What”;s the best time to exercise? When you can fit it in–;even if that”;s right before bed. You may have heard that exercising at night can make it harder to fall asleep, but that claim doesn”;t add up: According to the National Sleep Foundation, a study of 1,000 people found that there were no significant differences in sleep quality between people who exercised within four hours of going to sleep versus those who had worked out earlier in the day.
No matter what time of day you exercise, you”;ll likely sleep better: In the National Sleep Foundation study, 83 percent of “;vigorous exercisers”; got “;very good”; or “;fairly good”; quality of sleep, compared to just 56 percent of non-exercisers. And working out before bed could actually improve your sleep quality further: In a review of 23 different studies, published in Sports Medicine, people who exercised within four hours of bedtime had more hours of deep sleep than those who didn”;t do those workouts, says RunnersWorld.com.
Getting quality sleep is a big deal to your risk of early death, risk of disease and also your weight loss efforts. When you sleep less, you eat more…; and not quality, nutrient dense foods. One study, published in Clinical Nutritional and Metabolism Care, found that when people got fewer than seven hours of sleep, their daily calorie intake increased by 14 percent, with most of those extra calories coming from high-carbohydrate foods.
Burn more calories with a before bed workout and get better sleep to control your appetite. Our fitness experts at The Leaf have created this quick workout before bed to help you on your wellness and weight loss journey! Just remember to give yourself a one-hour break after the exercise. This will help your body cool down and prepare for slumber–;just as you would after a warm bath.
Strength training at any time of the day improves your sleep. However, a before-bed strength session can mean you”;ll sleep more soundly, waking up less frequently during the night. Of course, it can also help with your weight loss goals: According to The Harvard Gazette, scientists found that men who performed 20 minutes of “daily weight training” experienced less age-related belly fat gains than those who did the same amount of cardio work.
This short before bed workout is lower intensity, so you won”;t get too amped up–;or too sweaty–;in the hours before bed. Perform all sets of each exercise before moving to the next exercise. Rest for one minute between each exercise and set.
Exercise 1: Squat to Chair (or Bed)
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out from parallel. Push your hips back to initiate the squat, controlling your descent as you bend your knees to descend until you sit in the chair. As you descend, keep your chest up and your weight on your heels. Keep the weight of your body in your heels and press back to standing without using your hands. If this is too hard, perform only the lowering portion of the squat–;sitting down–;then use your hands to stand back up and repeat. Perform four sets of five repetitions each. Over time, try to increase the repetitions.
Exercise 2: Elevated Push-up
Place your hands on the seat of chair or on the fourth step of a staircase. Assume the classic push-up position: Arms perpendicular to your torso, your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Maintaining this rigid body line, bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the seat. To protect your shoulders from pain and injury, keep your elbows relatively tight to your sides rather than flaring them out at a 90-degree angle. Press back to start. If this is too hard, try a wall push-up instead. Perform four sets of four or more repetitions each.
Lie face-up on a mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your arms at your sides, palms up. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, squeeze your glutes to raise your hips forcefully off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. As you”;re lifting, keep your knees and thighs parallel–;don”;t let them pull together. This will engage your hip musculature. Pause for a second at the top of the exercise, then slowly return to the start position. As you”;re raising up, don”;t let your heels come off the floor. Perform four sets of five repetitions each. Over time, try to increase the number of repetitions in each set.
Exercise 4: Wall Stick Up
Stand facing away from a wall, with your feet about six inches away from the wall. Your head, upper back and butt should all be in contact with the wall–;and they should stay in contact with it throughout the exercise. Put your arms straight up overhead, with the backs of your hands, elbows and forearms in contact with the wall. Now slide your arms down the wall by bending your elbows, keeping your hands, forearms and shoulders in contact with the wall. Keep lowering until your elbows come as close as you can bring them to your sides. (You should feel a strong contraction between your shoulder blades.) Pause, then slide your arms back up the wall until your arms are overhead. Perform four sets of five repetitions each. Over time, try to increase the number of repetitions in each set, aiming for eight repetitions.
10 Easy Home Workouts You Can Do in Your Living Room
When people with insomnia do yoga, they become more likely to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, says The National Sleep Foundation. Calm your own body down with this six-pack of restorative stretches after your strength workout, and help put yourself on the path to dreamland. Sit on the edge of the bed for the first three stretches, then lie on the bed for the last three.
