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Daily Archives: April 4, 2016

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5 ways to promote a healthy brain

 

A healthy brain is an important aspect to a healthy body. Reflect, play, rest, move and mingle to promote brain health.

 

Reflect

Meditation improves memory, increases brain size, improves cooperation between brain hemispheres and enhances emotional intelligence according to the Exploration of Consciousness Research Institute. A separate study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience concluded that participating in an eight-week meditation training program was evident in brain function outside of meditation sessions.

TRY IT: High Performance Coach Stephanie Kakris, who teaches meditation, recommends starting with a guided meditation using an app such as Relax and Rest, which gives five-, 13- or 20-minute options with music or nature sounds.

Play
Whether cerebral exercises have any long-term effect on mental performance remains inconclusive, but play has been shown to hone brain processes neglected in routine-driven adult life. “The main problem is that although people can train themselves to do better on particular tasks, the performance improvement rarely generalises to other tasks and abilities,” says professor Nick Haslam, of the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences.

TRY IT: Neuroscientists have designed a series of games called Lumosity to help challenge certain parts of your brain. The online and smartphone resource let’s you exercise core cognitive abilities whenever and wherever you like.

Nap
There’s no greater smart sabotage than undersleeping. Conversely, fixing your sleep habits can give you an instant thinking edge. “Being well rested means you will use your cognitive skills more efficiently because tiredness, anxiety and stress interfere with mental clarity, focus and concentrated effort,” says Prof Haslam.

TRY IT: Sleeping for as little as an hour less than you need to each night incrementally nets a costly sleep debt according to studies at University of Pennsylvania and the Walter Reed Research Institute. Participants who slept for six hours a night for a fortnight exhibited cognitive parallels to being legally drunk. Aim for eight hours.

Move
Vigorous physical exercise has been shown to have long- and short-term brain benefits. Findings published in Behavioural Brain Research suggest certain hormones, which are increased during exercise, may help improve memory and processing speed.

TRY IT: Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity into most, if not all, days of the week. You can break it into short bouts such as three 10-minute sessions each day.

Mingle
Networking serves as intensive training in social intelligence. “A big part of success in life is the ability to build strong interpersonal relationships – be they in a netball team, a family unit or at work,” says Kakris.

TRY IT Mixing with new people, ideas and environments exposes you to new ideas, ways of thinking and perspectives, which can expand the framework within which you think. Face-to-face is ideal, but social media can also serve as a sort of cognitive gym according to Florida behaviour therapist Andrea Kuszewski.

Here are 5 other tips to keep your brain healthy.

 

 

Read more …

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Quick Fettuccine Alfredo

Quick Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe
Quick Fettuccine Alfredo
In this healthy fettuccine Alfredo recipe, the sauce for this classic pasta dish gets a makeover, using yogurt. Although we like to toss this creamy pasta sauce with fettuccine, any whole-wheat pasta can be used.

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10 online and app-based training programs

 

Can’t get to the gym during the week? A new breed of web and app-based training programs takes the excuses out of the busy.

 

Whether you do best with a real-life traininer to keep you accountable, learn best from demos or written instructions or prioritise tracking tools, here are 10 pocket gyms to suit those who don’t have access to a gym.

1. trainingonline.com

 

HIT: Devised by a qualified trainer, the customised programs on this free site answer goals such as weight loss, strength conditioning and general fitness. The fitness library contains more than 200 exercises complete with video demonstrations, iPod-ready instructions and printer-friendly versions perfect for lunchtime sessions. The site’s user guide makes it a doddle to use the extensive functions.
MISS: If you tend to be derailed or struggle to stay motivated, consider a real-life trainer as the lack of personal ongoing support puts the onus on users.

COST: Free

2. fitness.com

 

HIT: More an online toolkit brimming with health and fitness tools than a program per se, fitness.com is ideal for returning exercisers or those who have some experience in training. Built around a thriving community of highly active, supportive users, it has a sorority vibe. You can rest assured you’re not the only one asking the questions you do or struggling with an issue.
MISS: If you need practical advice or lack foundational fitness knowledge, consider a website that offers prescriptive plans.
COST: Free

3. workoutsforyou.com

HIT: With a whopping 5,000 exercises able to be matched to users’ expertise, equipment, interests and goals, workoutsforyou.com offers two payment packages with perks such as a personal trainer, ongoing customisation and regularly updated workouts.

