This Is How Laughter Really Affects Your Body

This Is How Laughter Really Affects Your Body

You already know that laughing does wonders for you. You’ve felt it brighten your day, calm your mind and lift your mood to whole new heights, all thanks to an inside joke in the office, a hilarious comment from a kid, or a totally spontaneous mishap that makes you (and everyone around you) burst into peals of laughter. The kick it gives your mental health and emotions is awesome, but there’s something else we bet you haven’t considered yet: laughter’s physical benefits.

In the spirit of celebrating moments that make you laugh like you mean it, we’ve teamed up with Always® Discreet to look at all the ways your giggles, snorts and roars of laughter affect your body. Spoiler alert: It’s good for you, from your head to your toes. So laugh it up!

physical effects of laughter
Image: HuffPost Partner Studio

Always® Discreet believes that you should never miss a chance to laugh, and you should never let a sensitive bladder stop you from enjoying life’s side-splitting moments. That’s why they’ve created Always® Discreet for Sensitive Bladders – a collection of liners, pads and underwear so you’ll never be held back by leaks. So go ahead, laugh like you mean it! See more from Always® Discreet at Purple Clover.

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Source: Health and Medicine News
This Is How Laughter Really Affects Your Body

The 'Fat and Fabulous' Farce

There are terms tossed about in the media recently: “fat acceptance,” “fat and fabulous,” “fat-shaming.” I am a woman of size. Fat. I don’t follow up that word with a sparkly adjective because it isn’t warranted. Why? Firstly, “fat” is a word offensive only to the people who decide it is offensive, which I don’t. I find it merely descriptive. Secondly, “fat shaming” is a recent social construct/concept to which I don’t subscribe.

Shame only works on a willing recipient.

I don’t need anyone’s approval to be who I am and look the way I look. No one does. I’m not being snarky by saying that– we just don’t need it, though it is nice to have. In its absence, I don’t personally walk about bemoaning my body mass index, nor how I am received because of it, nor am I heralding my size as a moving part of my proposed fabulosity. I have other things on my mind. At least, I do until I am reminded by a fellow plus-sizer that I should redirect my attention to making society more tolerable of my fat.

If there are opportunities in life that I have missed based on some nefarious, behind-the-scenes fat bias, I am happy to miss them. There are plenty of others in spaces and places where I’d likely better belong if my dress size counts me out.

The spotlight is often placed on the same people of size who inadvertently helped plug the spotlight in. They spend as much time taking a stand for “fat acceptance” as their healthier counterparts do in the gym. The subject continues to abound with every support group, blog, article and reality show lauding “fat and fabulousness”; magazines with near-naked women flaunting their curves as a big “F-YOU” to their purported haters. Those women are all beautiful, but isn’t the energy wasted? Who is the target audience? Why does anyone care?

Here’s where I am really going to tell you the truth. Someone on the team has to.

There are some average-weighters who have concerns that may be worth a listen. A lady in coach may find the duration of a flight challenging when my thigh spread creeps over to her side of the seating. A fellow employee may be concerned when your fifth trip to the cardiologist drives his healthcare premiums up. These seem like valid concerns. Plus-sized folks are conditioned to avoid these topics, and any conversation related to their own wellness.

Not everyone who is fat suffers from diabetes, heart and blood pressure problems. I don’t. But I will without a change. A high BMI indisputably causes medical melee on a body. In spite of what we hear repeatedly by naysayers, if you are obese, you are not healthy.

Another zinger: Most of us in the fat-body club are here because we choose to be here. We don’t make good food choices; we don’t move our bodies the way we could. The majority of us make excuses to the tune of: “I have tried every diet… They don’t work!” and “I have a thyroid problem.” Some have issues that cause weight gain, for sure. Disabilities and medications can significantly cause the pounds to quickly pile on, like prescribed corticosteroids and antidepressants. Even then, though, weight gain can be effectively managed with life adjustments. The majority of us don’t suffer from those, if we are being honest, or didn’t, until our bodies buckled under the proverbial weight.

