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Five Tips for Highly Effective Home Workouts

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Effective workout at home

Sixty percent of Americans do not get the amount of exercise that the government recommends, and 25 percent don’t do any exercise at all.

If you’re part of either of these groups, what’s holding you back from getting the exercise your body needs? Is it a lack of time? Is it the cost of a gym membership?

A lot of the roadblocks that are keeping you from exercising regularly could be remedied by exercising at home instead.

Some people think that it’s impossible to get an effective workout at home, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be able to maximize your home workouts to see amazing benefits.

1. Dedicate a Space

Many people struggle to stay consistent with at-home workouts because they don’t have a space dedicated to exercise.

If you’re constantly trying to clear out the living room or shift furniture in the bedroom to have room for your workout, you’re probably going to find yourself lacking the motivation to actually exercise after a long day at the office.

If you live in a small apartment and don’t have a spare room to dedicate as a workout space, that’s okay. A whole room isn’t necessary. For a lot of workouts, you just need to have a space that is large enough for a yoga mat.

Block off a corner of the living room or bedroom for your workouts. Clear out furniture from this space and stash your equipment there so it’s always ready to go. Remember, don’t let anyone clutter this spot up with their stuff — this is your workout space!

2. Invest in Some Equipment

When you’re first getting started with at-home workouts, all you really need is a yoga mat and your own bodyweight.

Over time, though, you might start to get bored with burpees, push-ups, and crunches. Investing in some exercise equipment can help you stay motivated and remain consistent with your workouts.

Some good pieces of equipment to use for at-home workouts include:

  • Adjustable dumbbells or an adjustable kettlebell
  • Mini resistance bands
  • Soft medicine ball
  • Weighted jump rope

It’s not a piece of exercise equipment, per se, but a foam roller is also good to have on hand for rest days. It’s perfect for working out sore muscles after a tough workout.

3. Set Specific Goals

Balance body exercise

Having a goal to work toward will help keep you motivated, especially on days when you’re not feeling particularly excited about exercising.

The key is to make your goals specific and easy to track. For example, if you want to lose weight, figure out a specific number of pounds you want to want to lose. Or, if you want to work on your upper body strength, set a goal to do a specific number of push-ups or pull-ups by a certain date.

Make sure you write your goals down and display them somewhere prominent so that you always remember what you’re working for.

4. Mix Things Up Regularly

If you find yourself getting bored or feeling stuck in a rut with your workouts, remember that there are lots of free and inexpensive resources out there that make it easy for you to mix things up and try something new.

There are lots of websites that let you stream workouts online and try everything from yoga to kickboxing. When it comes to online workouts, many websites let you stream workouts for free, and others require a low monthly fee, so there’s something for every budget.

You can also look into mobile apps that show you a specific workout right on your phone. This is perfect if you don’t have access to a TV or computer but still want specific exercise cues to follow.

5. Stick to a Schedule

It’s fun to switch up your workouts, but, make sure you’re keeping your workout schedule as consistent as possible.

Sticking to a workout calendar is one of the best things you can do to make sure you see results from your at-home workouts (or your gym workouts, for that matter).

If you write your workouts down on a calendar, you’ll be more likely to follow through with them. Think about it — you never miss meetings with coworkers after they’ve been written on the calendar. Why would your workouts be any different?

Remember, when you’re scheduling your workouts, be specific — just like you should be with your goals. Don’t just write down “exercise.” Write down the time when you plan to workout, too. You might even want to add the specific type of workout you want to do as well.

Final Thoughts

Working out at home is a great option for people who are struggling to achieve their fitness goals. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll start seeing progress in no time!

Author Bio: Natalie Thongrit is a freelance writer who focuses primarily on fitness, health, and wellness-related content. You can connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn, or check out her portfolio to read more of her work.

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Fitness

5 Most Effective Ways You Can Lose Those Pregnancy Pounds

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40 weeks is a long time. Taking care of yourself and the baby was a tiring and wonderful endeavour. Most of the things that you needed to consider before your baby arrived have now been replaced with a new set of responsibilities.

