Want to Shape Up for the New Year?

It’s a new year and, once again, “getting fit” or “staying in shape” is at the top of your resolution list. But if losing weight and looking better isn’t enough motivation to inspire you to exercise, how about the fact that the latest research shows that regular physical activity may be “the best preventive drug we have” for many health problems (aside from meditation, of course).

Studies show that exercise reduces the risk of early death, helps control weight and lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, some types of cancer, anxiety disorders, cognitive decline and hip fractures. It can help improve sleep, memory, concentration and mood.

Recent research has added benefits to the list. One study found that supervised exercise may help relieve treatment-related pain among some breast cancer patients. Another study showed physical activity may be as effective as medication in preventing early death in people who’ve had heart attacks or strokes.

Timothy Church, a physician and director of preventive medicine research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, agrees. “Exercise strengthens the entire human machine — the heart, the brain, the blood vessels, the bones, the muscles. The most important thing you can do for your long-term health is lead an active life.”

If you are anything like me, and work out regularly – but find yourself lacking motivation at times, and just get bored of the spending hours on the treadmill or doing a zillion sit-ups, The latest workout trends will help you avoid the same old routine and have you hitting your goals in no time!

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Small Group Fitness Classes

Whether it happens in a park, a school gym or a staircase in a hotel, structured classes with a limited size are a hot workout in 2014. The small class size allows instructors to spend more time focusing on each participant to help correct form and maximize outcomes. Plus, classes are a fun way to stay in shape. Check out www.meetup.com  for meet ups near you!

“It’s a great way to keep each other motivated,” says Lyons. “This is going to be popular because people are supporting each other instead of paying big money to a gym.”

Home Workouts

Between long hours at work and responsibilities at home, finding time to go to a gym or class can be tough. That’s one of the reasons Lyons says that this year, people are going to kick it old school — by exercising at home. “Jump ropes, medicine balls, kettlebells — these can all be stored easily in your home and taken with you should you need to travel,” says Lyons. “These exercises are also the most effective when you only have a short amount of time to work out.”

No money for equipment? No problem! Lyons suggests using your own body weight and furniture to make one of the best exercise circuits. “The couch is great for tricep dips and incline pushups, while a chair can be used for one-legged squats,” says Lyons. “There are so many things you can do at home.”


Fusion Classes

If you get easily bored with the same old workouts, mixing it up is the perfect remedy. This year will find exercisers heading to fusion classes that combine different disciplines. The result: an interesting mix of cardio and resistance, training such as Piloxing — a combo of boxing with Pilates. “The best part — if you don’t like one aspect of the class, you won’t be scared away from it because you know it’ll change quickly,” adds Lyons. “It’s the best of both worlds.”


Get Outside

While the allure of the gym — climate-controlled, convenient and predictable — is obvious, especially in winter, emerging science suggests there are benefits to exercising outdoors that can’t be replicated on a treadmill, a recumbent bicycle or a track.

A growing body of research shows outdoor activity is beneficial, both psychologically and physiologically, says Greg Wells, assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Toronto. Studies indicate that working out in nature — amid the trees and far from the typical stressors of life — boosts a person’s mood and lowers tension, anxiety and stress levels. And from a physiological perspective, it’s easier on the body. For instance, when a person runs outside, there is less stress on the body and the heart rate remains lower, than if they were running indoors, on a treadmill, at the exact same speed. But the fact that exercising outdoors is easier doesn’t mean you get less of a workout. Actually, the opposite may be true because you could end up going harder and longer since there’s less strain on the body, says Wells.

Give Yoga a Try! 

The greatest variaiton I’ve added to my regular workout routine at least 1-2 times a week has been implementing a yoga class. Yoga, as we all know, is aimed to unite the mind, the body, and the spirit. Yogis view that the mind and the body are one, and it can find harmony – and heal itself. Yoga therefore is considered therapeutic. It helps you become more aware of your body’s posture, alignment and patterns of movement. It makes the body more flexible and helps you relax even in the midst of a stress stricken environment. This is one of the foremost reasons why people want to start Practicing Yoga – to feel fitter, be more energetic, be happier and peaceful.

