Developing your brain is just as important as developing your body. Numerous studies show how physical activity enhances brain functionality.
While you remember to fit a workout in every day or so, working out your brain is more challenging. The good news is, you can exercise your brain with apps on your phone. Many apps are cheap (or even free), easy to use, and you can pull them out whenever you've got some downtime.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Available on Android/iOS, Elevate offers mini-games that put your brain to the test. The app's activities test focus, memory, general comprehension and math skills.
Elevate can be addictive. Fortunately, the difficulty ramps up as you progress through the 30 unique challenges. So the more you play, the more you think.
Peak has great user experience. This app is full of brain-boosting mini-games that enhance your understanding of language, memory and boost attention span. The games have just enough variety to keep you interested. The best part is Peak is totally free on iOS and Android.
Available on android, Cognito is a story-based brain exercise app about a global spy mission. Cognito improves logic, memory and vocabulary through fun word-based, mini-games.
The app also keeps detailed track of your statistics to gauge skill improvement. Cognito even incorporates information from Apple's Health app like sleep quality and steps taken per day. Cognito is available at no cost, but you have to pay a small subscription fee for access to the entire collection of games.
Fit Brains Trainer
Fit Brains Trainer has nearly three dozen games divided up into specific groups to maximize the efficacy of mental workouts. The app alternates the order which the games are presented to keep the experience fresh. The games test and enhance language skills, concentration and memory.
These mental challenges are even customized to your emotional intelligence. The app also allows you to log in from your computer to finish your game if your phone dies.
Available on iOS/Android, Lumosity is also free. The app's mini-games are served up in a mix-and-match fashion. Lumosity features extensive user statistic tracking to show how performance improves as time progresses.
You will have to pay a fee to unlock additional games and features, but most people can enjoy the basic version alone.
While you're working out your brain, don't forget to work out your body, too. Test your fitness level with my Fitness Level Body Challenge below.
You've probably heard before that fat is bad for you. But you've probably also heard that carbs are, too. Maybe that's the reason why low-fat and low-carb diets are becoming so popular.
But which one really is the best weight loss solution? And which one is the healthier option? Let's compare the two diets to find out.
Some research suggests that people who cut fat lose more body fat than individuals who cut carbohydrates. A study by the National Institutes of Health said that people on low-fat diets experienced a bigger difference in the amount of fat they were eating and the fat that their bodies were burning.
While an excessive amount of fat in your diet may lead to health problems, consuming the right kind of fat is necessary for your body to function properly.
In fact, unsaturated fat helps aid healthy metabolic functioning, regulate vital organs, and maintaining good cholesterol levels. Fat also helps slow the rate at which sugar is absorbed into your bloodstream. The result is that you feel full longer and don't have as many sugar spikes.
Often, when people cut fat, they focus on cutting all kinds of fat – including the good stuff like olive oil, avocados and nuts.
A low-carb diet restricts your consumption of carbs such as sugars and starches (like pasta and bread) while replacing them with protein and fat.
While reducing unhealthy fat is clearly good for your overall health, the majority of recent studies say that a low-carb diet leads to more pounds shed. There are many reasons why:
Of course, there are also some problems to a low carb diet. If you don’t properly balance your meals with protein, vegetables and vegetable starches, you could drop your blood sugar too low. Eating too few carbs and unbalanced meals can cause fatigue, decrease your athletic and exercise performance, and potentially cause hypoglycemia.
What's The Bottom Line?
While the majority of studies fall on the side of low-carb diets when it comes to losing weight, there are a few things to consider.
For one, you may prefer a low-fat diet if you want to eat a variety of foods (but in moderation). An effective low-fat diet includes whole grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, as well as lean meat and fish.
Because carbs are an important source of fuel for your workout, low-fat diets may work better for someone who is physically active. And a lot of people have a harder time giving up carbs than they do fats.
That being said, you’ll probably experience more results on a low-carb diet, both in terms of weight loss and overall health. Many people who go on paleo, candida, gluten-free or other low-carb diets report having more energy and feeling stronger. There are also a lot of low-carb options at restaurants now, making it easier to follow the diet while still socializing with friends and family.
Ultimately, whether you chose to cut fat or carbs, you should always aim to eat a variety of foods, with a majority of your diet being wholesome vegetables. Keep your protein portions about the size of your palm and try to eat one cup of vegetables with every meal. You may also try swapping sugary snacks with healthy fruits even when you’re not on a low-carb diet.
Not ready to cut out fat or carbs yet? Start incorporating these healthy foods into your diet to lose weight and lower your cholesterol.
Circuit training is a combination of cardio and strength exercises. Circuits range from as few as three exercises to upwards of 15. The goal of this training is to complete the circuit to boost your body's strength and endurance.
After each circuit, you'll need some downtime to recover. The optimal rest time between sets for you depends on your fitness goals and your physical condition.
Why Do Circuit Training
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) reports circuit training is one of the leading fitness trends. Circuit workouts are gaining popularity because they aren't as time consuming as other workouts but are still highly effective for enhancing physical fitness.
Strength circuits alternate between upper and lower body exercises so one portion of the body can rest while the other is in motion. In general, rest time is minimized as much as possible. The typical circuit training session takes about 20 minutes to complete.
Short rest periods allow for a highly efficient workout that frees up time for additional exercise. Because of this, most people take about 20-30 second breaks between sets. Taking a longer period of time to rest somewhat defeats the purpose of circuit training. After all, circuits are designed to maximize your workout time.
Why Rest Is Important
The amount of time you rest between circuits plays a significant role in how you feel and how much your workout changes your body. If you don't rest long enough, you burn out quicker. If you rest too long, your workouts lose their intensity. Studies have shown that growth hormone and testosterone are generated in higher levels when you rest for moderate to short periods of time. Rest will also give the body a chance to build muscle.
