5 Top Fitness Trends That Will Give You a Head Start for 2017

Though new year has already passed, you are never late!


You’ll love these healthy ways to kick off the new year. Welcoming another year means many things: thoughtful resolutions, reflecting on last year’s milestones, a fresh start, or another 365 days to commit to your health. 

And this year, you won’t even need to step onto a treadmill to achieve your personal best. If you’re looking for a fresh way to jumpstart a fitness regime, these exciting workouts will improve your strength, get your heart rate up, and increase flexibility.

1. BOXING STUDIOS


In 2016, fitness startup ClassPass saw an 89 percent increase in the number of boxing classes offered on it’s site, and in the US, boxing studios have been popping up all over the country.

This isn’t surprising, considering celebrities such as Gigi Hadid, Khloe Kardashian, and Ellie Goulding have all credited the sport to transforming their bodies. 

Boxing combines agility, cardio, and strength training and it’s also known to be a great stress reliever.

2. MEGAFORMER


Looking for a workout that will work your muscles like never before? Try the Megaformer workout, a combination of Pilates and bodybuilding. 

The system’s creator, Sebastien Lagree, designed the workout to focus on cardio, strength, endurance, body composition, and flexibility, all in under an hour. 

In other words, you might be sore for a few days thanks to this intense workout that will definitely whip you into shape.

3. LIVE STREAMING CLASSES


Welcome to the 2017, where you can stream your workouts like you would your favorite TV shows. Many studios now allow people to sign up for classes online and get a workout in wherever and whenever they want. 

Great news for fitness lovers who don’t live in places like NYC or Los Angeles and want to try out the latest workout trends.

4. HYBRID CLASSES


Think HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and spinning combined into one. Many studios are now offering gym goers the option to mix cardio and strength training into one session, which torches more calories than a standard one-exercise class.

The classes allow participants to mix up their workouts and prevent injuries by targeting different muscles and making sure nothing is being overworked.

5. CARDIO PACKED DANCE CLASSES


Who wouldn’t want an exercise class that doesn’t even feel like exercise? Dance cardio workouts burn a ton of calories all while keeping your sweat session exciting and fun. 

You might not even realize you’re nearing the end of the workout while you’re dancing to the music. Although studios are popping up everywhere from California to New York, you can also try this new workout in the comfort of your own home.

How Should Busy People Pick The Optimal Time To Work Out?

The Pros of a Morning Workout

When you wake up, all of your muscles are relaxed and you’re likely to feel lethargic – exercise is the perfect remedy for this. Furthermore, a morning workout wakes you entire body up, including your metabolism. This means you’re more likely to lose weight when exercising in the morning as opposed to the evening. Moreover, if you don’t eat a big breakfast (especially not carbs) you will burn even more fat, according to PubMed studies.

A different study by Appalachian State University found that exercising at 7 a.m. lowers your blood pressure and improves sleep quality.

The Bad Points of Working Out In The Morning

You need to have the motivation to get up early each and every day. It’s too easy to hit the snooze button when the alarm goes off! It’s worth keeping in mind that you will probably have to get up earlier than normal if you want to exercise properly. You should also note that mornings can sometimes be hectic, especially if you have to go into work earlier than normal, which means you might be tempted to avoid exercising from time to time.


Evening Workouts Have Some Advantages

If you’ve had a stressful day at work, exercising is the ideal way to take your mind off things. On top of this, your body has had a chance to wake up and all of your muscles will be ready for the most strenuous of workouts. A study conducted by the American College of Chest Physicians found that your lungs are at peak performance in the late afternoon, making exercising much easier.

One final point about working out in the evening: it can also help you get to sleep! We said earlier that morning workouts are best for getting a good night’s sleep, but if you exercise at least two hours before bedtime, you should find that sleep comes just as easily since you’re burning off excess energy and calories. However, exercising too close to bedtime will likely have the opposite effect so try not to leave it too late!

The Cons of Evening Workouts

Sometimes when you’ve had an exhausting day at work, any kind of exercise is the last thing on your mind. We’ve all had days like this. It’s unavoidable, unfortunately. You might also have some unexpected family commitments to attend to after work, means that going to the gym isn’t possible. This general lack of control over what might happen each evening makes it more likely that people will skip workouts, and once people miss too many they might stop exercising completely.

