SparkPeople Guest Blogger

Gluten Sensitivity Might Not Exist, Say Researchers Who Originally Discovered It

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!

According to researchers who originally discovered (non-celiac) gluten sensitivity, key evidence discovered in the... in SparkPeople's Hangs on LockerDome

Posted 11/2/2015  3:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   5,175 views

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Walnut Health Benefits

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 Longer

While 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-Healthy

Like 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 Cancer

Studies 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 Lifestyle

Studies 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 Diabetes

All 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 Pregnancy

Don'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 Stressed

If 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 Sleep

Whether 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 Health

In 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 Skin

Walnuts 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 Dementia

Studies 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   13,425 views

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One-Mile Wake Up and Walk Workout

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 : 6 comments   35,079 views

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The Incredible Health Benefits of Okra

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.

Okra and Diabetes

Foods that are high in fiber have been shown to prevent diabetes since fiber can help normalize the body's blood sugar. Okra is also a low glycemic index food, with an index of about 20, making it suitable as part of a diet for diabetes treatment and prevention. 

Similarly, okra may even reduce kidney damage. Since almost half of all kidney disease cases are caused by diabetes, the fact that okra can help prevent diabetes means that it can also serve as a preventative food against kidney disease. One study published in the October 2005 Jilin Medical Journal found that daily consumption of okra reduced clinical signs of kidney damage when compared to people who ate a regular diabetic diet.

Okra and Colon Health

Okra's high dietary fiber content also ensures optimal colon health and digestive health. Fiber is essential for cleaning out the gastrointestinal system, and sufficient fiber intake helps the colon work with enhanced efficiency.

In addition, okra is also packed with vitamin A, and this essential vitamin helps to ensure that the digestive tract is functioning optimally, as well.

Okra and Healthy Pregnancy

During pregnancy, it is extremely important to get adequate amounts of folate. This B vitamin is ultimately responsible for creating and maintaining new cells in the body, which results in the prevention of certain birth defects. Okra is rich in folate, helping to ensure that the fetus can grow optimally during pregnancy.

Additionally, okra also contains high quantities of vitamin C, which has also been shown to be important for the healthy development of fetuses. 

Okra and Asthma

Some studies have shown that vitamin C-rich foods may reduce wheezing symptoms in children suffering from asthma. When eaten regularly, okra may reduce asthma-induced wheezing due to its high quantities of vitamin C.

Okra and Healthy Skin

Okra doesn't just improve your health and quality of life--it's also fantastic for your skin. As mentioned, okra is full of vitamin C, a nutrient that helps keep skin looking healthy and youthful. Vitamin C will help regrow body tissue, which means okra can also help reinvigorate damaged skin.

Okra and Antioxidant Benefits

Okra is also high in antioxidants, which are helpful for preventing heart disease, cancer and premature aging. 

In sum, okra is an incredible health food that should be a regular staple in your diet. Just don't dip it in the deep fryer! 

Posted 9/29/2015  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments   11,209 views

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Kale Health Benefits

There's a reason why kale is all the rage--this powerhouse veggie is packed with nutrients that offer many health benefits, offering even more nutritional value than spinach.

Nutritional Value of Kale

Kale weighs in at only 33 calories per one-cup serving of the raw vegetable. This same serving contains three grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fiber, folate, alpha-linoleic acid, lutein, vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus. It’s also a powerful source of antioxidants. Below are some of the health benefits that go along with consuming kale as part of your regular diet.

Reduced Risk of Bladder Cancer

A study appearing in the Oxford Journals in 1999 found that consuming high amounts of cruciferous vegetables, like kale, may reduce the risk of developing bladder cancer, though other vegetables and fruits appear to offer no definitive notable protection against this form of cancer. Since bladder cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the U.S., the fact that kale can help reduce the risk is important.

Reduced Inflammation

People suffering from arthritis, asthma, and various autoimmune disorders can especially appreciate the fact that kale has anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, according to North Carolina State University, one cup of kale meets 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance of omega-3 fatty acids.

Iron-Boosting Benefits

Per calorie, kale's iron content is greater than that of beef. Iron is an essential nutrient for proper cellular growth and liver function, making it very important for healthy living. The fact that it’s available so abundantly in kale makes this vegetable essential for vegetarians who often suffer from anemia.

