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    The Truth About Body Composition: Healthy Body Fat Percentage

    Most of us have been taught to believe that health is determined by visible body fat and weight. Actually, “looking fat” and the number on the scale are poor determinants of health. This blog post tells you the truth about body fat, body mass index (BMI), body composition, and how to find your body fat percentage. Remember:Only you can determine what health means to you! Educate yourself so that you can be your best self, naturally.Table of contentsWhat does Body Composition mean?In short, body composition measures body fat to lean tissue in the body.More thoroughly, body composition refers to the proportion of fat you have relative to the lean tissue in your body (muscles, bones, water stored in the body, organs, etcetera).(1)Not The Same As Body Mass IndexFor decades, Body Mass Index, or BMI, was THE go-to health analysis. But today’s scientists recognize BMI as a flawed system for determining well-being. According to the Center for Disease Control, BMI mislabels people as “overweight” because they have a high BMI when they’re relatively healthy. That’s because BMI analyzes only one’s weight and height. Someone short or very muscular is likely to be considered “fat” (muscle weighs more than fat). Being short or strong does NOT mean you’re unhealthy! Quite the contrary. Body mass composition was created to rectify BMI by measuring fat-free mass and body fat mass separately from BMI.(2)The Truth About Body FatBody fat and the macronutrient of fat are NOT the same! The clinical term for body fat is adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is imperative to the body’s metabolism, safety, and general functioning. Fat protects organs and bones, provides energy, balances appetite, and serves a vital role in overall cellular metabolization. Without fat, our body would never find homeostasis (physical equilibrium).(3, 4)Scientists recognize two kinds of adipose tissue: white cells and brown cells. White cells store energy for use in other organs. Brown tissue accumulates over time and regulates internal heat (called cold-induced adaptive thermogenesis). White cells store energy while brown cells dissipate it!(5)Fat Doesn’t Always Look FatMeasuring one’s body composition also hints at where fat is stored in the body. Have you ever heard the term “skinny fat?” It refers to how someone can have lots of body fat and still have a thin frame. “Skinny fat” can occur for a few reasons. The person has few muscles, so visible mass and measurable weight are composed of fat, connective tissues, organs, and bones. The person may be genetically predisposed to store fat deeper in the body, closer to bones and muscles. The person’s lifestyle may not promote healthy organs, so the fat in the body moves toward organs to assist with metabolization at the site and to support the organs. For instance, alcoholics have a great deal of fat around the liver. Or people with kyphosis (upper back curvature) whose thoracic spine is coated with protective fat.Watch Your WordsIt is rarely appropriate or necessary to comment about someone’s body! Instead, focus on their character and your relationship.Fat deep in the body and near the organs is called visceral adiposity and is the most dangerous kind of fat because it threatens the movement of fluids around organs and through veins(6). In this way, someone who “looks fat” because they naturally store fat nearer to the skin may be healthier than someone who “looks skinny” but has visceral adiposity.(7)Below The SurfaceHealth and fitness are so much more than the way you look. Genetics plays a significant role in the form the body assumes. Health happens below the surface of the skin. Only science and your sensations can tell you how to be healthy and when you’re there. Stop comparing yourself to others on Instagram! Education and self-awareness are the tickets to health.Is Fat Bad?Fat is not bad. On the contrary, it is necessary for our body’s basic functions. And the “low-fat” diets of the 1990’s ruined popular culture’s perception of the value of fat. They made people believe that being skinnier is better. Being low body fat composition and/or very low body density carries risks, just as being overweight or obese. Data shows that underweight children are more susceptible to infection than overweight children. In adults, being overweight and underweight presents an equal risk of infection. And the mortality rate for critically ill patients is higher in obese adults than in underweight adults.(8)The bottom line:Being underweight and being overweight is dangerous. Seek a healthy middle!Furthermore, having a high body fat percentage isn’t intrinsically dangerous. It’s fat storage and insulin regulation that matters. Obesity and being overweight are an enlargement of adipose tissue to store excess energy intake(9). Simply having extra fatty tissue is not dangerous, as long as it’s stored in healthy fat cells responsive to insulin. It’s when cells stop becoming responsive to insulin that problems arise. Obesity can lead to diabetes because excess adipose tissue affects insulin sensitivity.(10, 11) The thing is, it’s not the fat itself that affects insulin responsiveness, but genetics, nutrition, and lifestyle.Having a low body fat percentage reaps many physical and emotional problems. For women, Amenorrhea can occur (loss of a period and subsequent hormonal issues). Men and women can both suffer from lower cognitive function. The brain is 60% fat, so when the body is malnourished, the body will start using fat from the brain to fuel its daily activities.(12, 13) The same goes for muscles: without enough body fat, the body will take nutrients from muscles. When muscles become smaller, they stop releasing necessary hormones, resulting in depression and fatigue. Plus, low muscle mass leads to low bone mass, meaning a higher risk of osteoporosis and injury.Ultimately, body composition is not intended to reveal body fat. It describes the ratio of fat to other parts of the body and helps one understand what’s happening below the surface of their health. It’s an educational tool.  Why Muscles MatterStrong muscle helps to reduce the risk of injury, support a healthy lifestyle, and promote longevity. However, muscles naturally become less tough with aging. The National Institute of Health concluded in a study that muscle strength declines in people aged 40 years between 16.6% and 40.9%. The risk of falling and breaking bones increases as a result of reduced muscle strength and bone loss over the age of 40. A sedentary lifestyle accelerates this process. The body fat percentage also rises due to a redistribution of stored body fat, which heightens the risk of chronic diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes. How Is Body Composition Calculated?Body composition is used less frequently than body mass index or body fat percentage because only trained professionals can provide a reliable assessment. They do so in one of two ways.1. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)Bioelectrical impedance (BIA) is one of the most precise and reliable methods to determine body composition. This method measures the opposition to the flow of electrical current through body tissue. A weak electrical field is created through two electrodes on a hand and foot. Don’t worry – it doesn’t hurt! BIA is the preferred measurement method in medicine and sports medicine because it is so fast and easy to do. If you want to find out whether your body fat percentage is healthy, ask a dietician.The following parameters can be determined with BIA:Body fatLean body massTotal body waterMuscle mass2. Hydrostatic weighingHydrostatic weighing makes its calculation based on water displacement. Weight is compared outside of water and in water to calculate density and thus the body composition. If you’re interested in this method, you’ll need to find a location in your area that provides this method — usually a medical facility.Finding Your Body Fat PercentageIf you’re unable to learn your body composition, you can use body fat percentage to start making educated decisions about nutrition and exercise. The easiest way to calculate your body fat percentage is with our online calculator: There are two other ways to find your body fat percentage.How to Calculate Your Body Fat Percentage at HomeThere are also ways to calculate your body fat percentage at home. These are less accurate than the methods above. But, they can give you a general idea of your current levels.1. Skin CalipersThis is done by pinching 3 different skin folds in the body — the measurements of your body fat percentage can be read directly on the tool. It’s the easiest to do at home with a friend or with your trainer. However, this method isn’t generally efficient for obese people and can have a large margin of error if being done by different professionals. If you are using this method, be sure to have the same person do it for you to ensure a more accurate comparison. It’s not the most precise of all the methods but doesn’t take much time at all. The advantage is that it’s a quick way to measure. 2. US Navy MethodIf you want to calculate your body fat percentage using the US Navy Method, all you need is a measuring tape to measure different parts of your body. The points at which you measure are different for men and women. How to measure correctly:Waist circumference: wrap the measuring tape around your waist at the height of your navel. Measure when you are relaxed after exhaling.Neck circumference: measure your neck just below the Adam’s apple. Hip circumference (only for women): measure at the widest part of your hips.What Is A Healthy Body Composition?It’s one thing to know the number. It’s another to understand it. Most major medical practitioners recognize the following percentage ranges.Women’s Body Fat PercentageMen’s Body Fat PercentageNote:Women can, and should, have a higher body fat percentage than men!Body Composition As A Measure of HealthInstead of focusing on what’s to be cut or lost, focus on what you can add and gain. Muscle is so much more important to health than fat. Having more muscle will naturally lead to a higher metabolism and lower body fat percentage. Instead of cutting calories to lose weight, focus on adding strength training to gain muscle. Instead of trying to become less, try to become more! Body recomposition is the process of changing the ratio of fat, lean muscle, and other tissue mass in the body. It refers to increasing muscle and skeletal mass while decreasing fat mass.(14) Read on for “body recomp” tips.How To Change Your Body CompositionIf you determine that your body fat percentage is outside the healthy range and you don’t feel as energized as you’d like, you can change your nutrition and exercise to build more muscle and reduce fat.Begin by calculating baseline data about yourself. After learning your starting body composition, use the following calculator to find out your natural energy expenditures (i.e., calories burned):Since relaxation and sleep are an essential part of muscle protein synthesis, use this sleep calculator, too:Then, you’ll be ready to make some profound changes!Monitor Calorie and Nutritional IntakeMonitoring one’s caloric intake is NOT dieting. It IS knowing that eating excess calories will cause the body to convert nutrition into fat, which can eventually lead to disease over time.(15)The most important intake to monitor is protein. Studies suggest that eating more protein every day can lead to natural body recomposition.(16) Make the most of your protein intake by eating higher protein within three hours of sport (or sooner).(17) Whey protein has been shown to increase body recomposition when eaten alongside aerobic training(18). Low carbohydrate diets help women lower their body fat and sleep better.(19)When attempting body recomposition, it’s imperative to find a balance between undereating and overeating. If you undereat, the stress hormone leptin will increase. Leptin is very sensitive to intake. If stimulated over long periods, it can cause neurological disorders and higher energy storage.(20) Furthermore, if you eat too few calories or cut out carbohydrates, any weight you lose will likely be muscle and water weight. You will lose weight, but your body fat percentage will be higher. And that’s not healthy!(21)Tip:Once you get your initial calculations, stop weighing yourself! Body composition is not about weight but muscle-to-fat ratio. Weight is a poor health marker; it’s just one data point!In fact, you might find that you need to GAIN body fat and weight. That’s perfectly normal (especially in today’s weight-obsessed society). Gaining weight is equally as important as losing weight. Gaining weight should be done just as carefully as losing it. Bulking and RefeedingMany professional athletes purposefully “bulk” before the competition. Bulking adds more calories than one’s average daily expenditure to load the body with extra nutrition. Then, the athlete focuses on strength training, thereby directing excess nutrition into the muscles. Bulking is a great way to build muscle mass for a short time, after which a regular calorie intake resumes. Refeeding refers to gaining weight after being underweight or malnourished. It can be dangerous, as getting too many calories too fast can result in refeeding syndrome.(22) If you’re mildly underweight, it is safe to add more calories into your diet over time gently. Like weight loss, a good rule of thumb for weight gain is ~1 pound per week. Check out our blog post for fun recipes for eating inspiration!1 For The WinWhether gaining or losing weight, changing your weight by 1 pound per week is a generally safe and effective goal!Exercise for Body RecompositionIn addition to dietary alterations, certain types of exercise promote body recomposition. When trying to gain muscle and lose fat, there are three workouts that are proven to benefit most people. HIIT: high-intensity interval training is proven to recompose muscles and fat with 12 weeks of regular workouts.(23) The thing about HIIT is that you must push yourself to your limits. Since your limits aren’t the same as other people’s, you’ve got to be honest with yourself, hold yourself accountable, and choose appropriate exercises. Here are some HIIT exercise ideas!Resistance Training: resistance training refers to lifting weights and using resistance bands. But, it can also apply bodyweight exercises, especially if you’re new to working out. These workouts can be done slowly with many repetitions and movements. You can also target specific muscle groups for easy-to-see gains!Low-intensity cardio: long walks, casual hikes, bike rides with friends, and swimming are all examples. These types of exercises cleanse, regenerate, and oxygenate new muscles. And these lower-intensity cardio movements are less likely to make you very hungry, helping to maintain your nutritional intake goals. If you’re brand-new to exercise, team sports in groups help people stick with a new fitness plan.(24) Frankly, when you’re new to fitness, ANY kind of exercise helps!(25)Try to mix in every one of these exercise styles in a week. Plan to exercise 3-5 times a week with adequate rest. Add variety, but focus on building muscle. Here’s an example of a training split that will help with body recomposition when paired with a high-protein diet:Monday: short and intense HIIT workoutTuesday: strength training (with or without weights)Wednesday: rest dayThursday: easy jogFriday: sports game with friendsSaturday: rest daySunday: strength training (with or without weights)Are you looking for more ways to train at home and outdoors? Download the adidas Training app!Aim For a Healthy MiddleBody fat is essential for our health. It provides energy, protects and insulates our organs, and regulates the production of hormones. Too much body fat is associated with higher cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which can lead to cardiovascular problems and strokes. The risk of Type 2 diabetes is also higher. However, if your body fat is too low, you lack energy, are more likely to get sick, and get cold faster. You may suffer from digestive problems, and low body fat can have a negative impact on your bone density and hormone level. The healthiest route is to aim for the middle of the range.Ultimately, if you feel healthy, you’re probably healthy. And if your blood tests come back positive, regardless of your weight, you’re probably healthy. There are many ways to determine “good” health. Because body composition is the most multi-faceted, it is generally regarded as the best.(26)Before starting a new exercise routine or diet, you might first ask yourself: do I feel good? Do I enjoy my workouts? Does my doctor deem me healthy? And if these questions are YES, but you still feel unsure of yourself, you might consider working on your body image. This blog post can help!Related posts: More