Okay, so what’s the best time to exercise?

If you want to lose weight and maintain a strict schedule, morning workout is probably your best option. If, however, you want to exercise when your body is most alert and optimized for performance, evening workout might be preferred. Of course, it’s important to note that everyone is different – some people are naturally morning people, while others are night owls – so, your optimal time might be suited to a particular time of the day regardless of what scientific evidence says.

Running Changes Our Brains and Affects Our Thinking

Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance – you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet by Doris Brown . Are you familiar with this feeling? Do you gain insight into your emotional and physical self while you run? Do you enjoy the feeling of the wind against your face and the freedom of being outdoors alone with your thoughts? You may feel that after a good run your mind is clear and ready to absorb information. You can also find that your outlook is more positive after a run and that things that were troubling you no longer feel so bad. Well, your feelings have a scientific basis. Research conducted in the field of neuroscience shows the effects aerobic exercise have on cognitive clarity and emotional well-being.

New Neurons Would Be Created

It used to be accepted that we were born with a certain amount of neurons and that by the time we became an adult no new neurons would be created. This however, has been proven to be incorrect. Through research on animals it has been discovered that new neurons are continually produced in the brain throughout our entire life. Karen Postal, president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology says that the only activity that is shown to trigger the birth of these new neurons is vigorous aerobic exercise. “If you are exercising and you sweat – about 30 to 40 minutes – new brain cells are being born,” says Postal. So sweating it out on the treadmill or out in the open is doing your brain a lot of good and helping it stay mentally healthy for years to come.

People Who Run Can Recover From Negative Emotions More Quickly


In a study by Emily Bernstein and Richard McNally it was found that aerobic exercise may help reduce negative emotions. Bernstein is a runner and she said, “I notice in myself that I just feel better when I’m active”. She wanted to find out why this was the case and to know exactly the effect that exercise has on us. The study set out to look at the way exercise changes the way people react to their emotions. Participants were told to stretch or jog for 30 minutes and were then were shown a sad movie; the final scene of the 1979 film The Champ. The participants then reported their emotional responses. It was found that those who had run for 30 minutes recovered more quickly from their sad emotional experience than those who had just stretched.

Working Memory Would Be Enhanced


A recent study by Lin Li et al titled: “Acute Aerobic Exercise Increases Cortical Activity during Working Memory: A Functional MRI Study in Female College Students” looks at the effect of acute aerobic exercise on cognitive function. Their study looked at the effect of a session of acute aerobic exercise on working memory. Fifteen young females participated in the study. There were scanned, after an acute exercise session, using a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) while they performed a working memory task. It was found that the cortex and the left frontal hemisphere showed signs of improvement of control processes. From these findings the researchers noted that this indicates: “acute exercise could benefit working memory at a macro-neural level.” Thus, the study shows a connection between aerobic exercise and improvement in memory.

Summation



Next time you are out for a run know that you are doing yourself a world of good. Not only are you aiding your brain on a neurological level you are also working to improve your emotional health. Your cognitive abilities such as memory will be improved and your outlook on life will probably be more positive. If you don’t already run, then you may want to take out those old running shoes and give them a try.

7 Tips For Finding the Best Sleep Position For Your Health

If you have back or neck pain, don’t sleep in the fetal position.


The fetal position (scrunching your knees up to your chest and pulling your arms into a tiny ball) may feel safe, but it’s not the best position for your body. Tucking your chin and curling your body up into itself can strain your neck and head. According to Rothstein, sleeping in the fetal position can also compromise your circulation and restrict healthy, diaphragmatic breathing. To avoid overstretching your back and neck, try to straighten your legs and arms so you’re lying flat on your back instead.

If acid reflux keeps you awake, sleep on your back.


To get a more restful night when you suffer from acid reflux, sleep on your back with your head elevated. Dr. Eric Olson, the co-director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine, told Health that acid or food is less likely to come back up if your stomach is positioned below your esophagus. Besides helping to minimize acid reflux, sleeping on your back also puts less strain on your back and neck than other positions.

Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach.


When you lie on your stomach with your head turned to one side, you could be straining your neck, spine, and lower back. If you’re only able to doze off while positioned belly-down, consider using a thin pillow to minimize the angle that your neck is placed, and put a pillow under your pelvis to encourage your spine to stay in neutral alignment.

If you snore, sleeping on your side may help.


Because the position of your tongue can obstruct your airway, making it harder to breathe, sleeping on your back usually increases snoring. Rothstein warns, “If you snore regularly, it is critical to seek diagnosis for possible sleep apnea, a serious condition which when undiagnosed can lead to multiple health issues.” If your physician diagnoses you with sleep apnea, ask him or her what the best sleeping position is for you.

If you snore but don’t have sleep apnea, try sleeping on your side to keep your airway open. “And consider placing a pillow between your knees to alleviate pressure on your lower back,” says Rothstein.

Sleeping on your back is best for preventing wrinkles.


If you’re worried about premature facial wrinkles, try to sleep on your back rather than on your stomach or side. When you sleep on your back, your pillow doesn’t rub against your face all night. “Sleep wrinkles are the lines that are formed when the face is compressed against a pillow night after night,” Dr. Goesel Anson, a plastic surgeon, told Harper’s Bazaar. “[They] will eventually become permanent from constant compression and decreased skin elasticity with age.”

Pregnant women should sleep on their left side.


There are pros and cons to sleeping on your left side versus your right side. If you’re on your left side all night, you can put strain on your liver and lungs, but being on your right side can make heartburn worse. Most experts agree that a pregnant woman should sleep on her left side rather than her stomach or back in order to take pressure off her uterus, stomach, and breasts, and to optimize blood flow.

Avoid the starfish position if you wake up with shoulder pain.


Although sleeping on your back with your arms above your head can feel good on your back, you could be hurting yourself by putting too much pressure on the nerves in your shoulders.

7 Ways To Train Your Brain To Be Happy

Three Walks


Pennsylvania State researchers reported in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology that the more physically active people are, the greater their general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm. Researcher Amanda Hyde reports, “We found that people who are more physically active have more pleasant-activated feelings than people who are less active, and we also found that people have more pleasant-activated feelings on days when they are more physically active than usual.” It doesn’t take much: Half an hour of brisk walking three times a week improves happiness. The American Psychosomatic Society published a study showing how Michael Babyak and a team of doctors found that three thirty-minute brisk walks or jogs even improve recovery from clinical depression. Yes, clinical depression. Results were stronger than those from studies using medication or studies using exercise and medication combined.

The 20-Minute Replay


Writing for twenty minutes about a positive experience dramatically improves happiness. Why? Because you actually relive the experience as you’re writing it and then relive it every time you read it. Your brain sends you back. In a University of Texas study called “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words”, researchers Richard Slatcher and James Pennebaker had one member of a couple write about their relationship for twenty minutes three times a day. Compared to the test group, the couple was more likely to engage in intimate dialogue afterward, and the relationship was more likely to last.

Random Acts of Kindness


Carrying out five random acts of kindness a week dramatically improves your happiness. We don’t naturally think about paying for someone’s coffee, mowing our neighbor’s lawn, or writing a thank-you note to our apartment building security guard at Christmas. But Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, did a study asking Stanford students to perform five random acts of kindness over a week. Not surprisingly, they reported much higher happiness levels than the test group. Why? They felt good about themselves! People appreciated them. In his book Flourish, Professor Martin Seligman says that “we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”

A Complete Unplug


“The richest, happiest and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal,” say Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in The Power of Full Engagement. And a Kansas State University study found that complete downtime after work helps us recharge for the next day.

Hit Flow


Get into a groove. Be in the zone. Find your flow. However you characterize it, when you’re completely absorbed with what you’re doing, it means you’re being challenged and demonstrating skill at the same time. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this moment as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

2-Minute Meditations


A research team from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at brain scans of people before and after they participated in a course on mindfulness meditation and published the results in Psychiatry Research. What happened? After the course, parts of the brain associated with compassion and self-awareness grew while parts associated with stress shrank. Studies report that meditation can “permanently rewire” your brain to raise levels of happiness.

