SparkPeople Guest Blogger
The coveted six-pack is here to stay, but before you start doing a bunch of ineffective crunches, there's something you need to know. Aesthetics aside, having a strong core is essential for everything from balance and stability to preventing injury during other activities, according to Harvard Health Publications. Work on your core and you're also working towards better posture, comfort while you twist or lift items, a pain-free back and more.
There are four main abdominal muscle groups: The deepest muscle layer, the transversus abdominis, stabilizes your trunk. The internal and external oblique muscles work together to rotate the trunk. The final muscle in the group, the rectus abdominis, draws the ribs down toward the hips to create spinal flexion–and six-pack abs. If you're lean and do a ton of crunches you'll surely develop a six-pack, but crunches alone are not going to stabilize your core.
How can you stabilize your core and build killer abs? Three things: clean eating, cardio and smart strength training. With its challenging stabilization poses, yoga is a great place to start. Try these seven poses that target your middle and deliver in all the all the right ways. You'll be feeling these in a hurts-so-good kind of way tomorrow.
Posted 7/5/2016 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments 29,786 views
A refreshing summer salad starts with turning a bit of dirt right in your own backyard. There’s nothing more satisfying than a hearty, healthy bowl of greens and veggies handpicked from your own garden or back porch planter box. Whether it's a backyard barbecue at the neighbors, picnic or a perfectly grilled steak in need of a side, summer presents many opportunities to enjoy a fresh salad.
Luckily, the steps to establish your own garden filled with salad ingredients are simple: Use a raised or elevated bed to hold your potting soil. Tuck in baby vegetable plants and make sure they get plenty of sunshine and water. Apply a layer of mulch to the bed to help it retain moisture. Keep the soil nutrient-rich with natural fertilizers and you’ll be on your way to growing bountiful salads in a small amount of space! Follow this helpful infographic to get started today.
Posted 6/6/2016 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 8 comments 12,034 views
Barre is an amazing way to strengthen all the muscles in your body, but all those plies can be a killer on the knees. Not anymore. With this knee-friendly routine, you can enjoy the ballet-inspired exercise without the pain. Target your entire body with dynamic moves that will make your muscles shake as you get stronger and stronger.
Grab a set of three to five pound dumbbells, a sturdy chair and maybe even a furry friend for some encouragement, and get to work with this low-impact routine.
Posted 5/23/2016 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments 56,532 views
Who says you need to get on the hard floor for an effective abdominals workout? In just 10 minutes, this high-energy, express-style indoor power walk works your whole core without ever having to get down on the ground. The standing routine targets all the muscles lining your waistline as you walk to get an extra mile's worth of steps for the day. This walking-based, core-centric routine can easily be done in a small space at home or on the road, making it easy to meet your daily step count goals, rain or shine.
Posted 3/17/2016 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 10 comments 55,869 views
Keeping that promise you made to yourself to kick off your healthiest year yet becomes possible when you're armed with more than just good intentions. If you're one of the many people who committed to a healthier lifestyle, both for yourself and for your family, the key to success may just lie in feng shui-ing your kitchen. Making the right changes to your kitchen cabinets could be the extra push you need to eat healthier in the coming year.
Posted 2/2/2016 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments 36,323 views
It's no secret that delicious avocados can be the shining star in guacamole, salads, sandwiches and as the creamy center of your California roll. But did you know that avocados are packed with nutritients and make a great diet food, even with their high fat content?
Hass avocados are the most popular variety in the United States, but you can choose from dozens of types. Whatever variety you select, avocados should earn a spot on your plate for both their unparalleled taste and their various health benefits.
Posted 1/20/2016 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 17 comments 19,820 views
Running shoes cushion feet during jogging and other high-impact exercises, keeping them comfortable while also preventing injury. Fail to replace shoes when they get too old, and you expose yourself to unnecessary risk. Thankfully, there are a variety of methods you can use to determine whether it's time to hit up the local sporting goods store.
Posted 1/8/2016 10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 2 comments 15,390 views
Though it can be a source of comfort at the end of a long day, late-night snacking adds unnecessary calories to your diet and can lead to weight gain. Eating late at night means you're consuming calories at a time when your body is unlikely to burn them off before sleeping, which can lead to those calories being directed to your body's fat stores. To avoid this problem, it is important to think about what you are eating after the sun sets and rexamine why it is that you choose that time of night to munch.
