Friday, 28 October 2016

Get Sculpted Shoulders with These 5 Moves

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

When you hit the weight room in pursuit of strong, toned arms, bicep curls and tricep extensions might be your go-to moves. But there's an equally important muscle group to add into the rotation: your shoulders.

“Shoulder strength and stability are integral to practically all arm movements, plus almost every chest and back movement,” says Cheri Paige Fogleman, a trainer on Daily Burn 365. “Having strong shoulders also ensures success when strengthening biceps, triceps, chest and back muscles.” Translation: Build sculpted shoulders and you'll help strengthen your entire upper body as well.

Stronger shoulders will also make it easier to carry out daily tasks-from picking up your kids or groceries to reaching for a glass in the cabinet. But there's a catch: You need to work your shoulders from multiple angles. While push-ups will do wonders for muscles in the front of the shoulder, Fogleman says, you shouldn't stop there.

On your next arm day, skip the standard push-up and add these five new shoulder exercises to your line-up. They work every section of your shoulders-backside included (which people often miss)-so you get 360 degrees stronger.

RELATED: 7 Benefits of Strength Training That Go Beyond Buff Arms

5 Shoulder Exercises to Strengthen Your Upper Body

These bodyweight moves can easily incorporate dumbbells. Fogleman suggests doing higher reps if you're skipping the weights. If you're more advanced and going for increased resistance, Fogleman recommends starting will three-pound dumbbells. “The moves should be more challenging, but not suddenly impossible,” she says. Perform 10 to 12 reps of each, rest, then repeat this circuit once or twice for a full upper body burn.

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

1. Staggered Shoulder Press

By leaning forward in this move, you hit the tough-to-reach back of the shoulders, along with your core and back muscles. Just remember to avoid slouching and keep a neutral spine.

How to: From a standing position, step one foot behind you so you're in a high lunge. Front knee should be bent about 45 degrees (a). Lean forward at the hips, keeping your back straight. Bring your arms up to shoulder height, bent at the elbows and palms facing in (b). Extend your arms overhead until they're completely straight (c). Bend them back to shoulder height and repeat. Switch your footing halfway through or on the next round.

RELATED: 3 Quick HIIT Workouts for Beginners

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

2. Plank to Renegade Row

While shoulders are your main focus on this move, bonus points come from working your back and core, too. If you really want to fire up your midsection, keep your hips totally stable. Feeling unsteady? Step your legs wider apart or drop to your knees.

How to: Start in a high plank position with hands a little closer than shoulder-width apart. Draw the navel in toward the spine to support your abs and firm the glutes to take some pressure off your elbows and hips (a). Pull one hand upward (palm facing toward your body) so your hand reaches chest level. Return it back to the ground (b). Perform the same row movement with your other arm. Return it back to the ground (c). Continue alternating.

RELATED: 3 Common Plank Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

3. Lateral Raise Balance

Squeeze your shoulder blades together as your lift your arm so you sculpt the back of the shoulder. You'll also work the stabilizing muscles of the arm that's holding you up, which gets even more intense when you lift your leg.

How to: Start on your hands and knees, with wrists directly under shoulders and knees in line with hips (a). Lift one arm directly out to the side and up to shoulder height, as you straighten and lift the opposite leg to hip height behind you (b). Lower your hand and foot back to the floor and repeat, then switch sides.

RELATED: 275 Exercises to Shake Up Your Fitness Routine

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

4. Side Plank T-Raise

Target both shoulders at once with this core-tightening move. Try not to sink down into the shoulder that's holding you up and instead push the floor way with your elbow. Don't let your hips drop, either.

How to: Start in forearm side plank position, feet stacked one on top of the other and your elbow directly in line with your shoulder. Your other hand should be lightly resting on the ground in front of you (a). Keep your top arm straight as you raise it up toward the ceiling, creating a T with your arms (b). Return it back to the floor and repeat, keeping your hips up and your body in a straight diagonal line the whole time (c). Repeat, then switch sides.

RELATED: No More Sit-Ups: 7 Moves to Work Your Abs

Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

5. Inverted Push-Ups

Reach your booty up toward the ceiling for this next-level push-up. If you need to modify, place your hands on a chair, low coffee table or a bench.

How to: Start in a downward-facing dog (a). Bend your elbows so they point out to the sides as you lower the crown of your head (not your forehead) between your hands and as close to the floor as you can go (b). Exhale as you push yourself back up (c). Repeat.

For more unique moves that'll spice up your gym routine, try Daily Burn 365. You'll get a new, exciting workout every day.  

