Your life is busy enough — you work, you raise kids, you’re on the PTA and you sometimes get stuck in traffic coming home from work (or going to it, for that matter).
It becomes easy to say you don't have enough time for other things, such as exercise, no matter how important they can be. But most of us can spare at least 20 minutes.
Studies have shown that walking for just 20 minutes a day has a variety of health benefits, and could very well help you prolong your life.
In fact, one study in the United Kingdom showed that a sedentary lifestyle was responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity. When you think of it that way, carving out 20 minutes of your crammed schedule doesn't seem that hard, after all.
7 Benefits of Walking 20 Minutes a Day
1. Longer Life
It's worth repeating that even brief amounts of exercise - like 20 minutes of walking - can help you to live a longer life, while inactivity is responsible for a large amount of deaths.
2. Weight Loss
Twenty minutes of walking a day can help trim your belly and burn calories. It also helps to reduce visceral fat, a dangerous form of fat that presses against your body's organs. The U.K. study showed that simply having a body mass index (BMI) lower than obesity lowered mortality by nearly four percent.
3. Better Mood
Want to improve your mood after (or before) a long day? Research shows that even a moderately-paced walk can release endorphins that help trigger a positive mood.
4. More Energy
People who walked just 20 minutes a day reported feeling less fatigued and more energetic. Walking increases your blood flow, which increases the body's ability to create energy.
5. Less Risk of Heart Disease
The U.K. study showed that walking 20 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by eight percent. By doubling the walk to 40 minutes, your risk of heart disease is lowered by 18 to 20 percent, the report said.
6. Decreased Risk of Diabetes
Taking a walk after a meal will lower your blood sugar and lessen your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
7. Better Memory
Through walking and exercise, people have a larger hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Moreover, it can lower your risk of getting dementia.
Working with a personal trainer like Ralph Roberts can help you better attain your fitness and health goals. Contact Ralph today to schedule a free personal training session.
Looking for other ways to stay in shape, but on a tight schedule? Download Ralph Roberts' FREE 2 Weeks of At-Home Workouts!
You probably already know that setting workout goals is important, but did you realize that there are both short-term and long-term fitness goals that you need to set?
While they are very different, each one is important in its own right, and both will go a long way toward helping you achieve the body, fitness level and overall health you desire.
Here is the difference between short-term and long-term fitness goals, and what role each plays in your workouts.
What Are Some Examples Of Short-Term Fitness Goals?
A short-term goal is one that is achievable in a shorter amount of time. Some examples of short-term goals could include, "workout three times a week," "eat less carbs," "or run one mile every day."
If you already work out three times a week, vow to exercise five times a week.
Other examples of short-term goals include things like adjusting your eating habits like cutting out soft drinks, or adding extra reps onto your sets (perhaps doing 12 dumbbell biceps curls instead of 10) or adding more weight onto each set (lifting 15 pound weights for each bicep curl rather than 10).
If you are a runner, you might decide to add five minutes to your run or an extra block. Swimmers might decide to add an extra lap.
These are considered short-term goals because they are more quickly attained. You can achieve these by the end of the day, the end of the week, or the end of the month. Long-term goals, on the other hand, often take more time, more perseverance and more willpower to achieve. They are equally important, however, and shouldn't be ignored if you want to achieve your ideal fit.
What Is A Long-Term Fitness Goal?
A long-term goal is one that that you set for yourself as an end goal, one that you wish to achieve with all your workouts.
For example, do you want to lose 20 pounds? 50? 100? Obviously, this is not a short-term goal, as it is not achievable in just a couple of weeks or months. It is, however, a strong long-term fitness goal.
Long-term goals include living healthier, lowering your BMI or your cholesterol — making lifestyle changes. Your long-term goal is something you will get to by completing all of your short-term goals. If you run a bit further every week, or add an extra workout session each week, you will obviously up your calorie burn and make it to your goals, over time.
