The One Move a Trainer Says You Should Always Do To Round Out Your Core Workout

When you think of a core workout, your mind might go to ab-blasting high-intensity sequences that fire your muscles and then leave you quivering. But the benefits of a good core workout go beyond strengthening your abs.

Core exercises also train key muscle groups in your pelvis, lower back, and even hips to work together harmoniously to promote better overall stability and balance, according to the Mayo Clinic. That stabilization can help prevent injury and increase your ability to stay active for longer. Sold!

But getting there doesn’t need to involve intimidating exercises like burpees or mountain climbers. While the variations of a killer core sequence are seemingly limitless (check out Well+Good’s YouTube channel for primo workouts to try at home), trainer and fitness coach Roxie Jones, the creator of BodyROX, says her go-to move right now to round out her core workouts is the reverse bear crawl. “I’ve been loving backwards bear crawls as a workout finisher,” she says.

The reverse bear crawl isn’t just an ab-focused move. It’s a true full-body challenge, ensuring that even though you are homing in on your abs, you also get a well-rounded workout without adding much time to your workout—as little as 15 seconds can offer legit benefits.

“You pretty much use every muscle in your body for a bear crawl and it’s especially challenging when done in reverse because you need to push through the ground while maintaining core engagement and stability,” Jones says.

Although she typically turns to it as her grand finale, Jones says it can be also be used to fire up your muscles at the beginning of a workout since it engages everything: “It hits shoulders, chest, back, quads, hamstrings and core.”

How do you do it? Start on all fours with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and your knees lined up under your hips. “It’s done in a bear crawl position, moving opposite limbs to travel backwards without letting the knees touch the floor,” Jones says.

Correct form is key on this move to properly engage your back and core muscles—focus on keeping a flat, tabletop back without letting it arch. Then, crawl backwards with each hand and the opposite leg. Work to keep your knees just an inch or two off the ground. It might sound simple, but the reverse bear crawl is a super-charged core strengthening exercise because of the extra attention you have to give your muscles to stay in proper alignment.

Give it a try and get ready to feel it. Jones does this move for a set amount of time. Start with 15 seconds and work your way up to 40, or even 60. Or, do this move in between each block of your workout, increasing by 5 or 10 seconds with each round.

“This makes you practice coordination, stability, core control, and the ability to push since you’re pushing through the ground to travel backwards,” says Jones.

By:

Source: Why The Reverse Bear Crawl Is Killer For Your Core | Well+Good

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Critics:

“Building a strong core is all about keeping still, not doing hundreds of abdominal curl repetitions,” says Tidmarsh. “These three holds will create the foundation of a strong core, teaching you to keep your hips aligned and how to control your posture.”

Naturally you can do each of the exercises as part of a training session, but for a beginner core workout follow the suggested reps and rest periods below, doing five rounds in total of these three exercises.

Plank

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

The definitive core exercise. The plank involves minimal movement but maximal effort, requiring you to support your body on your forearms and toes while holding your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. You can make it easier by resting on your knees, or harder by extending your arms so you’re supported by your hands.

Dead bug

Reps 10 Rest 0sec

Lie on your back with your arms extended straight up towards the ceiling, and your legs raised with your knees bent at 90°. Lower your right arm and left leg at the same time until they are hovering just above the floor, then return to the starting position. Then do the same with the opposite limbs.

Boat

Time 30sec Rest 1min

Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight, and hold your arms out in front of you as you raise your feet off the ground with your legs together. If you can, extend your legs so they are straight and your body forms a V shape. You can also raise your arms and spread your legs to make the hold harder.

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How To Harness The Pain Blocking Effects of Exercise

Athletes have a very complicated relationship with pain. For endurance athletes in particular, pain is an absolutely non-negotiable element of their competitive experience. You fear it, but you also embrace it. And then you try to understand it.

But pain isn’t like heart rate or lactate levels—things you can measure and meaningfully compare from one session to the next. Every painful experience is different, and the factors that contribute to those differences seem to be endless. A recent study in the Journal of Sports Sciences, from researchers in Iraq, Australia, and Britain, adds a new one to the list: viewing images of athletes in pain right before a cycling test led to higher pain ratings and worse performance than viewing images of athletes enjoying themselves.

