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Free Weights Workout for Beginners

Free Weights Workout for Beginners

Remember to stretch and drink plenty of water!

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Day one:

  1. Bench press. 8-10 reps, 3 sets.
  2. Deadlift. 10-12 reps, 2 sets.
  3. Lunges. 10 reps each leg, 2 sets.

Day two:

  1. Military press. 8-10 reps, 2 sets.
  2. Decline sit up. 15 reps, 2 sets.
  3. Back squat. 10 reps, 3 sets.

Day three: Rest.

Day four:

  1. Bench press, 10 reps. 3 sets.
  2. Power clean, 8 reps, 2 sets.
  3. Planks, 1 minute reps. 2-3 sets.

Day five:

  1. Barbell row, 10-12 reps. 3 sets.
  2. Deadlift, 10-12 reps. 2 sets.
  3. Lunges, 10 reps each leg. 3 sets.

Day six: Rest.

Day seven:

  1. Military press, 8-10 reps, 3 sets.
  2. Decline sit up, 15 reps. 3 sets.
  3. Back squat, 10-12 reps. 3 sets.

Staying Healthy in Cold Weather

Staying Healthy in Cold Weather // Jude Burnside, November 2016

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Cold weather, cold season. While your coworkers and friends are coughing and sniffling, you can be sporting a healthy glow. Here are some things to do, and some things to definitely not do, if you want to stay healthy this winter.

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Dress for the weather. Even if you’re running out to your car in the middle of the day, make sure you don’t go outside without protective gear. Invest in a heavy jacket, thick gloves, a few knitted hats, and some warm workout gear. You can even treat yourself to warm, wool cabin socks. Your body will thank you later.

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Drink healthy. Make sure to drink plenty of water. This is a tried-and-true immune system booster. Throw a lemon in it every now and then too. They are full of antioxidants–great for detoxing and keeping your flu-fighters in top shape! Also, try swapping your morning coffee for green tea once in a blue moon. The antioxidants in green tea are plentiful, and the caffeine will last you longer than coffee. (Don’t like the taste? Add lemon, honey, or milk!)

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Get plenty of rest. Once again, a tried-and-true method to staying healthy in the winter. If you struggle to fall asleep, try lavender essential oils. You can put them in a diffuser or on the insides of your wrists. You could also treat yourself to a holiday blanket. Come on, you deserve a fuzzy addition to your bed.

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Take a (detox) bath. Need another way to warm up? Take a detox bath–great for your skin and immune system. This is a perfect way to hit the “reset” button on your health and body. Just add epsom salts, baking soda, and a few drops of essential oils (you can even use the lavender that helps you sleep!).

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Be mindful of your mental health. Wintertime is the season in which your immune system really needs you to step it up, but make sure you aren’t losing your mind in doing so. Take a couple of extra minutes at the end of each day to relax. You can journal, listen to music, dance, or sip some tea and stare at your snowy lawn. Whatever it takes to keep you sane, make sure you are doing it.

Skin Care in Cold Weather

Skin Care for the Cold Weather // Jude Burnside, November 2016

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Protect your skin in this cold weather. Don’t fall victim to cracked hands or chapped lips. This article has DIY masks and creams that you can make from items in your cabinet right now.

Moisturizing Face Mask

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Oats + Water + Honey. Mix together until it is not sticky, but is thick. Apply on face with clean hands. Wash off after 10-15 minutes, or when dry and tight. Repeat weekly.

Body Scrub.

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Raw sugar + Olive oil + Peppermint essential oil. Mix together until gritty, not runny. Apply in shower. Rub onto skin in circular motions for 3-5 minutes. Wash off. Repeat daily.

Exfoliating Lip Scrub.

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Brown sugar + olive oil + honey. Mix together until it reaches a gritty, solid consistency. Store in small container, apply to lips several times daily.

 

Follow these tips and see your skin glow as the thermometer drops. Need an inexpensive Christmas gift? Package up some of these DIY items and give someone else the gift of healthy skin!

6 Foods to Keep You Hydrated!

Stay Hydrated.

It’s more than drinking water, it’s also eating the right foods. Here are six healthy choices that come packed with H2O, to keep you hydrated even after your hardest workouts.

