How to Stay Active and Motivated During Winter

As the evenings get darker and the temperatures gets colder, our motivation to exercise can dwindle quickly. After all, the summer sun has a lot of influence on our desire to get moving and that is why many people find it so difficult to remain active during the cold season. Here at The Healthy Living and Fitness, we believe that there are a few simple changes that can be made in order to ensure that winter doesn’t spoil months’ worth of progress. Read on to find out more…

Does exercising with a friend help people stay on track?

Working out solo can be counterproductive because many people find it difficult to motivate themselves. On the other hand, having another person rely on your presence at the gym, sports hall or local park can be encouraging and reduces the likelihood of a person repeatedly skipping their workouts. After all, accountability is a two-way street when it comes to exercising with a friend.

Can sleep deprivation affect an exercise routine?

In order to make the most out of a workout, it is important to get enough rest during the night. After all, sleep deprivation is a chronic state of sleepiness that occurs when people are in a constant ‘sleep-debt’ because they do not get the recommended number of hours of sleep per night. Since this condition can have adverse effects like irritability, weight gain and drowsiness, it can affect the quality of a workout considerably.   

Why is the right footwear so important?

When the weather changes during winter, it is important to be prepared for the how the ground will change too. After all, frost, ice and snow can make outdoor running very dangerous without the correct footwear and that is why it is vital that outdoor runners invest in a high-quality pair of trainers that offer the support and tread necessary to prevent injuries that may setback months’ worth of summer progress.

Here at The Healthy Living and Fitness, we want to encourage our readers to wake up earlier in order to fit in the activity that is necessary in order to lead a healthy lifestyle. After all, dark skies and a cold breeze should never be an excuse to hit the snooze button one too many times! To find the most supportive running footwear that will protect and perfect your sprinting style, check out Laced’s online trainers‘ collection today!

5 Vegetables You Shouldn’t Eat Raw

Although we spend our childhood trying to avoid vegetables at every opportunity, we often realise their importance in our diet by time we become adults. After all, they contain a variety of important and essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients that we need in order to survive. With this said, there are some vegetables that aren’t as beneficial, or tasty, when they are eaten raw. Read on as we go over the top five veggies that should always be cooked prior to eating…

Asparagus

Known for its cancer-fighting nutrients, asparagus is a stalky vegetable that isn’t dangerous when eaten raw but isn’t very pleasant. After all, it has a very rough texture due to the plant fibres that it is made from which means that cooking will make it easier to chew and digest. In fact, steaming or sautéing asparagus in olive oil and lemon juice can add a lot of exciting flavours.

Mushrooms

With their potassium-rich content, mushrooms can be safely eaten raw but the cooking process allows these nutrients to be absorbed by the body in higher quantities. After all, not consuming enough potassium can lead to a condition known as hypokalaemia. Interestingly, mushrooms are a versatile vegetable which means that they can be fried, roasted, sautéed or steamed.

Potatoes

There are some vegetables that can be eaten raw but are most beneficial when cooked; potatoes are dangerous when they are not cooked prior to consumption because they contain a lot of toxins that can harm the body. In addition to this, they are a starch-filled vegetable which is very difficult for the body to digest in such large quantities when uncooked and can lead to digestive upset. As a result, potatoes should always be boiled, baked or roasted.

Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are known as a cruciferous vegetable and this means that they contain some sugars that can be difficult to digest by the body in a raw state, causing gas, bloating and abdominal pain. As a result, it is advisable to cook sprouts before eating them because the sugars are adapted during the preparation process which makes them easier to digest.

Spinach

Many people are surprised to find out how much spinach shrinks during the cooking process. In fact, raw spinach contains oxalic acid and whilst it isn’t considered dangerous, it can interfere with the absorption of important nutrients like calcium and iron. Plus, the shrinkage of spinach when it is cooked means that more can be consumed in one sitting and increases the nutrients that are obtained.

Here at The Healthy Living and Fitness, we know how important a healthy diet is as vitamin deficiencies can arise when we do not consume a balanced diet. With this said, it is always advisable to cook certain vegetables before they are eaten because the preparation process allows the body to digest them much easier. To find out which vegetables can be safely eaten raw, get in contact with a member of the Healthy Living and Fitness team today!

