A Beginner's Guide to Running

Now that it’s warmer out, you might be thinking about lacing up your sneakers. Running is a fantastic way to enjoy the season while conditioning your body. In fact, it’s one of the top calorie-burners around: You can torch 700 to 800 calories an hour, according to a study done in part by the Medical College of Wisconsin.

It’s also a terrific cardio workout for women, protecting against heart disease. And the benefits don’t stop there: Research shows that it eases stress, strengthens joint ligaments and even lowers cancer risk.

Don’t know where to begin? Start with the following advice. These tips will help you choose the best gear, prevent injuries and keep you running throughout the season -- and beyond. Ready, set, go!

Avoid Injury
Studies show that 80 percent of runners suffer a moderate or severe injury, such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis or runner’s knee. A few precautions can help you from being sidelined:

  • Have a plan. Work with a trainer to outline an appropriate-for-you routine or follow a professionally designed beginner’s workout, like Couch to 5K.
  • Warm up and cool down. Start with five minutes of brisk walking or slow jogging. Then, after your workout, stretch and use a foam roller to release tight muscles.
  • Mix things up. Cross-training can build endurance while giving your body a break from running. And don’t forget strength training, which shores up bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and core strength.
  • Don’t do too much, too soon. Try not to increase any aspect, such as speed or distance, by more than 10 percent per week. And designate at least one day each week. Bottom line: Listen to your body. You may step outside of your comfort zone while running, but don’t ignore any aches or pains.

Watch Your Form
You’ll run more efficiently and easily when you maintain proper form. Remember to:

  • Look ahead. As you fatigue, remember to stand tall instead of slouching. And gaze forward instead of down so that your head and neck are aligned. Also remember to keep your shoulders low and loose; resist the temptation to have them creep toward your ears.
  • Watch your arms and hands. Swing your arms forward instead of across the body. Elbows should be at a 90-degree angle and your hands should be loose, with your fists unclenched.

Gear Up
One of the best things about running is that you don’t need a lot to do it. What to look for:

  • The right shoe. A professional can help you find the best shoe for your foot shape and gait.
  • Synthetic socks. Running in a cotton pair is a surefire way to develop blisters. Synthetic fibers may cost more, but they’ll last longer and help keep your feet healthy.
  • A tissue or two. Running is an excellent way to clear your sinuses, and you may get sniffly during your run. Or as you heat up, you may want to blot your face with a tissue to stay beautiful.

Stay Motivated
Running is as emotional and mental as it is physical. Be sure that you: 

  • Stay positive. Stop thinking of it as “hard.” Instead, focus on the benefits, like how great you feel afterward. They don’t call it a “runner’s high” for nothing.
  • Put on some tunes: Energizing beats help keep you moving!
  • Stop thinking, start doing. It can be hard to wake up early to run at times … or do it after work. But don’t let your mind fashion excuses. Just lace up and go!

 

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Like this article? Get more by following us on Facebook at Beauty & Confidence.

Stress-busting Walking Workout

Walking is a step in the right direction for your health -- and it's the perfect form of exercise for busy moms. You can walk anywhere, anytime: Just put on your sneakers and head out the door."When you walk at a brisk pace, the body produces feel-good hormones called endorphins. This automatically improves your mood and decreases stress," says Toronto-based personal trainer Barb Gormley.

With all the time you spend caring for your whole family, taking less than a half-hour of fresh-air care for yourself will help you clear your mind so you can tackle your day. Read on to find out how every step you take improves your health and then try our easy, four-week walking workout plan to beat stress.

Walking Benefit: A Healthier Heart
According to a recent study of over 39,000 women published by the American Heart Association, those who walked for two or more hours per week had a 30 percent reduced risk of stroke than those who did not walk at all.

Walking Benefit: Better Memory
Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that older men who walked less than 1/4 mile each day had almost twice the risk of dementia compared to those who walked more than 2 miles.

