How Inducing Real Stress on Your Body Reaps Positive Benefits

No pain, no gain. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. These may be old cliches, but when it comes to exercise, there is truth to both of them. While experts would urge you to stop working out if you feel pain, nausea, or light-headed, your muscles and cardiovascular system need to be put under some level of stress in order to get stronger.

The Benefits of an Intense Workout

If you are out of shape or have health challenges, you might feel like resigning yourself to very modest activity — or none at all. Recent studies, however, show that high-intensity workouts may have even more benefits than regular, moderate aerobic activity — even for people with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or pulmonary disease.

Studies suggest that a shorter, more intense workout is safe for most people, but offers more disease-preventing or disease-reversing benefits. One form of short, high-intensity workout is referred to as high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. This consists of short bursts of very intense effort, alternated with periods of rest. This type of workout is gaining in popularity as more and more people discover the benefits to their bodies and their schedules. These workouts can be done with body weight exercises, outdoors, or on equipment like a treadmill.

Work = Strength

Robust physical exercise, done regularly, makes your heart, lungs, and muscles stronger. When your muscles endure that effort, their natural response is tiny “tears.” While this might not sound like a good thing on the surface, your body goes to work on repairing those overloaded muscles, and that’s what builds them and makes them stronger.

Let’s not forget; your heart is a muscle. To strengthen it, you must be willing to make it work harder. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (for moderately intense levels) on most days of the week. Those with active lifestyles have a 45% lower risk of heart disease. So you can see, making your heart work — with a workout — makes it stronger. The stress of regular exercise also keeps arteries healthy and offers a 35% lower risk of high blood pressure.

Like your biceps or abdominal muscles, if your heart and lungs are allowed to take it easy all the time, they can’t build strength. When you put some stress on your lungs with exercise, you breathe harder and take in more oxygen. This provides energy, reduces carbon dioxide in the body, and can increase your lung capacity.

Speaking of Stress…

Exercise has been shown to reduce the amount of mental and emotional stress in those who do it regularly. If your brain is damaged by stressful events, exercise can actually revers that damage. Stressed-out people can become more forgetful, for example. Regular exericse can help reverse that. And people report better moods, memory, and energy after a workout, along with lower tension and anxiety.

If you want to live longer and healthier, it’s important to allow your body to experience the temporary stress of regular exercise. Your efforts will be rewarded with stronger muscles, a more powerful heart and lungs, and a clearer mind.

How Your Health Is Restricted When You Ignore Biodiversity In Your Meals

There’s a lot of talk about the importance of biodiversity within the environment — the importance of maintaining a diverse ecosystem to protect the fragile balance of life. But what isn’t discussed quite as much is the importance of biodiversity within ourselves and in our meals. Diversity in diet and in the gut is a very important topic, and in this case, ignorance isn’t bliss — it’s disease.

Diversity in meals

Once upon a time, our ancestors enjoyed over 15,000 different types of apples; now, as any grocery store will demonstrate, we are down to about five. Gone are days where a healthy eater could enjoy the White Horse, the Summer Ladyfinger, the Junaluskee, or the Polly Sweet. Now, four out of five apple varieties are close to disappearing.

In general, there are over 30,000 edible plants growing on the planet; people eat about a dozen.

This means bad news for diversity in meals.

Humans are complex creatures and require a complex diet. A recent study showed that as food diversity decreases, diet-related disease increases. The lack of diversity in our meals comes along with a lack of diversity in our guts.

Diversity in the microbiome

The microbiome refers to the plethora of microorganisms growing and living symbiotically with our bodies. Many people don’t realize the huge number of microorganisms that live out their lives with them — in fact, we are more microbe than human. Researchers estimate humans carry four to ten times more bacterial cells than human cells. If all those cells were mushed together they would be about the size of a basketball and weigh about three pounds. That’s a lot of microbes.

Research on these little friends has exploded in the last few years and some scientists believe it will lead to the string theory of all human disease. For just about any ailment plaguing our race at the moment, there is a researcher quickly discovering its correlation with the microbiome.