Cucumbers
Made of 96% water, cucumbers are also filled with fiber and do an excellent job of flushing out toxins in the body.
Strawberries
Made of 92% water, strawberries also have an abundance of antioxidants and vitamin C to keep your immune system super strong!
Watermelons
Also made of 92% water, watermelons are filled with vitamins A, B6, and C — all vitamins that are shown to decrease cancer formation in the body!
Pineapples
Pineapples are 87% water and carry a wealth of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals,including potassium, beta carotene, copper, calcium, vitamin C and fol-ate.
Tomatoes
In addition to being 94% water, tomatoes have an abundance of biotin, molybdenum and vitamin K.
Zucchini
Filled with a whopping 95% water, zucchini has a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids to keep your metabolism high and zinc to fight off illness.

Healthy One-Pot Veggie Chili. Perfect for Fall Days & Meal Prep!

By Jude Burnside // October 2016

Healthy One-Pot Veggie Chili

Prefect for meal prep and chilly fall days! Freezes and thaws well too!

What you will need:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 6 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can no salt added kidney beans, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can no salt added black beans, drained
  • 1 cup corn, frozen

Directions:

  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil, red onion, red pepper, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine.
  2. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently, to allow the onions to sweat.
  3. Add jalapeño, garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, diced tomatoes, and vegetable broth to the pan and stir to combine.
  4. Bring to a low boil over medium high heat, then add the lentils and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the lentils are mostly tender, adding more vegetable broth as needed to keep the lentils fully submerged.
  5. Add the drained kidney beans, black beans, and corn, and stir to combine. Return to a simmer over medium heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt or pepper as needed.

Dinner, dessert, and drink: Healthy fall recipes to indulge in!

By Jude Burnside // October 2016

 

One-Pan Autumn Dinnerone-pan-autumn-chicken-dinner8-srgb

Ingredients

4 – 5 (6 – 7 oz) bone-in, skin on chicken thighs

4 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp each minced fresh thyme, sage and rosemary, plus more for serving

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large sweet potato (peeled if desired), chopped into 3/4-inch cubes

1 lb Brussels sprouts, sliced into halves

2 fuji apples, cored and sliced into half moons about 3/4-inch thick

2 shallot bulbs, peeled and sliced about 1/4-inch thick

4 slices hickory smoked bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and herbs into a gallon size resealable bag, add chicken, season with salt and pepper then seal bag and massage mixture over chicken while working to evenly distribute herbs. Set aside and let rest while chopping veggies.
  2. Place sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, apples and shallot on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil then toss to evenly coat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread into an even layer then set chicken over veggie/fruit mixture. Sprinkle bacon (separate any pieces that stick together) evenly over veggie/fruit mixture. Roast in preheated oven until chicken and veggies are golden brown, about 30 minutes (chicken should register 165 in center).
  3. Broil during last few minutes for a more golden skin on chicken if desired. Sprinkle with more herbs and serve immediately.

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Kale, Onion, Bean, and Tuscan Bread Soup

Ingredients

1 cup dried flageolet or other white bean (or 3 cups cooked beans)

1/4 cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, crushed

2 cups thinly sliced shallots

2 large bunches tuscan kale

1 loaf crusty bread

1/2+ cup shaved parmesan

fresh cracked pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. soak dried beans overnight. drain from soaking water. add soaked beans to a crock pot or large soup pot and submerge under 2 inches of water. cook as directed on package or bulk bin or until a few beans just start to break apart. drain beans from cooking liquid.
  2. crush garlic and set aside for 10 minutes. in a large soup pop, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. saute sliced shallots (saving the shallot skins for your next batch of broth!) until translucent. add crushed garlic and saute for just 2 minutes longer. add the cooked beans and 3 quarts to a gallon of onion-skin broth and bring to a simmer until beans are perfectly tender. season to taste. finally, wash and de-stem the kale. slice into thin ribbons and set aside. To serve, brush slices of crusty bread with olive oil. top with a pile of shaved parmesan and broil until edges are brown and cheese is melted.
  3. serve parmesan toasts on side, or dunk into the soup… or for a classic take on tuscan bread soup, tear toasts apart and add the chunks to bowls of soup!