Stretch 1: Circle Your Ankles
Sit on the edge of the bed with both feet on the ground. Lift one foot off the floor and circle your ankle 10 to 15 times in each direction. Repeat with the other foot.
Stretch 2: Lift Your Heels
Place both feet back on the floor. Press the balls of both feet into the floor and lift your heels off the ground, stretching the midfoot. Perform 10 to 15 lifts.
Stretch 3: Stretch Your Side
Sit up tall. Place your right hand on the bed by your side and lift your left arm to the ceiling. Arc the left arm up and over the head until you feel a slight stretch in your side. Reverse the movement to the starting position. Repeat six to eight times per side.
Lie on your back on the bed. Bring your knees towards your chest, and grab your legs just below your knees. Rock back and forth gently a few times.
Stretch 5: Single Knee to Chest
Still on your back, straighten your legs. Now bring just one knee up to your chest while the other remains outstretched on the bed. Hug the lifted knee to your chest, then switch legs. Hug each knee three times.
Stretch 6: Lying Arm Circles
Let your legs go straight again on the bed. Spread your arms out so your body forms a “;T”; shape. Keeping your arms straight, perform 10 arm circles forward, then 10 back. Repeat one more time.
If you could only choose one, should you strength train or do cardio? Trick question! You don”;t have to choose, and you shouldn”;t. Both types of exercise are important not just for maintaining a healthy weight, but for your overall health. That”;s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio each week, plus two strength-training sessions.
Here”;s a rundown of why both strength training and cardio work benefit your health and your weight loss goals, with easy ways to fit both into your busy life.
Why you need cardio:
Almost 80 percent of Americans don”;t achieve the CDC”;s 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week, meaning they miss out on a ton of benefits: Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, of course, but also decreased risks for diabetes, osetoporosis and premature death.
If you vary the pace of your cardio work, it can be supercharged: Interval training, where short bursts of harder work are alternated with easier work or total rest have been found in multiple studies, according to Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, to burn more fat and increase cardiovascular function better than steady-state, medium-paced work.
Why cardio alone isn”;t good enough:
Some studies seem to suggest that cardiovascular exercise, by itself, is better for weight loss than combining it with strength training. In an eight-month study of 234 overweight people conducted by Duke University Medical Center, researchers found that those who did cardio alone lost 1.76 kilograms, while those who did a combination of cardio and strength lost slightly less, 1.63 kilograms. Members of a third group, who did just strength training, actually gained about 2 pounds during the study.
But if you look a little deeper, the cardio-only group lost weight, but they didn”;t lose lean body mass–;meaning they lost muscle, not fat. The combo group gained .81 kilograms of muscle, and the strength-only group tacked on more than two pounds of muscle–;meaning they lost fat overall. And a body with less fat and more muscle not only looks good, but burns more calories at rest and can help protect against disease, reduce fall risk and lower your overall risk of death.
Walk! You may think you have to sprint or jog to get all these benefits, but walking does a lot of good. While your watch may be telling you that 10,000 steps is somehow magical, you don”;t need that many to get benefits: For every 1,000 steps you take each day, you can reduce your risk of “;functional limitation”; in the future due to arthritis by 16 to 18 percent (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140612085120.htm).
And walking can help keep weight off: One study conducted by Hopkins Medicine found that “;moderately active”; people lowered their levels of dangerous visceral fat by 7.4 percent compared with inactive subjects . And you can even get the fat-burning benefits of interval training while walking: Try changing your pace by as little as five inches per second for bursts of one minute, followed by one minute of slower walking. According to Biology Letters, when study participants did this, they burned 20 percent more calories than when they walked the same pace throughout their walk.
Why you need strength:
Having muscular strength means you can do more than just pick up a barbell. The American Heart Association recommends strength training because it improves cardiovascular function, lowers your heart disease risk, increases resting metabolism and improves your “;psychosocial well-being.”; But that”;s not all! Strength training improves cognitive function, according to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and even works productivity.
And, of course, it can help stave off weight gain: In a Harvard study, researchers found that men who did 20 minutes of daily weight training had less age-related belly fat gains than those who did the same amount of cardio work.
Why strength training alone isn”;t enough:
It”;s possible to increase your heart rate while performing strength work so that you”;re “;doing cardio”; while lifting weights, but for many of us, it”;s unlikely that we”;ll elevate our heart rate enough during strength training to match the 150 cumulative weekly minutes needed to realize the cardio benefits described above. And if you do, it”;s possible you”;re sacrificing strength work–;that is, your strength training isn”;t challenging your strength enough, and has “;turned into”; cardio. You need both!
