Is Cardio Better than Strength Training for Stress Management?

When considering the benefits of regular exercise, most people immediately think of things like improved strength, stamina, and overall physical health. An additional, often under appreciated use of exercise is its role in stress management. Exercise as stress relief is a well-known concept, but if you want to maximize the benefits of exercise for stress management, is cardio better than weight training or vice versa? This article will look at the topic in more detail.

How does exercise help with stress?

It helps first to understand how exercise aids with stress management. There is a whole field of sports science dedicated to understanding the intricacies of how the body’s systems are linked. On a general level, exercise increases blood flow, optimizes your body’s use of oxygen, and releases endorphins. These endorphins are sometimes called ‘feel-good’ hormones and are the source of what’s known as the ‘runner’s high’ among cardio enthusiasts. This routine makes people feel good and provides a sense of stress relief that is much less common among weightlifters. So is cardio better than weight training for stress management?

Benefits of weight training

The benefits of strength training are well-documented and extend beyond what you’d likely expect. For example, regular weight training can improve strength and build bigger muscles. Still, it also helps lower your cholesterol, reduce the symptoms of anxiety, and can help you maintain an improved posture.

Weight training is anaerobic exercise, which is based on shorter but more intense movements than cardio. ‘Anaerobic’ literally means ‘without oxygen’ and refers to the fact that anaerobic exercises break down glucose in the body without using oxygen. It is different from aerobic activities like running and swimming, which use oxygen, and explains why you don’t hear about a ‘weightlifter’s high.’

Weightlifters may still find stress-relieving, as it is an excellent medium to channel frustration and aggression into pushing yourself to lift heavier weights and for additional repetitions. However, it doesn’t offer the same kind of endorphin-rush that cardio can. The stress relief provided by weight training is mainly dependent on an individual’s ability to channel stress into lifting more, which will work for some people but not for others.

Benefits of cardio

The sense of euphoria from a runner’s high can make you feel like your stress is melting away. However, experiencing runner’s high appears to be relatively rare, with most athletes reporting never experiencing it. So what is actually behind the stress relief experienced by those who undertake regular cardiovascular exercise?

There are two types of benefits to consider, the short-term and the long-term. In the short term, cardio requires a lot of movement over long distances. For many, this involves jogging outside. The benefits of being outside and soaking up the sun in the fresh air are well-documented. Still, cardio also requires you to focus on maintaining a consistent rhythm, pace, and breathing pattern, as well as awareness of your surroundings and the path ahead of you. It provides a natural distraction from the things in our minds that are causing us stress.

In the longer term, cardio promotes the growth of new blood vessels that help transport oxygen to the brain. It’s also thought that regular exercise encourages adult neurogenesis, which creates new brain cells. These brain cells may form in particular areas of the brain and are linked to the overall mood and well-being increases. They also help improve working memory, enable better task-switching, and have a significant anti-depressive effect. It makes the brain better able to cope with physical and mental stress, which is key to effective stress management.

Healthy body, healthy mind

Whether you choose aerobic or anaerobic exercises, there is one consistent conclusion to be drawn from all available scientific evidence. Voluntary movement is one of the best things you can do to help reduce the effects of aging, improve your physical and cognitive abilities and improve your overall health and well-being. 

In terms of stress management, both cardio and weight training can have stress-reducing effects. However, cardio does have some additional benefits over weight training that makes it a slightly better choice for stress management. The use of oxygen that comes with aerobic exercise provides some other benefits for stress management that give it a slight edge over weight training. 

That is not to say that people must choose one type of exercise and only do that. The best course of action may be to incorporate both aerobic and anaerobic exercises into your routine. That way, you get the benefits of both types of exercise.

Run your problems away

Cardio has the edge when it comes to stress management, so when I say run away from your problems, I mean that for the sake of your health. It may help to go running or jogging outside, as opposed to on a treadmill at the gym. The extra awareness you need when running out can help distract you from your problems, and the time away from your desk and other distractions allows you to think about your situation in a calm and meditative manner. The additional health benefits you’ll get from regular cardio exercise are the cherry on top.

Use Jefit App

Jefit was recently named best online strength training workout for 2021 in an article published by Healthline. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit.

10 Reasons to Do More Strength Training and Cardio

Each bout of exercise has the power to improve our body both physically and psychologically. We have a tendency with exercise, however, to judge if it’s actually working by what the bathroom scale reads. Weight loss only tells half of the story. There are many areas that regular exercise improves when it comes to our body. Many of which are not visible to the naked eye. Here are just a few of those strength training and cardio benefits.

Strength Training Benefits

  • Building muscle mass can increase metabolism by 15 percent. So, if you’re looking to rev up a slow metabolism and stay functional as you age, you need to be strength training at least a few times each week.
  • It will prevent sarcopenia – which is the loss of muscle mass as you age – you can lose up to 10 percent or more of your muscle per decade after age 50.
  • Resistance training plays a role in disease prevention, as with type 2 diabetes.
  • Improves the way the body moves, resulting in better balance and less falls as you age (you can reduce your risk for falling by 40 percent).
  • Preserves the loss of muscle mass during weight loss (Donnelly et al., 2003).
  • Will offset bone loss as you age. Women can expect to lose one percent of their bone mass after age 35 (and this increases following menopause). Read Strong Women, Strong Bones for more information on the bone loss.

