HAPPY NATIONAL WOMEN’S HEALTH WEEK!

woman getting her pulse checked

The United States Women’s National Health Week is from May 12th through the 18th this year! Here are a few ways to keep your health in check so that you can continue being the most badass version of yourself:

GET YOUR WELL WOMAN CHECKUP ASAP!

If you haven’t already gone in for your annual checkup, now’s the time to get it scheduled! I don’t know about you, but I’m a borderline hypochondriac so I’ll do anything that’ll reassure me that I’m not nine-months pregnant or that I have a rare, incurable disease. A thorough well-woman checkup will include preventative screenings such as breast examinations and pap smears.

START MOVIN’ AND GROOVIN’

Woman's silhouette running against the sunrise

According to World Health Organization, one in four adults live a sedentary lifestyle. This leaves you susceptible to common diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer. The good news is that it’s never too late to adopt a more active lifestyle.

Just recently I started seeing a personal trainer and I’ve never felt so strong in my life. Now, I’m not saying you suddenly have to start doing SoulCycle every week or become a yoga guru, but even just incorporating brisk 15-minute walks into your routine could make all the difference.

ADOPT A HEALTHIER DIET

Did you know your gut can tell you more about your current health state than any other part of your body? Think about it; how often do you deal with bloat or constipation or fatigue? It can even affect your sleep and weight! Bad gut health is a result of consistent bad eating habits (along with a few other factors such as stress levels and hydration). That means the best way to get your gut in check is to have a well-balanced diet. Try to cut back on foods with a high sugar or trans fat content and replace them with more fibrous foods. Maybe even get tested for subtle food allergies you might have.

Be warned though. Your doctor might tell you that you’re allergic to garlic and you’ll question everything you know about yourself – not that I’m projecting or anything.

Long story short vinas, a better balanced diet = happy gut = happy you.

KEEP YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IN CHECK

A girl reading poetry with a cup of tea

According to Women’s Health, one in five women in the United States (I’m sure it’s similar in other parts of the world) have experienced a mental health condition. Thankfully it’s becoming more acceptable to be open and honest about mental health issues in the workplace, in schools, and even between loved ones.

I personally struggle with depression and anxiety. It’s been a long road getting to a place where I can manage it better, but I still have a long way to go.

So here’s your reminder to be kind to and patient with yourselves vinas. Treat yourself to some “me days” accompanied with some wine (or coffee or tea) and a good book (or your favorite T.V. show). Of course these should not be in placement of treatments provided by a licensed therapist if you choose to seek one.

BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY

Here’s my last one for you vinas, and it’s an important one. Be sure to practice safe behaviors such as quitting smoking (or not starting), not texting while driving (I ain’t a saint, I struggle with this one too), wearing your seat belts, and using protection.

I want to end on a high note and remind all of you vinas that the first step to loving yourself is taking care of yourself, so please keep these tips in mind year-round.

Even better download the Hey! VINA app today and share these tips with some new life-long friends.

YOU’RE INVITED TO FREE HEY! VINA AND ATHLETA’S PARTNER WORKOUTS!

You know our goal at VINA is to connect you with more friends to have more fun, so we teamed up with Athleta to bring you a fun free workout class! Join us for a partner workout to make friends.

Feel free to come solo or being a friend to enjoy a fun morning that will include a partner-based workout, post class refreshments from Thistle, a raffle, do some shopping and more!

Here’s all the info you need. Click the link to RSVP!

SUNDAY, APRIL 28 AT 10AM AT ATHLETA
4505 La Jolla Village Drive
San Diego, CA 10:00am
Time: 10am-11:30am
RSVP HERE!

Class description: Get ready for a morning of shakes, sweat, and smiles with your fave gal pal! Relevate is a turbocharged barre sculpt workout that weaves together yoga, Pilates, heart-pumping cardio, and functional strength training to strengthen and lengthen your body. Join us for a barre-less workout incorporating partner poses that will not only challenge your body, but will also leave you feeling supported and uplifted!

