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Category: Fitness

Top 10 Health Benefits of Ping Pong / Table Tennis

Whether you’re playing doubles or singles, table tennis, or ping pong, can be a fast-paced competitive sport. In fact, when played at an intense rate, it can be a great way to burn calories and get fit.

But before you start, make sure you have what you need for an intense game of ping pong. Click the images to check out these items on Amazon!

Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:

  • Playing improves hand-eye coordination and it stimulates mental alertness, concentration and tactical strategy. This makes it the perfect game for young people to sharpen reflexes, and for older people to refine tactics.
  • Develops mental acuity. The speed, spin and placement of the ball are crucial in table tennis, and practiced players are highly skilled in both creating and solving puzzles involving these three attributes.
  • Improves reflexes. Due to the fast-paced, short-distance nature of the sport, both gross and fine muscle movements are improved. The game is distinguished by bursts of exertion and recovery, leading to fast-twitch muscle development.
  • It’s easy on the joints. Have you had knee surgery, back problems, tired of twisting your ankles? Try table tennis. It’s a great way to improve your leg, arm and core strength without overtaxing your joints.
  • Burns calories. A 150-pound person can burn 272 calories by playing table tennis for an hour. Considering the fact that the sport is entertaining and addictive, it can be a fun and easy way to burn calories.
  • Offers a social outlet. Whether you play in the community center or at home with friends, table tennis offers a great way to bond with other people while you lose weight. Because young and old people can play the game, it can help improve communication and build relationships, irrespective of age. Playing at home with siblings or parents can bring family members closer and enable them to spend more quality time with each other.
  • Keeps your brain sharp. Alzheimer’s Weekly reports a clear increase in motor skills and cognitive awareness from playing table tennis, after a series of preliminary clinical studies in Japan found that table tennis markedly increases the flow of blood to the brain, and could possibly even prevent dementia.
  • Improves coordination. Following the ping pong ball as it moves quickly toward you, and following its trajectory as your opponent hits it helps improve hand-eye coordination.
  • Improves balance. Staying balanced and being able to quickly change direction are key to being successful in a ping pong rally. This is especially important for the elderly.
  • Stimulates various different parts of the brain. By anticipating an opponent’s shot, a player uses the prefrontal cortex for strategic planning. The aerobic exercise from the physical activity of the game stimulates the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for allowing us to form and retain long-term facts and events.

To see more of our Top 10 lists, click here.

Health Fitness Revolution by Samir Becic Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization, to make the world a healthier, fitter place, please donate!

Top 10 Free Health and Fitness Apps

Smartphones have become the norm in our thriving digital age. Known for being handy, all-in-one devices, smartphones aren’t so smart without the convenience of certain programs – or apps. In our case, the apps we’re looking at fall into the health and fitness category. These apps are helpful tools for trying to get in shape and stay healthy, and have served as substitutes for trainers, nutritionists and dietitians while also tracking goals and achievements. But with so many to choose from, where do you being?

We’ve compiled a list of 10 essential health and fitness apps, all of which are free!