Cardiovascular Exercise Benefits

  • Aerobic exercise improves your mood by decreasing stress and anxiety levels. Read The Inner Runner by Jason Karp, Phd and Exercise for Mood and Anxiety by Michael Otto, Phd and Jasper Smits, PhD for more on this topic.
  • Regular cardio exercise, like jogging, hiking, jump roping, “loads” the bones of the lower extremity, in turn, making them stronger.
  • Makes your heart stronger. Reduces your resting heart rate enabling your body to deliver oxygen more efficiently to your working muscles.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine states that higher levels of cardiovascular fitness is associated with approximately a 50 percent reduction in risk of disease.

There are many reasons to continue strength training and doing cardio exercise on a regular basis. We looked at just the tip of the iceberg here today.

Reference

Donnelly, J.E., Jakicic, J.M., Pronk, N., Smith, B.K., Kirk, E.P., Jacobsen, D.J., Washburn, R. (2003). “Is Resistance Training Effective for Weight Management?” Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine. 1(1): 21-29.

Try Jefit: Just Named Best Online Strength Training Workout

Jefit was recently named best online strength training workout for 2021 in an article published by Healthline. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit.

Want to Get Stronger in the Gym? Develop Core Stability

One of the leading back experts in the world is Stuart McGill, PhD. He has spent his career, spanning more than 30-years, researching spinal biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada. His core stability program, known as the Big 3, is one of the most often performed core exercise programs. His routine is so good, we are going to show you what’s involved.

What is Core Stability Anyway?

When the body is inactive, muscle weakness occurs along with joint laxity which can lead to instability according to Dr. McGill. Core stability is the ability of the stabilizers in the lumbar-pelvic area to maintain the correct trunk and hip posture during static and dynamic movement. The stabilizers refer to the following muscle groups that make-up this important area. These are the transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, and lumbar multifidus. Also playing a critical role are the spinal erectors and rectus abdominis. The key muscle in terms of spine stabilization, however, is the deep transverse abdominis. Why is all this important? Simply stated, if the area is strong, you move better. In essence, when the body has a stable base for the four extremities to perform from, the nervous system allows for greater force development to occur.

What is the McGill Big 3?

Through his research, Dr. McGill determined the combination of the following three exercises were most beneficial for developing core stability. Understand we’re talking muscle endurance here (not strength). The three exercises in his program include the side bridge, a version of the curl-up and a bird dog exercise. Each of the exercises are performed from their basic or beginner level before progressing, over time, to more advanced versions of the exercise. The key to each exercise is locking in with abdominal “bracing” prior to the start of each exercise and maintaining it throughout. Dr. McGill explains that the abdominal brace “enhances stability.” This is done by placing two fingers on both sides of the navel. Your fingers should be a few inches away from the navel, resting on the obliques. Now tighten the abdominal area and you should feel the fingers raise up a bit.

Side Bridge
McGill Curl Up
Bird Dog

Side Bridge

The bridge or called a side plank by some, is a basic core exercise and is ideal for developing endurance in the core stabilizers like the internal and external obliques. It is also a great exercise to help strengthen the quadratus lumborum, an exercise that helps not only with low back pain but is important for pelvic stabilization too. The side bridge pictured above is considered more of a progression from a basic side bridge performed with knees bent and the arm positioned on hip not raised as seen in the picture. Lift hips off the floor and pause for 10-seconds and repeat for desired repetitions.

Curl Up

The idea behind this type of curl up is to protect the lumbar spine by keep that area flat. This is done by placing the hands under the lumbar curve. Begin by performing abdominal bracing. Once the scapula clear the floor pause for 10-seconds and return to the starting position. Look up towards the ceiling at all times not down at your feet.

Bird Dog

This is one exercise you may have done while in yoga class. The starting position for the McGill version is to actually not raise the arm. First, perform abdominal bracing. Begin by just raising the extended leg only. The opposite arm can be raised over time as you advance to the next progression. When this becomes easy to do, bring the extended arm down touching the knee of the opposite leg. Hold arm and leg extension for 10-seconds, return and repeat. Perform on both sides.

How Does Core Stability and Get You Stronger in the Gym?

The easiest way to start thinking about all this is in the vein of “transferring” power throughout the body when training. An underdeveloped or weak core will create a “leak” or an escape of stored energy via the trunk during exercise. We want to utilize 100 percent of this stored energy. An example would be lifting a barbell, dumbbell, medicine ball or kettlebell off the floor and pressing it overhead. When the core stabilizers are not up to par, and abdominal bracing is not utilized, these types of movements become extremely difficult to perform. Further, even if somehow you’re able to perform such an exercise, lacking core integrity, you’ll likely end up using poor body mechanics and a future injury is likely. Stay Strong and try the Big 3 as either a new core routine or as a warm-up prior to strength training.