SUNDAY, MAY 5 AT 9:30AM AT ATHLETA AT THE VILLAGE
6320 N. Topanga Canyon Boulevard
Woodland Hills, CA
Time: 9:30am-11am
RSVP HERE!

Class description: The theme for class will be to find strength in those around us. We’ll be starting the morning off with a “Power Circle” warm-up, complete with positive affirmations. This class is great for all levels and will leave you feeling strong as we use partners to strengthen our cores, dance our way out of our comfort zones and rely on each other to try some new partner yoga moves.

SUNDAY, MAY 19 AT 10AM AT ATHLETA AT THE POINT
830 South Sepulveda Boulevard
El Segundo, CA
Time: 10:00am-11:30am
RSVP HERE!

Class description: We invite you to join a special partner barre workout that’s based on ballet and infused with Pilates. No barre? No problem! You’ll get a full body workout from head to toe and work up a serious sweat all while leaning on & lending a hand to your workout partner. No technique or experience required, but be prepared to feel like a complete #BarreBabe at the end of this class!

See you there!!

XO,
Olivia
Founder and CEO of VINA

FINDING FRIENDSHIP THROUGH YOGA

This piece originally appeared on The Wanderlust Journal.

“All of my friends are guys. Girls are crazy.”

Somewhere between a relatively normal childhood and the high drama of my 20s, this became my story. It probably started somewhere in my relationship with my mom, gathered steam through a string of destructive romances, and was cemented in the bridge-burning melee of my party days.

I didn’t even know that I missed, or needed, female friendship until I finally broke free from my last toxic relationship. After a month-long, 200-hour yoga teacher training forced me to take a hard look at who I was and what I wanted, I packed up and left a five-year disaster.

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To my great surprise, a former roommate came through to nurse my wounds with home-cooked meals and motherly energy. I’d been less than kind to her when we lived together, as I was buried under the weight of daily heartbreak. But after the introspection of the training, I realized that her warmth was without pretense. The fact that she still wanted to be my friend after I’d been such a mess was the first step in unraveling my long-held self-loathing.

To continue reading, please click through to The Journal for more. 

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO KEEP HEALTHY HABITS?

Remember when you signed up for the gym and vowed to go every day? How are you doing on your weight loss goal? Just this morning my sister texted me saying, “I’m going to try and eat clean this week. I can’t stand the way I’ve been feeling.” So why do we make plans to make HEALTHY changes to our habits and fall short on the follow-through?

On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic. Two months doesn’t seem like a long time, but when you are attempting to make a healthy habit a part of your daily living, it can feel like decades. As humans, we gravitate toward the familiar, and we enjoy the sense of security that the repetition of our habits give us. We dish out some steps to overcoming that obstacle and getting that healthy habit to stick:

BE CLEAR WITH YOUR HABIT CHANGE

When you’re trying to set up a new healthy habit, it is very necessary to be as clear as possible with what you are changing. When you are thinking of your habit, view it as something you are already including with your daily life. When you make the habit precise and already in progress, your mind will subconsciously make the habit take affect. For example, if you want to drink more water, you can say, “I am having a bottle of water with my spinach salad today” or “I will refill my 20 ounce water bottle two more times before I leave the office.”

BITE-SIZE PIECES TASTE JUST AS GOOD

I have found that the smaller the habit change, the easier it is to keep it. Smaller scales mean smaller measurements—literally, if you’re counting calories! I take the ultimate goal that will result from my health habit change, and I break it down into small pieces. Let’s say I want to lose 50 pounds. Instead of looking at the BIG picture, I simply set my standard to 5’s. I measure my success on five-pound increments, 230 pounds, 225 pounds, 220 pounds, and so on. Each five-pound loss is a success and, eventually, they will accumulate to my overall total.