That finding is reminiscent of a result I wrote about last year, in which subjects who were told that exercise increases pain perception experienced greater pain, while those told that exercise decreases pain perception experienced less pain. In that case, the researchers were studying pain perception after exercise rather than during it, trying to understand a phenomenon called exercise-induced hypoalgesia (which just means that you experience less pain after exercise).

This phenomenon has been studied for more than 40 years: one of the first attempts to unravel it was published in 1979 under the title “The Painlessness of the Long Distance Runner,” in which an Australian researcher named Garry Egger did a series of 15 runs over six months after being injected with either an opioid blocker called naloxone or a placebo. Running did indeed increase his pain threshold, but naloxone didn’t seem to make any difference, suggesting that endorphins—the body’s own opioids—weren’t responsible for the effect. (Subsequent research has been plentiful but not very conclusive, and it’s currently thought that both opioid and other mechanisms are responsible.)

But the very nature of pain—the fact that seeing an image of pain or being told that something will be painful can alter the pain you feel—makes it extremely tricky to study. If you put someone through a painful experiment twice, their experience the first time will inevitably color their perceptions the second time.

As a result, according to the authors of another new study, the only results you can really trust are from randomized trials in which the effects of exercise on pain are compared to the results of the same sequence of tests with no exercise—a standard that excludes much of the existing research.

The new study, published in the Journal of Pain by Michael Wewege and Matthew Jones of the University of New South Wales, is a meta-analysis that sets out to determine whether exercise-induced hypoalgesia is a real thing, and if so, what sorts of exercise induce it, and in whom. While there have been several previous meta-analyses on this topic, this one was restricted to randomized controlled trials, which meant that just 13 studies from the initial pool of 350 were included.

The good news is that, in healthy subjects, aerobic exercise did indeed seem to cause a large increase in pain threshold. Here’s a forest plot, in which dots to the left of the line indicate that an individual study saw increased pain tolerance after aerobic exercise, while dots to the right indicate that pain tolerance worsened. 

The big diamond at the bottom is the overall combination of the data from those studies. It’s interesting to look at a few of the individual studies. The first dot at the top, for example, saw basically no change from a six-minute walk. The second and third dots, with the most positive results, involved 30 minutes of cycling and 40 minutes of treadmill running, respectively. The dosage probably matters, but there’s not enough data to draw definitive conclusions.

After that, things get a little tricker. Dynamic resistance exercise (standard weight-room stuff, for the most part) seems to have a small positive effect, but that’s based on just two studies. Isometric exercises (i.e. pushing or pulling without moving, or holding a static position), based on three studies, have no clear effect.

There are also three studies that look at subjects with chronic pain. This is where researchers are really hoping to see effects, because it’s very challenging to find ways of managing ongoing pain, especially now that the downsides of long-term opioid use are better understood. In this case, the subjects had knee osteoarthritis, plantar fasciitis, or tennis elbow, and neither dynamic nor isometric exercises seemed to help. There were no studies—or at least none that met the criteria for this analysis—that tried aerobic exercise for patients with chronic pain.

The main takeaway, for me, is how little we really know for sure about the relationship between exercise and pain perception. It seems likely that the feeling of dulled pain that follows a good run is real (and thus that you shouldn’t conclude that your minor injury has really been healed just because it feels okay when you finish).

Exactly why this happens, what’s required to trigger it, and who can benefit from it remains unclear. But if you’ve got a race or a big workout coming up, based on the study with pain imagery, I’d suggest not thinking about it too much. Hat tip to Chris Yates for additional research. For more Sweat Science, join me on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for the email newsletter, and check out my book Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance.

By: Alex Hutchinson

Source: How to Harness the Pain-Blocking Effects of Exercise | Outside Online

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Critics:

Exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC) are defined as cramping (painful muscle spasms) during or immediately following exercise. Muscle cramps during exercise are very common, even in elite athletes. EAMC are a common condition that occurs during or after exercise, often during endurance events such as a triathlon or marathon.

