Tag Archives: exercise

How Sleep Affects Fitness Outcomes

sleep-affects-fitness-outcomes

Sleep is an essential aspect of life, no matter who you are. For athletes, though, it’s an ingredient in the recipe for success that can’t be replaced with anything else. The same is true for non-athletes who exercise regularly, especially those who consistently push themselves to new levels of achievement. In short, sleep is essential for recovery. But what, exactly, does this mean?

Sleep and Exercise Recovery

When we exercise, we put stress on our muscles, heart, tendons/ligaments, and other body systems. This stress is calculated, as it stimulates our bodies to recover stronger than they were before the stress took place. When the body experiences stress, it “anticipates” that such stress may continue in the future, and prepares itself by packing on muscle and increasing agility. However, it takes time for these changes to take effect, and sleep is the time when the greatest improvements are made. 

William and Mary athletics research indicates that it takes about one hour of sleep for an athlete to recover from 2 hours of bodily stress. Therefore, 16 hours of wakefulness and training would require a full 8 hours to build back to 100%. Obviously, in the case of extreme strenuous exercise, the body may require multiple days to fully recover, with each night of sleep playing an important role. Ideally, the athlete will be conditioned to difficult training, though, and therefore a single night of sleep will do most of the work. 

When we don’t sleep enough after difficult training, we enter the next day only partially recovered. Our bodies must then continue the difficult process of recovery while also handling the burden of daily tasks and responsibilities, possibly with the added burden of further exercise. During such exercise, strength and mobility will be limited, reducing the effectiveness of weight-lifting, running, or whatever other form of exercise you practice. In many way, exercise of this sort is “going through the motions” – dragging oneself in a state of exhaustion through a routine, without reaping the benefits that good sleep can provide. 

How to Improve Sleep Quality for Optimal Exercise Recovery

If you aren’t sleeping enough, the first step is to make time for sufficient sleep. Give yourself at least 8 hours of undisturbed time, and be willing to go to bed early enough in the evening to achieve it. It’s important to follow all of the useful practices that can contribute to good sleep, such as removing electric lights from the bedroom, “winding down” sufficiently early to drift off to sleep, and avoiding food, drink, and chemicals like caffeine even hours prior to slumber. 

Another way to improve sleep quality, though, is to simply exercise more! Exercise and sleep go hand in hand. The more tired you are, the more your body will naturally reach out for the restorative power that a night of quality rest can provide. If you are a natural insomniac, chances are that vigorous exercise during the day may be enough to help turn the tide. In fact, the exercise>sleep connection is so powerful that it’s been described as a positive “vicious cycle”, one which builds to a beneficial outcome in a rapid and surprising fashion. 

If you still have trouble sleeping, even with your fitness goals being achieved during the day, there are supplements that can help. TravaCor by NeuroScience, Sleep Time by Nutritional Frontiers, and Melatonin 3 mg by Pure Encapsulations each have a unique herbal/natural formulation that can help the body naturally relax for high quality sleep each night. Try any of them while also improving your daytime exertion practices, and you should be slumbering beneficially soon enough.

How to Stay Active During the Holidays

stay active during the holidays

Here are tips on how to stay active during the holidays.

Let’s face it, the holidays are not the best for watching your waistline or maintaining a diet. But, you don’t have to throw all caution to the wind. At the very least if you’re going to give in to all the holidays treats, you can at least stay active. Before you argue that it’s cold outside, or quarantining makes it hard to workout, we’ve got some great suggestions on how to stay active during the holidays.

Embrace the Cold

There’s nothing like cold weather to get you into the holiday spirit, so why not embrace it and find ways to stay active despite it? Here are some of our favorite cold weather activities that are perfect for the holiday weather.

  • Ice Skating
  • Ice Hockey
  • Flag Football
  • Trail Running/Walking
  • Bike Riding

Exercise When You Can

If the holidays are a super busy time for you, sometimes you just have to make the opportunities to get active. Here are some ideas we’ve come up for you that you can literally do anywhere, at any time.

  • 50 squats a day (break them up throughout the day)
  • 100 jumping jacks (try 20 at a time)
  • Climb the stairs (do extra rounds if you have the time)
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot so you have to walk a bit

Keep Your Energy Up

If you’re not keeping up with your regular exercise routine and you’re indulging in one too many treats, you can begin to feel sluggish. Keep your energy up by making sure you’re giving everything your body needs, Here’s a checklist.

Plan Ahead

If you’re going to be traveling a lot during the holiday season, plan ahead so you can stay active. If you’re staying in hotels, call ahead to see if they have a gym facility you can use. If you’re staying at a friend or relatives home, see if they have home exercise equipment you can use. If you’re really out of options, see if a gym in the area will allow you to purchase visits by the day for the time you will be in town.

You don’t have to dump all the progress you’ve made all year just because it’s the holiday season. You can stay healthy and active, and still have a good time. Try some of these “stay active” tips, and have a safe and happy holiday season.

For The Love of Your Heart, Exercise!