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    Yoga For Beginners: How to Begin Your Yoga Journey

    Even the easy yoga poses will be challenging the first time you attempt them. Plus, “easy” is not the same for everyone. Unlike many other types of sport and fitness, yoga has its own language, its own breath patterns, and is intensely tied to self-realization. Practicing yoga will likely transform how you approach other sports, your body, and your sense of self. Many people start noticing the benefits of yoga after their very first session; most people will see a change after three to six weeks. But getting started is the hardest part, especially if you have ZERO yoga experience! Here, we tell you everything you need to know about beginners’ yoga.Tip:Before you start, review our blog post about yoga basics and some benefits of yoga. The post familiarizes you with the language of yoga (Sanskrit), the history of yoga, and the most popular types of yoga.Table of ContentsStep 1: Set Up Your SpaceWhile outdoor yoga is inspiring, we recommend starting your yoga practice indoors, where you can more easily hear and see your instructor, app, or other guides. We’re not going to lie: yoga can feel awkward when you’re getting started! Becoming comfortable in odd positions is part of the resiliency that yoga develops. But it takes a while to feel “okay” having your glutes in the air and your head near the ground! It’s best to learn yoga in a quiet, safe, private space.Be sure that your space is large enough to practice. It should be a few feet longer than your body when you lay on the ground. The ceiling should be high enough to lift your arms overhead with straight elbows. You will be moving side-to-side while laying on the ground, so it’s best to have a few feet available to each side of your mat, too.Once you’ve memorized the poses and learned a few flows, you can take your practice outdoors. Again, we recommend finding a safe and relatively secluded place. An ideal outdoor practice space allows you to let your guard down and zone out in the flow. If you’re fair-skinned or overheat easily, find a place with some shade. Yoga Gear ChecklistLike most types of fitness training, a yoga class can still be successful even if you don’t have the perfect equipment. But, having all the gear you might need will make your first classes more streamlined. Here’s a recommended list of yoga gear that you might use during your yoga session. By the way, to follow the environmentally-conscious paradigms of yoga, we recommend sourcing sustainable yoga materials as often as possible!Note:Yogis call tools like blocks, blankets, mats, and straps “props.” You’ll often hear an instructor say, “Use a prop underneath your knees in this pose.” And yogis often use props without being told to! There are no rules. Whichever props you need to make your practice work for your body and ability level are the right ones to use.The following props can be helpful during a yoga practice, but they’re not required. Whichever works for you is the best prop for you to use!Mat: find a mat that’s not too slippery. Ensure it’s not a Pilates mat. Yoga mats are thinner; they should be only centimeters thick, like a blanket.Block: these blocks are about 23 centimeters long and 15 centimeters thick. They come in a variety of shapes, colors, and materials. Avoid getting a heavy block as they’re difficult to move. Consider purchasing two blocks (one for each hand). If you don’t have a block, you can use other things like a book, a shoebox, or a stiff pillow.Water bottle: even simple yoga poses will get your juices flowing! Keep hydrated.Towel: yoga may not be HIIT, but it’s likely to make you sweat, especially if you are a beginner yogi! A small amount of sweat on your mat can become a slip hazard. Plus, towels can also double as pillows!Pillow: small pillows are an underrated prop! Use them to lift the back of the head when laying down for more comfortable neck positioning. They can also pad the knees when kneeling on the ground. Warmer clothing: practicing yoga in a teeny-tiny-sports bra and shorts is great. But when you lay down for savasana, your heart rate and core temperature will quickly decrease. Take a brief pause before savasana to put on socks and a hoodie.Blanket: in addition to warm clothing, have a folded-up blanket nearby. You can use it to cover the body during savasana for extra-cozy meditation. You can also use it as a prop for poses like halasana (plow pose). Strap: there are specific straps created for yoga made of non-flexible materials with looping mechanisms at the ends. But any stiff fabric with open ends that can be tied in a circle also works (like a leather belt). Yogis use the straps as arm and hand extensions when challenged to reach (like in seated forward fold pose).Journal: for ultimate rebalancing, journal before and/or after a yoga session. For more guidance, read on! This blog post discusses journaling in the “mindfulness” section.Step 2. Learn About 12 Of The Most Common Yoga PosesAs you progress in your yoga journey, you’ll find all sorts of crazy pretzel-poses to experiment with. These wild poses are mostly newer versions of foundational yoga poses. Learning the foundational poses first is imperative to exploring more creative flows and poses later. And our yogi ancestors believed that inner-stillness develops in more basic poses. So: start small! Get to know the following 12 poses, how your body feels in them, and how to modify the poses so that they serve you. Note:“Modification” simply refers to variations from the original posture. When a yogi assumes a modified pose, it’s not because they’re weak or incapable. They use a modification because their body finds it more effective and enjoyable. Modify without judgment! Your body is unique and deserves to be treated as such.1. Table Top PositionFunction: to find symmetry between left/right, top/bottom, front/back. Activate core muscles. Form: back must be completely flat, which means no convex or concave curvature anywhere along the spine. Since most people have some thoracic and lumbar curvature, this means that the belly muscles must be strong to push the lower back up. Muscles between the shoulders are engaged. The back of the neck is long, gaze toward the ground.Errors: having hands and knees close together (remember: yoga is all about making space). Sagging in the lower back. Shoulder blades poking upward. Hands further toward the top of the mat than the head so the neck is tense and shoulders elevated. Head to drooping lower than the shoulders.Modifications: many people struggle with table top position because of pressure on the knees and ankles. If so, use a prop below the knees to cushion them.Inspiration: Personal grounding and feeling centered in the self. Inner reflection and silence. Preparing oneself mentally for what’s to come. Being self-supporting.2. Forward Fold and Seated Forward FoldFunction: both grounded and standing versions of the forward fold lengthen the hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Deep core muscle engagement and isometric contraction. Lengthen the spinal muscles.Form: legs are touching or hip-width distance apart. The lower belly is firm, pulling the spine into flexion. Flexion occurs at the hips, not the back. Knees can be bent, but try to straighten the knees as flexibility increases. Feet point toward the top of the mat or the sky while hands reach toward the feet. The head relaxes toward the legs.Errors: having feet too wide so that the lateral glute muscles are engaged. Allowing the toes to turn out to the sides. Intensely reaching with the shoulders and arms so that the neck is tight and shoulders are elevated (but the back is still curved). Folding from the back, rather than at the hips. Not engaging the core. Holding breath.Modifications: people with herniated discs in the back should be careful with this pose or avoid it altogether. A prop can be used between the legs and back to support the spine. A strap around the toes, held in hands, can help find depth.Inspiration: Reaching for goals and moving boldly toward challenges with a sense of self-awareness and reflection. Loving oneself even despite struggles.3. Halfway LiftFunction: reset the spine between forward fold and plank during vinyasa. To activate back and core muscles. Lengthen hamstrings.Form: halfway lift might be the most misunderstood and frequently repeated yoga pose! It’s table top position but in a vertical structure. Enter from standing forward fold or after stepping to the mat’s top from another inverted position. Lift the spine until it’s even with the hips, forming the shape of a table. Place hands on the calves or thighs (not the knees), lift the head to align with the shoulders and gaze toward the ground below the nose. On exhale, release back to forward fold or continue to the next pose. Errors: same as table top position. And allowing the front of the rib cage to jut toward the floor, creating a spinal extension. Not lifting head high enough. Looking forward instead of down. Using only the back muscles to lift without tightening the core muscles. Pressing hands onto knees (the knees don’t deal well with this kind of pressure). Hyperextending knees.Modifications: people with chronically tight lower back muscles may struggle with this