Monday, June 22, 2020

Exercise for autophagy

An elderly couple ride bicycles together
Exercise induces autophagy
We know that exercise has health benefits for almost every part of your body. It most definitely increases life span. Is autophagy one of the ways in which exercise does this?

Exercise causes autophagy

Studies have found that exercise increases autophagy activity in many parts of the body including the brain, muscles, heart, liver and fat tissue. Your immune cells also go through autophagy when you exercise. Autophagy from exercise occurs through the same pathways as calorie restriction or fasting.

List of physical tissues where exercise induces autophagy
Exercise renews important body parts.

Definition of autophagy

It literally means eat yourself. Autophagy is a biological process that has many favorable health benefits. It is the process by which the body breaks down old, damaged cells and cleans up cellular waste in order to recycle the nutrients. This removes damaged cells and makes way for newer cells.

Autophagy has been touted as a remarkable way to prevent degenerative diseases like cancer and mental illnesses because it removes the damaged cells that causes these diseases. Removal of these cells makes way to new cells to form.

It can even remove symptoms of aging like wrinkles and skin tags.

Exercise stimulates autophagy immensely

Multiple studies show that exercise causes a 'potent' stimulation of autophagy in muscle, heart, liver, pancreas, fat, brain and immune cells.

The above source says that energetic stress is what causes such high autophagy activity.

When your body needs energy, it will break down old and damaged cells to get it. Fat isn't the only unwanted body tissue that exercise (and energy deprivation) clears away.

The text explains that autophagy provides an emergency, alternative energy source in muscle tissue. There are other ways that exercise induces autophagy. Protein and mitochondria damage stimulates autophagy to clean up the damage and create new cells.

Increased mitochondrial respiration (using oxygen to create energy), higher reactive oxygen species (from exercise) and an increased immune response to pain or muscle damage also increase autophagy.

Scientific pathways by which exercise causes autophagy
Exercise helps the body to clean up.

Exercise causes cellular damage to proteins and organelles (parts of cells) via heat, mechanical stress and changes in the pH level. Autophagy activates during exercise to clear these damages away and prevent them from accumulating.

How much autophagy do you get from exercise?

This depends on the intensity of the exercise (source). The greater the cellular stress and protein damage caused by exercise, the greater the amount of autophagy that exercises stimulate.

If you want to maximize the autophagy-boosting benefits of exercise; increase the intensity, duration or frequency so that greater cellular damage leads to a greater autophagy response.

Remember to get enough rest from exercise and avoid over training, which may cause the body to break down more than what it can rebuild.

Higher exercise intensities cause more autophagy.
Exercise triggers autophagy.

Is autophagy from exercise the same as autophagy from calorie restriction or fasting?

The two are extremely similar. Both of them use identical pathways in many instances.

Exercise activates AMPK just like calorie restriction does. The degree to which AMPK is activated depends on the intensity of exercise.

AMPK is the pathway that turns on autophagy (recycling of damaged parts of cells).

The moral of the story is this: You get very similar benefits of autophagy from exercise compared to the autophagy benefits that you get from calorie restriction or fasting.

Exercise gives you very similar autophagy benefits to calorie restriction or fasting.
Exercise clears damaged cells.

Does exercise duration increase autophagy?

Yes it does. Autophagy activity increases in proportion to exercise duration. The linked study notes that the autophagy activity is most likely one of the major contributing factors to the overall benefits of exercise. The health benefits of exercise increase along with prolonged exercise duration and frequency. Autophagy increases in the same way.

What type of exercise promotes the most autophagy?

All forms of exercise increase autophagy. The degree to which autophagy is activated depends on the intensity.


All forms of exercise induce autophagy. Intensity and duration determine how much, not type of exercise.
Intensity matters.

Is exercise better than fasting or calorie restriction for autophagy?

This study says that exercise is the greatest stress that the body faces. It is the stressful state (hormesis) that activates autophagy. The last link explains that stress, of almost any kind, becomes beneficial because of the autophagy response.

I would therefore conclude that exercise is the best way to induce autophagy - IF you do it in such a way that it causes enough stress to induce a lot of autophagy.

Intensity matters. A walk to the bathroom won't induce nearly as much autophagy as a 24 hour fast.

Exercise is better for autophagy than fasting.
Exercise remains supreme.

Does this mean that you should forego fasting or calorie restriction you're doing it for the autophagy benefits? You should read the linked research and decide for yourself.