The huge majority of microbes live along the inside of the large intestine and they help the body out by fermenting undigested food components. They come in four different types

  • Bacteria – anywhere between 500 and 1,000 species of bacteria inhabit our bodies
  • Archaea – these mysterious single cell creatures aid in our digestion
  • Fungi – these microbes come mostly in the form of yeasts and also aid in digestion
  • Viruses – these microorganisms live all over our body for better or for worse.

Of course, not all microbes are good for us, as many bacteria and viruses have caused life-ending illnesses. But finding a proper balance in diversity could prove to be life-saving.

Sadly, no amount of treadmill workouts will make-up for a lack of biodiversity, so get started here.

How to Effectively (and Safely) Run Downhill

Downhill running builds strength and endurance in a way that flat running cannot duplicate. While running uphill might feel more difficult from a cardio perspective, running downhill challenges and pushes your body in different ways. The muscles you build running on the decline translate into faster paces on other terrain. Downhill running involves control and braking, which creates muscular stress. Including downhill running in your training and learning proper downhill running techniques will help you improve your leg speed, increase efficiency and prevent injury. With proper form, you can turn downhill running into a strength that will greatly benefit your other running.

Understanding and Choosing Hills

Make sure to choose your hills wisely when training. The following tips will help you:

  • Start with short, gradual slopes and move on to steeper and longer descents as you develop your technique and improve your strength and ability. Practice downhill running through either focused repeats or an extended run on a hilly route. Extreme grades increase your risk of knee, ankle and hip injuries.
  • Use a GPS watch to find a gradual slope of no more than 8 percent to train on. When running downhill, gravity is your friend.
  • Running on softer surfaces, such as dirt or grass instead of pavement or cements, lead to fewer injuries because they are more forgiving.
  • Always look ahead for hill variations and adapt to them immediately to avoid injury.

Building a Strong Foundation – Correct Form

The foundation of running downhill safely and efficiently relies upon maintaining correct posture. Avoid the urge to lean back into the hill and focus instead on keeping your body perpendicular to the ground. Descend the hill with your feet turned sideways to help with speed control. As you improve, point your feet more progressively downhill. Engage your core and lean forward slightly from the ankles. Keep the feet under the body and don’t over stride, which gives the body greater control over the legs and also minimizes the impact on the quadriceps and knees. Use your arms for balance. Flailing your arms around can actually give your body the control it needs when speed takes over. As you descend, shorten your stride and quicken your cadence to help avoid using your heel as a brake. A slight bend in your landing leg will help avoid impact to your knee. You can run a lot faster than you think while still maintaining control.

Training Safely

As with any new training type, start small. Begin with one downhill session every other week, eventually working up to two per week. Learn how to tackle hills mentally and physically. Confidence is crucial to successful downhill running. Run down hills using effort, not pace. Focus on the descent, not the climb. When done properly, downhill running provides enjoyment and a great way to make up time. Consider purchasing a quality treadmill that will set an effective downhill pace for training. Many models come equipped with declines up to 6 percent.

You can improve your overall fitness with downhill running. By following these tips, you will enjoy the process as well.

Best Treadmill Options For Low Impact Training During Injury Recovery

You’ve already had the debate of treadmill vs elliptical and decided that you wanted a treadmill to keep your fitness up during your injury recovery. Only to realize there are so many options to choose from that it seems like there is just a coin-flip of difference between the different treadmills.

While we have tons of treadmill reviews you can check out, we wanted to create a list of our favorite machines for those who need the lowest impact for injury recovery. Below are our top 3 treadmills for those looking to keep their fitness up while not upsetting their doctor.

1. NordicTrack X11i

The NordicTrack X11i is our favorite treadmill for so many reason, but one of the key ones for those recovering from an injury is the fact that it has a fantastic suspension system. Equipped with NordicTrack’s Reflex Cushioning, the treadmill not only cushions your run but springs back to help you keep going for miles.

Addition Pros:

  • Range workout – Decline to -6 percent or up to 40 percent incline to maximize workout time and ease pressure on joints.
  • Full entertainment system – From YouTube to the news, you can find something to keep you entertained while you rehab.

Potential Cons:

  • Cost – The X11i isn’t the cheapest machine on the market and is currently $2,199.
  • Space – You need quite a bit of space for this machine which is 70.2″ long, by 39.6″ wide and 71.6″ tall. It also does not fold up, so no space-saver here.