The Lowdown on Rounded Shoulders

In a world that revolves around technology, it comes as no surprise that millions of years’ worth of human evolution is being affected before our eyes. After all, the majority of people do not carry out an active job that keeps them on their feet all day and this provides the perfect stomping ground for muscle imbalances to take control. In fact, rounded shoulders are one of the most common ailments that affect young adults and pensioners alike. Luckily, the team here at The Healthy Living and Fitness know how to correct and prevent rounded shoulders with the help of a few top tips. Read on to find out more information…

What causes rounded shoulders?

There are many different reasons why a person may develop rounded shoulders and the condition is more common than people realise. Research suggests that a lack of continuous motion which allows the muscles in the back and chest to develop an imbalance is often to blame and this is commonly caused by an office-based job where employees spend 8 hours a day hunched over a computer. In fact, technology plays a big role in the development of rounded shoulders and the condition can even be provoked by using a smartphone or playing video games for an extended number of hours as the posture adopted for both of these activities allows a muscle imbalance to develop.

Which muscles are to blame for rounded shoulders?

In order to tackle rounded shoulders, it is important that those afflicted with the condition understand which muscles are affected as there is a continuous tug-of-war between the muscles that pull the shoulders forwards and the muscles that pull them backwards. In fact, the muscles at the front of the chest such as the pectoral major/minor and upper trapezius are tight and need to be stretched in order to release the shoulder from this rounded position whereas the muscles in the back such as the mid/lower trapezius and rotator cuff are weak and need to be strengthened in order to encourage them to pull the shoulders backwards into a neutral spinal position.

What exercises can help fix rounded shoulders?

Whilst the science behind treating rotated shoulders sounds confusing to the average individual, there are a variety of simple yet effective exercises that can be carried out in order to stretch and strengthen the appropriate muscles. For example, placing the palms of the hands on an open-door frame and lunging forwards without arching the lower back will help stretch and open the front of the chest and standing against a wall and moving the arms from a ‘W’ position to an overhead position can engage the muscles in the upper back in order to strengthen them.

Whether you are glued to a games console or spend long hours behind the wheel of a heavy-goods vehicle, the fixture for rounded shoulders is exactly the same. After all, the muscle imbalance that causes the shoulders to be pulled forwards have to be corrected through stretching and strengthening exercises before any improvement will be noticeable. In addition to this, it is essential that the affected individual also makes improvements to their posture throughout the day so that the exercises are not carried out in vain. To find out more information, get in contact with a member of The Healthy Living and Fitness team today!

The Difference Between Full Body Workouts and Bro Split Workouts

Hitting the gym can be hard enough without worrying about which workouts are popular. After all, the fitness fanatics and experienced athletes tend to understand the ins and outs of the industry in order to figure out which approach is the most effective for their requirements and goals. Interestingly, most gym goers tend to opt for a full body workout, which targets every muscle group in the body during each session, or a ‘bro split’ workout, which separates muscle groups into a routine that targets them separately and vigorously. Read on as the team here at The Healthy Living and Fitness go over some of the differences that separate them once and for all…

What are the pros and cons of full body workouts?

Carrying out a full body workout is the best way to ensure that an individual feels the full benefit of their exercise regime as every single muscle group is targeted simultaneously. As a result, missing a day here and there won’t be as worrisome. With this said, overtraining can have a negative effect on the body as lifting heavy weights multiple times a week can put a lot of strain on the muscles that are used, especially when they aren’t given enough time to repair.

Who should utilise a full body workout?

Since a full body workout can help athletes maximise their calorie burn and fat loss, it can be a very effective option for those who have a lot of excess weight to lose. After all, continuously moving is the number one way to trigger the body and convince it to utilise energy from the fat reserves as spot training individual muscles doesn’t produce results as quickly.

What are the pros and cons of bro split workouts?

The ‘bro split’ is the name given to a series of workouts that separate the muscle groups in the body and target them individually. This gives athletes more control over the development of their physique as it is easier to spot train specific muscles and shape them accordingly. In addition to this, the workouts are often tougher but more manageable because people find that they spend less time in the gym. With this said, the bro split is a muscle-based exercise regime which means that the overall calorie burning is much lower compared to full body workouts and skipping a day here and there can lead to muscle and strength imbalances, reducing the control that the individual has over their routine.

Who should utilise a bro split workout?

Since the bro split regime requires dedication and commitment in order to be effective, it is often utilised by bodybuilders and fitness models in order to tone their physique and increase their muscle size. As a result, it is recommended that only experienced lifters and athletes utilise this type of workout as the amount of time and experience that is required can be off-putting for a beginner that has never stepped foot in a gym before.

