Thursday, January 27, 2011

Smarten Up During Your Workout

In today’s society it can be easy to get caught up in the overwhelming presence of Facebook, reality TV, and smart phones. The trend is causing an inclination of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and the general deterioration of physical and even mental health. Getting up off the couch and keeping active will clearly benefit your body, but something we may not know is that exercising will actually improve our mental health as well!

We sometimes take a stroll because it’s a great way to clear your head. This may be because walking actually increases blood circulation in the brain as well as the amount of oxygen and glucose that reaches it. Also, because walking isn’t overly taxing to your body it allows for the oxygen and glucose to be more evenly distributed to your head opposed to being used up by your leg muscles, like in other types of activities. However, while performing cardio or strength training exercises do provide mental health benefits, engaging in sports activities such as soccer, basketball, or tennis, can be much more effective due to the requirement of hand-eye coordination. Also, the need for strategizing can be more of a workout for the brain.

Physical activity has been proven to increase the production of stem cells, which help develop new brain cells. This can improve your attention span and memory, as well as help you feel more focused, calm, and motivated. This is because neurons in the brain connect with skeletal muscles at a place called the neuromuscular junction. There the brain uses its primary chemical neurotransmitter for memory and attention to communicate with the muscles. It also regulates movement and acts as the connection between body & mind. Try wiggling your toes in the morning when you wake up; it activates the nerves that stimulate your brain and internal organs, so you’ll get up much faster.

Studies have shown that the area of the brain that’s associated with emotion, memory, and learning (the hippocampus), is the region that is mainly benefitted from physical activity. As this is the part of the brain that is affected by Alzheimer's disease, regular exercise can decrease your chances of developing some mind weakening diseases. In fact, a study at the University of Muenster, Germany, demonstrated that participants that sprinted learned new words 20% faster than those who didn’t engage in any physical activity.

Overall, physical activity improves your heart’s oxygen carrying capacity and its blood pumping efficiency. This means more oxygen is flowing through your body and reaching the brain. Even doing simple activities everyday like walking the dog will help keep you active when there isn’t much time to hit the gym.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Maggie D's Tips While Traveling This Holiday Season

As the holidays are approaching, you may find you are traveling more often.

Maybe you are tight on time, feeling fatigue or are out of sorts because you're not on your regular routine. Whatever the cause, check out these solutions to help you get back to feeling normal, maybe even better than normal.

Not having healthy meals available.

Prepare, portion and pack all your meals before you go.
Freeze the meals (that can be frozen) inside of a cooler bag and take it out just before you leave for the airport or a car trip. The frozen meals with act as an ice pack and keep your food safe until you reach your destination. Generally, the only food that needs to be purchased is fresh produce, such as salads or items that cannot come across the border like citrus fruits.

If you are staying in a hotel, ask for a bar fridge to be sent to your room as soon as you arrive.

To resist temptation of a goodie filled mini bar, respectfully decline taking the key or ask for the items to be removed.

Jet lag, dehydration, fatigue, bloating.

My number one rule when flying is to
drink one liter of water for every hour of flying time. This helps tremendously to reduce dehydration and makes you feel fresh even with the recycled air in the cabin. Also, drinking plenty of water ensures you eat only when you are actually hungry, help your joints and ligaments stay functioning, and reduces your fatigue.

Body aches and pains.

Another flying tip I give all my clients is to
get up once an hour to go to the bathroom and stretch. I do it even if I get funny looks! Following this rule will keep your body doing what it’s meant to do, to move and be dynamic. Stretching will keep your muscles from cramping up, reduce the build up of blood, fluid and toxins in your body, and keep you alert and fresh for when you get off the plane. This is great for physically and mentally preparing for meetings (or maybe even the in-laws) immediately after landing.

Complete at least one simple stretch for each muscle group. Quadriceps, hamstrings back, chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps. They can be basic stretches such as moving your neck side to side, a small back bend, pulling your knee towards you chest and holding, grabbing your elbow behind your head with your opposite hand etc. There are so many little moves you can do in your seat or standing up for a few minutes.

Feeling like there is no place to workout because you don’t have access to a gym.

Become a creative genius! If there are no cardio machines, go jump in a lake or ocean (if your are privy to a hot holiday) or use your feet and go for an outdoor jog or hike.

You can also complete a 30-40 minute plyometric workout anywhere, including your hotel room! (I would suggest the beach if you have access). You can do a circuit of abs, body weight squats and lunges, push ups, yoga, jump squats... the list is endless.

If you are lucky, find a set of stairs to run in your house, condo, hotel or local park. Do single and two foot hops, or side step up and down. For more ideas, check out my workouts at Top 10 Workouts.

Hope these tips help you out on your next trip! Let me know if they work for you as well as they work for me, I would love to hear from you.

Happy Travels!
Maggie D xoxo

Maggie's Top 10 Foods On The Road

Whether eating out on your travels or packing some quick snacks that don’t spoil. Here are my top picks...

1.) Boiled eggs: Keep them in the shell and peel when ready to eat. Sprinkle a touch of cayenne for spice!

2.) Fresh salad and vegetables: Packed with natural minerals and vitamins and are high in water and fiber content. Two essential items often forgotten when travelling.

3.) Grapefruit or apples: Easy to pack, lots of vitamins and don't require refrigeration.

4.) Unroasted and unsalted nuts: Raw almonds or walnuts…Yum!

5.) Organic vegan bars: My fav is Organic Protein Bar or Vega Whole Food Raw Energy Bar. They are totally organic and easy to pack for travel snacks. They have lots of enzymes and nutritional content that is maintained by avoiding processing and heating.

6.) Protein powder: Bring a zip lock bag of your favorite flavor and make quick breakfast shakes or mid-day pick me ups by adding water or milk.

7.) Grilled chicken with asparagus: Squeeze some fresh lemon on top of this green veggie.

8.) Home made protein oat cookies: Oatmeal and natural almond butter cookies are so easy to make. Just add water and cinnamon, cayenne, stevia for taste

9.) Sashimi: Find a great sushi spot and order this healthy and fresh food fix sans rice

10.) Lots of fresh water: Squeeze some lemon, cucumber slices, grapefruit or lime to jazz it up!

Maggie D xoxo