2. ProForm Premier 1300

Next up is the ProForm Premier 1300 for all your treadmill needs. Built into this sturdy machine is ProShox™ technology, which is an multi-point air shock system to allow natural movement on the treadmill and comfortable resistance.

Additional Pros:

  • Stay busy – It comes programmed with 34 different workout apps to keep you from getting bored with your treadmill workouts.
  • Space-friendly – The wide running belt is 20”x60” and the deck will fold up for easy storage when not in use.

Potential Cons:

  • Cost – Pricier than the X11i with fewer features, the Premier 1300 costs $2,499.
  • Limited incline – There is no decline option and can only incline to 12 percent.

3. Sole F85

Rounding out our treadmills for injury recovery is the Sole F85. The F85 brings a quieter machine as well as a cushioned ride to treadmill usage with its Cushion Flex Whisper Deck technology, which is rated to reduce up to 40 percent of running impact.

Additional Pros:

  • Spacious and space-friendly – Giving 2 more inches than the Premier 1300, the F85 has a 22”x60” belt and will fold up to save space.
  • Incline – While the F85 can’t touch the X11i’s incline abilities, it does incline to 15 percent.

Potential Cons:

  • Limited tech – No touchscreen entertainment here, so while you get 10 programs, that’s it for your workout variety.
  • Cost – Price fluctuates on this machine, and while sales can bring it to $1,999, the standard price is $2,499.

Hopefully this has helped you get a kick start on your treadmill buying process, so you can get back to your normal fitness routine!

The Beginner’s 12 Week Treadmill Training Schedule For A Half Marathon

Getting ready for a half marathon is an exciting challenge, especially when there are complications to consider. Maybe you are the primary caregiver for your children and can’t be away for hours training for your race. Or you may live in an area where outside running isn’t a great idea, either because of the locals or weather.

In any such case, you can effectively train for your upcoming half marathon on a treadmill. Many elite athletes have utilized treadmills when necessary, so you are in good company.

With the goal of getting you race-ready, we running devotees at Treadmill Reviews have create a workout schedule designed to optimize your body’s performance and get you ready for the big race.

Half Marathon Workout Terminology

To make sure there is no confusion, here’s a short key of terms we will be using in our workout schedule.

  • Rest – Take the day to recover, do not engage in activities more strenuous than walking.
  • M – All our training distances are measured in miles (aside from races), so for short, we will place a “m” next to whatever mile distance is on the schedule that day.
  • Cross – On cross training day, they will be labeled “cross” with a recommendation for time you should spend cross training.
  • Pace – You should run this training run at the pace you will be racing. Other days, drop to a comfortable level and focus on getting your mileage in and not on speed.
  • Race – We recommend either finding a 5K and 10K to test how you are progressing. If that isn’t in the cards, be sure you run those two race days at pace.

Best Cross Training For Runners

While it may feel like a distraction from the goal, the best way to be sure you to reach your half marathon injury-free is to cross train. There is plenty of excellent ideas out there on how to best cross train. We recommend:

  • Yoga – Keep flexibility up, which many runners lose. YouTube is a great resource for this.
  • Body weight workouts – With the added benefit of being able to workout anywhere, body weight workouts will strengthen all your muscles, not just the ones you are using while running.

If you have the equipment (or the mean to purchase them), an elliptical and/or a stationary bike would be good, low impact ways to workout and keep your heart pumping.

12 Week Half Marathon Schedule

Week

Mon

Tues

Wed

Thurs

Fri

Sat

Sun

1

Rest

3 m run

2 m run or cross

3 m run

Rest

4 m run

30 min cross

2

Rest

3 m run

2 m run or cross

3 m run

Rest

4 m run

30 min cross

3

Rest

3.5 m run

3 m run or cross

3.5 m run

Rest

5 m run

40 min cross

4

Rest

3.5 m run

3.5 m run

4 m run

Rest

5 m run

40 min cross

5

Rest

4 m run

3.5 m run

4 m run

Rest

6 m run

40 min cross

6

Rest

4 m run

4 m run

30 min cross

Rest

5K race

40 min cross

7

Rest

3 m run

5 m run

2 m run

Rest

8 m run

50 min cross

8

Rest

3 m run

5 m run

3 m run

Rest

9 m run

50 min cross

9

Rest

4 m run

5 m run

3 m run

Rest

10K race

50 min cross

10

Rest

4 m run

5 m run

3 m run

Rest

10 m run

60 min cross

11

Rest

4 m run

5 m run

3 m run

Rest

11 m run

60 min cross

12

Rest

3 m run

2 m run

2 m run

Rest

Rest

Half Marathon

Running a half marathon isn’t easy, but you can feel confident that as you stick to this schedule, you will be ready for your upcomming half marathon.