A person who educates himself in the science of nutrition, who eats whole (unprocessed, unrefined) foods consistently and proportionately, with regular cardio/fat-burning exercise, is not likely going to be or remain fat. It is conceptually that simple. I know all of this. I know what I’m supposed to be doing. I am not currently doing it. I chose this for now, so this is where I am.

I recently watched a girl on a new reality show (based on her size) exuberantly espouse her love for her “fat and fabulous” body and its position in her life. Two scenes and 10 minutes later, she was sobbing, suffering because of her weight in dating, fashion, strangers’ comments, and her parents’ wishes for her to become healthy. Funny, isn’t it, how we can turn genuine concern and love into “you don’t accept me”? They do accept us, so much that they want to keep us alive longer, not bawling in front of a T.V. camera on a show centered on the least interesting part of ourselves like that girl who spends her life trying to persuade everyone that she is fat and fabulous. She’s the one who seems to need to believe it, not everyone else.

She is not fabulous because she is fat. Neither am I. Neither are you.

You are fabulous because you’re an amazing mother or friend. You’re the guy who made someone giggle, or who shared his last dollar. You’re fabulous for being that third grade teacher a student will remember as the most impactful when she is 35, who may even try to visit you in your retirement home years. You’re fabulous because you’re silly and fun, or reflective and wise. You’re fabulous because you rocked those 5″ sequined stripper heels on a night out with the girls. You’re fabulous because you’re 50, but your spirit is 19.

If you’re not a total schmuck, you’re fabulous because you’re you. You have elements that truly embody (no pun intended) your unique spirit.

“Fat-shaming” is a media trend on an annoying upswing, fueled by fat people who keep it alive like a stoked fire. This is not a crusade in which we should want to be included. We’re losing the points we’re trying to nail down under the guise of self-love and acceptance. The world can’t give that to us. We take that for our ourselves. When we do, the right ones will follow along.

THAT’S what’s fabulous.

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Source: Health and Medicine News
The ‘Fat and Fabulous’ Farce

Hey Exercise: Why You Gotta Be That Way?

So yeah, exercise, amirite? Why is it such a jerk to us? The whole idea seems counter-intuitive. In fact, I dare say it practically goes against Darwin’s well-tested evolutionary theory. Our bodies somehow get better when we subject them to prolonged periods of negativity? Whaaa?

We’re talking muscle tears (needed to make them grow larger), profuse sweating, potential dehydration, spiked heart rate, and even shortness of breath. On their own, any one of these sounds like a symptom of some particularly lethal medical condition.

Yet there’s a mathematical formula at work here: two negatives make a positive. As do four negatives. And six. And eight. It seems the more nasty physical crap you throw at your body (within reason, of course), the better the results. Cosmic joke? That’s for you to decide. But clearly our physical beings are gluttons for all sorts of punishment.

The benefits of physical activity are very well established: a stronger heart, better looking hair and skin (ironic, given all the g-darn sweating), improved mood and cognitive function (extra dopamine, serotonin — all that good stuff). This isn’t speculation, of course: you’ll never meet a doctor or researcher who’ll suggest otherwise.

So why is exercise such a chore? It’s because the benefits of sitting around doing nothing are also very well established: Netflix binges, hammock time, backyard BBQs, World of Warcraft — the list is practically endless. Admittedly, none of these benefits are health-related. But man, they sure make us happy, and happiness is one of life’s most endearing benefits, no?

So there’s a real disconnect at play here: that which makes us immediately happy (the naps and video games) versus that which makes us happy in the long term (a finely-tuned mind and body). If you’re like much of society, the ‘immediate’ option tends to win out, because — at the risk of getting overly scientific here – it’s wicked cool when we can feel good right away.

Yes, immediate gratification: the enabler of the id, the scorn of the superego. (I skimmed through a book on Freud one time.) It’s the giant wall erected between us and our fitness goals. Sure, we can try to scale it, but wall-climbing is hard work, and hard work and immediate gratification don’t mix. That’s more or less a Catch-22, right? (I can’t claim to have ever skimmed that book.)

The moral here? It seems that for any exercise regimen to ‘take,’ our outlook needs a hearty shift. We have to begin viewing happiness as a long-term prospect, and not something desperately needed right this second.

No easy feat, but here’s the good news: there’s zero heavy lifting involved in adjusting our attitudes. So hey, that’s something, right?