ASK YOUR VINAS FOR SOME HELP

Holding yourself accountable can be difficult, but very well worth it. There are a lot of apps that help remind and track your habit changes. If your phone is stuck in your hand most of the day, what better way to get into your healthy habit than with a pesky notification reminding you? The tried-and-true method of paper tracking is still a great option for people that use planners and rely on them for their daily tasks.

One of the most effective ways of accountability is inviting a friend along. Choose a vina that you trust, can be honest with, and will have your best interest at heart. Leaving yourself open and vulnerable to hearing feedback from your vina will persuade you to make the right decisions and follow through with your healthy habits.

Habits are hard to break. The ones that we have already formed have been a part of our daily lives and have given us to comfort and solace that we are always seeking. Creating a new healthy habit out of an old one will take time, but once you see the change you expected, it will be worth it.

Join other vinas trying to keep healthy habits on Hey! VINA, hold each other to your goals, and, most importantly, support each other!

GET ACTIVE WITHOUT HITTING THE OUTDOORS

The winter months are settling in, bringing in the cold front with them. Perhaps you’re an outdoor vina during the summer, or never at all in any weather; it’s time to shake up your exercise routine with these effective and easy exercises—all from the comfort of the indoors!

BURPEES

This is one of the best workouts ever.  With every burpee, you are engaging your arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings and abs. Plus, no extra equipment is required (win).  For beginners, 10 burpees at a time are enough.  As you become fitter, increase the reps, but not the number of burpees per rep. For the right way to do a burpee, we consulted fitnessmagazine.com:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight in your heels, and your arms at your sides.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat.
  3. Place your hands on the floor directly in front of, and just inside, your feet. Shift your weight onto them.
  4. Jump your feet back to softly land on the balls of your feet in a plank position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to heels. Be careful not to let your back sag or your butt stick up in the air, as both can keep you from effectively working your core.
  5. Jump your feet back so that they land just outside of your hands.
  6. Reach your arms overhead and explosively jump up into the air.
  7. Land and immediately lower back into a squat for your next rep.

SQUATS 

Do a squat challenge first thing in the morning.  There are a lot of variations on the internet, so choose the one you feel most comfortable with.  Don’t overdo it: start small at the beginning. Add dumbbells to your squat challenge as you grow stronger.  The correct way to do a squat is as follows:

  1. Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out.
  2. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance. You can also bend the elbows or clasp the fingers.
  3. Sit back and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your head facing forward as your upper body bends forward a bit. Rather than allowing your back to round, let your lower back arch slightly as you descend.
  4. Lower down so your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible, with your knees over your ankles. Press your weight back into your heels.
  5. Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position.

 

YOGA

Yoga is definitely a must if you don’t like to go outside.  I love salutations.  It’s a full body workout and great for people with injuries who can’t do weight training or a lot of cardio.  It also stretches your muscles, tightens your core, and makes you feel extra good afterward.  While there are many forms of yoga, begin with a simple Sun Salutation sequence. Do a couple of reps to get a good flow going – but don’t push too hard; make sure your body is feeling energized and nimble, and stop once you’re at this point.  For the right way to do a full salutation, I consulted Yogajournal.com (watch their video above to follow along):

  1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Stand with your feet slightly apart and parallel to each other. Stretch your arms (but not rigidly) down alongside your torso, palms turned out, shoulders released.

2. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Inhale and sweep your arms overhead in wide arcs. If your shoulders are tight, keep your hands apart and gaze straight ahead. Otherwise, bring your palms together, drop your head back, and gaze up at your thumbs.

3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Exhaling, release your arms in wide arcs as you fold forward. Bend your knees if you feel pressure on your lower back and support your hands on blocks if they don’t reach the floor. Release your neck so that your head hangs heavily from your upper spine.

4. Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend

Inhale and push your fingertips down into the floor, straighten your elbows, then lift your front torso away from your thighs. Lengthen the front of your torso as you arch evenly along the entire length of your spine.

