Long Naps Might Up Your Risk of This Health Condition

While getting enough sleep is key to health, a new study suggests that long daytime naps may not be doing your heart any favors.

The researchers found that long naps and excessive daytime sleepiness were associated with an increased risk for a combination of health problems that are collectively known as metabolic syndrome. And that can boost the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome includes conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and excess fat around the waist.

The investigators analyzed the findings of 21 studies that included a total of more than 307,000 people. The research showed that people who napped for less than 40 minutes were not at increased risk for metabolic syndrome. In fact, those who napped less than 30 minutes had a slight decrease in risk.

But there was a sharp rise in risk among those who napped for more than 40 minutes, the study authors said. For example, napping for more than 90 minutes appeared to increase the risk of metabolic syndrome by as much as 50 percent, as did excessive daytime sleepiness.

The review also found that napping for more than an hour or being overly tired during the day were both linked with a 50 percent higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

However, the study only found an association between these factors, and did not prove that excessive sleepiness and long naps actually cause metabolic syndrome or diabetes.

The findings are to be presented April 3 at an American College of Cardiology (ACC) meeting in Chicago. Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“Taking naps is widely prevalent around the world,” study author Dr. Tomohide Yamada, a diabetologist at the University of Tokyo, said in an ACC news release. “So, clarifying the relationship between naps and metabolic disease might offer a new strategy of treatment, especially as metabolic disease has been increasing steadily all over the world,” he added.

About one-third of American adults do not get enough sleep, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Sleep Foundation recommends naps of 20 to 30 minutes to boost alertness.

“Sleep is an important component of our healthy lifestyle, as well as diet and exercise,” Yamada said. “Short naps might have a beneficial effect on our health, but we don’t yet know the strength of that effect or the mechanism by which it works.”


Source: http://news.health.com/2016/03/24/daytime-sleepiness-long-naps-linked-to-heart-risks-study/

4 Ways to Beat Stress With Your Pet

Not only do our furry friends offer companionship, they can also help us relax when we get overwhelmed. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, 87 percent of men and women said that spending time with their pet helped them feel less wigged-out. Next time you’re distraught, seek out a four-legged pal and reap these benefits.

1. They lower your stress hormones

When you’re petting Fido, he’s not the only one getting calmed down by the head-to-tail massage. Hanging out with a dog after experiencing something stressful reduces your levels of the stress hormone cortisol and possibly buffers the impact of the event, says Sandra Barker, PhD, director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. A 2012 review found that being with your dog can also lead to an increase in oxytocin, a hormone with anti-stress effects.

2. They can bring down your blood pressure

“Stress does a number on our bodies and is associated with an accelerated heart rate and blood pressure state,” says Lynne T. Braun, PhD, professor of nursing at Rush University in Chicago. “By promoting relaxation, exposing someone to a pet can certainly help with this.” In fact, one Australia study showed that pet owners had significantly lower blood pressure than non-owners.

3. They let you step outside your own problems

If you feel your worries piling up, a pet can help you put it all into perspective. “Our pets give us an opportunity to reach outside ourselves,” explains Debra F. Horwitz, DVM, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. Her tip: Whenever you’re extra stressed, take your dog for a quick 10-minute walk. Seeing your pup appreciate the little things as you stroll will help you do so, too.

4. For some people, animals really do provide the best therapy

Does being with your dog make your out-of-control anxiety a little more manageable? With a note from a doc, you may be able to get him certified as an emotional support animal, which will allow him to accompany you out and about. But don’t think this is an easy way to get around your landlord’s strict no-pets rule. You need to have a mental or psychiatric disability that’s treatable through animal companionship. “It’s not as simple as saying, ‘I have a pet and I want it to be a therapy dog,’” says Debra F. Horwitz, DVM. “It’s important to see a physician to determine whether this is the best option.”

 Source: http://news.health.com/2016/03/24/how-to-beat-stress-with-your-pet/

These Are the Best Exercises for Anxiety and Depression

If you suffer from depression or anxiety, your workout can play a key role in managing your symptoms, thanks to the powerful link between your physical and mental health.