Kinda inspired myself just now. After this House of Cards marathon is over, I’m totally gonna look into taking some action.

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Source: Health and Medicine News
Hey Exercise: Why You Gotta Be That Way?

Top 10 Foods for a Better Mood

The food we eat can be an excellent source of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. Growing research supports that the quality of our food is not only important to our physical health but also for our mood and can influence depression and anxiety.

Our Westernized so-called “cafeteria” diet unfortunately is calorie-loaded, nutrient-poor, and highly processed, leaving us with extra calories without real nutrition. Animal studies have found that a diet high in fat, sugar and processed foods leads to higher rates of anxiety and depression.

Foods that are high in sugar, fat, and sodium are also very addictive and particularly comforting. In fact, evolution has probably set us up this way. Researchers have even found that high-fat, high-sugar foods or “comfort foods” temporarily improve mood and relieve anxiety and depression but then create a cycle of self-medication with non-nutritious foods.

In contrast, a Mediterranean diet high in fish, olive oil, nuts, and whole grains has been linked to lower rates of depression. One study found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet for 4 years reduced their risk of depression by 40-60 percent. Another study found that using a diet rich in green leafy vegetables and berries called “MIND” (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay)– a hybrid of a Mediterranean diet and a diet for people with high blood pressure– was linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease.

Want to boost your mood with food?

Try these top 10 “brain-healthy” foods:

1. Leafy greens. Leafy greens like kale and bok choy contain folate, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K. Folate has been used as a supplement to improve depression. Leafy greens also contain compounds that help the liver process toxins better.

Try my partner Doug‘s Green Power smoothie recipe if you prefer to drink your leafy greens and berries. For 2 servings, blend together until smooth and uniform:

  • 2 cups of Tuscan kale
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 2 small frozen bananas
  • 0.5 cup blueberries
  • 2 cups of soy/almond/hemp milk
  • 0.5 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 1.5 tablespoons chunky almond butter (optional)

2. Mussels, Oysters. Oysters and shellfish have high content of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is important for neurotransmitters in the brain and nerves, and a deficiency can lead to depression and anxiety. Vitamin B12 supplementation has been found to improve depression. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you want to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin B12 because it’s mainly is found in meat, dairy, and eggs. It’s important to find alternative sources of vitamin B12.

3. Fish and Fish Oil. Studies have found that high fish consumption reduces depression. This may in part be due to the fact that fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, an effective supplement to treatment for depression. For omega-3 fatty acid supplements, most studies for mood use 1 to 2 grams daily, and there should be more eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) than docosahexanoic acid (DHA) when you look at the label.

In order to avoid mercury exposure found in fish, pregnant women should be careful regarding how much and types of fish they eat. The The Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant women avoid: 1) tilefish, 2) shark, 3) swordfish, and 4) king mackerel. Pregnant women can, however, eat up to 12 ounces of other types of fish per week.

4. Walnuts, Almonds, Hazelnuts. Nuts are a good source of Vitamin E. You can have them raw or unsalted. One study found that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams of mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts) daily led to less depression.

5. Blueberries and other berries. Berries, especially blueberries, have been found to protect the brain. In one study, eating two servings of blueberries a week was linked to a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 35%.

6. Lentils, chickpeas, beans. Legumes like lentils and chickpeas contain high levels of folate and zinc, both of which have been used as effective supplements for treating depression. Beans like black eyed peas also contain high levels of folate.

Getting enough zinc is particularly important for vegetarians and vegans since the absorption of zinc can be reduced by 50 percent from phytates, which are found in plants.

7. Dark Chocolate, raw cacao powder or nibs. Dark chocolate and raw cacao (powder from unroasted cocoa beans) contains cocoa polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in plants, has been found to improve calmness and contentedness in a study where people received dark chocolate drink mix. Raw cacao nibs and powder do not contain added sugars and can be used in smoothies. Cocoa and raw cacao powder can contain toxic heavy metals, depending on the brand, so check with sites like Consumer Labs.

