Love a Runner? Here are 5 thoughtful ways to show the runner in your life you care

Not many exercises call to mind the pure simplicity of fitness better than a run. It’s a fantastic way to get your exercise, with a laundry list of benefits for both your body and your mood. Good for everything from joint stiffness to depression, with the obvious inclusion of fitness, it’s like the universal remote control of feeling good about yourself.

It’s trendy but, with the freedom to do it wherever you want, without the need for specific outfits or equipment, also extremely accessible. Seriously – it never goes out of style. If you aren’t already doing it, chances are you know someone who is.

Maybe it’s the special someone in your life. Maybe they really love it. And maybe you’ve been looking for that special way to tell them you care.

Hey; don’t even worry about it – we’ve got you covered:

Five Tips For Staying in Shape This Winter

Five Tips For Staying in Shape This Winter

Your training season is over. You ran your last race a month ago, and winter is here. We all know the temptations of the Christmas season: food, parties, and alcohol. On top of that, you have snow. It is so much easier to look out at the cold and pull your blanket up over your head. Here are five tips to help you avoid the slump & stay in shape this winter:

It’s Not The Off Season

If you want to improve as an endurance athlete, you need to stop calling it the “off season.” In off season, we sit on the couch a lot. We binge-watch whatever we can find on Netflix while eating mounds of chocolate.

Instead, divide the winter into post-season and pre-season. Post-season is all about recovery, especially if you raced long distances like a marathon or Ironman. Recovery doesn’t mean sitting on the couch, though. Keep running, but run fewer miles and a little less frequently. To maintain your fitness, most coaches recommend doing a minimum of three runs per week. In pre-season, you work on base training. You slowly increase your mileage so you are ready to go when training season comes again.

Do Form Drills

It’s always a good idea to improve your running form, but Winter is an ideal time to fully evaluate your form, to make major improvements, and to start doing those form drills you know you should be doing. The better your running form is, the faster you will go with less effort. Incorporating running form drills will help you get faster in race season without interfering with your races.

Add Strength Training

We all know we should be doing strength training. It’s on every training plan you read on the internet. Remember when you started lifting two weeks before your big race? Your muscles hurt so much that your time suffered. Winter is the perfect time to add in some strength training with enough room to let your muscles get used to it before training season.

You can also use strength training to address any imbalances in your body. If your left leg isn’t as strong as your right, you can work on balancing things out without worrying about it affecting your racing form. Try out these strength evaluations to see what you need to work on. Stronger runners get fewer injuries.

Try Cross Training

During the training season, we spend so much time running that we can’t do other things. Instead of going to your gym to do the same old workout, try signing up for a class that piques your interest. Play some basketball or squash with your friends. Try out yoga or spin. It will help your training, too. Our bodies get used to the same old workouts, so new motions and activities will shock them into better fitness gains. Plus, you might find something you really love.

Just Keep Running

A lot of people stop running completely once the temperature gets below 40 degrees. It might seem obvious, but running through the winter is a great way to stay in shape, and you miss out on some of the best running of the year. Many runners prefer winter running to summer running. You can always add more clothes, but there’s a limit to how much you can take off. When you learn how to dress for the weather, you can stay comfortable no matter the temperature. Plus, there is nothing like a crisp day after a snowfall with a running path all to yourself.

It can be hard to motivate yourself to stay in shape over the winter, but the winter season is an important part of an athlete’s preparation for next year. Take advantage of these tips, and you may not only stay in shape all winter long, you might get performance improvements next year.

Invigorating Stretches to get you through your Midday Slump

By Lindsay Nova

Who doesn’t feel tired after lunch at work? Brain fog and lethargy in the afternoon are common problems many people face in the workplace or even at home. While an afternoon cup of coffee may pick you right up, there are natural alternatives that can be just as invigorating- and they don’t have any side effects! Next time you feel sluggish midday, try stretching your body instead and notice how it makes you feel. Here are some you can try today:

Open Your Heart

Stand up where ever you are with your feet in a parallel position. Place your hands on your hips and draw your elbows closer toward one another. Begin to lean back and lift your gaze upward, expanding your chest. Breathe deeply here as you extend the spine and open the chest. This stretch in the front of the neck stimulates your thyroid gland, which through the secretion of hormones, can help regulate our energy levels.

