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Why group fitness could be the key to your 2017 health goals

Why group fitness could be the key to your 2017 health goals

When you think about joining a fitness program, you usually think of it as an individual effort. True, you might desire to attain the fitness of a certain friend or acquaintance, but they too maintain an individual training routine. Whether you’re interested in strength training, aerobics, meditation, or yoga, you only think of such fitness programs based on personal preferences. Your choices are not determined by what others want, but what you want. You would not think of starting on meditation just because others are meditating. Even the gym you join most probably only offers packages for an individual.

    Nevertheless, have you ever thought about team-based fitness programs? Have you ever considered approaching fitness as a group, and not as an individual? Now imagine, what if the choice of a gym, fitness exercises, and frequency of exercises, was elevated above your preferences to be a group decision? This article will review potential advantages that justify a group fitness program. Team-based fitness programs have become a significant trend in modern gyms, becoming even more popular by the day, and it is important to understand why.

    Why choose team exercise?

    People have always recognized the value of team-driven fitness programs but never acknowledged it. Consider this: many of the people who join a first class gym for aerobic exercises can afford to have a few machines at home for the exercises. They may even have an excellent swimming pool, and a spare room to convert to an exercise room. Yet even if they can afford to, they prefer exercising in a local gym where others will also frequent. What they are doing then, is unconsciously responding to the need for a social context where they exercise alongside others.

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      It is easier to maintain a diligent and consistent training routine when you are a patron of a gym than you can ever hope for when exercising in isolation. That is the reason why the most successful bodybuilders and fitness gurus have almost always been members of a publicly-available gym and not a personal gym. Subscribing to a gym where you can train alongside others helps build a discipline, a commitment, and an innate desire to attain optimal fitness that wouldn’t be possible on your own.

      Advantages of Group Fitness Programs

      1. Transforming Competitors into Allies

      Now consider this: an acquaintance of yours seems to have been born in a gym. They have managed to chisel out a body shape that belongs to magazine covers. You respect and privately admire his or her fitness achievements, and would only wish to attain just a percentage of their success. Well, you can hate, avoid, and ignore them as you try to pursue the same end, if not better, on your own. That however, does not help as much as it would if both of you followed the same fitness program. Imagine how easy it would be for you to follow a fitness program alongside a person who motivates you and gives you a few secrets that really work. Then you could stop being competitors and become allies in pursuit of optimal fitness. As such, one of the reasons you should join group fitness is the potential to surround yourself with positive energy, where you train alongside those you respect and admire.

      2. Learning From The Team

      Having allies in a fitness program ensures that you train alongside people with whom you share a goal. Not only do you have common interests and preferences, but you are also chasing the same outcome. This means that they will probably know something you do not, and vice versa. Group fitness programs thus give you a platform to share with others, compare different approaches, and select the best routines based on results.

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      Eventually, the fitness program becomes more than finishing a few exercises, and gradually transforms into a learning opportunity towards attaining optimal fitness. You start taking fitness training seriously, and it stops being a trial and error routine, since you can now use a single training instructor and consult the most advanced manual together. As such, joining a group fitness program will help to increase the opportunity and outcomes of learning about fitness training.

      3. Building on Collective Motivation

      Exercising with a team replaces the ‘me’ perspective in fitness training with a ‘we’ perspective. After a tough day at the office, you stop saying “I don’t feel like going for exercises today,” and start saying “and we still have to go for exercises today.” It would have taken personal motivation to abide by a fitness training program if it was an individual program. However, being a team adds a collective motivation to abide by the fitness schedule, regardless of your mood. Your discipline and commitment is fired up by the collective dynamics of the group.

        4. Gaining a Team’s Psyche When Approaching Challenges

        Maintaining a devout fitness training calendar or schedule is often discouraged by numerous challenges you meet along the way. Like that time when your muscles are hurting, when you feel like your ligaments are torn and you cannot even manage to squat, let alone follow rigorous compound exercises. When something is highly recommended but you cannot even think about trying it, being a part of a group gives you the mindset to give it a go.

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        Your challenging exercises stop being an option and become part of your training goal when you are in a team. You might have joined fitness training to eliminate stress levels in your life, but even after that, the group will keep you improving. You will have to approach challenges with a team mentality and soon enough, they stop being challenges. Joining a group fitness program is perhaps the easiest route to overcoming your training fears as well as personal stress.

          5. Elevating the Value of Fitness

          Finally, joining group fitness programs elevates the priority of fitness training in your to-do list. You might desire to lose that weight or get a solid six-pack, but the cost of getting that is not reflected in your lifestyle. Group fitness training however, challenges that lifestyle to the core. You keep the time, consistency, and routine set for exercises not because you feel like, but because that is what the team has agreed upon. You will attend some sessions halfheartedly, and some you would otherwise avoid, but the outcomes will justify the team discipline. Group-based training helps make a fitness program more than a personal decision, and you embrace it in your daily routine as something that is part of your personal preferences and wishes. Soon it becomes a habit and a discipline you are used to, a state that is very difficult with personal exercise.

          In conclusion, the benefits of group fitness programs outweigh the advantages of personal training programs. Tapping into the group mentality can help you keep a disciplined diet formula, maintain training routines, and optimize fitness training in ways that would otherwise be impossible if the training was based on your choices and moods. The five benefits explained above, are only some of the advantages that justify why you should join a team-driven fitness program. When it is all said and done, you may train as a team, but the fitness you consolidate is yours and yours alone. That was your goal, after all, from the very beginning.

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          Image Credits:

          Trainer assisting group of people with stretching exercise Via Freepik, Group of people performing stretching exercise Via Freepik, Billy blanks tae bo workout Via Pixabay, Group of people performing tree-pose yoga exercise Via Freepik

          Featured photo credit: yanalya via freepik.com

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          Last Updated on February 21, 2019

          Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

          Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

          Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

          If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

          When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

          In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

          1. Salmon

          Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

          It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

          Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

          Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

          Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

          Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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          2. Blueberries

          Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

          Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

          Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

          Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

          Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

          3. Turmeric

          Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

          Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

          Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

          Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

          Curcumin has also been shown to:

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          • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
          • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
          • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
          • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

          4. Coffee

          Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

          Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

          Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

          Coffee can also:

          • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
          • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
          • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
          • Improve your memory.
          • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

          5. Broccoli

          What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

          Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

          Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

          Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

          Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

          6. Bone broth

          Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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          Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

          Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

          Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

          Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

          With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

          Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

          7. Walnuts

          Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

          Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

          Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

          Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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          8. Eggs

          For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

          Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

          Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

          9. Dark chocolate

          You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

          Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

          Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

          Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

          Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

          Conclusion

          Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

          In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

          If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

          More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
          [2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
          [3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
          [4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
          [5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
          [6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
          [7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
          [8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
          [9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
          [10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
          [11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
          [12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
          [13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
          [14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
          [15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
          [16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
          [17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
          [18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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