Diabetes Benefits

Medical News Today reports that people who have type 1 diabetes and consume high-fiber diets have lower levels of blood glucose. It goes on to say that people living with type 2 diabetes may also experience improvements in lipids, blood sugar, and insulin levels. One cup of raw kale contains approximately 2.6 grams of fiber, making it an excellent choice for diabetic diets.

The benefits don’t end there, however. The alpha-lipoic acid in kale also helps to reduce glucose levels and decrease peripheral and autonomic neuropathy among diabetic patients.

Heart Health Benefits

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Kale is filled with good things like fiber, potassium, vitamins C and B6, all of which support a healthy heart. Today’s Dietitian reports that people who consume 4,069 mg of potassium per day enjoy a 49 percent lower risks of death from ischemic heart disease than those who consume 1,793 mg of potassium each day. Additionally, consuming kale can help reduce cholesterol levels, further improving heart health.

Skin Health Improvements

Skin is one of the most important organs in the human body. It’s the first line of defense against countless illnesses, diseases, and bacterial infections. Kale is rich in vitamins A and C, which help your skin maintain adequate hydration for youthful fullness and beauty.

With so many healthy reasons to eat kale, it’s a good idea to consider making kale a routine part of your daily diet. Though patients on beta-blockers should take caution to avoid too much potassium, as it may have harmful side effects. Otherwise, dig into a heaping helping of kale!

Posted 9/23/2015  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 9 comments   9,073 views

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7 Good Mid-Run Snacks

Whether you’re training for a 10K, competing in an all-day marathon, or simply running after a long day at work, you're bound to get hungry somewhere along the way. If you're competing, you definitely don't want to stop to eat for too long, but a quick mid-run snack can help you to gain the energy and endurance needed to finish strongly. These top mid-run snacks are the perfect means to quickly and healthily refuel without feeling too full!

Dried Fruits

You can carry a small pouch of dried fruits during your run for a well-rounded sugar spike and energy boost. Dates are great in terms of vitamins, sugars, and a low fiber content to increase absorption time, but there are many other solid choices as well. Dried cherries are equally sweet and replenishing, and raisins can be eaten quickly to help keep you going. All of these fruits are reasonably low in fiber as well so that you don't feel too full before the finish line!


Pretzels are a simple and portable snack that contain just enough carbohydrates and salts to quickly replenish your power. Unfortunately, pretzels are lacking in vitamins and the salt content may dehydrate some. However, a few pretzel sticks can go a long way in replenishing your energy and helping you to gain the lead!

Coconut Water

Coconut water may not be a snack, but it will help you more than water and most other drinks will. It contains essential electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to help you refuel after sweating and exerting your strength. Due to its mineral content, coconut water can also help to alleviate any minor cramps or pangs during your run. 

Gummy Bears

Who says that snacks have to be boring? While gummy bears shouldn't be eaten often, a few during a run can actually be quite beneficial. Gummy bears aren't recommended daily since they basically contain only sugar. However, they can help to give you a boost when your legs feel like quitting. Just three to five bears should be enough to speed you up without fullness, but make sure to limit your intake since it's a lot of sugar. 

Helpful, But Not Portable Foods

Everything on this list so far can be effortlessly carried while you run. However, there are many great foods that can't easily be put in a pocket or carried during a race. Even if you could fit these following foods in your pocket, they'd likely be grotesque after a sweaty run. If your race allows for a quick stop and you can have an aid provide you something, then try:

Bananas to increase potassium and vitamin C levels without too much fiber

Peanut butter on a white bread square to get a small amount of protein plus simple carbohydrates that can be absorbed quickly (wheat breads take longer to digest)

Grapes are a nice source of vitamins and sugars without a high fiber content (if you want to carry them with you, try freezing them the night before to keep them in shape!)

All of these foods will help you to recharge during your run, but make sure not to overeat any of them to avoid cramps or worse. For the best effect, eat small portions sporadically throughout the run to keep your energy levels even. As with anything, try out these foods on a practice run before eating them during a race to ensure that the choice is right for you!

Posted 9/21/2015  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 3 comments   7,569 views

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Debunking 4 of the Top Obesity Myths

Obesity is a critical health issue affecting the quality of life of millions of Americans. Unfortunately, too many myths still persist that prevent Americans from tackling their obesity head-on. This post looks to debunk four of the most persistent obesity myths.