Losing those pregnancy pounds just got added to the list. If you’re finding it difficult, let’s break it down.

1. Breastfeeding

Providing nutrients for your baby is not the only thing that breastfeeding does. It helps in cutting down the calories in the mothers’ body too. On an average, women tend to burn 330 calories per day while breast feeding. This is equivalent to 45 minutes on the treadmill at 10mph.

Must Read: 6 Steps to Eliminating Sagging Breasts Following Your Pregnancy

2. Crash diets are a no go

Watching all those television shows makes you want to go down to a size-0. Doing so can put your body into a nutrient deficit shock. There is no way for the body to lose all those pregnancy pounds that you put on, within a span of a few weeks. The body needs all the nutrients that it can get, to get back to its full potential. Which is why, it is important to take baby steps to lose those pregnancy pounds forever.

3. Superfoods for the supermom

Every new mom has a bunch of cravings, with her body still healing and adjusting to all the changes. Planning is the key here. Trying to switch up those pastry cravings with some fruits and vegetables is exactly what a new mom needs. Breaking down 3 meals a day to 6 meals a day can help increase metabolism, and munching on snacks could be swapped for have some nuts and dry fruits.

4. Exercising and eating right go hand in hand.

It’s time to put on your work out shoes, exercise helps in shedding those pregnancy pounds. It is also important to keep in mind that moms shouldn’t just jump into a rigorous exercise routine, take it slow; baby steps, remember? Start by going out for a walk, and eventually take it up a notch and try yoga, Pilates, kegels or aerobics. If you feel any pain, discomfort, nausea or dizziness stop immediately and try again the next day.

5. Ever heard of the concept of stress eating?

Stress tends to release two hormones in our body such as, adrenalin and cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that makes us think we are hungry, thereby making us eat more and throwing weight loss plans out of the window. Stress is something that new moms are bound to have. Which is why, asking your partner, your family or some of your friends to take care of your baby while you have a “me” is always a great idea to reduce those stress levels.

Also See: 5 Ways to End Emotional Binge Eating

A wonderful thing like giving birth can change the way the body works; even if it is for a little while. This is why it is important to have a balance between your diet and the exercise that you do, to bounce back to your full potential and take care of your new baby.

5 Most Effective Ways You Can Lose Those Pregnancy Pounds

Author Bio: Today’s guest post is written by Olivia Thomas. Check out her latest article on losing those pregnancy pounds.

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Fitness

Top Five Yoga Poses for People with Lower Back Pain

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At any one time, approximately 31 million Americans are suffering from lower back pain. Lower back pain is also the leading cause of disability for people all over the world.

If you’re currently struggling with lower back pain, you know how frustrating and debilitating it can be. But, it’s also important for you to know that there are a variety of treatment options available to help lessen your pain and improve your quality of life.

One of the best — yet often overlooked — treatment options for people with lower back pain is a consistent yoga practice. Yoga comes with a number of physical and mental health benefits that make it a great choice for people who want to relieve their pain.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of yoga for lower back pain, as well as five of the best pain-relieving poses that you can try today.

Benefits of Yoga for Lower Back Pain

Some of the most well-known benefits of yoga for people with lower back pain include:

  • Strengthens muscles in and around the lower back to improve posture and correct imbalances that contribute to pain
  • Stretches the muscles to relieve tension and improve range of motion
  • Promotes relaxation, which further reduces tension and pain
  • Improves body awareness and helps you understand your own body’s current limitations
  • Improves mindset, which can change your perception of and relationship to your pain

As you can see, there are lots of reasons to give yoga a try. Even if you’re skeptical about the practice’s ability to improve your back pain, at the very least, you’ll get to enjoy an hour of relaxation, which is something just about everyone can benefit from!

Best Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain Relief

If you think you can’t practice yoga because you don’t live close to or can’t afford to go to a yoga studio or gym, think again.

Thanks to the internet, there are tons of free resources available that will help you learn the basics and start reaping the benefits of yoga from the comfort of your own home.

