Tag Archives: fitness

2 superband lunge

What is a SuperBand and Why Should I be Using It?

What is a SuperBand and Why Should I be Using It?

There are all kinds of tools and devices which promise to help you get in shape but not many of them come close in comparison to what are known in the fitness community as a SuperBand. These stretchy exercise bands have become extremely popular because they are large enough to be considered an all-in-one fitness tool. Most superbands measure 40” or so and are made out of a thick natural latex rubber material which has the ability to stretch up to twice its original length. Now that’s a whole lot of stretching power!

The next best thing about superbands is that everyone can use them. They are recommended by fitness professionals, trainers and physical therapists. Individuals who are going through rehabilitation or those who participate in a wide range of activities such as yoga, pilates, powerlifting, cross training, P90x, Insanity, endurance training and strength training. Now that you know what a superband is, it’s time to get one for yourself. Here are a few ways that superbands can enhance your workout. Whether you are outdoors, at the gym or perhaps exercising in the comfort of your own home.

Resistance

Superbands are a great tool to have around because they offer resistance. You can use them for resistance band exercises such as shuffles, lunges or monster walks. Believe it or not, gradually increasing resistance while stretching or toning has been known to speed up recovery, condition the muscles, improve flexibility and enhance physical performance. You will find that most popular brands of exercise superbands offer multiple different bands with varying levels of resistance. It’s best to choose the one that works best for you. You can even collect all of them so you can change it up as you advance.

Assistance

Another reason why you should own a resistance band is because they can provide assistance during your workouts. For example, many people use them for assisted chin-ups, pull-ups, dips and deep squats. Since superbands are made out of a heavy duty latex, you can rest assured when using them to for a little fitness assistance.

Weightlifting

Are you are a weightlifter or a powerlifter? You definitely could benefit from incorporating a superband into your lifting. This is because they can be used to overload the bar and add resistance to lifting activities. For example bench presses, squats and dead lifts.

Stretching with a SuperBand

The Superband is also an excellent stretching tool! You can use them to stretch just about any of the muscles in your body. Those in your legs, arms, back, neck, hips, shoulders or feet. They are especially useful for those who are recovering from torn MCLs, torn ACLs, patella injuries or knee replacements.

If you enjoy staying active or if you are recovering from a painful sports injury, you will definitely want to keep a couple of superbands on hand. You may be thinking that something so awesome will likely come with a hefty price tag. This isn’t true at all. Most resistance bands are rather inexpensive and designed to last, so they really are worth the small investment.

In the Loop: Tips for fitting fitness into your workday

Mayo Clinic staff, three women, walking in the hallway and talking in a walking meeting

With all of the demands of modern life, it can be tough to fit in fitness. But with a bit of creative thinking, it’s possible — even at the office. Life’s daily demands can make fitting in a workout more difficult than fitting into your jeans from high school. But with a little creativity, it’s possible to make your everyday activities count double, according to Danielle Johnson. “For many people, the biggest obstacle to getting more exercise is time,” says Johnson, a physical therapist for the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. “People feel stretched between their career, child care demands and family commitments. Thinking of spending an hour extra at the gym may feel overwhelming.”

But you don’t have to give in to that feeling. Instead, Johnson says, you can find ways to make your everyday activities work double. “You’ll still be able to reap the benefits of exercise by using small bouts of movement throughout the day,” Johnson says. “Two 10-minute walks, a few sets of stairs and some five-minute intervals of bodyweight squats, lunges or push-ups can add up to big health benefits.” Read the rest of the article.
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This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.

Eat for Your Body, Not Your Bikini: How to Love Your Summer Body

Summer is around the corner, and while many look forward to the joys this season brings — vacations, more time spent outside, time off from school and work — just as many dread it thanks to media marketing around getting “the perfect bikini body” and photo-shopped models painting an unrealistic ideal. Along with the “beach body” marketing comes an onslaught of ridiculous fad diets and expensive schemes that ultimately lead to long-term weight gain…not to mention lower self-esteem, anxiety and preoccupation with food. This summer, try eating for your body, instead of that bikini and implement these practices to cultivate body respect and kindness.

 

Intuitive Eating

Ever wonder how a toddler knows exactly what and how much he/she wants to eat? We’re all born with an innate ability to know what food our body needs and when we’re satisfied. But unfortunately, somewhere along the way, a family member, friend, health professional, or the media told us what we should and shouldn’t eat and we lost touch with that inner voice. The good news is that inner wisdom still lives within each of us, and intuitive eating is a practice that helps us strengthen that voice by tuning into our body to honor our hunger and feel when we’re full. The work involves making peace with food by ditching the diet culture mentality, telling the food police to shove it, and finding pleasure and satisfaction from eating. This summer, rather than asking yourself “what should I eat right now?”, which comes from a place of fear, guilt and shame, empower your internal wisdom and flex that self-trust muscle by asking, “what do I want to eat right now?”

