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How Yoga Changes Your Brain And Mental Health Tremendously

How Yoga Changes Your Brain And Mental Health Tremendously
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If you are a yoga fan, you are probably well aware of how many physical benefits this practice can bring. Studies in the past have shown that yoga can help with weight loss, muscle building and toning, joint flexibility and health and even chronic painful conditions like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. But did you know how much this ancient practice could also improve your mental health and abilities? A recent study of adults with mild memory loss showed just how healthy yoga is for your brain.

The Study and What it Found

Researchers, well aware of the physical benefits of yoga, sought to understand more about the mental/cognitive benefits of this exercise regimen. In order to do this, they recruited a group of middle-aged and older volunteers who had, upon interviewing, expressed concerns about their memories and had in fact been diagnosed with a mild form of cognitive decline, a condition that can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. These conditions, if they worsen, can have a serious and negative impact on a patient’s quality of life.

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The researchers did a brain scan on all patients in order to establish a baseline for their mental activity/function. They then divided participants into two separate groups, one which received a one hour brain training session plus fifteen minutes of practice daily while the other received a one hour kundalini yoga session with fifteen minutes of at-home practice daily (in other words, both groups spent the same amount of time with these interventions each week).

At the end of this three month study, all the participants were given a brain scan again to see if the interventions had had any affect on their cognitive health. It was found that both groups of patients had experienced cognitive improvement in areas of the brain that affect memory and language skills. However, the group which participated in yoga also displayed improvement in areas of the brain which control concentration and attention; in other words, the yoga group also came out of this study with enhanced ability to focus and multitask, showing that yoga was superior to the brain training program to improve mental functions.

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“We were a bit surprised by the magnitude of the brain effects,” noted Helen Lavretsky, the lead researcher in this study, when commenting upon the results.

The Study in Context

What is perhaps one of the most interesting parts of this study is that it does not stand alone. It is, rather, part of the growing body of evidence which shows that yoga’s mental/cognitive benefits may well equal or even exceed its physical ones.

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In the past, for instance, similar clinical studies on yoga have found a positive link between this practice and depression and anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even serious psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. One study even found that this seemingly mild, gentle practice was actually better than aerobics at improving brain functions such as speed and accuracy of mental processing.

In short, this study on patients with mild cognitive decline is simply part of a growing body of clinical evidence which shows that yoga, in addition to improving the health of the body, is able to improve the health of the mind as well, not only for problems like memory loss but for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD and even more serious issues like schizophrenia. In short, this practice is a truly holistic method to improve all aspects of your health, apart from bringing a high degree of enjoyment and satisfaction to those who participated in it on the daily basis.

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Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

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Brian Wu

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

8 Weight Loss Tracker and Exercise Apps for Your Fitness Goals

8 Weight Loss Tracker and Exercise Apps for Your Fitness Goals
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Are you frustrated by the fact that you haven’t been able to lose weight? Have you ever wondered if you don’t actually know how many calories you eat in a day? How much exercise do you ACTUALLY get, and why doesn’t anything seem to be working? A weight loss tracker can help you answer all of these questions and more.

How can we start to see results and have the momentum to keep moving forward? The answer is simple:

Have a game-plan and know exactly what is going on inside your body.

If you really want to excel at your fitness goal, then you need to have a game-plan for success. You need to know what will keep you motivated, how to simplify things, how to be more efficient at your goals, and even find what you enjoy the most.

You can start by checking out Lifehack’s Busy Yet Fit Course, which will help you get into the groove of working out, even if you have a busy lifestyle.

If you’re blindly trying to chase your goals, then you probably feel about as hopeless as a carpenter with a butter-knife. So, it’s time to stock your toolbelt for success!

I am about to show you the top weight loss tracker apps that will be game-changers for you. From nutrition trackers to step counters, these apps are sure to set you on the fast track to your fitness goals.

Keep reading to find the apps that might just shoot you past your plateau and into the lifestyle you dream of.

1. MyFitnessPal

    When it comes to the best weight loss tracker apps, this one takes the cake (The Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan cake that is).

    MyFitnessPal is the best all around calorie counter that I have found on the market. This app is free and has almost all the calorie counting resources available to you. Not only does it seamlessly estimate the daily calories needed to hit your goal, but it also gives you the methods to track it.