Another realistic long-term goal is setting fitness goals such as 'running a 5K' or 'running a half marathon.' If you are interested in one of these it is extremely important to set up short-term goals (like running more each week) to get you to that end, long-term goal. As you can see, short-term and long-term fitness goals go hand-in-hand.
How Can I Meet My Fitness Goals?
Once you've decided on the best short-term and long-term fitness goals for you, the next step is to plan out how you can achieve them. Schedule workout sessions on your calendar for months in advance. Go through your cabinets and throw out junk food, then hit the stores for some fresh fruit and vegetables. Consider meeting with a trusted friend once a week to discuss your progress. Accountability partners are a great way to stay on-track.
Another way to reach your fitness goals is by getting a personal trainer. A personal trainer can help you reach your goals through motivation and custom workouts. If you are ready to get in shape or make a lifestyle change, meet with me today. I'd love to help plan and achieve your fitness goals. You can find out more about my personal training, HERE.
Sign up for my 10-Day Fit Camp and start achieving your short-term and long-term goals!
*This post was originally published in April 2014 but has been updated and republished for the sake of accuracy and freshness.
Fasting is usually considered a gimmicky diet fad or outdated religious practice. But today, a new form of fasting has taken the dieting world by storm.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) has increased in popularity over the last several years. But is it safe?
Depriving yourself of food to lose weight can be very dangerous. However, an increasing amount of research finds there are numerous health benefits to IF.
Before you decide to give it a try, there are some things you should know.
Defining Intermittent Fasting
In a nutshell, intermittent fasting involves occasional starvation done in a systematic way.
The idea behind IF is to cycle through periods of normal eating and periods of fasting. During the fasting times, you significantly restrict calories or avoid food altogether.
Some people choose to fast during certain hours each day, while others fast one or two nonconsecutive days out of the week.
Should You Fast?
While many nutritionists are now spouting the benefits of IF, others warn against it. Here, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of fasting so you can determine if it’s right for you.
Pros Of IF
In addition to the weight loss you can experience with IF, fasting may also extend your life and improve overall health. Some studies have found that IF provides these health-boosting benefits:
Cons Of IF
With all the benefits mentioned above, you may be wondering what could possibly be wrong with intermittent fasting. While not necessarily dangerous, IF can be bad for you. For one, the focus of this type of diet is on when you eat, not what.
That means your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs and you’re more likely to binge on high-sugar, high-fat foods.
Additionally, you don’t always know how your body will react—mentally as well as physically—to such extreme calorie restrictions. You may become irritable, faint, dizzy, or suffer from headaches.
The most important thing to keep in mind about IF is that it’s not for everyone. Certain health conditions make fasting unadvisable, while others improve as a result of it.
If you choose to pursue an IF eating plan, speak with a healthcare professional first. He or she can help you determine which type of fasting will work best for your health and lifestyle.
Then, if your doctor gives the go-ahead, remember to maintain healthy eating habits. Be sure to include plenty of nutritious foods during your regular eating periods, and avoid unhealthy junk food all the time—not just during fasting phases.
Want to get in shape in time for bikini season? Download my Summer Slim-Down Workout Package below.
To say time flies is putting it mildly sometimes. And it seems to fly at an accelerated rate when spring break is creeping up. The sun and beach is calling your name, but you’re frustrated with that bit of extra fat around your middle.
The good news is that you don't have to panic just yet. By getting started now — and adhering to the following steps — you'll hit the beach with the flat stomach you desire. And what’s great is these tips are simple and don’t require you to work yourself to death to get swimsuit-ready.
1. Cut out processed foods
No matter how hard you train, a bad diet is going to keep you from reaching your goals. A good place to start diet-wise is by cutting out processed foods, microwave dinners, fast food, chips, soda, etc. The extra sodium and sugar in these foods and beverages will derail your best training efforts.
2. Limit your alcohol intake
No, this isn't everyone's favorite suggestion, but it's a very important part of the gut-tightening process. Alcohol not only consists of empty calories, but it also releases estrogen that can cause weight gain. Here's something else to consider: alcohol has nearly twice as many calories as it does protein and carbs.