pose; their lower back muscles might try to do all the work. If this pose bothers your lower back, simply skip it and take an extra breath in forward fold.Inspiration: Preparing to surmount a challenge or go toward a goal. Reminding oneself of the future but staying grounded in the present. Keeping sight of aspirations.4. Low and High LungeFunction: whether grounded or standing, these poses aim to create more mobile hips. Build strength in the legs (especially in the standing version). Learn proper recruitment of hip, core, and back muscles with arms elevated.Form: one leg is forward, and the other is back (in a low lunge, the back knee is on the ground). The front knee stacks over the front ankle. Both hips squared to the front of the back. The rear ankle stacks above the back toes (or lie flat on the ground in a low lunge). Back is straight; hips in a slight posterior pelvic tilt; front rib cage pulled into the core. Arms elevated, elbows straight, shoulders relaxed. Gaze forward. The spine is long, stalked vertically from the hips to the crown of the head.Errors: Legs in a straight line with feet directly behind one another (like walking on a tightrope). Rib cage jutting forward so that abs are relaxed and lower back organizes into a lordotic position with anterior pelvic tilt (tailbone lifted). Shoulders squeezed up toward ears. Leaning forward instead of stacking shoulders, spine, and hips. The front knee barely flexed.Modifications: this pose is a total-body workout, so start with a low lunge until you get the hang of it. If the back or shoulders hurt, keep hands in prayer position at heart or resting on the hips. If there is a pain in the front knee, move the foot forward or backward until the pain is gone. Or, do not lunge so deeply into the pose.Inspiration: Jumping from one point in life to another without hesitation or worry. Embracing the unknown with an open heart. Boldness, bravery.5. Downward-Facing DogFunction: lengthen all muscles along the posterior chain, from heels to back of the neck. Build strength in the shoulders and upper back muscles. Stimulate brain function. Strengthen deep abdominal muscles.Form: to find a proper “down dog,” start in a plank position on the hands. Then, lift the glutes straight up to the sky without moving the hands or feet. Once there, you can move the feet slightly closer to the head so that the heels are entirely on the ground. Eventually, your ankles will be flexible enough that you need not take an extra step. The body should look like an isosceles triangle: the arms to glutes, glutes to ankles, and space between the hands and feet are equal in length. Feet are hip-width distance apart. Abs are engaged so that tailbone gently tucks and the lower back muscles relax. Shoulders pull-down spine, away from ears. The front ribs gently tuck toward the belly. Fingers are spread wide on the ground; as much of the hand is pressing into the ground.Errors: Fingers closed and most of the hand lifted off the ground (which can cause wrist pain). Arching spine so that chest curves toward legs. Hands and feet too close together, so tailbone just toward the sky and spine compresses. Keeping ankles tight so heels can’t relax. Arms and legs are too narrow or too wide.Modifications: people with high or low blood pressure should avoid holding this pose for a long time or skip it entirely. Knees can be slightly bent if you experience hamstring or lower back compression. A child’s pose is a fantastic substitute for downward dog.Inspiration: Pausing in times of conflict or hardship to investigate one’s true intentions and desires. Resiliency when the expected does not happen. Belief in one’s abilities. Creative inner thoughtfulness.6. High Plank or Low PlankFunction: A high Plank is a plank with hands on the ground; a low plank is elbows down. Most flowing styles of yoga cue high plank because it’s extra effort to drop and lift elbows continuously. Both versions of the pose require core strength, shoulder strength, and quadriceps strength. Nearly every other muscle in the body strengthens isometrically.Form: shoulders are stacked directly over hands and ankles are stacked directly over toes. The back of the head, shoulders, spine, and hips are all in a flat line, like table top position. The gaze is toward the ground directly below the nose. Legs are together or hip-width distance. The front rib cage pulls toward the spine. Mild posterior pelvic tilt.Errors: Fingers close together with most of the hands lifted off the ground. Hands forward of the head so that shoulders are elevated and tight. Back muscles lengthened so that the spine bows toward the ground. Hips higher than lower back; tailbone poking out. Lower back sagging with hips below shoulder level. The feet spread wide. In low plank: elbows splayed out to the sides.Modifications: if the wrists hurt in plank, replace high plank with low plank on the elbows (although this is not recommended for vinyasa classes). Both versions can be done with the knees on the ground (just be sure to keep the abs equally engaged).Inspiration: development of resiliency. Fostering a sense of inner self and independence. Asking oneself difficult questions. Sitting with discomfort. Building one’s strength for the future by staying present in the moment. Self-worth.7. Cobra and Upward-Facing DogFunction: strengthen the spinal extensors, upper back muscles, and glutes. Lengthen muscles around the chest and fronts of the shoulders. Release hip flexors; activate hip extensors and engage glute muscles. Lengthen quadriceps. Form: start with hands directly under shoulders and elbows tucked in toward the chest. With hips squared toward the ground, lift the chest. You can start with slightly bent elbows and work towards full elbow extension. Contract the muscles between the shoulders blades to widen the chest. Engage the glutes, pressing hips closer to the ground. Ankles plantarflexed (toes pointed, laying on the ground). Gaze is forward with the back of the neck long, stacked directly above the shoulders. The only difference between upward-facing dog and cobra is that cobra presses the hips to the ground, whereas upward-facing dog features elevated hips.Errors: beginning with hands forward of the shoulders and elbows opened toward the sides. Lifting shoulders toward the ears instead of engaging upper back muscles. Letting hips lift off the ground using only lower back muscles and no glutes. Keeping feet dorsiflexed (heels over toes, rather than ankles long on the ground).Modifications: if you suffer from certain kinds of lower back pain or have a herniated disc, it’s best to take this pose easy (or avoid it altogether by staying in the plank position). However, there are many ways to modify this pose to put less pressure on the spine. First, you can keep your elbows against the ground so that your thoracic spine and cervical spine are the only parts that lift. Second, you can simply take a few breaths on the earth without lifting. Third, you can keep your feet dorsiflexed and arch the spine, dropping the hips slowly while maintaining a Plank Pose (keeping abs engaged). Inspiration: belief in one’s ability to conquer any challenge with an open heart. Sending love into the world. Being receptive to other people’s love and feedback. Self-pride, self-worth, and the ability to share it with humility.8. Warrior IIFunction: strengthen the front leg’s gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and quadriceps. Strengthen and stretch muscles around the pelvis, inner thighs, and shoulders. Develop proprioception.Form: organization of the feet is perhaps the most crucial aspect of warrior II. The back foot must be turned at a 90-degree angle to the front with heels aligned. The front foot faces the top of the mat, with the knee directly over the ankle. Both feet are flat on the ground. Hips and shoulders squared toward the side of the mat. Upper body vertically aligned from crown of the head to tip of the tailbone. Gaze is forward over front hand. Arms reaching toward front and back of mat (respectively), stacked over ankles. The front leg knee is horizontal to the ground; the back leg knee extends.Errors: “charging” by pushing the torso forward over the front leg. Having the front knee too far ahead or too far backward of the ankle. Not flexing the front knee enough. Arms out to sides rather than over ankles; arms weak, elbows bent. Lower back arched and ribs flared; pelvis in an anterior tilt. Back leg knee bowed inward and/or bent. The back foot turned out into an obtuse angle (rather than a 90-degree angle perpendicular to the front foot).Modifications: warrior II is one of the more safe and comfortable yoga poses (although it’s challenging for the muscles to hold). People with knee pain can shorten the stance and refrain from flexing the front knee. For any back, ankle, or knee pain, experiment with bending or straightening the knee until comfortable. Be sure the back foot is perpendicular to the front foot!Inspiration: hopefulness and courage toward the future. Respecting the nature of past, present, and future. Care and caution when “drawing one’s sword.” Focus on the present moment.9. Warrior IFunction: strengthening the quadriceps of the front leg and gluteus muscles of the back hip. Lengthening and strengthening muscles of the pelvis. Gentle