  • Spring* – An iPhone exclusive, Spring is a music app designed specifically for workouts. Everyone agrees that working out is much more fun with some upbeat tunes, and Spring provides music that plays in-sync with the movement of the your body to idealize the workout experience. Get ready for your morning runs or spin classes to fly by!
  • MapMyFitness – MapMyFitness provides users with guidelines for a healthy, fit lifestyle by giving them the tools to track their food intake and exercise. Tracking is a good way to become more conscious of your health habits and it makes it much easier to lose weight or refrain from gaining weight. MapMyFitness also has a feature where you can share your activity with friends, so when you lose those 5 lbs or achieved a new PR, you get to show it off!
  • Noom – If you find tracking all of the elements of your diet tiring and difficult, Noom may be the app for you! It has an extremely wide database that includes all sorts of popular food items, so you can make sure your tracking is accurate and that you’re eating the right number of calories to reach your goals. Noom also gives you tips on how to change your habits to be as healthy as possible.
  • HealthyOut – Eating out can be very difficult if you’re trying to stay in shape. Thankfully, HealthyOut quickly provides nearby suggestions for restaurants with options including your diet specifications. You can enter a calorie limit or a diet restriction like “vegan”, and this app will find options near you. Going out with friend can finally be guilt-free!
  • Lumosity – If you like playing games, you’ll like Lumosity. Lumosity exercises your mind, including games that train your reflexes, your memory and more. These exercises seem just like fun and games, but studies have shown an increase in brain function after steady use. After working on them for several weeks, your mind will be sharper than ever!
  • HealthTap – Doctors are at your fingertips with this app! If you have a minor health concern but don’t have time to visit your doctor, you can text medical professionals and receive free advice tailored to your concerns. HealthTap also includes healthy lifestyle forums which help enables users to learn and grow together.
  • Runkeeper – If outdoor exercise is your thing, Runkeeper will be your best friend! This app tracks your distance, pace, calories and route. A handy voice alert chimes in every 5 minutes notifying you of your time, pace and distance, ensuring you of where you are in your goals.  You can also compare your workout to previous days to even track your progression.  Runkeeper also features a playlist keep your favorite workout tunes close by.
  • MyFitnessPal – Calorie counting made extremely easy! This app helps you keep a food journal, complete with nutritional facts and calories.  MyFitnessPal has an extensive database of fast food and restaurant dishes so you’re never guessing caloric intake.  You can also log your workouts and the app will deduct the calories you burned from your daily amount.
  • Nike Training Club – This fitness app offers over 100 workouts specifically crafted by Nike master trainers and athletes (such Allyson Felix and Sydney Leroux) for all fitness levels. Whether your goal is to tone up, lean out or get stronger your perfect workout awaits.  There’s even a video of each workout to show you the proper form and technique.  And if you’re crunched for time, don’t worry! Many of the focus workouts are as short as 15 minutes.
  • ShopWell – If you struggle with nutrition labels, this is a great tool.  Start by creating a profile with your age, gender, health goals, allergies, and food you would like to avoid in your diet (sugar, fat, sodium).  As you shop you simply scan each item’s barcode and you are given either a red, yellow, or green light and a score (the higher, the better).  This identifies the food that you should steer clear of, or those that are really good for you.  No more grocery store confusion!

*With the exception of Spring, all the apps featured are available for iPhone and Android devices.

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Top 10 Health Benefits of Playing the Piano

If you are looking for more ways to enrich your life, adding musical skills is a great way to do so. Anyone can learn to play the piano, and this hobby helps with the development of skills that make will make you a more talented and cultured individual. In fact, playing piano has many health benefits, both mental and physical.

Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:

  • Improvement in the classroom – Those who participate in piano lessons tend to be highly intelligent in the classroom. Research done at McGill University in Montreal, Canada found that grade school students that studied piano for 3 years scored higher on test of general and spatial cognitive areas than their peers. These skills aid well in the mathematics area, therefore helping these students with their schoolwork.
  • Improves neural connections – Neurons transmit and process information in the brain. According to a study performed at Northwestern University, playing piano adds to neural connections. Neural firings happen when music is being played, suggesting that playing instruments like the piano may hold the key to higher brain function.
  • Broadens vocabulary – In a 2009 study published in the journal Psychology in Music, an in-depth experiment found that students that had music in their academic curriculum had significantly better vocabulary and verbal sequencing than those who did not.
  • Reduces stress – Playing piano allows you to get away from the stresses of daily life and focus your mind on your technique and the music. One study revealed that those that chose to play the keyboard to relax had a significantly higher reversal of stress genes at the end of the study than those that chose other techniques. It was concluded that playing music such as the piano could become a rational stress reducing therapy recognized by health and fitness professionals.
  • Foster hand/eye coordination – When playing the piano you often have to read as you play. This trains your eyes and hands to work closely together. You hands also develop independent coordination. Each hand performs entirely different movements and has to learn to work together stimulating multiple parts of the brain. Hand/eye coordination is a very beneficial skill to acquire for it can improve your reaction time and productivity. Through this activity you can also strengthen neural pathways between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
  • Aids in language development – According to research done by San Raffaele University in Milan, Spain, children that learn music before the age of 7 have much larger vocabularies which aids not online in language development but in learning foreign languages as well. It has been found that adults with musical background such as piano training in their youth learned foreign language quicker and more efficiently than those that didn’t. The brain activity that is acquired at youth through music continues to benefit through adulthood.
  • Increases human growth hormone – Playing piano can increase the production of HGH in an individual; particularly for older adults. Human growth hormones are linked to reduction of the aches and pains where feel that come with age. A study done at the University of Miami found that the test group of people who took keyboard lessons had significantly higher levels of HGH than the control group that did not. Increased HGH production leads to slowed progression of osteoporosis, increased energy levels, sexual function and muscle mass.
  • Split concentration – Learning how to get your hands to work together may be difficult at first but as you practice it will become second nature. Playing piano allows you develop the ability to focus on multiple things simultaneously. To play the piano you must coordinate your hand movements as well as read the music in front of you which requires a lot of focus. The split concentration you develop from piano can be applied to life situations as well such as multi-tasking.
  • Aural awareness – Many people that aren’t involved in any type of musical hobby may have difficulty recognizing different pitches and chords. Once you grasp the basic concept of playing scales and other technical routines you will be able to explore the different variations of sound, rhythm, and the complementary of melodies and harmonies. Aural awareness is not only good for your ears but is great exercise for your brain as well.
  • Inspires creativity: Playing the piano requires you to be creative every time you play. Research done by Vanderbilt University psychologist found that musicians use a creative technique known as divergent thinking which requires you to use both sides of your brain. Every time you play you are using both sides to correlate your hands and read music. Exercising this technique constantly is why musicians tend to be more creative thinkers allowing them to be better able think outside the box when it comes to problem solving.

