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Get Fit in 5 Minutes a Day with the Ultimate Body Weight Exercise

Get Fit in 5 Minutes a Day with the Ultimate Body Weight Exercise

How long is your list of excuses for not working out? I’m pretty sure I have used them all but give it a shot—surprise me!  People get very creative with excuses and sometimes an excuse become a mantra to rationalize to yourself why not to work out, with expressions ranging from “I don’t have the time” to ” I don’t have the equipment”. However, there’s one fantastic exercise that wins over these two excuses (and most others), leaving you with only your weak character left to overcome.

Body Weight Exercise

    It’s a great conditioning exercise that engages your entire body; it builds strength, and you can adjust the intensity from a light mobility exercise to making you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck. All this after only 5 min of exercise, without equipment and in just 20 square feet of space. Moreover, this particular exercise is engaging at least 5 of the 10 skills of fitness. It will work your cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, and speed, depending a bit on how you perform the exercise.

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    The ultimate exercise is…

    This fantastic exercise is called “the burpee” and it’s a simple, not easy, body weight exercise that you can perform in minimal space.

    It’s essentially an exercise combing the Hindu squat, the push-up and a vertical jump.

    1. Stand straight, with your feet in a neutral stance.
    2. Squat down to and place your hands approximately one foot in front of your feet, slightly wider than shoulder width.
    3. With your weight on straight, vertical arms, jump back with both feet into plank position (same as the top position of the push-up).
    4. Perform a push-up with your chest touching ground in the bottom position, and up to plank position again.
    5. From plank position, jump forward with both feet, raise your upper body and land in the bottom of the squat.
    6. Jump straight up from the bottom of the squat, raise your arms and clap your hands over head. Landing back in position 1.
    7. Repeat.

    Sounds easy? Don’t let the simplicity fool you. I’ve seen Ironman distance triathletes (some people consider triathletes fit) and competitive boxers totally crumble under the mighty burpee. If you think you’re fit I am pretty sure that the first 10 will make you cocky, but at around 25 you’re surprised how tough it is.

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    Check out the video instructions to help you get burpeein’!

    Beginners

    Complete beginners must first learn to perform a correct Hindu squat, after which you can work yourself up to 10 repetitions of each component of the burpee in isolation: that’s 10 Hindu squats, followed by 10 push-ups, and finally 10 vertical jumps—hands from floor to overhead clap. When you feel comfortable with the Hindu squat and can perform these 30 repetitions uninterrupted, it’s time to burpee.

    Start with 10 burpees uninterrupted, and work yourself up 25 in a nice steady flow—don’t think about time.

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    Beginner variations

    The most common limitation to the burpee is that people can’t keep up with the push-ups, so instead of giving up early, I suggest that you do push-ups with your knees on the ground. If needed, you can even start without the push-up: just jump out to plank position and back (skip step 4 above).

    Beyond beginner: 5-minute burpee flow

    When you have worked passed the beginner stage above, it’s time to increase the volume and/or work faster. To improve, you must measure time, so use a stopwatch. Set your countdown timer to 5 minutes, and do as many burpees as you can. As you keep to the 5 minutes, it’s easy to keep track of your progress and stay motivated. Always make sure to keep good form though: you want to improve because of increased work capacity— not sloppier, potentially unsafe, form.

    When you can do 5 minutes uninterrupted, I suggest you test yourself on 100 of these to get an idea of your time: the world fitness elite does 100 burpees in around 4 minutes, but get below 8 minutes and you can be proud.

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    In addition to it being a great exercise while traveling, I use 100 burpees for time as a benchmark for my own fitness level. My personal record is 100 repetitions in 7 min, and when I get over 8 min it feels like slap in the face, letting me know that it’s time to get serious with training again. Honestly, now that the December holidays have passed, it’s burpee time!

    Let me know how it goes! Which Lifehack reader can do the most burpees in 5 min?

    Featured photo credit:  Running Sport. Runners on road in endurance run outdoors via Shutterstock

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    12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

    12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

    15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and black tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here:

    11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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