Best Cardio for Fat Loss


From Natural Health

My girlfriend accuses me of being too efficient. As if that’s a bad thing. I work fast. I get things done and move on to better things. I don’t want to linger over tasks. I want them behind me. Which is why I’m all googly-eyed over High Intensity Interval Training.

I’ve got a few rules I like to follow concerning exercise. First off, get it done in 20 minutes or less. Whether I’m doing my morning yoga or resistance training or cardio, 20 minutes. No more. Secondly, in order to accomplish this, workouts need to be super intense. Which is nice because the time goes by faster. (Surprising considering the pain involved at times.) And third, and most important, the benefit has to be great.

You can go to the gym. You can crawl onto a treadmill. And you can jog and watch TV all the livelong day. But you’re not accomplishing anything. Other than fooling yourself into thinking you’re exercising. And watching a bit of TV.

HIIT: A Better Way

Let’s start with the benefits. HIIT, known more recently as Peak Fitness or Sprint 8, promotes fat loss/burning by increasing your resting metabolic rate and lowering your insulin resistance. Which means you’ll be burning calories long after your workout has finished, compared with other types of cardio. And not just calories. You’ll burn that hard to lose fat.

HIIT engages your super-fast muscle fibers. You have three types total: slow, fast and super-fast. Traditional cardio employs the slow fibers. Which in case you’re wondering, does little to nothing for your health. However, by stepping up the intensity, a lot I will admit, you can engage your super-fast muscle fibers, which may just be your personal fountain of youth.

The most amazing benefit of HIIT is the release of HGH that it promotes. Human Growth Hormone production declines after the age of 30, and it does so at a pretty fast rate. HGH is responsible for your energy levels, youthfulness, vitality. It is an anti-aging miracle worker. And the only way to get this benefit from a cardio program is to perform high intensity interval exercises.

The How

You can adjust this however you like, but here’s the way I do it. Warm up on the bike or treadmill for 2-3 minutes. Then alternate between an all-out 30 second sprint at maximum effort, followed by a 90 second period of low intensity or rest. You do 8 of these “sprints” then another 2-3 minutes to cool down. And you’re done. If you’re just beginning a cardio program, perhaps you’ll want to do fewer sprints and more warm up. Or decrease the length of each sprint if need be.

The beautiful thing about HIIT is that it’s tailored to your fitness level. Whether you’re super fit or not fit at all, everyone can benefit from this and improve their cardio endurance. The key is your level of intensity. If you’re a beginner, take it slow if you need to, but once your cardio fitness begins to improve, you’ll need to bring that intensity more and more and with each and every sprint.

13 Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise

By Sophia Breene

Many people hit the gym or pound the pavement to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle, and of course, get a rockin’ bod, but working out has above-the-neck benefits, too. For the past decade or so, scientists have pondered how exercising can boost brain function. Regardless of age or fitness level (yup, this includes everyone from mall-walkers to marathoners), studies show that making time for exercise provides some serious mental benefits. Get inspired to exercise by reading up on these unexpected ways that working out can benefit mental health, relationships and lead to a healthier and happier life overall.

1. Reduce Stress
Rough day at the office? Take a walk or head to the gym for a quick workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So go ahead and get sweaty — working out can reduce stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. Win-win!

2. Boost Happy Chemicals
Slogging through a few miles on the ‘mill can be tough, but it’s worth the effort! Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, docs recommend that people suffering from depression or anxiety (or those who are just feeling blue) pencil in plenty of gym time. In some cases, exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression. Don’t worry if you’re not exactly the gym rat type — getting a happy buzz from working out for just 30 minutes a few times a week can instantly boost overall mood.

3. Improve Self-Confidence
Hop on the treadmill to look (and more importantly, feel) like a million bucks. On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness, that is, self-worth. How’s that for feeling the (self) love?

4. Enjoy The Great Outdoors
For an extra boost of self-love, take that workout outside. Exercising in the great outdoors can increase self-esteem even more. Find an outdoor workout that fits your style, whether it’s rock-climbing, hiking, renting a canoe or just taking a jog in the park. Plus, all that Vitamin D acquired from soaking up the sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course!) can lessen the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms. Why book a spa day when a little fresh air and sunshine (and exercise) can work wonders for self-confidence and happiness?

5. Prevent Cognitive Decline
It’s unpleasant, but it’s true — as we get older, our brains get a little… hazy. As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the noggin actually shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can help shore up the brain against cognitive decline that begins after age 45 Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.

