Are You Ignoring Your Weaker Side?

It’s a common misconception that our bodies are perfectly symmetrical. In reality, most people have a dominant side that is stronger and more coordinated. This is evident in everyday activities like writing or brushing your teeth. Although our bodies might look symmetrical, only about 1% of the population is truly ambidextrous.

However, problems arise when this natural sidedness becomes excessive. When the dominant side starts to bear an overly heavy load, issues like pain, weakness, and overuse injuries can occur. This imbalance can lead to a chain reaction, affecting other parts of the body. The good news is, with awareness and targeted exercises, these imbalances can be corrected, allowing you to enjoy your natural asymmetry without pain.

Physical demands of certain careers can exacerbate side dominance. Most of us know that we are right or left handed, but we may not realize how much we rely on that side. Mothers typically carry their toddlers on their dominant side, for instance; workers in an office favor one hand over the other and typically do more tasks with the dominant hand.

To address these imbalances, awareness is key. Simple changes in daily activities can make a significant difference. For example, alternating the shoulder you carry your bag on, or the hip you carry your child on, can help. However, some activities, like writing or swinging a golf club, can’t easily be changed. In these cases, a regular fitness routine that includes balance-restoring exercises is vital.

Unilateral training, focusing on one side of the body at a time, is highly effective in promoting symmetry. This approach helps correct and prevent imbalances by ensuring equal effort on both sides. Dumbbells are excellent for unilateral training, as they require each limb to work independently, highlighting and correcting any strength discrepancies.

Most of us don’t need to do exercises that are specifically focused on one side or the other. However, having an awareness that you favor one side and a desire to use the other side periodically is very important. Similarly, should you start to notice that you favor one side to the detriment of the other, there are exercises you can do and ways you can focus to realign both sides for optimal strength.

Women’s Health Goals for 2023: Consider Consistency and CrossFit

The new year is often accompanied by health-related resolutions. When it comes to your health goals, whatever they may be, professional trainers encourage consistency.

Ben Smith, winner of the Fittest Man on Earth title in 2015, advocates for consistency as a mainstay of physical health: “Consistency is the most important thing. It’s hard because you don’t see the results of that consistency right away. If you can consistently do something for even 15 minutes in the morning, it can add up over time.”

Smith also sings the praises of CrossFit, which is predicted to see a resurgence in the coming year of 2023. Their website explains that CrossFit is, “constantly varied functional movement at high intensity,” or, in broader terms, a high intensity workout using cardio, weight training and mobility work. CrossFit affiliates claim that their workouts, coupled with a healthy diet, can stave off the global rise of chronic disease, such as Type 2 diabetes.

More women are opting for CrossFit as their workout plan, as it promises both effective strength-building and, as 94% of 500 surveyed women report, a boost in confidence and empowerment. Building muscle does not only yield aesthetically-pleasing results, such as a “toned look,” but it also improves both cardiac and bone health. Women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, and strength training is proven to both slow bone loss and significantly increase bone density and strength.

Even if you have not yet started on your health plan for 2023, it is not too late. While it is clear that strength training yields optimal results, the best workout plan is the one that you will do consistently.

Walk Your Way to Better Brain Health

Walking to a place of better brain health

Anyone who knows anything about dementia, or has seen it firsthand, is highly motivated to avoid developing this dreaded disease in themselves or in their loved ones. Although at the moment there seems to be no way to mitigate the risk of developing dementia down to zero, there are actions people can take to reduce the risk.

It turns out that one of the simplest activities a person can engage in to reduce the risk of developing dementia is walking. According to researchers in Denmark, people between 40 and 79 years old were able to reduce their risk by 50% within seven years by taking just 9,826 steps every day. It was possible to cut the risk even further by walking at a faster pace, for a shorter distance. Those who walked at a pace of at least 40 steps per minute only needed 6,315 steps per day to get a 57% reduction in risk.

Even people who didn’t “power walk” every day, or did not walk as many steps achieved results. The researchers found that walking only 3,800 steps per day, no matter how fast or slow, could still cut their risk by 25%.

The head of the study emphasized that even sedentary people could be persuaded to begin with a very doable 4,000 steps per day if they knew they could reduce their risk of dementia. Once these people got out of their chairs, the hope is they can build up to longer and faster walks to achieve further protection.

As one might expect, going even faster was shown in the study to further increase protection from dementia. By walking at a brisk pace of 112 steps per minute for 30 minutes subjects achieved a 62% reduction in risk.

 The researchers concluded that people who wish to reduce their risk for dementia try to increase their pace rather than their distance. However, risk reduction is a positive step in the right direction, no matter how fast or how many steps taken.

Does Your Fitness Tracker Push You to do More?

While this shouldn’t come as a surprise, a fitness tracker app has been found to not only monitor your fitness level, but to cause you to work harder at your exercise. In a recent study published in the bmj, researchers found that people who used a fitness app increased their everyday activity by about 1235 steps and their moderate to vigorous activity by 48.5 minutes a week.

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This makes intuitive sense. If I walk everyday, but notice that I get to 8000 steps, I may feel internally incentivized to get to 10,000 steps. Without a step monitor, I won’t know that I’ve only gotten to 8000 and I won’t feel that pull to continue and to push myself further.

Of course, there are other ways to incentivize yourself and to reach your goals, many of which are outlined in this CNN article. But the research on fitness trackers is certainly worth exploring further.

Eating Healthy During COVID-19

Most of us have heard of the freshman 15. But what about the COVID 20? Today, so many people have had a hard time maintaining a healthy lifestyle while dealing with the ramifications of COVID-19. This includes the stress we are all under, the lack of movement and exercise, the need to stay indoors more and so many other factors. Here is a short, informative video that can be helpful in redirecting your eating during this stressful time.

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HIT Workouts: An All-Inclusive Exercise in 4 Minutes Flat

The general belief is that the best amount of exercise to get in a week is 150 hours. Many would claim that this suggestion is in the fact what keeps them overweight or unhealthy, since finding even an hour or two of free time during the day is no small feat.

An amazing solution to this issue is the HIT workout, or High Intensity Training. This miracle worker helps the body lower blood sugar levels, release fatty acids, and improves both aerobic and anaerobic aptitudes within minutes.

This 3-4 minute form of exercise is not new. One HIT routine was developed in the nineties by Dr. Tabata of the National Institute of Fitness and Sports. He dictated a workout that merely included eight 20-second bursts of high activity with a 10-second pause between each one. In total, such a workout would take less than four minutes.

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HIT workouts consist of exercises like squats, pushups, sit ups, lunges, ‘the plank’, crunches and dips. Done in quick succession, these drills will leave the body aching, shaking, sore and continuously burning calories. The body will continue to burn fat and strengthen muscles long after you shower and continue with your day.

The benefits of the HIT workouts are endless. They are short and do not require equipment, can be done as many times a week as possible, burn fat and strengthen the muscles, circulatory system and respiratory system, alleviate stress, boost your mood and focus and improve sleep. There is no excuse; finding a total of four minutes every week is no chore.