3 Health Benefits of Strength Training Exercises

Even if you don’t plan on bulking up or competing in weight lifting competitions any time soon, strength training is a crucial part of any exercise regimen. Here are three great reasons to incorporate weight training into your workouts.

  1. It promotes strong bones. Weakening bones is a concern that all people have to face as they age. The stress that strength training puts on your bones increases their density and prevents osteoporosis, keeping you strong and healthy as years pass.
  2. It helps to control your weight. While you might relate weight loss with intense cardiovascular workouts, strength training is just as important if you want to lose weight. Gaining muscle increases your metabolism and causes your body to burn calories more efficiently.
  3. It gives you more energy. Like all workouts, strength training increases your stamina and helps you to stay alert and focused. After a few weeks of regular weight lifting or body weight exercises, you’ll notice that you feel more energized throughout the day. Some scientific studies even show that years of regular strength training exercises help to sharpen your focus and keep your mind attentive as you age.

Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier [Mayo Clinic]
7 Reasons to Add Strength Training to Your Workout Routine [Everyday Health]
Benefits of Strength Training [Body Building]

Meet Your Fitness Goals With These Plateau-Busting Tips

The dreaded exercise plateau is something that almost all people experience during their workout routine. You start seeing positive results after months of dedicated workouts, but then seemingly out of nowhere, the results just stop and you’re left wondering what to do next. If you’re in the middle of a workout plateau, use these simple tips to get back on track toward meeting your fitness goals.

  • Track your meals. If you used to eat whatever you wanted but started seeing results once you started eating a bit healthier, you might hit a plateau after you eat in a moderately healthy way for a few months. You’ll need to monitor your calorie intake a bit more thoroughly to continue losing weight.
  • Add intensity. When you continue doing the same workout for a few months, it will start to get easier as you become more fit. Ramp up the intensity of your cardio workouts and you’ll continue seeing results.
  • Elongate workouts. If your current workouts are 30 minutes or less of vigorous physical activity, try working out longer to increase results.
  • Cross-train. Many people love cardio while others love strength training, so combine the two into a cross training program to break out of your plateau.
  • Rest. Instead of working out every day, add a couple days of rest per week to let your muscles rebuild and become stronger as a result of your workouts.

Overcoming a Fitness Plateau [American Heart Association]
11 Reasons You’re Not Breaking Training Plateaus [Men’s Fitness]
What To Do When You Hit a Plateau [Nerd Fitness]
How to Break Through a Strength Training Plateau [Greatist]

3 Health Benefits of Sunscreen

Sunscreen protects your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, but did you know that sunscreen also has a number of other positive effects on your health? Here are just three of the most beneficial qualities of wearing sunscreen.

  1. It prevents the appearance of aging. In addition to protecting you from sunburn, sunscreen prevents against the brown spots and discoloration that form on your face as you age. Without those dangerous UV rays, your skin also forms wrinkles and red veins much less quickly.
  2. It protects against cancer. Most people know that sunscreen prevents sunburn, but this protection lessens your risk of developing skin cancer, as well. Every sunburn that you sustain throughout your life increases your risk for melanoma, so it’s important to wear sunscreen every time you’re in the sun.
  3. It provides extra protection for those who take medications. Many medications make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so if you take a regular prescription, it’s especially important to apply sunscreen. These types of medications include anti-inflammatory, acne, or cardiovascular medicines, but it’s not limited to just these drugs. Be sure to read the label on any prescription that you begin taking, and ask your doctor or dermatologist for more information.

Sunscreen Benefits: 5 Reasons You Should Always Wear It [HuffPost Style]
The Benefits of Using Sunscreen [Speaking of Women’s Health]
Sunscreen Can Slow Skin Aging, Study Suggests [Live Science]

Health Benefits of Low-Sodium Diets

If you want to take control of your health and your weight, one of the most important things to consider is your sodium intake. Sodium can cause you to pack on pounds and put you at risk for cardiovascular disease or hypertension, as well as a number of other health risks. These simple facts will show you how dangerous sodium can be and advise you on how to cut back on your sodium intake.

Many people should keep their sodium intake at 1,500 mg per day or less.
If you’re over 51 years old, no matter your current quality of health, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. You should also stick to this number if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, or if you’re African American.

The large majority of your sodium intake comes from processed foods.
While many people assume that sodium comes from adding salt to your food, this is incorrect. Processed foods include incredibly large amounts of sodium, even if you might not be able to taste it.

Follow the DASH diet plan.
DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertensions, aims to cut sodium in your diet to help you prevent hypertension and high blood pressure. By following these helpful guidelines, your low-sodium diet will become much easier.

Low Salt, Low Sodium, and the DASH Diet [The DASH Diet Eating Plan]
Low-Sodium Diet [WebMD]

How to Warm Up and Cool Down Before and After a Workout

Warming up and cooling down is just as important as the working out that you do in between if you want to prevent cramping and maximize your results. Pushing your body to its maximum exertion without any warning is never good, but these simple and effective tips will help you to gradually prepare for exercise and come down from it once you’re finished.

  1. Go for a walk. If you’re an avid runner or power walker, walking is a simple yet effective way to warm up for your workout. Walking briskly for 10 minutes will get your heart rate up enough for an afternoon run, while walking slowly for 10 minutes is enough for a long walk.
  2. Do your chosen activity at a slower pace. Whether you’re preparing for a cycling class or some cardio kickboxing, leave enough time to do that same activity for a few gentle minutes beforehand.
  3. Reduce your heart rate. To cool down after a cardio workout, walk slowly for as long as it takes for your heart rate to gradually return to normal.
  4. Stretch. Stretching is most effective when your muscles are already warmed up, particularly after your exercise. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds and avoid bouncing or jerking in order to gently reach your full range of motion.

