There is nothing fun about having a stuffy nose. It’s drippy, annoying, and you can’t do anything without having to breathe through your mouth. Physical activity becomes tough, you can’t talk or eat without breathing heavy. This is not to mention the constant blowing, the red irritated skin around your nostrils, and (this is the worst) losing all sense of taste. Let’s face it, stuffy noses are miserable.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that stuffy noses are not actually caused by mucus buildup. This is hard to believe, especially when in the midst of a cold when you have what seems to be the never ending supply of mucus. In truth, a stuffy nose is a result of inflamed blood vessels. The three most common causes of stuffy noses are as follows:
The Common Cold/Flu/Or Virus
Allergies (hay fever)
Although, stuffy nose symptoms will, as a general rule, dissipate on their own within a week (or two), that doesn’t help relieve discomfort in the moment. Here are some remedies that you can use to help clear the sinuses and reduce inflammation.
There’s a reason I put this one first. This is my favorite remedy to relieve stuffy nose symptoms. Studies have shown that eucalyptus oils have extreme health benefits, including increased circulation, decreased bacterial cells, and being a decongestant for the stuffy nose. The University of Maryland Medical Centre explains that oil from the eucalyptus tree are often found in over the counter remedies such as cough syrup, vapor rubs, and other such cold products designed to relieve congestions.
There are many ways to use this essential oil to relieve your stuffy nose. An aromatic diffuser is extremely helpful. A diffuser is similar to a humidifier, but it works a little different. I like to put a few drops of Eucalyptus oil in my diffuser and let it do its thing. The diffuser creates a fine mist of essential oils. Aromatherapy also has a lot of health benefits besides relieving your stuffy nose as does the eucalyptus, so no matter how you look at it, it’s a good practice. You can also use the essential oil to create a facial steam or simply set it beside your bed and let it sooth you to sleep. Although, the latter two methods may not be as effective as the aroma diffuser for your stuffy nose, it certainly does help.
Here again is another natural remedy to help ease your stuffy nose. Ginger is an amazing natural herb that can help clear your nasal passages. Ginger is incredible, everyone should eat it. Did you know that ginger has cancer fighting properties? Because ginger is packed full with antioxidants that ward off free radicals, it will work hard to rid your viral infection. You can either use freshly grated ginger or you can buy a ginger tea. Both methods are equally effective, although I prefer the fresh. When paired with honey and lemon (both of which are also very good at relieving stuffy noses) it’s an unbeatable task force. Oh, and one more thing: try adding a touch of cinnamon. It might not rid your stuffy nose, but is sure does taste good. Oh! And it helps lower blood sugar too.
I love mint. It smells so good and it’s super easy to grow. You might wonder how it helps a stuffy nose? Mint is another one of those herbs that has many benefits, however, the most notable here is that mint clears the nasal passages, reduces inflammation within the respiratory tract, and eases symptoms of asthma resulting in relaxed breathing. There are many ways to use mint to relieve a stuffy nose. Here are just a few ideas.
Boil water and pour it into a bowl with crushed mint leaves. Create a tent over your head with a towel and breathe in the steam.
Pour a cup of water and add mint leaves and let them simmer with blueberries (another great antioxidant). Let the fumes caress your nostrils. Again, as with ginger, you can add honey and lemon to the water to help relieve your stuffy nose even more.
Sleep with a mint plant on your bedside table.
The poet Giovanni Papini said, “Breathing is the greatest pleasure in life.” When you have a stuffy nose it robs you of this pleasure. If you find yourself suffering from stuffy nose symptoms, try one of the above natural remedies. In the long term, remember rest is key to fighting off any problem in the body. Eat healthy, stay hydrated, and create a relaxing and stress free environment. When your body speaks to you, you know it’s time to take special care.
Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.
Why is it important to train up our core strength?
There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.
This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.
Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.
In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.
One Exercise, multiple benefits
There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.
By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.
When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.
Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.
In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.
What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.
What will happen when you start doing planks every day
1. You’ll improve core definition and performance:
Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:
Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.
2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column
Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.
Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.
3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism
Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).
4. You’ll significantly improve your posture
Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .
A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.
A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.
On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.
5. You’ll improve overall balance
Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!- but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.
6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before
Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.
7. You’ll witness mental benefits
Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.
How to hold a plank position
Get into pushup position on the floor.
Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
Hold the position for as long as you can.
Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.
Watch the video if you have any doubt!
Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:
How to improve your plank time gradually
Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.
Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.
Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?
You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:
After prolapse surgery
Pelvic pain conditions
Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.