Myth: Genetics Are to Blame

Too many individuals still believe the tired myth that genetics are to blame for obesity. Can genetics play a role in weight gain? Of course they can! However, it is well known that obesity rates went sky high from 1980 to 2000. Needless to say, that rate is far too significant for genetic factors to be solely responsible for the sharp obesity increase. 

It is more accurate to point out that people simply eat more calories than they need on a daily basis. Fast food restaurants that tempt people into eating more food than necessary combine forces with sit-down restaurants that often provide entrees with higher calories than what families would prepare at home.

Americans continue to spend more money on food outside of the home than they do on groceries and home-cooked meals, which is a likely indicator that over-consumption is mainly to blame for obesity increases, not genetics.  

Myth: Body Mass Index (BMI) Is the Most Accurate Obesity Indicator

BMI is far from an accurate indicator of obesity. If that were so, muscle-bound bodybuilders would be obese, but in reality, their body fat percentage is exceptionally low. In practical terms, BMI is not an accurate indicator of body fat because it does not take into account the ratio between an individual's muscle and body fat.

While an extremely high BMI may indicate obesity, in general it is a better bet to focus on other tests. Generally, most people can even look in the mirror and know whether there is weight to lose, if they are being honest. As such, heavy individuals with a good deal of muscle should avoid putting too much stock into their BMI. 

Myth: Overweight People Cannot Be Healthy

This is a tired and untrue myth. Overweight people can actually be healthier than their thin counterparts. Imagine a gaunt and rail-thin person who eats poorly and doesn't exercise, and then imagine a powerlifter. While the powerlifter may well be overweight, the fact that they commit to fitness will make them healthier than a thin person who does not exercise and eats in an unhealthy way.

Myth: Skipping Meals Will Aid Weight Loss and Overall Health

Finally, too many people trying to lose weight buy into the notion that they should skip meals for weight loss. In fact, almost the exact opposite is true.

Skipping meals can often lead to overeating at a later time. Also, skipping meals over a longer period of time will mess with your body's metabolism and could sabotage your weight-loss efforts.

Eating regular meals throughout the day can actually help prevent obesity, as long as those meals are properly portioned for your daily caloric needs.

Posted 9/18/2015  1:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 8 comments   15,161 views

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Best Vegan Foods For Weight Loss

Many people opt for a vegan diet as a way of reducing their impact on the environment and to improve their health. Vegetables, seeds, nuts and other vegan foods contain a variety of compounds and nutrients that are often lacking in other foods. Furthermore, most vegan foods are easy to digest and contain plenty of calories to keep the stomach full, the mind nourished and the energy flowing. However, it is important to remember that a calorie is a calorie, whether those calories come from french fries or avocados, and consuming more calories than you burn, even on a healthy vegan diet, can cause weight gain. If you want to lose weight and maintain your vegan diet, try eating these nine foods.  

Posted 9/7/2015  11:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 5 comments   12,899 views

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4 Push-Up Modifications You Can Try Today

Struggling to master a full push-up? You aren't alone. Push-ups are a great exercise that engages almost every muscle in your body, but they aren't exactly easy to do! The good news is there are several modifications you can use while you are building up into a full one. In this video I'll show you 4 easy ways to modify a push-up (shown from easiest to most challenging) to help you progress and build the strength and stamina you need to finally master a full push-up on your toes.
Here are the specific modifications we cover in the video, along with my reps/set recommendations for each to help you build proper form and functional strength:

Modification #1: Wall Push-Up
Try working up to 3 full sets of 15 repetitions before progressing to modification #2.

Modification #2: Incline Push-Up
Try working up to 3 full sets of 10-12 repetitions before progressing to modification #3.

Modification #3: Quadruped Push-Up
Try working up to 3 full sets of 10-12 repetitions before progressing to modification #4.

Modification #4: Bent Knee Push-Up
Once you have mastered 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions of the bent knee push-up, feel free to try adding in a few reps of full push-ups (on your toes). You can try to do as many full push-ups as you can with great form and then drop down to your knees to complete the set.

Oh, and keep an eye out for my workout partner Peanut in this video—she wanted to help me with my push-up form! Do you work out with your pets at home too?

Did you try the modifications? Let me know in the comments below which one you are working on right now and just remember no matter where you are starting out, practice makes progress!

Need an effective workout program without a single push up (or even any floor work)? Get our “WALK ON: 21 DAY WEIGHT LOSS PLAN” DVD Set! It features 4, 30-minute walking-based routines that include low-impact HIIT cardio, strength training, standing abs and even chair stretches to help you burn fat while building your energy!