Monday, 24 October 2016

12-Minute Dance Cardio Workout With Katie Austin

This 12-minute dance cardio workout will get you to burn calories and build strength in style. In this video, Katie Austin, daughter of famous fitness instructor Denise Austin, fuses traditional exercises like squats or bicep curls with easy-to-follow dance steps.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Why You Should Listen to Music When You Do HIIT, According to Science

You've heard all about the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). But if the “high-intensity” part sounds a little too, er, intense, a new study has some advice for you: Grab your headphones.

When University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers asked people who were new to HIIT to try a sprint-interval workout either with or without music, both groups came away with positive attitudes. But those who sweated to a playlist felt even better about the routine than those who'd worked out in silence.

Listening to music may make it easier for people to adopt these types of HIIT routines, say the study authors. That could help them stay in shape, they add, by allowing them to squeeze short, effective workouts into busy days.

Lots of people exercise regularly, but they do steady-state cardio (like long, slow jogs) or low-intensity activity (like walking or yoga). And while there's nothing wrong with those types of exercise, research has shown that interval training can provide many of the same benefits-like burning calories and strengthening your heart-in less time.

"There has been a lot of discussion in the exercise and public policy worlds about how we can get people off the couch and meeting their minimum exercise requirements," said Kathleen Martin Ginis, PhD, professor of health and exercise sciences at UBC, in a press release. "The use of HIIT may be a viable option to combat inactivity, but there is a concern that people may find HIIT unpleasant, deterring future participation."

RELATED: This No-Gym HIIT Workout Gets the Job Done in 10 Minutes

To examine newbies' attitudes and intentions toward HIIT, researchers recruited 20 men and women unfamiliar with these types of workouts. After two preliminary training sessions, the participants completed two sprint interval training workouts on stationary exercise bikes about a week apart-one with music and one without. Each session included four to six 30-second “all-out” bouts of pedaling, separated by four minutes of rest.

After each session and again after a final follow-up meeting, the participants were asked to rank the workouts in terms of how enjoyable, beneficial, pleasant, painful, and valuable they found them to be. They were also asked how likely it was that they would do a similar workout three times a week going forward.

On average, the exercisers had already expressed positive assumptions about HIIT before the study began. And it turns out, their attitudes were just as positive after trying it for themselves. That was somewhat surprising, says study co-author and PhD candidate Matthew Stork, given the intensity of the workouts. But there's more: Overall, the exercisers rated their session with music as more positive than their session without.

RELATED: 15 Beyoncé Songs That Will Make You Want to Work Out

Somewhat surprisingly, participants' “intention” scores (when asked if they'd continue these types of workouts) weren't significantly different between the two sessions. Nonetheless, the authors wrote, using music to improve enjoyment and attitude toward HIIT “may eventually translate into improved [sprint-interval training] exercise intentions over time.”

It's also possible, they admit, that the attitude boost provided by music really wasn't enough to significantly improve participants' intentions. But at the very least, says Stork, adding tunes to a tough workout probably won't hurt.

"For busy people who may be reluctant to try HIIT for the first time, this research tells us that they can actually enjoy it,” he says, “and they may be more likely to participate in HIIT again if they try it with music."

The study was published in the Journal of Sport Sciences. Participants chose their own music and selections varied widely, says Stork, although they did tend to select fast, upbeat songs. That makes sense, he says, since music with fast tempos has been shown to facilitate speed increases in previous exercise studies.

As little as three 10-minute intense HIIT sessions a week can provide meaningful health benefits, says Stork, who's also a certified strength and conditioning coach. If people can incorporate these workouts into their regular routine, he adds, they may not necessarily have to get “the dreaded 150-minute weekly total.” (The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, per week.)

RELATED: A 4-Minute Tabata Workout for People Who Have No Time

Stork says that HIIT can be beneficial for people of all ages and fitness levels-although he cautions that anyone with a history of heart disease or other health risks should check with his or her physician before trying a new exercise protocol.

He also recommends familiarizing yourself with the intermittent nature of HIIT before jumping right into it for the first time, and to start off with intervals that may not require you to go all-out right away.

Indoor cycling and other aerobics classes often follow an interval format (with music!) and can be a great way to get started. Just be sure to start out at your own pace, says Stork, and to talk with the instructor beforehand if you have any concerns. 

 “One of the best features of HIIT-based exercise is that it calls for relative intensities, which can account for a range of fitness levels, and can be modified in many ways,” he says. “Don't be afraid to start off with a protocol consisting of 4 or 5 work bouts and eventually work your way up to 10 bouts over a few weeks. There's no need to push yourself too hard or too fast.” 

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

How to Train for a 5K Race in Just 4 Weeks

While 3.1 miles may not seem like that long of a trek, runners can attest that building up to a 5K race is an accomplishment in itself. Train too hard, and you could up your risk of injury; but a too-long plan can feel like you'll never make it to the finish line.