abdominal contraction. Lengthen latissimus dorsi and serratus anterior muscles (with arms overhead). Stretch back ankle.Form: warrior I is a complex pose in that it blends warrior II and high lunge. The legs are arranged like a high lunge, but the back foot opens to a 45-degree angle. So, the back foot of warrior I is more acute than the back foot of warrior II. Like warrior II (and unlike high lunge), the heels are linear. Like high lunge, the hips and shoulders are square to the front of the mat, with arms held overhead. Traditionally, the hands are pressed together in a prayer position above the head with elbows extended. The front knee flexes until the thigh is parallel to the ground. Back knee extended. The pelvis tucks into a gentle posterior pelvic tilt; the front ribcage moves toward the back of the body; the spinal column is vertical and long.Errors: feet crossed like a curtsy lunge (this makes balance difficult). Jutting the front ribs forward, arching the lower back, anterior pelvic tilt. Lifting shoulders with arms raised overhead. Straightening front leg.Modifications: like warrior II, warrior I is a relatively gentle pose. If knee pain occurs, shorten the stance. If pain in the hips or lower back occurs, widen the stance. A wider stance also helps with balance.Inspiration: self-reflection and external analysis before diving in. Rising from the ashes of previous pain and form to become a more robust version of yourself. Willingness to fight the good fight. Defending and serving one’s community.10. Child’s PoseFunction: lengthening the spinal extensors and compression of the spinal flexors (compression being a positive impact). Lengthening muscles along lateral edges of the torso. Stretching glutes, front of calves, and ankles. Compression and stretching of knees. Relaxation of neck muscles. Form: knees are open wider than torso, toes are touching. The torso relaxes between the knees. Arms are extended overhead, resting on the mat, with elbows straight. Eyes can be closed. The head rests on the ground between elbows. Glutes hover over or rest on the heels.Errors: keeping knees closer together (this is a different pose, called “ball pose”). Dorsiflexion of ankles rather than plantarflexion. Arms toward the edges of the mat rather than directly overhead. Stiffness in the belly that prohibits glutes from sinking toward heels.Modifications: while a child’s pose is considered a resting pose, it can be excruciating on some yogis’ knees. There are several modifications. First, pad below the knees with a pillow. Second, place a cushion between the knees and thighs to lift the hips off the ankles. Finally, keep the hips directly above the knees in a tabletop position. If the neck or shoulders are irritated with arms overhead, bring the hands back toward the feet with palms face-upInspiration: self-reflection and internal connection; understanding one’s existence as a small part of a big world. Relaxation, stress relief, independence, awe, and creativity.11. ChaturangaFunction: strengthening every muscle in the body, like a push-up. Especially the muscles of the triceps, shoulders, and core. Development of shoulder and wrist mobility. Form: chaturanga begins in plank pose. With elbows pulled tight to the body, perform a reverse tricep push-up. The less-intense version involves lowering oneself to the ground. The more-intense version consists of hovering above the ground with upper arm bones horizontal to the ground. Gaze toward the ground below the nose with head is as high as the shoulders (no lower). Entire back is flat, like table top position, with no curvature of spine. Shoulder blades pulled together. Feet dorsiflexed. Inhale to prepare, exhale to lower.Errors: chaturanga is a challenging pose that gets easier with practice. Issues occur when the lower back sags, shoulder blades peel apart, and the head drops below the shoulders. The pose should move like a plank lowering to the ground, not a snake curving and flopping down! Elbows being too broad is also an error. Holding the breath.Modifications: lower the knees to the ground and lower the chest and chin next. Hips are last to touch the floor. Ask a partner to place their hands on your elbows while standing above to help you feel the sensation of elbows tucked close to the body. Look forward so that the head stays elevated. Place hands on yoga blocks with the fingers hanging off the front edge to support wrist mobilization.Inspiration: overcoming challenges and the continuous work toward personal development. Self-confidence. Ability to speak one’s truths with humility.12. Standing Side BendFunction: stretch and strengthen the obliques, rectus abdominis, lower back muscles, and shoulders. Strengthen inner thigh muscles. Balance. Form: Like all other side bends, the standing side bend requires a neutral pelvis and spine. Only the muscles on the sides of the body contract and extend. Keeping ribs stacked over hips, the obliques on one side of the body contract and shorten. The opposite obliques lengthen and stretch. Arms raise overhead with fingers clasped in a “steeple grip” (i.e., only the first fingers are outstretched). Elbows straight, knees straight, legs locked together. Hips are horizontal, square, and symmetrical.Errors: lumbar curve and forward ribs so that the pose resembles a back-bend rather than a side bend. Standing with legs wide apart so that one hip also lifts. Elbows bent.Modifications: if the shoulders are irritated or elbows cannot straighten with arms overhead, drop the arm you’re bending toward and only keep one arm aloft. For balance issues, stand with the feet slightly wider. If you have lower back pain, focus on maintaining a mild posterior pelvic tilted posteriorly and engaging the lower abs.Inspiration: bending but not breaking. Choosing unique and creative paths in life. Leaning into discomfort. Exploration of the inner and outer self. Sense of strength in unexpected and irregular situations. Step 3. Practice MindfulnessYoga carries fantastic physical and athletic benefits. It’s one of the most accessible ways to increase flexibility and mobility. But it’s a special kind of exercise in that it carries elements of spirituality, meditation, and mindfulness. These elements do not reflect religion but are inspired by the mind-body connection. Do not discount this element of the journey! Here are a few things you can do to practice mindfulness.JournalWe’ve got an entire blog post dedicated to this very idea! Journaling is a fantastic way to keep track of the subtle and beautiful changes in the body, mind, and spirit that may (or may not) occur during your yoga practice. Try checking in with yourself BEFORE you begin to set intentions for the session. Then, check in with your feelings after the session to notice if any changes have occurred. Listen To Your BodyYoga goals aren’t like other fitness goals: they value the experience of the practice rather than the outcome. You can set unique goals before every session based on your present needs. In yoga, taking modifications, up-leveling, and down-leveling, are signs of self-awareness and self-love. Yogis allow their bodies to dictate the intensity of the class and even individual poses. Such attunement and adjustment to the minute details of one’s body might seem hyper-vigilant at first. Eventually, such perception will become natural and calming.ExperimentYoga promotes a sense of curiosity and exploration (it’s no wonder so many travel bloggers post images of themselves doing yoga poses in incredible places). Just as you experiment with new foods, styles of make-up, outfits, and sports, so should your yoga practice be a chance to escape the mundane and find delight! Here are a few ways to mix up your practice:Try a class in person at a local studioDo yoga with other sports, like at the top of a hike or after a soccer game Invite friends to join you! Teach each other your favorite posesChallenge yourself to a wild-n-wacky pose. Laugh when you fall out of it!Buy a spunky new outfit to practice inDo your yoga class at different times of day and adjust the intensity accordinglyTry different types of yoga, just for fun (aerial hoop, anyone?!)Lean Into ItStarting a yoga practice can feel confusing, complex, and downright weird. If you feel that way, you’re doing it right! Yoga is unlike any other form of exercise, mindfulness practice, or physical therapy because it blends all those things into one. By educating yourself on the practice before you begin and showing yourself grace through your initial struggles, you’ll find that the practice feels easier every time you get to the mat. Who knows? You might even find that your body, mind, and spirit crave it. About the AuthorEmily Stewart is a freelance writer at Runtastic. She’s a 200-Hour and nearly 500-Hour certified Vinyasa Yoga Instructor. And, she’s a certified Trauma-Informed Yoga Instructor. She’s taught yoga in the USA, England, Malta, and Austria (and online). She’s attended and hosted yoga retreats around the world. She spent six months studying abroad in India, where she practiced at an inner-city Sivananda Vedanta Yoga ashram at least twice weekly. She spent three days at their forest ashram in Tamil Nadu, India. She has served as a Mentor and Teacher Trainee with The Kaivalya Yoga Method Teacher Training.*** More