About the Author
Jessica Smith is co-author of the Thin in 10 Weight Loss Plan (Sunrise River Press, 2012), and a certified wellcoach, personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Having started her own fitness journey more than 40 pounds ago, Jessica knows how challenging it can be to lose weight (and keep it off). Recently named one of Sharecare's Top 10 Online Influencers, she loves finding and sharing the latest info on weight loss, fitness, and healthy lifestyle habits. The star of several best-selling exercise DVDs, Jessica has over 13 years of experience in the industry, and holds a bachelor's degree in Communications from Fordham University.

Posted 9/3/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 8 comments   19,967 views

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Challenge Every Muscle with This Walking Interval Workout

Flowers and trees are pretty, but sometimes a walking workout needs a bit more than scenery to keep things interesting. Incorporating intervals and strength-training moves into a walk not only adds variety, but also challenges your muscles and can boost your metabolism. Dallas-based trainer Kim Truman developed this varied walking workout, which includes three different intervals and three body moves, for people looking to break up their usual walks.
Keep boredom at bay today with this fun, heart-pumping workout.

Posted 8/31/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 8 comments   25,474 views

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Health Benefits of Sage

When it comes to healthy eating, most people tend to focus on eating more fruits and vegetables. However, herbs and spices can also provide astounding health benefits. Learn how herbs like sage can improve your health and delight your taste buds.

What Is Sage?

Sage belongs to the mint family of herbs, which includes rosemary, basil, thyme and lavender. Sage plants are distinguished by their grayish-green, spear-shaped leaves. Its edible flowers can range from blue to pink to white. For centuries, cultures around the world have used sage to treat a plethora of ailments including sleep disorders, colds and bacterial infections. In fact, its scientific name, Salvia officinalis, stems from the Latin salvere, meaning "to be saved."

Nutritional Properties and Uses of Sage

Sage contains a negligible amount of calories, making it an excellent weight-loss food. What it does contain is a collection of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, including:

  • Vitamins A and K
  • Volatile oils
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenolic acids including rosmarinic acid (named after rosemary)

These compounds work together to regulate metabolism and protect cells from free radicals. The acids and vitamins in sage help prevent inflammation and boost the immune system. Consuming sage is especially beneficial for people with chronic diseases such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis. Herbal sage tea can relieve indigestion and dyspepsia. Studies also support sage's role in regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels in people with diabetes.

Apart from dietary uses, sage can also be used as a skin toner, mouthwash and an antibacterial. Though research is limited, the tannin compounds in sage may help relieve hot flashes in menopausal women.

Sage and Brain Health

It's not surprising that an herb synonymous with wisdom can promote a sharper mind. Studies conducted in the U.S. and the UK found sage helpful in the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. Subjects who incorporated sage into their diets over several months showed improved recall and fewer disruptive symptoms. Sage can also improve brain function in people without cognitive disorders. A double-blind study found that even a small dosage of sage oil extract significantly boosted short-term memory among young adults compared to the control group.

Choosing and Storing Sage

Fresh sage beats out dried or powdered sage in both flavor and nutrition. Look for vivid grayish-green leaves free of yellow patches or dark spots. Farmers markets often have a fresher selection of sage, and even dried varieties provide substantial health benefits. If possible, choose organic sage, which retains more of its natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Like most herbs, sage is available year-round.

Fresh sage can last for several days when wrapped in a moist paper towel, placed inside a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator. Store dried sage in a sealed glass jar away from sunlight, heat and moisture. It should keep for about half a year.

Sage is also available as an oil extract, herbal supplement and an ingredient in topical products.

Cooking with Sage

Sage makes a flavorful addition to salads, sandwiches, soups, sauces, meat and poultry. Due to its low sodium content, sage makes a healthy salt substitute and can help lower blood pressure. Take care when cooking sage, as high heat and long cooking times can destroy its nutritional and medicinal properties.

Health Risks of Sage

While sage allergies are extremely rare, a few people may exhibit mild symptoms. The potential side effects of sage supplements and other derivative forms of sage vary depending on other compounds present in the product. Sage should not be consumed in excessive amounts, as high concentrations of volatile oils can be toxic. Topical application may cause mild irritation, especially from store-bought creams and lotions containing sage. As a precaution, pregnant and lactating women should consult their doctor before using sage.