6. Alleviate Anxiety
Quick Q&A: Which is better at relieving anxiety — a warm bubble bath or a 20-minute jog? You might be surprised at the answer. The warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down. Hopping on the track or treadmill for some moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise (intervals, anyone?) can reduce anxiety sensitivity. And we thought intervals were just a good way to burn calories!

7. Boost Brainpower
Those buff lab rats might be smarter than we think. Various studies on mice and men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells (aka neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance. Ready to apply for a Nobel Prize? Studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning. Smarty (spandex) pants, indeed.

8. Sharpen Memory
Get ready to win big at Go Fish. Regular physical activity boosts memory and ability to learn new things. Getting sweaty increases production of cells in hippocampus responsible for memory and learning. For this reason, research has linked children’s brain development with level of physical fitness (take that, recess haters!). But exercise-based brainpower isn’t just for kids. Even if it’s not as fun as a game of Red Rover, working out can boost memory among grown-ups, too. A study showed that running sprints improved vocabulary retention among healthy adults.

9. Help Control Addiction
The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure, be that exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol or food. Unfortunately, some people become addicted to dopamine and dependent on the substances that produce it, like drugs or alcohol (and more rarely, food and sex). On the bright side, exercise can help in addiction recovery. Short exercise sessions can also effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts, making them de-prioritize cravings (at least in the short term). Working out when on the wagon has other benefits, too. Alcohol abuse disrupts many body processes, including circadian rhythms. As a result, alcoholics find they can’t fall asleep (or stay asleep) without drinking. Exercise can help reboot the body clock, helping people hit the hay at the right time.

10. Increase Relaxation
Ever hit the hay after a long run or weight session at the gym? For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia. Moving around five to six hours before bedtime raises the body’s core temperature. When the body temp drops back to normal a few hours later, it signals the body that it’s time to sleep.

11. Get More Done
Feeling uninspired in the cubicle? The solution might be just a short walk or jog away. Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers. While busy schedules can make it tough to squeeze in a gym session in the middle of the day, some experts believe that midday is the ideal time for a workout due to the body’s circadian rhythms.

12. Tap Into Creativity
Most people end a tough workout with a hot shower, but maybe we should be breaking out the colored pencils instead. A heart-pumping gym session can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. Supercharge post-workout inspiration by exercising outdoors and interacting with nature (see benefit #4). Next time you need a burst of creative thinking, hit the trails for a long walk or run to refresh the body and the brain at the same time.

13. Inspire Others
Whether it’s a pick-up game of soccer, a group class at the gym, or just a run with a friend, exercise rarely happens in a bubble. And that’s good news for all of us. Studies show that most people perform better on aerobic tests when paired up with a workout buddy. Pin it to inspiration or good old-fashioned competition, nobody wants to let the other person down. In fact, being part of a team is so powerful that it can actually raise athletes’ tolerances for pain. Even fitness beginners can inspire each other to push harder during a sweat session, so find a workout buddy and get moving!

Working out can have positive effects far beyond the gym (and beach season). Gaining self-confidence, getting out of a funk, and even thinking smarter are some of the motivations to take time for exercise on a regular basis.

What inspires you to stay fit?

What Motivates You To Succeed? 2 Significant Factors For Success

by Anil Mer­chant

I’m in a cross­fit gym, absolute­ly drenched in sweat and gasp­ing for air, with a train­er breath­ing down my neck yelling at me to push hard­er. Oth­ers around me have already given up, with just a few remain­ing sur­vivors. At this point, I have two options:

1) I drop what I’m doing and tell the train­er: “The heck with this! I’m pay­ing you, I’ll go at my own pace!”

2) I suck it up, some­how muster up some more ener­gy, give it all I got and push hard­er.

I chose option two.

Why did I choose option two? My body was telling me oth­er­wise. My mind was telling me oth­er­wise. All nat­ur­al rea­son­ing point­ed to giv­ing it a rest. Yet I chose to con­tin­ue on. Why? What is it that moti­vates peo­ple to go above and beyond. Why is it that, given a group of say 10 peo­ple of sim­i­lar abil­i­ty, one per­son will come out on top? In short, what is it that moti­vates peo­ple to suc­ceed?

