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10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner. One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing. According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise. So, what is holding you back?

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. As usual, consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

cat camel

    Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static. Dynamic ones, such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

    Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

    2. Go for a walk or a run.

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    walking

      This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature, but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program. Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

      The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight. Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

      3. Jumping Jacks

      bestjumpingjacks

        Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.” They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

        Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with.

        4. Abductor Side Lifts

        Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting. Do about 10–15 raises for each side.

        5. Balancing Table Pose

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        ablab

          This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration. Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

          6. Leg Squats

          legsquats

            Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees. Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

            The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.

            7. Push Ups

            pushups

              You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position. An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

              Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it. This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

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              8. Lunges

              lunges

                Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

                Try to a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

                This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

                9. Bicep Curls

                bicepscurls

                  You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do. Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support. Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it. Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

                  These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles. In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

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                  10. Bicycle Crunches

                  There are numerous crunch exercises for targetting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups.

                  Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

                  Watch the video to see how this is done correctly.

                  You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

                  Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better.

                  Let us know how you manage to keep up your morning routine and how great you feel.

                  Featured photo credit: Manila-Baywalk_10338rt/Stefan Munder via flickr.com

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                  Robert Locke

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                  8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

                  8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

                  Vegetarianism has been around for a long time, finding favor with many people, including Pythagoras clear back around 580 B.C. It’s been presented as one of the most healthy diets around, including being touted by the Egyptians to the point of abstaining from meat and animal clothing due to karmic beliefs. The vegetarian society (vegsoc.org) defines vegetarianism as:

                  “Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

                  While it’s pretty obvious that there are multiple benefits to following a vegetarian diet, it’s always good to be informed about the cons of this dietary choice as well.

                  Outlined below are several things you might want to be aware of before you say good-bye to meat forever. Whether you are a current vegetarian, or contemplating making a shift, keep in mind these 8 things to keep yourself healthy.

                  1. You could suffer from B12 vitamin deficiency

                  The B vitamins are especially important for stress management, adrenal health, and brain function. Vegetarians in particularly are at risk for B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is attached to the protein in animal products and without enough B12 you can suffer from depression, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate.

                  Due to its attachment to animal proteins, B12 is the hardest for vegetarians to obtain when they don’t eat dairy or eggs in their diet. This essential little vitamin can be found in some algae and has been added to some yeast, but research doesn’t currently provide enough information to say whether or not these forms of B12 are of good quality and can provide adequate supplementation.

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                  The body is unable to make this vitamin, meaning it has to be taken in through food or supplementation. Essential for making red blood cells, DNA, nerves and various other function in the body, a Harvard Health Medical report in January of 2013 found symptoms of a B12 deficiency can present in sneaky ways including depression, paranoia, delusion, and loss of taste and smell.

                  2.  You could suffer from higher states of anxiety/depression, lower sense of well-being

                  According to a CBS Atlanta report, vegetarians suffered from a higher rate of anxiety and depression than their counterparts. Read the full report here. Depression and/or anxiety can be a result of many possible deficiencies including essential vitamins and amino acids you can find only in meat products, including Omega-3s from wild caught salmon.

                  Without the correct supplementation and proper understanding of diet, including the importance of micro and macro nutrients, depression and anxiety can become a serious problem, bringing down the overall health and well-being of vegetarians.

                  Even though reports on health and lifestyle show vegetarians have a lower BMI and lower consumption of alcohol and drugs, it also shows they suffer from more chronic illnesses and more visits to the doctor than their meat eating counterparts.

                  3. You could suffer from excess weight

                  When you go vegetarian it opens up a lot of food, but just because there isn’t any meat in front of you, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary healthy. Though pizza and beer technically fall under the vegetarian diet, it’s not a healthy choice for your waist line.

                  Just because being a vegetarian is associated with a healthier lifestyle in many cases, doesn’t mean it’s always true. Making bread and pasta your staples and not understanding where your protein sources should be coming from, can pack on body fat, which increases your chances of health issues such as diabetes and chronic inflammation.

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                  If the choice to go vegetarian happens on a whim without the proper understanding of food control, portion, and nutritionally dense alternatives you can find yourself reaching for vegetarian foods, which could cause serious problems down the road. Nuts are a good example, but just because something is touted as healthy, it doesn’t mean, your should eat it in excess.

                  Eating too many calories in fat will still cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in carbs will cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in protein will cause you to gain weight. See a pattern here? Not to mention you’ll miss out on important nutrients the body needs by over-eating in one area and under-eating in another. Re-read number 2.

