Woman doing crunches on blue exercise mat

20 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Try at Home

Unlike many other workout types, bodyweight exercises do not actually require any special equipment, and can easily be carried out at home. By using nothing else but the weight of your body and the power of gravity, these 20 bodyweight exercises will help you to build muscle and burn fat, while giving yourself such a satisfying workout.

1. Squats

squats

Squats are not only one of the most effective of bodyweight exercises, but are also the most natural, as this is the same way in which a baby would sit down.

While this may seem like a simple exercise, a squat works out all of the muscles in the lower body, and gives your core a boost as well, since you will be using your abdominal muscles to keep yourself upright.

However, make sure that your technique is correct when doing this exercise, otherwise you may cause more damage than good…

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and then bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Use your heels to help you to stand back up straight again, squeezing your buttocks in and keeping your core tight while you do so.

 

2. Burpees

While burpees are quite intense, many would argue that this is the single most effective exercise in the world, as it works out almost every muscle group, combining cardio and strength into one exercise. 

To do a burpee, these are the four steps that you must follow:

  • Stand with your feet together, and then drop into a deep squat position with your hands on the floor
  • Kick your feet backwards so that your body is in a plank position
  • Jump your feet back into a low squat position
  • Jump back up, with your arms reaching overhead

If you want to make this exercise a little easier to begin with, take out the last jump, and simply stand up at the end instead.

Or, if you want to make this exercise a little harder, add in a tuck jump just before the squat.

 

3. Push-Ups

push ups

Push-ups are great as they work out just about every muscle group in the upper body, from your back to your arms to your abs.

They are also easy to do, but you need to ensure that your position is correct…

Your shoulders should be lined up with your wrists, while your elbows should be tucked in towards your side. You should also be trying to get your hips and chest as close to the floor as possible while doing this exercise, without actually touching the floor.

 

4. Calf-Raise

The calf-raise is an extremely simple exercise, but can be adapted to suit your needs.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Stand up straight and slowly rise up on your toes, until your heels are off the floor, but make sure that you keep your knees straight
  • Hold the position briefly before coming back down and repeating

Wondering how to make this exercise a bit more challenging?

Try standing on a step while doing it, or bounce up and down quickly so that you get more reps in.

 

5. Step-Up

This is an exercise that requires a raised surface, such as a step, low chair or bench.

All you need to do is place one foot onto this surface and then step up on it, until your front leg is straight.

Hold this briefly before returning to your starting position, making sure that you step down rather than jump down.

 

6. Plank

plank

When it comes to defining the core, the plank has become one of the most popular exercises.

Here are the steps to follow to correctly carry out a plank:

  • Lie face down with your forearms touching the floor and your hands clasped
  • Extend your legs behind you and rise up on your toes
  • Tighten your core, and hold this position for as long as you can, making sure that your back is kept straight

 

7. Feet-Elevated Plank

Once you have mastered the standard plank, you can then move on to trying some of the many plank variations that are out there.

The feet-elevated plank is one of these, and is basically the same as a standard plank, but is carried out on a raised surface to make it more challenging.

Try it on something like a chair or low table first, as you do not want the surface to be too high.

 

8. Side Plank

side plank

Another plank variation, the side plank requires you to lie on your side, with just one foot, and one forearm, touching the floor.

Once you have done this, raise your body up slowly, making sure to keep it in a straight line.

Hold this for as long as you can before gently lowering yourself back down. Make sure that you do this exercise using both sides of your body.

 

9. Handstand Push-Up

Handstand push-ups will give your body a great workout, and are especially effective at building up the shoulders.

Haven’t yet mastered the handstand?

Use a wall to help you, placing your feet against this.

Once you can do this for 60 seconds, you can then begin incorporating push-ups into this.

 

10. Donkey Kicks

donkey kick

The donkey kick, also known as the back kick, works out a number of different muscle groups:

  • The core
  • All three muscles in the buttocks
  • The lower back
  • The legs

Here is what you need to do:

    • Begin on the floor on all fours
    • Bring your right knee in towards your chest, keeping your foot flexed
    • Kick your right leg up behind you, and then bring it back down, keeping your knee bent while doing so
    • Repeat this with the other leg

 

11. Crab Walk

The crab walk targets your triceps, glutes and your core, while also improving your coordination. While it may take a few days to master this move, it will not be long before you are speeding across the floor…crab-style, of course!

