10 Must Do's for Staying Healthy
Add these helpful tips to your routine to keep healthy, happy and trim through the cold weather months
If you're looking for peace, harmony and well-being, read your recyclable lululemon bag for enlightenment. But if you want to stay toned, healthy and sane when the weather cools in the coming months, you've come to the right place. MUSCLE & FITNESS HERS has assembled 10 double-duty must-do's that will not only help you maintain your hard-earned physique but will also boost your mental and physical health. Start incorporating these tips now so when Mother Nature debuts her winter wallop, scheduling these feel-great tips will be second nature.
Eat eggs at breakfast
We all know that eggs provide a good dose of muscle-protecting protein (6 grams in a large hard-boiled egg), but a 2010 University of Connecticut (Storrs) study suggests that consuming eggs might decrease appetite- stimulating hormones throughout the day. Specifically, people consuming an egg breakfast with the nutrient ratio of 22 percent carbohydrates, 55 percent fat and 23 percent protein ate less at a buffet three hours later as well as throughout the day compared to subjects whose breakfast included a bagel and a nutrient ratio of 72 percent carbs,12 percent fat and 16 percent protein.
Researchers concluded in the journal Nutrition Research that eating an egg breakfast kept blood sugar levels in check and stabilized insulin levels. In addition, it suppressed the hormone ghrelin, which originates in the stomach and intestines and is responsible for stimulating appetite. As a result, test subjects ate less.
Although it's habit for some to consume only the whites, Tiffani Bachus, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based nutritionist and fitness competitor suggests you have a whole egg. "Egg yolk is a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids, high-quality protein and vision-protecting carotenoids - including lutein." Plus, research from UCONN shows that the cholesterol from egg yolks does not raise bad cholesterol levels.
Sleep at least 7.5 hours at night
According to a study published in the January 2009 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition test subjects who only slept 5.5 hours consumed 25% more calories than people who slept 8.5 hours. Just imagine: you might be able to curtail your noshing by getting a few more winks a night.
If that isn't enough reason to hit the sheets earlier, think about how much easier our day would be if you were mentally and physical rested. The National Sleep Foundation found that 60 percent of those at an increased risk of insomnia also are 36 percent more likely to experience a decrease in job performance, are 63 percent more likely o have low attention spans, and are 73 percent more likely to offer mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Nosh on an apple
"Not only will you satisfy your hunger, but you're giving your body needed fiber - which satiates you - and vitamins and minerals," says Wendy Pinto, a holistic health counselor and cofounder of The Yoga and Healing Center in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. University of Iowa (Iowa City) researchers reported in a recent issue of Cell Metabolism that apples, in particular their peels, might also decrease muscle atrophy - muscle wasting after inactivity.
"Muscle atrophy affects most people at some point in their lives, but there's no medicine for it," said study senior author Christopher Adams, MD, PhD, in a prepared statement. After studying muscle gene activity in people with atrophy, Adams and his colleagues identified that ursolic acid, which is concentrated in apple peels, might block atrophy.
"We tested ursolic acid in mice and found that it increased the size and strength of their muscles," Adams said. "It did this by helping two hormones that build muscle: insulin like growth factor-1 and insulin. Because ursolic acid increased muscle, it reduced muscle atrophy. Surprisingly, it had some other beneficial effects in mice. For example, it reduced bodyfat, and lowered blood glucose and cholesterol."
One caveat: Apples just took over the top spot in the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen - the list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides. So either buy organic or wash your apples thoroughly in a solution with a 1:3 vinegar-to water ratio.
Book tickets to The Nutcracker or go to a museum
A large study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that people who participated in cultural activities had a higher life satisfaction and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
Create a workout plan B
Between all the impending holiday commitments, squeezing in a workout sounds impossible. It doesn't have to be. When life is slower, create your workout plan B for the last few busy months of the year. Research in the April 2011 issue of the American Journal of Public Health found that people are more active when they focus on how they'll fit in exercise rather than why they exercise. Start strategizing! Our suggestion: buy a piece of equipment for your home - like the P9OX or a set of strength bands like the Bodylastics Strength Band System (bodylastics.com) - so you'll be able to get in a workout even when you can't make it to the gym.
If you haven't already incorporated HIIT training, do.
If you have been a regular reader of MUSCLE & FITNESS HERS, you know that high-intensity interval training can help you burn fat and build muscle in record time. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim) have also found that HIIT can improve overall fitness - a predictor of health - specifically, by looking at a person's V02 max (maximum rate of oxygen consumption). After studying 5,000 Norwegian men and women, the researchers found that the average VO2 max dropped 5 percent each decade of life. Regardless of age, those people who had lower VO2 max readings or who were less fit than their gender's average were 5 to 8 percent more likely to experience many of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease when compared to the most fit of the subjects. Researchers believe that one 20-minute HIIT workout per day could do the trick.
Take 1,000mg of calcium
This one has been ingrained in us for years - of ever since science confirmed that calcium was one key to warding off the bone-disintegrating disease osteoporosis. And the gossip about calcium's link to weight loss has been confirmed. A review of scientific research published in the June 2011 issue of Nutrition Reviews found that taking calcium supplements causes weight loss of about five pounds per year for someone who takes 1,000 milligrams of calcium. Considering that women tend to gain about a pound a year in their 40s, this could be a small bit of insurance against such pound creepage.
Party with Wii or Kinetic
Sure, playing one of these movement-focused video games will help you burn calories (nearly as much as a brisk walk), but if it's the center of a social gathering, all the better. Why? Because these gatherings can release oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, which helps ease and sometimes disable stress. Eliminating pressure and anxiety allows your body to rest so that it can prepare itself for the next big thing life throws at you, whether it's a HIIT workout or an impending deadline at work.
Pop 500-1,000 mg of vitamin C
High levels of this antioxidant will help ward off or lessen the sting of colds and flu, but regularly consuming 500 mg or more of vitamin C may help you burn 30 percent more fat during moderate activity than if you didn't, according to research published in the June 2005 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Considering that one-third of Americans have low levels of vitamin C in their blood, getting enough C is your fat-burning insurance.
Shake things up
This is good time to change up your exercise routine by hiring a personal trainer or trying a new fitness class or DVD since it's too wet - or too cold - to nature outside. In addition, changing your routine can stimulate your brain in different ways that can help ward off dementia, according to University of Texas (Galveston) researchers. Switching things up also adds an element of surprise, which is a great way to jump-start lagging progress and inject a shot of enthusiasm into your workouts.