My personal favorite dessert substitute is this satisfying raw cacao smoothie, made by blending:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder
  • 6-8 dried dates

  • 3 cups of water (or almond milk, soymilk, or hemp milk)
  • 1 teaspoon of Dulse flakes
    • 0.5 teaspoon of turmeric powder (optional)

    You can also add a half cup of blueberries, kale, or spinach to pack more nutrients.

    8. Pumpkin seeds. A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains almost half the daily recommended dose for magnesium, an essential mineral to protect you from depression and anxiety. Pumpkin seeds also contain zinc, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, and tryptophan, which help promotes sleep.

    9. Fermented Foods and Probiotics. Scientific research is shedding light on the important link between the bacteria in the gut (your so-called “second brain”) and your mood. Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut contain probiotics and have been found to reduce social anxiety. Fermented foods and probiotics can also help with depression and anxiety. Mice who were on probiotics behaved like they had taken Prozac. Probiotic powder supplements have also been shown to reduce negative thoughts during sad moods.

    10. Turmeric. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound that has been found to help antidepressants be more effective in treating depression depression. You can drink it in tea or add it to your everyday dishes like chili or pasta sauce.

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    Source: Health and Medicine News
    Top 10 Foods for a Better Mood

    From Old Age to Pollution, Science Keeps Changing How We Understand Illness

    Just a generation ago, heart disease and other chronic diseases like dementia were felt to be an inevitable consequence of getting old. Since the 1960s, however, we have learned that only a small percentage of chronic diseases (for heart disease perhaps 25%) are explained due to genetic origins. The majority of chronic illness are determined by our lifestyle choices. Whether we smoke, sit a lot, eat fried and processed foods, sleep poorly, and pack on the pounds may all trump even favorable genes to accelerate chronic diseases. In fact, the risk of heart attack is 85% lower in persons that take simple and inexpensive measures on a daily basis to preserve their health.

    Since the Framingham Heart Study was launched in 1948, risk factors for most chronic diseases that rob us of the quantity and quality of our years have been determined and have set the stage for public health campaigns. Health care providers assess for elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, elevated cholesterol, smoking, and a history of first degree relatives with early disease. Yet only about 50% of patients suffering a heart attack and stroke are identified by these measurements.

    Additional advances in the last decade have extended the search for risk markers including advanced lipid panels, inflammatory markers like high sensitivity C-reactive protein, measures of metabolism like homocysteine levels, and genetics parameters such as MTHFR and apolipoprotein E status.

    Although it is certain that the hunt for measurements for new markers inside our bodies predicting disease will continue, the hunt for understanding disease origins is now focused outside the body too. Scientific reports that air pollution is related to disease and death have appeared in the last few years. Certainly the importance of clean air has been recognized as an issue in terms smoking status and second hand smoking. Recent data has demonstrated that beyond smoking, air pollution is a major concern including reports that 1) cities with more air pollution have higher death rates than least polluted 2) air pollution is strongly related to heart disease events and 3) air pollution may damage arteries and cause inflammation.

    One of the more dramatic examples of the importance of air quality in initiating disease occurred during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Factories were closed to limit air pollution before and during the sporting event. Heart disease rates fell and inflammatory markers dropped during the Olympics and climbed back to “normal” rates when the factories re-opened.

    This week another report on air pollution was published indicating that more than 3 million deaths a year can be attributed to dirty air. Pollutants from traffic, power generation and agriculture, largely animal husbandry, are the biggest contributors. Asian countries including India and China are suffering the worst problems. Projections were made that by 2050 the number of deaths linked to air pollution will double to over 6 million yearly.

    Science marches on. Our understanding of disease root causes has progressed from explaining illness due to aging, to blaming genes, and then to identifying lifestyle and biomarker relationships. Now the web of staying healthy is getting even more complex as the quality of air, and perhaps the quality of our water, the purity of our food, and our exposure to electromagnetic frequencies may have associations with health and disease. Being mindful of your environment would appear to be prudent. When possible, embracing nature and greenspaces with clean air is a prescription for the health of your mind and body.

