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5 Top exercises to reach your New Year fitness goals in just 11 minutes a day

Every year we all make the same New Year’s resolutions. This year will definitely be the year you say, as you head back to the gym for the first time in months. However, as many of us know from experience, keeping up with our fitness goals can be a challenge. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our levels of physical activity over the past two years. Many of us have become used to spending more time indoors and sedentary, raising some concerns about the long-term health effects of sedentary lifestyles.

For Hispanic and Latino populations, primary health concerns include high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. These issues can be improved or prevented through exercise and lifestyle changes. 

However, busy lives and work often prevent us from taking the time to exercise consistently. We already know sitting at a desk for hours a day isn’t good for us, but it often seems impossible to squeeze in a daily workout, especially when for years we have been told to live by the “1 hour of exercise” rule. Some days, one full hour just isn’t possible.

Luckily, a new study has found that we can still reap health benefits by exercising even for just 11 minutes a day. Maybe we won’t have to scrap our fitness goals just yet.  

Benefits of just 11 minutes of exercise a day

In the study conducted by the Norwegian School of Sports Medicine, researchers found that just 11 minutes of moderate exercise per day can give you long-term health benefits, offset the effects of prolonged sitting, and add years to your life. 

The study sampled 44,000 men and women for a period between four and 14 and a half years, using activity monitors to measure “moderate-to-vigorous” physical activity. Researchers used these calculations and compared them to participants’ time while sedentary. Through their data, they found that overall, people who exercised for 35 minutes a day saw the biggest results in terms of health, but the study also showed that those who exercised at least 11 minutes a day also saw benefits. 

But 11 minutes is much less than the “1 hour” previous studies have reported, so what’s changed? Well, nothing, except how researchers approached collecting their data. Previous studies relied on “self-reported exposure data,” meaning exercise times were based on people’s recollections of physical activity, rather than hard data. Human memory is flawed, as we all know, and many people are prone to either overestimate their exercise time and intensity or underestimate the amount of time spent sedentary. 

You might be interested: When is the best time of day to exercise?

Reaching your fitness goals: Exercises to try at home

So what can you do to reach your 11-minute exercise quota and stick to your New Year fitness goals? 

There are tons of options. Here are our top 5: 

office exercises

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

  1. Yoga: Practicing yoga is a great way to get your body moving while also relieving stress and fostering your mind-body connection. If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, just unroll your mat, set a timer for 11 minutes and go through any number of combinations of your favorite yoga poses. If you’re new to yoga there are also many resources online. Just open up YouTube and search for some beginner yoga videos to get yourself started. 
  2. Full body workout: When selecting your exercises, try to pick a sequence of movements that will engage your body in a workout of moderate effort. Mix in cardio and weights to reap the most benefits. There are plenty of great short workout routines to follow online, many of which require no equipment either. This 10-minute standing abs workout is one of my go-tos. 
  3. Dancing: Who doesn’t love to dance? This one is pretty easy and requires no equipment. Just pop on some of your favorite upbeat tunes and get moving! Dance like no one’s watching. You only need about 3 – 4 songs to reach your 11-minute mark, but you’ll likely want to keep going once you get into it. 
  4. A brisk walk: Many of us underestimate the power of a good walk. While winter months may make it more of a challenge or daunting task, a short brisk walk every day will do wonders for your health. Additionally, just spending time in nature while you move will also help improve your mental health. However, if you really can’t get outside for a walk, then try this indoor walking routine.
  5. Bike riding: Lastly, like walking, bike riding often gets looked over. But again, the benefits of a quick bike ride are so worth it. Just take a spin around the block. You can even go on a social distance bike ride with friends or family. And being out in nature will boost your mood too.

Reaching your New Year fitness goals doesn’t seem so daunting when it’s just 11 minutes, right?

 

 

Are New Year’s “resolutions” even worth it anymore? 

Every year, as we cross the imaginary line from one year to the next, our minds “reset” with plans to tackle in the new year. Many of us will set New Year’s resolutions and work diligently at them…for about two months. Yes, we’ve all been there. We set so many goals and we’re bursting with that new year positivity, we’re feeling fresh and creative and like anything is possible. And then that feeling fades and many of us fall back on our old habits and routines. 

If this feeling is familiar, then you might be one of the many people who have decided to give up on making New Year’s resolutions altogether. What’s the point, right? However, in a time where every day feels uncertain and we are still struggling through a global pandemic, having hope for the future is essential. 

When we have goals, we can plan and begin to imagine that future. And when things are uncertain, it’s good to have something on the horizon to look forward to and work toward. If you’re looking back at past failed resolutions, fear not! You can achieve your goals for the new year, you may just need to restructure how you think about your goals and your process for setting those intentions. 