Walking Benefit: A Slim Waistline
In one new study of over 18,400 premenopausal women, researchers from Harvard School of Public Heath found that those who made even small increases in the amount of time they spend walking briskly or biking every day decreased their risk of gaining weight.

Walking Benefit: A Better Mood
Anyone who regularly hits the treadmill will report a boost of good feelings post-workout, but a recent study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise uses science to prove it. Researchers monitored participants diagnosed with depression as they either walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes or sat and rested quietly. Those who walked reported more feelings of well-being and more energy than those who rested.

Easy 4-week Walking Plan
Our easy walking plan will improve your health and help you feel less frazzled -- in just a few minutes per day."The key to improving your fitness level, burning calories and zapping stress is to walk regularly and to include one rest day per week," says Gormley.

Walk each day for the length of time suggested below. Keep your chest lifted, and look toward the horizon (not down at your feet). Pump or briskly swing your arms at your sides to boost your calorie burn. "You'll know you've walked at the right intensity if you feel energized, not exhausted, a few minutes after you complete your workout," says Gormley. Grab a friend, your dog or your MP3 player to keep motivated and step to it!

Week 1: Build a habit.
The first week is all about getting used to exercising regularly, so consistency is key.

Monday: 10 minutes
Tuesday: 15 minutes
Wednesday: 10 minutes
Thursday: 15 minutes
Friday: 10 minutes
Saturday: 20 minutes
Sunday: rest day

Weekly total: 80 minutes

Week 2: Walk for longer.
Keep up the good work! This week, you'll increase the length of time you walk by five or 10 minutes per day.

Monday: 15 minutes
Tuesday: 20 minutes
Wednesday: 15 minutes
Thursday: 20 minutes
Friday: 15 minutes
Saturday: 30 minutes
Sunday: rest day

Weekly total: 115 minutes

Week 3: Boost calorie burn.
Now you're a regular walker. Increase your pace slightly to blast more calories.

Monday: 20 minutes
Tuesday: 25 minutes
Wednesday: 20 minutes
Thursday: 25 minutes
Friday: 20 minutes
Saturday: 35 minutes
Sunday: rest day

Weekly total: 145 minutes

Week 4: Hit some hills.
Maintain the slightly faster pace, and include two hill workouts to build muscle and burn even more calories.

Monday: 20 minutes (include a short, gentle hill)
Tuesday: 25 minutes
Wednesday: 20 minutes (include a short, gentle hill)
Thursday: 25 minutes
Friday: 20 minutes
Saturday: 35 minutes
Sunday: rest day

Weekly total: 145 minutes

Congrats! You've nearly doubled your weekly walking time in just four weeks. Do your best to keep it up: You've reached a routine daily activity level that will help you to maintain a healthier heart, slimmer waistline, improved memory and an upbeat mood.

Photo by Dániel Göndör on Unsplash

Like this article? Get more by following us on Facebook at Beauty & Confidence.

7 Yoga Stretches That Improve Your Health

Looking for an easy way to decompress, get more energy and fend off winter colds -- without leaving the house? Just say "Om." A recent study in Psychosomatic Medicine shows that women who regularly practice yoga have lower levels of inflammation and exhibit reduced physical responses to stress. What's more, researchers in India found that the practice of yoga also helps the body resist the damaging impact that stress has on the immune system. Translation: Practicing the exercise regularly may fend off sniffles and sneezes. Meanwhile, another study from Boston University shows that yoga can raise levels of a mood-boosting brain chemical called GABA.

Yoga's deep breathing and deliberate postures calm the nervous system and stimulate immunity, explain researchers. But you don't have to twist into a pretzel to reap these benefits. Just 15 minutes a day of light stretching and focused breathing can do your body good, says Terra Gold, co-director of the Yoga and the Healing Sciences yoga teacher training program at Loyola Marymount University and co-founder of the wellness group Yoga Doctors in Los Angeles.