Five Gratitudes


If you can be happy with simple things, then it will be simple to be happy. Find a book or a journal, or start a website, and write down three to five things you’re grateful for from the past week. I wrote five a week on 1000awesomethings.com. Some people write in a notebook by their bedside. Back in 2003, researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough asked groups of students to write down five gratitudes, five hassles, or five events that happened over the past week for ten straight weeks. Guess what happened? The students who wrote five gratitudes were happier and physically healthier. Charles Dickens puts this well: “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many, not your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

Spicy food changes your brain and health


Do you love to eat spicy stuff? What if you could feel great whenever you indulged in a curry or other hot dish, knowing that it was actually giving you a health boost? Well, guess what? Research has shown that spicy foods can change our brains and boost our overall health with a high concentration of flavour.

Spicy Food Strengthens Connections Between Brain Cells

Red peppers contain a compound known as apigenin, which has been shown to strengthen connections between brain cells. Other research has shown that apigenin, a flavonoid, may also be a powerful agent in preserving key brain functions such as memory and learning. This, in turn, may provide protection against disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and some mental disorders such as schizophrenia.

Spicy Food Actually Makes You Live Longer

A massive study of half a million Chinese people, conducted by researchers at Harvard, suggests that spicy food may help you live longer. Specifically, people who eat chilli peppers a few times a week lower their risk of death by 14% in any given period compared with those who stick to blander foods. Why? It’s thought that capsaicin, a compound found in peppers, has a beneficial effect on metabolism and directly reduces your risk of developing a range of ailments, including cancer.


Struggle to sleep in a strange bed?

The pillows are firm, the duvet is snug, and the sheets are pristine. But even in the comfort of a luxury hotel, your first night’s sleep can be dreadful compared to a night in your own bed. The phenomenon is so familiar to sleep researchers that it has its own name: the first night effect.

Scientists have studied sleeping brains for half a century in the hope of understanding the first night effect. And in research published recently, a US team has made fresh headway. When we stay somewhere new, our brains seem to spend the first night in surveillance mode. While one hemisphere goes to sleep, the other half of the brain remains on night watch.

“If we don’t know whether a room is safe to sleep in, then we will have this night watch system so we can detect anything unusual,” said Masako Tamaki, a sleep scientist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. “It’s like a safeguard.”


Should the findings be confirmed by further studies, the first night effect may turn out to be the human equivalent of birds sleeping with one eye open – and one half of the brain awake – to ensure they are not eaten by night time predators. Dolphins use a similar trick, and alternate sleep between the two halves of the brain, so they can rest while keeping a constant eye out for sharks.

To investigate the first night effect, Tamaki and her team turned to a suite of sophisticated brain imaging techniques. They used magnetoencephalography (MEG), structural MRI and polysomnography, which is a combination of muscle tone and other measurements, to monitor in detail how 35 people slept in the laboratory.


On the first night, the scans revealed that the right halves of the participants’ brains fell asleep as normal, but the left hemispheres remained more active. The researchers then tested how people responded to sounds as they slept. They began by playing in low pitched tones every second. The brain largely ignored these, but when the researchers added the occasional unusual sound, such as a high-pitched tone, the left side of the brain jolted into action, and people were more likely to wake up. The finding, said Masako, suggests that the brain’s night watch system is alert to unusual sounds which could represent a threat. The effect vanished on the second night, according to a report in Current Biology.

People who sleep in new places all the time might not experience the problem very much, as their brains get used to the variation. “Human brains are very flexible,” said Yuka Sasaki, a co-author on the study. But those who do suffer might reduce the effect by taking their own pillow with them when they travel, or by staying in places that have similar rooms, she added.


The findings could shed light on an issue that comes up with some insomniacs who are studied in sleep research centres. Patients may say they did not sleep all night, when EEG recordings of their brain activity suggest that they did. “If you do high density EEG, you can sometimes see signs of arousal in some brain areas of these patients,” said Dijk. “So this finding adds to the data that sleep is not a complete global phenomenon, there are local aspects to it. The brain can be locally awake, and maybe this is maybe what is happening in the first night effect.”