“We know that the old divisions of body and mind are false,” says Ben Michaelis, PhD, an evolutionary clinical psychologist and author of Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy . “The body is the mind and the mind is the body. When you take care of yourself, you are helping the whole system.”

Needless to say, you should always consult with your doctor about your treatment options, says Michaelis. But it can’t hurt to incorporate exercise, of any kind, into your routine. Research suggests that these three activities in particular could help alleviate symptoms of depression or anxiety.


There’s a reason you’ve heard time and again that running is one of the best exercises for your health: It can torch calories, reduce food cravings, and lower your risk for heart disease. Running for just five minutes a day might even help you live longer, according to 2014 research.

But it’s also been shown to improve mood in a variety of ways, Michaelis says. “Running causes lasting changes in our ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, both during and after exercise,” he explains. What’s more: The repetitive motions of running appear to have a meditative effect on the brain.

The mental benefits can be especially powerful for people who suffer from depression. In a 2006 review published in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, researchers found evidence that exercise can work in a similar way to antidepressants, alleviating major depressive disorder by promoting the growth of new neurons in the brain.

Also good: Running may make it easier for you to fall asleep at night, says Michaelis, which benefits your overall mental health by improving memory, lowering stress levels, and protecting against depression.

Hiking in the woods

To maximize the mental health benefits of your sweat session, consider hitting the trails. “Nature has a calming effect on the mind,” says Michaelis. “There is evidence that being around plants, trees, and especially decaying trees can help reduce anxiety because these plants emit chemicals to slow down the process of their decay, which appears to slow us down as well.”

In a 2009 study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, Japanese researchers sent participants to either a wooded or urban area. They found that those who’d taken a 20-minute “forest bath” (a.k.a. a walk in the woods), had lower stress hormone levels than the participants who had been in a city.

Newer research seems to reinforce the idea that being immersed in nature is good for your mental health. A study published last summer, for example, discovered that when young adults went on a 50-minute nature walk, they felt less anxious and had improved memory function.


In a small 2007 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, all of the study’s participants who had taken yoga classes experienced “significant” reductions in depression, anger, anxiety, and neurotic symptoms. The findings led the researcher to recommend yoga as a complementary treatment for depression.

In 2012, another group of researchers conducted a review of trials that examined the effects of yoga on anxiety and stress. In 25 out of the 35 studies, subjects experienced a significant decrease in stress and anxiety symptoms after starting yoga.

“The great thing about yoga is that besides the stretching and core strengthening, there is a tremendous focus on breathing, which helps to slow down and calm the mind,” says Michaelis.

Experts believe that yoga’s focus on the breath is especially beneficial for your mental health because it’s difficult to be anxious when you’re breathing deeply. To take advantage of the perks of deep breathing in and out of yoga class, Michaelis suggests trying a relaxing trick popularized by Andrew Weil, MD, called the 4-7-8 breathing technique.

Source: http://news.health.com/2016/03/24/these-are-the-best-exercises-for-anxiety-and-depression/

7 Rules For A Happier, Healthier Life

Sometimes, when you’re looking to make some new healthy changes to your life, the last thing you want is another calorie-counting food journal or specific list of exercises that tone each troublesome body part. Instead, a simple mantra or two will do.


If you’re ready for a little positive change in your life, here are seven health rules to live by that are as simple as they are effective.

Eat the colors of the rainbow.

Vegetables (and some fruits) in a wide range of deep colors should make up most of your diet. Intense color indicates loads of phytonutrients, biologically active substances that protect plants from viruses and bacteria—and offer similar benefits to humans.

Exercise like kids play.