Aromatic, heart-healthy, and brain-boosting, there are virtually no downsides to adding sage to your diet. However, it's important to eat a variety of foods and not focus only on the benefits of one. Ask your nutritionist or dietitian for more sage advice.

Posted 8/30/2015  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 5 comments   10,539 views

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6 Ways to Fit in Exercise at Work

Having trouble staying fit while managing your career? A good workout doesn't require fancy machines or hours of free time. Lose weight, boost your metabolism and increase your energy with these six smart office exercise tips.

NOTE: To avoid injury, consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

Take Advantage of the Commute

For many, the morning commute conjures up images of congested roads, angry drivers and fickle stoplights. If your office isn't too far, why not leave the car keys behind and rev up your lungs? A refreshing morning jog or bike ride has numerous health benefits. While it may be a struggle at first, a cardiovascular routine reduces bad cholesterol, improves stamina, and cuts down on the risk of heart disease. It will also leave you feeling energized and focused throughout the day. If your workplace is too far, consider taking public transit part of the way and jogging the rest. Still on the fence? Even small changes like parking further away or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can make a difference.

Use Your Lunch Break Wisely

Instead of squandering your one hour browsing the web, use it to get in shape. If your office has a fitness center, sneak in a quick session of weight training or work up a sweat on the elliptical machine. If you missed your morning jog, now's your opportunity to make it up. If it's raining or there are no gyms close by, do some calisthenics (bodyweight exercises) at your desk. These include push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and jumping jacks. Studies also show that a midday workout refreshes the brain, keeping you productive through the rest of the day.

Posted 8/27/2015  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   12,951 views

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Cinnamon Health Benefits

Cinnamon awakens the senses and makes people think of pumpkin pie, spiced coffee, and the aroma of the holidays. However, cinnamon doesn't just have a pleasing smell; many often fail to recognize how much of a positive impact cinnamon may have on health. Cinnamon carries many benefits, which include antioxidant and microbial properties. Take a look at how cinnamon can make you healthier.

Cinnamon and Diabetes

Cinnamon has been widely used throughout human history for a myriad of medical treatments. Among these ailments, cinnamon has been shown to improve the prognoses of those with diabetes. In October 2013, a comprehensive analysis of cinnamon and its effect on diabetes was conducted, reports the National Library of Medicine. Throughout the two-year study of 543 patients, the levels of fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins, and triglycerides decreased with the assistance of a cinnamon supplement. 

Posted 8/25/2015  8:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 10 comments   15,627 views

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A Full-Body Foam Roller Routine for Beginners

Foam rollers are excellent, inexpensive tools that can be used both for muscular warm up and recovery. Most gyms have a few of them available in the stretching area, but if you are an at-home exerciser you may want to consider investing in one of your own (they usually run between $7-$20—here's a link to the one I purchased on Amazon).
Studies have shown that foam rolling (also known as self-myofascial release) can actually help reduce stiffness, pain, and even improve your range of motion (aka performance) during your workout. Think of it like this—when you first grab a pair of jeans out of the dryer and put them on, they are super stiff and hard to move in, so you do your squatting ritual to help ''break them in'' and fit comfortably again, right? Utilizing a foam roller can help loosen up your stiff, sore muscles again so you can move comfortably and efficiently. Try rolling as often as you like—before or after a workout, and/or on your recovery day. 

Posted 8/24/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   29,309 views

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Essential Hot Weather Running Tips

Some people loathe running in the hottest months of the year. For those springtime, fall and winter running enthusiasts, it might seem like a chore to survive a run during the searing summer heat. However, there are steps you can take to mitigate the sun exposure and make summer running an enjoyable experience.

Continue reading to learn all the essential tips you need to make summer running a successful venture.

Plan Your Run for Cooler Times in the Day

During the scorching summer months, it makes little sense to run at the hottest times of the day. Skip the afternoon run, and opt for an early morning run instead. Typically, running just before sunrise is the ideal time to get in a workout at the coolest part of the day.

Not only will this help you beat the summer heat, but you will also enjoy a surge of energy that carries you through the rest of your day.

Dress for Warm-Weather Running Success

To survive warm-weather months, you need to gear up appropriately. Wear light-colored, breathable clothing that gives your body and skin plenty of room. Couple your running attire with a hat that will keep your face shielded from UV rays and keep you cool at the same time.

Posted 8/22/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 1 comments   7,855 views

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