All you need to do is sit on the ground in a comfortable position, with your palms behind your hips. Then, pull your body up off the ground, so that your weight is resting on your hands and feet.

Use your left foot, and your right hand, to move yourself one step forward or backward, before repeating with the other hand and foot.

TOP TIP: Make sure that you keep your abdominal muscles engaged, and your hips lifted off the floor for the entire duration of the exercise.

 

12. Bicycle Crunches

bicycle crunches

Unlike regular crunches, bicycle crunches require deeper abdominal rotation and stabilization, which gives your core an intense workout.

They are also easy to do, with only a few steps to follow:

  • Lie on the ground with your knees bent and hands behind your head
  • Lift your legs off the ground and slowly make a pedalling motion, just like riding a bicycle
  • Keep your hands behind your head, and, as each leg comes towards you, bring the opposing elbow over to meet it

 

13. Dragon Flag

Looking for a serious challenge?

Then the dragon flag is the exercise for you.

If you have not heard of this one before, here is what you need to do:

  • Lie on your back and hold on to something behind your head
  • Keeping your upper back on the floor, raise the rest of your body off of the floor
  • Brace every muscle that you can in order to keep your body in a straight line

 

14. Side Lunges

side lunge

When it comes to the majority of bodyweight exercises out there, these tend to move your body in one of two ways; up and down, or forward and back.

This is exactly why the side lunge is such a good exercise to incorporate into your workout, as it gets your body moving in a different way. This means that it will challenge your muscle fibers, ligaments, and tendons in a way that the rest of your workout does not.

To do this exercise, begin by standing with your feet apart, and then take a large step out towards your right. Bend your knee and push your buttocks back, while keeping your core tight and your chest lifted.

Return back to your starting position and then repeat on the other side.

Want to give your core even more of a challenge?

Try adding in a side leg lift with each lunge.

 

15. Sit-Up

Sit-ups are quite a popular exercise, and this is because they are also one of the most challenging of bodyweight exercises.

Why?

Since you are not able to use your arms or legs to help you to sit up, you end up using a far greater amount of abdominal strength.

Simply lie on the ground with your knees bent, and then contract your abs to lift your body up off the ground. Make sure that you limit the amount of movement that your lower back does.

Finding standard sit-ups too challenging?

Try doing a crunch variation instead, until you build up some abdominal strength.

 

16. Twisting Sit-Up

twisting sit up

If you are bored of regular sit-ups, try giving the twisting sit-up a try instead, which is an advanced form of the standard version.

For those of you who are already familiar with sit-ups, this exercise will be easy to do. The only difference with this one is that at the top of each movement, you need to bring the opposite elbow towards your knee.

Make sure that you do not over-rotate your body, as this can cause quite a bit of damage over time.

 

17. Jumping Jacks

When it comes to the different types of exercise out there, jumping often gets a bad reputation. However, there is nothing quite like it when it comes to increasing bone density, so, if this is one of your aims, you may want to give this exercise a try. 

Here are a few of the other benefits that jumping jacks can bring:

  • One of the best plyometric exercises there is
  • Provides a great cardio workout
  • Will improve your speed and quickness

Ready to give it a go?

Simply jump up, spreading your legs to the side while lifting your arms at the same time. Once you land, jump back up and do it again.

Jumping jacks are also a great one to warm up with, so consider adding this to the start of your workout.

 

18. Squat Jacks

jumping jack before squat

Squat jacks take jumping jacks to the next level, by throwing a squat in there too.

Here are the steps to follow:

    • Stand with your feet together and your hands at your chest
    • Jump so that your feet go outwards, but sit into a small squat at the same time
    • Jump your feet back together to bring yourself back into your standing position
    • Repeat

 

19. Tuck Jumps

Everyone has their own individual goals when it comes to working out, and if yours include improving your agility and power, while working on jumping higher, then tuck jumps are the way to go.

This is a powerful, yet fun, exercise that has been proven to strengthen just about every single part of the body, and is especially beneficial when it comes to heart health.

To begin with…

Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent, and then jump as high as possible.

Now for the tricky part…

While you are in the air, bring your knees in towards your chest, while extending the arms straight out, almost as though you are tucking your knees in.