Our bodies are not built to run long distances for no reason at all. We’re built to chase down prey and then stop. To run from danger and then stop. That’s what feels best and works best to keep us in shape—short bursts of intense exertion interspersed with periods of leisurely movement. The long-held belief that we need to elevate the heart rate with 30 minutes of sustained activity is being replaced by this plan—often referred to as interval training. You don’t need a specially designed workout or a personal trainer to apply this. When you’re running, sprint for a minute, then walk or trot for five. In the pool, swim one fast lap, then do three at a leisurely pace. This system is organic to many yoga classes (you practice kicking up into handstand for two minutes, then you follow up with a restorative child’s pose). But with some workouts it’s up to you to adjust. Worried you won’t burn enough calories? With interval training, you’ll actually burn more.

Spend lots of time with people you love.

It’s a health factor, yes—a boost for your immune system. You need to be around those who really get you, to laugh, talk unguardedly about your problems, and listen deeply. You need hugs and smiles and belly laughs. You need to be able to be your true self. If you’re lucky, this stuff is built into your day. But even if it requires an effort, make it happen. Don’t assume e-mail or Facebook or even the phone is going to do—physical, as well as emotional, closeness is a big deal.

Buy these every week.

  • Dark Leafy Greens: More nutritious, calorie for calorie, than any other food
  • Cruciferous Veggies: Lower the risk of cancer
  • Avocados: Help protect your body from heart disease, cancer, and certain degenerative diseases
  • Blueberries:Help prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease, ulcers, and high blood pressure
  • Eggs: Full of protein and good fats
  • Walnuts: Packed with omega-3s and other nutrients that help protect your heart

Wander barefoot.

Kick off your shoes and walk on grass, earth, or sand whenever you have the chance. Not only will this boost your immune system by exposing you to unfamiliar microbes, but it will also give you a little charge—literally. Believe it or not, just as we get vitamin D from the sun and oxygen from the air, we get electrons from the earth, which have calming and healing benefits for the whole body.

Do something you love for at least 10 minutes a day.

It’s incredibly powerful and healing. We all think we don’t have time, but most of us can find it somewhere (maybe in the time we spend online—just a guess). It doesn’t have to be a big deal: Shoot hoops in the driveway. Sketch something on the bus home. Blast music and dance around the living room. Pick up an instrument and play three pieces. Do it on purpose, like taking a supplement.

Look up.

Be present in your surroundings. Looking up and out—and making eye contact with others—is a form of nourishment that the age of smartphones has seriously messed with. See the sky, look at the ticket collector on the commuter train, take note of the people nearby when you’re eating lunch. Instead of burying your face in your phone—which takes you out of the moment and often into a sort of junk-food-for-the-eye place—lift your head and be part of your environment.

 Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/22/the-new-health-rules_n_6839054.html

How to Change Bad Habits and Live a Heart Healthy Lifestyle

Learn to form healthy habits by replacing the bad ones. Substituting healthy habits for unhealthy ones rewards you with more stamina, better quality of life – and a healthier you.

That is easier said than done, of course, but some simple tips can help you tackle even the most indulgent and hardest-to-kick habits. Rani Whitfield, M.D., a Baton Rouge, La., family practitioner and American Heart Association volunteer, is on a mission to help people change their unhealthy habits.

An unhealthy habit is easy to develop and hard to live with; a healthy habit is harder to develop but easier to live with,” said Whitfield, who has earned the nickname “The Hip Hop Doc” through his work getting young people to make healthier choices.

Regardless of your age, you can benefit from Whitfield’s simple habit-changing tips.

First, he says, know that it takes 60 to 90 days to create a new habit. You have to keep after it. If you forget sometimes, or if at first you don’t figure how to make it work with your schedule, keep after it.
It helps to remember that an unhealthy habit is attractive because it gives instant gratification—that immediate “feel good.” But you pay later. On the other hand, a healthy habit means you put off gratification but get a much bigger payoff down the road.

Think of your task as replacement rather than deprivation. Says Whitfield, “Kojak sucked on lollipops because he was stopping smoking,” said of the famous 1970s TV detective. Of course, too much candy is bad for you, too – but a few lollipops is much better than smoking when it comes to your heart health. Whitfield says it’s important to “find your real motivation.” It’s OK and in fact helpful to use another motivation in addition to getting healthier. “A lot of people will do it for their children,” he says. They want to set a good example, or they simply want to live to see their kids graduate. And then there’s good old vanity. “If you want six-pack abs, maybe your motivation is to ask out a certain lady,” says Whitfield.

