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How To Get Healthy On A Budget

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The United States spends more on health care than any other country in the world, and yet it ranks 12th in life expectancy among the 12 wealthiest industrialized countries. The country spent $3.4 trillion on health care in 2016, and that number is projected to grow to $5.5 trillion by 2025, driven by inflation in the cost of medical services and products and an aging population. So if outrageous health care spending is not translating to enormously better health outcomes, what can we do as individuals to protect ourselves?

Investing in preventive health solutions like gym memberships, organic food, biometric and genetic testing, and alternative therapies can feel inaccessible because of the out-of-pocket costs. The truth is, many of us didn’t grow up in families that budgeted for self-care and healthy living. Only in recent years has the conversation of wellness and disease prevention hit the masses, and quite frankly, it’s about time.

“Invest now, save later” is my personal mantra when it comes to health and happiness. And by save, I’m not only referring to saving on costs of health care; I’m also referring to the decrease in the likelihood of burdening family and friends. When we get sick, so do our loved ones. Their symptoms might feel invisible or go medically undetected because of the adrenaline they’re releasing to stay strong and fight the fight alongside us. It’s tragic news when you hear of a family member falling ill while taking care of their loved one. As you can see, the future savings are great and the cost of investment is dwarfed by the potential return.

Of course you might be reading this and thinking to yourself, I understand, but I just can’t afford to be healthy right now. To that I say it’s still possible to optimize your health today and not break the bank. Here are some options to consider if you want to invest in your health today:

1. Eat from the source.

Michael Pollan said it best: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Eating food as close to its natural form as possible will deliver the highest amount of usable nutrition. I recommend an 80/20 approach, with 80 percent of the food being intentionally selected and wholesome and the other 20 percent saved for social environments and situations in which healthy food is not as accessible.

Here’s what to do: Stick to produce listed on EWG’s Clean 15 List; this means you don’t have to worry about paying extra for organic. While this might take a little upfront research, you can create a list of healthy restaurants in your neighborhood that offer discounts on salads and bowls during a certain time slot. If you have freezer space, you can also buy in bulk, which is often cheaper. Eating at home tends to be more cost-effective than eating out, so taking a little extra time for preparation might be worthwhile for you and your body. Consider signing out some budget-healthy-food recipe books from the library. If you want to upgrade, you can get your fresh produce or freshly prepared healthy meals delivered straight to your door!

2. Get an accountability partner.

Knowing it can take up to 30 days to form one new habit, it might be wise to get an accountability partner. Having someone to remind you of your goals, listen to your frustrations, and even to get healthy right alongside you can increase your chances of maintaining new healthy habits.

Here’s what to do: For a budget-friendly option, partner with a friend, spouse, neighbor, or someone you find through a weekly free meetup group. Just remember to state your commitments and rules up front to make it difficult to back out when life gets in the way. If you want to invest in an upgrade, hire a certified wellness or life coach, and structure your relationship based on your specific needs.

3. Do your own research.

Health blogging is trending, and many people get into health and wellness writing because they want to share their discoveries and personal breakthroughs with their communities. It’s easier than ever to do your own research. Just remember that every blogger is also sharing their own bias and perspective, so use what they say as inspirational tools instead of cold, hard facts.

Here’s what to do: If you’re looking for scientific data, you can use Google Scholar or PubMed, and the NIH Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine and Mayo Clinic both have tons of information about supplements, wellness, and alternative medicine. You can also sign up for free online summits, Facebook Lives, and conferences to learn from leading experts.

4. Digitize your health.

It’s becoming easier to quantify your nutrition, fitness, heart rate, sleep, and overall health. And this is only the beginning. Active adoption of digital health tools like telemedicine and wearable devices reached a record high of 46 percent in the United States in 2016, up from 19 percent the year before. As health care becomes more convenient, accessible, and data-driven, it will be easier to take care of ourselves as unique individuals.

Here’s what to do: Many reputable health-tracking apps are free, or close to free. Health journaling is another affordable approach that can be helpful if consistency is maintained. Go to your mobile app store and read reviews, or Google “top health apps for 2017” and find one that works for you. If your budget allows for it, it might be worthwhile to invest in more advanced apps, devices, and services that offer deeper analysis—especially if you’re at risk of developing a deficiency or disease because of your environment or genetic makeup. Biometric lab tests can provide information about vitamin deficiencies, hormone imbalances, or food intolerances. Genetic tests can tell you whether you may have a higher probability of developing a disease. These tests are available online.

I hope I’ve convinced you that the tools to better health and longevity are readily available to you today, whether you have a budget or not. All you need is a bit of self-discipline and to remember the importance of this particular return on investment.

Want to save some money on fitness? Take your workout to the beach or the mountains.

Source By Rhea Mehta, Ph.D.

Health & Fitness

5 Moves to Target the Lower Abs

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It’s no secret that not all exercises that target the lower abs are created equal; some are more effective than others. For anyone that’s wanting to target the lower abs, it can be very frustrating, to say the least. However, targeting and strengthening the lower abs is possible. The trick is finding the best moves for you to build muscle and flatten or chisel the stomach the way you desire.

Also: Why the Glute Bridge Is Great for After an Abs Workout

Move 1: Rolling Plank
The plank in itself is a great move for the stomach area as a whole. However, this rolling plank works the entire core including the lower abdominal. It will also build strength in the lower back.