Exercise Prescription

Exercise
Warm-up with Cat/Cow
Sets & Repetitions
8
1A. Side Bridge 6, 4, 2
1B. Curl Up6, 4, 2
1C. Bird Dog 6, 4, 2
*Perform in a circuit format – 1A, 1B, 1C – for 6 repetitions per set followed by 4, 2 repetitions for subsequent sets.

Use the Jefit App for All Your Workout Needs

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC Magazine, Men’s Health, The Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle. Stay strong with Jefit!

Sleep Deprivation Causes and Effects in the Gym

sleep deprivation causes and effects

One of the biggest factors that contributes to how well we perform at the gym is sleep. Sleep quality plays such a vital role in maintaining a healthy and active life. This is why when we lose sleep on a consistent basis, it can really impact on our gym performance and in our day-to-day lives in general. This post is going to cover sleep deprivation causes and effects in the gym so you can learn just how much sleep impacts on our performance and what we can do about it.

Sleep Deprivation Causes and Effects in the Gym

Lifestyle Sleep Deprivation Causes

While there may be many possible underlying causes of why people are sleep deprived, most of the time, it is our bad sleeping habits that are affecting our shut-eye.

In this on-the-go lifestyle that we lead, we tend to stay up later, finishing work, watching television or staying connected to others via our social media.

It may not seem like it but this can really affect our sleep quality, which may be one of the many reasons why you are unable to get a good night’s sleep.

Maybe you have a demanding job so you find yourself working quite late all the time, checking emails. Maybe you have lots of things to do around the house that keeps you up. Whatever there is, there are many sleep deprivation causes that are based on our lifestyle choices.

The Many Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Just as there are many possible causes, there are also many effects of lack of sleep.

You Feel Lazy

Hands up if you have ever had a bad sleep and felt like skipping your gym workout because of it?

I know I have.

Feeling lazy because you have missed out on hours of sleep can cause you to skip your workout, meaning you will fall behind in your training. This lack of motivation can cause you to be unwilling to move or be active all day, and we all know how important it is to move daily.

You’re Moodier

Not only will you be feeling lazier and less motivated but you will also moodier.

This is not a great situation for you or the people around you.

You may find that you will be moodier, more irritable and grumpier because you will have less serotonin in the body.

And if you skip your training session because you are feeling lazy (i.e. see point above), you will not be active which can actually help improve your mood by releasing endorphins.

You Can’t Concentrate

Just say that you do somehow manage to make it to the gym. Is your workout as efficient as it could be? Are you able to make it through your regime like you typically can or are you finding it harder to concentrate?

Another one of the sleep deprivation causes and effects in the gym include trouble focusing. You will find yourself becoming more easily distracted which means that while you managed to make it to the gym, the quality of your training will be compromised.

Your Energy Levels are Low

Not only will you have decreased concentration but you will also have less energy. This may make your usual workout seem a lot harder than it usually is.

You may find that you will be unable to hit the same weights, sets or reps as last time – all because you are feeling drained from lack of sleep.

Your Body Can’t Recover Properly

Sleep is such an important factor in your body’s rest and recovery. Without proper sleep, your muscles and bones cannot grow or repair themselves. This can perpetuate DOMS, make it harder for you to feel 100 percent again and back to normal. This is especially bad if you do weight training or strength training.

If you are deprived of sleep, you are depriving your body of the time that it needs to relieve muscle tension and soreness. And you will definitely feel it the next day.

Your Metabolism Slows Down

Lack of sleep slows down your metabolism and decreasing leptin – the hormone that helps keep you feeling full. In turn, this causes, your appetite to increase so you feel much hungrier than usual.

If you are trying to keep a healthy diet, then this can definitely derail your good intentions and you may find yourself reaching for an unhealthy snack.

While you should treat yourself every once in a while without feeling guilty, you may find that you feel the sleep deprivation causes and effects all day. This means that you may find that the unhealthy snack has turned into an unhealthy day.

Without consuming the adequate nutrition your body needs, especially to help your workouts, then you may see your gym performance fall.

5 Tips on How to Get Better Quality Sleep

Here are some easy steps that you can take to get longer and better sleep:

  1. Choose a time that will give you adequate hours of sleep for you to wake up feeling refreshed the next day. Make sure that you consistently go to bed at this hour. This may take some time getting used to but eventually, your body will learn your earlier bedtime. To help get you started, try going to bed half an hour/an hour earlier each night until you reach your desired time.
  2. Set an alarm an hour before that time to begin the winding down process for sleep. This includes turning off all electronics so that the blue light it emits doesn’t disrupt the body clock. This also means stop doing work and checking emails.
  3. Keep your bedroom quiet and dark.
  4. Try meditating for better sleep. Meditation can help you unclutter your mind and prepare your head and body for sleep.
  5. Exercising daily is also a great way to help get better sleep. Just make sure you don’t engage in vigorous exercise too close to your bedtime. Otherwise, you will be too worked up to sleep.