If You’re Going To Walk, Walk Uphill To Cut Your Workout Time In Half

There is no doubt that life feels more hectic than ever these days. Kids have to be ferried between multiple extracurricular activities. More Americans work overtime or take on extra side jobs. So, it’s no wonder that we all feel crunched for time, and that it is harder to squeeze in the time to exercise.

However, skipping out on workouts wears down our overall health. Exercising helps you to have more energy, relieves stress, and helps you get a better night’s sleep. All things we need to power through our hectic daily schedules. So we’ve got suggestions on how you get all the benefits of exercise in half the time.

How to cut your exercise time in half

One of the simplest ways to burn calories is to walk. It is recommended that you exercise thirty minutes a day five times a week. However, this recommendation is based on the intensity of the exercise.

The 30 minute recommendation is conditional upon a moderate-intensity activity level. If you chose to exercise at a vigorous-intensity activity level then the recommendation lowers to 15 minutes five days per week. Most people automatically jump to running to increase their activity level but that doesn’t work for everyone because some prefer not to run. Others have joint issues or other health concerns.

One way to increase the difficulty of your walking without increasing speed is to walk on an incline. Finding a treadmill with an incline feature is probably the most convenient way to accomplish this on a regular basis.

Incline training works because it forces your body to work harder to accomplish the same action as simply walking. As a bonus, you won’t have to find a walking route with a lot of hills or drive to a distant nature trail that meets your criteria. Also, instead of grinding away on the treadmill for a half hour, you can incline the treadmill and cut your exercise time down to 15 minutes instead.

Other benefits to incline training

Incline training has these additional benefits:

  • Studies have shown that incline training reduces the amount of stress on your knee joints.
  • It also reduces the stress on your shins. So if you’re struggling with shin splints incline training might be a solution.
  • Incline training forces your leg muscles to work harder and so it is a great way to get your legs into better shape without straining your joints.
  • You can substantially increases the number of calories that you burn while working out, and it burns more fat than regular walking.
  • Increases cardiovascular and lung strength when you can’t increase your speed for health or recovery reasons.

So if you want to maximize you time spent working out, find the right treadmill for you and start reaping the benefits!

Incline Treadmill Vs Incline Trainer

The incline treadmill and the incline trainer have similar functions, but there are actually a lot of features that separate them. An incline treadmill is just a regular treadmill when used on the incline settings. An incline trainer is a treadmill built specifically for incline training. There are a few key differences between the two, but since they have similar functions, which one is better? That answer is based on a few different components which are listed below for your consideration.

Differences

Before we talk about the benefits of each, here is a list of the differences between the two:

  • Most regular treadmills will incline to about 15%, an incline trainer can go up to 40%.
  • Incline trainers tend to have more decline capabilities than standard treadmills.
  • Incline trainers have a more powerful motor, which can make for a more comfortable experience.
  • Incline trainers can be more expensive, but usually come with a lot of features.

Calorie Burn

The biggest consideration people usually make when choosing workout equipment is how many calories it can help burn. With this in mind, the amount of calories burned is always dependent on the intensity and length of the workout, but there are different types of ways to burn calories that can take less time.

It is amazing how many more calories are burned on an incline. The body has to work extra hard against gravity and it can burn a lot more calories in the same amount of time. At a 40% incline, the body burns as much as 5x the calories!

Walking at a 0% incline at 2 mph for 20 minutes burns 74 calories. At the same speed with 40% incline it burns almost 400 calories! That’s a lot more efficient and can drastically reduce the length of workouts. This can be good for people with busy schedule, or who want to get more out of their workouts.