If you've been looking to hit the pavement to run a 5K, we've got you covered. This training plan will help you master 3.1 miles in just four weeks' time through a combination of running, walking, and strength-training. Plus, with every step you take, you'll be working to reduce your risk of heart disease, boost your mood, eliminate stress, and build lean muscle-especially in your lower body and core. So whether you're training for an upcoming Turkey Trot or Color Run, follow this 28-day guide to lace up your sneakers and get going.

RELATED: What to Eat Before, During, and After Running

Start training for a 5K race with this 4-week plan:


Monday, 17 October 2016

The Full-Body Workout That Keeps J.Lo in Amazing Shape

Jennifer Lopez seems to get better with age. As her trainer, I come up with her workouts, but she deserves all the credit. Not only does she eat clean and score the right amount of z's, but despite jam-packed days, she shows up for her body. Does your schedule rival the superstar's? Then this routine is for you. It strengthens and tones you from head to toe, while giving a little extra love to the derrière (kicks galore!). Now, if only I could bottle Jennifer's swagger...

If you ever visit one of my studios, you'll find that I like the room nice and toasty. Doing workouts in a warn and humid environment makes your muscles more pliable (be careful not to push yourself too far), so these dynamic movements are easier to perform. That's good news, considering our goal is to lengthen our muscles. 

Do 30 reps of each move in the series on one side, then repeat the sequence on the other. Wear ankle weights for these moves; start with 1 1/2 or 2 pounds and build up to 5 pounds (that's what J.Lo uses). Don't own a pair of ankle weights? Try the Ivation Premium High-Quality Ankle Weights Set ($19;

1. Flexed Knee Pull and Arabesque

Start on all fours; lower down to forearms and clasp hands. Pull left knee forward toward chest; flex foot (A). Keeping foot flexed, extend left leg back and up (B). Reverse motion to lower left leg back to "A." Knees should hover over the floor. 

RELATED: Tracy Anderson's Best Moves for Killer Legs

2. Lunge Arabesque

Kneel with body upright. Step right foot out to the side, hands on hips, coming into a kneeling side lunch (A). Lower body forward to come down to forearms; clasp hands and extend right leg back and up (B). Lift torso as you lower right leg back to "A." Try not to hunch shoulders.

RELATED: The Best Exercises to Tone Your Butt and Back

3. Coupé Push-Up to Attitude

Lie facedown with elbows close to torso and hands under shoulders. Bend left leg, crossing left ankle over back of right knee (A). Pushing body up and back, come onto right knee as you lift left leg up (B). Reverse motion to lower back to "A." Push body back, forming a diagonal line form shoulders to hands.

RELATED: 5 Exercises to Work Off Your Waist

4. Lifting Side Kick

Sit on right hip with knees bent, left hand on left hip and left leg slightly in front of right with foot on the floor. Lower down to right forearm (A). Lift hips until you're balancing on right shin; kick left leg up (B). Lower back to "A."

RELATED: The Full-Body Fat Blast Workout

5. Shoulder Balance with Leg Pull

Start on all fours. Thread right arm under chest as you lower down until head and right shoulder are resting on the floor, keeping left hand down for support. Shift hips slightly forward. Extend left leg out to the side, toes on the floor (A). Holding the upper-body position, lift left leg up; point foot (B). Reverse motion back to "A."

Tracy's wearing: Alala Essential Seamless Bra ($45;; Nike Power Epic Lux Women's Printed Running Tights ($120;; Nike Air Max 1 Jacquard Sneakers ($145;


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Friday, 14 October 2016

Get Back in Shape with This Post-Pregnancy Workout from Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels created this workout based on the program in her new book, Yeah Baby!: The Modern Mama's Guide to Mastering Pregnancy, Having a Healthy Baby, and Bouncing Back Better Than Ever ($18; "Since pregnancy pulls shoulders forward, this strengthens the upper back and biceps," she says. "It also rehabs the core while strengthening the hips and glutes."

One thing Jillian cautions: It's key not to ramp things up too soon after giving birth. Once you have the all clear from your doc, cycle through this circuit four times, doing each move for 30 seconds. Do it twice a week, pairing it with 20 minutes of low-impact cardio, such as swimming, biking, or hiking.

RELATED: Jillian Michaels: "I've Taken a Lot of Punches, But I'm Still Standing"

Sumo Squat + Rotator Cuff Fly

This move targets the upper back, glutes, and quads. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width length apart, toes slightly turned out; hold a medium, resistance band in front of body so arms form a 90-degree angle and forearms face up (A). Bend knees and lower down into a wide squat as you pull arms out and back (B). Rise back to standing as you bring arms back together; repeat.