Here’s how to do it. Start in a plank position with the body making a straight line from feet to shoulders. Rotate the body to a right side plank and hold for about 10 to 15 seconds. Then repeat on the left side. 10 reps are recommended, 5 on each side.

Move 2: Hanging Leg Raise
Deep muscles are worked during this move as well as the lower back and abdominal area. The only equipment necessary is a chin-up bar. Simply hang from the bar with the feet together and knees bent slightly. Bend the knees and raise the hips at the same time and lift the thighs up to the chest. Pause then lower back to the start position. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps each.

Move 3: Roll Up
The classic roll-up still can’t be beaten when it comes to the best move to build muscle in the lower tummy. Lay flat on your back, arms stretched straight above the head. Slowly bring them straight up, and raise off the floor to touch the toes. Slowly lower back down. Do 3 sets, 10 reps each.

Move 4: Leg Drop
Lift both legs to the ceiling. Make the abdominals tight then lower the legs slowly until they are a few inches above the floor. When the lower back starts lifting you’ve gone too far. Then raise them back up, and repeat. Do 10 reps and 3 sets.

Move 5: Scissors
Lift both legs straight to the ceiling. Lower the right leg until it’s just a bit off the floor, then switch legs. Do the move quickly with no breaks. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps each. For added benefits lift the head and shoulders off the floor.

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Health & Fitness

The importance of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water

Alkaline for the Body

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I am sure that many of you have been told of the importance of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water. What is not as often mentioned is just how alkaline foods and water work to ensure optimal health.

Also: How can I Stay Motivated when it comes to Home Exercise?

To begin with, the consumption of an alkaline diet regulates the body’s PH factor. The body’s PH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. When the body’s PH is kept at just above 7.0 a variety of bodily functions work more efficiently. The resulting health benefits are both numerous and of great importance.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water is an excellent buffer against cardiovascular disease. Alkaline diets are great for reducing inflammation, the result of this is often the lowering of both cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water lowers the chronic pain effects for a variety of ailments. Another benefit of an alkaline diet’s inflammation lowering qualities is a great reduction in chronic pain symptoms. Alkaline foods and water can provide significant relief for chronic sufferers of chronic back pain, headaches, muscle spasms, and joint pain.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water provides protection of bone density. Alkaline diets provide excellent mineral balance which facilitates bone growth and health. In addition, alkaline diets promote the production of growth hormone and the absorption of Vitamin D which provides further protection for bones.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water reduces the risk of cancer. Alkaline diets provide an abundance of antioxidant protection against cancer. Also, alkaline environments are not conducive to the growth of cancer cells.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water prevents the development of diabetes. The pancreas is a bodily organ provided with the task of regulating the body’s blood sugar. The pancreas is dependent on an alkaline environment to function properly. One study, focusing on the effects of alkaline water on blood sugar, showed that just a month of drinking alkaline water can bring the blood sugar of diabetics to a normal level.

The health benefits of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water cannot be understated. I am sure that after reading just a few of these benefits you will agree that making a conscious effort to incorporate alkaline foods and water into your diet is well worth the effort.

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Health & Fitness

Prevent Muscle Loss During Fasted Cardio with BCAA Supplements

BCAAs to Start Your Day

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Photo by Nicole De Khors

One of the most popular forms of extreme fat loss is fasted cardio. Usually done in the morning, this exercise method consists of working out the body anaerobically on an empty stomach, as opposed to full of calories from prior meals. The benefit of fasted cardio all lies in the specific targeting of fat reserves. More specifically, after eating a large meal, insulin levels are raised within the body. As cortisol levels are very high in the morning, they will target muscle cells with the increase in insulin. However, during a fasted state, those high cortisol levels in the morning can be utilized to target fat reserves as opposed to the muscle as the insulin levels will be greatly diminished during that fasting time. As explained by Men’s Fitness, “if you are fasted, insulin is low and cortisol will then go after body fat reserves”.

Also: Increasing Longevity Through Better Nutrition

For those looking to optimize their fat loss while still maintaining all of their hard-earned muscle, fasted exercise is not the only part of the equation. A healthy amount of Branch Chain Amino Acid’s to start your day will help to maintain all of that muscle that has taken so many dedicated hours in the gym to pack on. BCAA are essentially the very building blocks of muscles themselves. According to Layne Norton, experienced bodybuilder, and Ph.D., “BCAAs not only increase the rate of protein synthesis, but they also increase the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis”. So not only can this aminos help to you to maintain your muscles, it can also provide your muscles with a greater capacity for growth by targeting the actual muscle cells. But within a fasted state in the morning, we are primarily concerned with the rate of protein breakdown that may occur. Lucky for us, BCAA supplements can answer for this too. BCAA’s are also very capable of decreasing the rate at which protein breaks down. As explained again by Dr. Layne Norton, this can be explained by the aminos “decreasing the activity of the components of the protein breakdown pathway”.

In short, starting your days with a BCAA supplement is a great way to ensure that your muscle gains are not lost during fasted exercise. BCAA’s are one of the most well-researched supplements on the market and therefore finding a wealth of knowledge on them is not difficult. A simple search engine will guide you through a host of well documented and researched information. Additionally, these supplements are easy to find at any local supplement store or more simply online.

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