 

Glazed Apple Oatmeal Bread391b293914eea46a0e2d3b9af712eec7

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs beaten

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1 cup applesauce (homemade or chunky style is best)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar (add more if needed to thicken)

1/4 cup applesauce

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease loaf pan. I used a 9.25 by 5.25 by 2.75 inch metal nonstick loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix by hand flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs, yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla, then stir into dry ingredients by hand until just combined.
  4. Scoop the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 45-48 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and whisk together the powdered sugar and applesauce for the glaze.
  6. When the bread has cooled for just a bit, pour the glaze over the top. It will settle into the cracks and keep the bread moist. The glaze will set, but will remain slightly sticky.

Vegan Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffinsf529dbd856dc84264e2c455bd5e92a2d

Ingredients

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (109 grams) whole wheat flour, whole spelt flour or all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/4 cup (56 grams) coconut oil, melted or canola or olive oil

1/2 cup (120ml) maple syrup

3/4 cup (182 grams) pumpkin puree, room temperature

 

For the cinnamon sugar topping:

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar (make sure to use vegan certified sugar for a vegan version)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2-3 tablespoons (28-42 grams) unsalted butter (vegan butter or coconut oil for a dairy-free or vegan version), melted

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line muffin pan with 6 muffin liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour through cloves). Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oil, maple syrup and pumpkin.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet one and stir just until combined.
  5. Divide among the liners and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Invert the muffins onto a wire rack to partially cool, about 5 minutes, while you prepare the cinnamon sugar topping.
  7. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  8. Dip the tops and sides of the mini muffins in the butter and then roll in the cinnamon sugar.
  9. Serve immediately. Can also be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (in which case I’d warm them up before serving).

 

6dbc2e44766a47a41d112bfba6a3e3e9Healthy Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

Ingredients

1 Can of Coconut Milk

4 Tablespoons Pumpkin Puree

3 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup

2 Teaspoons Cinnamon

½ Teaspoon Nutmeg

¼ Teaspoon Cloves

Dash of Ground Ginger

½ Teaspoon Vanilla

 

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender until well-mixed.
  2. Add to coffee until desired flavor is reached (I add about 1 shot to my mug of coffee).
  3. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 

Slow Cooker Healthy Cranberry Apple Cider

Ingredientsslow-cooker-cranberry-apple-cider-www-thereciperebel-com-1-of-8

1 liter apple juice, pure unsweetened

2 cups orange juice, pure unsweetened

1 liter cranberry juice, unsweetened

½ cup sugar, stevia, honey or other sweetener (to taste)

3 cinnamon sticks, whole

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

 

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Stir.
  2. Cook at least 3-4 hours on low or until hot. Keep warm as long as needed on the low or warm setting.
  3. *Leftovers refrigerate wonderfully and reheat just fine!

 

7 Habits to Cut for a Healthy Metabolism

By Tiffani Bachus / September 2016

Metabolism is a complex process that’s affected by more than just what you eat and how much you exercise. There are a number of factors that might be sabotaging your metabolism, and you might not even know it.

1. INCONSISTENT MEAL TIMES

Inconsistent meal times

When your meals times come at regularly spaced intervals, your body uses up the calories for fuel and burns more calories in between meals. If your eating pattern is erratic, your body gets confused and isn’t quite sure when the next meal is coming, so it goes into conservation mode. Calorie burn is reduced and more food is put into storage (fat cells and glycogen stores).

2. GETTING TOO LITTLE SLEEP

Numerous studies have shown that sleep is a key factor in gaining and losing weight. When you do not get enough sleep, hormones that control hunger and fullness go haywire. Too much ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and too little leptin (the fullness hormone) get produced, which leaves you feeling hungry all day and you lose the ability to know when you are full. Plus, more cortisol gets produced, which increases cravings for starchy, sugary and fatty foods. Recent studies on chronic sleep deprivation suggest that the calories you eat are burned less efficiently. Aim for 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

3. NOT EATING ENOUGH

Not Eating Enough

If you are “dieting” to lose weight, eating too few calories can actually backfire and keep you from achieving your goal. Yes, creating a calorie deficit will help you lose weight, but there is a point in each individual that cutting calories too low will put the body into starvation mode and slow down metabolism to keep you alive. Make sure you get enough calories and a balance of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) to keep your metabolism from crashing.