 

Social Media “Diet”

The only “diet” that may be of some value to follow this summer is one where you control the media you take in. Marci Evans, registered dietitian and eating disorder expert in Cambridge, MA, helps her clients block unhelpful people on Facebook, un-follow provoking Instagram accounts, toss out triggering magazines and carefully curate the blogs they read. “Then we have fun filling their feeds with information that inspires them to be their healthiest and most authentic self in mind, body, and spirit. It’s a picture of health that is taken from the inside, rather than the outside,” Evans says. Not sure where to start? Evans recommends to “try searching for people who promote body positivity, body acceptance, intuitive eating, and non-dieting.” Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness, says we need to filter our social media feeds so we can see pictures of people in larger bodies having fun. “The reality is 67% of American women are a size 14 or higher. Why can’t we see more representation of what people really look like? Exposure to size diversity helps us all.”

 

Ban Body Bashing

Negative body talk is all around us; in fact, many women bond over complaining about their bodies. But if we don’t like our bodies, guess what, we’re not going to treat them very well. It’s time to change the dialogue because our thoughts affect our behaviors and if we want to start treating our bodies better, we need to start with shifting the dialogue from negative to positive. Scritchfield suggests trying to focus on all the wonderful things our bodies do for us. “Write a ‘love letter’ to yourself. Put positive post-its where you get dressed and feel naked and vulnerable and see if the self-love note helps you feel a little less body shame.” She also says it’s pretty powerful to “write down your ‘critic’ thoughts and ask ‘would I say this to a little girl’?”. Evans recommends getting your girlfriends in on the change. “Let your friends know that you want your friendships to foster support and encouragement, not body bashing.”

 

Feel Good in Your Here and Now Body

The reality is that many aspects of our bodies are out of our control, and the more we try to manipulate them to fit a certain size or reach a number on the scale, the more if backfires and we feel worse. The best thing we can do is to treat our bodies with respect because health is more about behaviors than it is about a size. Rather than waiting to treat yourself until you reach that “number,” start working today to feel good in your here-and-now body. Evans recommends trying things like a fun pair of sunglasses, a new nail polish, a fresh haircut and hydrating your skin with lotion. “You deserve to treat your body with warmth and kindness today! Turns out we treat things we like better than we treat things we hate. So start treating your body as if you like it, and your health just might thank you for it!”

 

Kara Lydon, R.D., L.D.N., R.Y.T., is a nutrition coach, yoga teacher and self-proclaimed foodie. She is a recipe developer, food photographer, writer and spokeswoman. Her food and healthy living blog, The Foodie Dietitian, features seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more mindfulness and yoga into your life.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

Want to Eat More Mindfully? Yoga May Help

The practice of yoga is nothing new; in fact, it’s been around for over 5,000 years, but only recently has it gained popularity in the United States. A 2016 Yoga in America market research study, conducted by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal, found that the number of yoga practitioners in the U.S. had increased to 36 million, up from 20.4 million in 2012. The awareness of the practice has grown as well; today, 95% of Americans are aware of yoga, up from 75% in 2012. Why the explosion of an ancient practice in the past four years? There’s a rising interest in health and wellness and consumers are looking for alternative therapies. And let’s face it — stress levels are at an all-time high and yoga has been shown to calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety. But what if there were other reasons to hop on your yoga mat beyond improving flexibility and reducing stress? What if yoga could help heal your relationship with food? Preliminary research shows that this mind-body practice may support mindful eating and disordered eating treatment.

 

Yoga and Mindful Eating

Yoga is much more than downward-facing dogs and sun salutations. In fact, the physical (asana) practice is just one tiny piece of what yoga is according to ancient yogic texts. Yoga also includes meditation, concentration, breath work (pranayama) among many other practices (known as the eight limbs of yoga). When we think about yoga in this holistic way as a mindfulness-based practice, it makes sense that yoga practitioners report improved self-attunement, awareness of feelings and a heightened attention to eating patterns.

A 2013 study looked at 87 adults who practiced yoga at a facility at least once per week and found that yoga tenure significantly correlated with mindful eating and fruit and vegetable consumption. The longer the students had practiced yoga, the more likely they were to engage in mindful eating. Students reported eating more slowly, paying attention to food portions, and being more conscious, disciplined and mindful with nutrition.

