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2 Things to Avoid if You Want to Live Longer

2 Things to Avoid if You Want to Live Longer

The first and most reliable choice for guidance when making changes to your lifestyle is that from your primary care physician (PCP). Establishing a solid relationship with your doctor has been proven to improve both quality of life and lifespan. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 17% of Americans have had zero contact with a healthcare professional in the past twelve months. If you learn nothing else from this guide, understand that consulting your doctor prior to following the advice listed below is highly advised. If it’s been more than twelve months since your last check-up, call your PCP and schedule an appointment. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your medical needs are being addressed, and you can always double-check the information you read online. As I’ll point out below, the information you receive from friends and strangers on the internet can be less than reliable. Let’s go ahead and start dispelling some of the pervasive rumors.

1. Vaping is Dangerous

There’s a growing number of people in the US and abroad that feel e-cigarettes are as dangerous as traditional tobacco cigarettes. I have a few friends in the industry so my views may be biased based on my personal experiences, but I’ll share what one of my friends shared told me at a party last week. My friend, Dan Merchant and his business partner, Vlad Vassilieve are the managing directors of Vape Club. Dan pointed out to me that, “With Public Health England stating that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking and an endorsement from the Royal College of Physicians, it is clear that the scientific community is able to see the enormous harm-reduction benefits for smokers who switch to vaping. It is a crying shame that the political powers are not so astute- particularly with tobacco harm reduction being one of the most problematic areas of public health for decades. As a result, the industry is now faced with disproportionate regulations dreamed up in Brussels with illegitimate help from big Pharma and big tobacco.” This is clearly a statement made by someone in the industry, but let’s look at some of the studies performed by organizations on both sides of the issue. In the United States, the government has launched an entire website dedicated to discouraging e-cigarette use. One of the major points that everyone seems to agree upon is that e-cigarettes should not be sold or used by minors. Adults, however, should be able to make their own informed decisions. It appears the UK-based studies are ahead of the US in regards to smoking cessation, or the attempt to eventually quit smoking by switching from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes. As Dan points out, the UK’s health agency, Public Health England, states on their website, “An expert review of the latest evidence concludes that e-cigarettes are around 95% safer than smoked tobacco and they can help smokers to quit.” In the US the government has published an interesting counter-claim. “Any e-cig brand could go through the clinical trials to become an FDA-approved cessation device, but so far none of them have announced that they’ve submitted an application to do so.” If this is true, which appears to be the case based on the FDA’s current publication on cessation methods, then there are questions that linger in regards to why e-cig companies in the US haven’t attempted to validate their claims with the government. Is vaping bad for you? Is it worse for you than smoking tobacco cigarettes? I think the studies overseas and the comments from some industry insiders point to it being a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. It’s my hope that the e-cig industry in the US begins to validate some of their claims with the government so that the smoke clears a bit here at home.

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2. Vitamin Supplements and Energy Pills Are Regulated

I think this will come as a shock to the people shopping in the vitamin and supplement aisle at their local drug store. All of the claims and assertions made on the packaging of the vitamin supplements and energy pills available for purchase are largely unverified. There may be private testing that points to the benefits of a specific product, but the entire supplement industry is unregulated in the U.S. The first time I learned about this I was stunned. I grew up taking a multivitamin. I always assumed the claims made on the label were verified truths. I’m not saying that everything we’re reading on the sides of bottles is a lie, but I know I’d feel a lot better if the FDA actually verified the claims made. The American Council on Science and Health points out that the $30 billion supplement industry in the US became completely unregulated as a result of the Dietary Supplement Health and Educational Act of 1994. This means that they are not regulated in the same way as prescription drugs or food. The FDA actually outlines what parts of the industry they do monitor and regulate on the Dietary Supplements page of their website. The part that sticks out the most for me is the section where the FDA states, “Firms are responsible for evaluating the safety and labeling of their products before marketing to ensure that they meet all the requirements of DSHEA and FDA regulations.” My interpretation of this statement is that firms are responsible for regulating themselves. If I’m understanding this correctly, it means that the main mechanism for enforcement of nutritional standards and public health is the use of lawsuits and legal claims against faulty manufacturers.

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From vaping to supplements and energy pills, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around. Some are based on intentional misinformation and others are based on a lack of government action. The good news is that your PCP can help guide you in the right direction about many things floating around on the web. Talk to your doctor and find out about the supplements you’re taking, and if the efforts you’re making to quit smoking are right for you.

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Featured photo credit: conysturm via flickr.com

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Ahmed Raza

CEO of Samurais.co

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Last Updated on January 5, 2021

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

Starting a journey with fitness goals is never easy, and you must remember this is not a crash diet; it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once, as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diets are not sustainable.

The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits, and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good ones.

Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

1. Drink More Water

W.H. Auden said it best when he said,

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrients to your bones and muscles, and even improving cognitive function.

Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day, i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

2. Add Some Lemon and Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, but this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing, and digestion.

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3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

Yes, keeping hydrated is important, but try to avoid high-calorie drinks, such as soft drinks, specialty coffee, and juices as they are full of fast-acting sugar.

Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks, and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

4. Start Stretching More Often

The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

Do yourself a favor and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility, and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

Here’re some simple stretching exercises to get you started: 15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now, and believe me when I say that it works and should absolutely be included in your fitness goals.

The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles, and fantastic hormonal benefits.

HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds), followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

For the most part, breathing is second nature, but when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath, and this can have negative consequences.

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It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, as this will fill your lungs with oxygen and give you the necessary energy to continue your workout.

7. Build More Lean Muscle

We all want to have lean muscles. Not only does it look good, but it also has great health benefits, including:

  • Improved posture
  • Reduced body fat
  • Improved metabolism
  • Strong bones
  • Protects and improves joint health
  • Improved stamina

You can build lean muscle by lifting weights or through other specific exercises. Learn more about building muscle in this guide: How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

8. Decrease Body Fat

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

  • Improved joints and tendons
  • Lowered risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better performance and endurance
  • Improved appearance and confidence
  • Better hormonal profiles in your body

Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat. Healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week for your fitness goals.[2]

Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

Think of it as a lifestyle, and take it slow and steady.

9. Eat More Greens

What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

Focus on dark, leafy greens, as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants—all of which you body needs!

Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

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10. Start Eliminating Sugar

Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, and will save you money and improve your health in the long run.

There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar, and this should be one of your top fitness goals moving forward. Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

Be careful to eliminate sugar from your diet slowly. Cutting it out all at once can cause symptoms of sugar withdrawal, which can drive you back to sugary snacks[3].

Common symptoms of sugar withdrawal

    11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recover

    The workout is where you go to break down muscle tissue, and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest, and recovery[4]. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals, but that’s not the most effective approach.

    If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

    12. Get More Sleep

    When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body, and over time these can lead to inflammation and chronic diseases.[5]

    Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

    13. Focus on the Habit, Not the Result

    It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you closer to those fitness goals.

    Don’t look at the scale, the tape measurer, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

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    Don’t compare yourself to where others are; you’re right where you need to be.

    14. Take Your Fitness Outside

    This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

    Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

    Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more access to nature and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

    15. Do at Least One Pull Up

    This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

    If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed, but it is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

    The Bottom Line

    These fitness goals will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline for when you want to accomplish some or all of these in order to create realistic goals in the short term. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

    More on Setting Fitness Goals

    Featured photo credit: Ivan Torres via unsplash.com

    Reference

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