Although EAMC are extremely common among athletes, the cause is still not fully understood because muscle cramping can occur as a result of many underlying conditions. Elite athletes experience cramping due to paces at higher intensities.The cause of exercise-associated muscle cramps is hypothesized to be due to altered neuromuscular control, dehydration, or electrolyte depletion.

It is widely believed that excessive sweating due to strenuous exercise can lead to muscle cramps. Deficiency of sodium and other electrolytes may lead to contracted interstitial fluid compartments, which may exacerbate the muscle cramping. According to this theory, the increased blood plasma osmolality from sweating sodium losses causes a fluid shift from the interstitial space to the intervascular space, which causes the interstitial fluid compartment to deform and contributes to muscle hyperexcitability and risk of spontaneous muscle activity.

The second hypothesis is altered neuromuscular control. In this hypothesis, it is suggested that cramping is due to altered neuromuscular activity. The proposed underlying cause of the altered neuromuscular control is due to fatigue. There are several disturbances, at various levels of the central and peripheral nervous system, and the skeletal muscle that contribute to cramping.

These disturbances can be described by a series of several key events. First and foremost, repetitive muscle exercise can lead to the development of fatigue due to one or more of the following: inadequate conditioning, hot and or humid environments, increased intensity, increased duration, and decreased supply of energy. Muscle fatigue itself causes increased excitatory afferent activity within the muscle spindles and decreased inhibitory afferent activity within the Golgi tendon.

The coupling of these events leads to altered neuromuscular control from the spinal cord. A cascade of events follow the altered neuromuscular control; this includes increased alpha-motor neuron activity in the spinal cord, which overloads the lower motor neurons, and increased muscle cell membrane activity. Thus, the resultant of this cascade is a muscle cramp.

See also

How The COVID Vaccine and Regular Exercise May Increase Effectiveness

And while we’re still waiting for similar studies with COVID-19 vaccines, there’s good reason to believe the same effects would apply, says University of Sydney associate professor of exercise science Kate Edwards, who has extensively researched the links between vaccines and exercise.

Exercise and your immune system

First, it’s important to understand the profound effects of exercise on the immune system. One, Edwards says, is that it puts more immune cells – which kill infected cells and produce antibodies to destroy viral and bacterial antigens – on patrol in the body’s blood circulation. Also, when you work out, your muscles release signalling molecules, called myokines, that help put our body’s defences on high alert. Over the long-term, regular exercise means having a stronger, more responsive immune system.

And this has had repercussions during the pandemic. A US study, published this week in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, examined almost 50,000 patients and concluded that aside from old age or a past organ transplant, physical inactivity was the biggest risk factor for severe symptoms. People who didn’t exercise were more than twice as likely to be hospitalised compared to those who clocked up at least 150 minutes of activity every week. They were also 2.5 times more likely to die of the infection.

The effects of exercise on vaccines

Given all this, it’s perhaps unsurprising that exercise has been shown to improve the efficacy of vaccines. “We see that regular exercise over the course of weeks or months makes vaccine responses stronger and that likely then means you are more protected from the disease,” Edwards says.

A study published last year found that elite athletes had significantly more anti-influenza immune cells after a flu shot compared to other healthy adults. This echoed a 2019 study finding that older adults who trained regularly had a much higher antibody response to healthy adults who didn’t exercise. Consistent exercise after a vaccine is also thought to prolong enhanced protection.

“Vaccination does cause an immune response but because we have more of these immune cells [when we exercise], it’s a much more powerful response,” says Rob Newton, professor of exercise medicine at Edith Cowan University.

Interestingly, exercising on the day of a vaccine has also shown benefits. There’s less evidence for this, Edwards says, but her research suggests it may lead to a stronger immune response, particularly from doing arm movements in the hours before injection.

“You are likely to get more immune cells moving to pick up the vaccine … but also by exercising the muscles where you’ll get the vaccine means you release those immune signals and so it may draw the cells to that location as well.”

“The key is that exercise has no downsides. It gives benefits regardless and the evidence is so strong in a range of other vaccines.”