RELATED: Work Your Upper Back, Core, and Thighs with Jillian Michaels

Bird Dog

This move targets your core. Start on all fours, wrists beneath shoulders and knees beneath hips, with gaze toward the floor. Extend right arm and left leg straight out so that they're parallel to the floor (A). Maintaining a flat back, squeeze abs and bring right elbow and left knee in beneath body to touch (B). Return to "A" and repeat. On the next round, switch sides.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Jillian Demonstrates How to Do Bird Dog

Rolling Plank + Ab Hold

This move targets your core. Start in a forearm plank with hands in fists, elbows beneath shoulders, tailbone tucked, and feet together (A); hold for 10 seconds. Rotate to the right, coming into a side plank with hips lifted (B); hold for 10 seconds. Roll back to center, then immediately rotate to the left, coming into a side plank with hips lifted; hold for 10 seconds.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Jillian Demonstrates How to Do a Rolling Plank + Ab Hold

Stationary Lunge + Biceps Curl

This move targets biceps, core, glutes, and quads. Stand with feet staggered, left in front of right, with a medium resistance band under left foot; hold handles at sides with palms faceup (A). Lower down until knees are bent at about 90 degrees as you curl arms up (B). Press through heel of front foot and toes of back foot to rise to standing as you lower arms, then repeat. On the next round, switch legs.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Jillian Demonstrates How to Do a Stationary Lunge + Biceps Curl

Reverse Fly in Crescent Pose

This move targets your upper back, core, and thighs. Stand with feet staggered, left in front of right, with right heel lifted. Hold 3- to 5-pound dumbbells at sides, palms facing in. Bend left knee to 90 degrees and hinge forward from hips, torso at 45 degrees, bringing chest toward left knee (A). Squeeze back as you lift arms to shoulder height (B). Lower arms, then repeat. On the next round, switch legs.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Jillian Demonstrates How to Do a Reverse Fly in Crescent Pose

Wide Row in Static Squat

This move targets upper back, core, glutes, and quads. Stand with feet hip-width apart, a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell in each hand, palms facing thighs. Bend knees, lowering down until thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep torso at 45 degrees and abs pulled in (A). Bend elbows straight back, pulling dumbbells in toward sides and squeezing shoulder blades together (B). Extend arms back down and repeat.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Jillian Demonstrates How to Do a Wide Row in Static Squat

Remember: Get doctor approval before you resume any exercising. And if you had diastasis recti or a C-section, wait three months before doing these circuit moves.


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Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Apple Watch Is the Most Accurate Wrist Wearable

Some fitness trackers are a lot more accurate than others, finds a new study published in JAMA Cardiology.

Researchers at Cleveland Clinic wanted to test how well four popular wearable devices measured heart rate, which is involved in a formula that calculate how many calories a person is burning while they exercise. They hooked 50 healthy adults up to an electrocardiogram (EKG), the gold-standard test for measuring heart activity, and compared the results to heart rates obtained by Fitbit Charge HR, Apple Watch, Mio Alpha and Basis Peak. They also assessed a chest strap. The researchers measured everyone at rest, then walking and jogging on a treadmill.

The chest strap monitor was the most accurate, nearly matching the EKG with 99% accuracy-both technologies capture electrical activity coming from the heart. Of the wrist wearables, Apple Watch was about 90% accurate, but “the other ones dropped off into the low 80s for their accuracy,” says Dr. Gordon Blackburn, one of the study's authors and director of cardiac rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic.

Accuracy also went down as intensity increased. “What we really noticed was all of the devices did not a bad job at rest for being accurate for their heart rate, but as the activity intensity went up, we saw more and more variability,” Blackburn says. “At the higher levels of activity, some of the wrist technology was not accurate at all.”

Measuring heart rate from the wrist is convenient, but it comes with some disadvantages. “All of the wrist technologies are looking at blood flow,” Blackburn says. “You need to have good contact between the photosensing cells; as a person is exercising more vigorously, there's more bounce, so you may lose some of that contact.”

For a person without health problems using a wrist-worn device to track heart rate, “it probably isn't putting them at any risk,” Blackburn says. “Our concern is for patient populations that have health problems that can be aggravated by getting to too high of an intensity.”

“Fitbit trackers are not intended to be medical devices. Unlike chest straps, wrist-based trackers fit comfortably into everyday life, providing continuous heart rate for up to several days without recharging (vs. a couple hours at a time) to give a much more informative picture of overall health and fitness trends,” Fitbit representatives said in a statement, adding that their internal tests showed an accuracy rate of 94% [or a margin of error that was about 6%.]


This article originally appeared on

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The 5 Most Active Cities in the U.S.

It's no secret that city dwellers tend to get in more steps every day. After all they often rely on their own two feet, rather than a car, to get from place to place. But which cities are the best for racking up miles on your tracker, and living an overall active, healthy lifestyle?