We asked Gold to put together an immunity-boosting daily routine for yogis and non-yogis of all levels."These postures are designed to stimulate key points for the lungs, kidneys and digestive tract," she says."They'll assist in lowering stress hormones that compromise the immune system, stimulate the lymphatic system to help rid toxins from the body and help bring oxygenated blood to various organs to ensure optimal function." What's more, certain poses can relieve an accumulation of mucus in the sinuses or respiratory system, says Gold, which eases sniffles and helps you breathe better. All you need to do the workout is a few blankets and a belt.

Extended Side Easy Pose
Sit with your spine in a neutral position and both sit bones on the floor. Extend your right hand to the right as you raise the left arm toward the sky. Stretch the spine, reaching through the fingertips. Keep your torso facing forward -- without twisting the spine -- and maintain a natural, steady breath. Repeat on the other side. Gold says this activates immunity points in the arm, hand and torso.


Bridge
Lying with your face up, knees bent and arms at your sides, keep the legs hip-distance apart and the ankles under the knees. On an inhale, lift arms overhead and press firmly into the floor with your feet, raising your hips. On an exhale, lower arms and hips back down. Repeat 8 to 10 times, slowly. On the last repetition, hold in the upward position and breathe deeply for one minute (or as long as you can).


Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Sit in front of a folded blanket, knees bent and feet together. Loop a belt around your lower back, over the legs, and under your feet. Exhale and recline, lengthening the buttocks, sacrum and tailbone toward the heels. Rest arms at your sides. Hold for up to 10 minutes. Gold says this expands the chest, assists lymphatic drainage and stimulates immune points for the lungs, spine and low back.


Plow Pose
Lie with two blankets folded evenly under your upper back. Press down firmly, using leverage to slowly kick your legs overhead. Lower your legs one at a time, ensuring that your neck is comfortable. Roll onto your shoulder blades and interlock your fingers. Touch the floor with your feet and press to lift your hips higher. (If you can't touch your feet down, bend your knees by your ears to distribute weight away from your neck.)


Warrior 2 Pose
Step your feet about 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and turn your left foot in slightly and your right foot out to the right. Align the right heel with the center arch of the left foot. Exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Inhale and straighten. Repeat six to eight times, holding the last bend for up to a minute. Reverse feet and repeat.


Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Sitting on a blanket, slide your right foot under your left leg. Cross your left knee over your right. Press your left hand on the floor behind you, and your right arm on the outside of your left thigh. Inhale and lengthen your spine. Exhale and twist to the left, hooking the right elbow against the outer left thigh. Twist and lengthen for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat to the right.


Skull Brightener Breath
This practice alternates short, explosive exhalations with longer, passive inhalations. Start by focusing on your lower belly, between the pelvis and the belly button. Quickly contract the belly, pushing a burst of air out of the lungs. Then release the contraction so the belly "rebounds" to suck air in. Do eight to 10 times, slowly at first. Begin with 25 cycles per practice and work up to 100 or more.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The Best Type of Exercise for Your Personality

Have trouble sticking to a regular workout routine? Chances are you haven’t found your calling yet. Turns out, exercise isn’t so difference from food or fashion: What works for someone else may not be the right fit for you.

Finding the right type of exercise that best suits you, your personality, interests, needs and goals can be the key to getting the habit to stick. In fact, a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that people were more likely to workout if they considered it fun.

To discover the right type of exercise for you, consider the following guide. Find the statement that reflects your personality, and you’ll get a potentially perfect new workout.

1. You say: “Exercise is boring.”
Try: Zumba. It’s impossible to zone out during this aerobic dance class: You have to pay close attention to the steps to follow along. The combined high energy of the music and group will get you moving and grooving -- not to mention wiping your brow! (So bring a few tissues with you.) You’ll be done with your workout before you know it. Boredom fixed!