Posted 12/29/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 3 comments 26,446 views
If you read the headline and exuberantly tore open this blog post hoping to see wine and chocolate on the list, you are out of luck. No need to despair, though. The great news is, whether you are a committed healthy eater or just trying to add a few healthy choices to your daily meals, this list offers several benefits. Being aware of the best fat-burning foods helps you make better choices and maintain a desirable weight.
Posted 12/18/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments 24,390 views
In 2011, researchers found evidence that gluten--a protein found in many grains like wheat, rye and barley--may cause gastrointesinal distress in some people who do not have celiac disease. The same team ran a second test to see if they could replicate the original results and the results were not the same. For the follow-up test, the team of scientists recruited 37 subjects who self-identify as "gluten-intolerant" and fed them a succession of high-gluten, low-gluten and no-gluten diets. When researchers analyzed the data, they found that the levels of reported pain, bloating, nausea and gas for all diets were similar.
What do you think? Will this study prompt you to give gluten a second chance? Vote in our poll below!
Posted 11/2/2015 3:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments 6,683 views
Walnuts, which are part of the tree nut family, provide an array of health benefits, and because of their versatility, they can be chopped and sprinkled onto salads, vegetable dishes, yogurt, fruits, and desserts. Here's why you should get more of these healthy nuts in your everyday diet.
Walnuts Help You Feel Fuller LongerWhile walnuts are calorie-dense, the combination of Omega-3 fats, protein, and fiber work to help keep you feeling full longer. Caloric intake should be a consideration in any weight-management plan, but not all calories are created equal. Because of their high protein and fiber, a meal that includes walnuts can help prevent the consumption of empty calories later in the day.
Walnuts Are Heart-HealthyLike most tree nuts, walnuts can help fight heart disease. Walnuts contain a high amount of antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol production.
Walnuts May Help Prevent CancerStudies have shown that regular, daily walnut consumption can help prevent certain types of cancer, such as pancreatic, prostate, and breast cancer.
Walnuts Support a Healthy LifestyleStudies have shown that people who consume tree nuts regularly take in more fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E, as well as less sodium than people who do not eat tree nuts.
Walnuts May Help Prevent DiabetesAll types of nuts, including walnuts, have been linked to a decreased risk of diabetes. For individuals with a higher risk of diabetes, adding walnuts to your diet is an easy and delicious way to help take control of your health.
Walnuts Can Support a Healthy PregnancyDon't throw out the walnuts after successfully getting pregnant. Women who eat diets rich in fatty acids like those found in walnuts can reduce the risk of certain types of food allergies in their unborn child.
Walnuts Might Make You Feel Less StressedIf you suffer from daily stress, walnuts just might be the ideal food for you. Eating walnuts and walnut oil has been shown to lower resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress, which can help keep you calm and relaxed.
Walnuts Can Help You SleepWhether your sleep problems stem from stress or other factors, eating walnuts can help induce sleep. Walnuts naturally contain melatonin, which is a compound many people buy over-the-counter to aid in sleep.
Walnuts Can Improve Hair HealthIn addition to being great for your internal organs, walnuts also contain biotin, which can strengthen hair, reduce hair loss, and improve hair growth.
Walnuts Fosters Healthy SkinWalnuts are rich in B-vitamins and antioxidants, which prevent free radical damage, wrinkles, and other signs of aging, making them the perfect food for people who want healthier, glowing skin.
Walnuts May Help Prevent DementiaStudies have shown that regular consumption of walnuts can help ward off dementia. Eating walnuts can help prevent memory and learning problems while fostering healthy emotional control.
Whether you're a casual nut eater or someone looking to make healthy diet changes, eating more walnuts should be a no-brainer!
Posted 10/3/2015 10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments 15,998 views
One of my favorite ways to start the day is with a morning walk. Not only is walking a great exercise to gently wake up your entire body, but it also boosts energy levels and activates your brain. This one-mile, indoor power-walking workout will help you start the day off on the right foot, no matter what the weather is like outside. Squeeze in some extra daily steps and give your body and brain a wake-up call at any time of day with this fast-paced mile workout. Using a mix of moves and directional change, we'll avoid joint strain while keeping your body and brain awake and alert.
Posted 10/2/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments 85,582 views
Fried okra is a delicious southern staple that pairs well with other hearty dishes. Unfortunately, eating it fried undoes many of the natural health benefits of this unique vegetable.
Not only is okra extremely tasty in its own right, but it also provides a wide range of outstanding health benefits when it is not fried. From preventing diabetes to promoting healthy pregnancies, this vegetable is a must-try dietary staple for enhancing overall health and wellness.
Posted 9/29/2015 2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 15 comments 13,436 views