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    Best Infrared Light Devices for Hair Loss, Workout Recovery, and More

    For at least a decade, doctors, physiotherapists, and chiropractors have used infrared light therapy to heal injured muscles and treat conditions like Parkinson disease, depression, and even cancer. Now, the benefits are not just for the lettered. You can buy at-home infrared light devices to help manage everything from injuries to blood pressure, hair loss to wrinkles. Question is, while infrared light devices promise to be a medical panacea, they cost thousands of dollars. Are they worth it?
    The devices vary in size, shape, and function, but all use infrared LED lights, either invisible near infrared (NIR) or visible red infrared (RI). No one is entirely sure what these lights do in the human body, but scientists believe they penetrate our cells, activating the mitochondria, our cells’ power plant. Energizing these mitochondrion make cells healthier, encouraging repair processes.NASA started studying artificial light therapy in the 1980s and the research has increased in recent years with improvements in LED light technology. Anecdotal and scientifically gathered data links NIR and RI to all kinds of health and healing benefits, but the research is limited in scale, says Brent Bauer, research director for the Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.“We’re still waiting for reliable, large-scale studies to validate some of these claims,” he says. “Until we have some good-quality studies that evaluate both the efficacy and safety of these new devices, caution is prudent.”He does acknowledge NIR and RI light are different than the kind of skin-damaging energy used in tanning beds or solar UV rays. Used moderately, there are few side effects or risks associated with infrared light devices.Weighed against the growing list of benefits, it’s worth taking a closer look at some of the options available. Here are the top options to consider. More

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    Returning to Exercise: Coronavirus Recovery

    The pandemic we are experiencing around the world has challenged us in ways we never could have imagined. When it hit in the winter of 2019/20, many thought that their health, youth, or fitness level might protect them. At this point it has become clear that we are all vulnerable and no one knows how a Covid-19 infection will affect their body. New research is focusing on better understanding the long-term effects of the virus, often called Long Covid or Long-Haul Covid. This often appears with symptoms including fatigue, loss of the sense of smell/taste, dizziness, cognitive impairment, headaches, shortness of breath and can last months. (1) We talked to two of our users about their experience with Coronavirus recovery and they shared their fitness journey with us. Both are healthy women in their 30s, recreational athletes based in Europe, who had mild-to-moderate cases. What was your fitness level before COVID-19?Amélie: I used to run at least twice a week, 5 to 10 km, and also worked out at home with the adidas Training app twice a week. Barbara: I was finally getting back on track with my running after problems with my knee. I wasn’t at my best, but getting there again.What were your preferred sports/types of exercise?Amélie: I really like running. It is always hard for me to get motivated, especially when it’s cold and grey outside but once I manage and run with the right music, it gives me a great sense of freedom and helps me cope with the stress of daily life.Barbara: Running and yoga were my favorites, but I also did strength training & biking.How did you feel physically while you were infected?Amélie: It started with a light headache and serious fatigue for a few days. Then I started to have this strange feeling in my lungs like someone was pressing on my chest. One day I was cooking breakfast for my son and I realized that I couldn’t smell or taste my coffee anymore, then I knew it was Covid.Barbara: My energy level was very low. I had muscle pain, headaches, fever, and lost my sense of smell & taste.How long did you experience symptoms?Amélie: The first 4 days of quarantine were not easy. I was out of breath just from talking on the phone and was very scared it would get worse and I would end up in the hospital. After 5 days the breathing got better but I was very very tired and couldn’t do much.Barbara: I was sick for around 2 weeks, but it took me way longer to get my energy and ability to focus back – for sure a few months. The first days back at work, I worked fewer hours and needed lots of breaks.How long did it take you to start working out again? Amélie: I tried to go running around a month later, I managed to do 5 km but I was completely out of breath during the run and my lungs hurt. I switched to walking and did some short home strength workouts but without cardio.Barbara: I went for a walk again right after quarantine ended, which was roughly a week after my sick leave. I did my first slow & easy yoga session about 2 weeks after my sick leave. My first run after being sick was around 1 month later, and it felt like the first run of my life.How did you restart your exercise program?Amélie:  I started running and training again but after 5 months, I still have this strange feeling in my lungs from time to time. I had them checked and the doctor said everything looks good. Nevertheless, I am still tired, my motivation is low, and I get out of breath very fast. I ran 5 km recently and it felt a bit better.Barbara: Slowly. Super, super slowly. With lots of gratitude that I can move again. Just leaving the apartment and being outdoors was a true highlight. Walking felt like a workout.Did you know?An otherwise healthy patient recovering from Covid-19 without treatment who has been asymptomatic for 7 days may begin resuming physical activity at 50% the intensity and volume. (2) Did your performance change?Amélie: Before having Covid, I could run 10 km without any difficulties. Now, the most I’ve done so far is 5 km. My lungs hurt and I have trouble finding a regular breathing rhythm. I used to run at a pace from 5:40 min/km, now I run 6:45.Barbara: Yes, and that was very hard to accept for me. It felt like starting over at zero.Did your goals change after your Coronavirus recovery?Amélie: Definitely. Now my goal is to manage to find the motivation to go running. I just have to listen to my body and not push it too much.Barbara: Definitely. My goal right now is to stay healthy and support my body and mind with whatever type of exercise it needs at the moment. Do you have any words of advice for other people who are infected with COVID-19?Amélie: Be patient and don’t panic. I try to see the positive side of it: I am most probably immune for a little while and I was lucky to have a relatively mild version of it. (3)Barbara: Talk to someone about how you are feeling and what you’re going through, also emotionally  – be it your partner, a friend, a family member, or a therapist.Recovering and Moving OnAs much as we’d like to think we are invincible, there are a lot of things that can knock us down for a while. If you’ve had to deal with Coronavirus, illness, or injuries, it can be hard to get back on track and motivate yourself to continue your fitness journey. It’s important to listen to your body. Make sure you take care of your body by building rest days into your training routine. At times like this, it’s always a good idea to boost your immune system and try to manage your stress with regular exercise. Remember, if you are experiencing any symptoms or are recovering from an illness and are concerned about how long it’s taking, talk to your doctor about it. *** More

