What leads you to be healthier mentally and physically, lessens your stress load, and improves the strength in your muscles AND bones? No, this isn’t a magic supplement. It’s running!
Jogging is an amazing form of exercise for many reasons. First, you can do it practically anywhere – no special equipment or machinery needed. It allows you to explore cities new and old, get lost in the beauty of nature, and lets you feel free in your surroundings. Studies show that running helps fight fatigue, gives you a boost of energy, strengthens everything from your core to your calves, and makes you mentally tougher.
Running is also one of those activities that lends itself to goal-setting. Experts say that people who set and meet long-term fitness goals (for instance, signing up for a 5K or half marathon) end up being more satisfied with their workout routine – and their lives more generally – than those who work out sporadically, without goals, or not at all. It turns out that the feeling you get when you cross an accomplishment off your to-do list has some real benefits!
When it comes to setting goals, of course, you need to plan out a way to get there. When running is concerned, it’s critical to have a training plan.
While you may prefer to accomplish your goals in a more free-spirited manner, hear us out on this one. There are so many benefits to following a training plan… and they aren’t solely confined to running. These training benefits apply to any fitness obstacle – climbing a particular mountain, swimming a certain distance, or lifting a specific amount of weight.
To start off, training gives your workout a whole new meaning. While the general goal of “being in shape” can get stale, working towards a concrete distance, speed, or date gives you the little bit of pressure you need to truly improve. Circle that final date on your calendar and schedule in your runs or workouts accordingly. Check off each one as you accomplish them – you’ll love the feeling.
Training also forces you to try new things. One day might call for speed work (while you typically lean towards relaxing, longer jogs) while another might call for cross-training in the form of swimming or spinning. Your plan might force you to give your body a break from the running grind with a bit of yoga or foam rolling to stretch out your muscles. No matter where your plan takes you, know that you’ll never be bored!
As you move through your training, you’ll find a common theme – a training plan always emphasizes improvement. While it can be easy to get in a rut doing the same workout each day, training ensures you’ll always be pushing your body towards its breaking point and into the zone of self-betterment.
In this way, training helps you realize how strong you truly are. It turns out that you don’t have a limit – you can always keep improving! While you may have thought a 4-mile jog was your maximum at one point, your training teaches you that you can conquer – and exceed – a much higher mileage.
With all these benefits, now seems like the perfect time to pick a goal and train towards it. Remember, with any training plan you choose, you don’t need to conform to it completely. Use it as a guideline, always improve, and above all else, enjoy! You’ll feel like your best self – we promise.
Do you enjoy training for races or other milestones? How do you accomplish your best feats? Let us know in the comments below.
Being active is absolutely key to living a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re a walker, jogger, sprinter, swimmer, skier, dancer, or basketball player, having a form of exercise you’re passionate about is essential to staying happy, healthy, and energized.
Running and walking are easy to fit into your everyday lifestyle – no special equipment needed – and therefore constitute some of the most popular forms of regular fitness. They increase your heart rate, build muscle, and decrease stress – an absolute win.
We give you major props if you fit in regular runs or daily walks, making fitness a lifetime priority. But even the most advanced runners forget a vital part of maximizing the positive effects a run can have: recovery.
Proper recovery is essential for your body to come down from a run or walk. It helps your muscles return to their normal state from an active one and allows your heart rate and breathing to go back to normal. Without proper recovery time, your body will inevitably feel sore, tired, and even a bit achy a few hours after your exercise session is over.
But what is the most effective way to properly recover after a workout session?
- Cool down the right way. Crossing the finish line or completing an hour-long spin class doesn’t mean you’re done with your workout: you should still fit in a cool-down to jumpstart your recovery process. A cool-down can include stretching, a slow walk, or other drills that help bring down your heart rate and stretch out your muscles.
- Water up. No matter what type of exercise you pursue, chances are you’ve released some serious sweat. Sweating releases fluids from your body, and water or organic sports drinks help bring those fluid levels back up. Hydration prevents achy muscles and even potential dizziness, so drink up!
- Refuel. You just spent time burning some serious calories – now it’s time to replenish them. You may not be starving right after your workout – and that’s okay. Try refueling with a portioned blend of protein and carbohydrates (think: eggs and toast, peanut butter and an apple). These nutrients will help your body repair any damage your muscles endured during your sweat session (muscle damage – not injury – is normal… it means you’re getting stronger!).
- Active recovery. While stretching is key to decreasing the potential for sore muscles, active recovery can also be useful; working out is never an excuse to stay on the couch for the day. Head out on a walk with a loved one, do a few errands, or go out with friends. The more active your muscles stay during the day, the less likely they are to feel sore.
- Self check-in. How do you feel after your run? Are you mentally and physically stable and happy? If not, reevaluate your exercise regimen: are you going too hard? Are you not challenging yourself enough? Reevaluating your progress is key to always improving and becoming your absolute best self.
All in all, a proper recovery is key to making the most of your exercise routine. How do you like to effectively recover post-run? Let us know in the comments below.
When your spine, bones, joints, and muscles are aligned into good posture, they’re less likely to break down over time. Breathing becomes easier and deeper as you open up your airwaves. Having proper posture helps improve circulation and even digestion, as your insides are allowed to move freely rather than being constricted by your improper body position. Poor posture over long periods of time can even lead to spine and nerve injuries as long-term constriction pinches the nerves in your back.
How often do you think about your posture? Chances are you don’t think about it all that much. Your days at the computer desk, hours running errands, or time spent with your kids all seem to fly by, and you might not have any idea how your posture looked and felt during all those days of activity.
We’re here to convince you that your posture is something you should be thinking about – each and every day. Not only does a good posture display a confident image, it provides immense physical benefits as well.
Of course, the first step in improving your posture is acknowledging that you need to start thinking about it. First step: complete! The next step is a bit trickier: finding and understanding your ideal posture. Ideally, having proper posture means your muscles are being held in a natural and neutral position. While some picture good posture as having a stiff back, that isn’t necessarily the case. A neutral spine is best for maintaining consistent, healthy posture all day through.
Once you feel the neutrality, imagine there’s a straight line through the top of the middle of your head heading down through the center of your hips and into your ankles. With feet shoulder-width apart, feel this natural stance in all its glory. If you tend to sit all day, make sure the computer screen stays at eye level, your feet are flat on the floor, and your forearms are parallel to the ground – then practice that neutral spine.
Set a timer to go off once per hour on your phone or computer as a time to check your posture. Chances are it will take a bit of time to get used to your proper, healthy posture – and that’s okay! The timer helps you check yourself to maintain a neutral spine the whole day through.
Take advantage of the benefits good posture has to offer. You never know what health issues it might solve… or how much happier it might make you!