Here are his top tips:

  1. Break a big goal into smaller short-term goals. “Don’t go cold turkey,” he says. “Suppose you’re drinking five beers a day, and you want to get down to six a month. Reduce to three a day. You’ll see the benefits and feel more motivated to move toward your longer-term goal.”
  2. Tell someone you trust – not someone who will sabotage you. Be accountable to someone all the time.
    It’s toughest forming a healthy habit if you don’t have support. For example, one spouse might be trying to stop smoking while the other one isn’t. “You have to find some inner strength, some self-motivation and push through it. Or get couples counseling, a safe setting where you can ask your spouse: ‘Can you be supportive and go outside to smoke?’ ”
  3. Allow a “cheat” once in a while. “If you’ve avoided sweets all week and you’ve been exercising, and you go to Grandma’s, you can afford that ONE small piece of apple pie. Or let yourself have one ‘crazy meal’ a week.”
  4. Break the TV habit in favor of exercise. “Tell yourself, ‘If I just have to watch Martin Lawrence, I’ll Tivo it and watch on the weekend, or do my exercise and then have the show as my reward to myself.’
    “Or, if you have room, you can exercise in front of the TV,” he said. For some, TV seems to be their only friend. “If it’s all about escapism, the underlying anxiety or depression needs to be treated, or if you can’t finish tasks, do your work or the housework,” He says.

He knows it’s tough out there.
“More people are drinking or using marijuana more often to deal with anxiety and depression over family problems or lack of a job, and maybe the inability to relax or to sleep,” Whitfield says. ”They are not understanding that they are making their own problems worse. Alcohol is a depressant; illegal drugs will land you in jail.”

 Source: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/How-to-Change-Bad-Habits-and-Live-a-Heart-Healthy-Lifestyle_UCM_434369_Article.jsp#.VwUxxPqPs8I

Walk More to Live 7.2 Years Longer

New research identifies how many years exercise can add to your life — and demonstrates that it’s never too late to get moving.

You know exercise is good for you. But do you know how good?

Just 75 minutes of brisk walking per week can mean a gain of 1.8 years of life after age 40, compared to people who don’t exercise, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston report in the journal PLoS Medicine.

Those who completed 150 minutes of brisk walking a week (the amount recommended by the federal government and the American Heart Association) lived 3.4 years longer. People who spent 450 minutes or more brisk walking per week added 4.5 years to their life expectancy. These longevity benefits were seen across gender and body mass indexes, including for the overweight and obese.

But normal-weight people who were active saw the greatest benefit, researchers observed. A healthy-weight person who reached the federal government’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity per week gained 7.2 years of life compared to people who were very obese and completed no physical activity.

To quantify the benefits of exercise, researchers pooled data from six prospective cohort studies, examining more than 650,000 subjects for an average of 10 years — and analyzing more than 82,000 deaths. Because physical activity was associated with a longer life expectancy across a range of weights and activity levels, researchers say this supports the idea that it’s never too late to start exercising for a longer, healthier life.

Heart Health in Middle Age Boosts Life Expectancy

Exercise is not the only key to a longer life, a separate study of healthy living and longevity published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found.

Researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago found that if you have optimal heart health in middle age, you might live up to 14 years longer — without heart disease — than your peers who have two or more risk factors for heart disease in middle age.

The risk factors evaluated were blood pressure, total cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking status. A person’s lifetime risk for heart disease was strongly associated with the presence of two or more of these risk factors in middle age.

“Those with optimal risk factor levels live disease-free longer,” said study author John T. Wilkins, MD, in a release. “We need to do everything we can to maintain optimal risk factors so that we reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular disease and increase the chances that we’ll live longer and healthier.”