As you can see, the sleep deprivation causes and effects in the gym are plentiful. Sleep really does make such a big impact – good and bad – in your training and health in general. To get the best out of your workout each day, have better and longer sleep.

Jefit App

Jefit is a gym workout app that helps all gym goers and athletes keep on track with their fitness goals. It has the largest exercise library complete with free workout routines to help mix up your training. It also gives you the ability to update and share your workout log with the supportive community.

How have you found your sleep affects your training? What sleep deprivation causes and effects have you seen on your fitness journey? Let us know in the comments below!

sleep deprivation causes and effects

Are You on Board with the New Obesity Paradigm?

Some scientists are starting to believe that obesity research has been coming from a failed paradigm. For close to a hundred years now it has been believed that the cause of obesity was a surplus of calories. When a person takes in more calories than they expend, overtime, that individual becomes overweight. Many think, however, that obesity research is based on a misbelief. According to the World Health Organization, though, it’s still about “an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.” So who do we believe?

Many researchers and science reporters, like NYT best-selling author Gary Taubes, believe that it’s time for a new paradigm. A group of these researchers have actually published a lengthy review article on this obesity topic, that comes out today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This group believes we should move away from the current energy balance model (EBM) to a new carbohydrate-insulin model (CIM).

Moving Towards a Possible CIM: Carbohydrate-Insulin Model

According to this model, increasing fat deposits in the body, resulting from the hormonal responses to a high-glycemic-load diet, is what drives positive energy balance. Other words, it’s not about eating too many “good” calories, it’s more about “food quality.” We need to be aware of the quantity and quality of specific calories coming from carbohydrates.

A high percentage of carbohydrates in each meal, coming from processed foods, contain high amounts of added sugar. Each time we eat meals and snacks like this, our body has to deal with a sugar spike. When this occurs, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin, to bring down blood glucose. The by-product of this? the body stores more fat (triglycerides) in adipose tissue.

This new paradigm shift states that obesity is not an energy balance issue but rather a hormonal disorder or what the researchers call a “disorder of fuel partitioning.” The calories in versus calories out debate says nothing about why it happens.

Where Do You Lie on this Obesity Topic in Favor of the EBM or CIM?

We mentioned author Gary Taubes earlier. If this topic is of interest to you, he has some outstanding books that explore various obesity-related topics and does a deep dive into why too much added sugar is so unhealthy for us.

So what do you think? do we become obese by taking in more calories than we expend? Or is it more about the quality and quantity of carbohydrates and what those sugar calories do to our physiology over time?

Jules Hirsch of Rockefeller University, one of the most celebrated obesity researchers, told Gary Taubes in 2002 that after 40 years of research he still didn’t know why people got fat to begin with. Looks like this debate will rage on for a bit longer but let’s hope it’s not another hundred years!

References

Taubes, G. (2021). How a “fatally, tragically flawed” paradigm has derailed the science of obesity. STAT.

Ludwig, D., et al. (2021). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqab270

Try Jefit App Today

Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. In addition, the app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and has a feature to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your fitness lifestyle.

Activities to Bring Your Exercise Routine to the Next Level

There are many activities to choose from when trying to get in or stay in shape. Some activities are better than others and may be more beneficial when added as part of a weekly exercise routine.

The following three activities are some of the best based on their high energy expenditure. Each is ideal in their own right because they offer multiple options. The following activities also fit well as part of a warm-up or for circuit training.

Add Jumping Rope to Your Exercise Routine

There is a great deal of research on the benefits of jumping rope. One such study, was led by John Baker of Arizona State University. He divided 92 male students into two groups. One half of the group skipped rope for 10-minutes a day while the other half jogged for 30-minutes a day. After six-weeks, the men were administered the Harvard Step Test to measure changes in cardiovascular fitness. Each group showed an equal level of improvement.

Baker concluded that 10-minutes a day of jumping rope was as efficient as 30-minutes a day of jogging. He meant meant more specifically, when looking to improve cardiovascular efficiency. He recommends jumping rope, which is less time-consuming than jogging, as a valuable component for any physical education program; especially when the goal is to improve endurance. A 2013 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found 10-minute “bursts” of exercise, like rope jumping, added to your daily quota of exercise, improves fitness.  It concluded that ‘some exercise is better than nothing’ and that by adding small bouts of exercise you can lead to a big impact.

Jumping rope will expend about a 750 calories an hour depending on bodyweight (at 120-140 turns per minute). This is equivalent to running close to a six-minute mile pace. When the intensity is increased, the caloric expenditure can increase to 1000 calories or more per hour. A boxer can hit 300 RPM in a minute of jumping rope. You can also experiment with a weighted jump rope or wear a weight vest to challenge yourself more.