For the love of your heartJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

If you haven’t yet made wellness resolutions for the new year, today may be the perfect day to begin. Those who resolve to exercise more and eat healthier in order to lose weight may not fully appreciate the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity. Yes, exercise does burn calories, which along with a healthy diet and portion control can help one reach and maintain a healthy weight. A regular exercise routine also modifies or controls many of the risk factors linked to less than optimal cardiovascular health. Similar to the increased risk of developing heart disease due to smoking and high cholesterol and blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle lacking sufficient physical activity can double the heart disease fatality risk. As well, studies have shown that those who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer a sudden heart attack or other life-threatening cardiac event.

Consistent exercise strengthens the heart and all the muscles of the body. Regular physical activity increases the efficiency of the heart muscle, allowing for a slower more effective heartbeat. Exercise stresses the body, but continued training allows the body to adapt and become conditioned to the stress. During exercise, cardiac output significantly increases to provide oxygenated blood to the muscles, as well as oxygen and nutrients to the brain and other vital organs. As the cardiovascular system strengthens, blood pressure becomes more stabilized and physical fitness and endurance improve. Exercise also allows for better blood flow in the small blood vessels around the heart that can become clogged with fatty deposits. Regular moderate exercise can both lower unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels and raise healthy HDL levels, resulting in overall improved cholesterol levels.

For exercise to be effective, it needs to raise the heartbeat. Experts agree that 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity most days of the week will improve cardiac and overall health. Cardio fitness measures how well the body performs during moderate to high intensity activity for an extended period of time. Overall fitness refers to the relationship between the cardiovascular, respiratory and skeletal systems, as all must work together efficiently to increase fitness. Those new to exercise can start slowly and do whatever they can manage, as even five minutes of activity is helpful. Improving cardio fitness takes time, commitment and effort. However, consistency builds both energy and endurance, while also improving mood and lowering chronic disease risks.

A heart-healthy exercise plan should include both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, or cycling strengthens the heart and lungs, improving the ability to use oxygen. Anaerobic exercise such as weight training helps build muscle,  strengthens the immune system and increases metabolism, helping to burn more calories while at rest.

  • Walking – Considered a weight bearing aerobic exercise, walking can be done outdoors weather permitting or on a treadmill indoors. In addition to strengthening the heart muscle walking burns calories, aiding weight maintenance. Taking a 15 minute walk after a meal may improve blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Walking improves mood by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and helps to clear the mind, allowing for more creative thinking. Taking a moderate paced walk each day can fulfill the recommended daily aerobic activity for people of all ages and fitness levels.
  • Swimming – For those who have access to safe water, swimming provides an all-over  workout, without the impact of stress on the joints and body. Swimming keeps the heart rate up and builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness, while alleviating every day stress and improving flexibility. Many find swimming to be a relaxing and peaceful form of exercise.
  • Cycling – Cycling is a low impact form of aerobic exercise that uses all major muscle groups and increases stamina, strength and cardiovascular fitness. A fun way to get fit, as well as a time-efficient mode of transportation, cycling helps to strengthen bones, improves joint mobility, reduces stress and improves posture and coordination.
  • Weight training – Simple weight bearing exercises performed for 20 – 30 minutes twice weekly strengthens the bones, muscles, and connective tissues. Resistance training helps to preserve the quality of life and supports one’s ability to maintain an active and independent lifestyle. Considered a valuable companion to aerobic exercise, weight training increases blood flow to the limbs and results in a longer-lasting drop in blood pressure after exercise.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality products in support of cardiovascular and overall health:

CoQ10 100 mgCoQ10 100 mg by Professional Supplement Center®: A naturally present antioxidant, CoQ10 is well known for its heart and vascular health benefits. Found in every bodily cell and crucial to cellular energy production, CoQ10 synthesis declines with age. This highly bioavailable CoQ10, as ubiquinone, is recommended to support cardiovascular, immune, periodontal and liver health. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

Heart Science™Heart Science™ by Source Naturals: This multi-nutrient Bio-Aligned™ formula is designed to support normal heart function and healthy blood circulation. Ingredients include vitamins, minerals, turmeric rhizome extract, CoQ10 and resveratrol.

 

Cholesterol SupportCholesterol Support by Wiley’s Finest™ Alaskan Fish Oil: Specifically formulated with synergistic nutrients to promote heart heath, blood vessel function and healthy circulation, Cholesterol Support provides concentrated omega-3 fish oil along with plant sterol esters. Sourced from certified sustainable Alaskan pollock. Free of gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, sugar, shellfish and artificial ingredients. Naturally preserved with Non-GMO mixed tocopherols.

CardioVenCardioVen™ by Premier Research Labs: This nutraceutical formula provides targeted support for cardiovascular health with nutrients such as herbals, fruits, vegetables, turmeric, mixed tocopherols and CoQ10 as ubiquinone. Gluten free, vegan formulation.

 

References:
Exercise Helps Your Heart: https://wa.kaiserpermanente.org/healthAndWellness/index.jhtml?item=%2Fcommon%2FhealthAndWellness%2Fconditions%2FheartDisease%2FexerciseBenefit.html
Exercise and the Heart. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/heart_vascular_institute/clinical_services/centers_excellence/womens_cardiovascular_health_center/patient_information/health_topics/exercise_heart.html
The many ways exercise helps your heart. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-many-ways-exercise-helps-your-heart
10 Surprises About Heart-Healthy Exercise. https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/heart-healthy-living/exercise-facts/
Weight Training Has Unique Heart Benefits, Study Suggests. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/207417.php