Looking for some low-cal cocktail ideas for spring break? Check out these 5 delicious drinks!
3. Work on your core
You may be wondering why those endless sets of ab crunches haven't produced any noticeable results. The truth is, working your whole body has a far greater impact in regards to tightening your stomach.
Core strength training works the entire body, which means you're constantly engaging the abdominal region during your workout. Training your core at least two to three times a week will spare you the tedium of the hundreds of crunches you've been doing.
4. Drink more water
There are so many reasons to drink water, including the fact that what we perceive as hunger might actually be thirst. So, water serves as an appetite suppressant and can help keep you from snacking and overeating during meals. Plus, proper hydration leads to better athletic performance as water makes up 75% of our muscle tissue.
If you're burning the proverbial midnight oil, you aren't doing yourself any favors when it comes to keeping your body in spring-break shape. Getting adequate sleep plays an integral role on our weight because a lack of sleep decreases the release of fat-burning human growth hormone (HGH) while increasing the amount of cortisol — a stress hormone that leads to weight gain. Eight hours of sleep is preferable, but seven will do.
Need a little extra help in the fitness department? Download Ralph Roberts’ free 25 Day Total Ab Workout and get your core in shape for spring break!
If it's January, the gym is probably packed. You'll be joined by those with New Year's resolutions to fulfill, as well as everyone energized by the prospect of a fresh start in terms of their health and fitness.
The trick is to be able to get in a great workout while you vie with others in a suddenly crowded gym. But by incorporating the following tips, you'll effectively deal with the crowds while working up a hard-earned sweat.
1. Have a Plan B
It's always a great idea to have your workout goals in mind before you head to the gym. You'll be more apt to stick with your plan, while also saving time by not having to wander around wondering what you're going to do next. But a packed gym can sometimes alter your routine, so have a backup plan in mind.
2. Up The Intensity
You don't need a lot of equipment, if any, to get in a great high-intensity interval training session. You can do this when machines and other equipment are filled. Plus, it's an ideal way to burn more calories in less time.
3. A World Beyond The Treadmill
Chances are, the treadmills are going to be the first machines to fill up. But the rowers and stair climbers will also be available for your cardio workout.
4. Avoid Peak Hours
Many gyms are most crowded right before and right after work. If possible, choose different times to do your workout.
5. Hire a Trainer
A professional trainer will make sure that you get the best workout possible with the equipment available. Working with a personal trainer such as Ralph Roberts can be exactly what you need as you pursue your health and fitness goals. Contact Ralph today.
For many people, holidays mean lots of parties, family get-togethers and elaborate meals. They also mean tons of goodies at the office and eating on the go while running around and doing last-minute shopping.
How Can I Avoid Gaining Weight?
It doesn't have to be that way. You can enjoy the holidays without putting on the obligatory five to ten pounds.
The trick is to stay sensible and say no without depriving yourself. The tray of fudge and cookies that is circulating around your office can be tempting, but it is just these kinds of treats over a period of weeks that can cause the weight gain you are trying to avoid, not one turkey dinner.
Eating healthy portions, saying no or limiting empty calorie, high-sugar treats and staying active are your best bets for beating holiday weight gain.
How To Say No Without Depriving Yourself
OK, a holiday with no treats doesn't sound like much fun, does it? You don't have to deny yourself all the treats, you just have to keep it reasonable. Here are some strategies to get you through it:
If getting to the gym on a regular basis isn't an option, you can do cardiovascular and strength training exercise at home. Jump rope, push-ups, squats and jumping jacks are all good exercises you can do at home with no equipment.
Download my FREE 2 Weeks of At-Home Workouts so you can stay in shape over the holidays. Plus, be on the lookout for some new trainings coming in the New Year!
Do you suffer from a lack of motivation during and right after the holidays? This is a common occurrence, so don't feel bad. If you want to avoid it, though, there are steps you can take to stay active and energetic throughout the holidays and beyond.
Why Am I Lacking Motivation?
The holidays are a busy, fun time with lots of gatherings, shopping and food. This can leave little time for working out. Eating right often goes out the window and the cold weather can make you just want to curl up on the couch at home.