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    Can WHOOP Strap 3.0 Replace a Personal Trainer?

    This article was produced in partnership with WHOOP. 
    We’re hardwired to think getting fitter, faster, and stronger requires high-octane efforts all the time. If you’re not limping around post-leg day, it’s not contributing to your gains. If you’re not gassed by the end of your runs, you won’t hit a personal best. But if there’s one thing you should work toward in 2021, it’s training smarter. With a wearable like WHOOP Strap 3.0, you can monopolize your health and fitness data to see how your daily workout intensity in conjunction with work and life stress impacts your body’s ability to recover. It’s like having a personal trainer on your wrist.
    WHOOP Strap 3.0 Courtesy Image
    How WHOOP Measures Daily Strain and Recovery
    WHOOP scientists pored over a million different days of “Strain” and “Recovery” metrics from users to see exactly how they impacted peoples’ heart rate variability (HRV) the following day. Quick primer: HRV measures fluctuations in time between heartbeats. At rest, it can swing between, say, 55 and 65 beats per minute, since inhaling speeds up your heart rate while exhaling slows it down. A lower HRV means your body is struggling to handle stress and fatigue, while a higher HRV means your body is well-equipped to handle exertion. Since heart rate is the only objective measure of recovery, it’s WHOOP’s main deciding factor in how intensely you should be training on a day-to-day basis. To help users discern data, WHOOP scientists created the Strain metric to quantify overall stress put on your body. Based on your recovery each morning, WHOOP provides a target strain goal based on what your body is signaling it can handle for the day.

    Now that’s not to say you always want to be in the green. If you’re training for a triathlon, you’re likely going to have training blocks of intense exercise where you’re overreaching, in which you’re prioritizing fitness gains over full recovery. That’s necessary for your short-term goal. When you near race day, you’ll taper and enter a restoring phase to help your body recuperate before the big event. That’s also necessary for your short-term goal; if it’s a long-term pattern, however, you’ll begin to detrain and lose endurance and/or muscle mass, depending on what you’ve been training for. Likewise, if you’re hitting your max effort every single day, without taking time to fully recover, that can culminate in overtraining, injury, and exhaustion.
    On the app, there are two rings that indicate your strain and recovery for the day—a quick overview of your insights. Bigger efforts can be anywhere from a 14-19+ on the Strain scale, and it’s indicated as a blue line that inches closer to being “completed” depending on how close you get to your target strain (again, everything is relative; it’s not necessarily good or bad to hit the max). Your recovery is similarly presented as a circle within your Strain ring, although it’s color-coded to reflect the above Training Zones. Toggle to Strain, Recovery, and Sleep for a deeper dive into your analytics for the day and month (shown below).
    WHOOP app insights Courtesy of Brittany Smith
    Because WHOOP is combining yesterday’s Strain metrics with the night’s duration and quality of sleep, some athletes can naturally perform at a higher caliber—clocking more workouts at a higher intensity without teetering into the Overreaching zone if they’re also prioritizing optimal recovery. Sleep recharges your body. It regulates growth hormone to help build and repair muscle by healing those microtears caused during exercise; and regulates cortisol, the stress hormone, which can lead to inflammation in the body and inhibit recovery.