Professor Rob Newton

What’s even more startling is that being active close to the time of a vaccination – such as flu or HPV – has been found to reduce the risk of suffering from adverse reactions to the jab. Edwards says the effects were observed simply with 15 minutes of moderate resistance band exercise, probably because the immune system was primed and ready for a challenge.

“I would expect exercise in the hour before vaccination and the short period after would have the same effect,” Edwards says. This may be particularly valuable for people who are compromised through age or illness, Newton says.

Preparing for your COVID-19 vaccine

Of course, while this is all compelling evidence, Newton says we can’t be sure the same will apply to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly those that use new mRNA technology, such as Pfizer. “But those pathways still require the involvement of the immune system and the activation of immune cells,” Newton says. “[And] exercise distributes immune factors through the body.”

Newton is frank when he explains how he’ll approach his own COVID-19 vaccine: “I’m already exercising regularly and when it’s my turn to get a vaccination I can tell you I’ll be exercising before I head off to the medical clinic.” He suggests people follow his lead: “The key is that exercise has no downsides. It gives benefits regardless and the evidence is so strong in a range of other vaccines.”

“If you’re particularly worried about a vaccine working well, then exercise is a really good thing to do, but remember it’s important for … all sorts of things.”

Associate Professor Kate Edwards

Edwards agrees: “Certainly what we’ve never seen is exercise making anything worse: immune response or side-effects.” Edwards says because researchers are still exploring why some people are experiencing COVID-19 vaccine side-effects, she recommends not drastically changing your exercise routine on the day of your shot. But if you typically go for a run or do yoga, go for it.

She says it may help to do some light arm exercises close to the time of injection – for example a few sets of wall push-ups, shoulder presses and bicep curls. “Then you might want to consider having a rest day the day after the vaccination because reactions are sometimes being seen 24-48 hours after.”

And while you wait for the rollout to reach you, it’s worth ensuring you have a training routine in place. Australia’s physical activity guidelines for adults aged 18-64 are to have at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, and two resistance training sessions – the latter of which Edwards particularly recommends for promoting immune function.

The bottom line, though, is working out is good for everybody, for myriad reasons. “If you’re particularly worried about a vaccine working well, then exercise is a really good thing to do, but remember it’s important for chronic disease, mental health, socialisation, all sorts of things,” Edwards says.

Newton says people shouldn’t worry that vigorous exercise will stress their bodies. “Unless you’re an elite athlete it’s very difficult to exercise to excess and compromise your immune system.” He recommends older Australians or people with chronic illness set up an exercise program with the guidance of an accredited exercise physiologist.

Sophie Aubrey

 

By: Sophie Aubrey

Source: How the COVID vaccine and regular exercise may increase effectiveness

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Related Links:

Common Ground: a pandemic influenza simulation exercise for the European Union, 23-24 November 2005

R Kaiser, M Ciotti, G Thinus… – Weekly releases (1997 …, 2005 – eurosurveillance.org
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Pandemic influenza preparedness and health systems challenges in Asia: results from rapid analyses in 6 Asian countries

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Stop Sitting Still & Do These 8 Activities Throughout The Workday

Create a habit of getting out of your chair every hour for a few minutes of movement. Stretches relieve stiffness and mitigate the negative health impacts caused by sitting all day long.

Over the course of the pandemic, many people who previously commuted to office spaces and job sites joined the at-home workforce. Unfortunately, that additional time at home easily equates to more sedentary time.

Whether you work from home or not, if your normal daily schedule has you sitting still for hours at a time, it’s important to make an effort to move throughout your day to avoid the negative health implications of being sedentary, such as an increased risk for cancer. In fact, breaking up long bouts of sitting still with just a little exercise can boost your overall health and fitness.What if, over the course of an eight-hour day, you got up and moved for three minutes every hour?
That’s 24 minutes of exercise daily. Add another 10 minutes of walking or stair climbing before or after work, and you’d be at 34 minutes daily, or 170 minutes per five-day workweek. That’s well over the weekly threshold of 150 minutes, or two-and-a-half hours, recommended by the World Health Organization — without ever setting foot in a gym.
Read on for a practical plan to integrate three-minute movement intervals into an otherwise sedentary eight-hour workday.