Is one option truly superior or more complete than the other? We just don't know enough about autophagy to know for sure yet.

Personally, I do both (along with other positive things like cold training and heat therapy).

It is always better to do more, instead of less, when it comes to your health. Stay Strong!

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Friday, June 19, 2020

11 Physical health benefits of mental relaxation

Man practicing mental relaxation by still waters
Mental relaxation is healthy.

Mental relaxation like yoga, aroma therapy and meditation is extremely good for your mental health.

It also has impressive benefits for your physical health. Today we examine how mental relaxation can improve your physical body.

Mental relaxation improves your physical health within minutes.
Relax. It's good for you.

Physical health benefits of mental relaxation

There are many benefits of relaxation. They include:

1. Lowered blood pressure
2. Improved digestion
3. Maintenance of blood sugar
4. Improved blood flow to muscles and other tissues
5. Reduced muscle tension
6. Reduced chronic or prolonged pain
7. Better sleep quality
8. Higher energy levels and less fatigue
9. Less stress hormone activity
10. Lower heart rate
11. Slower breathing rate

List of the health benefits brought on by relaxation
Relaxation benefits almost everything.

1. Relaxation lowers blood pressure

Relaxing activities like yoga, tai chi, music, sitting in the sun, meditation, and relaxing social activities can dilate your blood vessels lower your blood pressure almost instantly.

Blood vessels dilate (expand) which helps blood to flow through them easier when you relax. This improves your body's ability to nourish itself all over.

The more often you relax, the easier it will be for your body to enter into a healthy state of relaxation. This is why doing relaxing activities or learning how to relax frequently can lower your overall blood pressure over time.

Relaxation lowers blood pressure instantly, and regular relaxation lowers total blood pressure throughout the day.
Blood pressure drops when you relax.

2. Relaxation improves digestion

Stress causes digestive issues like stomach discomfort, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, frequent toilet visits, ulcers, and an unhealthy change in appetite. It can worsen irritable bowel syndrome as well.

These issues may be acute (once off) in times of short-term stress, or chronic (doesn't go away) as a result of prolonged stress.

Mental relaxation helps to counteract the negative effects of stress on the digestive system.

This is why dome people need to go to the toilet or let out gas during relaxing activities like exercise - their digestive systems begin to return to a state normalcy as a result of the mental relaxation.

Relaxation techniques can help your digestive system to work normally again.
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3. Relaxation helps to lower blood sugar levels

Stress triggers a chain of biological responses in your body. This is okay if it is balanced out with periods of rest and relaxation. When you stress too much, certain processes are left to run rampant while other processes never get the biological attention that they deserve.

Your body is not going to focus on healing itself, for example, if it thinks that it needs to gear up for impending danger.

Blood pressure and heart rate increase. Your breathing rate increases and you are more likely to breathe through your mouth. Muscles tense up in preparation for a burst of physical activity.

Digestion is put on hold until the body detects a time of rest and recovery.

Blood sugar levels can get real high during the stressful state because your body reacts to the stressful situation by pouring energy into the blood stream. When this energy isn't used, it is out of place and then damages your health.

Relaxation signals to the body that it can shut off these processes and go into a state of rest and recovery. Blood sugar is taken out of the blood stream and shuttled back into storage to be used at a later stage.

Your body puts off certain bodily processes like rest and recovery for times when there is no anticipated danger (stress). Relaxation activates these healing processes.
Relax more to heal more.

4. Relaxation improves blood flow to muscles and other tissues

When relaxation dilates blood vessels; blood circulation improves and blood flow increases. This helps with two very important things. 

Firstly, important nutrients like oxygen, energy and proteins can reach muscles and other tissues. This gives them the building blocks that they need to rebuild and function properly.

Secondly, by-products and toxins like carbon dioxide and old cells can exit muscles and tissues to be recycled or disposed of.


Increase the effectiveness of healthy habits by giving yourself enough time for good rest and recovery.
You need rest to succeed.

5. Relaxation reduces muscle tension

Stress indicates a danger that we need to escape from or a prey that we need to catch. Our minds and bodies work together in order to ensure our maximum chances of survival in these situations.

Stress tenses muscle fibers in preparation for a burst of physical activity. When we stay in the stressful state for longer periods of time, tension gradually increases. Tension gets greater over time because every fresh moment of stress adds to existing tension.

Periods of relaxation signal to our brains (and therefore our bodies) that the dangerous situation has passed and that we can go back to normal.

