Archive Monthly Archives: July 2018

Hit the Hiking Trails for Fitness and Fun

Hiking is a great way to get outdoors.

Here are some ideas to get you hiking for fitness and fun.

I love an exercise challenge, exploring new surroundings and being outdoors. Hiking gives me all of those things in one simple and free activity.
As a child I would hike with my mom up and down hills, through streams and across rocks. We encountered all kinds of fun obstacles in both the wilderness and the urban jungle. She was trying to provide me with an adventure, but she also gave me the opportunity to become a fit, healthy, balanced and coordinated individual.
I now carry on the family tradition and at least once a week I take my family on a hike. We set off on foot from our own doorstep to various destinations near and far. I try to keep it challenging, exciting and fun, all while knowing that the health benefits associated with hiking are vast. Here are five great reasons to go hiking:

1. Improved Cardiovascular Function

Engaging in mild to moderate intensity exercise is linked to improvements in lung capacity and increased cardiac function.

2. Improved Balance and Coordination

The rugged and varied terrain of most hiking trails forces your body to stabilize itself, in time improving your balance and coordination.

3. Improved Mood

Taking time out from your busy life and enjoying the outdoors can relieve stress, while the stimulus of enjoying nature––the sights, smells and textures––can make you feel more mentally alert.

4. Weight Loss

Physical activity burns calories, and slow and steady cardiovascular activity promotes fat burning. Hiking, combined with good nutrition, can lead to significant weight and fat loss.

5. Having Fun

There is something about discovering new trails and being outside that is fun. Taking time out of your busy day to connect with friends, while doing an activity such as hiking, can improve your mood.

You can leisurely hike and enjoy your surroundings, chat with a friend or daydream as you check out nature, but you also have the option of finding your inner hiking guru and stepping up your hike into a calorie blasting athletic adventure.

Here’s how you can get more out of your hike:

1. Pick Up the Pace

Give trail running a try to increase the intensity of your hike. If you’re not ready for running, try alternating between power walking and jogging.

2. Steepen the Gradient

The steeper the hill, the harder your body has to work. Spend time finding a hike with a challenging incline.

3. Raise the Altitude

Training at a higher altitude has many health benefits and can improve your overall fitness level. However, it’s something you should build up to slowly.

4. Vary the Terrain

Start out on mostly flat trails and build up to sandy or rocky surfaces. Walking on uneven terrain forces all of the small under-worked muscles and tendons in your feet and ankles to get strong.

Hiking can be full of adventure, fun, sweat and burned calories, but as with all activities, it’s ultimately what you make of it. My best advice is to get on the trail, enjoy yourself and see how hiking can help you reach your goals.

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Get Beautiful in Half the Time with These Tips

Beautify yourself even when you’ve overslept.

Get to work on time with these top time-saving beauty tips.

Have you ever noticed that when you’re out of time in the morning, things just seem to fall apart? You’re out of toothpaste, you can’t keep a bar of soap in your hand, your mascara has disappeared, you can only find one shoe and everything in your closet needs ironing. I think we’ve probably all headed for the door with bedhead, no makeup and clothes that look like they just came out of the hamper. Is this truly necessary? No. Here are a few simple tricks that you can follow to maximize the time you have in the morning and leave the house looking your best.

Be Prepared

Do as much as you can the night before to ease into the morning rush. Get your shower or bath out of the way, apply your body lotion and maybe even mist yourself with a bit of fragrance before bed. And think about what you might wear. If your clothing needs ironing, spend the extra few minutes taking care of it.

Take a Minimalist Approach with Your Hair

If you don’t have time to wash and style your hair in the morning, use quick fixes. A ponytail, braid or even a hat can work on most days. If your bangs or roots are the problem, section them off and do a quick shampoo and rinse in your sink. Then grab your round brush and blow dryer and you’re good to go in just a few minutes. By freshening up your bangs or just the front pieces of your hair at the crown, you can turn your bed head into a stylish do in no time. If you find yourself in a real pinch for time, grab some dry shampoo and spray those roots. It’ll help absorb the excess oils and give your hair a bit more volume.

Set Your Makeup Fast

No time to wait for your skin care products to dry or your makeup to set? Reach for your blow dryer. Put the temperature setting on cool and give your skin a blast. Your products will dry down in no time and you’ll be on to your next morning beauty step. I love this tip because I need my skin care products in the morning no matter what. And the last thing I want to do is skip a precious serum or moisturizer because I am running out of time.

De-Clutter Your Beauty Area

Many of us have too many beauty products. When you have the luxury of time, it’s fun to experiment with them. But when in a hurry, the clutter can add precious time to your morning beauty routine.