The studied risk factors are part of the American Heart Association’s seven keys to life-long heart health, which are:

  • Never smoking, or quitting more than a year ago
  • A healthy BMI
  • At least 150 minutes of physical activity per week
  • Blood pressure below 120/80
  • Fasting blood glucose less than 100 mg/dL
  • Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL
  • A heart-healthy diet, which includes at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables and three 1-ounce servings of whole grains every day; at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish per week; less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day; and no more than 36 ounces of sugar-sweetened drinks per week

Source: http://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/1106/walk-more-to-live-longer.aspx

8 Ways to Focus on Getting Fit

You know you should exercise more, but that won’t always get you going. Here’s how to devise and stick to an exercise program.

Forty percent of all chronic diseases can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating a healthy diet and working out regularly. Yet Americans have become increasingly obese and sedentary. “People just aren’t making the connection between unhealthy lifestyle choices and disease risk,” says Alice Burron, MS, spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise and author of Four Weeks to Fabulous. Doctors often try to change people’s attitudes by emphasizing the health benefits of exercise. But a recent study at the University of Missouri, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that telling people why exercising is good for them doesn’t motivate them. People don’t “think” themselves into being more active and working out, the researchers concluded after studying data on close to 100,000 participants.

The researchers, led by Vicki Conn, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate dean for research and Potter-Brinton professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, also concluded that rather than focus on why patients should exercise, health experts should be emphasizing how to exercise. They believe that many people would exercise more and lose weight if they knew how to fit working out into their busy schedules.

Personalizing Your Exercise Goals

Burron says the chance of starting and sticking to an exercise regime increases if people personalize their decisions. “For example,” she says, “if they have a close friend or family member who has suffered from heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer, and they resolve to make healthy lifestyle changes to prevent the same fate, success almost always follows.”

Wanting to be a role model for your children or others in your life is another good motivation. “I want to teach my four children how to eat well and stay active for life,” she says. “Also, being in the fitness industry, everyone watches me closely — my weight and what I eat. I have to be a good example so that I am believable and people will follow my lead.”

Here are other ways that you can motivate yourself to lose weight and exercise regularly:

  • Make specific goals. Don’t just say, “I want to lose weight.” Better: “I want to lose 20 pounds in a year.” Your goal needs to have specific timeframes and be something where you can measure your progress, Burron says.
  • Be realistic. Never expect to lose 20 pounds in two weeks or even three. Set goals that are realistic with the effort and commitment that you can give to them, Burron says. Also, make sure you have the resources available to achieve your goals. Don’t choose swimming as your form of exercise if you don’t have access to a pool, or running outdoors when it’s going to be freezing outside for the next few months.
  • Set reminders. Post sticky notes where you will see them, reminding yourself of the benefits of exercise and sticking to your goals.
  • Schedule your workout. Put time for exercising on your calendar, just as you would a doctor’s appointment or work. You can use your phone to set an alarm when it’s time to get moving.
  • Put it in writing. Keep a journal with your goals for the week along with your results. After working out, write down what you did and for how long. When you look at the numbers and see progress, it will encourage you to keep going.
  • Consider the obstacles. Think about what might get in the way of your going for a brisk walk or biking at least three times a week. “Then come up with a plan to overcome these obstacles,” Burron says. For example, if you have small children that you can’t leave and have no one to watch them, buy a good stroller or bike so they can come along. Weather getting you down? Find a fitness center with child care or create a home exercise routine that you can do when the kids are napping or at school.
  • Get a partner. “If you have the tendency to bail from exercise at the last minute, finding a partner who can keep you accountable might be a good strategy,” Burron says.
  • Talk to a trainer. It’s important that your exercise routine be made of activities you like. The more you like them, the more motivated you’ll be to do them. However, you may need a personal trainer to teach you how to properly do the exercises you’ve chosen and set up a routine that you can live with easily.

Making lifestyle changes is similar to remodeling your house, Burron says. “It will go much better if you have a plan.” Even making small increases in your physical activities will be beneficial to your overall health.

Source: http://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/ways-to-focus-on-getting-fit.aspx

Hula-Hoop Might Help Shed Unwanted Pounds

‘Hooping’ is the equivalent of walking about 4 miles per hour, researchers report.