When the signal to relax does not come after an extended period of time (or if it comes too infrequently to balance out stressful situations), tension build-up leads to things like muscle knots, aches and pains, restricted blood flow and bad postural development.

This is why exercise is so good for things like mental stress. It is clear to the mind and body that the period of danger has passed at the end of the workout. People who stress and don't exercise live in a constant biological state of danger anticipation.

The bodies of people who exercise live as though the dangerous situation is gone. Every stressful situation then starts with a relaxed and healed body instead of adding to existing tension.

Relaxation also tells the body that the dangerous situation is gone and that they can therefore start internal healing processes.

Relaxation prevents the negative effects of stress.
Relaxation is essential to health.

6. Relaxation for pain

Studies show that relaxation reduces both chronic (persistent) and acute (once-off) pain.

Web MD explains that chronic stress is one of the factors that contribute to pain, and that relaxation exercises can help with natural pain relief as part of your pain management plan.

The pain response is very similar to the stress response. Heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and muscle tension all increase. Both pain and stress hit your nervous system hard. It is hard for the body to relax or to heal in this kind of state.

Web MD mentions studies that reveal that just thinking about a stressful event (or talking about it) causes a dramatic increase in back tension for patients with back pain.

Stress can increase the harshness of pain, while relaxation dulls its effects.

An elevated sense of well-being from relaxation helps people to cope with pain as well. It helps to mitigate the frustration that chronic pain tends to cause - the frustration that makes the pain worse to begin with.

Stress increases sensitivity to pain. Relaxation improves pain tolerance.
Use relaxation for pain relief.

7. Relaxation increases sleep quality


Most techniques that help you to sleep are techniques that help you to relax.

Our bodies go through periods of high energetic activity and restfulness. Hormones tell us when to be active and when to relax. We are supposed to relax before bed time in order to get the best amount of high quality sleep.

It is almost impossible to get good natural sleep without being in a state of relaxation. Regular relaxation activities will help you to fall into a state of relaxation that is conducive to good sleep much quicker.

Imagine being able to sleep as soon as you want to.

Relaxation will also improve the quality of your sleep. This means that every hour of sleep is much more valuable in terms of its restorative effect on physical and mental health.

The more relaxed you are when you fall asleep, the better you will feel when you wake up.

Relaxation techniques improve your ability to fall asleep and improve overall sleep quality.
Relax to sleep better.

8. Relaxation for higher energy levels

Relaxation can improve your energy levels.

The fact that relaxation improves blood pressure, digestion, blood sugar, blood circulation, muscle tension, pain, sleep, stress and breathing means that your body can heal itself.

You will be healthier and your body can finally heal from issues that it has been putting off because it was in a constant state of stress. Freedom from stress frees up precious energy that your body can use for other functions like healing and recovery.

There's only so much healing that you can do. Once you have received the healing that your body needs, energy levels will improve as you have more physical energy at your disposal.

Regular relaxation improves energy levels by healing the body.
Relax for energy.

 9. Less stress hormone activity

The stress hormone cortisol isn't a bad hormone. It has very important functions. It helps to turn nutrients into energy and gives you the motivation to get up and do different activities.

Cortisol becomes unhealthy when we have too much of it. This happens when we stress at a higher intensity than what we should. It also becomes unhealthy when it is elevated for extended periods of time.

Cortisol should rise sharply in the morning when we wake up to give us energy for the day. It should slowly taper off to reach its lowest point when we sleep.

Stress throughout the day triggers an up-regulation of cortisol so that it doesn't slowly taper off. This is why so many people struggle to fall asleep at night.

Exercise can modulate sleep patterns through many different mechanisms. One of them is the ability to push cortisol back into healthy levels.

Relaxation is a great countermeasure against stress. It can reduce cortisol by the same degree that stress increases it.

This will help you to keep your stress hormone (cortisol) levels in balance so that it serves you but doesn't burn you.

Stress is good for you. Too much of it is the problem.
Use relaxation to reduce stress.

10. Relaxation to lower heart rate

High blood pressure, high blood sugar, rapid breathing and a faster heart rate are all cardiovascular responses to stress that aren't bad for you if they come and go in the way that they are supposed to.

Stress triggers these conditions while relaxation does the opposite. These conditions become chronic when the presence of stress, in the absence of relaxation, causes an elevation without the opposing reduction.

This puts a lot of pressure on your cardiovascular system. Your heart shouldn't have to labor at a stressed rate all of the time. It needs periods of relaxation. The risk of various heart diseases (and other cardiovascular disease) increase without vital periods of relaxation and recovery.