                  4. You could have a higher risk of heart disease

                  Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables should be a goal we all strive for, but when you cut out meat, you also cut out what is known as complete protein, which you find in animal by-products. Complete means more than just the essential amino acids, it means those amino acids contain dietary sulfur. Without enough dietary sulfur, which is found almost exclusively in fish and pasture feed grass beef, the body will struggle with the biological activities of both protein and enzymes.

                  The effects cascade downward, effecting bones, joints, tissues, and even metabolic issues. In short, a low intake of sulfur associated with a vegetarian diet can result in high blood levels of homocysteine, which may lead to blood clots in your arteries, blood clots raise your risk of stroke and heart attack. To read the full report click here.

                  5. You could suffer from low cholesterol

                  I know, at first you’re thinking, wait, low cholesterol is a good thing. Yes, it is, when it’s LDL cholesterol, which you get from eating an unhealthy diet, but low HDL (good cholesterol) can cause serious health issues. HDL, according to the mayo clinic, is in every cell in our body and can help fend off heart disease, not enough of it though, and too much LDL can go the other way, will be building up plaque in the arteries and leading to heart disease.

                  Cholesterol, the good kind, is actually vitally important to the making of every steroid hormone in the body! There are six, and without cholesterol the body is unable to convert hormones, and it can cause damage in the endocrine system.

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                  A vegetarian without a balanced diet, meaning enough protein, enough veggies, and enough good fats, could disrupt his or her adrenals, which are directly connected to the endocrine system and the body’s ability to make and synthesize the hormones your body needs. The six major hormones in the body help do everything from metabolizing carbohydrates, to the electrolyte balance, to making sure if you’re a woman you can carry a healthy baby through pregnancy.

                  6. You could suffer from lower bone density and osteoporosis.

                  Osteoporosis, the disease where the bones get thinner, weaker, and fractures become a high risk with day to day movements. It’s often associated with the older generation, but your risk for osteoporosis increases with a lower bone density. Bone density can be directly related to diet and lifestyle, along with many other factors.

                  When it comes to eating a vegetarian diet it’s possible to miss getting enough of the right nutrients, causing the bones to begin to break down. If your vegetarian diet isn’t balanced and providing you with the correct nutrients and the means to absorb the correct nutrients, your body could begin to break down.

                  Recently, Professor Tuan Nguyen of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research led a review of both Australian and Vietnamese research around the bone density of vegetarian versus their meat eating counterparts. Helping Professor Nguyen was Dr. Ho-Pham Thuc Lan from Pham Ngoc Thac University of Medicine in Vietnam. The review was designed to sort though years of research surrounded by discrepancies and inadequate clinical data.

                  At the end of the review, with vegetarianism rising to around 5% of the populace in the western continents, and with wide spread osteoporosis reports – 2 million in Australia and closer to 54 million in America – the decrease in bone density of vegetarians is a serious issue which needs to be addressed, if you’ve cut meat and animal by-products out of your life.

                  7. You could be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer

                  Cancer seems to be running rampant through America, and it’s within everyone’s best interest to do all they can to keep their body healthy and happy to prevent cancer from finding a place to grow. In most studies it’s been found vegetarians are at lower risk for cancer, but a European Oxford study with over 63 thousand men and women in the United Kingdom found the risk for colorectal cancer higher in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.

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                  Extra care needs to be taken when establishing a diet to ensure the body is receiving and able to up take all the important nutritional benefits and requirements from food.

                  8. You could end up eating more processed food

                  Depending on how deep you choose to go as a vegetarian, it could create the need to substitute a lot of food and recipe ingredients in your diet, but what happens when you cut out meat, eggs, and dairy and your recipe calls for meat, eggs, and/or dairy? You have to end up using a “healthy” vegetarian alternative which include stabilizers, thickeners, and various other ingredients you can’t pronounce.

                  Lauren from Empowered Substance puts it into a great perspective with her comparison of Earth Balance, a vegetarian approved butter replacement compared to butter. She points out the ingredients in Earth Balance consist of: Palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil, flax oil, olive oil, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, annatto color. Meanwhile, the ingredient list in butter, is much shorter. It’s butter.

                  That’s only one example. To appeal to the vegetarian lifestyle food manufacturers have found alternatives which fall under vegetarian, but aren’t necessarily healthy for you. Consider baked goods, which though vegetarian can be filled with more sugars and binders than regular baked goods with diary products. It’s the same with vegetarian items like mac and cheese, without using real cheese you may just be getting oil and thickeners, without even the smallest amount of nutritional value.

                  The reality is, most vegetarian substitutes contain the same junky alternatives which even meat eaters should be avoiding to remain happy and healthy.

                  On one final note, whichever lifestyle you choose to work with, remember anything in excess – including protein and animal by products – isn’t healthy for the body. It takes a wide spectrum of food and nutrients to keep the beautiful body you travel around in all day running in prime condition.

                   

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