Rowing is a Great Addition to any Exercise Routine

There is a reason why facilities like Crossfit, have ergs or Concept 2 rowing machines lined up. It is a complete, full body workout that uses about 85 percent of the muscles on the body. Rowing alone is a great exercise. It is ideal for a WOD or placed in a circuit. Finally, it can be a beneficial warm-up prior to hitting the weight. Try a 500 meter row prior to your next strength workout. If you want a great aerobic test, try to row 500 meters in about a minute thirty! For a great full body workout try the following routine:

30-20-10 Rowing Protocol – Start with an easy row for 3 to 5 minutes to warm-up. Then row 30-seconds at a low intensity, followed by 20-seconds using a moderate intensity and finally, row all out, high intensity, for 10-seconds. Repeat x 5 and cool-down. Progress to doing this x 10 rounds.

Try HIIT for Maximal Gains in Minimal Time

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is an exercise topic that arguably been studied more in the past decade than any other. It is highly likely, that every aspect of HIIT has been looked at. Research from Petrofsky and colleagues (2011) in the Journal of Applied Physiology is one such example. In that study, a 6-minute HIIT protocol elevated metabolism in test subjects for 36 hours. A second study, published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning, showed similar results. Subjects in this study performed just 27 minutes a week of interval-based exercise. The study showed VO2 max and work output increased 11 and 4.3 percent respectively in just 6 weeks.

The Jefit app offers many HIIT options for all training abilities, with equipment or just bodyweight. In addition, cardio intervals are great for burning some calories on the days you don’t do strength training. Add some of these activities into your weekly training routines to take your program to the next level.

What is Your Healthy Body Fat Range?

It seems like every time we pick up a magazine or surf the web we’re overwhelmed with outlandish weight-loss claims. Let’s do a reset on this for 2021 and change the narrative. Rather than focus on weight loss like so many of us do, let’s start looking more at our percent body fat level. Do you know what your current body fat level is? You should know this number and monitor it over time.

The ideal body fat percentage for an adult varies depending on the age of the individual. Other variables that also come into play are gender, genetics, bone structure and their exercise level. College-age men typically carry 15% body fat while women have 23%, keep in mind that these numbers are for non-athletes.

Women:

  • 20-40 yrs old: Low fat: under 21 percent, Healthy: 21-33 percent, Overweight: 33-39 percent, Obese: Over 39 percent
  • 41-60 yrs old: Low fat: under 23 percent, Healthy: 23-35 percent, Overweight : 35-40 percent Obese: over 40 percent
  • 61-79 yrs old: Low fat: under 24 percent, Healthy: 24-36 percent, Overweight: 36-42 percent, Obese: over 42 percent

Men:

  • 20-40 yrs old: Low fat: under 8 percent, Healthy: 8-19 percent, Overweight: 19-25 percent, Obese: over 25 percent
  • 41-60 yrs old: Low fat: under 11 percent, Healthy: 11-22 percent, Overweight: 22-27 percent, Obese: over 27 percent
  • 61-79 yrs old: Low fat: under 13 percent, Healthy: 13-25 percent, Overweight: 25-30 percent, Obese: over 30 percent

Stepping onto a bathroom scale does not tell you the real story about your overall health. Your bodyweight is not as important as how much body fat you carry. Once you can determine your body fat level, you then have a better understanding of the ratio of muscle to fat that make up your overall bodyweight.

For example, a women who weights 145 pounds and has 33% body fat, can calculate that she has “about” 48 pound of fat and 97 pounds of muscle, bone and fluid. A male, who is 205 pounds and has 25% body fat can determine he is carrying “about” 51 pounds of fat weight and about 154 pounds of muscle, bone and fluid. Once this is known, you can start using the Jefit app to keep track of how this number changes over time. In both of these cases, the goal would be to lose fat weight while maintaining or gaining muscle, depending of course what your goals are.

Monitoring your body fat is important, and in turn, offers great insight into the status of your overall health and fitness. As you see, it’s a valuable metric to follow and offers insight into understanding if a particular strength training program is actually working.

Use Jefit to Record & Monitor Your Body Fat and More

Try doing what millions of others have already done, use the award-winning Jefit app as their workout log. This in turn, will help you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

Try These Body Hack Techniques to Improve Performance

The majority of people who engage in exercise or team sports often look for ways to improve their performance. With that, brings us to how we can better “hack” our body to improve performance, some also call this DIY science….or biohacking. Dave Asprey, a biohacker who created the company Bulletproof, defines biohacking as “the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you so that you have full control over your own biology.” 

Why Try to Hack Your Body Anyway?

There are many people out there who try to hack their body to improve performance, on some level. They typically do this basically because they have a strong desire to feel better and to see just how far they can push their body. A lot of people are hacking their body essentially to try and live as long as possible. Dave Asprey as an example, has been quoted as saying he wants to live to 180 years old.

Another well-known body or bio hacker is Tim Ferris, author of the best-selling book, The 4-Hour Body. Ferris has a well-known reputation for trying to hack just about everything related to his body. He does a great job chronicling his experiences on his website and through his books.