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    Heel Strike, Toe Strike, and Posture: Proper Walking Technique

    Walking is one of the most accessible and gentle ways to increase cardiovascular fitness. As previously covered on the adidas Runtastic blog, there’s undeniable benefits to hitting that daily step count (including weight loss). And, unlike many other sports, walking does not require special tools. However, improper walking form and technique can lead to minor injury and strain. If left untreated, these problems can impact more than an evening stroll. Here is advice for correct walking technique.Toe Strike Or Heel Strike — Which Is Better?Few things are as exciting in life as seeing a child walk for the first time. Noticeably, toddlers tend to favor walking on their tiptoes or on the balls of their feet. This is due to the fact that their anatomy is not yet as developed as that of an adult. According to OrthoInfo, most children begin walking on their heels around age two. Walking with a heel strike versus a toe strike impacts the body differently. Here’s how:Heel striking: Heel striking describes the action of your heel making contact with the ground first, followed by the ball of your foot, in a continuous rolling motion. This method of walking or running has become natural for us over time because it requires minimal effort. Sometimes, heel striking can cause joint pain and spinal trouble. (For more information on gait actions and anatomical terminology, see this cheat sheet from the University of Oklahoma Sciences Center).Toe striking impacts the body in very different ways.Toe striking: As mentioned above, this is actually the way humans instinctively move. As adults we also move this way in certain circumstances, like when we climb stairs or dance. When toe striking, your forefoot makes contact with the ground first, rolling backward and finishing with your heel on the ground. In some other mammals, like cats and raccoons, the heel actually never lands. The benefit of moving this way is that it minimizes some impact on the bones in your heels and ankles. So, which is better?Interestingly enough, a study by the University of Utah found that, “the heel-down posture increases the economy of walking but not the economy of running… You consume more energy when you walk on the balls of your feet or your toes than when you walk heels first.” So:Run on your toes, walk on your heels!As for brisk walking technique… that’s more complicated. If you find it unbearable to walk on your toes quickly for any length of time, try:Varying heel versus toe strike in an interval format during your walkVary heel versus toe strike from one walk to the next (i.e., walk on your toes on Tuesday and heels on Thursday)No matter what, it’s imperative that you check-in with your body after a walk on your heels OR your toes. If you’re in a lot of pain, switch to heels next time. And, vice-versa! Your body will choose its preference, and over time, with patience, you may be able to alter that choice. You might also time your walking miles. Which style results in more miles over time? That’s probably the most health-benefiting walking technique for you!It takes time to adjust to new habits — so even if it sounds simple to change your walking technique, it won’t happen overnight. When trying to train yourself to walk in a toe strike, give yourself time and non-judgment. Another way to learn how to toe strike – and add an interesting twist to your daily jaunt! – is to try walking backward. Walking backward also has the added benefit of strengthening the body’s posterior kinetic chain, meaning that heel-strike movement will also become safer.Proper Walking PostureHave you ever finished a nice long walk and then started sensing some aches and pains in your back? You may be walking in a pattern that causes irritation to your bones and muscles. Here’s a visualization of the most effective walking posture for most people. Remember: not all bodies are the same, and variations in this posture are totally acceptable, so long as the body is not in pain.If you’re still experiencing back pain in your day-to-day life or have trouble staying upright while walking, improving core strength can help. You may have proper walking posture but still require more core strength to stabilize the hips, low back, and shoulders. That’s normal!Now Go Walk!Now that you know the difference between a heel strike and toe strike, get out in the world and give it a try! Track your progress on the adidas Running app, share it on social media, and tag @adidasruntastic to let us know how it goes. We can’t wait to see you.*** More

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    10 Benefits of Walking and Low-Impact Exercise