An easy way to do it:
If you”;re going to the gym, lift light weights. Studies have found that lifting weights to failure–;continuing the movement until you can”;t do another repetition–;is the most important factor in building muscle strength and size, whether the load is heavy or light. One study of this kind showed that men who lifted 30 to 50 percent of their maximum weight for sets of 20 to 25 repetitions gained as much strength and size as others who lifted 75 to 80 percent of their maximum for eight repetitions per set. So if big, heavy weights make you nervous, stick to the smaller stuff. And if training to failure, be safe: Consider using a machine or a really light dumbbell so that if you truly fail, the weight isn”;t putting you in danger.
No gym membership? No problem! Your body weight provides plenty of resistance. The act of getting in and out of a chair without using your hands for assistance is a strength training exercise–;and it helps build muscle power, which can increase your ability to avoid a fall as you age. Try these five simple power-building exercises to start.
If you”;re going to perform cardio and strength work in the same day, studies vary on which you should do first. One study published by Ace Fitness found that if you perform weight training first, your cardio workout can be harder than it would normally–;resulting in an increase in pulse of 12 beats per minute compared to when the cardio”;s done first. In that case, it would seem that the answer is cardio first is better.
But other studies have shown the opposite: Performing cardio first can use up the fuel you”;ll need for strength training so you won”;t get the same benefits. Doing weight training first can also mean you burn more fat while doing cardio, since weight training can use up the carbohydrates in your body in advance of your aerobic work.
So the real answer is: It depends on your goals, and more importantly, your preferences. If you find you prefer cardio work first and it”;s the only way you have enough energy to also do your strength work–;stick with that. If when you do strength traninig first, you feel like you have more zip to finish your aerobic session, do that. If all things are equal and weight loss is your goal, do your strength work first.
June is the bridge between spring and summer, bringing along hot weather, beach vacations and outdoor fun. However, with this entrance also comes sneaky temptations trying to sabotage your weight loss. With a little extra guidance, motivation and support, you can stick to your healthy diet this summer and avoid falling off the wagon. Our health and wellness experts are back this month with even more Facebook Live events to keep you on track with your Nutrisystem program.
As things slowly return to normal after a stressful and scary spring, it is time focus on ourselves and get healthier. Here at Nutrisystem, we’re all about making weight loss fun and easier for our beloved members. These live events are designed to help you get motivated, get moving and get healthy. Tune in this June for fun and fresh advice for the summer season!
Our June Facebook Live Events will be hosted by our nutrition experts, LeeAnn and Mandi, every Monday and Thursday at 5:30 pm EST. They will brush up on some Nutrisystem basics while also providing you with motivation, weight loss tips and nutrition education.
June 1st: 10 Reasons to Go for a Walk Today
June 4th: 5 Things to Do Every Day to Lose Weight Faster
June 8th: A Review of SmartCarbs
June 11th: A Review of PowerFuels
June 15th: First Shipment Overview
June 18th: 8 Weight Loss Tips that Have Nothing to Do with Diet or Exercise
June 22nd: Unhealthy Diet Mistakes
June 25th: 5 Superfoods to Add to Your Diet
June 29th: 5 More Superfoods to Add to Your Diet
Walking is one of the easiest ways to achieve your 30 minutes of daily activity. Hiking might as well be called “;next level”; walking–;it”;s more enjoyable, more engaging and a bit more challenging (but still not too hard). That”;s probably why hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities, with more than 47 million Americans reporting that they hiked at least once in 2018, says Statista.com. If you haven’t added hiking to your weight loss exercise routine, we”;re here to tell you why you should start today.
Get outside and take a hike! Here are 10 reasons to start hiking today:
1. Hiking is easy.
You don”;t need to learn special skills, be super fit or have any prior experience. Hiking is simply walking on an outdoor trail. Even the challenges, such as going up and down hills or navigating uneven terrain, are manageable for beginners. If you can walk, you can most likely hike.
2. It burns more calories than walking.
At a brisk walking pace of 17 minutes per mile, a 155-pound person burns about 149 calories in 30 minutes, says Harvard Health Publishing. Add a few hills on a hike and the calories burned jumps to 223 calories in 30 minutes–;that”;s about 50 percent more calories burned in the same amount of time.