5. Plank Pose

Inhale and bring your torso forward until your shoulders are over your wrists. Your arms will be perpendicular to the floor. Try not to let your upper back collapse between the shoulder blades: press your outer arms inward, and then—against this resistance—spread your shoulder blades apart. Firm your tailbone against your pelvis and press your thighs up.

6. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

Exhale as you bend your elbows and lower down to Chaturanga with your torso and legs parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulders lifted up, away from the floor, and down, away from your ears. Lift the thighs away from the floor, lengthen your tailbone toward your heels, and draw the lower ribs away from the floor to avoid collapsing your lower back. Look down at the floor or slightly forward. If you can’t maintain your alignment, place your knees on the floor until you have built more strength.

7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose

Inhale, straighten your arms, and sweep your chest forward into Up Dog. Keep your legs active, firm your tailbone toward your heels, and press your front thighs upward. Draw your shoulders away from your ears. Look straight ahead or look slightly upward.

8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

Exhale back to Downward-Facing Dog. To finish the Sun Salutation, step the right foot forward into a lunge, then inhale back into Half Standing Forward Bend and exhale into Forward Bend. Inhale and roll your spine up to Upward Salute and exhale to Mountain Pose. Observe your body and breath.

COOL DOWN

Whatever exercise you choose to do, end by devoting at least 20 to 25 percent of your total practice time to Savasana (Corpse Pose). Lie down on the floor with hands and legs outstretched – let gravity take a toll and relax. This lets your muscles stretch out and cool down. If you’d rather follow a stretching video, this one from Popsugar is a great one.

Get into an exercise routine by enlisting your vinas as workout buddies; Download the Hey! VINA app to meet like-minded souls in the Athletes and Yogis communities!

REVERSE BODY TRANSFORMATION: WHAT IS IT?

Reverse body transformation—what is it? It’s what happens when you realize that whatever you’ve been doing has been working for your body but not for your happiness. We take our hats off to anyone who has stuck it out and lost the weight, but we also have tremendous respect for the women who have decided that enough is enough. What is good for one is not necessarily good for another, and the sooner everyone understands that, the better.

While one person may feel exhilaration every time they eat peas and carrots and avoid chocolates and cakes, others feel miserable and measured. When your happiness is dependent on what society’s ideas of happiness is, and when it’s rooted in what you believe is acceptable and standard, you will lose yourself in that standard. It won’t matter how much weight you lose, you will never feel like you measure up. Self-love is about so much more than what we see in the mirror.

I’ve done both the transformation and the reverse transformation, and while I can’t really choose which one made me happier, I can say that I enjoyed having a body goal. Mostly because it taught me that anything with the right amount of discipline is a one-way train to achieving goals. What I learned from the reverse transformation is that I guilt myself way too much. I’m my biggest critic, and I body shame myself probably between 20 and 30 times a day. We are so harsh on ourselves, to the point where it’s hard to take a compliment because you’ve told yourself so many negative things. You couldn’t possibly believe something positive is true.

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Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on Pexels.com

If your spirit is telling you (whether it’s a whisper or a scream) to STOP what you’re doing and take stock of who you are and who you want to be, that is a good place to start asking yourself if you’re really investing in your own happiness, or in an idea of happiness that you have somehow forced yourself to believe.

I am not at all saying that choosing to live a healthy lifestyle is taboo and you shouldn’t do it. I am also not saying that you should let yourself go and not give two hoots about your body. No, the complete opposite. We only have one body, we can’t trade it in for a new one when it’s dead. I’m simply saying that if something isn’t working for you and you are unhappy all the time because you’re hungry, or your lifestyle change is causing you to binge eat your favorite foods, or if you hate yourself for missing a workout and eating that Oreo, then maybe it’s not for you. Maybe you should try something else.  Something that you actually enjoy doing that will keep you healthy, motivated, and most of all HAPPY!