For more top 10 articles, including the top 10 health benefits of playing a percussion instrument and playing a brass instrument, click here!

The Top 10 Farmers Markets Health Benefits

Notable for its white canopies, wooden tables, jeans, plaid shirts and wicker baskets full of fruits and vegetables, that little under-the-tent setup off the side of the road is usually where local farmers and foods vendors enjoy selling their goods, often just fresh off the farm. Supporting your local farmers markets has numerous benefits – from nutritional content to peace of mind, you can be sure to feel rejuvenated after purchasing and devouring the wholesome foods of farmers markets.

Here is HFR’s top 10 farmers markets health benefits for all your purchasing needs:

  • Taste real flavors – The fruits and vegetables available at farmers markets are among the freshest and tastiest produce available. Farmers who sell strictly local, and therefore do limited long distance travelling, add little to no additives or preservatives to their produce. As a result, the food is as fresh as possible.
  • Enjoy the current season – While it may seem ideal to be able to purchase your produce year-round, when produce is grown and sold out of season, it is usually grown unnaturally. In fact, many chemicals may be added to promote its growth and possibly detracting from its nutritional content. Farmer’s markets will usually offer fruits and vegetables that are currently in-season, and by extension, as close to natural as can be. By eating seasonal produce you will reconnect with the cycle of nature, the weather, and change of seasons.
  • Supports local farmers – Small farms are not as popular as they once were. Because large agribusinesses dominate food production, local farmers are often in need of our support. Frequenting local farmers markets will directly impact their business and give them much deserved support.
  • Protects the environment – Foods grown on small farms are usually produced by methods that do not have a substantial negative effect on the earth. In addition, farmer’s market produce is transported in much shorter distances, so we are able to cut down on the pollution that we would have from longer transportation times. We can also effectively cut down on trash and other waste products by avoiding extra packaging from large production companies.
  • All-natural – Most grocery store foods are highly processed. Even the produce can contain large amounts of hormones and pesticides, or even be genetically modified.   Fruit is waxed to give the ‘shiny’ appearance that attracts consumers. Most food at a farmer’s market will not contain any added chemicals and are grown using the most naturally sustainable techniques.
  • Happy animals – Many people choose a vegetarian, or even a vegan lifestyle simply because of the inhumane treatment of animals. Large food production companies are known for having unsanitary and unacceptable living conditions of their animals. Many farmers provide animal products that have been raised without hormones and other harmful chemicals. Farm animals are allowed to live naturally, graze, and eat their natural diets which provides a much more nutritious product.
  • Wide variety –The farmer’s market is home to many unique foods that cannot be found in your typical grocery store. At the market, you are provided with a much wider selection of produce and other farm raised products, which will open the door for a lot more fun in the kitchen. The expansive choices of foods at the farmer’s market will definitely liven up your pantry and provide food options you never thought possible.
  • Confidence in your food sources – Have questions about a certain product? Oftentimes, farmers themselves are available at the farmers market and are directly available to answer all of your questions on your food purchases. You can find out exactly where their farm is located, their growing methods, and what other foods his or her farm offer. This can give you the peace of mind of knowing exactly what you are consuming and how it has been prepared.
  • Learn tips and recipes – Farmers are generally very helpful with providing free advice on the best ways to enjoy their products. By shopping at a farmers market, you can learn a lot about food preparation and take home plenty of new and exciting recipes.
  • Enjoy the Outdoors – Attending an outdoors farmers market can make grocery shopping a much more enjoyable experience. Strolling around an outdoor market can be a great stress reliever and wonderful way to get away from the big city hustle and bustle.