A new report has determined just that. The study, part of the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being Series, assigned an "Active Living" score to cities based on factors like walkability, bike-ability, the quality of the public transit system, and availability of well-maintained parks. The researchers looked at a total of 48 medium to large cities.

Boston nabbed the highest score, followed by San Francisco (unsurprisingly-have you seen that city's hills?) and Chicago. New York City and Washington, D.C., were awarded fourth and fifth places, respectively.

RELATED: The 50 Best Bike Rides in America, State by State

So, how do these locales' high scores translate to real-life health perks? Well, for one, the residents of the top five cities have significantly lower rates, on average, of a handful of diseases (from diabetes to high cholesterol to depression) compared to people living in cities with low scores. They also have higher rates of exercise and eat more fresh produce.

The bottom line: While leading an active life is possible no matter where you live, it certainly doesn't hurt to have protected bike lanes and lots of green space for outdoor rec. The top five cities make sticking to healthy habits just a little bit easier.


5 Exercises for Rock-Hard Abs From Gwyneth Paltrow's Trainer

Gwyneth Paltrow showed off some seriously toned stomach in a recent supermarket-themed photo shoot for Harper's Bazaar. And who can blame her? If we had rock-hard abs like that, we'd flaunt 'em while grocery shopping too. 

Paltrow's killer bod would ignite envy in most twenty-somethings, which makes it hard to believe the mom of two turned 44 last month. She clearly knows her way around the gym. So even though we're not always on board with Paltrow's health advice (vagina steaming, anyone?), we're happy to follow her lead to a six-pack!

Luckily, Health's contributing fitness editor, Tracy Anderson, also happens to be Paltrow's trainer, and in the video below, she demonstrates five of her go-to ab-chiseling moves.

Anderson's advice: Run through these exercises (10 reps of each) before a 30- to 60-minute cardio workout. Prepare to feel the burn. 

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RELATED: I Took Gwyneth Paltrow's Healthy Living Advice for a Week 

Committed to toning up like Gwyneth? Check out more of Anderson's top moves below, and sign up for her 30-Day Core Challenge. Over the next month she'll lead you through gradually increasing reps of calorie-torching moves, to transform your butt, back, and abs.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Jillian Michaels' Favorite Exercise to Work Your Core & Glutes After Having a Baby

Here's a great move that will tone your core and your lower body to start getting back in shape after giving birth.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Jillian Michaels' Fave Core-Strengthening Post-Baby Exercise

With patience and strength training you can tone your abdominal walls and lose extra belly-fat in the process.

Friday, 7 October 2016

I Tried a Water Yoga Class and Left Feeling Calmer Than Ever

Ever since I took my first Bikram class a few years ago, I've considered myself a yoga fanatic. So when I heard about the newest trend-practicing traditional postures in a pool-I was intrigued. 

I'd read that aqua yoga is easier on your joints (thanks to the buoyancy effect) but more challenging when it comes to balance, due to the movement of the water. To feed my curiosity, I signed up for a class at Asphalt Green in New York City.

From the moment I got into the pool (which was the temperature of a nice, warm bath) I instantly felt calmer. The instructor, Blythe Knapp, began by leading us through breathing exercises and a variation of Sun Salutation in the shallow end. From there we moved into basic postures like Cat-Cow and the Warrior poses. Some were modified so that we didn't need to put our heads underwater, and sometimes Knapp had us use the pool's wall for support. 

It wasn't much different from a regular yoga class-except I felt more flexible in the water. I noticed that I was able to sink deeper into Warrior II than ever before. Knapp pointed out that one of the benefits of aqua yoga is that your body is more relaxed in the pool, which means you may be able to get a better stretch in each pose.

RELATED: Here's What Happens to Your Body During Aerial Yoga Class

When we moved into Tree pose, I realized that what I'd read was true: Balancing in water was definitely trickier than on dry land.

I was feeling frustrated by the time we got to Balancing Stick (in which you hinge at the waist and form a 'T' shape with your body, one leg extended behind and arms reaching in front of your head) and Dancer (where you lift one leg behind you, and hold your foot with the hand on the same side, your torso upright.)

I was just beginning to master these two poses in my hot yoga class. But doing them in the pool was a completely different story. The slight current (from the pool's pump) and gentle saves (from my classmates moving around) forced my muscles to work harder than usual to keep me from toppling over.

Next came the aqua yoga version of Savasana-and it was as relaxing as the rest of the class was challenging. Knapp encouraged us to float on pool noodles (I put one under my neck, one under my knees) and let our heads rest with our ears below the surface. All I could hear was muffled sounds of the water moving.

RELATED: 8 Tips for Leaving Yoga Class Totally Blissed Out

It has never been easy for me to slip into a meditative state. But floating and focusing on those natural sounds really helped. When Savasana was over, I felt more peaceful and refreshed than I had in a long time.