1. Get up. Sit down. Repeat

It’s important to get up from your chair at least once an hour. The simplest way to start moving is to make the act of getting up out of your chair and sitting back down into an exercise.
Coaches and trainers call this a box squat. From standing in front of your chair, slowly sit down, making contact with the seat without putting your full weight on it. Then drive through your feet, legs and hips to stand back up. Repeat this movement, at your own pace, for the full three minutes.
If you’re feeling up to it, after a minute or two, you can progress to body-weight squats without the chair. If your chair has wheels, be sure to lock them before performing box squats.

2. Get your heart pumping

Your body is designed to move through three planes of motion: sagittal (front to back), transverse (rotating) and frontal (side to side) so it’s important to exercise in all of them. Think about it: While sitting at a desk, you’re not doing very much side-to-side movement. Everything tends to be right in front of you. Jumping jacks are a simple yet effective side-to-side movement that gets your heart pumping. That said, I’m not recommending you hop out of your chair every hour and immediately start doing jumping jacks.
To avoid the potential for injury after prolonged sitting, first prepare your body for any type of higher-impact activity. Prep time counts toward your three minutes, so spend a minute doing some side bends, lateral lunges and jogging in place before moving into jumping jacks. If jumping is too high-impact for you, modify with alternating side steps rather than jumps.

3. Move your hands to relieve tension

Ever consider that the tension in your hands from all that typing might be contributing to the tension in your shoulders?
Muscles work in chains, so tension can creep up and down your body. When you’re tight or immobile in one area, other muscles have to compensate to help you move. Those muscles then become understandably overworked and tight, setting off a chain reaction of muscular compensation and chronic tension.
To perform hand exercises, focus on one hand at a time. Rest the elbow of the hand you’re exercising on your desk to stabilize it. Make a tight fist and then open your hand and spread your fingers as wide as possible. Repeat five times.
Then make a fist and slowly circle your wrist in one direction five times. Repeat in the opposite direction. Open your hand and use your opposite hand to gently press your fingers back to stretch the inside of your wrist and hand. Hold for three breaths. Repeat pressing your hand forward to stretch the back of your hand and wrist.
Then focus on your fingers. Use your opposite hand to hold and stabilize your wrist as you stick your thumb out and make three circles in one direction and then the other. Repeat this action to the best of your ability with each finger. Repeat all the exercises with your other hand.
Finish by standing up, interlacing your fingers and stretching your arms overhead with your palms facing up. Hold for a few breaths, then repeat with your hands interlaced out in front of you and then behind you.
You may find you struggle with some fingers more than others and that it’s more difficult with your nondominant hand. That’s OK. Do the best you can and you will see improvement over time.

4. Move your feet, too

The same type of muscular chain reaction from tension can happen with your feet. Spending just few minutes a day actively moving your feet and ankles can have a dramatic impact on how you feel throughout your body.
You’ll need to take your shoes off and, if possible, your socks. However, if you work in an actual office, be considerate of co-workers who might not want to see (or smell) your feet!
Cross one leg over the other, focusing on the top foot. Point your toes forward and down, like a ballerina, then flex your foot back to point your toes up, spreading them out as wide as you can. Repeat 10 times. Then slowly circle your ankle in one direction 10 times. Repeat in the opposite direction. Spend a moment focusing on your toes, seeing if you can move your big toe, little toe and other toes independently. Repeat the exercises with your other foot.
Finally, stand up and do 10 repetitions of alternating, shifting your weight evenly to the outsides of your feet, trying to lift the inside edges, then shifting your weight to the insides of your feet while attempting to lift the outside edges. Then do 10 slow, controlled calf raises, lifting your heels and pushing your weight onto the balls of your feet then lowering your heels back down. Place one hand on a chair or wall for balance.