Read more of our Top 10 Articles

10 Ways to Alkalize Your Body

Our body’s naturally have an ideal pH of 7.3 – 7.45 which is slightly basic, or alkaline. Unfortunately, because of the processed foods and chemical rich environments, many of us maintain an acidic pH in our bodies. The best way to overcome this is to seek out foods that help maintain our alkaline pH and to avoid foods and products that increase the acidic pH in our bodies. Keeping your body at its natural alkalinic state is a major factor to maintaining your health and avoiding disease. Cancer along with other disease thrives in an acidic pH and cannot survive in an alkalized pH. You may notice that you don’t have that usual runny nose, you are less fatigued, or your skin breakouts have lessened. In the long run you may find you have fewer colds, prevent the development of cancer, and maintain a healthy body weight if you alkalize your body.

  • Avoid these foods!
    • The best way to maintain an alkaline pH in your body is to avoid or limit foods that when digested and broken create an acidic environment in the body. Some of these foods may include:
      • Refined sugars,
      • Deep fried foods
      • Processed foods
      • Meats
      • Corn
      • Eggs
      • Dairy products
      • Beans and fish.
      • In the most simple terms stay away from all processed foods and fried foods which are extremely acidic.
  • Avoid These Beverages!
    • Anything that is high in sugar should be avoided or limited in order to promoteanalkalized pH in your body.These sugary drinks may include:
      • Soda
      • Sweetened teas
      • Processed fruit juices
      • Sports drinks
      • Caffeinated drinks like coffee, caffeinated teas and energy drinks.
  • Avoid Drinking Alcohol!
    • Alcohol has strong acidic properties. It is no secret that alcohol is not healthy in general, but what you probably didn’t know is that when you drink alcohol it increases the acidic pH in your body and thus decreases the alkalized pH you naturally have. However, knowing how to balance out this acidic pH when you do drink alcohol is important. Try to stay fully hydrated with high pH alkaline water to help neutralize the acidic pH of your body due to the alcohol. In the long run, if your sole goal is maintain your alkalized pH, then avoid alcohol all together.
  • Drink Fresh Juice!
    • Try drinking fresh green juice every single day. Do this by squeezing the juices of vegetables and fruit yourself! This way you don’t have to worry about any sneaky ingredients like sugar or preservatives. Additionally you won’t have to worry about the pasteurization process destroying those delicate vitamins in those juices. Instead you will have the juices of exactly what you juice including the vitamins! This all can contributes to the alkaline pH of your body!
  • Lemons and Limes!
    • Try squeezing lemons and limes into a glass of warm water first thing in the morning. It might sounds silly to drink the juice lemons or limes because they are citrus fruits and seem acidic, but they are actually very alkalininc when processed in the body!
  • Drink Water!
    • Water is essential to life and our bodies are made up of more than 60% of water. Drinking water can only do good for your health. Water is naturally at neutral pH, so instead of going for a soda, drink water instead! Also try to drink purified or spring water and avoid tap water which has has chemicals and other things added to it to sanitize it.
  • Stay Natural!
    • Try using natural bath and body product. Check the ingredients of your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, lotions, facial creams and make-up. Find these products with basic ingredients. The regular commercial products you see in stores are made with chemicals that can be toxic and have an effect on body; it can contribute to the acidity of your body.
  • Keep it Green and Organic!
    • Try eating more plant-based foods and go for only grass-fed, organic animal products.
    • Eat more vegetables and fruit.
    • Include other natural foods like wheat grass, barley grass, kelp, cayenne, chlorella and spirulina in your diet.
  • No More Soda, But Baking Soda!
    • If you are really trying hard to alkalize the pH of your body try mixing ½ tsp of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it everyday. If you can’t stand the idea of changing anything in your diet, this may be the most effective and easiest way to bring your pH level up in alkalinity, so try it out!
  • Read The Back Label!
    • If you are aiming to avoid certain foods to help maintain your alkaline pH, you need to be careful about reading the ingredients and contents of food products you eat and other products you use. What the front of the package says, means nothing, even if it says ‘organic’ or ‘all natural’. These labels can be misleading; you can still find the same unhealthy additives, preservatives and chemicals that are inorganic as in the commercial products. The difference is the ingredients contain products that were grown without chemicals or antibiotics and follow the guidelines of what qualifies to be organic.