After class, I approached Knapp to ask her about the difficulty I'd had with Balancing Stick and Dancer. She assured me my experience was normal, and said many people practice aqua yoga for the sole purpose of improving their balance: “I believe aqua yoga is the most incredible balance training that exists right now,” she said. “In the water there is a constant yet changing motion against you that triggers the body's reflexive reactions.”

Knapp also pointed out that aqua yoga is especially good for people with injuries, since it cuts down on the gravitational pull, and therefore stress, on your body. Plus, she pointed out, you won't fall over and hurt yourself in the pool, which makes it a great place to try tough poses, and develop your practice.

As for me, the next time I really need to relax, I plan on finding a warm pool where I can move through some poses-and then float around for a while on a couple of noodles. 

Thursday, 6 October 2016

What to Eat Before, During, and After Running

Even if you only jog the occasional few miles, you've likely heard about marathoners carb-loading before a race or long run. But pasta isn't the only food that can help you run well, and it's not just endurance athletes who benefit from proper fueling. What you eat before, during, and after your runs is crucial to helping you feel good, pick up your pace, and recover quickly.

"Nutrition throughout the entire day, weeks, and months has an impact on all your workouts," explains Kyle Pfaffenback, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at Eastern Oregon University and a nutrition consultant for the Brooks Beast Track Club. "Thinking about it as an aspect of training will help optimize all your runs and allow your muscles to recover and adapt, too." This is how to eat and drink like a serious runner.

RELATED: Hydration and Exercise: How to Get It Right

What to eat before your run

If you're running an easy-paced 3 to 4 miles (or less): Skip a pre-run meal. "If it's just a few miles, you don't need to eat before," says Vishal Patel, chief sports nutritionist at Nuun, who has worked with elite athletes such as Kara Goucher. There will be enough glycogen (the body's most readily accessible form of energy) in your muscles to power you through. Drink 8 ounces of water or a low-calorie sports drink before you head out, though, especially if you're running first thing in the a.m. (because you wake up dehydrated).

Before a run more than 4 miles long or any speed work: Eat 50 to 60 grams of complex carbs, like oatmeal and a banana. "This tops off glycogen stores," says Pfaffenbach. Eat 1 1/2 to 2 hours prior to give your body time to digest and soak up the nutrients. 

For a tough tempo workout or sprint intervals: Have a carb-rich meal the night before. Stick to a supper that has pasta, rice, or quinoa (balanced with protein and veggies) before any key-workout day to up glycogen stores, which is important for high-intensity performances at all distances, says Pfaffenbach.

RELATED: The 6 Biggest Mistakes Trainers See You Making at the Gym

What to eat and drink during your run

If you're running for less than an hour: Water is sufficient, unless it's especially hot or humid.

For runs an hour long or more: Once your runs get around the 60-minute mark, sip a low-calorie electrolyte-based drink (think G2 or Nuun); the added electrolytes can increase muscle function. Electrolytes (namely, sodium and potassium) help muscles retain fluids, receive oxygen and function properly, says Patel. "Getting them in fluids, rather than in a solid snack, helps deliver the electrolytes to your muscles faster," he says.

When you're going for 90 minutes or longer: Eat about 20 grams of carbs every 25 to 30 minutes. Muscles store enough glycogen to fuel about an hour-long run. After that, you'll need 30 to 60 grams of carbs an hour-from sports drinks, gels, or chews-to maintain your intensity. "Eat early and often for a regular flow of nutrients," says Pfaffenbach. Your brain realizes you're low on fuel before your muscles do and will start to slow you down as a precaution. During runs 90 minutes or more, sports drinks with carbs and electrolytes can help you maintain pace and delay fatigue. Choose ones with a concentration of 3 to 4 grams per 100 milliliters); higher amounts may cause GI issues. (Gatorade, for instance, is about 6% carbs; try watering it down to sidestep an upset stomach.)

Towards the end of your race: Swish a sports drink around in your mouth, then spit it out: Just rinsing with the sugary drink can trick your brain into recruiting more muscles (especially when they're depleted) and enhance your performance, according to recent research in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. No tummy pain, all gain. 

RELATED: Doctors Said She'd Never Run Again. Now She's Doing an Ironman

What to eat after your run

Once you've logged the miles, have a bite within an hour to reap the most rewards. "When you're running, you're breaking down and stressing your muscles; the time when you get stronger is during the recovery period," explains Patel. Reach for a meal with a 3-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein. Why? Carbs are more important, as they replenish the glycogen stores (i.e., the go-to energy source) in your muscles. Already know the power of chugging chocolate milk post-workout? Other options with the right ratio: a banana or apple with peanut butter, a berry and a banana smoothie with a scoop of protein powder or an oat bar with an almond, hazelnut, or peanut butter center like Clif Nut Butter Filler Energy Bar ($17 for 12-pack;

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Gigi Hadid Boxes It Out in Reebok's New #PerfectNever Ad

Gigi Hadid may seem flawless, but she wants you to know she's far from it. The supermodel has teamed up with Reebok Women for its #PerfectNever campaign. The movement's motto? “Perfection is boring. It never changes, never improves and never shows you anything different.”