Bend your knees slightly as you land, and then repeat the exercise.

 

20. Wall Sit

wall sit

The wall sit works out a number of different muscle groups, including your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and your core. 

To do this exercise, follow these steps:

  • Slide your back down a wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground, and your knees are directly over your ankles
  • Keep your back straight, and hold this position for 60 seconds, before returning to standing position.
  • Try to repeat this five times, although you may need to build up to this gradually.

If you want to give yourself an extra challenge, try adding in some bicep curls while you are “sitting”.

 

When it comes to working out, it is important to make sure that you do not push yourself too hard to begin with, as this may only end up deterring you. Instead, set yourself some realistic goals, and take the steps necessary to ensure that you stick to them. 

Nuclear family enjoying dinner together

The Profile Of A Healthy TV Dinner

The original frozen dinners were literal recipes for disaster. Take the fact that they were first introduced  in the 1950’s when a nutritious dinner was defined by meatloaf and mashed potatoes with pie for desert. Add to that the fact that they catered to bachelors, whose main goals of eating were to fill their stomachs. Then, consider that the food had to be preserved, which adds a boatload of sodium to the equation. Put it all together, and you get a 1,040 calorie chicken pot pie, with 62 grams of fat, 26 grams of saturated fat, 1,480 mgs of sodium, and 14 grams of sugar.

As you may have guessed, there has been an appropriate amount of backlash. With the increased knowledge of nutrition, it comes as no surprise that sooner or later someone was likely to come up with a slightly more balanced way of preparing dinner instantly. Here are some of the kindler, more gentler versions of the original enemy of the artery.

Chicken and Harissa Chickpeas

The ingredient list in this meal is so healthy, you might start feeling stronger just thinking about it.  This North African option blends chicken, broccoli, butternut squash, chickpeas, brown jasmine rice and kale, topped with harissa, a spicy paste consisting of garlic, hot chili peppers, coriander, and caraway seeds, known to blast away fat. Capsaicin, the ingredient that gives the sauce its kick, is a proven appetite suppressant and metabolism booster, and the regular consumption of the caraway seed is associated with weight loss as well.

Quinoa Bowls

You may not know how to pronounce it, but you have probably seen quinoa popping up on restaurant menus and in health food stores quite a lot recently. Why are the bowls popular? They provide an easy way to combine flavors and spices with protein, healthy grains, and produce. The South American inspired quinoa bowl mixes meat free proteins, such as black beans, and red quinoa, for a meat free answer to high protein.

The Profile Of A Healthy TV Dinner

Thai Stir Fry

With all the new super foods on the market, tofu almost seems to get taken for granted. However, its still a very healthy option and can be the basis of a smart frozen dinner choice. Try an organic heat and eat, mixing tofu with a rainbow of veggies, including carrots, cabbage, broccoli, jalapeños, zucchini, and hot pepper for a low fat, high protein boost.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Ravioli in the microwave! How revolutionary! These protein and vitamin A filled ravs are stuffed with ricotta and butternut squash, and topped with kale, roasted tomatoes, and a sage garlic and lemon sauce. Wait til you tell your coworkers what was on the menu at your house last night!

Black Bean and Mango Bowl

This is an exotic combo for a frozen dinner. The entree is served on a bed of whole grain and sesame pilaf, comprised of brown rice oats rye, red wheat, barley, and sesame seeds. Top that with black beans, peppers, carrots and roasted onions, and you’ve got a bowl loaded with fiber and protein. Add some mango, ginger, and other seasonings, and you have preservatives that keeps the sodium content down for better heart health.

What is your best frozen dinner recipe? Let us know how you do health in front of the TV!

Couple doing walking lunges

Exercises That Help Shape Your Body

Some people look great exercising. Their limbs seem to relax into certain positions, their faces full of fierce determination, their bodies long and lithe. For others, however, the struggle is a little more evident. Graceful angles seem unattainable, body parts jiggle, eyes cross, mouths gasp, hip width and sweat drips. If you find yourself in the latter category, exercising publicly may not be on the agenda. However, if you are one of the blessed, for whom physical exercise comes effortlessly, you can exercise just about anywhere. Here are some exercises for those without issues.