Yoga is a science that has been practiced for thousands of years. It is consists ofAncient Theories, observations and principles about the mind and body connection which is now being proven by modern medicine. Substantial research has been conducted to look at the Health Benefits of Yoga – from the Yoga Postures (Asanas),Yoga Breathing (Pranayama), and Meditation. The information on Yoga Poses & Benefits are grouped into three categories-physiological, psychological, biochemical effects. Furthermore, scientists have laid these results against the benefits of regular exercise.

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Physiological Benefits of Yoga

  • Stable autonomic nervous system equilibrium
  • Pulse rate decreases
  • Respiratory rate decreases
  • Blood Pressure decreases (of special significance for hyporeactors)
  • Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) increases
  • EEG – alpha waves increase (theta, delta, and beta waves also increase during various stages of meditation)
  • EMG activity decreases
  • Cardiovascular efficiency increases
  • Respiratory efficiency increases
  • Gastrointestinal function normalizes
  • Endocrine function normalizes
  • Excretory functions improve
  • Musculoskeletal flexibility and joint range of motion increase
  • Breath-holding time increases
  • Joint range of motion increase
  • Grip strength increases
  • Eye-hand coordination improves
  • Dexterity skills improve
  • Reaction time improves
  • Posture improves
  • Strength and resiliency increase
  • Endurance increases
  • Energy level increases
  • Weight normalizes
  • Sleep improves
  • Immunity increases
  • Pain decreases
  • Steadiness improves
  • Depth perception improves
  • Balance improves
  • Integrated functioning of body parts improves

Psychological Benefits of Yoga

  • Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
  • Mood improves and subjective well-being increases
  • Self-acceptance and self-actualization increase
  • Social adjustment increases
  • Anxiety and Depression decrease
  • Hostility decreases
  • Concentration improves
  • Memory improves
  • Attention improves
  • Learning efficiency improves
  • Mood improves
  • Self-actualization increase
  • Social skills increases
  • Well-being increases
  • Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
  • Self-acceptance increase
  • Attention improves
  • Concentration improves
  • Memory improves
  • Learning efficiency improves
  • Symbol coding improves
  • Depth perception improves
  • Flicker fusion frequency improveswinner

Biochemical Benefits of Yoga

  • Glucose decreases
  • Sodium decreases
  • Total cholesterol decreases
  • Triglycerides decrease
  • HDL cholesterol increases
  • LDL cholesterol decreases
  • VLDL cholesterol decreases
  • Cholinesterase increases
  • Catecholamines decrease
  • ATPase increases
  • Hematocrit increases
  • Hemoglobin increases
  • Lymphocyte count increases
  • Total white blood cell count decreases
  • Thyroxin increases
  • Vitamin C increases
  • Total serum protein increases

Yoga Vs. Exercise

    • Yoga Benefits
      • Parasympathetic Nervous System dominates
      • Subcortical regions of brain dominate
      • Slow dynamic and static movements
      • Normalization of muscle tone
      • Low risk of injuring muscles and ligaments
      • Low caloric consumption
      • Effort is minimized, relaxed
      • Energizing (breathing is natural or controlled)
      • Balanced activity of opposing muscle groups
      • Noncompetitive, process-oriented
      • Awareness is internal (focus is on breath and the infinite)
      • Limitless possibilities for growth in self-awareness
    • Exercise Benefits
      • Sympathetic Nervous System dominates
      • Cortical regions of brain dominate
      • Rapid forceful movements
      • Increased muscle tension
      • Higher risk of injury
      • Moderate to high caloric consumption
      • Effort is maximized
      • Fatiguing (breathing is taxed)
      • Imbalance activity of opposing groups
      • Competitive, goal-oriented
      • Awareness is external (focus is on reaching the toes, reaching the finish line, etc.)

Weather you have been successful or not in the past when it comes to sticking to your new years resolution to live a healthier lifestyle – is completely irrelevant in this moment. This moment, you have the will power to make a choice, and commit to it. You are not average, by any means, so don’t underestimate your ability to make changes in your life weather your 18 years of age or 65! We need to acknowledge limiting beliefs that we may be holding onto – and release them in order to move forward with confidence and strength. You are extraordinary! It’s time to believe it for yourself, and take charge of your life! You might be surprised how much you accomplish by the time 2015 rolls around! 🙂 Happy Manifesting!

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