Ragdoll Forward Fold

Learn to let go of stress in this stretch. With your feet in parallel, fold forward at the hips. Bend your knees as much as you want to. Grab opposite elbows and let your head hang heavy toward the floor. Release any tension. This is also good for stimulating your thyroid to regulate your adrenals during those afternoon slumps, because it stretches the neck in the opposite direction of the first stretch.

Side Stretch

Re-invigorate your body by stretching your lungs- literally. Stand tall on both feet. Reach your arms up to the sky. Clasp your right hand over the left wrist. Pull your left arm over to the right side and feel the stretch in the left side of your body. Think of creating more space between your hips and your rib cage. Breathe deeply into your lungs, filling your body and muscles with fresh stimulating oxygen. Change your grip to stretch to the other side.

High Lunge

If you have been sitting all day, chances are your hip flexors are feeling tight. Start with your right foot forward, knee bent, and step your left foot as far back as you can, keeping the heel lifted. Hips are completely square and the front knee is bent right over the ankle so the leg is at a 90 degree angle. Reach your arms up to the sky to stretch your chest and arms, too. Make sure you do both sides!

Hamstrings + Shoulders

Step your feet wide with your toes pointed forward. Interlace your hands behind your hips, or grab a strap if your shoulders are tight. Fold forward and reach your arms overhead, keeping your hands together with the head pointed downward. Feel the stretch in the back of your legs and shoulders.
Next time you feel fatigued in the afternoon, get up and move around! Use your own body to create the energy you need to stay productive and alert throughout your day.


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How to use Running for Stress Relief this Holiday Season

It’s no secret that the holiday season often brings on a downward spiral of stress and fatigue.  You might notice that you feel exhausted or frazzled as you pass by hundreds of Christmas cards and plastic-wrapped gift sets at the mall, or maybe you find yourself a little more easily angered now that the season of pumpkin spice lattes and beautiful fall colors have passed their prime.  To make matters worse, it’s getting harder and harder to fit in your daily run or workout amidst all the hustle and bustle as the new year approaches.  Regardless of how stress rears its ugly head in your own life, this holiday season is a great time to get back on track with your running program.  It’s not just for weight loss and heart health: running has been shown to be a potent stress-buster and mood-lifter and might be just what you need to keep a level head over the winter and beyond.   Here are a few ways to use running as therapy to decrease stress and keep your mental health in check during the tense holiday season.

Little By Little

You’re probably familiar with “runner’s high”, a term used to describe a euphoric feeling that exercisers often experience during periods of moderate- to high-intensity exercise.  While there are several theories as to which neurotransmitters are actually responsible for creating a “runner’s high”, there’s no question that you’ll feel more powerful, optimistic, and full of energy on the days you choose to go for a run.  Stress can wreak havoc on your energy levels and cognitive function, but research has shown that hitting the pavement for as little as ten minutes can kick stress and moodiness to the curb and boost your energy levels for the rest of the day (Hansen, Stevens, & Coast, 2001).  Even if you think you’d rather stay inside wrapped in a blanket than lace up your sneakers for a quick three-miler, remember how you good always feel once your cool-down starts and it’s time to head home: it’s always worth it.    

Find A Rhythm

Creating a new positive habit or reinforcing an old one can work wonders on your mental health by helping you mark each day as a success.  Making a point of sticking to regularly scheduled runs during your week, even if they’re short, will help you feel a sense of accomplishment as you go to bed each night.  That sense of accomplishment will encourage and motivate you each day and soon you’ll have a healthy habit to keep you on the move and feeling optimistic even through stressful moments this holiday season.  Plus, it’s a few minutes that you can take for yourself, with no phone calls and no emails, during a time usually crammed full of caring for family, friends, and co-workers. Write your scheduled runs in your daybook or calendar so you have a solid reminder to take care of yourself and your needs, and let friends and family know how important it is that you stick to your plan.

Have A Sense Of Purpose

Setting and achieving goals can be therapeutic too.  A good goal doesn’t have to be lofty; its purpose here is to give you a focal point when the season around you seems blurry and unfocused.  Is there an area of town you haven’t explored yet?  Your goal could be to do at least one new running route each week.  Are you skimping out on speed work?  Make a point of scheduling fartlek sessions into your plan.  As you pass these small milestones you’ve made for yourself, your sense of success and accomplishment will soar.    