Add that to all the holiday shopping and shorter days and you may just end up skipping the gym to sit on the couch scarfing down fudge and binge-watching your favorite holiday movies.
Over a period of weeks, you may notice your energy level drops. You may also have noticed a bit of weight gain, which is discouraging more than motivating. You know you should hit the gym and get back to eating better, but you just don't feel like it. You are officially in a holiday rut.
Food Should Be Nutritious
The faster you can nip this in the bud, the better. You don't need to wait for the new year to get back on track. The first thing is to get back to good self-care. This means getting enough rest, drinking plenty of water and cutting back on sweets. Replace those with high-protein snacks and veggies.
Reboot Your Workout
Next, get moving. If it has been a few weeks, you may need to start out with a modified workout. If you are feeling particularly sluggish and tired, start out by either taking a brisk walk or hitting the treadmill.
Sometimes, you need to up your excitement level by trying something new. It could be you were getting bored with your old routine in the first place. This is a great time to go to your gym and find a fun class or learn some new exercises. Adding some novelty to your workout can increase your motivation.
Need some help jump-starting your fitness goals? Download my free 2 Weeks At Home Workout Guide, HERE.
It’s no secret that what you eat affects your physical health, but did you know that food also plays an important role in how your body handles stress?
Most of usturn to food when we feel stressed. Unfortunately, the foods we indulge in are typically sugary and processed – definitely not the kind of stuff considered healthy. And research has found that these types of foods negatively affect your body when it comes to dealing with stress, making the whole process a vicious cycle.
The trick to managing your stress could be as simple as eating smarter. Eating the right foods could help you handle stress better, as well as improve your mood and the way you feel overall. Follow these tips to keep your stress under wraps.
Limit Refined Carbs And Sugar
In a study published in Pediatrics a few years back, researchers found that participants who ate refined instant oatmeal for breakfast experienced a blood sugar rush followed by a crash a few hours later. The other participants, some of whom ate high-fiber steel cut oats and others who ate protein-rich eggs, didn’t experience the same crash.
When blood sugar levels peak and drop, the stress hormone epinephrine skyrockets. This makes you feel stressed more easily, so it’s important for your emotional and mental health to avoid or limit sugary foods and foods made with refined carbs. Instead, grab foods that are low on the glycemic index scale like stone-ground whole wheat, non-starchy vegetables, peas and legumes, and fruit.
Get Plenty Of Omega-3s
Studies show that damage caused by chronic stress can be prevented with the inclusion of omega-3s in the foods we eat. On top of being great for stress,omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and may lower your risk of diseases like heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for optimal health, but they aren't produced inside your body. You have to get them from food. The best source for omega-3s is seafood, specifically salmon and tuna. Experts recommend eating fish twice a week.
Don’t like the taste of fish? If you hate fish or if you can't eat it, you can get omega-3s from other foods as well. Try adding chia seeds, flaxseeds and nut butters to your regular diet. And remember to always include other nutrient-rich foods like as greens and eggs in your diet to help reduce stress levels.
Indulge In Chocolate
It’s natural to crave junk food when you’re stressed. But who says chocolate is always bad for you? Instead of binging on cookies, ice cream or candy, try dark chocolate when sweet cravings hit. Health experts suggest that dark chocolate can have a significant physiological effect on your mood. The best kinds of dark chocolate are the bars with higher cocoa percentages and less sugar. If you grew up on sweet milk chocolate, you might find the taste of dark chocolate too bitter. If that's the case, try melting the bars down and dipping strawberries or pretzels into it.
If you want to keep your mood up and reduce stress, do this one thing: Eat smarter. Avoid junk food and overly processed carbs, get plenty of vitamins and nutrients, and splurge with dark chocolate. This will help you experience a calmer, more peaceful life. To learn about other ways to manage stress and fuel your body, give me a call.
Next time you hit the grocery store, pick up these ten healthy foods. They're perfect for healthy recipes and pre-workout snacks to get you through the day.
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.
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