Diane Flores was a bodybuilder when she decided enough is enough. On her website, Living the Goddess Life, she talks about winning 1st place and the overall in the masters division in her last competition and even then feeling incomplete and unhappy. Today, she looks happier than she’s ever been, loves herself to the fullest, and teaches women all over the world what it means to feel sexy, how to chuck that insecurity, and why losing weight in order to feel sexy is a no go.

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Megan Jayne Crabbe’s transformation is absolutely insane. She said that her new body is her happy body and that happiness isn’t a size. Totally agree, girl! Crabbe struggled with an eating disorder in her teens and almost lost her life because of it. That’s when she started her transformation to a healthier, happier version of the always beautiful her.

Body ideals turn us into monsters. We hate ourselves because we believe that those women who have the six pack and the chiseled, lean arms, and the 15% body fat have it all and if we could only look like that we would be happy. It works for them, it doesn’t mean that it will work for you. And remember, it may look like they have it all because of all that, but chances are they have just as many insecurities as you.

I just love Jennifer Lawrence’s idea about self-love. She was interviewed by Cosmopolitan in 2014 and stated that she sees herself as a Victoria’s Secret model all the time. That is a darn great place to be. I sincerely hope that every one of us can one day wake up and just be happy with the way we look and how we are built. That our minds are not consumed with hurtful confidence-breaking words about our perfect bodies, and that we will just love ourselves and see ourselves the way our loved ones see us. As the person we truly are, and that person is perfect.

Transform your idea of beauty and happiness with all the vinas you’re about to meet on the Hey! VINA app now!

INCREASE YOUR LONGEVITY WITH THIS EASY TRICK

Resistance training (weightlifting, bench-pressing, etc.) typically gets a lot less attention than aerobic exercise. While doctors frequently tout the latter for its health benefits, far less is known about the effects of resistance training, until now.

A team of researchers, lead by D.C. (Duck-chul) Lee, Ph.D., an associate professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, conducted a study of nearly 13,000 adults over a 10 year period and found that strength training or weightlifting for less than an hour a week results in a 40 to 70 percent reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. And that’s not all — the research shows that resistance trainers reaped a 29 percent lower risk of metabolic syndrome (people suffering from high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and excess fat around the waist) and a 32 percent lower threat of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), both of which are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

In an interview with Thrive Global, Lee explains what constitutes resistance training: “Anything you can imagine in the gym: free weights, such as dumbbells and barbells, and machines built for chest and leg presses, leg extensions, as well as lat pulldown machines.”

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Although prior research by Lee indicates that people who have gym memberships are more inclined to workout, he assures us that incorporating unconventional forms of weightlifting into our daily lives can be a suitable substitute: “Muscle-strengthening activities like digging, carrying heavy shopping bags, pushing a heavy lawn mower, carrying your chubby toddler, anything that increases your muscle activities, could provide the same rewards,” he says.

The benefits hold whether or not participants also did cardio workouts. “Additionally, we controlled for smoking, alcohol consumption, body weight, age, gender, and several other factors, but the results remained the same,” he says.

The most surprising takeaway from the study, in Lee’s view, is that those who spend several hours a week pumping iron didn’t receive much greater advantages than those who spent considerably less time doing so. While we may not achieve muscular or chiseled physiques by strength-training for less than an hour a week, “working out more hours per week did not provide any additional health rewards,” he says.

— Originally published on November 15, 2018 on THRIVE Global.

THE BENEFITS OF MOVING MEDITATION

There are lots of specific health benefits to meditation, and while plenty of people still picture meditation happening as you sit cross-legged and bathe in your own silence, you don’t actually have to do any of that for it to work.

Brendan Leonard discovered exactly that in a recent essay for Outside. He found it massively challenging to fully embrace meditating while sitting still. He accidentally fell asleep during one of his Headspace sessions, and a flood of thoughts distracted him during another.