Check out more of out top 10 here!

Top 10 Health Tips For Americans

It can be hard to make the healthy choices. We get that, America. From the instant gratification of cheap fast food to the procrastination and excusing mentality of “Maybe tomorrow” and “I’m not feeling it today,” to the busy business of careerists and family obligations, there are a number of things that get in the way of the living the healthy lifestyle you’ve entertained for a good portion of your life. That’s right, we see you liking those quick morning workout routines and healthy recipes on social media. We know you drive by the gym and humor the idea of signing up. We know you want your doctor to stop nagging you. But, man, does being healthy have to be such a chore?

We here at Health Fitness Revolution have decided to make a list of the top ten health tips for Americans to help each and every one of you transform into the healthier, better version of yourself. If you follow these guidelines, the road to becoming healthy may be smooth and relatively painless (soreness from working out not included; bonus: that soreness if proof your muscles are building themselves up, proof that the progress is real!).

  • Get eight hours of sleep a night- While you sleep, your body repairs itself against the stress you put it through in a regular day, both physical and mental stress. Being well rested is proven to boost your immune system as those who sleep less are more susceptible to sickness. During sleep, the brain also processes all the information of the day, filtering between transitive memories that can be dismissed to storing short-term and long-term information for easier recall. The more you sleep, the more you retain! Sleep also makes you feel generally better, and allows for clearer thinking, enabling you to work and play more efficiently!
  • Consume two and a half cups of vegetables daily – Veggies boost your immune system and generally reduce the risk for diabetes. Loaded with necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, you body will be able have increased functions such as digestive ability, cognitive function, and cell damage repair while decreasing the risk and onset of various illnesses. These benefits, of course, depend on which vegetables you regularly consume.
  • Drink more water – Our bodies are 60 percent water, and daily functions in our body require that much water as you may have guessed. What you probably didn’t know is that water helps regulate body temperature, clears our skin by flushing out toxins, fights sickness, and boosts cognitive function. A suggested daily intake of water is between 10 to 16 cups depending on weight (the more you weigh the more you drink), exercise level (drink more with increased levels of exercise), age (as you get older you need to drink more), and gender (men should drink more on average). Another suggestion is half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should drink 65 fluid ounces of water at a minimum.
  • Exercise daily – Exercise improves your mood and boosts your energy levels; it’s a natural antidepressant and stress reliever and just so happens to lead to physical fitness while improving quality of sleep. To maintain a healthy weight and figure, Americans should aim for a baseline of thirty minutes a day. Don’t be afraid to up the amount of time you spend working out. The more you work out, the more you stand to gain.
  • Replace white breads and grains with whole-grain – Refined grains like the ones used to make white bread and bread products have had most of their nutrients stripped from them. Whole grains are a better fiber source and contain magnesium, potassium and selenium, and are also more filling, enabling you to eat less than your standard white bread but still give you that satisfying “I’m full” feeling.
  • Curb your sweet tooth by eating fruit – This is a pretty straight-forward tip: when your late-night cravings for sugar pounce upon you unexpectedly, simply reach for the fruit first. More times than not this will satisfy your desire for something sweet because fruit is naturally high in sugars (good sugars, to boot!). It’s the best of both worlds really: you get to satisfy that hankering without killing the calorie count. Cneck out some of our healthy desserts – most of which contain fruit and all a guilt-free!
  • Pay attention, portion control – When your protein covers over half of your plate, it’s time to cut that portion in half! Fill the newly found space on your plate with vegetables or fruit. Avoid overloading on carbs and calorie-heavy sides like baked potatoes (fixings included), too, and always be mindful of what you’re eating, the nutritional content and why you’re eating. If you eat simply because it’s a mindless activity or you’re feeling particularly emotional, it’s best to cut those habits in favor of overall health.
  • Mix up your mixers with water – Plan to go out drinking with the squad? While it’s ideal you may want to abstain from the empty calories and avoid alcohol altogether, it may not be the most sociable trick. What you can do, however, is add a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage you consume. Add a slice of fruit with it for flavor, order fizzy water, even get it in a martini glass if you fear feeling out of place during cocktail hour. This trick will help you combat snacking at the bar and keep those liquid calories from stacking up.
  • Spice up meals – Spices raise body temperature and increase satiety (that is, make you feel fuller while you eat less). Hot peppers in particular are known to increase your metabolism – the rate at which your body burns energy; the higher you have, the more you burn, which is great for all those extra calories. Spices also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that may even aid in cancer treatment.
  • Don’t wait – add weight!  – Pound for pound, muscle weighs more than fat, so it might sound counterproductive to add weights to your workout routine if your goals is to drop pounds. Women in particular also fear getting fat. The truth is that building muscle in the way that bodybuilders do usually occurs as existing fat is being burned off, while bulking up occurs when muscle builds up over existing fact. If you cut calories in your diet while supplementing a cardio workout with weight, you will primarily burn fat and slim down.