4. SKIPPING OUT ON STRENGTH TRAINING

Most people make the mistake of only doing cardio (aerobic) exercise because it burns a good amount of calories while it’s being done. But after the exercise is over, calorie burn returns to resting levels. Strength training is a key component of metabolism because it is directly linked to muscle mass. The more active muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolic rate. Whether you lift weights, use resistance bands or use your own body weight for resistance, resistance creates microtears in the muscle tissue. As your body repairs these tears, muscle tissue grows and requires more calories to stay alive. One of the best ways to strength train to get the best response from your muscle is to focus on the eccentric (or lowering) portion of any move. Eccentric moves are more muscularly damaging and require more effort to repair than concentric movements (the lifting portion of a move), and thus increase metabolism more. So, slow down when you strength train to increase your metabolism.

5. SITTING TOO MUCH

Sitting Too Much

If you exercise an hour a day, but spend the other 23 hours sitting or lying down, your metabolism will slow down. Sitting for longer than 20 minutes can put your body into a more relaxed, non-energy-burning state. If your job keeps you chained to a desk or behind the wheel, get up once an hour to move around for a few minutes. Periodically moving is shown to help decrease triglycerides, blood sugar, waistlines and cholesterol as well as cause a small spike in metabolism.

6. WHAT YOU DRINK

Consider this tip a two-for-one: Drinking too little water leads to dehydration, which can cause you to burn up to 2% fewer calories. All your body’s cellular functions require water, so sip it often. Drinking ice cold water can increase your metabolism by a few calories as your body heats the water to body temperature. Aim for at least 2 liters of water a day; drink more during hot and humid weather and when you sweat. At the other extreme, too much alcohol can impact your metabolism because excessive alcohol causes your liver to focus on breaking down alcohol molecules instead of burning fat. Plus, the calories from alcohol can add up quickly and impact weight.

7. YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH CALCIUM

The mineral best known for building strong bones plays a key role in fat metabolism, which determines whether you burn calories or store them as fat. Some of the best dietary sources of calcium come from dairy—organic milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese—which also benefit muscles because they contain whey and casein, proteins that help to build muscle and prevent muscle breakdown. Research from McMaster University showed that women who consumed more dairy lost more fat and gained more muscle mass than those who consumed less.

8. STRESS

Stress

We’ve saved the best for last. Stress is probably the number-one factor impacting metabolism. It increases the production of cortisol, a hormone that increases appetite and makes us reach for comfort foods. It can decrease our desire for exercise, even though exercise is a powerful stress-buster. Stress slows digestion, causing a lower need to metabolize calories. Plus, stress can impact both the quality of sleep and number hours we sleep, which, as described earlier, can decrease metabolism and promote weight gain

Six Protein-Packed Snacks You Should be Reaching For

Written by Lisa Lillien // September 2016

An Egg Mug (a.k.a. Microwave Egg Scramble)

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You might not think of an egg scramble as a snack, but I promise you it’s a perfect pick. Low in calories, high in protein, and super easy to make. It’s everything you could ask for from a snack!Here’s how to make one. Start with a large microwave-safe mug and spritz it with nonstick spray. Add about 3/4 cup egg whites or fat-free liquid egg substitute, plus your favorite omelette seasonings. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in a tablespoon of reduced-fat cheese, microwave for one more minute, and voila—a perfectly portion-controlled snack with just about 120 calories and 20 grams of protein.

Sliced Turkey Breast

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Turkey breast slices are a totally underrated snack choice. A 2-oz. serving (about 2 – 4 slices) has 13 grams of protein and only 60 calories—that’s a big protein bang for a small calorie investment! Sodium counters: Look for reduced-sodium or no-salt-added varieties. Either eat them straight or wrap them around pickle spears or cucumber slices for some crunch.

For a more substantial snack, wrap the slices around a stick of light mozzarella string cheese: That’ll bring your snack to a total of about 120 calories and 20 grams of protein. Talk about a satisfying snack!

Nonfat Greek Yogurt

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You’ve probably heard that Greek yogurt has more protein than the regular kind, but did you know that a 5.3-oz. container has about 16 grams of protein? It’s true! And it only has around 100 calories. Just make sure you’re getting the 0 percent fat kind. Full-fat yogurt is much higher in calories. Try some of the new Simply 100 flavors from Chobani, like Strawberry Banana or Mixed Red Berry.