Now that you have a better understanding of what trying to hack your body is all about, check this out.

Mindful breath work can have a positive impact on everything from stress reduction to improved sports performance.

Breath Work: An Easy Way to Improve Performance

We all know how to breath intuitively and how important breathing is since it gives us life. Best-selling author, James Nestor, author a new book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art looks into the science behind your breath. He offers up some great easy-to-follow tips that you can use in your practice right now. I actually tried his 6-second breath technique on my morning walk today. You can try this when seated (or like me, walking). Take in a long, slow breath through your nose only, for 5-6 seconds. Then exhale slowly for the same amount of time and try this for about 6 repetitions. The goal of this type of breathing, is to help more nitric oxide enter your body and tissues. It’s been reported that when you breathe through your nose, nasal resistance increases by 200 percent and this in turn helps release more oxygen. If you were wondering, mouth breathing does not let your body take advantage of the sinuses production of nitric oxide.

Nasal Versus Mouth Breathing

Take a moment and try this now. Close your mouth and breathe slowly in/out through your nose for about minute. According to a lot of the science out there, “breathing through your nose is one of the most beneficial things you can do for the overall health of your body and for your longevity.” You may already know the value of breath work, if you practice yoga on a regular basis. Think about this for a minute. How great would it be if we could get a legitimate boost in performance by simply breathing slowly through our nose only? For additional reading, check this great article out on the science of breathing by Sarah Novotny and Len Kravitz, Ph.D. and this research paper on effects of nasal breathing in runners.

There are many experts and researchers who think breath work should become a component in health & fitness model. Meaning, you work on strength, flexibility, cardio, nutrition, etc. – why not also incorporate breath work as part of your daily routine? Try adding it in when you warm-up or as part of your relaxation/meditation time during the day.

Mobility: Unlock Tight Hips to Improve Performance

We typically spend a great deal of our time in the gym pushing weights or doing cardio. One key area that often gets overlooked is mobility. Mobility can be defined as freedom of movement without pain through a full range of motion. Mobility exercises can be done as part of a warm-up if you’re always rushed for time. They are great for reducing joint pain, improving a fuller range of motion and can even reduce the chance of injury. We all know tight muscles and connective tissue are an accident waiting to happen.

When you want to squat, lunge, or lift weights better, mobility work is key, especially when it comes to the hips. You may have limited hip mobility because of an old injury, you don’t work on mobility or you may sit or drive all day for work. In any event, tight hips can cause, over time, a chain reaction resulting in dysfunctional movement. Over time your hip joints will become tight if not addressed appropriately, you’ll begin to notice issues when performing exercises like Squats and Deadlifts.

Some of the Better Hip Exercises You Should Do?

There are a lot of different directions you could go here. This is an opportunity to use the Jefit app and perform this series of exercises. Complete each exercise below slowly, working through a full range of motion. Perform each exercise as a hip and glute warm-up prior to working out, especially on leg day, and you’ll eventually see an improvement in hip mobility. Some may not be pure hip mobility drills but doing these will in turn improve glute/hip function. Perform each movement for 30-seconds then move to the next and repeat the circuit twice. Over time you can increase your time spent on each one.

Use the Jefit App

Jefit is an award-winning gym workout app that helps all gym goers and athletes keep track of their fitness goals. Not only does it give you the ability to update and share your workout log with the supportive community, it has the largest exercise library that covers weight training, cardio and flexibility.

10 Tips for Helping You Sustain a Healthy Lifestyle

No one needs to tell us that we’re currently living in unprecedented times. The health of everyone in this country, and worldwide for that matter, is at the forefront of all our minds. It is more important than ever to try and follow a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. How do you know if you’re living a healthy lifestyle in the first place? Harvard Health reports you’re considered healthy if you can answer “yes” to all the following criteria. (1) healthy diet, (2) healthy body weight, (3) never smoked, (4) consume moderate amounts of alcohol and (5) exercise regularly.

What’s Considered a Healthy Lifestyle?

According to Harvard Health, one important component to this type of lifestyle is a healthy diet. Meaning, an “intake of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids”. In addition, avoid unhealthy foods like “processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium.” No smoking in a no-brainer. A healthy body weight according to the site, is a body mass index (BMI), between 18.5 and 24.9. But to be honest, this is not the best metric to monitor, instead focus on your percent body fat. The reason why BMI may not be great is because it doesn’t take into account the amount of muscle mass you have. On the alcohol side, no more than one drink/day/women and two drinks/day/men. A healthy physical activity level means roughly 30-minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days of the week.

Does Living a Healthy Lifestyle Actually Add Years to Your Life?

The research does in fact demonstrate that living a healthy lifestyle can add years to your life. Individuals who met the criteria for all five habits (listed above) enjoyed living longer lives than those who had none: 14 additional years for women and 12 years for men to be exact. People who had none of these habits “were far more likely to die prematurely from cancer or cardiovascular disease.” There is also additional research that reports similar findings to this in the Journal of American Medical Association.

