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March 2019 – Try a New Move

“Snack” on Exercise One of the most commonly cited reasons for not keeping physically active is just not having time. If this doesn’t apply to you, congrats! You’ve beaten one massive hurdle to regular physical activity. If it does, scientists have thoroughly investigated a style of exercise called high-intensity interval training, or H.I.I.T. (pronounced “hit”), which involves short intervals of all-out, maximum effort exercise flanked by longer bouts of lower intensity exercise. For example, a H.I.I.T workout could be repeated intervals of cycling as fast and as powerfully as possible for 20 seconds, then cycling at a slow, relaxed pace for 60 seconds until you’ve cycled for a total of 15-20 minutes. These workouts come in many forms (find free full H.I.I.T. workouts here) and can last minutes to hours, but if you truly give your all during the high-intensity Read More

March 2019 – Stress Less

Train Your Self-Esteem “Without it, you can do little. With it, you can do anything.” No, we aren’t talking about money. We’re talking about self-esteem, a trait often understood as something you either have or you don’t.  Individuals who report high levels of self-esteem claim to be more likable and attractive, have better relationships and make better impressions on others than individuals who report low levels (though, objective measures show these assumptions aren't valid). The good news is that self-esteem isn’t a fixed state as it may wax and wane through the lifespan. We also know it’s a lot like a muscle that can be trained to grow stronger. How can you start training your self-esteem?   Start by completing this reflective exercise. Take a few minutes to write a short description of yourself. Use adjectives to describe your mood, Read More

March 2019 – Try a New Food

Munch Through March Madness If you’re one of the 97+ million U.S. viewers of NCAA’s March Madness, you’re bound to be tempted by typical gameday snacks. Wing orders alone increase by 24% during the tournament, and if your favorite team loses, you’re more likely to indulge in a variety of gameday treats.  Pizza and dessert orders also increase by 19% and 9%, respectively, following losses versus wins. But what about the beer? Three and a half million extra cases of it are produced in March to keep up with demand. It’s already easy to overeat traditional gameday foods (pizza, wings, chips, dips, and desserts) that are notoriously high in salt, sugar, and fat. It's a combination that fires-up our brain’s reward center and steers us towards overeating and unintended weight gain. Add distracted eating to the mix during March Madness, Read More

March 2019 – Exercise Your Brain

Embrace Learning We talk a lot about healthy aging concerning our body, but what about our mind? Our current knowledge of strategies for promoting brain health is limited. However, research suggests two beneficial actions can help: 1) achieve at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity throughout the week to delay the onset of cognitive decline; and 2) eat five one-cup equivalent servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. But beyond exercise and balanced eating, what else can you do? Embrace learning! Your brain has what’s known as plasticity, or the ability to learn and grow as you age. The process of learning new information can stimulate the growth of new brain cells and help prevent cognitive decline over time. Learning new complex skills strengthens connections between parts of your brain. We know that brain exercises like puzzles and word Read More

February 2019 – Try a New Move

Vacuum and…hold! What if you could train your core by laying on the floor? This month’s new move—vacuum holds—aims to strengthen your transverse abdominis, combat lower back pain, and improve posture. “Vacuum holds” earn their name from the belly suctioning action needed to engage your transverse abdominis. Grab a group of coworkers and try this out before or after your lunch break.  Read on to find a set of abdominal exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home (or workplace or hotel) tonight! Your transverse abdominis runs horizontally between your ribs and pelvis and is one of the deepest core muscles in your body, acting as a stabilizer for the entire lower back and lumbar spine. In fact, some fitness professionals consider this to be one of the most important core muscles in the body! When activated, Read More

February 2019 – Try a New food

Banana Toast Stuck in a breakfast or snack rut? Mix things up with banana and whole grain bread!  Read below to find out more about this winning combination. If you’ve ever made avocado toast, you’ll be a banana toast pro! If you have them, choose greenish, slightly unripe bananas for this recipe since they contain higher concentrations of prebiotic fiber compared to their fully ripe counterpart. Spot prebiotic-rich, slightly unripe bananas at the grocery store by looking for green tips with minimal brown freckling. Ripe bananas, on the other hand, are thoroughly yellow and lightly flecked with brown spots.  While bananas are a nutritious choice at any stage of ripeness, less ripe bananas have additional gastrointestinal benefits. That’s because fewer starches have been converted to sugar through ripening, resulting in more indigestible prebiotic fiber (and milder sweetness). Prebiotic fiber—also known Read More

February 2019 – Try Something Nice

Strengthen social connections You may have heard that people from the Mediterranean region are the healthiest on the planet, with low risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and depression. Good nutrition and physical activity are not the only reasons for these health benefits. A major contributing factor of the Mediterranean Lifestyle includes social connectedness.   The Mediterranean Diet ranked first place as U.S. News and World Report’s Best Overall Diet of 2019, beating the ketogenic diet (#38) and Whole30 Diet (also #38) by a longshot. Although there’s no official definition of a Mediterranean eating pattern, it’s generally characterized by lots of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, low-fat or fat-free dairy, plant oils, and seafood. Chicken and other meat products (especially red) are included sparingly—just a few times a month. Not sold yet? Many proponents Read More

February 2019 – Exercise Your Brain

Pair temptations and exercise for success! We’re one month into the New Year and we hope that new gym membership is being utilized to its full potential! Even though we feel better inside and out when we get our daily recommended 30-60 minutes of physical activity, getting back into a workout routine after a hiatus can be difficult. So, what can you do to nudge your brain towards turning healthy intentions into reality?  Temptation bundling is a psychological technique that can help you get to the gym by combining pleasurable activities with exercise. How does it work? Maybe you discovered a sensational podcast or tempting TV series and you’re teetering on whether you should stay in and relax or bust out an hour-long cycling session. The idea is to combine these activities, so you only listen to the podcast or Read More

January 2019 – Exercise Your Brain

Identify your bias Are you biased? Of course you are! We all have biases that can help or hurt how we navigate the world and the people in it. Our biases can be explicit or implicit, meaning we’re aware or unaware of them, respectively. Explicit biases are simpler to address because we’re conscious of them. On the other hand, our implicit biases are involuntary and might not align with our declared beliefs. The problem is that these biases could cause us to inadvertently engage with viewpoints we don’t truly agree with. Good news! Implicit biases are malleable; our brains are incredibly complex, so the negative associations we’ve formed through our lifetime can be unlearned. The first step, though, is identifying your implicit biases. Get your results by taking an implicit bias test from Project Implicit at Harvard University: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

January 2019 – Simple Ways to Stress Less

Donate Blood New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to be related to your physical health. New Year’s Resolutions don’t just relate to your physical health, your emotional health and wellbeing are often even more important. Research shows that doing something nice and helping others is associated with a myriad of health benefits including: reduced stress, improved emotional wellbeing, a sense of belonging/reduce isolation feelings, and even decreased negative feelings.  Do something nice for others to put a smile on their face and yours. Did you know January is National Blood Donor Month?!  Try something nice this month by donating blood! One blood donation can save up to three lives and every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Learn more about giving blood at www.redcrossblood.org.

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