Walking Lunges
If you don’t mind people wondering why you’re taking such emphasized steps, walking lunges are a great way to get some outside exercise in. Start off standing with you hip-width apart. Take a giant step forward and bend your knees until your rear knee almost reaches the ground. You will know if you are doing them correctly if your shoulder, hip, and knee form a straight line. Be sure to keep your shoulders back and continue, alternating legs.

Body Weight of Air Squats
The squat is another great way of toning the legs and butt. Begin with the feet about a shoulder width apart, turning toes out slightly. Hold your chest up and shoulders back as you bend your knees and begin to sit back onto your heels. Lower yourself to an angle of approximately 90 degrees, or a little less, and then use your muscles to power your body back up with a little more speed, without overextending your knee. Do three to five sets of 20-30 repetitions.

woman doing mountain climbers

Mountain Climber
This is a great exercise which targets the whole body and is great for alternating between lunges and air squats. Start in a plank position with lips lined up directly under your shoulder with your stomach muscles tight. Alternate lifting feet up toward your hands in a running motion. Do three to five sets of 30- 40 reps of this, making sure to keep your tummy tight while trying to keep hips from sagging.

Push Ups
Because women often lack the upper body strength for pushups, stabilizing the upper body may be a helpful strategy in execution. Begin with hands just beyond your shoulders and stomach, keeping your glutes tight. Lower yourself, leading with the chest and then push yourself away whatever you are leaning on. Allow your chest to stretch and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lower yourself. Use your legs, abs, and chest to pull yourself back up. Try to get in three to five sets of 10 to 15 pushup repetitions.

woman doing step-ups outdoors

Step Ups
Another great booty shaper, step ups are done by first finding something stable to step your foot on. Keep all your weight on the heel of the raised foot, and step up. Try to prevent going forward as you go up, keeping your upper body in a straight line. Use your butt, keeping your weight centered on your heel. You can add a little more core resistance by starting with the foot on the ground slightly bent. Aim for three to five sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, alternating legs.

If you give any of these a try, let us know how they go. And let us know what other exercises we can do without a gym membership.

Woman refusing cupcakes

Living A Sugar-Free Lifestyle

If you’re planning to give up sugar, the first thing you need to realize is, it’s going to be tough. You may have seen articles about how you can, “Give up Sugar In Ten Easy Steps.” Well, you can omit the easy part. These articles will probably tell you that if you realized how much sugar was in your favorite candy bar, you wouldn’t eat it. The truth is, once you realize what the sugarless version of the candy bar tastes like, you’ll be running back to the original. The second thing you need to realize about giving up sugar is, it may be worth it. Here are some of the facts on living a sugar-free lifestyle.

Why Is Sugar Bad?

Worsens Cholesterol
Scientists have found a definite link between sugar and high levels of blood fats. Studies show that eating sugar can more than triple the odds of having low HDL cholesterol levels, which are strongly associated with heart disease.

Sugar and Diabetes
Although eating sugar does not cause diabetes, higher sugar intakes have been linked to the disease. According to Rachel K. Johnson, RD, it may be that the sugar contributes to obesity, which, in turn, raises the risk for diabetes. She says, “It may be because the sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with higher BMIs or associated with overweight and obesity, which we know is a risk factor for diabetes.”

woman eating salad

Living Sugar-Free
It has been said that withdrawing from sugar may cause the same neurological symptoms as quitting morphine, nicotine, cocaine, and alcohol. If you think you’re up to the challenge, here are a few pieces of advice.

Don’t Use Artificial Sugar Substitutes
Most scientists agree that replacing sugar with artificial substitutes is just trading one bad habit for the other. By still fulfilling your craving for sweetness, you are leaving yourself open to sugar temptations. The real trick is to trade the sweet stuff for the savory, or as Kristine Kirkpatrick MD recommends, trading “licorice for salmon.”

Don’t Go Fat-Free
Fat-free doesn’t mean sugar fee. In fact, many fat-free products have higher sugar levels to compensate for the lack of fat. Fat-free angel cake has 20 more grams of sugar per slice than the sugary version. A better solution is to keep monosaturated fat-containing products, like salad dressing and peanut butter to the full-fat variety and avoid saturated fats, found typically in cookies, cakes, and muffins.

woman drinking milk

Exercise and Drink Milk
One thing that makes sugar hard to kick is the feel good factor. Sugar has been shown to stimulate reward mechanisms within the brain. One study shows that consuming whey protein ( a major component of milk) has a similar effect. Milk increases serotonin levels in the brain known to cause mood elevation and therefore may make a good replacement for the “sugar high.” Exercise has been proven to have similar effects.