2. You say: “I love a good competition.”
Try: CrossFit.
These classes involve a variety of high-intensity exercises like running, sprinting, throwing, jumping, squatting and pushing-and-pulling type of movements. The goal is to complete a certain number of reps of each exercise within a given amount of time and in many classes, participants compete against one another.

Got a certain sport you love? Then consider joining an adult sports league. If you like running or biking, consider training for a race.

3. You say: “Workouts are my time to decompress.”
Try: Yoga.
Science backs up what yogis have known for centuries: This mind-body practice promotes relaxation. According to researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, doing less than 15 minutes of yoga a day can significantly lower stress markers in the body.

But does chanting om make you feel more antsy than calm? If you like to blow off steam in a more aggressive way, kickboxing will give you that outlet, as well as a great cardio and sculpting workout.

4. You say: “I want to get my blood -- and adrenaline -- pumping!”
Try: A challenging class, like Spinning, boot camp or CrossFit. These high-intensity classes encourage you to press your limits. Their fast pace will also appeal to your adventure-seeking side.

5. You say: “Socializing while exercising? That’s a win-win!”
Try: An adult sports league or training team. You can make new friends while getting in great shape by playing a sport or preparing for a race or other athletic event. Or simply recruit some friends to form a running club or head to the gym together. You’ll not only make the workout more enjoyable, but you’ll also hold each other accountable.

6. You say: “I don’t have time for exercise -- what I need is some ‘me time.’”
Try: Swimming.
Plan to get your “me time” at the gym. Underwater is probably the most peaceful place to exercise -- and talk about a total body workout too! If you haven’t been swimming in a while you may be surprised by how wiped you feel after your first (or seventh!) time back in the pool. But it gets easier -- and it’s a sure way to score a total body cardio workout and some much needed peace of mind.

Photo by Meghan Holmes on Unsplash

Like this article? Get more by following  on Facebook at Beauty & Confidence.

Cold Tips: Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

Search “cold remedies” online, and more than 35 million results pop up. But it turns out that one of the most effective ways to beat the sniffles is also the simplest: Get moving! According to a recent study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, people who walk for 40 minutes a day take half as many sick days as their sedentary counterparts. That’s because exercise bolsters the immune system, which helps you fight off viruses, say experts.

But when you finally succumb to those sneezes and coughs, is it smarter to soldier on or toss in the sweat towel? To help you decide, here’s what the experts have to say about staying healthy: 

Cold tip No. 1: Do a neck check.
If you have symptoms below the neck, such as chest congestion, diarrhea or body aches, or if you have a fever, stay home to rest. Your body needs all of its energy to recover.

But if you just have a head cold (runny nose, sneezing and a sore throat) and you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours, go ahead and exercise if you feel up for it. But dial down the intensity: Instead of your usual run or group cycling class, opt for yoga or a restorative walk. And stash a few tissues in your pocket in case you need to wipe your nose mid-workout.

Cold tip No. 2: Wipe down the gym equipment.
A study of fitness centers published in Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that 51 percent of aerobic machines and 73 percent of strength-training equipment were infected with cold viruses. Before you hop onto that elliptical or grab those dumbbells, wipe it down with an antibacterial wipe. Don’t have one on hand? Ask the gym staff to spritz some cleaner on a few tissues, and use a towel to cover benches and mats.

Also wash your hands thoroughly before and afterwards, and make a conscious effort to avoid touching your face during your workout.

Cold tip No. 3: Ease back into your routine.
Once you start feeling better, it’s tempting to try to make up for lost time at the gym. But working out full-force may lead to a relapse: Scientists from Canada’s McMaster University found that intense exercise can actually impair immune function, which can prolong your cold and leave you vulnerable to another one.

A smarter move: Start out with moderate workouts to give your body a chance to readjust. If you begin to feel worn down or tired again, stay home to fully recuperate – it could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Photo by Brittany Colette on Unsplash

Like this article? Get more by following us on Facebook at Beauty & Confidence.