Some simple yoga poses you can try today to relieve your lower back pain include:

1. Child’s Pose

This is one of the easiest, yet most beneficial yoga poses you can incorporate into your routine. It provides a nice stretch for the lower back and hips while also helping you relax and enjoy the moment.

To do this pose, start by kneeling on all fours. Bring your feet together so your big toes are touching and open your knees up so they’re a bit wider than hip-distance. Inhale, then exhale and sit your hips back as you stretch forward so that your torso rests in the space between the thighs. Extend your arms in front of you while resting your forehead on your mat.

If your forehead doesn’t touch the ground, you can prop it up on a yoga block, a pillow, a book, or even your stacked fists.

Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths, or longer if you’d like.

Must Read: 5 Practical Reasons To Practice Yoga During Pregnancy

2. Cat-Cow Pose

This is a great stretch that promotes healthy spinal mobility to relieve tension and strengthen the muscles in the back and abdominals.

Start by kneeling on all fours — make sure the wrists, shoulders, knees, and hips are all stacked and in line with one another. Inhale and arch your back, dropping your stomach down toward the ground and lifting your chin and tailbone up toward the ceiling (this is the “cow” part of the pose). Exhale and reverse the pose, pulling your abdominals in and arch your back up, tucking your chin and tailbone in (this is the “cat” part of the pose).

Repeat for at least five rounds (five “cats” and five “cows”), making sure the movement and breath are synced.

3. Downward Facing Dog

In addition to stretching the back, it’s also important to look elsewhere when you’re experiencing lower back pain. Often, people’s backs hurt because their leg muscles are tight — everything in the body is connected, and if one muscle group is tight, it’s probably pulling on other muscles and causing tension throughout the body.

To do this pose, start on all fours. Then, walk your feet back so that you’re in a plank pose with your shoulders right over your wrists. Inhale, then, as you exhale, lift your hips up toward the ceiling until your body forms an upside down “V” shape. Straighten your legs as much as you can and try to bring your heels down to touch the ground. Gaze between your legs or up at your belly button.

Hold for at least five breaths.

4. Standing Forward Fold

There are a number of standing yoga poses that are also great for countering lower back pain, including standing forward fold.

To do this pose, stand up straight at the top of your mat. Your feet can be hip-distance apart, or you can bring them closer so that your big toes are touching. Inhale and raise your arms up above your head, then exhale and hinge at your hips and stretch forward and down toward the ground, keeping your back as straight as possible.

Tuck your chin toward your chest and let the crown of your head reach toward the floor. If you can’t touch the floor, hold onto your shins or ankles instead. You can also bend your knees a bit if this is too intense for your hamstrings.

Hold for at least five breaths.

5. Reclined Pigeon Pose

This is a very calming pose that is often done at the end of a yoga class. It’s great for cooling down the body and quieting the mind. It also provides a great stretch for the outer hip, which, if it’s tight, can contribute to lower back pain.

Start by lying flat on your back. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the ground. Lift your left foot and cross it over your right thigh so it’s resting just above the knee. Reach through the space created by your right left leg and clasp your hands behind your right thigh. Gently pull your right leg in toward your chest, keeping the knee bent.

Hold for at least five breaths, then switch sides.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve never tried yoga as a way to relieve your back pain, consider testing out these five poses today. Your body — and your mind — will thank you!

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Fitness

Three Tips for Tight, Toned Legs

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Summer is upon us and shorts season is here! Does that statement make you feel more nervous than excited? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

Luckily, whether you’ve got a beach vacation coming up or are going to be doing some exploring in the mountains, if you want to feel strong and confident this season, these tips for toned legs will help you get there.

Read on to learn how you can shed body fat and strengthen the muscles in your lower body to get the legs you’ve always dreamed of.

1. Incorporate Strength Training

In order to have shapely, toned legs, you need to lift weights. Strength training builds muscle, which is what helps create the appearance of curves.

To see the best results, it’s important to make sure you’re lifting heavy weights and doing compound exercises (exercises that involve more than one muscle group).