#PerfectNever challenges women to love who they are, embrace their mistakes, and keep pushing boundaries, no matter what anyone says. To hit that message home, Reebok invited Hadid-who has shown her fierceness on and off the runway-to be the face of its campaign. (UFC star Ronda Rousey helped the brand kick off #PerfectNever earlier this year.)

Concise but captivating, the launch video below features the model sweating it out in a boxing ring, breathlessly punching at the words "perfect never gets better."

RELATED: Gigi Hadid Protected Herself From an Assault-Here's How You Can Too

That Reebok chose boxing to capture the badass spirit of the #PerfectNever movement isn't surprising. The sport is all about strength and power. “You'll feel your core, you'll feel your your abs. It's a full-body workout, really,” says Rob Piela, celebrity trainer and owner of Gotham Gym G-Box in New York City.

Want to learn to throw a punch like Gigi? Check out our Facebook Live with Piela below, and follow along as one of Health's editors learns the basics, from the best hand-wrapping technique to smart footwork and more.

Feeling inspired? For more combinations, check out this 15-minute circuit that'll get you in knockout shape.

Fitness Trackers May Not Actually Improve Your Health, Study Says

TUESDAY, Oct. 4, 2016 (HealthDay News) - Fitness trackers may be trendy, but there's no evidence these devices raise activity levels enough to improve health, even with financial rewards, a new study suggests.

Many U.S. employers have incorporated wearable devices into their employee wellness programs, although rigorous evidence on their long-term health impact is lacking.

Now researchers have reported results of a controlled trial to test activity trackers. They compared full-time employees using the devices under various conditions with a control group.

And the news is "not good," said study lead author Eric Finkelstein, a professor at Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School.

People want to see evidence that these fitness trackers boost activity, leading to health improvements that reduce chronic disease risk, he explained.

"Our study calls into question all of it: We don't really find evidence of step increases in the short term, and there's no evidence that there's any health effects in the intermediate term," Finkelstein said.

The Singapore research team behind the new study used Fitbit Zip, a popular clip-on fitness tracker that retails for about $60 in the United States.

The year-long study involved 800 full-time workers from 13 employers in Singapore. Volunteers paid 10 Singapore dollars-just over $7 in U.S. currency-to enroll in the program.

Workers were randomly assigned to one of four groups: a Fitbit, a Fitbit plus receiving cash, a Fitbit plus charity-based incentives or a control group.

Incentives were tied to meeting weekly step goals. Participants in the two incentive groups could earn about $11 in U.S. currency for logging 50,000 to 70,000 steps a week and double that amount if they exceeded that goal.

To keep the other participants engaged, small weekly cash incentives (less than $3 U.S.) were paid, no matter how many steps they recorded.

In addition to steps, the researchers measured levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and health outcomes, including weight, systolic (top number) blood pressure, aerobic capacity and quality of life.

At six months, the cash group was more active than the control group. It was also the only group with an increase in daily steps compared with baseline measurements.

What's more, 88 percent of the cash group continued to use the Fitbit at six months, versus 62 percent of the Fitbit-only and charity groups.

But when incentives were discontinued, only 10 percent of participants from all groups were still using the device.

People abandoned the devices because they didn't glean new information, Finkelstein explained.

"If you're inactive, you know you're inactive. You don't need to see the screen," he said.

By the end of the 12-month study period, the incentive group's activity levels "not only went back to baseline, they actually did a little worse," Finkelstein said.

The study was published Oct. 4 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

In a prepared statement, Fitbit Inc. said, "Numerous published studies, along with internal Fitbit data, continue to demonstrate the health benefits of using a fitness tracker combined with a mobile app to support health and fitness goals."

Harry Wang, director of health and mobile product research at Parks Associates, a Dallas-based market research firm, said the study is one of the largest randomized trials of its kind and appears to be well-designed.

But, he noted, it was conducted from 2013 to 2014. Since then, "the industry has become much smarter" about combining technology and incentives for the best impact on users, Wang said.

Instead of offering a generic fitness device, employers are looking to offer different types of tracking devices targeting specific health conditions among their employees, Wang explained. For example, an Apple Watch may be appropriate for obese individuals to track exercise minutes; a sleep tracker may be a better choice for relatively healthy people, he said.