3. It lifts your mood.
According to Stanford News, walking in natural areas rather than in man-made environments reduces “activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.” The 2015 study was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Other research has found that spending time in nature may help to reduce stress, says Harvard Health Publishing.
Stress is said to be contributor to heart disease and hypertension (high blood pressure), so reducing stress might also lower your risk of suffering from these cardiac conditions, says Harvard Health Publishing. Hiking also gives your heart–;a powerful muscle–;a steady workout, helping it to grow strong and pump more efficiently even when you”;re at rest. “Like brisk walking, hiking is a good way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, particularly if your route includes some hills, which will force your heart to work harder,” explains Harvard Health Publishing.
5. Hiking flattens your belly.
Going up and down inclines and traversing uneven terrain engages your core muscles–;the big muscles between your rib cage and knees, says Harvard Health Publishing. These include your abdominals, glutes (backside) and thighs. Hiking helps strengthen and tone those muscles as you shed excess pounds, so you become visibly leaner and firmer. Don’t forget to bring some flat belly snacks along on your hike! Check out these four easy ideas. >
6. It improves your balance.
Our sense of balance is essential to many everyday activities, such as climbing stairs, getting in and out of the shower or reaching up to high shelves. According to Time Magazine, the uneven terrain experienced while hiking can help to build up muscles that you don’t normally use. “Pumping up those oft-neglected muscles may improve your balance and stability, which helps protect you from falls,” they explain. For most people, the sense of balance deteriorates with age. Hiking keeps it working effectively.
Most of us spend our time looking at lit screens and the same views day in and day out. When we get out in nature, we get better at focusing our attention, solving problems and developing creative ideas, according to the scientific journal, PLoS One. So, get outside, take a hike and get inspired!
8. Hiking is inexpensive.
Unlike nearly every other fitness activity, hiking costs you almost nothing. All you need is a sturdy pair of shoes with a good tread. Yes, you can buy hiking shoes that will make your hikes easier and more comfortable. However, feel free to start out wearing ordinary sneakers before committing to purchasing footwear designed for this purpose.
9. Hiking happens anywhere.
Every state in the U.S. has national parks, historic trails and protected wilderness areas that you can visit. The National Park Service website allows you to search by state to find those closest to you. Many state and county parks also feature marked trails with signs that tell you how long and how challenging the trails are. With a little observation and investigation, you can often find unofficial trails to hike and undeveloped areas around your home. (Just be sure you”;re not trespassing on private property.) For more trail ideas, check out the American Trails Website.
10. Hiking is for everyone.
Wherever you are on your weight loss journey, you can enjoy the pleasures of hiking. You don”;t need to train, set goals or measure results. You can just take a walk in nature and feel good while you”;re doing it and for hours after you”;re back.
New to hiking? Check out these four helpful tips for beginners:
1. Start slow.
For your first few hikes, choose routes that are shorter than you would normally walk–;hiking is more challenging than walking and you don”;t want to overdo it and find yourself sore or too exhausted when you are finished.
2. Bring water.
This will ensure you don”;t dehydrate along the way. Adequate water helps you stay alert and energized and keeps your metabolism working. Looking for the perfect water bottle to take on your hiking adventures? Click here for our water bottle shopping tips! >
Almost everything is more fun when you do it together. Hiking with a partner also ensures that in the unlikely event something goes wrong–;whether you get lost or twist an ankle–;help is right by your side. If you do choose to go on your own for a little solitude, be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
4. Keep your eyes and ears open.
We”;re accustomed to listening to our inner dialogues all day long. Take time while you”;re hiking to tune in to the sights and sounds around you. There are so many delights in nature, from birds chirping and flowers blooming to the rustle of tree leaves in a gentle breeze. Focusing on them can chase away your everyday cares and worries for a little while and make your life feel a little bit better, no matter what else is happening in the world.
Whether confined to home by choice or the result of stay-at-home orders due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many people are using the time to check items off the household “;to-do list.”; Though you certainly might not enjoy housework or chores, it may help to know that many of these activities can burn serious calories. Not only will your home be cleaner, but you”;ll feel good about slimming down while you work. We’ve put together a list of some common household chores that can keep you fit and healthy while social distancing.