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    Source: Health and Medicine News
    From Old Age to Pollution, Science Keeps Changing How We Understand Illness

    Ten Tips on How to Beat the World's Toughest Mudder

    Ten Tips on How to Beat the World's Toughest Mudder

    The World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) is arguably the toughest obstacle course race (OCR) in North America, and possibly on the planet. Situated on the arid outskirts of Las Vegas, 2014 WTM competitors were challenged to complete as many laps around an obstacle heavy 5-mile loop as they could in 24 hours. Will Dean, the CEO of Tough Mudder, notes that in four years, they have reached over 2 million participants, and organized events in seven countries. As the OCR world continues to grow, so does competitor interest in these long format courses, which in turn is spawning new OCR races that combine the physicality of OCR with endurance needed for ultras. As the host of Boundless, a show where I travel the world competing in gruelling endurance challenges (airs on the Esquire Network), I can attest that this race ranks amongst the toughest endurance events on the planet.

    With this year’s race a few months away, and having raced the 2014 edition of WTM, I learned a lot about what success looks like — and it’s more than just the ability to do a ton of chin-ups. To help you reach the finish line, I’ve compiled ten key tips using my experiences, pro-tips from North America’s Best OCR racers, and insider info from Tough Mudder staff on how to prepare for, and beat the World’s Toughest Mudder in 2015:

    1. Strength or Cardio: Most people think that OCR requires extreme strength — and it does to a degree — but not at the expense of endurance. For a race as long as the WTM, competitors need to have well conditioned lungs and toned muscles. Two time WTM champ Amelia Boone trains with a ratio of 60 percent endurance to 40 percent strength (including a heavy diet of CrossFit) while OCR pro Ryan Atkins puts his ratio at 70 percent endurance and 30 percent strength. Ultimately, each athlete needs to assess their strengths and weaknesses with the goal to maintain the strengths, while improving weaknesses. For me, my strength was the ultra running so I spent the months before the race incorporating upper body strengthening exercises to compliment my endurance.


    2. Keep the Gas Tank Full: The 2014 WTM course was designed so that competitors ran laps of a 5-mile course, each time passing through the start/finish area and past their pit area. Since I was aiming for the podium, I opted not to carry food or drink while on course to save weight, but made sure that I stopped to eat and hydrate each lap as I passed through the athlete pit every hour. If you want to run without food or water, but eat while on course, Tough Mudder’s chief of American Operations Lucas Barclay notes that the aid station sits 2.5 miles in and serves water and Met-Rx bars. Staying well fueled and properly hydrated, especially during the early hours of the race will help ensure success later in the event, especially during the colder Black-Ops (night time) hours.


    3. Do your Research: I found it difficult to find information for this race online. Fortunately, I was able to get some beta from Amelia before the event but event still, I underestimated the hypothermia risk and went in missing one crucial piece of gear — a wet suit. When the temperatures around Lake Las Vegas dropped towards the freezing point, I started to get very cold. This is an amphibious race, so competitors need to have a plan to stay warm in the dark. Since wind was also a major factor — a wetsuit, a warm hat (neoprene), and a good shell was the way to survive Black-Ops. Without the wetsuit I couldn’t insulate against the cold and I dropped out of the event 12 hours and 50 miles into, while in 5th place. It was a tough decision to stop but without a wetsuit, the prospect of 12 more hours made hypothermia a real consideration. Had I planned better, I would have brought a wetsuit. Preparing your clothing, food, sleep-system, and gear in advance is a huge advantage on race day.


    4. Build your Strength Outside-In: OCR demands total body strength. Core conditioning is essential to staying strong and healthy during training and racing, but at the events, the toughest obstacles tend to be those that rely heavily on grip-strength, and lifting your bodyweight. With this in mind, it’s important to build upper body strength from the outside-in, focusing on exercises that enhance your ability to lift or hang. Both Atkins and OCR ace Hunter McIntyre (winner of the team category at the 2014 WTM) are big advocates of grip strength, with Atkins advocating a mixture of rock climbing with traditional lifting, and McIntyre a fan of anything kettle bell. I found that a mix of chin-ups and rock climbing prepared me well for the variety of obstacles on the course. Remember this — if the grip fails, it doesn’t matter how strong the rest of your body is — you’re still on the ground or restarting the obstacle.