But he eventually realized that his runs, which “are sometimes an hour, two hours, four hours, or even eight hours,” also function as a kind of meditation.

“I don’t have headphones in my ears. I don’t talk to anyone besides the occasional ‘hello’ to fellow trail users, I don’t listen to music to make the time pass more quickly, and I don’t listen to podcasts,” Leonard writes. “I just run, in relative silence, and my thoughts go wherever they need to go.” These runs have also sparked great ideas, which he then writes down.

Even if you’re not a runner, sitting still isn’t the only way to meditate. Here are three other types of moving meditation that you can try.

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Take a walk in the park

Research in the Journal of Behavioral Health shows that a mindful walk in nature can provide a mental health boost, positively impacting “cognition and affect, anxiety reduction, tension, sadness, and fatigue.” Plus, engaging in mindfulness during a walk can also result in “a deeper connection with exercise,” the study authors say.

Strike a yoga pose

Yoga is a form of meditative movement that has been found to ease chronic pain. Plus, research in the International Journal of Yoga states that there’s “an indisputable connection between a person’s overall physical and mental health, and the inner peace and well-being yoga is designed to achieve. Yoga suspends the fluctuations of the mind, and by acting consciously, we live better and suffer less.”

Try Tai chi

A study in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that engaging in Tai chi as a form of moving meditation should create “functional balance internally for healing, stress neutralization, longevity, and personal tranquility.”

Interested in learning Tai chi for yourself? “Many places are teaching students one movement, like ‘cloud hands,’ which is a signature. Learn half a dozen or a dozen movements and do them repetitively,” suggests Shin Lin, Ph.D., the founding director of the Laboratory for Mind-Body Signaling & Energy Research, and Professor of cell biology and faculty of the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute at the University of California Irvine. Even just this shortened version of a practice can help you feel meditative and more balanced.

— Originally published on November 13, 2018 on THRIVE Global

UGH! I’VE GAINED BACK ALL THE WEIGHT. NOW WHAT?

We’ve all had the “girl, you are 10 pounds heavier, WTF” conversation with ourselves.  Regrets, self-doubt, self-hate etc. etc. It’s a viscous cycle. You’ve taken care of yourself,  you’ve been doing so so good until one day it all just stops. Before you know it, you are right back where you started. It’s a harrowing feeling, but thankfully, change is possible and we don’t have to punish ourselves for falling of the fitness wagon every now and again!

There are several things linked to subconscious weight gain. One of which is emotions. Jon Gabriel wrote in this article“Emotional turmoil and stress caused from not being fulfilled emotionally can activate a chemistry in the body that causes weight gain.” Right?? I mean we all know that some comfort food goes a long way when we are feeling a little under the weather, but that emotional stress could actually trigger a part of your brain that shuts down the metabolism.

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Gabriel goes on to say that our insecurities act like a chronic stress that spikes our cortisol levels and tells our bodies to store fat. Cortisol is a hormone that our bodies release during moments of stress. For example, when you get an adrenaline rush during a fight or flight response, this is the hormone responsible for that feeling. Now that we have established a possible cause, let’s look at some solutions.

REDEFINE FITNESS

If you are not an extremely physical person, you can try Tai Chi, Yoga or Pilates. These exercises are not necessarily easier than any other workout regimes, but they may work more effectively for someone who doesn’t enjoy weight training or high intensity fitness.  These exercises are also great for stress relief. A couple of minutes during a stressful situation, or perhaps worked into your daily routine will do you a world of good. If you are more physical, exercises like dancing, boxing, and spinning are proven to help relieve stress. For those of us who like to dance-it-out (thank you Meredith Grey), try Daybreaker!