Making your New Year’s resolutions last year-round

Contrary to popular belief, it’s okay if you don’t achieve all the goals you set out for the year, but even more, there’s no reason you need to be setting huge, year-long goals. That’s right, your goals can be simple. Better yet, your goals can be building blocks for those larger, daunting goals. 

Change doesn’t happen overnight. The new habits you may want to build and the things you want to accomplish will take time. It’s easy to get discouraged when we do not see progress right away. This is why many give up on their New Year’s resolutions so quickly. 

New Year's resolutions

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya from Pexels

The key is to start small

For a few years now, I have not been setting “big” goals. Instead, I have been setting intentions and small goals that can be built up over time. Focusing on the “building blocks” instead of the final structure will help you get there faster. The larger end goal will seem less daunting and become more reachable as you slowly build up to it with smaller accomplishments. 

By narrowing your focus and working toward something small, you will be able to gain momentum on larger projects and goals. Instead of setting a bunch of big goals for the entire year, set smaller monthly goals. You can even break it down further with bi-weekly or weekly goals too. 

Once you feel yourself succeeding and accomplishing your small goals, you’ll start to feel that energy rise, and the big dream won’t seem so distant or unattainable anymore. 

As we enter the new year, think of those projects or goals you want to accomplish this year and break that down into smaller goals. 

What can you do to get started? What will be the first step? 

Remember, not every race is won by long strides. Sometimes you need to pace yourself and start off slow to build up that momentum. If you take the time to nurture your small goals, pretty soon you’ll be coming up on the horizon of those big dreams!

What are some monthly goals you’ll set this January? Let us know down below or on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn

Another reason to exercise every day during the holidays

William B. Farquhar, Professor at University of Delaware shares how daily exercise can prevent high blood pressure–a primary health concern for Hispanic and Latino populations. 

Yes, of course we all know we should exercise every day during the holiday season to help counter the onslaught of excess calories that started on Thanksgiving and will mercifully end with a New Year’s toast.

We may even tire of hearing about exercise and weight from family, friends and the media. But an equally important reason to exercise every day is related to blood pressure, not waistline.

As a physiologist who has studied exercise and health for over 20 years, I can tell you that exercise lowers blood pressure – and does so right away.
Whether you go for a daily run or brisk walk, every time you finish exercising your blood pressure goes down, and stays down for many hours, which is good for your overall health. Here’s why.

Immediate drop in blood pressure occurs

The immediate blood pressure lowering effect of exercise is referred to as “post-exercise hypotension,” and many studies have shown that blood pressure declines 5 to 7 mmHg after every exercise session. The mechanisms responsible for lowering blood pressure immediately after exercise are not fully understood, but involve dilation of the blood vessels. Whatever the precise cause, this phenomenon is clearly beneficial.

During exercise the opposite occurs, blood pressure actually increases dramatically. Why? We are hardwired to exercise. When we exercise, our working muscles need oxygen-rich blood. Our brain signals the heart to increase blood flow and blood pressure rises. Systolic blood pressure (top number) can exceed 180 mmHg during hard exercise.

This sounds like a crazy-high number, and it would be if a reading like this were taken while seated, but it is not unusual during strenuous exercise. High blood pressure values during exercise are offset by the many low values recorded after exercise, to the benefit of the body.

high blood pressure, hypertension

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Why worry about blood pressure? Simply put, high blood pressure (i.e., hypertension) kills. It is estimated that hypertension is a primary or contributing cause of death of more than 400,000 Americans annually. Estimates suggest that one billion people worldwide have hypertension. Here in the U.S., one-third of the population is hypertensive, and these numbers are projected to rise 7 percent by 2030. This is not just a concern for older adults – one estimate suggests that 19 percent of young adults have hypertension.

Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. The societal costs of hypertension are astronomical. When you consider the cost of health care services, medications and missed days of work, estimates suggest that hypertension costs the U.S. US$46 billion per year. Often, there are no signs or symptoms of hypertension, which is why it is referred to as the “silent killer.” Even among adults who have been diagnosed with hypertension, nearly half do not have it under control despite taking medications. Needless to say, anything you can do to lower your blood pressure will lower your risk of disease.

Great news: You don’t have to spend hours on this

As my colleagues and I point out in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, exercise guidelines for those with hypertension emphasize the importance of daily or near-daily exercise to lower blood pressure. While the guidelines focus on those diagnosed with hypertension, daily exercise can benefit everyone.

To some, daily exercise may seem onerous, but the good news is that the exercise need not be intense or lengthy – moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking for 30 minutes will lead to reductions in blood pressure. There is even evidence that short exercise bouts throughout the day (e.g., 10 minutes, three times per day) can lower blood pressure.