Here at The Healthy Living and Fitness, we believe that beginners should be well-informed before they make a decision about the type of workout that they are going to carry out. After all, bro-split workouts were popularised by bodybuilders but can be incredibly challenging for an individual with low confidence in a gym environment. To find out more information, get in contact with a member of The Healthy Living and Fitness team today and ask about our top tips for first-time gym goers!

How to Prevent DOMS

Every year more and more people become a certified couch potato as they inadvertently reduce their exercise intake and consume an unbalanced and unhealthy diet. Here at The Healthy Living and Fitness, we want to ensure that our readers understand how to deal with common exercise dilemmas that may put people off before they’ve even started. Read on as we go over a few simple tips and tricks that can help prevent DOMS…       

What is DOMS?

The term DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and it is the term given to the aches and pains that people often get after a long run or a brutal gym workout. With this said, beginners or those that have taken a lengthy break from working out can also suffer from DOMS because it occurs when we create micro-tears in the muscles so that they can recover stronger and more prepared. Luckily, it often subsides within 24 to 48 hours.

Why are rest days important?

Since DOMS happens because of small tears in the muscles, it is very important that we provide the body with enough time to recover and make effective repairs. After all, this is how it adapts to exercise and eventually becomes stronger. Many athletes advocate for the implementation of rest days between particularly high-intensity workouts because they allow the muscle the time it needs to repair. 

Is it necessary to stretch before and after a workout?

There are many conflicting reports about the benefits of stretching before and after exercise and this can be confusing for many people, particularly beginners who are worried about the onset of DOMS. With this said, stretching before a workout can prepare the muscles and stretching after a workout whilst the muscle fibres are repairing themselves can help prevent knots and soreness, especially if a foam roller is used.        

In most circumstances people find that a couple of aches and pains after a good workout is a good thing as it is taken as a sign that the body has been pushed out of its comfort zone. In order to ensure that delayed onset muscle soreness does not prevent people from getting the most out of their workout, it is important to ensure that rest days are not skipped. To find out more information, get in contact with a member of The Healthy Living and Fitness team today! 

Everything You Need to Know About Vitamins

In a society that has become so accustomed to living a sedentary routine, it isn’t surprising to find that lifestyle related conditions like heart disease, diabetes and obesity are on the rise. After all, it may be difficult to start exercising regularly but the length of one’s life can depend on it. Interestingly, the food we eat plays an important role in our health and research suggests that most people do not consume enough vitamins and minerals which is why we’ve decided to go over everything there is to know about vitamins and why they are a vital part of our diet…

What are the names of the different vitamins?

A vitamin is an organic component that can be broken down by heat, air or acid; however, it can be very difficult to consume enough of each one on a daily basis which is why many people often discover that they have some kind of deficiency.  In order to make them easier for the average person to understand, the important vitamins that we need are separated into categories by letters and that is why many juice drinks often talk about consuming enough vitamin ‘C’, the colloquial term for ascorbic acid.

Why are vitamins so important to our health?

Since there are so many different types of vitamins, it is important to understand their use in the body and how it impacts our health when we don’t consume enough of them. For example, vitamin A is made up of retinoids and carotene so it keeps our skin and tissue healthy; vitamin B is comprised of 8 subcategories, however, the most well-known is vitamin B9, also called folate, which is used in order to make and repair DNA; and vitamin D, also known as calciferol, which strengthens the bones and helps the body absorb calcium.

What is the difference between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins?

It is safe to say that vitamins are a very complex diet necessity which is why many people fail to consume enough of them. In fact, there are two different forms that vitamins can be found in and these are known as water-soluble and fat-soluble.

Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, B12, C, biotin and pantothenic acid are considered water-soluble which means that they can dissolve in water and be used immediately whereas vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble and this means that they are dissolved in fats and must travel through the small intestine in order to be absorbed via the bloodstream.

Perhaps the most important piece of information to remember is that water-soluble vitamins are not stored inside the body so they must be regularly replenished through the diet whereas fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissue for use at a later date.

It is impossible to out-train a bad diet which means that running miles upon miles on a treadmill is not the most effective way of reducing the likelihood of dangerous diet related issues. After all, a heart attack is often caused by blocked arteries full of hardened cholesterol and fatty deposits that prevent blood from flowing freely. Luckily, many of the vitamins that we need can be obtained from different food groups through the consumption of a balanced diet. To find out more information, get in contact with a member of The Healthy Living and Fitness team today!