Give yourself some much-needed relaxation time to balance out the physical effects of mental stress.

Stay healthy. Balance out times of stress with times of relaxation.
Give your heart a break.

11. Slower breathing rate

A high-paced, stressed-out state of mind increases your heart rate and your breathing rate.

Some physical bodily processes speed up (like heart rate and breathing) while others slow down (like digestion and healing) to help you survive in periods of stress.

Our bodies need to slow down in order for other bodily processes to become a priority. When you slow down mentally, your breathing rate and heart rate will slow down as well.

Blood pressure will drop and your body will experience a shift in energy.

Mood changes include a change in attitude, similar to enlightenment.

Digestion works better and the immune system can work in the way that it is supposed to.

Healing processes that have been put off can come back online to restore your body.

Many people use techniques to slow their breathing so that their bodies can enter into this healing, restorative state. Your breathing rate will slow down automatically when you relax.

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

My pin prick sensations when trying to sleep are finally gone!

Alarm clock surrounded by a sleeping blanket at night time
I cured the pin pricking sensation on my skin.

Skin pricking sensation disclaimer

This article is by no means intended to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. I am simply sharing my own personal experiences for the sake of anecdotal evidence. Always consult your medical practitioner when you feel any sensation of pain or before you make any lifestyle changes.

Why do I get a pricking sensation at night?

I finally found the cause! I used to get horrible pricking sensations on my skin late at night when I was trying to fall asleep. It was a sharp pain that came and went in an instant. It felt like a bug bite. I know that it was not a bug bite because it would happen all over my body in the same time frame, but not at all on other nights.

I would get this pricking pain on my left leg and then on my right arm a minute later. Sure enough, I'd get the same sensation on my neck the next minute - and on my foot the next. I could have it all over my body the one night and then not at all on the next night.

The sensations would stop as soon as I got out of bed and return as soon as I lay down again. This was extremely frustrating. It took me a long time to finally identify the cause of the issue so that I could solve it.

You may have to sit in the darkness for a little while before the light shines upon you.
Don't despair in times of frustration.

Possible causes for skin pricks when trying to fall asleep

1. Bug bites
2. Cold temperature
3. Lack of sleep
4. Stress
5. Nerve/nervous system damage
6. Lack of blood circulation
7. Eczema or dry skin
8. Allergic reactions

These were the potential causes that I identified:

Causes of skin prick sensations at night
Find your cause. Solve your problem.

1. Bug bites

It was possible that it was bug bites. Bed bugs can be the cause of pricking sensations during sleep. I didn't have any visible marks - I got up immediately and looked into the mirror to check. The pain came and went in an instant, and there were no marks to show for it. I also closely examined my bed and found no insects that I could visibly see.

2. Cold temperature

I noticed that I tended to get this more often on winter nights. I tried covering myself completely with my blankets. I then waited for my breath to heat up my whole body. I tried this multiple times. My body temperature increased and I didn't feel cold, but I still felt the pricking sensations come and go on my skin.

Your skin is more sensitive when it is cold.
Look after your skin.

3. Lack of sleep

Lack of good sleep was my next possible culprit. There wasn't a surefire way for me to test out this theory because I couldn't decide which nights to get more sleep and which days I had to wake up early. Most of us struggle with whatever sleep we can get.

I have often struggled with getting enough sleep, and science says that it's not totally my fault. Our genetics determine which part of the day we are most likely to feel sleepy.

I used exercise to reset my body clock and I found other ways to get to sleep as quickly as possible, but this specific method wasn't the way that I stopped those pin prick feelings at night in bed.

4. Stress

My third theory was that stress was causing these horrible sharp pains on my skin when I was trying to fall asleep. Perhaps I couldn't relax at night and it materialized in the form of shooting pain in my skin. It is possible for stress to cause pins and needles.

Who wouldn't eliminate stress from their lives if they could!? I probably could have tried out some relaxation techniques before bed (and that might have provided relief), but I never got down to giving it a try.

Stress and poor sleeping habits can wreak havoc on your skin.
Look after your skin.

5. Nerve damage or an overworked central nervous system

You can get pins and needles from nerve damage or damage to the spinal cord or brain. While I didn't sustain any physical injuries, there could be other similar causes.

I could have pushed myself too far at the gym and caused over-training that lead to a compromised central nervous system, which causes a disruption of nerve messaging and then results in pricking sensations.