5. Elevate your energy and mood with a dance break

It’s common for both mental and physical energy to wane in the afternoon after lunch. Instead of reaching for that extra cup of coffee or energy drink, why not take an invigorating dance break to one of your favorite beats?
Most songs average three to four minutes, so you’ll more than cover your hourly movement quota. Simply turn on a feel-good jam and let your body move to the music.

6. Practice standing meetings with movement

Now that everyone has discovered Zoom, it’s rare to have a workday that doesn’t include at least one virtual meeting. During those meetings, position your screen on a higher surface, like a kitchen island, so you can comfortably stand for your meeting. While standing, spend a few minutes softly marching in place or shifting your weight from one foot to the other to work on your balance.
If you have regular daily meetings with folks you know well, consider asking if they’d like to institute a movement break. Think of it like the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game. Meeting participants could take turns leading the stretch.

7. Build strength with good old-fashioned pushups

There’s a reason the pushup has remained a staple exercise since its origination more than a century ago. You won’t find many other singular exercises that build both upper body and core strength as well as a pushup. Although challenging, there are easy ways to modify it to ensure some variation of pushup is accessible for most anyone.
Traditional pushups are done on the floor from a plank position with your legs straight behind you and wrists under your shoulders. You bend your arms and stabilize your core to lower your body almost to the floor and then straighten your arms to push back up.
To cover three minutes, do as many pushups as you can with good form for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat through six rounds. To modify, you can put your knees on the floor or elevate your hands on a stair or chair seat. You can also do plank holds instead.

8. Take a few minutes to fix your posture and prevent pain

Although you’ve been moving every hour, at the end of the workday, it’s helpful to spend a few minutes proactively recovering from sitting in front of a screen. Focus on movements that open up and unwind that slumped-over posture we tend to take in front of our computers and when looking down at our phones. Do gentle chest and back stretches and twists.
Remember the planes of motion I mentioned earlier? Twisting takes place in the transverse plane, another plane we don’t often move in at our desks. Check out the stretches and twists in this article on movements to offset too much sitting for ideas.

Don’t forget to walk

Walking is one of the most accessible, total-body, fat-burning exercises available to humankind. Every day, try to take at least a 10-minute walk — ideally, outside. If weather or environment are obstacles to walking, consider this simple 11-minute at-home workout as an alternative.
With 24 minutes of movement to break up your workday, adding even a six-minute walk will get you to a nice, round 30-minute mark for daily exercise. After only a week of practicing this plan, you should definitely notice a boost in your overall health and fitness.

Source: How to avoid sedentary behavior — 3 minutes at a time – CNN

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How To Lower Resting Heart Rate: 5 Practical Steps To Take Today

How to lower resting heart rate

Wondering how to lower resting heart rate but not sure where to start? We’ve got the expert answers you’re looking for. Heart rate is a great key indicator of overall health and fitness levels. The heart is one of the hardest working muscles in the body so making sure it’s functioning properly is key.

Your heart rate will naturally spike throughout the day depending on how much you move and other factors such as stress levels and stimulants such as coffee, but it’s your resting heart rate that’s most important.

Resting heart rate simply refers to how many times your heart beats per minute whilst in a rested state. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends taking your resting heart rate when you wake after a good night’s sleep.

You can check your resting heart rate by holding two fingers against one of your pulse points for a minute and counting the number of beats. However, technology can help provide a more accurate reading. The best heart rate monitors can be used in a resting state as well as during physical activity to help you monitor your heart rate zones, whilst today’s best fitness trackers (which include the best Fitbits) also provide heart-rate stats.

Generally speaking, the lower resting heart rate you have, the healthier your heart is and the fitter you are – although factors such as age can play a role. The AHA advises that for most people, a normal resting heart rate should be between 60 – 100. However, for those who are particularly active – professional athletes, for example – it’s okay for it to be between 50 and 60.

Studies have shown that elevated resting heart rates are linked with higher body weight and blood pressure, along with lower levels of physical fitness. If yours is above the recommended range, then there are steps you can take to reduce your resting heart rate. Here are five practical ways to make a start…

Increase your activity levels

There’s a reason that professional athletes have a very low resting heart rate – exercise strengthens the heart muscle. So just like when we get stronger if we increase other muscles, when the heart muscle gets stronger it means it works more efficiently – pumping blood quicker around the body.