    5. Train for the obstacles: Yes, it’s common sense, but many athletes don’t take the time to focus on understanding what obstacles they will have to conquer during the event. While it’s great to be able to run fast and have strength, there are events that require technique or acclimation. The 2014 event saw a major water obstacle called “the cliff”, which required athletes to jump 35 feet into the water. No technique required, but many athletes couldn’t mentally deal with the height and chose to take the longer, slower opt-out. Other obstacles like monkey bars, and wall climbs are often easy early in the race, but get challenging as they become caked with mud, and as the body tires. Training on these to develop your own techniques to succeed will serve you well on race day. That said, there is really no way to prepare for the infamous electroshock therapy, which Race Course Designer Brady Archer tells me delivered 10,000 volts into my body on numerous unpleasant occasions.


    6. Cardio is King: Strength may win shorter events, but in a 24 hour race, cardio is king. Boone’s go-to cardio workout is stair climbing, but running is a close second for her and she cross-trains with rowing, swimming, and the ski-erg. Atkins comes from a competitive cycling background and still loves to ride, but also hits the trail for runs of all distance. Ever the outdoor enthusiast, Canadian biathlete, and 2014 Spartan Beast champion Claude Godbout uses nordic skiing, roller skiing, and running for her cardio workouts. When training for the WTM though, the main consideration is that you will be on your feet for up to 24 hours, so running and hiking workouts (of increasing length) should be a staple, as they condition the legs and feet.


    7. Feet: Foot problems are common in long, wet races such as WTM. When I used to race the Eco-Challenge, part of my race preparations involved toughening my feet months out from the event. I would do this by hiking, running, and using ointments. On race-day, I would employe various strategies to prevent blisters, such as pre-taping blister prone spots, changing socks frequently, and changing shoes periodically. Because the WTM has you in the water several times per lap, your feet will stay wet, the skin will get soft, and blisters may become a reality, so prepare a foot strategy. Starting with the skin, I occasionally lube my feet with something like Hydropel. For socks, I’ve have had incredible success 100 percent merino wool socks (I use all-American brand Farm to Feet). I wear a neutral running shoe with ample tread and cushion (i.e. Merrell All Out Charge) and change them several times during the race (they fill with gravel and sand quickly). Finally, I recommend bringing a larger pair of shoes to wear later in the race as your feet will swell during the 24 hours, and the larger shoes will help prevent toe-nail loss.


    8. Tent Strategy: Setting your tent up in the athlete village is all about location, location, location. If you are soloing, the closer you can get to the through-way, the easier it will be for you to stop and grab food or gear. With over 1000 athletes at the event, it can be challenging to find your tent in the sea of nylon, so make sure it’s visible — add a flag or something distinctive. Time spent looking for your tent is wasted time and stressful. Atkins arrived early in order to locate his tent right along the through-way, and created a well organized space for he, and his crew to operate during the event.


    9: Get some Support: 24 hours is a long time to race, so having one or two friends or loved ones along support you is a huge benefit. While experienced races can still succeed solo, having support makes the athlete’s life easier. Support can prepare food, prepare and assist with clothing changes, pack swaps, and keep you motivated. In addition, a good support team is beneficial when the night falls, as they can help keep an eye on you to monitor for hypothermia or sleep delirium and help keep you safe when your judgement lapses 50+ miles into the race. I came in without support but was fortunately adopted by Dirt in your Skirt founder Margaret Schlachter who made it easier for me to focus on racing and less on my pit-stops.


    10. Tough Mind, Tough Mudder: In 2014, Ryan Atkins ran nearly 100 miles in 24 hours, or nearly 20 trips around the loop, while Boone completed 75 official miles and 15 laps. As if the course wasn’t tough enough, racers had to fight unseasonably cold weather and brutal winds during the final 12 hours of the race. While physical ability is a major component of success, these races are won in the mind. Toughen your mind by competing in events outside of your comfort zone, or training days that push you in ways that you’re not accustomed to. The more experience you have dealing with the cycle of highs and lows that will come in a race like this, the more likely it is that you will finish. Set reasonable goals, break the race into bite-sized pieces, give yourself permission to take breaks if you need them, and remember, if you can’t run, then walk.