Now, a treadmill can be set at an incline, but most treadmills max out at about 15%. So an incline trainer is definitely better for scorching calories in a shorter amount of time.

Training

Many people go to the gym to train for events such as a triathlon or a 5K. Both machines can be incorporated into a workout to train the body, but the best machine to be used depends on the type of event you are training for.

Both machines work well when training for a 5K or other types of outdoor running. They both have the feature of being able to incline, but for the most part, all the incline and features needed for these events are on a treadmill. Both treadmill and trainer workouts increase endurance.

An incline trainer is good for specific events, such as hiking and biking. It does a better job at strengthening and toning the body since it has a higher max incline. This is helpful when it comes to cross-training.

All things considered, you can achieve many of the same goals and benefits on both types of machines; but, it you ever decide to kick your training up a few notches, you may wish you had purchased an incline trainer. They just as capable and more at providing a grueling, calorie burning, muscle building workout as a standard treadmill.

Treadmill vs. Elliptical

Two of the most common machines used for cardio are treadmills and ellipticals. It is extremely rare to walk into a gym and see those machines unused. So which one is going to give you a better workout? There are many factors to consider so it gets a bit complicated, but consider these major points as you make a plan for your next cardio session…

First Determine Your Fitness Goal

A major reason for most people to even step foot on one of these machines is to burn calories and lose weight. Besides that, you may be putting some time into cardio to build your cardio vascular strength and endurance for distance training and specific events. Your main goal for exercise is going to be your first factor to consider.

WEIGHT LOSS – If your goal is to lose weight, both the treadmill and the elliptical will help you do this.

ENDURANCE TRAINING – If your goal is endurance training, the elliptical is not a practical choice. As the elliptical carries more of your body weight for you and is restricted in movement and speed, you will reach your max training on this machine in no time.

The best choice for endurance training is to move to the treadmill. You have a way bigger range of motion on this machine including dramatically higher speed and incline options.

Weight Loss

There are a couple factors to consider when it comes to weight loss on these machines. They affect the body in different ways which is why weight loss varies.

Body Weight

The treadmill beats the elliptical when it comes to how many calories are burned at the same intensity. The reason for this is because the elliptical is built to support a lot of your body weight, which eases the stress on your cardio vascular system and joints. This can be good if you have an injury or are a beginner, since it is easier on the body. However, if you are looking to lose fat faster you may consider using a treadmill.

Impact

Many people are concerned with how running affects the body. Some people are worried about the long term impact it has on joints. This is where the elliptical beats the treadmill. The elliptical provides a low impact workout that has less risk for injury, but because it is easier, rapid weight loss is less likely.

For those struggling with joint problems, an elliptical is a great option to still get an intense workout that puts less stress on the joints. It is easier on the back since you hold a good, upright position. It is also possible to work at high intensities without strain. Although, when it comes to everyday motion, the treadmill will help train your body for movements you make daily, and this can have a positive effect on the body.

ENDURANCE TRAINING

Many people go to the gym so they can train for long distance events whether it’s running 10-26 miles or participating in triathlons and other distance races. In this case, a treadmill is a better option for training – simply because it mimics real body movements. During a 5K, no one will have the momentum the elliptical gives them, and this can be a downfall when it comes to race day.

This is not to say that an elliptical is not effective, but it is not a realistic machine to be using if you’re preparing for any kind of even outdoors. Going from a treadmill like the NordicTrack 1750, which can give both -3 percent decline and 15 incline to better simulate outside running, will make outdoor running a much smoother transition than starting from an elliptical.

Treadmill Versus Elliptical Winner

Here’s the deal, there are so many individual situations that it is impossible to come out with a best option. They are both beneficial for a lot of different reasons, it is entirely up to you. If you want to burn more calories, use a treadmill. If your body needs lower resistance, use an elliptical. Make a mental list of all your priorities when it comes to exercising, and it will be easy to see which one better suits your goals when researching machines. Don’t be afraid to use both!

6 Drinks To Try When You’re Avoiding Sugar But Sick Of Water

So, you made a no-sugar pledge to your bestie but now you’re just sick of water, can’t drink another drop of the flavorless liquid, and can’t stop thinking of your favorite sugar-filled soda-pop when running it out on the treadmill? What to do? — try one of these six good-for-you drinks that taste way better than water. Your blood sugar and your waistline will thank you.