Hard-Boiled Egg Whites

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Egg whites are protein powerhouses in their own right (there are 3.5 grams of protein in a 17-calorie egg white). And when you hard-boil them and slice ‘em in half, they become the perfect vessel for holding even more protein. Pop out the yolks and add a tablespoon or two of your favorite topper. Tuna and hummus are great because they add filling protein to the snack, and salsa is another fantastic choice because it gives you a lot of flavor for very few calories.

Jerky

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Jerky has gone beyond beef… there are delicious meat snacks out there in turkey, pork, chicken, and even vegan varieties. It makes a fantastic emergency snack because it’s shelf stable, portable, and totally delicious!

Keep your eye on those nutritional labels, though, because some kinds are loaded with fatty calories. Case in point? Bacon jerky. Look for a 1-oz. serving with around 80 calories and 10 grams of protein. Some of my current favorite brands are Simply Snackin, Krave Jerky, and Lorissa’s Kitchen.

Protein Bars with 200 Calories or Less

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A protein-packed snack bar can be a smart and convenient choice, but be careful about your selection. Always read nutrition labels. Some bars have upwards of 350 calories! Look for one with around 200 calories and at least 10 grams of protein. Bonus points if it has several grams of fiber. Some of my top picks include Quest Double Chocolate Chunk bars and Luna Protein bars. They taste like dessert, but pack a serious protein punch.

Best Exercises for Strong Bones

By Elizabeth Quinn // September 2016


Build Stronger Bones with the Right Moves

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There are plenty of good reasons to lift weights as part of a regular workout routine. Increasing muscle mass and tone makes nearly every physical activity easier to do, it helps avoid unwanted fat gain, it improves athletic performance and it can dramatically improve self-confidence and self-esteem. But one of the best reasons for women to add more weight-bearing exercise to their workouts is to build stronger bones, which may prevent the onset of osteoporosis in older age.

Any time you strengthen your muscles, you strengthen the bones, but some exercises are more effective at the job. Weight-bearing exercises, such as running, jumping, hopping and lifting weights, are the most effective type of exercise for strengthening the bones.

It’s never too late to increase bone density by adding strength training exercises. Studies show that even people in their 60’s and beyond, can significantly increase the density of their bones when they perform regular weight lifting exercises.

So just what are the best exercises for building bone density?

Barbell squat exercise

Lift Weights for a Greater Bone Density

One of the best ways to build stronger bones is to do regular weight lifting exercises such as  squats, lunges and other full-body weight training exercises. This sort of exercise has been shown to help build bone density quickly in people of all ages. The goal of strength training is to safely lift a heavy enough weight so that you are taxing the muscles, but not so much that you have poor form or sloppy technique. Ideally, lift as much weight as you can safely control for 6-10 repetitions, rest and repeat a total of three times.

If you are new to weight lifting, get guidance from a coach or trainer to avoid unsafe lifting technique and reduce your risk of injury. Start with lighter weights that you can easily control, and over time, build up to heavier weights.

There are many different exercises you can add to a routine designed to improve bone strength, but five of the best include:

  1. Squats
  2. Deadlifts
  3. Weighted Walking Lunges
  4. Push Ups
  5. Dumbbell Rows

Jumping builds bone density

Jump Your Way to Stronger Bones

Any exercise that involves hops, jumps and bounding movements can also increase bone density. This type of high-intensity impact exercise creates a significant force on the muscle, joints and bones, which is actually good for bone building, but it can also lead to injuries if you haven’t been engaging in high-impact exercise, so caution is advised for those just getting started.

Need a jump rope? Buy from Amazon.

If you aren’t convinced that jumping can build bones, in 2015, researchers showedthat middle-aged women who did a series of hopping exercises twice a day for four months significantly increased the bone density in their hips. This is great news because hip fractures in older women can be debilitating.

The best jumping exercises for better bones include:

  1. Rope Jumping
  2. Jump Training
  3. Plyometrics

Running for better bones

Moderate-impact Activities Strengthen Bones

Moderate-impact exercises such as running, hiking, stair climbing, and yoga are other good ways to give your bones a workout.  While moderate impact exercise doesn’t give you the same bang for the buck as the more forceful exercises (weight lifting and jumping), they do put enough stress on the muscles and bones to improve the density of the bones particularly in the lower body, hips and lower spine.