    Walking is often overlooked as an effective form of exercise. Sure, it’s not as intense as running. And no, it doesn’t have the same bragging rights as doing a 6 a.m. hot yoga class.But walking has plenty of full-body benefits. It burns calories, improves heart health, and being outdoors can give you much-needed hits of vitamin D and mood-boosting endorphins in equal measure.Here are ten reasons you should consider making walking part of your fitness routine.1. Walking is a form of cardioWalking is a free, low-impact exercise to improve your cardiovascular health. If you want to lose weight and start walking for weight loss, it’s OK to begin slowly. Once you’ve gotten comfortable walking longer distances, try to complete a mile or kilometer faster than the previous week and then faster than the average walker (15-20 minutes per mile and 10-12 minutes per km).As you pick up the pace, you’ll get aerobic exercise. You can also alternate periods of brisk walking with slower walking, called intervals. These are great for cardiovascular fitness and burn more calories than regular walking.2. Strengthens leg muscles – and moreWalking can be an excellent way to mix up your routine for those at risk of plateauing. Walking works various lower body muscle groups: your quadriceps, glutes, calves, and ankles. Adding resistance is even better. Walking uphill or increasing the incline during your treadmill workout – particularly at a 3-degree incline or higher – increases the activation of these muscle groups, especially the glutes.You may be surprised to learn that your back muscles are getting in on the action, as they support your torso and stabilize your pelvis to help you stay upright. As a bonus, you can also activate, or engage, your core muscles while you walk by drawing the navel inwards.3. Boosts your immune systemIf recent times have taught us anything, it’s that our health is paramount. Now that the pace of life is picking up again and we’re socializing more, it’s essential to keep our immune systems iron-clad all year round.Did you know walking for exercise could help beat the common cold? One study showed that men and women who walked 20 minutes a day, at least five days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who only exercised once a week or not at all.(1)Regular exercise allows older people to develop more T-cells than people their age who are more sedentary.(2) It’s important to remember that you don’t have to power-walk your way to peak health. Being consistent and moderate with exercise allows your body to recover from illness and build immunity quicker than over-exercising, and walking is a great way to achieve this.4. It’s perfect for goal-settingWhether you are walking for weight loss, to cover 8,000 steps a day, or aim to progress into running, walking is a great way to stay on top of your goals.Saying you plan to “walk every day” or “walk to lose weight” isn’t always enough. The best way to achieve better health through walking is to be SMART: have specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound goals.For example, if your goal is to walk daily, then set a SMART goal plan:Specific: Walk every dayMeasurable: Use the goal feature on adidas Running and use the app to track your sessionsAchievable/Attainable: Walk 30 minutes a day after workRealistic: To start, walk for 10-15 minutes each day when you get home from work. Aim to increase your duration after one month.Time-bound: Reach 30 minutes per session by the fourth week. Walk every evening from 6-7 pm.As you gain confidence in your progress, reconfigure your goals over time to add a longer duration, do a certain number of steps or run a 5k. Baby steps!5. Makes you feel goodWalking in nature helps boost your mood by increasing blood flow and blood circulation to the brain and body. When you exercise, you’re reducing levels of the body’s stress hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol.(3)Walking is a natural stress reliever and positively affects a group of hormone-producing glands called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is responsible for the body’s response to stress and regulates processes like digestion, your immune system, and emotions.Studies have shown that people who take regular walks or other forms of physical exercise have better emotional health than those who do not exercise regularly.(4) 6. Improves your attention span and memoryYou might ask yourself: “If walking is so great for our legs and heart, then I can just do this on a treadmill, right?” Well, you can. But you’d be missing out on a whole lot of other benefits.Walking outdoors for 30 minutes has a more significant influence on your cognitive functions than walking in an urban environment.Looking at a pretty landscape, hearing the birds chirp, and breathing in the fresh air can improve our attention and memory. The attention restoration theory states that the effortless act of taking in our beautiful surroundings, and the aesthetically-pleasing stimuli within them, can help restore our attention capacities.One study found that memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after people spent an hour walking in nature.(5)So, the next time you find yourself with mental fatigue from too much time spent looking at a computer screen or scrolling through Instagram, head outside and enjoy the stillness.7. Walking is good for your heartThe older we get, the more conscious we are of what makes our body tick: our heart.Ischaemic heart disease is the leading cause of death amongst adults worldwide, and we know that our diet and lifestyle affect heart health.(6) If heart disease runs in the family or is a worry for you, consider regular walking as a form of exercise.A study looking at men and women found that just 20 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, including walking, could help ward off heart disease and heart failure later in life, particularly in men.(7)Another study followed women aged 50-70 over 17 years. It found that women who walked at a faster pace of 3 miles per hour (4.8 km) than women who walked under 2 miles per hour (3.2 km) had a 34% less chance of developing heart disease.(8)8. Helps extend your lifeMany factors determine our life expectancy: genetics, environment, lifestyle choices, and health care access are just some examples.The consensus is that active adults live longer than those who do little to no activity.One 2020 study found that if every American adult (excluding those with disabilities) walked briskly or exercised for an additional 10 minutes a day, 7% of deaths annually across the country might be avoided. For adults that walked 30 minutes a day, this number rose to 17%.(9)Even walking at a leisurely pace can produce results. A 2019 study showed that women who walked at least 4,500 steps, either intensively or just strolling, had 40% less chance of dying than those who walked around 2,700 steps during the five-year follow-up period.(10)While it’s worth noting that COVID-19 has skewed mortality rates around the world, the bottom line is still important. Just 10 minutes of brisk walking or exercise a day can significantly impact your or a loved one’s health and prevent premature death. Since walking is a low-impact exercise, it is a healthy, safe option for older people who may suffer from joint pain.9. Improves your coordination and balanceOver time, your balance and coordination can improve with stronger lower body muscles. For older people, this is especially important for preventing falls.Try these balance exercises the next time you head out:Tight-rope walkStretch your arms out to the sideKeep your gaze forward and your chin parallel to the groundStep forward and place the heel of your foot right in front of the toe of your other footRepeat with the other foot and walk in a straight line, heel-to-toe each timeContinue for 10 to 20 stepsHeel and toe walksWalk for at least five minutes to warm upTake 10 steps with your weight mainly on your heels and your toes slightly off the groundThen, walk on your toes only for 10 steps, with your heels off the groundWalk for 10 stepsRepeat 2-3 times – use a stick or hold onto a wall for balance if you need it!CariocasDo these in an open area where you can walk side-to-side with no obstaclesStand with your legs apart and knees slightly bent (position 1)Cross the left foot behind the right foot and plant it on the groundMove the right foot to the side, so you return to the first positionKeeping your balance, cross the left foot in front of the right foot and plant it on the groundMove the right foot again and return to position 1Reverse the steps by moving to the left to repeat this drill10. When you walk, you’re being kind to the environmentWhile there are many benefits of walking for you, it also lets our trees breathe a sigh of oxygen-rich relief.Instead of hopping in the car to make a 2 or even 5 km journey, leave your house earlier and walk.Here are just some of the reasons why you should choose walking over driving when possible:Transport contributes approximately one-quarter of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissionsThe emissions from cars seep into our seas: an estimated 5% to 10% of the plastics found in the ocean come from tire dust(10)When you walk, you reduce noise pollution in any area and congestion on the roadsPedestrians, on average, are less exposed to air pollutants compared to persons traveling by car, bus, or bike(11)*** More

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    Stress Relievers: Which Sports Are Best to Reduce Stress?