Sprint To The Finish

If you’re finding it hard to fit your runs into your busy holiday schedule, sprint training might be an option for you.   Adding some high-intensity sprints to your running program allows you to shorten your running time, plus get an added boost in cardiovascular and muscular endurance.  In addition, sprint training has been linked to an increase in memory and cognitive function (Praag, 2008), two qualities that tend to fall by the wayside while juggling the holiday season’s demands.  When you feel pressed for time, try implementing a session of interval, or fartlek, training: periods of light jogging interspersed with short, all-out sprints.  A typical session might consist of two minutes of light jogging with thirty seconds of sprinting and repeating five to ten times.  What used to be a light hour-long run can be easily shortened to 15 or 20 minutes while still keeping your heart and lungs fit and strong and your head clear and focused.  Even adding just one sprint session a week will make you feel like you have more time to accomplish your holiday chores.

Get Some Fresh Air

As the new year approaches, the days get shorter and shorter until it seems like the sun has completely disappeared!  You might find yourself getting a little bummed out from all the darkness, and there’s a reason: no exposure to sunshine means you produce a lot less vitamin D,  a micronutrient that’s been connected to seasonal affective disorder and winter moodiness (Kerr, et al., 2015).  Getting a run in during a sunrise or sunset can boost your vitamin D production and fend off those seasonal mental funks you might find yourself in.  If you’re cooped up in your home or office building all day, getting a blast of fresh air, even if it’s cold, can help you recharge and stay productive through your work day.  If you can fit a run in over your lunch break when the sun is at its highest, you’ll find yourself ready to take on the rest of the day with a whole new outlook.  You might even be able to convince a few co-workers to go for a dash with you for a casual, stress-free social event.

Get A Running Buddy

Ask a friend, family member, or co-worker if they’d like to do a few runs with you.  Our interactions with others during the holiday season tend to be task-oriented and attached to demands or requests.  Getting a running buddy gives you a chance to have some social interaction in a casual, friendly setting while still fitting your run into your day.  Talking together about the things you are looking forward to over the holidays this year can revive your positive mindset, plus the added company gives you some accountability to keep your running habit in high gear when things get stressful.  You might even be able to find a local running club to run with a larger group for the same benefits.

Even though the holidays bring stress and frustration on each year, it’s easy to use your running habit to your advantage as a way to lower your stress levels and elevate your mental health.  Implementing just one of these tips can make drastic changes in your productivity and will add a sense of accomplishment and relief to boost you forward into another successful training season.


References
Hansen, Cheryl J., Larry C. Stevens, and J. Richard Coast. “Exercise Duration and Mood State: How Much Is Enough to Feel Better?” Health Psychology 20.4 (2001): 267-75. Web.
Kerr, David C.r., David T. Zava, Walter T. Piper, Sarina R. Saturn, Balz Frei, and Adrian F. Gombart. “Associations between Vitamin D Levels and Depressive Symptoms in Healthy Young Adult Women.” Psychiatry Research 227.1 (2015): 46-51. Web.

van Praag, H. Neuromol Med (2008) 10: 128. doi:10.1007/s12017-008-8028-z

5 Really Great Reasons Why Good Posture Is Super Important

This article was originally featured on Huffington Post by Ann Brenoff. Read the original here

So it turns out, your mother was right after all: Good posture really matters ― even in your older years.

Slouching impacts you in ways you wouldn’t have imagined, says Dr. Charles Wang, the COO and co-founder of Lumo Bodytech, a company that has brought tech to the quest for good posture. The Lumo Lift gives you a vibrating reminder when you start to slouch. Kind of like Mom, but in the form of a wearable device.

Wang helped us compile this list of five reasons why good posture matters.

1. Bad posture can adversely impact your sex life.

Research shows that slouching ― the opposite of “power posing,” meaning standing up tall and straight ― results in low energy and low self-esteem. Standing straight up with your shoulders back and neck aligned with the rest of your spine is considered a “power pose” that can boost your energy and confidence levels. By regularly practicing good posture, you’ll feel more confident and energized in and out of the bedroom.

2.  Slouching makes you look older. 

If you’ve spent years sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer, you may be more likely to develop that unnatural hump in your neck or back resulting from “text neck.” For women, the forward slouching motion and rounding of the shoulders can cause breast sagging. To avoid your slouching from developing into skeletal or spinal issues, stay mindful of your posture in any position you’re in, whether you’re seated, standing, or walking, said Wang.