“Hooping” expends the same amount of energy as walking 4 to 4.5 miles per hour — enough to help a person firm up and slim down, according to a news release from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). And “it’s becoming a popular form of choreographed group exercise,” study author John Porcari, of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, said in the news release.

The study examined 16 women, ranging in age from 16 to 59, who regularly attended choreographed hooping classes. The researchers measured the women’s oxygen consumption, heart rate and rate of physical exertion as they completed a 30-minute video-led hooping class.

The researchers set out “to determine the effect of hooping on physical fitness and whether or not the intensity falls within ACSM guidelines for improving cardiovascular fitness,” Porcari said.

The study found that the average heart rate for the 30-minute class was 151 beats per minute, and the average caloric expenditure was equivalent to 210 calories for 30 minutes of hooping. The total energy cost, the researchers revealed, was enough to help people control their body weight.

The findings were to be presented this week at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting, held in conjunction with the World Congress on Exercise Is Medicine, in Denver. Experts note that research presented at meetings isn’t subjected to the same type of scrutiny given to research published in peer-reviewed journals.

Source: http://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/misc-health-news-265/hula-hoop-might-help-shed-unwanted-pounds-653573.html

Cooler Hands Might Boost Your Workout

Chilling device held in the palms helped obese women last longer, stick with exercise.

Try chilling out — literally.

Cooling the palms of the hands while working out helped obese women exercise longer, reports researcher Stacy Sims, a research scientist and exercise physiologist at Stanford University School of Medicine.

She was to present her findings Tuesday at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism scientific sessions in San Diego.

“If you think about adipose [fat] tissue, it’s a great insulator,” Sims said. For people who are obese, that means they often get too hot while exercising.

“It would be like Lance Armstrong wearing a wet suit for the entire Tour de France,” she said. “We’re trying to address those barriers.”

Sims wanted to see if cooling off the hands of the women she studied might help them overcome fatigue and overheating while exercising.

The device she used is already in use by some professional athletes, according to Sims. She decided to test it in obese women, who she finds often abandon working out due to overheating and fatigue.

The research was not funded by the company that makes the device.

In the study, Sims evaluated 24 healthy women, aged 30 to 45. None had exercised long-term in the past. They were obese, with a body-mass index (BMI) of between 30 and nearly 35. BMI is a measure of body weight in proportion to height, and obesity begins at a BMI of 30.

She assigned the women to one of two groups: both held the cooling device in their palms, but only one group had cool water (60.8 degrees Fahrenheit) running through the device; the other had water that was body temperature (98.6 degress Fahrenheit) running through the device.

Both groups participated in three exercise sessions a week for 12 weeks. Each session included 10 minutes of body weight exercises, 25 minutes to 45 minutes treadmill walking with the cooling device and 10 minutes of core-strengthening exercise. They worked up to the time they could handle on the treadmill.

On the first day and last day of the study, the women did a 1.5-mile walk that was timed.

The cooling group shaved more than five minutes off their time for the 1.5 mile treadmill test. They averaged 31.6 minutes at the start and 24.6 minutes at the end.

Their exercising heart rate went up, too, 136 beats per minute to 154 beats per minute — a good thing.

The cooling group also took more than two inches off their waist by end of the 12-week study. That improves not only appearance, but health, since big waists are linked with heart disease. Their blood pressure also went down, from 139/84 to 124/70. (Below 120/80 is the goal.)

In contrast, the comparison group didn’t show any substantial differences in any of the measures, Sims found.

The cooling group also stuck with it more, Sims said. “The controls dropped out early, and skipped a lot of sessions,” Sims noted.

The cooling group seemed to get into the regimen, she said. “At the end, some women were running [on the treadmill],” she said.

“If you reduce the heat stress, you reduce fatigue, sweating and discomfort,” she explained. “You reduce a lot of the physiological barriers that [make] people say, ‘I don’t want to continue.'”