What is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

Finding the motivation to sever ties with the sofa and engage in some physical exercise is not an easy commitment, especially for those who have never stepped foot in a gym since high school. In fact, there are tons of different articles that boast about the benefits of running before the sun has even risen whilst simultaneously announcing that an evening gym session is the best way to let go of tension after a busy working day. Here at The Healthy Living and Fitness, we’ve decided to set the record straight. Read on as we go over the benefits of working out at different times of the day…

Morning

For early risers, working out at the crack of dawn can be a great way to kickstart the day. After all, it can help ensure that a routine remains consistent and is even said to reduce the temptation to snack on unhealthy foods throughout the day. In addition to this, morning workouts are also the least time-consuming because they add time to the day rather than take it away.

Afternoon

Sometimes it is impossible to hit the gym before sunrise, however, research suggests that our body can actually adapt to a regular mid-afternoon workout with time. After all, this is the time of day when early mornings start to catch up with people and a quick run can be the energy boost that a worker requires. In fact, more and more office workers are starting to use their lunchbreak as a gym hour as it provides a change of scenery and breaks the day up.

Evening

The last thing that a 9-5 worker wants to do when they get home is dust off their running trainers, however, there are many stress relieving benefits that can come from an evening workout. After all, statistics suggest that 50% of people bring work related tension into the home which means that hitting the gym first can change a person’s entire mindset, creating a happier household as a result.

When it comes to exercise, the best thing to do is find a routine that fits in with your lifestyle and responsibilities. After all, busy parents are less likely to jump out of bed early in the morning when they have children to look after, however, students are more inclined to slack off exercising in the early evening. To find out more information about the best time of day to hit the gym, get in contact with a member of The Healthy Living and Fitness team today!

Common Mistakes Made During an Ab Workout

Here at The Healthy Living and Fitness, we want our readers to get the most out of their workouts without risking an injury. In fact, the core plays a vital role in the stability of the body and that is why it is important that fitness fanatics complete exercises that target the abs properly and effectively. With this said, there are many different ways that beginners and experts alike can develop bad habits when it comes to the core. Read on as we go over the top three and explain how they should be done in order to reduce injuries and get a better workout…

Why is arching during a plank bad for the back?

As one of the most effective exercises around because it targets every muscle in the body, the plank can do a lot of harm when it is done incorrectly. After all, it is vital that a straight line is made with the body and retained throughout the entirety of the move as over-arching the back removes the focus on the core and can lead to over exertion in the back, leading to serious back-pain.

Should bicycle crunches be slow and controlled?

When most people complete a bicycle crunch, they tend to move their limbs quickly and sharply in order to get as many into a short space of time. Unfortunately, this lack of attention to detail can lead to form problems as it is difficult to complete an exercise properly when speed is the only focus. During a bicycle crunch, controlling the movements slowly and pacing oneself can ensure that the core remains engaged throughout. After all, it is very important to rotate the torso during this activity.

How can Russian twists be more effective?

In order to work the obliques, the two muscles that are located on the sides of the abs, it can be very effective to complete an exercise known as Russian twists. With this said, this movement is very dependent on the rotation of the torso and many people simply move their arms from side to side without turning their midriff. As a result, the abs do not get an effective workout. In order to complete a Russian twist, it is important to lean back at a 45° angle and keep the back straight as this helps ensure that the core is engaged and rotating throughout.

Whether a person prefers to work out in the comfort of their own home or enjoys the versatility of a gym environment, it is vital that the core is given the attention it deserves. After all, weak abs are a common cause of back pain and are frequently found in those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. Luckily, the addition of a few simple core exercises like crunches, push ups and the plank can make a big difference. To find out more information, get in contact with a member of The Healthy Living and Fitness team today!

3 Causes of Poor Sleep Quality

The experts emphasise the importance of getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, however, it is important to take other factors into consideration too. After all, there are many different things that can attribute to a lack of healthy sleep and many of them can be easily rectified with a little bit of perseverance. Read on as the team here at The Healthy Living and Fitness go over three common causes of poor-quality sleep…

Which pillow is the most supportive?