Contrary to popular belief, heavy lifting and compound exercises won’t make you look big or “bulky.” Just as fitness icon Amanda Latona if you’re unsure.

Instead of doing a million donkey kicks with three-pound ankle weights, focus on functional movements that will strengthen multiple muscles in your legs at one time. Listed below are some good examples of compound exercises to include in your lower body routine:

  • Bulgarian split squats — this exercise targets the quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as the glutes.
  • Goblet squats — these are great for the quadriceps and glutes.
  • Walking lunges — in addition to working the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, these also help strengthen the core as an added bonus.
  • Wall sits —  this static exercise is perfect for people with knee pain who want to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstrings. The muscle engagement without movement strengthens the muscles without stressing the joints.
  • Deadlifts — this is one of the most functional exercises out there, as it targets all of the muscles in the lower body, as well as the lower back.
  • Single-leg deadlifts — these are great for working the lower body while also correcting muscle imbalances and improving core strength.

While you’ll see best results from lifting heavy weights, when you’re trying these exercises for the first time, it’s usually best to do them with just your own bodyweight. This will help you figure out the proper form so that you can avoid injuries.

Once you feel comfortable with your form, go ahead and add some weight to make it more challenging.  

It can be hard to figure out how much weight to use, but, generally speaking, the best approach is to choose a weight that makes the last 2-3 reps of the exercise difficult. You should still be able to perform the exercises with good form, of course, but it should still be challenging to complete the reps.

2. Add HIIT Training

While heavy lifting is essential for toned legs (and the rest of your body for that matter), it’s also important to incorporate cardiovascular exercise into your routine to help you lean out and see results faster.

While you could spend hours slogging away on the treadmill, there’s a better, more efficient way to go about getting your cardio in.

High-intensity interval training (also known as HIIT) is a type of workout that involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise (performed at 85-100 percent of your maximum heart rate) followed by longer periods of rest.

A typical HIIT workout might look something like this: Thirty seconds of sprinting followed by 60-90 seconds rest, repeated for 5-10 rounds (depending on your experience level).

This type of workout allows you to burn more calories in a shorter period of time, which is great for people who feel that their lives are too busy for long workouts.

HIIT also allows your body to burn more calories after your workout is over, and it promotes fat loss without sacrificing muscle, which can happen when you use steady-state cardio (such as treadmill walking or using the elliptical machine) as your primary form of cardio.

3. Clean Up Your Diet

While strength training is crucial for building muscle and getting the tight, toned legs you’re looking for, it’s also important to make sure your diet is on point. In addition to building muscle, you’ll also need to shed extra body fat in order to really allow those muscles to show through.

In order to reduce body fat, you’ll need to make sure you’re eating in a caloric deficit. This means that you’re consuming fewer calories than your body is burning. While you can create a calorie deficit by exercising more, that can also increase your hunger, which makes it harder for you to control cravings and may result in you overeating.

So, rather than trying to outrun (or outlift or out-HIIT) a bad diet, it’s generally better (and easier) to clean up your diet. This means getting rid of highly processed, carbohydrate- and calorie-laden treats (cookies, doughnuts, muffins, etc.). Instead, focus on eating more of the following foods:

  • High-quality protein (grass-fed beef, pastured chicken and pork, wild-caught fish, etc.)
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy fats like avocado and extra-virgin olive oil

While eating in a calorie deficit is necessary for fat loss, it’s important to make sure you’re not cutting your calories by too much. It’s generally considered unhealthy to lose more than 0.5-1 percent of total body weight each week. This means that, for a 150-pound woman, a healthy rate of weight loss would be between 0.75 and 1.5 pounds per week.

When you cut your calories too low, you risk losing muscle mass. You also can slow down your metabolism, which makes it harder for you to maintain your weight loss without continuing to eat an extremely small amount of calories. Since maintaining your weight loss will be more difficult if you take this approach, you’re also more likely to gain back the weight that you initially lost.

Final Thoughts

It takes time for your legs to tone up, so patience is a must when it comes to putting these tips into practice. But, if you’re consistent, you’ll be sure to see the results you’re after.

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