Here are 10 household chores that can help you lose weight and burn calories:
1. Sweep and Mop to See Pounds Drop
Looking to tone those arms and shoulders? Sweeping and mopping both make a great upper body home workout while you’re in self isolation. But on top of that, these household chores double as exercise and are serious calorie blasters. According to Good Housekeeping, 138 minutes of mopping floors is estimated to burn somewhere around 405 calories if you”;re working vigorously. Throw in some lunges while you”;re at it and you”;ll truly get in a total body toning home workout–;all the while getting things done!
2. Push It!
For more at home arm workouts, grab the vacuum and get to work. Vacuuming is also a great way to get your heart rate up for some cardiovascular benefits. In order to get more out of it, try exaggerating your movements. Take big lunges as you move the vacuum forward for some added leg toning. You might also consider picking up the tempo. Put on some music and throw in some dance moves as you work. It”;s a great way to make chores and housework more fun while accomplishing both cleaning and exercise goals. Plus, you’re safe at home in quarantine.
3. Trim the Grass to Trim Your Waistline
If you”;ve got a push mower, then mowing the grass can be a great calorie burner. According to Harvard Health, a 155-pound person burns about 167 calories in 30 minutes of push mowing the lawn. Just make sure you”;re staying hydrated as things heat up outdoors! Check out these helpful H2O tips to practice proper hydration and ensure you”;re drinking enough water as the weather gets warmer!
Another activity that can be done safely in the confines of your own home (or rather, driveway) during the Coronavirus pandemic is washing the family car. According to Harvard Health, 30 minutes of vigorous car washing can torch somewhere around 167 calories in a 155-pound person. Channel your inner Karate Kid with some “;wax on wax off”; movements with the sponge and you”;ll feel those arm muscles burning in no time. The more you scrub, the more calories you burn and the cleaner your car gets. It”;s a win all around!
5. Get Your Spring Cleaning Underway
There”;s something about having the windows open and the fresh air coming in to inspire people to spring clean. It probably has to do with a new season and a fresh beginning. While decluttering during spring cleaning is good for the mind, it can also be good for the body. Lifting and moving heavy items, bagging up clothing donations and rearranging can all help work up a sweat. Whether you”;re clearing out a garage, a closet or a junk room, you”;ll feel good that you”;re making your home cleaner and more organized while also burning calories. Take a peek at these six spring cleaning to-do”;s for added weight loss this season during the times of social distancing and quarantine.
6. Grab the Paint!
Tired of staring at the same white walls while you’re stuck at home? Being in self isolation all day might have you rethinking one or more of your wall colors. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders when it comes to an easy room makeover. But it can be a great workout, too. According to Harvard Health, painting inside for 30 minutes can burn 167 calories in a 155-pound person. Painting is a fantastic way to work your arm and leg muscles. You”;ll get a room refresh while building lean muscle that helps you burn calories.
7. Ditch the Dishwasher
While you might be used to tossing all those dirty dishes in the automatic dishwasher, why not take a half hour to do a sink-full by hand? You”;ll conserve household energy while using your own energy to burn calories. The harder you scrub, the more you”;ll burn and the cleaner those dishes will be! Now is also a great time to get out some of those hard-to-clean pots and pans and put some elbow grease into your effort.
How to Get Your Body Summer-Ready While Stuck at Home
When it comes to yard work, pulling weeds might be pretty low on your “;want-to-do list.”; But knowing that it can be a great calorie buster might move it up a few notches. You”;ll get in some leg toning exercise as you squat and bend. Plus, you”;ll need to use your arm muscles to yank and pull at those deep-rooted weeds. Your body–;and your plant beds–;will look better because of it. 30 minutes of weeding can burn 172 calories in a 155-pound person, according to Harvard Health. While weeding away in your yard, you can enjoy even MORE health benefits from gardening. Check out the surprising benefits here! >
9. Do a Window Wash
30 minutes of window cleaning chores is thought to burn somewhere around 167 calories in a 155-pound person, says Harvard Health. But getting the grime off the inside and outside of your windows will also make you feel good. Rather than looking at dirty smudges and streaks while you’re social distancing, the sun can shine in and you can enjoy it to its fullest!
10. Scrub that Tub
If you”;ve got soap scum build-up, it takes some serious power and energy to scrub your tub or shower clean. That hard scrubbing can burn a lot of calories if you”;re working up a good sweat. The more elbow grease power you put in, the more payoff–;both in the form of a clean surface as well as toned muscles! It”;s another win all around.