Mental Benefits of Strength Training


Mental Health Benefits of Doing Strength Training

Good health involves more than just a disease-free body and fit physique. Your mental health matters just as much: A sound mind contributes to your overall well-being by empowering you with the resolve to meet your physical health objectives. Personal growth, emotional resilience, successful relationships and the ability to make good choices also stem from mental stability. Health professionals have explored the mental benefits of strength training and came up with this list!

Anxiety

Anxiety is an issue that plagues many, affecting as much as 15 percent of the US population. Researchers examined both aerobic exercise and strength training as potential anxiety reducers and found both to be effective. Randomized controlled trials involving both healthy adults and medical patients show that strength training has a beneficial impact on anxiety. In particular, moderate intensity strength training reduces anxiety symptoms more than high intensity.

Chronic Pain

Strength training also reduces chronic pain issues, which can contribute to a decline in mental health. One of the most common forms of chronic pain is lower back pain. It’s often caused by disc injury or muscle strain from insufficient core muscle tone. Medically supervised strength training for back pain not only reduces this pain but also increases physical functioning for back pain sufferers. Furthermore, studies support the mental benefits of strength training as well as pain reduction, specifically in symptom reduction for knee and hip osteoarthritis, as well as fibromyalgia.

Depression

Depression can be fatal and costs the US in excess of $50 billion each year, but strength training can help with this mental health affliction. Evidentlly, exercise of all types helps ease depression, but the studies involving strength training alone have all yielded positive results. Fibromyalgia patients derive a double benefit from strength training: pain reduction and a moderate reduction in symptoms of depression. Those diagnosed with depression fare even better and have large reductions in symptoms when they incorporate strength training into their lives.

Chronic Fatigue

Strength training combats chronic fatigue by giving sufferers more energy as they get in shape. Even if you don’t suffer from this condition, you might be one of the almost 25 percent of the population who have persistent fatigue. Once again, the prognosis for strength training participants is promising, as at least ten trials have demonstrated that this type of exercise can reduce fatigue.

Cognition

Incorporating strength training into an exercise regime along with aerobic exercise improves cognition among older adults. Memory, in particular, seems to benefit from the strength training component, with four studies demonstrating its effectiveness in boosting this cognitive process.

Sleep

Consistently getting a good night’s sleep is vital for good health, both physical and mental. Regular strength training not only improves both the quality and duration of your sleep, but also reduces the risk of developing sleep disorders. While high-intensity strength training produces a stronger effect, low-intensity workouts still yield improvements.

Self-Esteem

Healthy self-esteem is a cornerstone of good mental health, assessed by things like your personal relationships or your fitness level. Improvements in each area can affect overall self-esteem. Strength training, through its effects on physical health, improves global self-esteem and, in doing so, improves mental health.

physical fitness training and mental health

Activ5 Can Help Achieve the Mental Benefits of Strength Training

The Activ5 portable fitness device enables you to strength train with simple exercises that provide a full body workout. With short workouts and seated exercises that can be done almost anywhere, you can easily obtain your strength training objective. This mobile app-enabled fitness tool is customizable to your fitness level, meaning it can improve stamina no matter what your current level is. This gamified workout tool makes strength training easy!

Make strength training a part of your daily exercise routine to reap the mental benefits that it provides. Whether it’s a home workout, hotel workout or even exercise on an airplane, the Activ5 is your portable strength training solution.

Sources:

Mental Benefits of Strength Training by O’Connor

Mental_Health_Benefits_of_Strength_Training-2010-O_Connor-377-96.pdf

http://www.ripsych.org/importance-of-mental-health

Top 10 Reasons You Need Strength Training


 

75% of US adults don’t achieve the American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control minimum recommendation of 2-3 days of strength training per week. Here are 10 reasons you should engage in strength training every week.

Increases Lean Muscle Mass

There are two types of resistance-based strength training: Isometric Resistance (contracting muscles against non-moving object, such as planking  on floor) and Isotonic (contracting muscles through range of motion, such as bench press with weights). Both increase lean muscle mass, making you stronger and more toned.

Burn More Calories

More calories are used to make and maintain muscle than fat. Building muscle can boost your metabolism by as much as 15%.

Increases Resting Metabolic Rate

Muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in your body, and the breakdown of old protein and synthesis of new protein in your muscles accounts for roughly 1/5 of your resting metabolic rate, according to Len Kravitz, Ph.D. for the University of New Mexico.

Protects Bones

Whether you are a man or a woman, you begin to lose ~1% of your bone density every year. “One of the best ways to stop, prevent, and even reverse bone and muscle loss is to add strength training to your workouts,” advises Troy Tuttle, MS, an exercise physiologist at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston.