Dr Zoe Williams, an NHS GP and wellness ambassador for Garminagrees: “There are a variety of ways you can lower your resting HR, but fitness is a great way to start.  “While it might seem counterintuitive to exercise, as this usually brings your heart rate up, the more frequently you exercise the more your heart will learn to be stronger and be more efficient at pumping blood. Then, when you’re in rest mode, your heart is more easily able to maintain a lower heart rate.”

If you are new to exercise, start slow. You could try walking to lose weight, download one of the best fitness apps, or try the Couch to 5k beginner’s running plan. Alternatively, work with a personal trainer to build a workout routine that is tailored to you. The key is to find something you enjoy doing to ensure you stick with it.

Eat a balanced diet

Of course, one of the main benefits that people talk about when cleaning up their diet is weight loss – but when you start to eat healthily, it has a major effect on how your heart performs too.

Brad Emmott, a personal trainer and Head of Recovery at Manor London explains: “If you’re someone who carries excess weight, your heart is having to work harder to pump blood through it. If you lose that excess weight, it won’t need to work as hard.”

Rather than drastically changing your diet overnight and restricting entire food groups (which is never usually a good idea), take it one step at a time. Try to see it as a lifestyle change, rather than a diet.Start small by increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat every day – five is the recommended daily intake. This will naturally decrease your consumption of processed foods, which are typically high in salt and saturated fat.

From here, start to ‘balance’ your plate at every meal, roughly aiming for half vegetables, a quarter protein and a quarter carbohydrates – the perfect mix for feeling full and fueled. See our portion size guide for more information.

Decrease alcohol and sugar consumption

Most of us like to enjoy the odd glass of wine or gin and tonic with friends. But the effects of regular drinking – especially above the recommended guidelines (14 units a week for Brits, two drinks a day for US men and one drink a day for US women) – can result in an elevated heart rate, high blood pressure and the weakening of the heart muscle over time.

Williams says that too much sugar can have similar effects: “For some, eating sugar in excess can mean the body interprets this significant rise in sugar and energy as the result of stress, and releases cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones cause the heart rate to increase, which will in turn cause blood pressure to rise.”

The guidance in the UK is that adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day. In the US, the recommended daily limit is 10 teaspoons.

Get more sleep

Williams says creating better sleeping habits is key to lowering your resting heart rate. “One of the best ways to promote consistent sleep is having a healthy sleep routine. By following a standard schedule, the mind and body become accustomed to a healthy sleep pattern.”Many of the best fitness watches now also have sleep monitoring, which can be a useful tool in understanding your existing sleep patterns.

“By monitoring your sleep you can track improvements and adjust your bedtime accordingly to ensure you are getting between seven- and nine-hours sleep, which should ultimately help lower your resting heart rate overtime,” advises Williams. The best sunrise alarm clocks can also help to establish healthy and regular sleep patterns.

Manage your stress levels

Whether it’s down to your job, home life or personal issues, stress will take its toll on your health. Emmott believes we need to learn to manage it so it doesn’t negatively impact our resting heart rate and overall health.“Stress of any kind, physical or emotional does increase heart rate and can have long-term adverse effects on your health,” he says.

“There is no way to eliminate stress in daily life, but managing it is important to keeping a healthy heart.”In addition to the action points outlined above, he recommends that meditation, social interaction (virtual included) and being in nature can help manage stress levels.

Once again, using a fitness tracker to help assess your stress levels is also a good idea. “Knowing your stress level can help you identify stressful moments throughout your day and could help identify triggers of your stress, so you can begin to eliminate and manage stressful situations,” Williams says.

“For example, if your stress scores were high, it would be a great time to take five minutes away from what you were doing to do some deep breathing. This doesn’t have to impact your day, you can do it while boiling the kettle, but breaking the chronic stress cycle is so important for your long-term health and short-term mental wellbeing.”

 

 

Source: How to lower resting heart rate: 5 practical steps to take today | Fit&Well

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