The finding that the comparison group had no substantial effects “is a bit strange,” said Duck-chul Lee, a physical activity epidemiologist at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia. He said he would have expected some effects after 12 weeks.

He added that “the results may not apply to people exercising in a cold condition, for example, outside in winter.”

Sims wants to do a study of the device with more people. Meanwhile, she says, it won’t hurt to try it this way at home: “Take a water bottle, freeze it and take that with you in your bare palm [as you work out]. As it melts you drink the cool water. It’s worth a try.”

 Source: http://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/gym-health-news-253/cooler-hands-might-boost-your-workout-study-suggests-662726.html

A Simple Kettlebell Workout for Beginners

Swap free weights for kettlebells to blast more calories in less time. Here are nine beginning kettlebell moves to get you started.

Originally from Russia, kettlebells — those rubber-covered metal weights with handles found in the free-weights section of most gyms — are gaining popularity in the United States, thanks to their ability to torch calories and increase strength in short order.

“Kettlebells are an effective fitness exercise because you’re using your whole body in interval-training fashion,” says Mark Reifkind, owner of Girya Russian Kettlebells in Palo Alto, Calif. Interval training is exercise that alternates between spurts of intense exercise to get your heart rate way up for a short time and more moderately paced intervals to bring it back down. Numerous studies have found that these short burst of intensity can do more to increase your strength, endurance, and calorie burn than longer periods of more moderate exercise.

It’s best to receive hands-on kettlebell instruction for your first time, but if you do want to try it on your own and your doctor has approved you for exercise, get started with these nine total-body toning moves.

Russian Swing

This beginner’s move is from Jeff Martone, author of Kettlebell Rx, a 300-page step-by-step guide to using kettlebells.

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Center the kettlebell between your feet, toes facing straight out. The kettlebell handle should be in line with the base of your toes.
2. Fold at the hips, shifting your weight to your heels. Look out, not up. Secure a two-handed grip on the kettlebell, keeping your arms straight.
3. Inhale through your nose, and tighten your abs and glutes. Fold at the hips by contracting your hip flexors and hike the kettlebell back between your legs.
4. As the kettlebell reaches the end of the back swing, drive through your heels and extend your legs, hips, and back until you are in the upright position. This action should launch the kettlebell to chest or eye level. Perform a set of 10 swings. Start with very low swings and gradually build up the height with every rep, Martone says.

The Vertical Pull (Double Arm)

This exercise should be performed at as fast a speed as jumping rope.

1. Stand with your feet wider than your hips, toes slightly out. Place two hands on the handle of your kettlebell and hang it between your legs.
2. Bend your knees and hips as in a squat. Then quickly straighten them, lifting the kettlebell.
3. Shrug your shoulders to pull the kettlebell straight up to chest height. Make sure your elbows are above your wrist when the kettlebell is in the top position.
4. Allow the kettlebell to quickly return to the starting position. Keep your arms straight. Bend your knees and hips to absorb the weight of the dropping kettlebell. Repeat rhythmically and at a fast pace for 10 seamless repetitions.

Benefits: Stronger quads, back, and arms, plus fat-burning, thanks to your revved heart rate.

The Single-Arm Vertical Pull

Because only one arm is holding the kettlebell in this exercise, you’ll have to “drive” with your legs more, Metzo says.

1. Start with your feet outside your hips, toes slightly out, and the kettlebell hanging between your legs, with one hand on the handle toward the side.
2. Bend your knees and hips as if you were doing a squat. Quickly straighten them as if you’re jumping.
3. Follow with a shrugging motion of the shoulder, holding the kettlebell and pulling it up to chest height. Make sure your elbow is above your wrist when the kettlebell is in the top position.
4. Allow the kettlebell to quickly return to the starting position. Keep your arm straight. Bend your knees and hips to absorb the weight of the dropping kettlebell. Repeat rhythmically and at a fast pace for five repetitions with one arm and five with the other for a total of 10.

Benefits: Improved balance, stronger jumping muscles, and a stronger core.