Another possible cause in this category would be a deficiency in minerals or electrolytes. Low calcium can cause tingling and so can a deficiency in other minerals like phosphorus, potassium and sodium (see deficiency symptoms for each mineral in that link to learn more about mineral deficiency in particular).

Your body depends on a healthy diet to regulate these minerals, and sweating causes a loss of several important minerals that you need for nerve function.

Your skin is a reflection of your overall health.
Look after your health.

6. Lack of blood circulation

You can have bad blood circulation for a variety of reasons. 

Diabetic nerve pain could be the cause (which would come from diabetes). 



Other causes of tingling skin can be a pinched nerve, toxins, alcohol, anxiety, pregnancy, repetitive strain injury, vitamin deficiency, multiple sclerosis, medication, infections, kidney failure, autoimmune disease, peripheral artery disease and stroke.

7. Eczema or dry skin

I have eczema. I have it in the form of dry skin most of the time. It is a lot worse in winter. My skin sometimes gets so bad in winter that red streaks form and its opens up.

If my skin is the worst during winter and the pricking sensation happens the most at the same time of the year, perhaps the two are related.

I tried a deep moisturizing treatment before bed - and I still had the pricking sensations when I lie in my bed.

Don't stop trying until you have done what you wanted to do.
The solution is worth it!

8. Allergic reactions

This was the cause. I finally found it! Treating my allergies solved my problem. I eventually noticed that if I took a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) (painkiller) or antihistamine before bed time, I didn't have any problems with my skin at night.

I simply needed to manage my allergies better. When my body wasn't in an allergic state, I didn't have any issues. I am assuming that winter's drying effects on my skin weakened its barrier and therefore made it more susceptible to an allergic reaction.


I am not 100% sure what triggered the allergic reaction. It could be dust mites in the bed sheets (which are known to cause allergic reactions in people with allergies).

As long as my allergies are under control, I don't have any prickling sensations on my skin when I want to go to sleep.

Conclusion

As you can see; it has taken a lot of sleepless nights, research, and trial and error to find the problem and solve it. I hope that all my troubles can help you to find restful sleep much sooner than I did. Stay Strong!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Exercise reduces inflammation

Lady in the middle of a martial arts pose
Exercise can lower inflammation.

Inflammation causes almost all modern diseases

Inflammation seems to be the cause of all degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes, coronary artery disease and Alzheimer's.

For the majority of our readers who won't check out the validity of the above link, the source comes directly from the Harvard Health Medical Website. I would recommend giving the article a read-through if you want a more detailed, scientific explanation about how inflammation causes the four diseases mentioned above.

Current research points us to the fact that inflammation could cause almost all non-communicable diseases.

Inflammation starts off as the immune response to an issue within the body. Science discovers different pathways that inflammation uses to affect our physical state almost every day.

Inflammation at healthy levels is actually good for you. It protects you from infections and prevents you from hurting yourself even more when you scrape your knee or overdo it at the gym. This refers to acute inflammation because it comes when it is needed and goes when its job is done.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is not healthy. It is basically an inflammatory response that doesn't switch off. It's always on.

This has many, various, detrimental effects on the body. The body can't enter a solid state of rest and recovery to heal from the inflammation and return to normal. Inflammation can cause the body to attack its own tissues - like in the case with autoimmune diseases.

Chronic inflammation is like a war the never stops - even when there aren't any bad guys to fight.

Inflammation causes degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes, coronary artery disease and Alzheimer's.
Chronic inflammation is unhealthy.

Exercise reduces inflammation

One of the many benefits of exercise is its ability to reduce chronic inflammation. Inflammation goes down as soon as you start exercise - regardless of the intensity or duration. A light, 5 minute stroll is enough to reduce chronic inflammation to some degree.

The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise increase with intensity and duration. A light, 5 minute stroll might decrease your total inflammation; but a faster walking pace at 10 or 15 minutes will be even better. 

Your body will improve its natural ability to reduce inflammation as your over fitness level improves.

This fitness challenge is a fantastic way to enhance your total fitness levels within 30 days.

Inflammation is reduced is soon as you start exercise - regardless of intensity.
The benefits start on the first minute.

20 Minutes of moderate exercise reduces inflammation by 5%

Exercise is shown to suppress the inflammatory response in this study.

Researchers found that 20 minutes of moderate exercise on a treadmill lead to a 5% decrease in inflammation.

How does exercise reduce inflammation?