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Tomorrow’s Houston Mayoral Forum on Urban Health & Wellness

The candidates at the Houston mayoral forum will be discussing various health issues at Rice University’s BioScience Research Collaborative, 6500 Main St., tomorrow, Sept. 17 at 7 a.m.

The obesity epidemic will be one of the many topics expected to be covered at the forum. Other topics include promoting an active lifestyle and abiding by a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.

The candidates expected to attend include Chris Bell, Steve Costello, Adrian Garcia, Ben Hall, Bill King, Marty McVey and Sylvester Turner.

Given Houston has a proven track record of being among the fattest and generally unhealthiest cities in the country, the Houston mayoral forum will hopefully promote the importance of a healthy and fit lifestyle to Houstonians.

Top 10 Benefits of Fitness Trackers

It’s no doubt that inactivity can lead to a number of health and personal issues, including weight gain, onset of chronic and acute illness and even low productivity in school, work and daily life. Conversely, constant activity can prevent and may even reverse many of these issues. Moving around – by walking, running, even fidgeting in your seat, can help boost a person’s overall health. But not only do you have to be constantly active, making gains in your activity as well.

Fitness trackers are one popular way to keep track of your progress. Depending on the tracker, wearers can track steps, calories, distance travelled, caloric intake, and even heart rate and sleep. Some even offer GPS tracking to map your distance and pace. While fitness trackers may seem like a needless investment for those who already have an athletic incentive, fitness trackers can be the “ghost you” you’ve been looking to compete with all along!

Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:

Personal accountability – Unless the corresponding app you use with your fitness tracker encourages social media usage, the only person you’re truly competing against is yourself! Fitness trackers track your goals and your progress, psychologically encouraging you to walk more steps than you did yesterday; to run faster than you did yesterday; to sustain that peak heart rate for just a little longer for that intense interval training. Research shows that wearing a fitness trackers – even if it’s just a basic pedometer! – can increase a user’s activity levels by 30 percent!

Individually-tailored goals – Maybe you’re a season 5k runner but looking to get into the 10k and eventually half-marathon scene? Perhaps you haven’t gone for so much as a walk around the neighborhood since graduating from college. Either way, most fitness trackers have workouts, tips, and realistic goals you can set for yourself. It makes sense before running half-marathon that you can, at the very least, run a 5k and 10k. If you want to run a 5k but have been couch ridden, couch-to-5k programs to exist and in as little as 8 weeks, you can be running 3.1 miles, no problem!

Woman doing exercise with ball wearing smart wearable device wit

All about you! – Let’s face it; there’s a lot of anxiety around hitting the gym. Whether or not you work out regularly or haven’t worked out in a while, going to the gym can be nerve-wracking for many people. “Am I doing this right? Are they watching me? Will I be laughed at?” are all questions many of us have faced one time or another. Fitness trackers, on the other hand, are a “crutch” – not in the bad, but in the sense that you can rely on them and tune into them to ensure you’re working out for you. Whether you decide to workout at home, at the park, or at the gym, the fitness tracker and where you are in your goals can serve as an excellent thing to focus on when nerves hit you.