The bottom line is that exercising every day (and obviously eating less) will help prevent holiday weight gain, but an equally important benefit of daily exercise is lower blood pressure.The Conversation

You might be interested: Start the conversation about Latino health concerns this Family Health History Day 


William B. Farquhar, Professor of Kinesiology & Applied Physiology, University of Delaware

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

overeating while working from home

Kick the habit! How to avoid overeating when working from home

If you’ve been working from home this past year, then you might have picked up some new eating habits. You may have found yourself in the kitchen snacking throughout the workday more often than usual, and now you’re thinking: how can I avoid overeating when working from home? If this is you, then read on for tips on how to break the habit! 

overeating when working from home

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Understanding why you overeating may be overeating 

You may have heard that unhealthy eating on the job is now considered to be an occupational hazard according to the World Health Organization. For years, employees have been munching on unhealthy snacks and drinking gallons of coffee every working minute. Employers often believe that offering food is a great way to boost workers’ moral and short breaks mean that getting quality food isn’t always an option. Most people end up opting for fast food and sugary snacks. 

If you’re struggling now while working from home, you may be asking yourself: Why? Well, one possibility is old habits are hard to break. If past eating habits have been ingrained in your mind from your traditional work environment, then you may be seeking to replicate those habits now. Familiarity is comforting. Do you find yourself constantly going for another coffee? Or reaching for just one more cookie or bagel? You may be looking for old comforts, but without anyone around there’s no one stopping you when you end up eating the whole box of cookies or drink that whole pot of coffee! 

Another reason why you may find yourself overeating when working from home is simply brain chemistry. These are stressful times we’re living in. The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed our lives and made the future landscape unpredictable. 

In an article with BBC, Las Vegas-based clinical psychologist Cortney Warren says, “A lot of people are struggling with their eating right now – and probably in different ways than they’re used to. There is certainly a great deal of research to suggest that when people are in a crisis situation, when they are highly stressed, one of the first things that will change is their eating behaviour.”

Foods make us feel good. The body tends to crave high-calorie and high-sugar foods during times of stress. These foods provide short-term bursts of energy that help get us through the moment. Additionally stress leads to higher cortisol levels, which can increase your appetite causing you to seek out a quick fix. Sugary foods also generate dopamine which is the neurotransmitter associated with motivation and reward. So eating can literally make you feel better on a chemical level during times of high stress.

While the science says it’s making us feel good, it may not always be the healthiest coping mechanism. If you feel you’ve been overeating too much while working from home, then here are a few tips to help break that habit. 

Here are some tips on how to break this habit and avoid overeating while working from home 

Don’t work near the kitchen: Put some distance between you and the source. You’ll be less tempted to check the fridge and if you have to get up frequently and walk all the way over to the kitchen for your snacks, then you’re more likely to stop yourself before you get there. 

Meal prep ahead of time: If you have your meals and snacks for the day already planned and prepared, then you’re less likely to mindlessly snack throughout the day. One big cause of overeating or mindless snacking is convenience. We like things quickly available. If you take the time to pre-cut fruits and veggies for snacks and prep your lunches, then your healthy foods become “fast food” too! Keep a “menu” for the day or work week and hang it on your fridge as a reminder. 

Portion out your meals: Like meal prepping, it’s important to properly portion your serving sizes to avoid overeating. Never eat snacks straight out of the bag or container. Many snacks like chips are designed to be very tasty and addictive. Once you start snacking you may find it hard to know when to stop if you’re eating straight from the bag. Instead, you could divide that large chip bag into smaller zip bags to have ready for when you want that quick snack but don’t want to overeat. 

Stay hydrated: Did you know, your body often confuses thirst with hunger? Sometimes you may think you’re hungry but you’re actually just thirsty. Dehydration can also lead to headaches and fatigue. So make sure you’re staying properly hydrated throughout the day and you may find that you’re no longer craving as many snack breaks as before. 

Don’t buy unhealthy snacks: If junk food isn’t around in the first place, you’ll be less likely to eat it when looking for a quick snack. Instead stock up on healthy snacks such as yogurt, nuts, veggies or fruit. In other words: If you can’t kick your cookie cravings, don’t buy them to begin with.

You might be interested5 Things entrepreneurs can do to achieve their goals in the new year

If you’ve been struggling with overeating while working from home, don’t feel bad or guilty because you’re definitely not alone. Food is fun. Food makes us happy. And habits can be hard to break, especially during a stressful year like 2020 when we’re all just looking for ways to cope and feel better. But if overeating is a habit you’re looking to kick in the new year, then give these tips a try. You’ve got this!