1. Exercise lowers inflammation by activating the sympathetic nervous system.
2. Exercise suppresses inflammation by stimulating epinephrine (adrenaline) and nor-epinephrine.

There are different explanations to why exercise lowered inflammation, according to the above study.

Exercise forces your body to stop potentially destructive behaviors.
Too much rest will kill you.

1. Exercise lowers inflammation by activating the sympathetic nervous system

Exercise activates the sympathetic nervous system, which then down-regulates the inflammatory response.

It makes sense that your body would spend less energy on internal battles if there are external battles to face instead. You can't run away from a lion or chase down your next meal if most of your energy is tied up with internal processes.

This might explain why exercise lowers inflammation in the long term - living organisms need to fight for survival. If there is no external fight for survival, your body could bring the fight inwards.

Inflammation is part of the body's healing and repairing process. This happens when we aren't spending vital energy on other external activities. Too much time without physical challenges or physical activity may, theoretically, put us in the parasympathetic (resting) state for so long that the body ends up creating issues of its own.

It's as if the pendulum swings too far in the opposite direction without physical activity to balance out extended periods of rest.

If you don't spend your energy on something positive, it will go towards something negative.
Maintain balance.

2. Exercise suppresses inflammation via adrenergic receptors

Test tube studies (as per the above study) observe that epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and nor-epinephrine prevent TNF (inflammatory molecules).

The study discusses how adrenergic receptors prohibit inflammation via exercise. Adrenergic receptors refer to the way that the body uses neurotransmitters like adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Inflammation is a natural part of immune function. The body produces inflammatory cells to protect itself against pathogens that cause disease. 

These inflammatory cells declare a state of war throughout the body so that your tissues become inhabitable by germs. The problem is that healthy cells will also die off if this inflammatory state goes too far.

Exercise stops the production of these inflammatory cells, and one of the ways that it does this is through adrenergic receptors. 

Exercise increases your body's need for physical energy. Hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline are up-regulated in order to create this physical energy. This lowers inflammation.

In order for physical energetic processes to switch on, other processes need to be switched off. This maintains a state of balance in your body - like how you only shiver when you are cold and you only sweat when you are hot. You only produce certain inflammatory cells when you are at rest.

Your body won't produce certain inflammatory cells when adrenergic receptors are stimulated. When adrenergic receptors are stimulated, inflammation is turned off so that more energy is dedicated to performing whatever physical task needs to get done.

If adrenergic receptors aren't stimulated through exercise often enough, inflammatory pathways are turned on for too long. This leads to an accumulation of inflammation that causes disease.

We were made to exercise. Things go wrong when we don't.
Exercise more. Suffer less.

Cold therapy can increase the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise

It is interesting to see that epinephrine production (from exercise) scientifically suppresses inflammation.

This explains why cold therapy is so effective at speeding up muscle recovery (because cold temperatures trigger epinephrine release as well).

You can therefore increase your anti-inflammatory efforts by adding cold therapy to your exercise regime. Stay Strong!

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Monday, June 15, 2020

How to Lose Weight at Home

Woman smiling while looking out of the window at her home
You can lose weight right where you are.

A gym membership doesn't necessarily make weight loss any easier - especially with Covid-19 and other factors getting in the way of a good workout routine.

If these recent events have taught us anything, it is how to not rely on one singular exercise routine forever. So 'how to lose weight at home?' becomes a very good question.

There are some things that we should all do in order to keep those pounds off forever. This simply requires a little shift in your lifestyle. You can't expect to keep the weight off if you are not willing to change a few habits.

The hard reality is that diets typically don't work long term unless you make some serious lifestyle changes.

It's easy to lose weight at home if you make simple lifestyle changes.
Follow these easy steps.

How to lose weight at home

1. Change your mind set about weight loss 
2. Sit less and exercise more
3. Get proper sleep
4. Keep a food journal
5. Avoid processed food
6. Stick to your new habits

95% of all diet efforts fail. You are bound to give up if you feel like you deprive yourself for the sake of health. You will only stick to something if you enjoy it.

It is not about losing weight, but rather about creating a healthy lifestyle that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

If you have decided that you want to work towards putting your health first, recognize that fun is the key to longevity and living your best life. Let's get to it.

1. Change your mind set about weight loss 

This is everything. If you think that losing weight is a sacrifice, you are bound to fail.

You have to make a mindset change about your lifestyle. Change the person that you want to be in your mind. Let go of the person that decides whether or not you're going to have a whole frozen pizza.