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    Just enter the ingredients of each meal you eat, and it will add up how many calories you eat. It can also scan product barcodes and automatically enter those calories for you.

    Going a step beyond that, this app also tracks your macros (according to your own customized goals) and nutrients. Furthermore, you can input a desired weight to track your weight loss journey.

    While that all seems impressive enough, this app also tracks exercise calories and can sync to Fitbit, MapmyRun, and other apps to measure your exact energy ratio.

    If you want a one-stop map to success, then this is it! This will not only help you develop a game plan, but will also create a flexible plan to get you there.

    Get the app here!

    2. Fitbit

      I know you’ve already heard of this app, and for good reason. Fitbit has been helping thousands step their way to health since it first came out.

      While investing in a Fitbit may not be cheap, I believe it to be well worth the investment.

      Fitbit will track your total amounts of steps each day. For those of you who are competitive, this is the perfect app to keep you moving and motivated throughout the day.

      This app can also sync with other fitness apps, like MyFitnessPal, to measure your exact energy expenditure each day. It’s a keeper for sure, especially if you’re looking for a great weight loss tracker.

      Get the app here!

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      3. MapMyRun

        This is another one for the competitive, beginner, or exercise enthusiast. MapMyRun measures the distance that you run and even tracks your route. Furthermore, you can sync your daily results with MyFitnessPal to keep track of your daily calorie burn.

        If you want to go at it with a friend, you can challenge them in competitions that are sure to keep you both moving!

        Once, my husband ran for 2 miles just before midnight to beat me in a competition that was ending the next day. Talk about motivation!

        MapMyRun is perfect for those who like to challenge themselves, love to be part of a fitness community, or want a place for friends to hold them accountable to their goals.

        Get the app here!

        4. Zombies, Run!

          Are you having trouble pulling away from entertainment to go out and run? Then why not combine the two?

          ZombieRun is a fun app that is sure to get you moving if you are someone who is motivated by a good time. In fact, you might even have such a blast you will forget you are exercising!

          This app takes you through a storyline and makes you the hero. Each level will present a new challenge to help you progress and keep things exciting.

          You certainly won’t need to worry about your pre-workout. Imagining you are the hero in the story will be enough to keep your adrenaline pumping on its own.

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          Just be sure not to move too slow or the “Zombs” (as we runners affectionately call them) might catch you!

          Get the app here!

          5. Prepear

            Are you tired of sitting down for hours and trying to strategize what to eat? This app helps cut this time in a quarter and is a great addition as a weight loss tracker.

            Simply add online recipes into your weekly meal plan (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and it will organize all the ingredients you will need into a shopping list.

            With all your meal planning in one organized area, it will be easy to find which meal you plan to make for the day. This will keep your healthy recipes delicious. You will seriously never have to fret about meal planning again!

            Get the app here!

            6. Strava

              If walking is your health resolution, this weight loss tracker might be for you. Strava is sure to get you into healthy habits that you enjoy. In fact, you might start losing weight before realizing that you’ve even been exercising.

              This app enables you to track your trails and mileage, take pictures, and invite friends to join. It is a keeper for beginners and hikers alike.

              Get the app here!

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              7. Aaptiv

                If you find yourself at the gym and not sure what to do, then this app might be for you. Aptive gives you workouts to do and instructs you how to do them.

                While there’s nothing quite like the accountability of a personal trainer, Aaptiv is a great way to be guided through exercises without having to dish out tons of money.

                The online instructors will guide you through the movements and keep you focused on finishing the workout. This app is sure to make you a gym rat in no time!

                Get the app here!

                8. Freeletics

                  Here’s one for those of you always on the move! Freeletics is an incredible app designed for people who just don’t have the time (or motivation) to drive down to the gym. Freeletics provides online workouts designed specifically from bodyweight with no equipment needed.

                  You will be surprised at what a great workout you can get without any equipment.

                  That’s right, you work-travelers; say goodbye to your excuses because this app is bringing the trainer to you!

                  Get the app here!

                  The Bottom Line

                  These 8 weight loss tracker apps are sure to revolutionize your fitness goals. Guesswork will no longer be a part of your fitness journey. These apps are like carrying professionals around in your pocket all day!

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                  Get ready to be motivated, informed, and ready to start achieving your dreams!

                  More Tips for Weight Loss

                  Featured photo credit: Gabin Vallet via unsplash.com

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