Alternating High Pull

1. Repeat steps 1-3 of the single-arm vertical pull.
2. Then, instead of completing all reps on the same arm before switching to the other arm, change hands at the bottom of the movement. Repeat with the other arm. Repeat rhythmically and at a fast pace for 10 repetitions, switching arms each time.

Benefits: Improved balance, stronger jumping muscles, and fat-burning, thanks to a revved heart rate.

The Swing (Double-Arm)

1. Start in the double-arm vertical pull position, but with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Slightly bend your knees and bend forward at the hips while maintaining the arch in your lower back.
3. Quickly straighten your knees and thrust your hips forward to make the kettlebell swing forward and up to shoulder height. “It may take a few swings to get enough momentum to achieve the desired height of the kettlebell,” Metzo notes.
4. Allow the kettlebell to quickly swing back between your legs and slightly behind you. Repeat rhythmically and at a fast pace for 10 flowing repetitions.

Benefits: A stronger posterior, plus fat burning.

Front-to-Back Swing

1. Repeat steps 1-4 of the double-arm swing.
2. Once the kettlebell swings back between your legs and slightly behind you, swing again and step the right foot backward, followed by the left foot.
3. Repeat the swing, forward step, forward step, and the swing, step back, step back rhythmically and at a fast pace for 10 repetitions. The repetitions should flow together.

Benefits: Like the double-arm swing, this exercise will strengthen and tone your posterior. The foot movements help to develop timing while the hip “snap” activates your glutes.

Side-to-Side Swing

1. Repeat steps 1-3 of the double-arm swing.
2. When the kettlebell is in the up position, step your right foot in toward your left foot and then step the left away quickly so that your feet are apart before the kettlebell comes down.
3. Allow the kettlebell to quickly swing back between your legs and slightly behind you.
4. Now step the left foot in when the kettlebell is up, and your right foot out before it comes back down.
5. Swing up, step together and then apart, as the bell comes down. Repeat rhythmically and at a fast pace for 10 flowing repetitions.

Benefits: A stronger, more toned posterior, plus inner and outer thigh toning.

Push Press

For this exercise, you’ll put the kettlebell in the “rack” position — held against the chest with the hand through the handle, and the kettlebell resting on the outside of your forearm and biceps. Your wrist should be straight and the kettlebell handle on a diagonal from the web of the thumb to the heel of the hand.

1. Start with your feet outside your hips, toes slightly out, and the kettlebell in the rack position described above.
2. Bend your knees and hips as though doing a squat.
3. Quickly straighten them like you’re jumping. Follow by straightening your arm so that the kettlebell is held overhead.
4. Allow the kettlebell to quickly return to the starting rack position. Bend your knees and hips to absorb the weight of the dropping kettlebell. Repeat rhythmically and at a fast pace for 10 repetitions on each side.

Benefits: Stronger legs and arms. “It teaches us to transfer force from the lower body to the upper body, and it revs up the heart rate,” Metzo says.

The One-Arm Row

1. Start with your right foot forward and left foot back. Bend your right knee. Hold the kettlebell in your left hand. Put your right hand or elbow on your front knee.
2. Straighten your arm and hang the kettlebell toward the floor.
3. Pull the kettlebell up and toward your hip to get a full movement at your shoulder as well as your elbow.
4. Repeat with your left foot forward and your right foot back. Repeat for 10 repetitions on each side.

Benefits: Stronger shoulders and pulling muscles. “In any exercise program, it’s important to strengthen the body evenly,” Metzo notes.

The Single-Leg Dead Lift

1. Stand on your right foot with the kettlebell hanging in your left hand. Imagine a straight line between your back foot and head.
2. Arch your lower back. Bend forward from the hip and lower the kettlebell while swinging your left foot back. You can bend your right knee slightly, but make sure your hips/pelvis stay parallel to the front.
3. Repeat standing on your left foot and holding the kettlebell in your right hand. Repeat 5 times on each side.

Benefits: Stronger back, hamstrings, and glutes. It also improves balance and the integrity of your hip joints.


 Source: http://www.health.com/health/video/0,,20828657,00.html