Keep Healthy Snacks On Hand
Keeping healthy, sugar-free food options close by are a good way of avoiding the temptation to grab the occasional ice cream or candy from the vending machine. Nuts, raisins, fruit, and cheese are all options for replacing sugar loaded snacks. Try to keep them within reach, glove compartments, purses, and desk drawers are all handy places for a healthy stash.

If you’re quitting, or have quit sugar, let us know how you’re handling the challenge. Let us know what you’re doing to keep sugar free.

Woman with headphones on the bed

Add Pink Noise To Your Bedroom Routine

Let’s face it, everything is better in pink. If there are two cupcakes, one with white icing and one with pink, which one do you pick? Hostess snowballs? Definitely better in pink. If your Mom bought you and your sister notebooks, she had better have made sure both or neither were pink. Party dresses? Don’t even go there.

If you are familiar with white noise, you know it to be that pleasant buzzing that often occurs when the radio loses reception. It is often used in healthcare to block out noise caused by hearing impairments or as a sleep aid, but did you know about pink noise? Although it may sound like the latest psychedelic rock movement, pink noise is more accurately the latest proposed solution to sleep interruption. And, according to a recent study, it may actually help to improve memory as well.

Sound Stimulation and Sleep
According to recent research done at Northwestern University, when gentle sound stimulation is synced up to the rhythm of brain waves, it can not only lead to a better sleep in older adults, but can also improve their ability to remember specific words.

Why Deep Sleep Is important
Memory loss typically occurs throughout the process of aging; so does the gradual decrease in deep sleep. Scientists suspect a connection. Because deep sleep is a critical component in the consolidation of memory, it is believed that a reduction in one may be responsible for a reduction in the other. Therefore, scientists believe that using sound stimulation to induce deep sleep may be the solution to memory loss.

During deep sleep, brainwave production is reduced to a rate of one per second, quite a bit slower than the 10 oscillations that happen during the seconds when one is awake. Giovanni Santstasi, co-author of the study was able to create an algorithm capable of transmitting audio during the rising of slow wave oscillations, to boost the synchronization of neural activity.

Woman sleeping

The Study
The study was comprised of 13 individuals aged 60 and up recruited from Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. It targeted individuals suffering from low levels of sleep and memory loss.

The aim of the study was to monitor brain waves in individuals using a breakthrough audio system that can lock in audio stimulation at the moment when specific neuron communication occurs during deep sleep.

Participants were exposed to a night of acoustic stimulation followed by a night of false stimulation. The two stimulations were identical, except for the fact that the individuals did not hear noise in the false stimulation. Upon awakening, the subjects were given memory tests, with another set given the following morning.

Results
The study found that while memory recall ability rose by a couple of percentage points following the false stimulation, those who listened to the pink noise showed a vast increase in memory recall. In fact, those who were subjected to the acoustic stimulation showed three times as much improvement as their counterparts. These finding suggest that slow wave sleep can indeed have a significant impact on memory.

What Does This Mean?
For those suffering memory loss, the new is good. It suggests that there might be a way to safely improve memory without the use of expensive, side effect inducing medicine. “Pink noise” may offer a completely safe and simple alternative.

What do you think about the latest findings? Is pink the new white? Let us know!

Woman holding a basket of fresh fruits

Your Diet May Help Regulate Your Mood

Normally, eating when stressed is ill advised. The term usually brings to mind the image of someone who has just had some shocking news running frantically to their freezer in search of the curative pint of ice cream. He/she gorges greedily, only to awaken the next day not only to find their troubles still very much present, but an additional five pounds added to their body weight.

However, what if you learned that eating actually can relieve stress? You just need to make sure that when you open that freezer, you reach for the frozen grapes instead of the vanilla swirl.

The Anti-Stress Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
You may know that fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but did you know that they might also help to ease stress, anxiety, and depression. A recent study examined diet of 60,000 Australians aged 45 and up, only to reveal that those who had 3-4 servings of fruits and begins a day had 12% less psychological stress than those who had just one. Those who got five to seven servings had an even bigger reduction in stress, showing a 14% reduction as compared to the single serving percentage.