    WHOOP Strap 3.0 Courtesy Image
    Can a Strap Replace a Personal Trainer? It Can—If You Know How to Leverage Your WHOOP Data
    1. Do a Deep Dive Into Your Recovery
    When most individuals work with personal trainers, they’re not always honest about their diet, stress, sleeping habits, and how much they drink throughout the week. But WHOOP provides a subjective view of how your body is faring internally in ways a personal trainer could never infer. Based on recovery, having a target strain goal makes it easier to understand when you should aim to have a more intense workout or focus on rest and active recovery. The app creates a holistic picture that connects the dots between data and lifestyle behaviors so you can draw parallels and uncover what’s hindering your recovery.
    For example, in the monthly performance assessment (you can look over the year too), WHOOP breaks down your quality of sleep over the last 30 days. If your restorative sleep is on a downward trend, make a concerted effort to close the gap between the sleep you’re getting and what your body optimally needs. A coach or trainer would tell you to perfect your sleep hygiene, but won’t know what that means for you. Look at your nightly journal. If alcohol is wrecking your recovery, rethink how and when you drink. Maybe you save the beers for your recovery day, rather than the night before a strenuous workout. (Also check out these science-backed natural sleep aids experts swear by.) Take sleep as seriously as you do your workouts, and you’ll unlock new levels of athletic potential.
    2. Use Strain to Measure Stress in and out of Training
    Most wearables track calories, steps, distance, and pace. But workouts impact us all differently based on how fit we are and our body’s ability to perform. With the Strain metric, WHOOP helps quantify how strenuous your workout and day is based on your fitness level. For example, running a 5K for an advanced runner might register as a light strain of 7-9, but it might be closer to a 14-17 for someone new to running. The distance is still the same, but the effort required from the body is different in each case. WHOOP is unique in that it helps quantify this type of stress on an individual level. You’ll learn which of those are true for you by clocking different types of workouts at varying intensities and durations.
    3. Take Actionable Strides From Journal Findings
    The great thing about the app is it gives you the chance to journal. In the morning, you’ll indicate if you consumed caffeine (how much and when), alcohol (how much), took prescription sleep medicine, viewed a screened device before falling asleep (how long), read a book, and shared your bed with a partner. If you find too much coffee late in the day keeps you up, scale back or cut yourself off at noon. If you find your smartphone or laptop is making it harder to fall asleep, nix the electronics an hour before bed. The WHOOP Strap 3.0 and app are less fixated on hitting arbitrary goals like getting in 10,000 steps, and more focused on interpreting empirical data. Make parallels. If you’re able to fall asleep faster when you listen to a meditation before bed, make it a nightly habit.
    4. Lean In to Heart Rate Variability
    When your HRV increases, indicating you’re more recovered, you can engage in more demanding sessions, which can be longer in duration or higher in intensity. Likewise, when HRV decreases, you can prioritize low-intensity sessions. Studies have shown this type of intuitive programming yields greater fitness gains than following a fixed program that doesn’t factor in your individual needs. This is where WHOOP outshines a personal trainer. Your coach might have a specific order of workouts for the week that might not be the most conducive to your fitness gains. However, WHOOP can help you fine-tune your training programs to prevent burnout via HRV. As gym culture drastically shifts, putting more of the onus into our hands, isn’t it time you take greater autonomy over your health and fitness? WHOOP thinks so—and we agree.

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    Gifts for Men: 20 Big-Ticket Items to Splurge On

    Gifts for men can be tricky. Do you want it to be utilitarian, meaningful, personalized, or just plain cool? Some might argue the perfect gift is a combination of them all. In any case, if you’re shopping for big-ticket items that have a certain wow factor, buckle up. We have 20 epic items worth splurging on, perfect for friends, brothers, dads, partners, or even yourself.

    Of all the times to treat yourself, now certainly seems like a good one. From gadgets for amateur astronomers to wellness devices to quell anxiety from a world on fire, we’ve got the best gifts for men across tech, fitness, outdoor gear, and more.

    TCL 6-SERIES 4K ROKU TV Courtesy Image
    1. TCL 6-SERIES 4K ROKU TV
    He’s been streaming a lot of MasterClass, Acorn, and discovery+ as of late—along with the regular mix of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Enhance his viewing experience with this beautifully designed set that includes Roku’s voice control, thousands of micro-meter class mini-LED backlights for a stunning picture, and access to 250,000+ free movies and TV episodes through Roku’s built-in OS. Considering TCL/Roku has won several awards in 2021 already, you can feel confident the brand lives up to the hype.
    [From $700; amazon.com]
    Get itHammerhead Karoo 2 Courtesy Image
    2. Hammerhead Karoo 2
    Karoo 2 is a newcomer, but billed as the cycling computer Tour de France winners use. It’s smaller than industry competitors’ but boasts an impressive slew of features like high-resolution mapping, performance data visualization, navigation capabilities, and regular updates When pre-sales were available last fall, the gadget sold out in days, so cyclists should add this to their toolkit ASAP. You know, before investor Lance Armstrong and Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adam tell all their friends. More

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    Muscle Recovery: 8 Tips for a Faster Recovery after Sports

    What does “muscle recovery” mean? It means that your body can recoup after a race or a training session. After the body recovers, you are once again fit and ready to perform.How much your body develops and how much your performance improves depends on how well and how quickly you can recover. The faster you recover, […] More

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    Sore Muscles? • Helpful Tips to Prevent DOMS

    Full of motivation, you jumped into your training plan with both feet and gave your workout everything you’ve got. But then on the next morning, when you try to get out of bed…OUCH! Your muscles ache and are stiff, swollen, and tender. What you have is a bad case of delayed onset muscle soreness or […] More

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    Post-Run Recovery – What Really Matters

    After intense training or hard races, our runners’ legs are asking for full recovery. Your body needs rest days and proper recovery to perform on point again the next time you lace up and sweat. This is the only way you’ll become more powerful for your next workout. To make sure that you will benefit […] More