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the daily grind, you might be tempted to lie down on the sofa and rest.But actually, experts agree that exercise is the key to relieving stress. Those who work out regularly reduce their stress levels, improve their mood, and enhance their mental health.In this article, we answer the most common questions on stress and list the best sports to soothe the body and mind.Where does stress come from?Strain at work, in the family, or in your free time – there are plenty of reasons why the body and mind react to stress. Since every person is different, how stressors (things that cause strain or tension) are perceived varies. That’s why some situations might be a threat for some people, while others consider them eustress  (positive stress) that pushes them to a higher performance level. Take a look at what happens in the brain.In the prefrontal cortex……information that we take in is sorted, evaluated, and processed. When the brain is confronted with too much information, it is unable to process it. This leads to a sense of being overwhelmed and stress symptoms, which has, in the long run, a negative effect on our health.When stress occurs frequently or constantly, but the body is unable to manage it, it is felt as something negative. Stress hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol are released, which make the body more efficient for a short time. It is preparing for fight or flight (just like our predecessors had to flee from wild animals). We want to survive, and this means running away in dangerous situations.Why Can You Relieve Stress With Exercising?The age-old physical reaction – running – still helps our bodies and minds regain balance in today’s world.(1, 2)Physical exertion and sports……are controlled by the motor cortex in our brains. When we move, this area is hard at work and requires much of the resources available to the entire brain. The result is that the prefrontal cortex, which controls our emotional response to stress, lacks resources – it simply cannot maintain the state of being stressed. Its activity level decreases, and the stress level is reduced. What Should You Keep In Mind When You Exercise to Relieve Stress?Exercising is a great way to reduce stress because when you move, your body produces endorphins, which elevate your mood. It’s important……to avoid pushing yourself too hard or trying to reach a new level of performance when you’re stressed out. This can be harmful to your health and even increase your cortisol level and therefore, stress.Keep your workouts shorter and stick with recovery runs or swimming. Low-intensity exercise is effectively lowering cortisol levels.(3) Look for a sport that’s fun for you and makes you feel good. Remember: make sure to take it down a notch on the days when your schedule is packed.What Are the Best Activities to Reduce Stress?There are a lot of ways to relieve stress with sports:Running:Many experts recommend running because it is one of the first skills that we learn. The important thing here is to stay in the aerobic range (your breathing speeds up, but you aren’t out of breath), in order to avoid putting too much strain on your body.Walks:In addition to endurance sports, regular, short walks can help reduce stress hormones.Yoga:Yoga is another effective way to clear your head. By concentrating on your breathing, you enter a meditative state.Team sports:If you spend a lot of time alone, either at work or in your free time, team sports like soccer are a great way to relieve stress. Don’t underestimate the support a social network can provide. In a team, you work together, which builds self-confidence and can reduce stress.Self-defense:Self-defense gives you a heightened awareness of your body, which helps your balance, and improves coordination. You’ll also be more self-confident—low self-esteem can contribute to your stress level.Climbing:Sports you do outside in the fresh air like climbing give you a greater sense of freedom. You learn to focus on the essentials and not get distracted. SummaryIf you want to reduce stress through sports, it’s important that you have a positive association with the activity you choose. In other words, you should enjoy the sport and not overdo it. A short workout that’s not too exhausting helps you feel good and regain a sense of control.There are no advantages to choosing a sport or training plan that just creates more stress because you are overly-competitive or push yourself too hard. The key is to find out how much exercise you need to relax. Your friend might run 10 km to relieve stress, but that doesn’t mean this is what your body needs.Is the stress getting to you? Sports can help! Try the adidas Running and Training apps, and make your workouts more fun.*** More

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    Answers to Your Most Common Questions About Workout Scheduling

    Workout scheduling is one of the most challenging things about fitness. Elite athletes have coaches and sports scientists telling them exactly how to schedule their workouts. While the rest of us aren’t so lucky, following some simple workout scheduling guidance can go a long way.Here are some answers to your most basic questions about workout scheduling!How Many Days to Workout Each Week? It depends on your fitness level, experience and goals. A very experienced athlete with a high fitness level can easily work out every day of the week and multiple times every day. A beginner athlete should strongly consider taking two or three days per week entirely off or focused on recovery. If you’re not sure how many recovery days per week you need, here are the signs it’s time for a recovery day.New runners are very strongly advised to take at least two days off from running per week. These recovery days are essential for your body to heal from the damage inflicted by running the other days.Strength-focused athletes might only work out three times per week. This is also to allow the body to adapt to the strength training stimulus productively. Realistically, your daily availability is the biggest limiter regarding how many days you can work out. Be realistic about your schedule and commitments. You will set yourself up for success if you commit to an achievable amount of days to work out rather than constantly missing the workouts you planned.When to Work out / Best Times to Work out?Morning workouts are likely best for most people’s schedules. As the day goes on, commitments pile up as energy and motivation decline. If you have no motivation, are tired, and didn’t focus on nutrition throughout the day, you will either have a bad workout or skip the activity altogether.Morning workouts boost your energy throughout the day. It may be hard to get out of bed, but give it a few weeks, and it will (probably) become easier. Morning workouts are also ideal for endurance athletes who do strength training (which is suggested for 40+ age athletes). These athletes are advised to do their strength training in the morning and, if time allows, cardio in the evening. This schedule decreases the chances of cardio workouts interfering with strength training adaptations due to the interference effect, as noted in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.Afternoon workouts or lunch workouts are also an option. Fitting in a quick run during lunch is great to start a running streak. The problem can be adequately fueling your workout and recovery. If you run during lunch, that means you also probably have to get cleaned up and feed yourself. This adds some time that could make it difficult to get in your workout.Evening workouts are very challenging. They can also be very rewarding. Some people may dread “having to work out” at the end of the day. Other people may look forward to working out in the evening because it is a moment they can destress from their day. Working out in the evening is also great because you can get cleaned up, have some nutritious food and then slip into bed for some recovery sleep.Still not sure when the best time to workout for you is? Read more about when the perfect time to run is.So, when should you work out? Whenever works best for your schedule. But you’ll probably have the most success if you work out in the morning.How to Create a Weekly Workout PlanCreating a weekly workout plan doesn’t need to be complicated. Just follow these simple steps:Decide how many days your schedule allows you to work out in a typical week.Decide how long you will work out each day.Decide when you can reasonably and most often fit in those workouts (morning/afternoon/evening).Plan your intensity days first. They should come after a recovery day. A day off or only cardio training should come after intensity days in most cases.Plan at least one to three recovery days per week (Mondays and Fridays are typical for most schedules).If you are focusing on running or other endurance sports, plan your long workouts for either Saturday or Sunday for typical schedules.Here is a sample weekly workout plan for beginner athletes:Days of the weekWorkoutMondayRecovery/light stretching TuesdayIntensity/strength trainingWednesdayRecovery ThursdayMedium duration cardio FridayDay-off. Focus on good nutrition.SaturdayLong workoutSundayMedium duration cardioHere is a sample weekly workout plan for intermediate athletes:Days of the weekWorkoutMondayRecovery/light stretching TuesdayIntensity/strength trainingWednesdayMedium duration cardio Thursday Intensity/strength training FridayDay-off. Focus on good nutrition.SaturdayLong workoutSundayMedium duration cardioCheck out our half-marathon running plan too!Workout Scheduling for CoreYou can read numerous posts on the adidas Runtastic blog about how important core exercises are. Many of those posts also say that you work your core is pretty much everything you do (if you’re doing the movements and exercises correctly). So, do you need to schedule core workouts?Yes. Schedule time to work on your core. It will make your everyday life better, pain-free, and a strong core will probably boost your self-confidence.You can add on a bit of core work after a run, when you have a few minutes during lunch, or on recovery days if you don’t focus specifically on your core during your other workout days.Not sure what to do for your core? Check out the 10 best moves to strengthen your core! Make sure to work your glutes too!Scheduling Workouts to Get Results and Progress as an AthleteYou build fitness by introducing a stimulus your body is not used to, letting your body recover from that stimulus, and then adding a larger dose of stimulus once your body is recovered. This cycle continues until you reach your athletic potential. Your workout schedule will most likely dictate how far you can push your fitness if you are not a professional athlete. You need to continually challenge your body if you have lofty goals of one day running a half-marathon or even a full marathon. Think about how you will introduce more challenging stimuli over the course of your training when making your workout calendar. For example, your most demanding week of workouts should probably come around two weeks before your marathon. Your previous weeks of activities should build up to that level of stimulus.It sounds more complicated than it is. For most athletes, just add a few minutes of working out each week. Eventually, you will max out how much time you can commit to working out before you start missing workouts. Once this happens, increase the intensity of one of your workouts. Once you max out on the intensity of that workout and you still feel like you can handle more, turn up the intensity on that second intensity day of your week.Keep it simple, don’t push too hard too fast, and listen to your body. Workout Schedule for WomenMost workout schedules are made for men by men. There is a general lack of understanding, research and empathy for how workout schedules for women should differ. Many workout schedules for women are simply the same as they are for men but with reduced intensity and training volume. This is insufficient and grounded in the flawed view that women “can’t handle as much” as men. Womens’ workout schedules should take into account biological factors as well as predominant cultural factors. For example, menstrual cycles should factor into workout schedules and event selection. Working out when one is pregnant is different than when one is not pregnant. Moreover, cultural factors influence how a large number of women will need to schedule workouts. Despite more pushes for equality, childcare and domestic responsibilities disproportionately fall on womens’ shoulders. Many womens’ schedules do not look like typical “9-5” jobs. This makes scheduling workouts very difficult.Should it be this way? Absolutely not. But for many people, it is the reality. If this is the case, be flexible, ask for support when you need it, and know that it’s okay to take time for yourself to accomplish your goals too. Workout Scheduling with Training Plan BuilderDid you know that the adidas Running and Training apps have built-in training plan builders for premium members? Whether you are a beginner athlete that wants to lose one or two kilos or an experienced athlete ready to take on your first marathon, there’s a training plan for you.Best of all, the training plan builder customizes your training plan based on your schedule. All you need to do is tell the training plan what days you can work out and for how long on each of those days. The training plan builder creates a training plan that is tailored to your level, goals, and schedule. It’s up to you to put in the work! Check out the latest features in the adidas Running and Training apps!*** More