Courtney Monroe, an assistant professor of health promotion, education, and behavior at the University of South Carolina, sees opportunities for future research.

Perhaps newer-generation, wearable physical activity trackers "hold more promise as facilitators of physical activity promotion, not necessarily as the sole drivers of physical activity behavior change," she said. Monroe wrote a commentary accompanying the study.

A smaller, University of Pittsburgh study published Sept. 20 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that young adults who paired fitness trackers with diet and physical activity actually lost fewer pounds after two years than a similar group who didn't use the devices.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlines recommended physical activity guidelines.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The 6 Biggest Mistakes Trainers See You Making at the Gym

Run smarter, avoid injury, burn more calories, and claim a bigger body payoff with this "aha!" advice top fitness pros reserve for their private clients. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Doctors Said She'd Never Run Again. Now She's Doing an Ironman

Turia Pitt was only a quarter into the 100K Kimberley Ultramarathon in Australia in 2011 when disaster struck: She and three other runners were trapped by a bushfire in a narrow, rocky gorge.

Because flames surrounded them, it was difficult for emergency workers to get in to help. “It was so surreal, it felt like a nightmare, and we had to wait four hours for help to come,” says Pitt. Finally a helicopter was able to rescue the runners.

As a volunteer with the local paramedics team, Pitt recognized the emergency worker that came to help her, but the worker did not recognize Pitt, who had third-degree burns over 65% of her body.

Pitt's next clear memory was about a month later, when she woke up in the burn unit of a Sydney hospital. She could not even see her body because most of it was wrapped in bandages.

Though she initially went home after six months, she would end up spending a total of 864 days in the hospital, undergoing more than 200 surgeries. In addition to skin grafts, she had most of her fingers amputated. Her nose was eventually reconstructed using skin from her forehead.

Just as devastating was the loss of the fit and healthy body she was used to. Weighing less than 100 pounds, Pitt couldn't even sit up in bed on her own.

“Doctors told me I would never run again and that was a massive moment for me. You know, I was 24 years old, my whole life was ahead of me and I'd always prided myself and drawn a lot of my self-belief from my athletic ability,” says Pitt.

Yet she refused to let the doctors' words or her new body's limitations define her. “I just thought, I'm going to show you. I'm going to do an Ironman one day,” Pitt remembers. Not only did she want to prove she could run again, she wanted to compete in the world's toughest single day endurance event-a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and a 26.2-mile run.

RELATED: This 86-Year-Old 'Iron Nun' Is All the Fitspiration You'll Ever Need

Fighting back

Pitt's training started from her hospital bed. In physical therapy, she began not with miles, but single steps-first 10 steps, then 15, and so on.

An Ironman is difficult for the best of athletes, but Pitt had a few more obstacles to face: She wasn't a swimmer or a cyclist, and her missing fingers made swimming and operating a standard bicycle extra challenging. And she couldn't regulate her body temperature because the burns destroyed a large portion of her sweat glands.

As if that was not enough to overcome, after getting released from the hospital, she was laid off from her job as a mining engineer because her company was downsizing.

“I felt like a real loser because my partner Michael and I were living at my in-laws' place, I didn't have a job, and we were on benefits. I felt like my life had gone from this massive high to this all-time low,” says Pitt.

When she left the hospital she could walk, but it was about a year before she could run again-only about half a football field at first, but she slowly built up her strength. “The more I gained my physical abilities, the more I felt like me,” says Pitt.

Starting in 2014, Pitt put an Ironman training schedule together and got specialized handlebars made for her bicycle so she would be able to brake and switch gears with the few fingers she had remaining. (“I must admit, I get a bit nervous going downhill,” she says.) In 2015 she finished a half marathon, running faster than she had before her accident. With that race under her belt, she began thinking an Ironman was within reach.

Along the way, she was named an official ambassador for Interplast, an organization that provides free reconstructive surgery to people in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region.

RELATED: The 50 Most Gorgeous Running Races in America, State by State

Challenge met

After a year and a half of training, in May 2016, Pitt finally competed in Ironman Australia. She crossed the finish line in 13 hours, 24 minutes, and 42 seconds, coming in 137th out of 263 women.

“When I came down the finishing chute-that is an experience that no amount of money can buy because it is a culmination of hours of training and all the sacrifices you've made,” says Pitt. “I think I'm addicted to that feeling.”

It is a feeling she hopes to experience all over again on October 8, when she competes in the 2016 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

 “When I'm in pain or I want to quit I just remind myself of everything I've gone through,” says Pitt. “I really believe anyone can do anything if they just put their mind to it, and take one step at a time.”

10-Minute Shoulder-Opening Yoga Flow

Do you carry stress in your shoulders, causing back pain and poor posture?