    – This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

    Source: Health and Medicine News
    Ten Tips on How to Beat the World’s Toughest Mudder

    10 Ways to Beat Boredom on Your Run

    To fight boredom, engage your mind as well as your body. To accomplish this, I suggest mixing up your runs as much as you can. Avoid running the same route, at the same pace, day after day.

    Run in different locations with varying mileage. Try diverse workouts, and do them with new running partners. Even better, find a local running group. Mixing it up helps get you out the door, keeps it fun, and boosts your fitness level.

    It can help to plan your runs for the week ahead. Keep in mind that every run you do should have a purpose to it. Runs can be easy for recovery, fast for speed, long run for endurance, or hill workouts to build strength. Plan your route and distance of the run with the purpose in mind.

    RELATED: Run your first–or fastest–marathon ever! Train smart with the Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training.

    And, most important of all, keep it fun. Regardless of how hard or easy, or how long or short, the run should be fun. Experiment! Find the workouts and the running routes you enjoy the most and incorporate them, but keep searching out new options to keep it fresh, exciting, and interesting.

    Here are some suggestions for mixing up your week:

    1. Run to a destination. For example, run to the gym or run to complete an errand–like going to the post office. You can meet up with friends so you have a ride home or plan to run back home.

    2. Easy/medium/hard run.For a speed workout, run easy for three minutes, at a medium difficulty for two minutes, and hard for one minute. Repeat this sequence for the duration of your run.

    3. Landmark runs. After a warmup, run hard for a short interval to a landmark like a mailbox, a driveway, or a streetlight along the route; then jog easy for recovery to the next landmark. Repeat.

    4. Explore a new running area. Go to a park, or a new neighborhood popular with runners.

    5. Try a trail run. The concentration needed for trail running engages your mind as you figure out how to traverse uneven terrain, rocks, roots, hills, water, and other obstacles. It’s a great strength builder, too. (Check out these 21 trail tips to get you started.)

    6. Plan a hill repeat run. Find a hill in your area that is about a quarter mile in length with a nice incline. Run one mile for a warmup then tackle the hill. Run up the hill and jog easy down, then turn around and run up the hill again. Repeat several times. Run a one-mile cooldown afterward.

    7. Try a track workout for speed. Run a one-mile warmup. Time yourself and run one lap at a hard pace; then, jog or walk one lap for recovery. Repeat four to six times. Set a consistent pace for the hard laps and stay within a five-second variance for each lap. Gradually increase the number of laps you run over the weeks.

    8. Make running dates with friends. Nothing like good conversation to help pass the miles.

    9. Running on a treadmill? Try using a pre-programmed hill run or interval run. The treadmill will automatically speed up or down or add an incline. Varying the pace and incline will engage your mind. (Our chief running officer, Bart Yasso, has a few favorite treadmill workouts you could try as well.)

    10. Register for a race. There is nothing like making a race commitment to get you out the door and focused on training. Select a local race or go for a destination race. Finding a race somewhere you have always wanted to visit is a great motivator and a fun way to tour that area. If you have already done some races, select a race that presents a different challenge–like a new distance, a trail race, or an obstacle race.

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    Source: Health and Medicine News
    10 Ways to Beat Boredom on Your Run

    7 Ways to Keep Your Summer Body All Winter Long

    7 Ways to Keep Your Summer Body All Winter Long

    By Samuel Blackstone for DETAILS.


    (photo: Getty Images)

    A lot of men use the winter as a time to eat more, lift heavy, skip the cardio, and bulk up. But what if you want that hard-earned beach body year-round? What if you have a beach-getaway vacation planned for midwinter? Or what if you just like to be a lean, mean fighting machine all the time? Well, then you’ve come to the right place. We talked with Mike Donavanik, (C.S.C.S., C.P.T), a Beverly Hills-based personal trainer and creator of the Amazon top-seller Extreme Burn fitness DVD series, who gave us some tips on how to stay ripped amid the snowflakes.

    Complete a Circuit
    “Circuit training is so effective because it combines strength training with bursts of cardio, which is what high intensity interval training (HIIT) is all about,” explains Donavanik. “So, not only are you able to maximize your time by getting both strength and cardio into your session, but because you’re working at such high intensities, you’ll end up burning calories after you work out, too. It’s the ‘afterburn effect.'”