Prevents Injuries

An often overlooked effect of strength training is its benefits for injury prevention. Resistance training helps strengthen muscle and tendons while increasing the flexibility of the ligaments, decreasing the risk of one becoming strained or torn.

Develops Better Body Mechanics

Strength training aids in balance, coordination and posture. If you have poor flexibility and balance, strength training can reduce your risk of falling by as much as 40%, a crucial benefit, especially as you get older.

Boost Energy and Feel Happy

Strength training will elevate your level of endorphins (natural opiates produced by the brain), which will make you feel great. This is why people who strength train often refer to getting an “endorphin rush.”

Maintains Long Term Weight Loss

A recent study revealed that women who followed a weight-training routine 3 times a week increased the amount of calories burned in normal daily activity (in addition to those burned during exercise), helping them to maintain their current weight.

Fight Disease

Not only does strength training help you get toned, as you get in shape you also see improvements in your resting metabolic rate, glucose metabolism, blood pressure, insulin resistance and gastrointestinal transit time. Resistance training can improve stamina, and even help to prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Sleep Better & Be Smarter!

Clinical studies have linked strength training to improved sleep, reduced depression and even better cognitive abilities.

Sources:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/258368-how-to-raise-your-thermogenic-basal-metabolic-rate/

http://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/add-strength-training-to-your-workout.aspx

http://athleticlab.com/strength-training-to-prevent-injury-by-morgan-pillsbury/

http://stretchcoach.com/articles/strength-training/

Top 10 Isometric Exercise Benefits


Top 10 Isometric Exercise Benefits

Isometric exercises are proven to help build muscle, strength, balance and range of motion. Other isometric exercise benefits include stress reduction, improved mental health, assistance with yoga exercises and injury avoidance. Here are some of the specific isometric exercise benefits.

Lowers Blood Pressure

•             Isometrics have been proven to reduce systolic blood pressure better than aerobic and resistance training in some studies. – Mayo Clinic

Aids in Weight Loss

•             Isometric exercise benefits include reducing both body fat and weight. In a test group, some subjects lost as much as 22 pounds over a 4-week period. – Journal of Applied Research

Saves You Time

•             Using isometric exercise for 6 minutes would be the equivalent muscle work of 30 to 35 minutes on a commercial weight lifting equipment. – Journal of Applied Research

Reduce Overall Pain

•             Older adults experience significant reduction in pain subsequent to several different intensities and durations of isometric contractions. – Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine

Reduce Back Pain

•             Isometrics reduces pain and increases vitality among women with low back pain, with effects lasting at least 9 months. –  Journal of Physical Activity and Health

Improve Range of Motion

•             Regular isometric exercises have been shown to significantly improve range of motion. – Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research

Quit Bad Habits (Smoking)

•             Brief isometric exercise provides immediate relief in the desire to smoke. –Human Psychopharmacology Journal

Get Stronger and Bigger Muscles

•             Isometric exercise is associated with an increase in muscle bulk, upper and lower body strength, increase in bone density, and a decrease in bone fractures. – The Journal of Clinical Hypertension

 Benefits Over Aerobic Exercise

•             Stretching and aerobic exercising alone have proven to be a less effective form of training than isometric strength training. -Journal American Medical Association (JAMA)

Improve Stamina

•             Isometric strength training can have beneficial effects on performance during endurance events. -European Journal of Applied Physiology

Fun Exercises: Jazzercise or Zumba?


Most fitness classes include music, but both Jazzercise and Zumba are fun exercises that step up engagement with dance routines designed to shape and strengthen you. Latin and world beats reign strong in Zumba’s salsa-style cardio routines as participants rumba and cha-cha through the hour. Jazzercise lovers, on the other hand, insist there’s no better full-body workout to be found. If you want to explore the proven mind-body benefits of dance-cardio, learn a little more before signing up for these fun exercises.

Choreography

Choreography is a key difference between the two programs. All Jazzercise routines are designed in California and passed to instructors before teaching them in class. Zumba has a more fluid system in which instructors design dance routines using combinations specific to all Zumba classes. While some participants appreciate the impromptu energy of a loosely choreographed Zumba class, fans of Jazzercise love learning routines by heart and dancing to them on their own.

Music

While the Latin spirit is a consistent theme in Zumba, techno and pop song mixes are also common, especially in the specialty classes that focus on strength-training. Jazzercise classes are less genre-specific and will include a range of routines set to pop songs, Broadway musical tracks, world techno mixes, Latin beats, alternative hits and R&B melodies. Expect to dance to recent releases by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, among many others.