Are you getting a minimum of 30-minutes of moderate or vigorous activity most days of the week?

You probably have the exercise piece down already, especially if you’re using the Jefit app to help record and track your workouts. Here are some additional ways to move towards a healthy lifestyle, in addition to the five criteria mentioned in the research studies above.

10 Ways to Help You Live Better and Longer

Exercise

  • Burn 1,100 Calories a Week. Duke University scientists discovered that this amount of calories expended from exercise prevents the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue (fat). This type of belly fat causes arterial inflammation and hypertension. Are you falling short of this number? Try joining a sports a league. One study reported that people who exercised in groups boosted their average weekly calorie burn by 500 a week.
  • Hit the Weights. University of Michigan scientists found that people who completed three strength workouts/week for two months lowered their diastolic blood pressure by an average of eight points. That’s enough to reduce the risk of stroke by 40% and heart attack by 15%.
  • Find the Time to Exercise. People who exercise for 2 hours/week are less likely to feel stressed than their sedentary counterparts, say researchers from Denmark.
  • Get on Those Daily Chores. Doing 150 calories’ worth of chores a day can lower blood pressure by 13 points, according to Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The reduction lasts only 8 hours, but make it a daily habit and you can lower your blood pressure in the long term.

Diet & Nutrition for a Healthy Lifestyle

  • Drink Five 8-Ounce Glasses of Water a Day. Those drinking this amount of H2O were 54% less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack compared to people who drank two glasses a day.
  • Try a Natural Remedy. Israeli scientists found eating one grapefruit a day lowers cholesterol by 20% even in people who don’t respond to statins.
  • Cut Down on Sweets. Tufts University researchers found low-sugar diets had lower levels of depression and anxiety than those who consumed all types of carbohydrates. The happier people also limited their total carbohydrate intake to 40% of their daily total calories.
  • Enjoy Your Joe. Brooklyn College researchers discovered drinking 4 cups of coffee a day lowers your risk of dying of heart disease by 53%.
  • Indulge Your Chocolate Craving. A 15-year study by Dutch scientists found men who ate 4 grams of cocoa/day had half the risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate less. That’s the equivalent of two 25-calorie Hershey Kisses – an amount that can fit into any diet.

Stress Free Lifestyle

  • Try to Laugh More. A 15-minute funny video improves blood flow to your heart by 50%, reported by the University of Maryland. “This may reduce blood-clot formation, cholesterol deposition, and inflammation,” says study author Michael Miller, MD.

Hopefully this article has offered you a little more insight on what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. If so, maybe you feel like you’re more equipped now to live a more healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Continue to focus on improving your mind body & spirit a bit more each day.

Use the Jefit App to Help You Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Jefit is a gym workout app that helps all gym goers and athletes keep on track with their fitness goals. Not only does it you the ability to update and share your workout log with the supportive community, it has the largest exercise library that covers both weight training and cardio.

Is it More Beneficial to Workout Before or After Work?

workout before or after work

One of the decisions you have to make when going to the gym is knowing when to actually go. You may be wondering, “should I workout before or after work?” While there is no right answer as it all comes down to your personal lifestyle and preference, in this post, we will help you make the decision. Here are all the things you need to take into account when it comes to deciding whether to work out before or after work.

Should I workout before or after work? Here are some points to consider.

How busy it is

One of the main concerns is how busy a gym is. It’s great to be with like-minded people. However, being in a too-crowded gym is not. However, this can make it too crowded. This may mean that you’ll have to wait to use popular equipment such as the treadmill, squat rack or leg press. Waiting time means that you will have to extend the time you spend at the gym.

Before work is typically quieter than after work. There are some early birds that want to get in a quick workout to wake up and be energised for the day. Then there are those who would prefer the extra sleeping time and head to the gym after work instead. Bear in mind though, this can also greatly depend on your local gym and how often you go. If you go two times a week, then you’ll need more equipment to cover a full body workout. If you go 4-5 times, then you will be needing fewer facilities. So take this into account as well.

There are certain peak times that the average gym has. In the morning, 6 am to 8 am tend to be busier. When it comes to after work times, anything from 5 pm to 8 pm can be busy. A great way to determine when your gym’s peak hours are is to Google it! On the right-hand side of the page, there should be a Google reviews section that contains a graph of “popular times”. You can use this to see whether working out before or after work is best for you.

So if you find that after work is too busy, then try coming in the morning so you don’t have to wait for equipment or rush to get to the elliptical first!

Energy levels

Like we mentioned before, there are early birds and night owls. If you find that you’re too sluggish in the morning, then after work may suit you better. However, if you find that a morning workout leaves you energised and ready to tackle the day, then stick to a before-work workout!

After all, there is no use going to a morning class if you’re going to spend half of it being tired and groggy. Likewise, why go to the gym in the afternoon if you’re too exhausted from work to properly train. Go when your energy level is at its highest so that you can make sure that you are getting an efficient workout that will actually help you progress.