How to Warm Up And Cool Down [Quick and Dirty Tips]
Aerobic exercise: How to warm up and cool down [Mayo Clinic]
Warm Up, Cool Down [American Heart Association]

4 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Tea

Whether you prefer a soothing green or an English breakfast with a splash of milk, tea is a delicious treat that can be enjoyed a number of different ways. Even the most experienced tea drinker may not know everything about this steaming beverage, so here are a few fascinating tea facts.

  1. The word “tea” comes from the Chinese word “t’e,” which refers to the plant from which tea leaves are sourced. It's believed that tea was first discovered in China around 2737 B.C., when emperor Shen Nong found that a few leaves fell from the tree into water that his servants were boiling.
  2. All teas, from black to green to oolong, come from the same camellia sinensis plant. Their leaves are plucked from the same bush, but the fermenting process gives them their unique styles. Interestingly enough, herbal teas do not come from this plant because they are not true “teas” at all.
  3. Tea wasn’t grown in countries outside of China until the 19th century. Today, China still supplies around 29 percent of the world’s total tea, although its residents are not the biggest consumers. The United Arab Emirates takes that title, with each individual citizen consuming an average of 14 pounds per year.
  4. Green tea is considered the healthiest of all teas, and some even call it a “superfood.” Studies show that regularly drinking green tea may prevent against heart disease, certain forms of cancer, and diabetes!

Tea Facts [UK Tea & Infusions Association]
10 Interesting Facts About Tea [Food Network]
Tea Fact Sheet – 2013 [Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc.]
26 Things You Didn't Know About Tea [Fine Dining Lovers]

Reduce Your Sodium Intake With These Helpful Tips

Though many people count calories to try to lose weight, monitoring your sodium intake is another important consideration. Consuming too much sodium can also put you at risk for cardiovascular disease and hypertension, so limiting your intake will keep you healthy in more ways than one. If you want to begin a low-sodium diet and take control of your health, these tips can help.

  • You don’t need to cut out sodium completely, just limit your intake. A good number to go by is 2,000 mg per day.
  • Foods can still be high in sodium even if they don’t taste salty. Learn to read the labels on your food to make sure you know how much sodium it contains.
  • If you find it challenging to monitor your sodium intake, start a food journal. List the foods you consume at each meal or snack, and record the sodium content in each one.
  • Many seemingly healthy foods contain too much sodium. Try to purchase whole, raw produce instead of canned vegetables, as the canned versions are often packed in a liquid containing sodium. Also use fresh poultry or meats instead of canned or processed versions.
  • Choose herbs, spices, and salt-free seasoning blends to add flavor without adding sodium.
  • Read the labels of your canned or frozen foods. Many brands offer low-sodium or reduced-sodium versions of foods you already eat.

Reduce Salt and Sodium in Your Diet [NIH]
Low Sodium Diet Guidelines [Cleveland Clinic]

First Aid Kit Essentials

Even for minor emergencies like cuts and bruises, it's a great idea to keep a well-stocked first aid kid stored somewhere accessible in your home. Here are some essential items to include:

Tweezers
For everything from a splinter to an ingrown hair, tweezers are a commonly forgotten item that work wonders for everyday injuries.

Thermometer
When you or your little one comes down with a nasty cold, a thermometer can tell you when it’s time to go to the doctor.

Triple-antibiotic ointment
For small cuts, burns or insect bites, antibiotic ointment kills harmful germs that cause infection.

Asprin or other painkillers
T
hese provide relief for headaches or muscle pains. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label and be aware of any allergies, too.

Flashlight
If the power ever goes out, a good flashlight is a must. Keep batteries, too, if it's battery-powered, or consider getting a flashlight powered by a hand-turned crank.

Adhesive bandages
Get a variety of sizes to fit in difficult areas, like the finger or knee.

First aid instruction book
If it unexpectedly becomes necessary, you'll be glad to have had this on hand!

First Aid Essentials Checklist [Real Simple]
Anatomy of a First Aid Kit [Red Cross]
Everyday Care [Healthy Essentials]
First-Aid Kit Essentials [Parents.com]

Exercise Your Brain With These Websites

Whether you’re in your sixties or your twenties, maintaining good brain function is important to all people. Your brain is stimulated at work or school, but you likely don’t work all parts of the brain in a given day. These fun and challenging online activities will help work out your mind and even track your progress along the way.

Brain Metrix
The Brain Metrix website works just like a gym for your brain, with different exercises to improve different areas. Memory games will help you with everyday tasks like remembering a person’s name, while reflex tests will help you to make fast decisions with ease. Brain Metrix also offers free games of Sudoku and an IQ test on top of their effective exercises.

AARP’s Brain Games
Designed specifically for senior citizens, the AARP’s database of brain teasers aims to help maintain necessary brain function. With a large selection of memory, problem solving, and language games, this site will work out every part of the brain. The games allow you to adjust the skill level based on your experience, and they also use bright colors and a large format that’s easy to see and to navigate. 

Wonderful Mind-Body Websites

If you’re busy schedule and work-related stress leaves you feeling disconnected and frazzled, you’re not alone. Lucky for you, there are some great websites that are dedicated to feeding our souls and calming our minds. To develop a stronger mind-body connection, and ease your stress in the process, check out these great sites.

Belief.net – On this site, you’ll find a slew of inspirational articles, all meant to inspire you, lift you up, and perhaps even make you smile.

TheDailyMind.com – This great blog is full of posts that all teach you how to make the "daily grind" more meaningful. If you’re feeling run-down, send some time on this site!

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