1. Coconut water

It’s just like water but better. It’s rich in electrolytes and also good for the heart. The mysterious liquid comes from the inside of a young coconut and actually serves as a suspension for the developing endosperm. Coconut water weighs in at 19 calories per 100 ml and is 95% water and 4% carbohydrates.

2. Iced Tea

But not the bad-for-you iced tea. Instead of guzzling the overly, artificially sweetened ice tea, try making your own from a tea bag. Boil water, add an herbal or fruit flavored tea bag, and steep. After the temperature drops, store the tea in the refrigerator to chill, and after a little while, you have your very own good-for-you iced tea.

3. Vegetable Juice

Natural fruit juice can still be very sugary, but vegetable juice will carry much less sugar. Juice fresh vegetables using a cold-press juicer and add a splash of lemon or vinegar to finish it off and sharpen the flavor. Not only will vegetable juice hydrate, it will nourish your body too.

4. Kombucha

Kombucha is the talk of the town. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink created by developing a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. It is strongly probiotic. Some say it is merely glorified pond water while others say it is the end-all and be-all of the probiotic world. Either way, most people would agree it does more than merely hydrate.

5. Dry Soda

Dry soda is also rising in popularity. Dry is an adjective borrowed from the bartending world that means “not sweet.” Dry sodas still contain carbonation but they very low in sugar. They’re ideal for infrequent use by someone weaning off of sugary soft-drinks. Many stores offer pre-mixed drink options; find one that suits your fancy.

6. Infused water

Make your own healthy drink by simply adding crushed fruit, herbs, or veggies to water. It may seem like this option is just for those that have run out of options, but don’t knock it till you try it. Infusing water with fresh produce can open a world of opportunity. Also, try mixing it up even more and starting off with a base of milk instead of water; that’s when things get really fun.

Try these drinks before or after your next bout on the treadmill.

Macro Nutrients And Their Tie To Weight Loss​

Everyone is talking about macronutrients. Macronutrients can play a vital role in losing weight or in gaining muscle, but it is important to fully understand what they are and how they function in order to fully utilize them. Otherwise, all that time spent on your treadmill will go to waste.

Macronutrients Are Carbohydrates, Proteins, And Fats

“Macronutrients”, or “macros” for short, is just a fancy way to refer to the basic nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They are the vital nutrients that provide the energy required to keep our body functioning. Another way to look at them is as categories for the calories we consume. (Calories that aren’t macronutrients are micronutrients which include minerals and elements.)

  • Proteins are usually four calories per gram and primarily consist of amino acids. They can come from both plants and animals. They help build lean muscle mass and also satiate the appetite.
  • Carbohydrates also provide four calories per gram. They break down into glucose and are the body’s primary energy source. Good carbs are essential to the diet, however, refined carbs can lead to weight gain and high blood sugar.
  • Fats weigh in at nine calories per gram making them the most energy dense macronutrient. It is fairly well agreed upon now that healthy fats don’t actually make you fat, and are in fact required for the body to function properly.

Calculate Your Macronutrient Ratio

The counting of macronutrients for weight loss is a trending practice. It is important because simply counting calories can be misleading. For example, if a person eats 2,000 calories every day, but 80 percent of those calories are carbohydrates, they may still gain weight and be unhealthy. However, the reverse of this is also a problem. If a person eats 50 percent protein, 35 percent carbs, and 15 percent fat, but only eat 1,500 calories per day and their goal is 2,500, they may still lose weight and not build muscle. So, it is important to count both calories and macronutrients.

To determine the number of calories to consume multiply your body weight in pounds by 18 for weight gain or by 12 for weight loss.

For example:

150 x 12 = 1,800

The output is the amount of calories you should be aiming to consume daily.

Next, to determine the amount of each macronutrient to consume, use the basic list below as a starting point.

macronutrient graphic

Of course, all of this macronutrient counting will go to waste unless you hit the treadmill as well. Experiment with these ratios to begin. There are lots of opinions out there and every body is different; the important thing is to discover what works for you.

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