I’ve ana­lyzed the above moment over and over again and have extract­ed two con­cepts that drive me. Two con­cepts that moti­vate me to suc­ceed in all areas, whether it be phys­i­cal fit­ness or my career. And while I cer­tain­ly can’t speak for every­one, I’d like to share these two ideas here. So, with­out fur­ther ado:

1) Com­pet­i­tive­ness – the desire to come out on top

In the above exam­ple, there were a group of 15 of us in that par­tic­u­lar cross­fit ses­sion. Although this wasn’t a direct com­pe­ti­tion, it was clear in each per­son’s eyes that every man or woman want­ed to last longer than the other. I want­ed to win and this desire alone allowed me to mask out all other feel­ings and con­tin­ue going. It is sim­ply the com­pet­i­tive nature of Human Beings. How­ev­er, some are more com­pet­i­tive than oth­ers and strive hard­er to prove so. Larry Elli­son, when dis­cussing yacht rac­ing, once said: “I’m addict­ed to win­ning. The more you win, the more you want to win.” And this seems to be a shared tes­ta­ment amongst all those who are most suc­cess­ful at what­ev­er it is they may do. It is well known that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were incred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive and drove each other to inno­vate and suc­ceed. Like­wise, sev­er­al mem­bers of the Forbes ‘World’s Bil­lion­aires list’ have stat­ed repeat­ed­ly that they strong­ly desire to con­tin­ue to move up the rank­ings and will con­tin­ue to pur­sue the top spot for as long as they are able. These peo­ple have more money than most peo­ple can ever fath­om, yet are dri­ven by just the hand­ful of peo­ple that are finan­cial­ly ahead of them. Com­pe­ti­tion from oth­ers is a great force in moti­vat­ing peo­ple to push hard­er to suc­ceed.

2) Know­ing deep down that this is for my own ben­e­fit

This one may be a bit more per­son­al. Let me again ref­er­ence the above exam­ple. When given the choice whether to stop or con­tin­ue, I had a split sec­ond to make my deci­sion. I’ve real­ized that with­in that short peri­od of time, I remind­ed myself that I was in fact doing this for my own good. The hard­er I train (with­out push­ing myself to injury of course), the more I ben­e­fit. Sure, I had already com­plet­ed a vig­or­ous work­out and could’ve eas­i­ly stopped at that point, but I had one final push in me and I knew that by choos­ing to con­tin­ue, I would reap the ben­e­fits. Con­stant­ly remind­ing myself that the hard­er I train, the hard­er I work, and the hard­er I try will ben­e­fit me in the long run, moti­vates me to keep going until I’m able to attain the level of suc­cess I desire.

Moti­va­tion, it’s a curi­ous thing. I don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly believe that the above two items are uni­ver­sal moti­vat­ing fac­tors for all peo­ple, but I do know that they drive me to reach lev­els I once deemed impos­si­ble and I strong­ly believe that each and every per­son has his or her own moti­vat­ing forces some­where with­in them­selves.

What moti­vates you to suc­ceed?

Anil Mer­chant is a Soft­ware Engi­neer by day and founder at Ent­fu­sion by night, where he also main­tains a per­son­al blog Ent­fu­sion is a social plat­form aimed to help con­nect cus­tomers search­ing for enter­tain­ment ven­dors and vice-versa. In his spare time, he enjoys stay­ing active through weight-lifting and box­ing. Con­nect with Anil on Twit­ter!

3 Ways Sweat Makes You Smarter


by: Madeline Haller

Fit body, fitter brain. People who regularly exercised when they were younger performed better on memory and functioning tests at age 50 than those who didn’t hit the gym growing up, according to a new study in Psychological Medicine.

Here are three more ways being physically fit also makes you mentally strong:

1. You Remember More
Incorporating a short burst of exercise into your daily routine may strengthen your memory, says research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. People who cycled on a stationary bike for 6 minutes were able to remember more images an hour after riding than those who stayed sedentary. Researchers credit the exercise-induced release of norepinephrine—a chemical in the brain that plays a role in memory—for the brain boost.

2. You Have More Willpower
A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that shorter, more intense bouts of exercise enhanced people’s self-control, problem solving, and verbal reasoning. Scientists suspect that acute exercise increases blood flow to your prefrontal cortex, the area of your brain that controls executive functions.

3. You Make Smarter Decisions
Researchers from the University of Illinois reviewed over 100 studies and found several connections linking exercise to better decision-making and multitasking skills. Studies also found that exercise stimulates your body’s production of a protein called insulin-like growth factor-1, which has been shown to fire up the growth of neurons and enhance cognitive performance. The best part: Most of the research indicates that sweating 3 days a week for 30 minutes is enough to see an effect.