When you create a change in your mindset, you actually love making healthy choices. You enjoy defying your prior habits like avoiding exercise or grabbing an unhealthy snack.

It’s almost like tricking your brain into becoming a better version of yourself. This is how you can achieve permanent weight loss and a true fitness lifestyle.

You can change your mindset so that you enjoy healthy habits and dislike unhealthy habits.
You can enjoy healthy habits.

2. Sit less and exercise more

Our culture has gradually become more sedentary - and it's having a bad effect on our health.

A lifestyle without exercise affects more than your weight. It negatively affects your immune system, digestive system, and mental health as well.

Start slow with your workout and build up to higher levels.

Try to exercise for 10 minutes a day and then move up to 15 minutes or more every day.

Also have backup plans in place so that you are never one excuse away from not being able to work out.

Start with 10 minutes of exercise every day. Change your life forever.
You don't need to run a marathon.

3. Get proper sleep

There is overwhelming evidence that sleep plays a vital role in weight management - along with diet and exercise. A lack of sleep can raise cortisol levels and lead to fat retention -especially around your core.

We know that when you are tired, it is really hard to muster up the willpower to do much of anything. Consult a sleep doctor and try to set a more regular sleep routine in place so that your body can become accustomed to sleeping at certain hours of the day.

This will make a huge difference on your outlook of life. You will have more energy and you will have a stronger will power to become a better version of yourself.

Remember that 7-8 hours is the recommended sleep time for an average adult.

A lack of sleep can raise cortisol levels and lead to fat retention.
Get enough sleep.

4. Keep a food journal

A food journal that tracks everything that you eat will force you to be accountable. When we are held accountable for our actions, we achieve more.

You don't have to write down every calorie or every macro nutrient down, but keep track of your overall food intake.

It is really useful because you can then look back and make the right changes and adjustments. Most people don't know where to begin until they look back at a food journal after a week or two.

You will see new habits emerge when you do it this way. Test it for a week and thank me later!

You are more likely to stick to your goals if you hold yourself accountable.
Accountability improves your success rate.

5. Reduce processed food consumption

Many of us eat too much processed food. Processed food generally has high levels of sugar and carbohydrates.

We reach for a piece of bread and think that it will satisfy our hunger cravings. We are left just as hungry two hours later. Healthy food that has lots of fiber will keep you fuller for longer.

Bad carbohydrates (carbohydrates that make you fat but don't add any nutritional value) are everywhere. They are easy to choose because they are typically cheaper and arguably taste better.

We have been conditioned to become addicted to these foods. But did you know you can crave fruits and vegetables?

Some people are better at this than others. Some of you may be able to reject processed food in an instant. Others may have to wean off of them slowly.

It is easier to avoid these foods if you simply never buy them. If it's not in your house, you're can't eat it when you're at home.

Keep in mind that you are saving money in the long run. Future medical bills and future medications are what you really want to avoid. These are much more expensive than healthy foods like vegetables!

Simple carbohydrates make you crave more food. Healthy food satisfies your hunger.
Health is satisfying.

6. Maintain positive lifestyle changes

Don't approach this journey like it is a one-time diet. Plan beyond your short-term goals - or else you will end up in an endless cycle of weight loss and weight gain. Keep yourself inspired by watching fitness channels on YouTube and subscribing to blogs that inspire you.

You deserve better; so go out and get what you deserve.

You deserve motivation for a better life.
Motivation makes all the difference.

Four easy exercises to do at home


1. Walking or running on a treadmill

Depending on your level of fitness, an exercise bike could be better than a treadmill. Check with your doctor and stay within your current limitations. You don't want to push yourself too hard and give up. Small steps are better than no steps at all.

Build yourself up to higher and higher levels. Start with 20 min of walking, for example. Do 2 minutes of jogging and 8 min of walking (alternating on and off) for 30 minutes on the next day.

Never push so hard that you risk losing the progress that you've made so far.
Slow progress is still progress.

2. Basic Crunches

If you are looking to get those pounds off of your midsection, it is going to be a long journey. Start now.

This exercise is a classic. It is great for beginners to start engaging the abdominal muscle group.

3. Burpees

There is a reason why this exercise is so effective. It is a full-body exercise that is used by almost every age group. Burpees are incredibly effective at burning fat quickly.

4. Jumping Jacks

No one can deny that working multiple muscle groups at the same time is the fastest way to achieve weight loss. You’ve probably been doing these exercises since elementary school. It is a proven fat-burning exercise, so use it wisely at home.