If you have products that you don’t use on a regular basis, get them out of the way. Keep the products that you do use on a daily basis within easy access. If you know you’re going to have a hurried morning, line up all of your skin care products and cosmetics in the order that you’ll apply them. With everything right at your fingertips, you won’t waste time looking for something.

Think in Terms of Multi-purpose

Look for items such as hydrating cleanser, tinted moisturizer, de-puffing concealer, all-in-one cheek, lip and eye color, tinted lip balm and so on. Many guys have the multi-purpose concept down with all-in-one shampoo, conditioner and body wash being a popular option.

Follow the 3 E’s

If you’re in a major time crunch but need to put your best face forward, focus on your eyebrows, eyeliner and eyelashes. It’s really that simple. Give a quick brush and, if necessary, add a bit of color to your brows. Swoop on a bit of eyeliner and wiggle your mascara wand through your lashes for a bit of eye opening wow. If you put your focus on the 3 E’s, you can still dab on a bit of lip balm or apply a pouf of blush in just seconds. No one will ever know you were in a race against the clock.

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Try These 3 Low-impact Water Workouts

Water workouts keep stress off your joints.

A low-impact water workout is ideal, regardless of your age or current fitness level.

If you head to a water-based destination on vacation, instead of skipping your workout routine, you should consider taking to the water to get your exercise. This may help to ensure that you avoid gaining too many vacation pounds as a result of lazing around. Also, if you’re looking to challenge yourself without putting stress on your joints, or you just like being in the water, you’ll definitely enjoy giving water exercises a try. There are many types you can do. Here are three of my personal favorites:

Paddleboarding

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is a combination of kayaking and surfing. It’s one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. Many people are drawn to it because it provides you with a full-body workout. It improves your core strength, cardio fitness, balance and flexibility, with virtually no impact. It’s also a lot of fun.
Your core will be working overtime to stabilize your body position, and as you add in the paddle motion, you’ll also get a shoulder and oblique challenge. The resistance created by the paddle in the water will help you to gain muscular strength. Paddleboarding is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels, and unlike surfing, you don’t need waves to do it. Calm, flat water is perfect for beginners, and you can do it on an ocean, lake or other body of water.

Aqua Aerobics

Water exercise classes are a fun way to use the resistance and buoyancy of water to condition your muscles and improve your cardiovascular fitness, strength and flexibility. By employing strengthening exercises and stretching techniques, such classes can help you to increase your body’s tone and range of motion. You don’t need to attend an official class to get a great workout. Simply hop into the pool and experiment with different movements that take your joints through their full range of motion.

Swimming

Swimming can help you to improve your aerobic fitness level, because it forces your body to learn a new breathing pattern. Being face down in water means your body must learn to adapt quickly. By expanding the depth and volume of each breath, you’re forcing the lungs and heart to process oxygen more efficiently. Because swimming creates no impact on your joints, it’s great for giving your overworked muscles a break from high-impact activities like running or weight training, which can place stress on the joints of your hips, knees and ankles. Plus, you can choose whether you want to swim to relax or create a calorie-torching, total-body workout with lots of laps.

You don’t have to be on vacation to reap the benefits of being in and around water. Its tranquil nature can help you to feel relaxed and may help you to relieve stress. I love to add a water exercise day into my week all year round. And because of the resistance it creates, I know I’m burning a significant number of calories each time I do it.

It’s fun to get out on the water and enjoy nature, and it hardly ever feels like exercise. This summer, consider staying active with some water exercise.

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7 Ultra-cooling Summer Beauty Tips

Beat the heat with a hat this summer.

Staying cool in the summer is essential for avoiding a sweaty makeup meltdown. Here are some tips to beat the heat and look your best.

After a long, cold winter, the idea of warm summer weather sounds great. However, there are some challenges to dealing with summer weather. It’s easy to get overheated and sweaty, which can wreak havoc on your hair, makeup and all aspects of your look. Not to worry, there are lots of ways to keep your face and body cool and dry.

7 Ways to Stay Cool and Maintain Your Summer Beauty

Control Outdoor Exposure

When you’ve been outdoors for a prolonged period of time, make sure you take a break and go inside. Get in the daily habit of applying sunscreen. Also, keep your face protected with sunglasses and a brimmed hat. These are important habits you should practice all year long.

Get Creative with Your Hairstyle

Long hair against the back of your neck is enough to raise your body temperature by a degree or two. A great way to stay cool is to keep your hair at a shorter length. If that’s not your style, consider putting your hair up, try a sleek topknot, or a variation on the classic braid. One of my all-time favorite hairstyles to stay cool during the summer is a high ponytail.