Anu Kaur, a Registered Dietitian, Wellness Coach and Yoga Teacher, says yoga “brings us to the ‘present’ experience and we learn to cultivate an attitude of openness, acceptance and curiosity. This process allows for the mind to build its capacity to observe thoughts and emotions as they arise, free of judgment. Over time, as we practice this self-acceptance ‘on the mat’ we can learn to do it ‘off the mat’ like with our eating.” One technique Kaur teaches her clients is how to practice deep breathing for three minutes before starting a meal. “If one practices following their breath and then slowing their breath down, there is a calmness that settles into the body. This experience of the relaxation response can be applied to mindful eating.”

 

Yoga and Eating Disorders

In the U.S., approximately 30 million people suffer from a clinical eating disorder at some point in their life, and many more struggle with body dissatisfaction and sub-clinical disordered eating. Body dysmorphia and body image concerns go hand-in-hand with disordered eating and yoga allows the opportunity to reconnect with one’s body, promoting body appreciation, respect and attunement.

A 2010 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health looked at 50 adolescents in outpatient treatment for eating disorders. They divided the participants into two groups — one receiving standard care and the intervention group, which included standard care in addition to private yoga sessions twice a week for twelve weeks. Both groups saw reductions in depression and anxiety but the yoga intervention group had significantly improved eating disorder behaviors, including lower food preoccupation.

Another study, conducted in 2009, looked at 50 women with binge eating disorder and the women who received a weekly yoga class plus encouraged daily home practice saw significant improvements in binge eating behaviors compared to the control group, which only received mindful eating education.

Diana Dugan Richards, Registered Dietitian and Yoga Therapist, suggests that yoga allows a client with disordered eating to experience being in the discomfort that usually turns them to food to cope. “Yoga encourages being in the chaos and intensity of physical sensation in a mindful and very present way. It involves intentionally slowing of breath, and being with the sensation, emotion, or feeling that is so intense they usually turn to food to numb or silence it. Then understanding, in time, the transient nature of the craving for food or desire to purge a feeling can be met with the steadiness of self-compassion.” Dugan Richards also notes that the effectiveness of yoga as an adjunct therapy really depends on the level of disordered eating and the person’s cognitive function.

 

Practicing Yoga

Yoga is not just what we see in the magazines. It’s not just for thin women with flat abs who can balance on her fingertips or place her foot behind their head. That’s not even close to what yoga truly is. And yet, the picture of yoga that gets painted in the media can create a sense of trepidation and deter people away from the practice. It’s important for people to know that yoga is for everyone and comes in all different shapes and sizes, just like we as humans do. If you’re not ready for the physical (asana) practice of yoga, try practicing meditation or deep breathing. Or, try a restorative yoga class where you hold poses for long periods of time while being fully supported by props, eliciting the relaxation response.

Many people report first trying yoga using an app, DVD or at the gym. Kaur recommends working with a yoga teacher one-on-one, especially if it’s your first time or if you have specific medical conditions. If you’re not able to do a private session, Kaur suggests trying a few yoga classes at a yoga studio first. “The environment, the community and often the intention of the teacher can offer support at another level. I always say that if the teacher or studio did not resonate with you, explore other yoga studios in your area. More likely than not they will find a place that could be a positive support system.”

 

Kara Lydon, R.D., L.D.N., R.Y.T., is a nutrition coach, yoga teacher and self-proclaimed foodie. She is a recipe developer, food photographer, writer and spokeswoman. Her food and healthy living blog, The Foodie Dietitian, features seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more mindfulness and yoga into your life.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

Consumer Health Tips: Women’s health

a group of smiling, happy women standing together outdoors in a row, with their arms around one another's shouldersWomen’s health: Prevent the top threats
The biggest threats to women’s health, which include heart disease, stroke, cancer and unintentional injuries, often are preventable. Take control by talking with your health care provider about your risk factors for these conditions, and then get serious about reducing your risk. Here’s what you need to know to live a longer, healthier life.

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Also in today’s tips …

Spontaneous coronary artery dissection
Spontaneous coronary artery dissection — sometimes referred to as SCAD — is an uncommon emergency condition that occurs when a tear forms in one of the blood vessels in the heart. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection most commonly affects women in their 40s and 50s, although it can occur at any age. It also can occur in men. People who develop spontaneous coronary artery dissection often are healthy, and most don’t have risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Video: Vitamins 101
You may know that vitamins are good for you. But how do you know which ones you need and which ones could be bad for you if you take too much? Learn more about taking vitamin supplements safely in this short video.

Hoarding disorder: Symptoms and causes
Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items and may not see it as a problem — even when it creates an unsafe living environment. This makes treatment a challenge. Learn about the symptoms and causes of hoarding disorder.

How fit are you? See how you measure up
Are you ready to start a fitness program? Knowing how fit you are can help you set realistic exercise goals. Get started with this simple assessment to check your heart rate, strength, flexibility and more. Then, use the results to set fitness goals and track your progress.