    Plan the Pain
    To create an effective workout, you MUST plan your workout before getting to the gym, Donavanik says. Planning your workout ahead of time is “one of the best things you can do to improve your fitness,” he explains. “It’s the only way you’ll be able to visually track your progress, avoid overuse injuries, and hold yourself accountable. If you keep track of your workouts, you’re enabling yourself to be more efficient in the gym and more efficient with your time.”

    Attack the Morning
    “I’m a firm believer in doing steady-state cardio on an empty stomach,” Donavanik states. The idea behind working out in the morning on an empty stomach is that, because you’re exercising without consuming any calories beforehand, “your body will be forced to use excess fat cells as its primary energy source,” he says. It’s also thought that it boosts your metabolism throughout the rest of the day. But the debate over the true effectiveness of the practice rages on, and Donavanik admits that “science says that’s not the best thing to do and that the benefits are largely exaggerated.” As Donavanik concludes, “Science has proven, though, that even though a higher percentage of calories are coming from fat cells, what matters most at the end of the day is calories in vs. calories out.” Science says a lot of things, contradicting itself over and over. That’s the point. Doing what feels right for your body, and what gets you the greatest results, that’s your point.

    Read more: Is Your Drinking Making You Fat?


    (photo: Getty Images)

    (Un)Refine Your Diet
    If you want to get lean or stay lean, refined carbohydrates are the enemy. “Cutting out refined carbohydrates and sugar is always a good idea to help lean out, and just for general health,” Donavanik says. But cutting out all carbs isn’t. “Eating complex carbohydrates is essential to overall health and athletic performance . . . If you know you’re going to have a high-intensity workout that day, be sure you eat carbohydrates like you normally would, because you’ll need the energy for activity. However, if you think you may not work out that day or may only be doing steady-state cardio (like jogging), feel free to cut back on some carbohydrates and stick with just veggies.”

    Keep It Light Late
    Everyone knows the “no carbs after 6 p.m.” rule for staying lean. But, like the telephone game you played in grade school, the beginning message has been regurgitated so many times, nowadays it has “gotten really twisted,” Donavanik says. “The idea started because when you don’t use carbohydrates for energy, they end up getting stored as fat in your body. So, it kind of makes sense that people said, ‘Don’t eat carbs after 6 p.m.’ because, chances are, you’re not going to do a whole lot of activity at night and those carbs would end up getting stored as fat. However, that’s not entirely true. After 6 p.m. (and in general), you should definitely avoid refined carbohydrates, sugar, and any ‘heavy’ complex carbohydrates (potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.), but go wild with veggies! Your dinner should consist primarily of protein and vegetables. That’s the best way to stay lean: Keep dinner light.”

    Water, Water, Water
    It’s simple. “Always drink water,” Donavanik advises. “That’s one of the easiest things you can do to keep your body operating smoothly, to avoid hunger from sneaking up, and to keep your weight regular.” Don’t trust us? How about a recent study that found that over a 12-week period involving 84 obese adults, those who drank 500 milliliters of water 30 minutes before a meal lost almost 10 more pounds than participants who did not drink water? Yeah, drink up.

    Change Is Good
    Circuit training is great for getting and staying lean. Working the same muscles over and over again isn’t. “Don’t always circuit train,” advises Donavanik. “Mix things up. Do some steady-state cardio. Do some heavy lifting. Do some yoga. Take recovery days.” Changing things up not only prevents you from getting bored with your workout but also keeps your muscle guessing, adapting, and building and keeps you from overtraining certain muscles, which can lead to injuries related to overuse like tendinitis. Another recommendation: If you’re doing a circuit for weeks on end, try to make one day focused on pushing and the next day focused on pulling. Donavanik’s example: “A push day might include chest press, push-ups, triceps for the upper body, along with squats and walking lunges for lower body. A pull day might include pull-ups, cable rows, and biceps for the upper body, along with dead lifts and hamstring curls for lower body. The main purpose for breaking it up into push-pull days is to make sure that you don’t continue to work the same muscle groups over and over.”

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    Source: Health and Medicine News
    7 Ways to Keep Your Summer Body All Winter Long