Financial motivation – Many models of fitness trackers are retail-priced at over $100. For many, that can be steep for a little band that wraps around your wrist and displays information most athletes don’t need to know to motivate them to workout. But this is part of that psychological encouragement. If you’re dropping the cash for it, you might as well use it your advantage.

ThinkstockPhotos-468504736Up-to-date weight loss tool – As you’re busy trying to beat and maintain your personal records, you may not even notice the gains (or well, losses) you’re making in your weight goal. Or you may. Regardless, seeing your activity levels, noticing whether you’re in the correct heart rate zone and comparing with your weight on the scale after a few weeks can determine whether or not you’re on the right track to your desired weight.

Group dynamic – While personal motivation is ultimately a key component of physical activity, many people also enjoy the benefits of posting their activities on social media – and many fitness trackers’ apps promote linking up with other fitness trackers in your area, creating workout groups, and hosting challenges.

Incentives promote activity in the workplace – Fitness is no longer an individual hobby or habit. Workplaces are getting involved in encouraging employees adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle with many incentives. Richardson Software, for example, promised to reimburse employees the cost of their fitness tracker if they walked one million steps – and employees were taking advantage of any free time they had to walk. Oscar Insurance Company started a program where they would pay their employees $1 for each day they surpassed a goal in steps. If your company’s not on board with these incentives yet, try to pitch the idea! Having healthier employees cuts down costs for companies too!

 Variety of trackers – Since there are a variety of fitness trackers out, an inquisitive consumer can easily determine which features they want most on their tracker. GPS may not be necessary if you know the distance of the trail you normally hike; same for the heart rate feature if you have a watch and can monitor your heart rate yourself. At this point, they’re essentially customizable!

ThinkstockPhotos-510858069Everything you need in one – Once you’ve determined what features you need for your fitness tracker, you’re all set and ready to go. There’s no need to open an app or worry about whether or not you have enough battery to have multiple apps open; most trackers will automatically sync tracking activity via Bluetooth to your smart phone. If not that, some trackers have the option of being manually plugged into a computer via USB to upload information. A nightly charge or while plugged into a laptop can be enough to keep many trackers going throughout the day – and for a few, even the year!   

Sleep too! – Back in the day, tracking the quality of your sleep meant sleeping in a lab with wires hooked up to you to determine whether you were in REM or NREM sleep; now fitness trackers can easily determine the quality of your sleep based on your movement during sleep. Sleep is an instrumental determinate in the quality of your health and lifestyle and ensuring you get at least 3 full cycles of sleep in a night is pivotal to maintaining the energy you need throughout your day while giving your brain ample time to store and process everything that’s happened in the day prior!

The Health Benefits of Walking

You don’t need to be power-lifting in the gym or running marathons to be healthy.  Did you know that walking not only helps you to lose weight but also prevent diabetes and breast cancer?

All you need to do is start with regular walking, and you will soon be feeling more energetic, more active, more attentive, and happier.

Here are more Health Benefits of Walking:

  • Mental Health: Walking promotes mental well-being. Known as a great stress-buster, if you walk outdoors, the combination of fresh air and exercise is an excellent way to boost your morale and mood.
  • Bone Health: Walking about 30 minutes a day increases your bone density and slows down bone loss in your legs. This low-impact exercise targets your legs, spine, and hips.
  • Depression: Walking is proven to prevent anxiety and depression because it triggers endorphins and promotes relaxation.
  • A Healthy Heart: Walking helps prevent type 2 diabetes- studies at Harvard have revealed that walking approximately 150 minutes per week can reduce the risk of diabetes. The same studies showed that walking at a moderate pace (3 to 4 mph) for up to 3 hours each week (30 minutes a day) can cut women’s heart disease risk by 40%.  Another study showed that retired men who walk more than 1.5 miles per day had a significantly lower risk for heart disease (compared to men who walk less).
  • Help Combat Cancer:  A Harvard University study showed that 
women who walked 1 to 3 hours per week had risk of death from breast and uterine cancer reduced by 19%. When they walked 3 to 5 hours per week, their risks of the same cancers were reduced by 54%.  Men who walk briskly for at least 3 hours a week after being diagnosed with prostate cancer were 57% less likely to see the disease progress.
  • Brain Health:  
Walking regularly reduces brain atrophy and mental decline, resulting in a 50% reduction in risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia where thinking, memory and behavior deteriorate over time.  Exercising as you age has also proven to reduce brain shrinkage.
  • Lowers Blood Pressure:  
Studies have proven a decrease in blood pressure in those who followed a walking exercise similar to the recommended 30 minutes per day, five times a week.
  • Arteries Unclogged: 
A study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that exercise before a meal may help stem the effects of high-fat foods on blood vessel function. Walking is good for the heart and its arteries and vessels in many ways, including stemming build-up and clogging of arterial walls, which keep blood circulating throughout the body, to organs and limbs.
  • Walking Combats Arthritis and Strengthens Joints:  
Knee arthritis sufferers were able to increase the distance walked by 18% and gained nearly 40% boost in joint function after finishing an 8-week walking study. They also experienced significantly less pain and needed less medication after walking.
  • Weight loss: Walking one mile (1.6km) will burn up at least 100kcal of energy. Walking two miles (3.2km) a day, three times a week, will help reduce weight by approximately one pound (0.5kg) every three weeks.  Another benefit of walking is that walking alters your body’s fat metabolism so that you lose weight.
  • Helps Pregnant Women: Just one in four pregnant women get the 150 minutes of exercise a week that is recommended. A good walking program can ease pregnancy effects like backaches, constipation, and sleep problems. The baby benefits, too: Exercising moms-to-be deliver babies with healthier birth weights, which lowers their risk for weight problems later on.

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15 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions You Need to Make

New Year’s resolutions are among us, and most of them normally entail something along the lines of going to the gym or getting in shape. Of course, such a drastic lifestyle change can be a challenge, particularly if you’ve never exercised much before, but here are some easy tips for you to improve your health in the upcoming year.

1. Drink more water. Water is good for your skin and body! Check out our article on why you should drink more water.

2. Eat more vegetables. Our body needs the nutrients from vegetables. Eat the dark leafy greens and vibrant red and purple vegetables. Those are the ones that provide the most nutrients for our body.

3. Get enough sleep. Sleep is critical for functioning. Lack of sleep affects all aspect of our lives.

4. Get out in nature. Get away from the computer screen and get out and explore different areas of the city you live in. You never know, you could stumble upon something beautiful.

5. Cut out the junk food. Stop putting junk food in your body. It’s called junk food for a reason. Having good health starts from the inside. What you put inside your body will reflect on the outside. It all starts from within.

6. Get some exercise. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. You don’t have to exercise all at once if your schedule is too busy, but doing 10 minutes of exercise three times a day will still allow you to achieve your goal. And if you’re short on time, try this 1-minute workout!

7. Get a checkup!  Don’t wait until you are sick to go to the doctor. You should be going to the doctor at least once a year for an annual physical. You need to make sure your body is in tip-top shape and everything is working the way that it should be.

8. Green your routine. Chemicals are a part of our lives. Try to cut out some of these toxins and switch to more natural items.

9. Volunteer. Give your time to volunteer for something good. We spend too much of our time on things that are not as important. By volunteering your time to a good cause you can make sure that time is not wasted.

10. Get real. Don’t live in denial. Realize your bad habits or bad things that may be driving you down. Get rid of those. You can’t succeed if you let negative things get in your way. Face them head on and work towards fixing them.

11. Have some fun. Life isn’t meant to be all serious. Get out and have some fun!

12. Stop being so hard on yourself. No one is perfect and humans make mistakes. Go easy on yourself and don’t get so disappointed when things don’t go your way.

13. Stretch yourself. Spend a few minutes a day in the morning or whenever to just stretch. Stretching can help release built-up tension during the day and can improve your flexibility.

14. Skip the soda. There’s no nutritional value in soda at all. It’s better to skip the soda completely than drink it. Read our article on why you should quit drinking soda.

15. Practice gratitude. Be thankful for what you have in life. Appreciate everything. Remind yourself on your worst days of great things you have to be thankful for!

Information gathered from Huffington Post.