The bottom line is your muscles and your body's central nervous system require time to recover from work. Failing to rest will reduce your ability to lift, push, run and move freely. Insufficient rest will also reduce your rate of recovery and affect your performance in later exercises.
How Long Should You Rest?
In general, you should give yourself a minimum of 15 seconds and maximum of 60 seconds between circuits. That said, there is no perfect number that applies to every single person. You need to rest as long as it takes to catch your breath and move to the next station with energy and confidence. If you feel like you aren't pushing yourself hard enough, shorten your breaks. If you're overheating, extend them. Just remember to always have some break between circuits.
Rest may not seem like a big deal, but it has the potential to make or break your workout. Don't attempt to teach yourself all the ins and outs of proper exercise and fitness. Get a specialized trainer to help you build the body you've always wanted.
Ready to get started? My free At-Home Workouts eBook provides you with two weeks worth of strength building and cardio exercises.
Fall is here, and that means it's time to carve and eat pumpkins. But most pumpkin dishes are loaded with sugar and fat, which could make you gain weight by the holidays.
If you get the craving for some pumpkin, don't go for muffins, lattes, cookies and pies. Instead, satisfy your cravings by eating healthy pumpkin dishes that give you the energy to push through a grueling workout.
Here are some awesome recipes that taste like fall but are packed with protein and other nutrients.
Pumpkin Protein Smoothie
Smoothies are a great way to get vegetables and fruit in before a big workout. They also taste great. This smoothie is full of protein and nutrients and serves one:
For extra protein, add 1 tbsp ground flaxseed and 1 spoonful almond or peanut butter.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Protein Bites
If you’re craving pumpkin desserts, protein bites are bite-sized treats that taste like cookies but are packed with protein. This recipe (modified from this recipe) makes about two dozen protein bites:
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Using a tablespoon, scoop out the batter and form into balls. Put on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, then stick in the freezer for at least an hour.
You can store these in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week. If it takes you a while to eat these, put half the recipe in the freezer and move to the fridge once you finish the other batch.
Gluten-Free Oat Pumpkin Pancakes
These tasty pancakes include oats, pumpkin and spices that warm you up when the temperatures drop. To make sure your dish is gluten-free, be sure to use certified gluten-free oats.
Be sure to cook these pancakes slowly so the inside of the batter has enough time to become fluffy. The ingredients make about half a dozen pancakes:
Combine the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup, lemon juice, milk and coconut oil in a mixing bowl. Beat the eggs in. Whisk the oat flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients to add the wet ingredients. Stir until moistened.
Let the batter rest for 10 minutes. Heat a nonstick pan on medium heat and add oil to the surface. Pour one-quarter of the batter on the pan. Cook the pancake for three minutes. Once the underside reaches a gold color, flip it and cook for another couple minutes.
Instead of topping these pancakes with maple syrup, spread a light layer of peanut or almond butter over the top. They’ll still taste sweet but will keep you fuller longer.
Ralph Roberts Personal Training
Eating right is only one aspect of health. Your commitment to exercise is just as important as your diet. I'm here to help you pinpoint the exercises that are ideal for your body and physical fitness level. Together, we can help you get the most from your workout, master your technique and avoid injury. Contact me today.
Looking for more ways to eat healthy? Pick up these ten items on your next trip to the grocery store.
If you're dealing with the pain and stiffness of arthritis, working out may not be high on your priority list. But exercise might be exactly what you need to relieve arthritis pain.
Exercise is crucial for people with arthritis because it increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and even relieves fatigue. If you suffer from arthritis, here are some things to know before you start a workout routine.
1. Can You Exercise With Arthritis?
Studies show that people with many forms of arthritis can participate in exercise that's appropriate and safe for their condition. Even individuals with severe inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from moderate intensity workouts.
People with osteoarthritis of the knee or other joints can reduce symptoms by combining strength and aerobic training.
2. Why Is Exercise Beneficial For People With Arthritis?
Here are just a few benefits to working out with arthritis:
Make sure to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you've been inactive. Your doctor can tell you how to incorporate exercise into your arthritis treatment plan.
It's vital to develop an exercise plan that provides the most benefit without aggravating your arthritis pain.
4. Best Types Of Exercise For Arthritis
Among the most common types of exercises are range-of-motion exercises, strengthening exercises and aerobic exercise.
Range-of-motion exercises relieve stiffness and help you to move your joints through their full motion. Strengthening exercises help you build strong muscles that support and protect your joints. Aerobic or endurance exercises improve your cardiovascular health, control your weight, and give you more stamina and energy.
Here are some specific workouts ideal for arthritis sufferers. But it's important to know that any type of sustained movement, from raking leaves to walking the dog, can help.
Water Aerobics & Swimming
Water aerobics has 75 percent less impact on your joints than regular aerobics, while swimming works all of your muscles groups and builds cardiovascular endurance.
Weight lifting and resistance training are great ways to help manage arthritis pain. They keep the muscles around the affected joints healthy, lubricate joints and decrease bone loss.
All types of walking, whether outdoors or on a treadmill, help to relieve arthritis pain, strengthen muscles and reduce stress. Start slowly if you haven't been exercising and work up to 30 minutes of continuous walking on a flat surface or slight incline.
Cycling works all the muscles in your lower body, including your feet. If upright stationary bikes and outdoor biking aggravate back or knee problems, use a recumbent bike instead.
Yoga improves flexibility, strengthens muscles, reduces stress and more.
Pilates stretches the spine and strengthens muscles.
Bosu ball workouts are a great way to tone muscles and strengthen your upper and lower body. They are also lighter on joints than traditional aerobics.
Ready to get fit? My bosu ball guide will provide you with 7 full-body to help you get the body you've always wanted – right from home.
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