REDEFINE YOUR SCHEDULE

If your weight gain is not related to emotional stress, it could be related to a busy schedule, and not enough time to take proper care of yourself. There are a number of books and scholarly articles about habit forming behavior, and a lot of them deal with how to break unhealthy habits, how habits are formed, which behaviors to avoid, and most importantly, how to create new habits. It only takes 3 weeks, 21 days to make a new habit, or break a bad one. It actually is possible to fit everything into one day, including eating healthy and exercising.

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Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

These are just two examples of what could possibly be the reason for your weight gain.  If you believe something more serious is going on, please consult a trained medical professional. The important thing to remember is that if it bothers you, or if it is a health concern, then it is a problem. If it doesn’t, and it’s not, don’t make a big deal out of it. It will only cause you more tension.

Fun fact: Did you know that the average person over 35 gains 1 pound every year without changing anything specific?

Please take note that I offer advice as a fellow woman who loses her way sometimes. I am not a doctor or an expert and my comments are based strictly off of my own opinions and research.

Download Hey! VINA to meet other vinas who wanna get their fit on and lose the weight! You can join the Athletes or Yogis Communities and make some exercise plans together.✌️

HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR EXERCISE IN A BUSY SCHEDULE

There’s no shortage of science suggesting that exercise is good for your mental as well as your physical health — and yet for many of us, incorporating exercise into our daily routines remains a struggle. A new study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, asks why. Shouldn’t it be easier to take on a habit that is so good for us?

The study’s answer points towards what’s holding us back: According to the researchers, picking physically active behaviors over sedentary ones actually requires more brain power than picking sedentary behaviors over active ones. Whether it’s evolutionary or cultural, our brains seem to be wired to have an easier time lying on the couch than running on the treadmill — or even out in the park.

This means that it’s crucial to have structures in place that help you keep active, even when your brain is already tired out and would love some couch-lounging. Your brain will reap the benefits if you force it to: you’ll find that moving around even just a little bit will leave you less stressed, in a better mood — and even more energetic.

HERE ARE A FEW MICROSTEPS:

PICK A REGULAR PART OF YOUR EXISTING ROUTINE AND SWITCH IT OUT FOR AN ACTIVE CHOICE 

A great bet for incorporating change into your routine is attaching it to an already familiar habit. You may currently be in the habit of taking the elevator up to your office, using the closer train entrance or parking lot on your morning commute, or standing in front of the mirror as you brush your teeth and floss every night. Instead of the elevator, take the stairs; instead of using the nearest entrance or lot, budget a few extra minutes and walk to the farther one; instead of standing still as you floss, walk around your house. Small changes like these are a structured way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine without making any significant changes. Because they are attached to habits you already have, they should be easier to make routine.

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PINPOINT THE MOST FRUSTRATING, STRESSFUL PART OF YOUR WEEK, AND COMMIT TO MOVEMENT RIGHT AFTER THAT 

This could be a weekly meeting or work task, or a regular phone call with one of your parents — simply pinpoint a moment of peak stress in your week. Then, commit to some physical activity immediately afterwards. Hold yourself accountable by writing a note to yourself in your calendar or an iPhone reminder. Depending on where and when this moment of stress happens, that activity could be as quick as running down the office stairs for a walk around the block, or as comprehensive as scheduling in gym time or a quick run. Whatever the activity is, sticking to it in those moments of tension will have an outsize effect on your stress by catching it immediately and diffusing tension through movement.

WORK OUT WHILE YOU WATCH TV

This is one of my favorites: You get to indulge the part of your brain that’s telling you to lie down on the couch while actually circumnavigating laziness. There are tons of exercises you can do while sitting or lying down in front of a show — pilates leg exercises are particularly great, because they often don’t require moving your upper body and interrupting your viewing experience. And there are plenty of videos with clear instructions to get you started on YouTube — run a quick search and find some moves that work for you. Every time you settle in for an hour of TV, take the first twenty minutes to exercise, as well.

Want to find a fitness friend to work out with? Join Hey! VINA and join communities like yogis and athletes, and get running!