And although it’s not considered an exercise specifically for building bones, balance training is also recommended for anyone who wants to improve muscle strength, coordination and stability which can go a long way to decrease the likelihood of falls or fractures, particularly in older adults when bones are often slower to heal.

The best moderate-impact exercises for building bone density include:

  1. Running or Jogging
  2. Stair climbing
  3. Yoga or Pilates
  4. Hiking
  5. Rowing
  6. Balance Training

 

How to hit the grocery store with health in mind

Healthy food doesn’t just magically show up at your house. You’ve got to shop for it, and with the overwhelming number of choices available in today’s grocery stores, this can be challenging. Here are seven tips on how to fill your cart with the good stuff.

1. Shop the Perimeter

If you’ve heard one grocery store rule, it’s probably this: shop the perimeter. The reasoning behind this trick is that the middle aisles house the junk. The perimeter of the grocery store is where you are more likely to encounter whole, real foods like produce, lean protein and healthy dairy options.

But don’t give up on all aisle-based options. Low sodium canned beans, seasonings to spice up your meals, and healthy grains and cereals can all be found in the central aisles. Just make sure to read all packaged food labels so you know what you’re putting into your body; and generally, linger longer in the perimeter of the store.

2. Don’t Bulk up on Bulk

Bulk foods are great if you really need to buy in bulk. But most people are buying for an average of two to four people. Buying in bulk can give you a false sense of frugality. If you bring too much of one food into your home, chances are you’ll end up tossing some of it. Shy away from bulk foods unless you’re certain they’re your best bet.

3. Avoid the Endcaps

Avoid the Endcaps

Food companies pay premium prices to catch your eye. You know those captivating displays at the end of each aisle? They’re called endcaps. And when was the last time an endcap featured a truly healthy food you absolutely had to have?

Endcaps tend to display new packaged and processed items that are light on nutrients and heavy on added fats and sugars. The story may be different if you’re at an exclusive health foods store, but endcaps are best left alone at your typical grocery store.

4. Do Not Leave Home Without a List

If you’re the meal planner in your household, you know the importance of a making a grocery store list. Showing up at the store and winging it can cause you to purchase items you don’t need. A grocery list can be your best friend when you’re shopping for healthy foods. Stick to the list like it’s your job to help you avoid items that don’t deserve a space in your cart.

5. If You Can’t Pronounce It, Don’t Buy It

It’s inevitable that you’ll have to buy some sort of packaged foods if you want to achieve balance and variety in your weekly meal plan. But one way to avoid the worst of the worst of grocery store offerings is to carefully scrutinize ingredient lists.

Ingredients are listed on food labels in order by weight. The higher up on the ingredient list an item is the greater percentage it constitutes. If a food is packed up top with a litany of ingredients you can’t pronounce, chances are it shouldn’t be going into your mouth. This may seem time consuming at first, but as you identify foods with clean ingredient lists, you’ll add them to your regular routine and bypass the garbage with grace.

6. Carefully Consider Organics

Carefully Consider Organics

In a perfect world we would all eat organic. But organic isn’t an option for everyone, or for every type of food. Some organic foods are prohibitively expensive, while others may have been shipped from halfway around the world. Many organic foods are just highly processed, seemingly more healthful iterations of traditional junk food. Remember—an organic cookie is still a cookie.

Although organic produce has been grown without genetic modification, fertilizers, chemical pesticides, herbicides or irradiation, organic fruits and vegetables may not be significantly more nutritious than their conventionally grown counterparts. The amount of vitamin C in an organic strawberry is relatively similar to that of a non-organic one. You can do your part for the environment by purchasing organic, but don’t ditch conventional produce if you can’t afford or access organics.

7. Know That “Natural” Means Nothing

Food manufacturers love to prey the general population’s misunderstanding of the word “natural.” While this word conjures up images of health and virtue, the term “natural” on a food label actually means nothing. There is no widely accepted standard for use of this word. You can have the most highly processed, not nutritious, glorified candy bar and it can bear the label, “natural.” Keep in mind that if you’re reading the word “natural” on a label, that label is on a package, and that packaged food is just that—packaged and not all that natural.