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    Running with Allergies: 4 Tips to Treat Seasonal Allergies

    By Pouria Taheri,Head of Medical for adidas Runners and RUNBASE BerlinSpring draws us outdoors and may even spark the start of marathon training, but anyone with hay fever or other seasonal allergies has major limitations to deal with. Spring fever? I don’t think so. Early blooming trees, grasses, and pollen make life hard for those who suffer from allergies. “A training schedule that works can become a real challenge for athletes,” says Pouria Taheri, orthopedic specialist and trauma surgeon, sports physician and adidas Runners medical coach. The body resists any personal ambition. “Even in regular daily activities there is no end to the itchy nose, watery eyes, and sneezing. Breathing becomes harder and the general performance level drops; exercising makes it even worse.”  Here are 4 tips on how to work out despite seasonal allergies: 1. Don’t give upThe fun in sports quickly evaporates when allergies prevent you from lacing up your running shoes. Frustration and the exhausting symptoms often make you want to take a break. “It’s understandable, but that’s exactly what I try to avoid as the attending physician. I encourage people to deal with the annoying problem,” says Pouria Taheri. Fortunately there are several approaches to running with allergies. Most people can hardly believe the most important tip: don’t give up! “Often the reason for the complaints is a lack of fresh air and exercise,” explains the sports physician. You have to gradually give your immune system the chance to adapt.2. Strengthen your immune systemDid you know that regular exercise outdoors is almost as effective as allergen immunotherapy? Carefully building up resilience actually stabilizes the immune system. There are a lot of ways to strengthen your immune system, and many of them involve food. Take a look at what you’re eating and see if you can make some healthy changes. 3. Use first aid for acute problemsIn the alternative above, however, a subjective evaluation of your limits is decisive. You should have medical support such as an inhaler within reach so that your drive doesn’t get you into trouble. “Taking allergy medicine like an antihistamine before your workout is advisable to treat constant problems.” Antihistamines prevent the allergies from causing difficulty breathing or serious reactions like shortness of breath. Alternating your workouts between outdoors and indoors is a smart way to gradually strengthen your immune system and create a smooth transition to resilience.4. Allergen immunotherapyYou should seek medical treatment for ongoing afflictions or tough problems that recur over the years. “Many people try to address the problem with allergen immunotherapy, in which regular exposure to allergens teaches your immune system to adapt. However, this requires patience; the therapy usually takes one to two years.”Good to know:This treatment is not right for everyone. Possible interactions with other substances or medications can lead to adverse reactions. It should be noted that medical supervision is critical in this process for recreational athletes as well as competitive athletes with conditions such as reactive airway disease or asthma.TakeawayAt the end of the day, the annoying sneezing and the many little obstacles of seasonal allergies shouldn’t keep you from reaching your goals. The benefits of combining endurance and strength training are immeasurable and can improve your health long term, so that you don’t have to sacrifice quality of life in old age. Perseverance and smart decisions are essential to reach this higher goal. *** More

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    4 Common Causes of Headaches after Workouts

    Piercing pain at your temples, a throbbing ache in your forehead – we’ve all suffered the agony of headaches, and there are plenty of causes. Some of us are more likely to get them during or after exercise. Good to know:Headaches are divided into two types: primary and secondary. Primary headaches are triggered by exertion, tension, or not enough sleep. Secondary headaches, however, are a symptom of another more serious underlying condition like high blood pressure, an infection, substance withdrawal, or a stroke. In this article we’ll identify 4 common causes of headaches after exercise and tell you how to treat them and prevent them. We’ll also tell you whether exercise can trigger migraines.#1: Poor postureBad posture, stress, and poor form when you work out can cause tension, which can lead to headaches. Tension headaches are described as a constant ache that is usually felt on both sides of the head.(1)Headache preventionCheck your form during workouts and your posture throughout the day. Review these tips on proper running form and be aware of the most common mistakes made during bodyweight exercises. Try using heat, massage, or doing exercises to relieve neck pain to relax your muscles if you get a headache after workouts. #2: DehydrationWhether it’s from exercise or just not drinking enough fluids, dehydration is one of the most common causes of headaches. Calculate exactly how much water you should drink each day with our liquid requirement calculator. Headache preventionMake sure you are drinking enough throughout the day. To add variety, you can include special sports drinks that keep you hydrated and provide your body with important micronutrients. #3: Low blood sugarIt’s not just the headaches after exercise; you also feel weak, shaky, dizzy, and sometimes even nauseous? These symptoms indicate low blood sugar and depleted energy stores. Always ensure that your body has enough energy to work out.  Headache preventionIf you notice the symptoms listed above when you’re exercising, you should take a break. You can refill your energy and increase your blood sugar by eating more carbohydrates. There are also a few foods that can trigger headaches and migraines or make them worse – usually in combination with other causes. Avoid these potential headache triggers (2): alcohol (especially wine or beer) chocolatecaffeinaged cheesefoods high inmonosodium glutamateartificial sweetenersand preservatives like nitrates or nitrites #4: Exercise headachesPrimary headaches caused by strenuous physical activity are called exertional or exercise headaches. These are described as throbbing, migraine-like pain across the whole head (bilateral headaches) and last between 5 minutes and 48 hours. (3, 4) An extreme exercise headache can also cause vomiting and vision problems. It’s important to take exercise-induced headaches seriously. Headache preventionExercise headaches often develop if you skip your warm up, your workout is too strenuous, or it’s too hot. These might also occur when you are at high altitudes, like on a tough hike in the mountains. One way to prevent exercise headaches is to reduce the intensity of your workouts. These tips for running in the summer can help you cope with the heat and avoid dehydration. Important:If headaches last for days or if there are more days in a month with headaches than without, you should consult a specialist. A medical professional can check whether you are suffering from primary or secondary headaches, which may be caused by an underlying condition. Can exercise trigger migraines?First of all, research on the connection between migraines and exercise is not yet as extensive as it could be. However, there are studies which show that migraineurs (people who frequently suffer from migraines) can experience exercise-triggered migraines. It is believed that the exertional headaches and tension headaches mentioned above are more likely to lead to a migraine.(5) If you are at risk of migraines, it is even more important that you prevent the 4 causes of headaches after exercise. The good news: studies also show that regular exercise can help prevent migraines or at least reduce the intensity of the pain. This is thanks to the endorphins produced during sports. (6, 7)TakeawayBefore you start working out, make sure you are hydrated and your energy stores are full. Pay attention to your form and good posture while exercising. If you have a bad headache combined with dizziness, nausea, shakiness and/or vomiting, take a break immediately and consult your physician. The same applies for headaches that last several days.*** More