Ladies Only?
However, the researchers found that in a study based on a 10 question comparative survey focusing on anxiety and depression between the years of 2006 -2008 and 2010, males subjects did not show the same results. Says study co-author and University of Sidney PhD student, Binh Nguyen, “We found the fruit and vegetables were more protective for women than men, suggesting that women may benefit more from fruit and vegetables.” The questionnaire revealed that women who consumed 5 to 7 portions of vegetables and fruits experienced a 23% reaction in stress levels in comparison to ladies who only ate 0-1 portion. Two portions produced a reduction in stress of 16%.

Happy woman

More Work To Be Done
While you may not want to wait to start consuming more fruits and veggies, the authors of the studies do stipulate that there is more work to be done before any definite conclusions can be reached. They state that while the intake of fruits and vegetables may reduce the stress levels in middle-aged and older adults, the link between the diet and psychological distress requires further investigation.

Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
But while we wait for the final verdict, keep eating those veggies and fruits. The mental health charity “Mind” says, “Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins, and fiber we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Eating a variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients-several portions of the same type of food won’t be so good for you.”

As for choosing the best fruits and veggies: tomatoes, bananas and mushrooms top the list for their high potassium levels which are “essential for your whole nervous system, including your brain. they also advise keeping fruits and veggies raw for the highest number of nutrients.

What do you think? Do fruits and veggies make you feel a little less stressed? Let us know the results of your private research.

Senior couple walking in the park

Tips For Starting A Summer Walking Routine

To some, high-intensity internal workouts are the most efficient way of exercising; to others, they are a bizarre three-minute self-torture ritual. Although at times it may seem like the world is being overtaken by the overachieving and impossibly healthy, there are some who still prefer to keep their exercise routines a bit more humane.

Most of us learn to walk by the time we’re eighteen months – so let’s talk about an exercise routine so easy that even a baby can do it. Here are some tips for beginning a summer walking routine.

How To Start
The first thing you need for walking is a good pair of shoes and some comfy clothes. Start out slow. Head out the door, walk for ten minutes and walk back. Repeat every day for a week. If you find yourself building stamina, add five minutes to next week’s walk. Keep increasing as is comfortable.

Posture
Keep good posture in mind when you walk. Walk tall. Keep your mind on elongating your body. Your head should be up, your eyes focused forward, Keep your shoulders down, relaxed and back, with your abdominal muscles and buttocks tight.

Preparation
Make sure to have water handy at all times. Be sure to get enough to drink before you walk, and take the water bottle along for mid walk hydration. Try adding stretches to your routine. For example, you might start at a slow pace and stop to do a few warm up drills for flexibility. Slow down your pace at the end of the walk and take some time for a few more stretches. This will help you to feel better while preventing injury.

Sticking with It
The toughest thing for most people starting a fitness routine is making it routine. You should try to walk daily, aiming for a minimum five days of exercise per week. Walk fast enough to increase your heart rate, but not so fast that you find yourself short of breath.

Three friends walking

How Much Should You Do?
Speed and distance should not be a priority in the beginning, but once the habit starts to stick, you may want to start developing goals. Here are some general health guidelines:

People walking for general health benefits should try and get in a half hour minimum each day, most days of the week, keeping to “talking pace,” or a comfortable pace at which you can still hold a conversation.

For improvement of cardiovascular fitness, three to four days a week are recommended, doing 20 to 30 minutes at a very fast pace. You will find your breathing is elevated, but you should not be gasping for air. Warming up and cooling down time should be additional to the time spent walking.

Those walking to lose weight should probably aim to do 45 to 60 minutes five days a week at a moderate to brisk rate. The faster you walk, the more calories you will burn. However, make sure to increase pace and mileage gradually to prevent injury.

