exercises for Beginners

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

Step 5: Attack from a Different Angle with Uppercuts

For the right uppercut: From your boxing stance, turn your right hip and shoulder forward. Keep your elbow in as you punch upward, thumb facing you (a). Bring your fist back to your face and return to your boxing stance. Bend your knees if you need to reach a lower target (b). For the left uppercut: Follow the same steps as the right uppercut, except this time, turn your left hip and shoulder forward and punch with your left hand, thumb facing you (c).

RELATED: 5 Moves to Sculpt a Better Butt

3 Boxing Workouts to Make You Sweat

Boxer's Cardio Workout

You'll get your heart rate up for this cardio routine, designed by Piela, which also tones your entire body. Perform the combinations below for one minute each. If you're up for the challenge, Piela suggests using light weights while you punch.

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

2-minute warm-up: 30 seconds each of jumping jacks and high knees. Repeat a second time.

Jab and cross: Alternate jabs with your left hand and crosses with your right and continuously and as fast as you can. Make sure your punches go straight out and back to your face. Engage your core and turn your shoulders and hips toward your target.

Jump rope: Do this with an actual jump rope or just mimic the movement by rotating your wrists. Jump with feet together up and down or side to side.

Jab, cross, squat: Do a jab with your left hand and a cross with your right, then perform a squat. Pause briefly between each combination.

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Burpees: Jump straight up with your hands in the air. Then, put your hands on the ground and jump your feet back to a high plank position. Jump the feet back up to your hands and explode back up off the ground. (Hate burpees? Try this variation.)

Uppercuts: Perform right and left uppercuts as fast as you can. Make sure to keep turning your shoulders with each punch and engage your core the entire time.

Forearm plank: Keep your back straight and flat, and hips in line with shoulders. Position elbows directly underneath your shoulders. (Here's how to fix the most common mistakes.)

Repeat the entire sequence one more time, skipping the burpees and planks on the second round.


View the rest of the workout here.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Here Are Tennis Star Ana Ivanovic’s Diet and Fitness Secrets 

With the U.S. Open in full swing (pun intended), I had a chance to sit down with world-ranked tennis pro Ana Ivanovic. (The 28-year-old star suffered a disappointing loss to Denisa Allertova earlier this week.) We talked about everything from her fitness routine to the burger she enjoys after a grueling workout. Spoiler alert: She hates strength training, but lives for running.

A typical meal...

“I don't really eat fried food,” was the first thing Ivanovic said when I asked about her diet. “It's definitely a no go for me.” On a day she's scheduled to play, she'll have fish and vegetables. Simple meals are key: no sauces, added sugar, or salt. But she does work in healthy fats like avocado and nuts. 

When it comes to carb-loading, rather than reaching for bread or pasta, she sticks to rice, risotto, and paella. And when she's in Italy, she doesn't hold back-because after all, who could?

What she carries at all times...

Ivanovic is “hooked to healthy snacks,” as she puts it, and always has a stash at the ready. Her unpredictable schedule has taught her to plan ahead, especially when she's headed to the airport. Her favorite snacks are bananas and raw energy bars-preferably the savory varieties from brands like Larabar and Trek. “I joke that I could feed a small family with the bars in my bag,” she said.

Her favorite workouts...

Because a tennis match can last two to three hours, Ivanovic noted the importance of building endurance, and being able to keep her mind in the game for an extended period of time. Running helps her train for that.  “I love to run,” she said. “It's how I clear my head.” Even when her schedule is packed with other workouts, she'll still go for a 30-40 minute jog in the morning to start the day fresh. She's also a fan of yoga and tries to squeeze in at least 15 minutes a day.

RELATED: The Total-Body Exercise That Keeps Gabrielle Reece in Killer Shape

Jams that get her in the zone...

If she's at the gym, Ivanovic listens to Serbian radio, which reminds her of home. But when she's exercising or practicing outdoors, it's a different story. She plays pop music by artists like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Beyoncé. Those tunes also help her get pumped up before a match.

The beauty routine that keeps her looking fresh...

I was prepared to see a beautiful tennis player when I met Ivanovic, but I was taken aback by how stunning she looked, without a stitch of makeup!  Her beauty philosophy? “Less is more.” Before a match, she uses hairspray to keep hair out of her face; and on her face, a cleanser followed by Shiseido's Ultimate Sun Protection Cream Broad Spectrum SPF50+ ($35, That's it. She says she likes Shiseido because the formula is designed to work better when she sweats.

At the end of the day, she enjoys her downtime...

When she's not working out or competing, Ivanovic catches up on reading and her current obsession: the legal drama series "Suits." (“I can't stop watching!”) She also loves to enjoy good meals with friends, and breaks her strict diet on occasion-especially for pizza and burgers. But she says they taste even better when she earns them, by working hard and rewarding herself after.