Attire

Both programs have their own brand of clothing, but neither requires participants to wear it to class. Some Zumba dancers wear the trademark drawstring pants, bra tops, and colorful smooth-soled sneakers, and keep their hair down instead of tying it back so their locks move with their bodies. Jazzercise clothing is more form-fitting and in tune with popular fitness style trends. Members wear graphic tanks, compression tights, and open-back jackets and shirts. Because Jazzercise usually includes high-impact routines, most members wear supportive sports bras, well-made athletic shoes and tie their hair back.

Isometrics

Because isometric exercise builds strength and stamina through stationary poses, like planks, it pairs well with a cardio session. While both Jazzercise and Zumba burn fat and build muscle, you might engage in more isometric exercises with Jazzercise. Their routines are inspired by yoga, ballet and pilates, and some of their specialty classes are dedicated to those forms. Zumba continues to expand its program offerings. Specialty classes focused on muscle toning are more common now. You can also do an isometric session on your own. For example, you can press your hands together and squeeze, or try a plank position on your hands or elbows.

Verdict

For all their differences, both are fun exercises that offer a structured environment to burn calories, make friends and get the feel-good endorphins pumping. No matter which program you pick, chances are good you’ll enjoy the chasse and cha-cha toward better health. So why not try them both?

Activ5 Health Tip: 3 Rules for Healthy Meal Prep


Dieters often shy away from meal prep as they associate it with spending hours in the kitchen cooking. However, your experience can be different once you know the right way to play your meals. By making smarter decisions you can save time, and set yourself up for a great and healthy week.

Planning your meals is important because:

  • It helps you follow your weight-management program
  • It’s efficient and saves time
  • It’s ideal to compliment and help you achieve your fitness goals

Trade in your old habits for new ones by applying these three must-do rules for successful meal prep.

1. Plan Your Meals to Fit Your Workout Program

One of the biggest mistakes dieters make during meal prep is not making smart meal choices that are suited for their fitness program. If your fitness goal is to build muscle strength, then your meals should reflect the appropriate ratio of proteins to carbs for the day. Plan your meals to complement your fitness target. Research or consult with a fitness professional ahead of time. This step does take time and effort, but the results are more than worth it.

Fitness Tip: To get stronger, incorporate at least 10 to 15 minutes of isometric exercises (static training) into your daily exercise routine.

2. Your Oven Saves Time — Use it for Meal Prep

Use your oven to prepare a variety of dishes with less effort than on the stove top. A good working oven lets you stack and time your meals as you carry out your normal activities of the day.

Great options include:

  • Baking casseroles
  • Roasting vegetables and meats
  • Broiling meats and seafood
  • Grilling meats, seafood, and vegetables
  • Steaming custards and puddings

Plan your meals the night before. Cook a large amount of meats and root vegetables, enough to last the week. In a baking pan, lay out your meats and vegetables for roasting, baking or broiling. Sprinkle on any spices you like.

Fitness Tip: Get toned while you wait. Do simple workouts like keeping your abdominals contracted while seated.

3. Divide Your Meals into Portion Sizes

A common misconception among dieters is that portion control is only important if you don’t exercise. Not true. To achieve weight loss, the calorie count is just as important as the type of workout you perform. Portion sizes should be established according to the amount of calories you need per day. This is an essential step in any weight loss plan.

Fitness Tip: Combine a fast workout with fitness technology, like a smartphone app to track your progress and make exercise fun. Together with your meal prep, your fitness goals will soon be realized.

Activ5 Health Tip: Is What We Eat That Important?


Thanks to Rachel de Caen for being our guest blogger and providing this excellent Activ5 Health Tip! You can find more great healthy recipes from Rachel at www.racheldecaen.com.

Is what we eat really that important?

Yes; quite simply it is the most important element in our lives that we can control completely.

Imagine your body is a petrol car. Instead of fuel at the pump you fill up with a different liquid; like water, oil or bleach.  We all know the car might work for a while, but the fuel will start to run out and the car will use the other liquid.  As a result the car stops functioning correctly to the point it no longer works as it did not have the correct fuel. 

Food is our fuel.  Everything we eat has a direct impact on our body and how it performs as a machine.

Our bodies need a certain amount fuel (calories) every day to create enough energy for essential functions.  In addition to these functions any movement we make requires additional fuel.  If we eat too much fuel so we have too much energy available our weight will increase as the body stores it as fat. If we eat too little fuel we use our fat reserves for our energy and we lose weight. If we eat just the right amount our weight remains the same.  This is the uncomplicated secret to weight loss, which is another blog altogether.