List of exercises that you can do without equipment
You can do these exercises right now.

Conclusion

Weight loss at home is only difficult if we make it difficult. Start with a mindset change and then work your way into new habits that will influence you, and the other people around you, to have a great lifestyle.

*This is a Guest Post submitted by Jonathan from the Flexible workout blog and edited by Saguren Redyrs.

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The effects of cold exposure on gut bacteria

Icy snow flake in the cold
Is the cold good for your gut microbiome?

How does cold therapy affect gut bacteria?

We know that cold therapy is good for health and that you can't be healthy without the right gut bacteria, but what effects does the one have over the other? Do they interlink somehow? Let's see what the science says.

This is how cold therapy affects your gut bacteria.
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Cold exposure changes the gut microbiome

This study found that mice developed different gut bacteria when they were subjected to cold, compared to those who were kept at room temperature. These new microbes caused certain bodily changes in the cold mice.

When feces (containing gut bacteria) were transplanted from the cold mice into mice that didn't have any gut bacteria of their own, the recipients experienced body chances that were similar to the adaptions that they would have developed if they were the ones who spent time in the cold.

Their body fat turned from white fat (primary role of storage, causes obesity) into brown fat (primary role of heat generation, counteracts obesity). Insulin sensitivity increased and the absorptive surface of the digestive tract had increased in order to increase caloric absorption.

If you want more brown fat and less white fat, better insulin sensitivity, a faster metabolism and more nutrient absorption in your gut; your gut bacteria will do this for you when you expose yourself to cold temperatures.

This study proves that cold exposure and gut bacteria are closely interlinked. Cold exposure changes the gut microbiome - and the gut microbiome influences your body's ability to cope with cold temperatures.

Cold exposure changes your gut bacteria to be more sensitive to insulin, improve nutrient absorption, increase metabolism and burn fat for heat.
Temperatures affect your gut bacteria.

Exercise and cold exposure improve gut health when combined

This study looked at the effects of exercise on gut bacteria under different temperatures. They had obese mice exercise at room temperature, short bursts of cold and a longer period of cold or sustained coldness.

They concluded that exercise lead to more conversion of fat from white fat to brown fat when done in the cold, compared to exercise on its own or cold exposure on its own. Other health markers like cardiovascular health and metabolism were mostly improved when exercise and cold exposure was combined.

They say that exercise reversed some of the effects that colder temperatures had on gut bacteria and therefore protected against cold-induced cardio-vascular damage.

The moral of the story is this: Exercise combined with cold exposure reduces obesity and improves cardiovascular health more than cold exposure or exercise on its own.

Your get more health benefits when you combine exercise and cold exposure than if you did either on their own.
Combine cold exposure with exercise.

Does this mean that cold exposure is good for our gut microbiome or not?

What we do know for sure is that cold exposure triggers changes in gut bacteria that are favorable to our overall health.

Cold exposure creates a gut microbiome that increases our metabolism, converts white fat into brown fat (which is a good thing), increases absorption of nutrients from food, improves glucose metabolism, reduces obesity and increases insulin sensitivity.

I could not find any studies or hard scientific evidence that found an increase or decrease in specific types of gut bacteria, whether good or bad, as a result of cold exposure. If you know of any research on this, please let me know in the comments below.

What I can look at, though, are how the changes brought on by cold exposure will affect the gut microbiome.

Physical changes in health brought on by gut bacteria

We know that these changes are brought on by gut bacteria (independent on the body's own adaptions) because these changes happen to mice when they receive the gut microbes from cold-exposed mice.

1. Improved insulin sensitivity
2. Increased brown fat
3. Increased nutrient absorption
4. Better glucose metabolism
5. Reduced obesity or white fat mass

List of ways that gut bacteria affect the host in response to cold stimulus
Cold-exposed gut bacteria change our bodies.

We still have a lot to learn about our gut bacteria and how they interact with various stimuli like cold exposure. What we do know for sure is that the long term effects of cold exposure, mediated by gut bacteria, are beneficial to our health in many ways. The positive health effects of cold exposure are dramatically increased when you add exercise into the equation.

In my personal opinion, we will probably find out with future research that overall fitness, on many levels, improves the composition and diversity of gut bacteria in our digestive system. I suspect that cold exposure, heat exposure, exercise and other extrinsic stressors that force the body to get stronger will ultimately improve gut health. Stay Strong!

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