Tips For Walking Faster
Once you become comfortable with your routine, you may want to speed it up a little. Here are some guidelines for walking faster:

  • Use good posture. Walk tall, keep your gaze forward, focused about 20 feet ahead of you, chin level and head up.
  • Your chest should be slightly raised with your shoulders down, back and relaxed.
  • Your arms should be bent at an angle slightly less severe than 90 degrees. Gently cup your hands and swing arms front to back. The faster you swing your arms, the faster your feet will go, but do not swing elbows higher than your breastbone.
  • Tighten abs and buttocks; keep back flat and pelvis slightly forward.
  • Visualize yourself walking in a straight line.Take smaller faster steps to go faster, trying not to elongate your stride.
  • Push off with your toes, concentrating on landing on your heel and rolling through the step. Use the spring of your calf to propel you.
  • Take deep rhythmic breaths to get the maximum amount of oxygen. Your breathing should be heightened, but not strained.

Have you started your summer exercise routine? How are you staying hot this summer? Let us know!

Happy mother and daughter

Help The Girls In Your Life Glow With Confidence

You’ve had your highs and lows. Your walks of fame and your walks of shame. And if there’s one thing you’ve learned from your experiences, its that confidence is the key. There is no situation that cannot be handled by holding your head high and shaking what your mama gave you. And now, its time for you to pass the torch. You’ve got a niece or a daughter and, if you teach her anything in this life, you’re determined that it will be the power of confidence. But, how can you do it? How can you show this shy acne plagued girl that she has so much untapped power at her command? Here are a few ideas.

Manage Your Inner Critic
Your girl is probably pretty hard on herself. Teach her to take notice of her inner voice. Would her best friend talk to her like that? Teach her to work on changing negative thoughts into helpful feedback.

Focus On the Good Things
A lot of teens focus so much on their problems, that its hard for them to see all the things that are going well for them. Suggest that she write down three good things about herself everyday or three ways she’s able to bring about a positive change in her life daily.

Mother and daughter

Don’t Aim For Perfection
Teach her that any achievements are valid. Even if she doesn’t get a perfect mark on a test, it doesn’t mean that she didn’t do well. Encourage her to always put in her best effort.

Mistakes Are Learning Opportunities
Remind your teenager that if she can fix her mistakes, they are not mistakes at all, but victories. Don’t let her get down on herself for messing up and remind her to focus on what she can do better next time.

Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Teach your girl that her own accomplishments are the only ones that matter. Trying to get ahead of other people will only leave her further behind them.

Accept Compliments
She’s great and needs to get used to people telling her so. Advise her to give herself time to absorb a compliment and take it seriously, and pass it on! Complements should be given and received.

Happy teenage girl

Exercise
Staying physically active always helps to improve self-esteem. She’ll look better and feel less stressed while staying healthy.

Take Pride In Your Thoughts
If she’s a chip off the old block, your girl probably has a lot of good ideas to offer. Tell her to be bold about them. If someone disagrees, it just means that they see things differently than she does.

Accept What You Can’t Change
Sure, there are going to be things about herself that she’s not completely happy with. If its something she can change, like reaching a healthy weight, she should start today. If its something she can’t change, she probably notices it more than anyone else, and its probably not worth obsessing over.

Contribute
Nothing builds self esteem like helping to make a positive change. When she sees how much she can accomplish, her self esteem will sky rocket.

if you have a girl in you’re life that you want to see flourish, tell us about her. Let us know what she’s doing to build confidence and how you’re helping her do it. We want to hear all about it.

Mother and child doing yoga pose

Tips For Getting Your Girls Into Yoga

If you remember correctly, one of the easiest ways to ensure that you wouldn’t do something was having your parents tell you to do it. Even if you were going to study for that test, clean up your room, not go out with that boy, your parents’ advice was probably the best way to ensure that you would do the opposite.

Well, now the roles are reversed – you’re the mom. And you want your girl to get involved in yoga. You dream daily of the coming home to find your little one in a tree position chanting “asanas.” It would be a great way to lower her stress, raise her physical activity level, and improve her awful posture. But how can you get her to start?

How Children Benefit From Yoga
We usually don’t think of children as being highly pressured. They don’t have nine to five jobs and they certainly don’t raise themselves. But they do have difficult tests, acne, and bullies, and that can be enough to make anyone stressed out. Yoga can help with these pressures. It’s a physical activity which promotes compassion, self-esteem, and body awareness. Plus, unlike so many other things in your teen’s life, it’s not competitive.

The experience of yoga can introduce children to new concepts and ways of assessing what is important in life. For example, when children assume the lion pose (Simhasana) they harness the power of the lion. This makes them aware of their own sense of power, when to be aggressive, and when to maintain control. Children also receive an introduction to the values of yoga: expression, union, honor for oneself, and the role one plays in life.