Do you need to eat before a workout?

There is a lot of debate about whether or not you should eat before a workout. However, it’s really up to your personal preference. If you like to train fasted, then a morning workout may be a great option. That way, you can just roll out of bed, change into your training gear and head to the gym. On the other hand, if you need to eat, then bear in mind that this means you’ll have to work up earlier to have a small snack such as a banana with peanut butter. And yes, this will mean having to sacrifice a bit more sleep as well.

Alternatively, you can train after work so that you can make sure you are well fed beforehand. Just be sure that you don’t eat too much otherwise you’ll be too bloated and might get a stitch.

If you’re looking for tips on what to eat before and after a workout, check out this article!

Psychological Effects

Exercising makes people feel great. It releases endorphins that make you happy whether you workout before or after work.

Working out in the morning before work means that you’ll wake up feeling alive and refreshed. You’ll also feel really great knowing that you’ve already gotten your gym session over and done with. It’ll boost your mood, meaning you’re starting the day right (and your family and co-workers will be happy about that too!).

Working out after work has its place as well. Work can be pretty stressful, or you may have had some conflict with your family or friends. What a better way to get rid of that anger or stress out than by exercising it out? Go hard in that group fitness class, zen it out in yoga, walk it off on the treadmill, or lift those weights to lift the stress off of your shoulders.

You’ll also get a better sleep if you workout in the afternoon (but not too late at night!).

Workout before or after work with Jefit

Jefit is a workout log app that comes with a range of features. From the ability to schedule your workouts, track your record, connect with other members, and customize your workout plan, there is not much Jefit can’t do to help you get on track to hit your fitness goals. Download Jefit now!

workout before or after work

Inactivity Physiology: What is it and How to Avoid it

We are all coming off a year where – most likely – our workouts and total energy expenditure dropped off dramatically during the course of a typical day. It is totally understandable.

A whole new field of study has developed recently called inactivity physiology.

Inactivity Physiology Defined

The inactivity physiology paradigm can be defined as:

“Inactivity physiology represents a paradigm shift for how we think about how lifestyle causes disease. Simply put, the inactivity physiology paradigm says that “too little exercise” is not the same as “too much sitting” (physical inactivity) and that too much sitting has very potent effects on the body contributing to the most common diseases.”

Think about this for a minute. You get up early to go for an hour run or head to the gym for a long workout. You then hop in the car and drive 30-45 minutes to work. Once you arrive at the office, what happens? That’s right, you sit in front of your computer to work and for meetings. You then typically sit more through lunch and throughout the rest of the day. After work you repeat the 30-45 minute drive home, which is now most likely longer due to rush hour traffic. After you get home you relax a bit, sit and catch the news, sit more during dinner and then watch more TV following dinner.

Well if that is the case, then (most) of the benefits derived from your workout earlier in the day may be erased. Now I know you stressed your body during that hour run or strength workout at the gym. You may think loading your bones and muscles and alleviating some stress is enough. This is all good. Sure, but the issue remains, you’re sitting for eight hours or more each day.

Let’s be honest, we can all increase our activity level a bit more …don’t you think? You need to increase the activity you do throughout the day – above and beyond your exercise session…it’s critical. There is abundance of research showing that additional energy expenditure during the day is vital for long-term health. According to Knudsen and colleagues, “aerobic capacity fell 7 percent in 14 days after reducing steps from 10,000 to 1,500 a day in active men not in exercise programs.  Here are some examples to help avoid this and help add more activity into your day.

10 Ways to Help Prevent Inactivity Physiology

To offset this try adding a few of the following throughout your day to increase daily activity especially while at work:

  • Build a standing work station at the office.
  • Kneel periodically at your desk (when checking emails) and stretch those tight hip flexors.
  • Get up every 20 minutes if you have a desk job and move and/or stretch.
  • If your errands are <1 mile from your house – choose walking/biking rather than driving.
  • Have “walking conference call” meetings at the office rather than sitting at a conference table.
  • Whenever you take calls on a cell phone make sure you get up and walk and talk.
  • Wear a pedometer and add 500 steps a day (goal: 10k/day) see Knudsen research paper below.
  • Turn your lunch into your workout time. Or take a long walk.
  • Limit your TV watching to <10 hours a week.
  • Your goal this week: try to stand one hour each day over the course of the week.

Suggested Reading:

Too Much Sitting is Hazardous to Your Health. Len Kravitz, PhD 

Are We Facing a New Paradigm of Inactivity Physiology? Br J Sports Medicine.

Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? NY Times article by James Vlahos

Genomic Aspects of Exercise, Inactivity, and Health, Frank Booth, PhD

Reference:

Knudsen, S. H., Hansen, L. S., Pedersen, M., Dejgaard, T. et al. (2012). Changes in insulin sensitivity precede changes in body composition during 14 days of step reduction combined with overfeeding in healthy young men. Journal of Applied Physiology.