Although many people are adamant about sleeping with at least two pillows, the reason we even use them is to keep the spine and neck in alignment throughout the night. This means that the wrong pillow can actually cause the muscles to tense unnecessarily and lead to neck pain and headaches upon waking that can disrupt an entire day. In addition to this, an unsupportive pillow can also affect sleep quality by failing to allow people to enter deep sleep properly. As a general rule, back and side sleepers should opt for a thicker and firmer pillow whiles stomach sleepers require a flatter, softer pillow.

How many sleep cycles do you need?

The average sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes and a healthy night’s sleep should involve around 5 of them as this equates to 7-8 hours of sleep per night. In fact, recent studies have shown that people who regularly wake up tired and achy may actually be rising in the middle of a sleep cycle. During one sleep cycle, the body goes through 5 important stages: stage one, which is a light sleep; stage two, which is when our body temperature drops; stage three and four, which is when blood supply increases and repair work is carried out and finally, stage five which is when REM sleep (rapid eye movement) takes place. During this stage, the brain is incredibly active and this is when we tend to dream. In fact, it is so important that we are not disrupted during this phase that getting just 4 cycles of undisturbed sleep will leave a person more rested than 8 hours of sleep with continuous disruptions throughout the night.

Can technology affect your sleep?

Unsurprisingly, technology can also have a negative impact on a person’s quality of sleep as it can engage the brain and encourage wakeful activity. In fact, the blue lighting of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are implemented for this very reason! As a result, a bedroom that is littered with televisions, smartphones, laptops and tablets can have a bad effect on the quality of sleep that a person receives which is why it is more advisable to read a book before bed.

It is not uncommon for people to sacrifice the quality of their sleep for a job or leisure activity. In fact, many people will actively fight tiredness in order to watch a film and we are surrounded by technology that is designed in order to keep us awake for as long as possible. Unfortunately, chronic poor-quality sleep can wreak havoc on a person’s health and lead to the development of headaches, mood disorders and even gastrointestinal problems. By cutting out mobile phones and investing in supportive bedding, many people find that their sleep quality improves drastically. To find out more information, get in contact with a member of The Healthy Living and Fitness team today!

The Lowdown on Dehydrated Skin

At some point or another, every person will suffer from a variation of skin irritation. After all, it is important that we pay attention to what our skin is telling us in order to alter our routine accordingly. With this in mind, there are many different skin types and this means that finding the perfect products can be overwhelming and incredibly difficult. From dry and oily skin to combination skin, getting that perfect glow can be a challenge. In fact, dehydrated skin is the latest discovery that is causing sufferers to completely alter their routine. Read on as we go over everything you need to know…

What is Dehydrated Skin?

Unlike dry skin, which is a skin type that people are usually born with, dehydration is often caused by a compromised skin barrier and can be treated with the correct products. In fact, it is possible for people to suffer from oily skin and dehydrated skin simultaneously because the stratum corneum, the outmost layer of the skin, is lacking in moisture and as a result, starts to produce excess oil in order to compensate. As a result, it is not uncommon for acne sufferers to discover that they have dehydrated skin because they have been using harsh oil-banishing products which strip the skin completely and subsequently cause even more oil production.

What are the Signs of Dehydrated Skin?

After washing the skin in the morning and evening, it is important to note how it feels and looks as this can be a clear indication that there is a dehydration problem at play. For instance, if the face feels dry and tight immediately after washing then the moisture is being absorbed faster than it can be delivered and no amount of moisturiser is going to fix it. In fact, if pressing down on the skin creates a wrinkle pattern around the fingertip then that is also a clear indication of dehydration.

How is Dehydrated Skin Treated?

Since dehydrated skin is often caused by the use of incorrect skincare products, the best way to treat it is by condensing the skincare routine in order to find the best way to return moisture back into the skin. After all, a lack of moisture may be the problem, however, simply drinking water isn’t an effective enough solution. In order to treat dehydrated skin, it is important to use a gentle cleanser that doesn’t foam with lukewarm water and then a toner in order to restore the pH balance. This should then be followed up by a moisturiser that is suitable for your skin type, either dry or oily, and an occlusive, a skincare treatment that prevents water loss. In the morning, it is also important to use an SPF agent too in order to prevent sun damage from further drying out the skin.

Although it may sound complicated and time consuming, formulating the perfect skin care routine is easier than it seems. With this said, it is important to assess the products that are used on a regular basis in order to ensure that they are still suitable for your skin as the weather, particularly during the winter season, can affect the skin barrier and make it more susceptible to dehydration. To find out more information, get in contact with a member of The Healthy Living and Fitness team today!