Yoga pose

Teaching Yoga to Your Kids
If you’re going to teach yoga to your kids, it’s important to realize that one of the greatest challenges you will have to deal with is figuring out a way to hold their attention. When you think of the benefits of yoga: balance, stillness, focus, and grace, children don’t exactly pop into your mind.

The best way to teach children is by encouraging them to actively participate. Most children will love the idea of imitating dogs, flowers and trees. Get them to bark in the dog pose, or hiss when they are doing the cobra. Sound is great for children and adds an auditory element to the physical discipline of yoga.

Don’t Be Demanding
Children like to discover things on their own. They may not respond well to criticism. Aim for providing a creative environment for them to explore. Spur them on, encouraging them to really imagine themselves as a cat stretching its spine, or a tree growing roots. It will make the experience fun for them while making connections between themselves and the environment.

Yoga Poses For Kids
Here are some easy poses for getting your kids started:

  • Boat Pose: Have children balance on their buttocks with their legs up. Then have them rock like a boat.
  • Bow Pose: Have children lie on their tummies, bend their knees, lift their chests, reach their arms toward their toes, and hold onto their feet.
  • Bridge Pose: Have children lie on their backs with their knees bent and their feet flat on the ground. Have hem rest their arms along their bodies, tuck their chins into their chests and lift up their buttocks and back to make a bridge.
  • Cat Pose: Have children come up on all fours, round their backs and tuck their chins into their chests.
  • Chair Pose: Have children stand tall with their feet hip-width apart, bend their knees, and hop like a kangaroo.

Are you getting your children into yoga? Let us know how it’s going. We love to know!

Pregnant woman stretching

Exercises That Keep Your Pregnant Body In Great Shape

There was a time when pregnancy was thought of as the ultimate “get out of exercise-and-dieting free” card. Being with child entitled you to nine months of lying on the couch with your swollen ankles propped up surrounded by gallons of ice cream and jars of pickles. Well, that was all well and good until women began realizing that the more time they spent engaging in that behavior, the less likely they were to return to anything resembling their original shape. Although pregnancy should be a time to avoid strenuous activity, it is important for most pregnant women to remain moderately active to maintain healthy vital conditions. Here are some exercises to keep your pregnant body in great shape.

Stretching Exercises

Pregnant women in fitness class

Neck Rotation
Neck rotation can be helpful in relieving neck and shoulder tension. Drop your head forward and slowly rotate it toward your right shoulder. Bring it back to the middle, and then over to the left. Repeat four times slowly in each direction.

Thigh Shift
It is important to keep legs flexible to maintain balance during pregnancy. Start the thigh shift by standing with one foot about two feet in front of the other with your toes pointed forward. Lean forward supporting your body weight with your front thigh. Change sides and repeat, doing four stretches on each side.

Shoulder Rotation
Rotating your shoulder helps to maintain range of motion. Bring your shoulders forward, rotate them up toward the ears and back down again. Reverse direction pulling shoulders back up toward the ears and back down. Do four rotations in each direction.

Ankle Rotation
Ankle rotation is a good way to minimize swelling of the foot and ankle associated with pregnancy, increasing circulation and decreasing fluid buildup. Sit with legs extended. Rotate feet in large circles using your entire ankle and foot. Rotate four times on your right and four times on your left.

Leg Shake
Leg shakes are helpful in maintaining circulation in your lower body. Sit with legs and feet extended and move legs up and down in a shaking motion.

Swim
Swimming motions can help you to remain flexible while reducing tension. Begin with your arms at your sides. Bring your right arm up, stretching your body forward while twisting slightly to the side, as if you were swimming. Repeat using your left arm, completing the entire sequence 10 times.

Kegel Exercises

Pregnant Exercises

Tailor Sit
Sit on the floor in a cross legged position. Lean forward keeping your back relaxed and straight. Assume this position throughout the day as often as possible.

Tailor Press
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together. Hold ankles and pull feet toward your body gently. Put your hands under your knees and inhale. Press knees against your hands while pressing hands up against your knees to create counter pressure. Hold for a five count.

If you’re pregnant, congratulations! And let us know how your exercising to keep your pregnant body beautiful and healthy.