3. Bad posture can damage your back.

Yes, of course you knew that. Did you know that back pain is the second most common reason people visit the doctor every year, and poor posture is directly correlated to the increase in back pain in people who spend a great deal of their time sitting. Lumo Bodytech’s posture database research found that during an average workday, people spend as much as 38 minutes per hour slouching.

4. Poor posture can cause irregular bowel movements.

We kid you not. It’s not just your back that will feel the affects of your slouching ― your intestines will take a hit, too. Having good posture means your stomach and intestines can easily push food through ― but poor posture can cause your gastrointestinal system to lock up or function poorly. Research has also shown that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who suffer from bloating and gas can ease their symptoms by standing up straight.

5. Bad posture makes you more selfish.

Research shows that sitting upright helps reduce self-focus, allowing you to tune in more on the needs and emotions of the people around you.

Lumo Lift Success Story: This Dental Hygienist uses Lumo Lift to prevent back pain

Guest post from Lumo Lift user, Christine B. 

I have been working as a Registered Dental Hygienist for eight years. One of the symptoms known to my profession is back problems. It is difficult to have patients lay in the proper position, which causes me to do a lot of hunching over and leaning. I found myself exploring options to prevent future back problems as I am still fairly young. I came across Lumo lift on one of my professional dental hygiene pages that I belong to and decided to purchase one for myself.

One of the big selling points was the price.  I began to use the lumo lift daily at work and as expected, I was doing a lot of slouching and needed to correct my posture. The gentle buzzing reminder often corrects me. I’ve found that the longer I used it, the more I could anticipate when it would correct me and found I was already correcting myself.

I like that it has different options for me to wear it It came with two different colors to wear outside my shirt so I can have it blend with my scrubs and be discreet if I do choose. I’ve had a lot of coworkers and friends ask me about it and I love to spread the word. Not only to colleagues but also to friends because it seems bad posture is a problem for a lot of people.

I’m now noticing more and more that my back pain has become less and less. I don’t ever leave for work without my lumo lift. I’m also impressed with the many features it includes. The lumo lift doesn’t need to be charged every day and also charges quickly. So there is an option on the super helpful app that lets me know how much battery life is left so that I know when I need to charge.

Overall I think that this was an incredible investment in myself, my career and my health. I find myself feeling better and happier and posture is extremely important in my life. I recommend this product every time someone asks me about it or mentions any type of back pain or posture products. I’m sure this product is very helpful for everyday life and other careers and jobs as well, but for dental professionals it’s pretty much a necessity. Lumo lift has changed my life and I will continue to wear and use it every day.

The Fundamental Importance of Good Posture

Guest post by Dr. Tim Errington, Chiropractor, Author, Speaker. He currently practices at Total Health Chiropractic, Singapore.

When most of us consider health and the things that keep us healthy, few will put posture anywhere near the top of the list. It remains probably the most underrated and underreported cause of failing health. This is indeed unfortunate because if you think about it, you have never seen anyone with poor posture radiating health and vitality. The harsh reality is there for anyone to see – lose your posture and you lose your health. All those years of our parents telling us to sit up straight and not slouch, was indeed very, very good advice.

How to Counteract the Negative Effects of Sitting

Prolonged sitting can have a dramatic impact on your health. Lack of movement has been linked to chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, weight gain and more. It’s no wonder that sitting has been dubbed the new smoking!  As more people find themselves working behind a computer, it’s not uncommon for most of us to sit between 12 -15 hours per day (including hours spent in the car and time hanging out on the couch after work). Factor in 8 hours of sleep (if you’re lucky), and you’re looking at a measly 1-4 hours of movement per day. If that doesn’t scream health crisis, I don’t know what does.

Here’s Why We’re Convinced Pokemon GO Is Secretly a Health App

For years, the health and wellness industry has tried to encourage people to get out, move around and log their daily steps. Whether it’s through leveraging technology to track steps and activity or through logistics type services to help make working out easy and fun, companies like Fitbit, Moov, JawboneClassPass, and even Apple Health have all advocated for healthy living through daily exercise and activity.

5 Vitamins That Nourish Your Back

Good nutrition is an important component of overall health. What you may not think is that your diet also affects your spine, but it actually plays a key role. Your muscles, bones and other structures in your spine depend on good nutrition and vitamins to be strong enough to support your body or to heal from injuries.

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