MISS: Expensive compared to other featured websites – but still far cheaper than most gyms.
COST: Made Just For You – 4 months/$99; Self-directed – 4 months/$59

4. fitera.com

 

HIT: The rebranded version of Fast Track to Weight Loss is expressly geared to toning and fat loss with a focus on efficiency. Perks include workout videos from fitness experts and live weekly chats with trainers. The personalised fitness plans are flexible, allowing for modifications to suit respective needs. However, it also provides sufficient structure to stop you from wimping out or falling into bad habits. Sign up for one of the regular challenges hosted by the website to keep you inspired and responsible for achieving your targets. And if you need that extra push, FITera also offers a paid coaching program that is virtually unrivalled in the online fitness community. The benefit of a global online community is hard to beat.

MISS: If you are looking for an advanced strength routine for sports/strength training, FITera’s focus on fat loss and toning may prove limiting.
COST: Free or add ACE Coaching and Accountability – 1 month/$97

5. abc-of-fitness.com

HIT: Based on a mission to democratise healthy living, this website seeks to make health and fitness resources ultra-accessible. For newcomers, information on fitness equipment is ideal for setting up a low-key home (or car boot) gym. BYO organisation and discipline. ABC can be a successful motivator.
MISS: The ant-size micro text and confusing navigation. If you need to be told what to do or easily lose motivation, the onus on proactivity and self-motivation might fall flat.
COST: Free

6. gymamerica.com

HIT: Ideal for those looking to strengthen or add muscle, this results-oriented site hangs its hat on detailed weights advice. This ‘just the facts’ approach is ideal if you’re a go-getter who’s always on the move and needs basic information in an easy-to-understand format. There’s also a focus on nutrition here, with a dietary plan designed just for you based on personal stats and a 40,000+ food database to pull from.
MISS: GymAmerica substitutes software for a real trainer and while it’s state-of-the-art, it lacks peripheral attributes such as empathy and genuine encouragement.
COST: $38.97/3 months

7. freetrainers.com

HIT: With the word ‘free’ listed upfront, Free Trainers is proud of its complimentary fitness service that has helped provide plans for nearly two million users. All plans are fully customisable, which means you’re always satisfied, if not a little less motivated at times. The community element is a big reason why fans keep coming back to Free Trainers, with the site format replicating a social media network that allows users to search for fellow members by name and email. The detailed questionnaire on sign-up gauges your current fitness level, preferences and goals, and is even smart enough to incorporate particulars such as injury rehab.

MISS: Naturally the non-existent price tag means a lack of human interaction from a qualified PT; however, website staff and fellow users are happy and available to offer general support if you’re able to wait for a response.
COST: Free

8. dailyburn.com

HIT: DailyBurn’s fitness library offers over 100 workouts with a focus on cardio, health and weight training to suit multiple goals. These workouts are each state-of-the-art and ideal for someone who needs to constantly change it up to avoid losing interest. While taking into account your ideal body type, time for exercise and skill level, the website targets programs that suit you. There’s also a great range of tracking tools for keeping up with your progress, plus an incredible food database of over 67,000 items. And if you don’t like it, there are no problems thanks to the free 30-day trial!
MISS: On the surface there’s very little info about what the site offers, which doesn’t do its features justice. The free trial allows you to see this in action, however, with a generous 30 days for you to get a true sense of what’s on offer.
COST: $32.50/3 months

9. itrain.com

HIT: A website purely dedicated to MP3-matched workouts to take to work or on vay-cay, it comprises exercises sorted by interests and goals, so one day you can focus on weight loss and dance and the next, flexibility. If your ideal workout involves hitting the park with your headphones and hill sprinting like nobody’s watching, you’ll enjoy this.

MISS: If you frequently purchase one-off downloads, it can get pricey. Consider a yearly subscription with unlimited downloads.
COST: Average $10 per download, or 1 year/$119.88 unlimited downloads

10. changingshape.com

HIT: With 24-hour personalised support from your own trained PT based on a bespoke plan, this platform lets you substitute other exercises to progress your training and avert plateaus. The emphasis is on sustainable long-term results. There’s a foolproof nutrition plan with customised shopping list, meal plan, swap suggestions and even a guide to healthy fast food options. You can also have your plan tailored to food allergies. A bank of calculators and thriving community make this a great all-rounder.

MISS: Direct debiter beware: you will be billed even if you don’t use the site, yet some people will use the potential money pit as motivation. Testimonials vouch for the sites’ appeal.
COST: 12 weeks/$29.95 or 12 months/$59.95

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