Put Your Fridge to Work

The refrigerator doesn’t have to be just for keeping food cold. During the summer, keep moisturizer and body mist in there, too. Slathering on cool product will instantly make you feel cooler. You can keep your moisturizer in the fridge during the summer, too.

Ice Your Pressure Points

Here’s a quick party trick that really works: press your icy beverage or an ice cube against your wrist or your neck. The chill on these two pulse points can provide you with an all-over feeling of cool when it’s sizzling hot. If you stay cool, you’re less likely to encounter melting makeup.

Spray Yourself with Sea Salt

Add spring to your hair and keep your scalp dry with sea salt spray. It acts as a natural styling agent to create waves and add volume. Some hairstylists say this is the key product they use to create texturized waves. Sea salt spray can be found at any beauty supply store, or you can even make it yourself at home.

Spritz Your Face

For a quick cool-down after baking in your car, or any other heat-related situation, try spritzing on a face mist. It can give you an instant chill and make you feel refreshed. To enhance your face mist, choose your favorite fragrance like mint, herb or lavender and you’ll feel instantly freshened up.

Choose Your Cosmetics Carefully

When it comes to makeup, go for the smudged look—on purpose. Summer beauty trends suggest you should go easy on eye makeup, but if you want to glam it up, use crayon liners and eyeshadows that provide softer, smudgier lines. Matte lipsticks go on dryer than creamy ones and look great with dewy summer skin. Once you’re done applying makeup, use a setting spray to finish off your look and help keep your makeup in place.

With all of these refreshing ways to stay cool and collected, people will wonder what your secret is and admire how well you pull it off.

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The Difference between Probiotics and Prebiotics

Prebiotic compounds are abundant in
whole-wheat foods.

You might think that your digestive system serves only to help you process and extract the nutrients in your foods. It does that, of course, but it does much, much more.

In fact, your gastrointestinal tract has been called the “second brain” – a complex system that sends and receives all kinds of information to and from your “first” brain. The “brain” in your gut has a variety of receptors that gather information about conditions in your digestive tract. It then sends signals to your “first’ brain, which uses that information to control digestive function.

The Gut Microbiome

An important player in all of this is something called the gut “microbiome” – which is really a world within you. Your microbiome is an entire ecosystem composed of trillions of diverse organisms (including bacteria, fungi and viruses) – weighing between two and six pounds- which has profound effects on your health.

One of the primary functions of the microbiome is to break down dietary fiber, since the human body lacks the machinery to get the job done. The microbiome also supports the health of your immune system (much of which resides in your gut), helps keep out foreign invaders that could make you sick, and manufactures several essential vitamins.

With so many important roles that it has in protecting your health, there is increasing attention to the role that diet plays in maintaining the health of your microbiome.

While we don’t know exactly what the ideal composition of the microbiome should be, we do know that the more diverse the population of inhabitants in your gut, the better. The foods you put into your system have a big influence on maintaining a healthy balance of the microbes in your gut which, in turn, helps your two “brains” to optimally work together.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are the compounds in many of the high fiber foods that you eat. While humans lack the ability to break down the fiber that we consume in foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, the microbes in your gut are more than happy to do the job for you, in a process referred to as “fermentation”.

As the microbes ferment the dietary fiber that you eat, they produce certain compounds that serve as fuel for the cells that line your intestinal tract, thus helping to keep it healthy.

Prebiotic compounds are particularly abundant in bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, tomatoes, plums, apples, nuts, soybeans and whole-wheat foods.

Probiotics

The word “probiotic” derives from the Greek (“promoting life”). And probiotics certainly do just that in your digestive tract. Probiotics are the “good” bacteria (sometimes called live cultures) that you can consume from foods or supplements. Probiotics are the same bacteria that reside in your gut. Taking in probiotics can help to balance the populations of the various types of bacteria in your gut, which, in turn, promotes gut health.

While the idea of consuming bacteria may not sound appealing, it’s likely that you already consume them without realizing it. Probiotics are found in many fermented foods. Fermentation is a natural process in which bacteria convert sugars and other carbohydrates in foods into acids. That’s why many naturally fermented foods have a tangy taste.

For many people, the most common source of probiotics is fermented dairy products such as yogurt, kefir and certain aged cheeses. In fact, one of the most common strains of probiotic bacteria that reside in your intestines is Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is found in yogurt.

You can also obtain beneficial probiotics from fermented vegetables such as pickles, kimchi, olives and sauerkraut (only when sold refrigerated; canned products are heated during processing, which destroys the beneficial bacteria). Other sources include fermented soy products such as miso and tempeh, cultured non-dairy yogurts (look for “live active cultures” on the label) and kombucha beverages.

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