So a calorie is a calorie right?

Unfortunately no, not all calories are created equal.

Our bodies are much more demanding than this, they are not satisfied with just with a certain number of calories if we want them to perform at their absolute best. We are not just hungry for calories but for nutrients too.

If we fuel our body with 1000 calories made up of a can of coke, a cheeseburger and chips , or 1000 calories from a selection of fresh organic fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds it is obvious that we provide it with completely different things.  The burger and chip version is pretty poor whilst the fruit and vegetable version is full of a wide variety of nutrients.

Imagine your car has gone for a service.  Oil, brakes and water etc. are checked and “ticked” off a list once attended to.  The vitamins and minerals in the food we eat tick our body’s nutritional requirement list, so our brakes, oil and water are all as they should be.  If we eat the burger and chips on a regular basis we are definitely not servicing our bodies, our brakes might not function properly after a while and eventually these very brakes would fail, and thus we become ill.

So what should we eat?

There are so many different suggestions and the research is ongoing as to what really are the best foods to incorporate in our diet for optimal wellness.

Personally I eat a mostly plant based diet, if asked this is what I would advise. I realise that this is not for everyone so if you aim to work on increasing the volume of plants in your diet; and reducing the animal products then this is great. 

I eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. I would advise anyone taking the plant based route to ensure you research it fully and seek professional advice to ensure you can make the transition sustainable as the same fundamentals reply to ticking all the nutritional boxes when eating this way too !

If you are incorporating animals and animal products in your diet try to ensure these are as close to source as possible, grass fed and organic.  This is not always possible, the same goes for organic vegetables for a whole variety of reasons so just source the best produce that you can.

So if I eat well then my body will be operating at its best?

Not exactly…. Now we have got the food side of things clear, no matter how important it is this alone cannot make for optimal health. 

There are a few other things we need to pay attention to (another whole blog!)  Hydration, stress, sleep, and emotional health. Lastly but my no means least our bodies also need to move on a regular basis, this is what we were designed to do! It is preferable that in addition to general movement we also do some sort of weight training. This can be quite intimidating for many people or there are just too many barriers to doing so.  Activ5 has developed a little tool to help.  It is a mobile gym which works with your smart phone to provide short isometric workouts that really work. Combine three Activ5 workouts a day with some other form of movement with adequate water and quality food you are well on your way to optimal health! 

3 Foolproof Weight Loss Tips


Weight loss can be difficult to accomplish. However, you can increases your chances of lasting weight loss with regular exercise and these three foolproof weight loss tips:

1. Eat Less Sugar

Sugar is energy. You become overweight when you have too much stored energy weighing down your body. If you’re already full of stored energy, why add more?

Any sugar you consume and don’t immediately use is converted into fat reserves on your body. If you don’t add extra sugar, your body is forced to burn that stored fat. In other words, you begin to lose weight.

Give yourself the upper hand in your battle with obesity by consuming no sugar or very small amounts (10 grams or less) of sugar in any given meal.

2. Eat More Fiber

Fiber is helpful for weight loss in a few different ways.

First, it makes you feel fuller faster, so you don’t end up eating as much at each fiber-filled meal. This decreases your calorie intake overall, meaning fewer calories are going unused and being stored as fat.

Second, fiber allows your digestive tract to function at top efficiency, so it’s harder for your intestines to accumulate waste, for you to become constipated or for you to develop a hemorrhoid problem.

When your digestive system is functioning efficiently, your entire body benefits. Nutrients are broken down and absorbed more effectively, making your body less likely to get nutrient-deficient or dehydrated, which can lead to problems like sugar or salt cravings.

3. Guzzle Water

Drinking water is very much like having oil in your car. You can run that engine with low oil for a little while, but you’re going to have problems, and you’ll soon find that you lock the engine up completely.

Without adequate amounts of water, your body cannot function as well. You feel tired, heavy, sluggish and achy. Your skin, hair and nails can suffer, leaving you with uncomfortable, embarrassing problems like hair loss, itchy skin or brittle nails.

Worst of all, being dehydrated feels a lot like being hungry. So, you might grab a burger or a candy bar when what your body is really craving is a couple of bottles of water to drink. Not feeling well or looking good means you’re less likely to exercise, eat healthy and do other things that encourage weight loss.

When we don’t treat our bodies with care, it shows. Being overweight is a clear sign of this. Try using these three weight loss tips every day for a week, and see how much of a difference it makes to your mood, energy level and weight loss.