How Smartphone Apps Can Actually Make You Healthier 0 1236

Imagine having a way to make even the most stressful situations seem less daunting. It may seem a bit unrealistic, but there’s a practice dating back to prehistoric times that makes this possible.

The benefits of meditation are well-documented – it can help with anxiety, depression, and even help you with insomnia. It’s also been shown to help calm you down about day-to-day worries.

But how do you take the time to unplug and meditate? Funnily enough, it may take your smartphone. This may seem counterintuitive, but some of the best tools for relaxation are found on your trusted device.

In order for you to experience the full benefits of meditation, it’s imperative you don’t get distracted while using meditation apps – don’t steal glimpses at your Facebook news feed in between sessions. With the right amount of discipline, you’ll be able to take a device that’s often the cause of stress and use it for health and happiness.

Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been meditating for years, these smartphone apps – all available for both iPhone and Android – will kick start your wellness journey.

Headspace: Guided Meditation

This is easily one of the most popular guided meditation apps on the market. With a star-studded fan base (Emma Watson and Gwyneth Paltrow have shared their love for the product) and nearly 62,000 five-star reviews, it’s not hard to see why Headspace has become so trendy.

Fortunately, the app isn’t all hype. Founded by a former Buddhist monk and advertising exec, Headspace has hundreds of sessions on everything from stress to sleep. Additionally, the app has “SOS” exercises in case you run into an unexpected situation and need to de-stress quickly.

Available for iOS and Android. Free for a basic plan; monthly subscriptions start at $12.99.

Relax Melodies

Whether it’s humming your favorite tune in the car or seeing a beloved band in concert, you likely already use music for comfort in some form. But it turns out that music is good for more than that – it’s been proven to improve mood, get rid of burnout, and reduce anxiety.

If you prefer your relaxation with some background noise, it’s imperative you choose sounds that will calm you down instead of creating an unnecessary distraction. That’s where Relax Melodies comes in.

The app specifically focuses on sleep meditation but can be used at any time. The basic plan gives you 52 sounds for free and allows you to mix them as you please. Maybe you prefer listening to the sounds of the ocean over a relaxing piano tune – have no fear. There’s something here for everyone.

Available for iOS and Android. Free for a basic plan; lifetime subscriptions start at $19.99.

Meditation Studio

This is an all-encompassing app with an impressive variety of topics. Since we all use meditation for different reasons, the app doesn’t try a one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re looking to boost your confidence, trying to reduce stress, or dealing with military-related PTSD, there’s a meditation plan specifically designed for your needs. While many of the apps on our list have subscription plans, Meditation Studio has a one-time fee of $3.99.

The team at Meditation Studio boasts over 30 experts who have an array of meditation skills. You can sort by topic or by the teacher, depending on what you’re looking for.

Available for iOS, Android, and Alexa. $3.99.

Simple Habit

Are you too busy to take time to relax? Even if you think the answer is yes, Simple Habit would beg to differ. The app is designed for those with hectic lives and asks for only five minutes of your time daily. According to the folks at Simple Habit, that’s all you need to reap the benefits of meditation.

Founded by an entrepreneur and designed by meditation experts and a psychologist from Harvard University, Simple Habit has been lauded as the go-to app for busy people.

Available for iOS and Android. Free for a basic plan; monthly subscriptions start at $11.99.

Stop, Breathe & Think

This is another option for those who are constantly on-the-go. Feeling overwhelmed at work? These guided meditations are short enough to be done in between meetings, and it picks an exercise based on the user’s current mood.

Additionally, there’s a breathing timer that allows you to practice deep breathing, which is a key part of meditation and a proven way to reduce stress. Bonus: The team at Stop, Breathe & Think donate 10 percent of net revenue to a non-profit that teaches inner-city youth how to use meditation skills to their benefit.

Available for iOS, Android, Alexa, and Slack. Free for a basic plan; monthly subscriptions start at $9.99.

It’s time to take that pesky phone that always demands your attention and use it for good. What are you waiting for? Get started on your meditation journey today.

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5 Ways To Get A Good Physique 0 8917

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It’s no secret that looking good is hard work. Some are born with natural good looks and gorgeous body’s while others have to dedicate tons of time and energy to looking as good as they want to be. Getting a good physique isn’t always an open and shut case; even those with natural genes have to put in work from time to time. Getting a good physique isn’t something that happens overnight, it has to be deliberate, and there is a need to adopt a particular lifestyle. Certain changes and adjustments should guide your daily activities.

There are numerous ways to get a good physique; the easiest way is to join a gym and begin a weight lifting training program. In a month or so, you are bound to see changes that should please you. However, sometimes the results of all that hard work are covered up by excess fat, so hitting the gym a few times a week won’t cut it. It’s a vital part, however, not the most important by far. To have a proper aesthetic and balanced physique, one needs to pay attention to all parts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, not just lifting weights.

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Nutrition

It’s the backbone of the entire enterprise, as important as it is to lift weights to get the glamorous shape you’ve been dying for, you have to eat properly for all that to happen. When dealing with a delicate subject like nutrition, it’s important to establish some ground rules. Different people eat differently; they tend to structure their eating pattern based on their body type. For example, someone looking to cut down a few kilos needs to eat below his required daily caloric intake. This means no side snacks that aren’t fruits – and definitely no candy bars. And most importantly, they need to watch their fatty food intake. While a person on the skinny-side needs to focus on eating more proteins like lean meats and legumes to bulk up in order to grow muscles.

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So it’s a really tricky subject, but regardless of your dietary goals there are certain general rules that must be followed. These rules are:

  1. Stick to whole foods; no snacks or processed foods
  2. Stick to water; no carbonated drinks or sugar-filled juices
  3. Lay off the alcohol; to get an athletic physique you need to lay off counterproductive items like beer. It allows fat to store in  the wrong places. Reducing your alcohol intake should have a significant effect on your overall physical appearance.

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When you’re looking to build an athletically-pleasing body, it’s important to consult with a nutritionist to put you on the right path. We can provide general advice, but a nutritionist can properly instruct your eating pattern, discuss your body goals, and construct a meal plan that is tailor-made to maximize the effects of your lifestyle choices.

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Hitting the gym

Most people assume that hitting the gym entails building up muscle mass through weight lifting exercises and some light cardiovascular exercises.

Some people aren’t up for the whole looking “buff” thing. So there are body weight exercises, if executed with perfect form and consistently, can lead to   minor muscle gains and body definition. Body weight exercises are less effective than weight lifting and, fortunately, that’s not a bad thing. Certain body weight exercises provide muscle tones, carve them out, and get you looking good without necessarily causing massive increases in muscle size. A little cardio and body weight exercises should get you that dream body in no time.

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Sleep more

The average human being needs about 6 hours of sleep daily, but what does that have to do with building a great physique? Insufficient sleep can lead to a decrease in the secretion of growth hormones – which means that your muscles won’t be as big or strong as they should be. A great night’s rest enhances the secretion of the growth hormone, which is something you want when you’re trying to get a toned physique.  A good night’s rest will not only give your body the time it needs to heal, it also will have you feeling fresh every morning – ready to face the day. Less sleep has been known to cause cravings, and a substantial decrease in overall weight loss, which is counterproductive to the whole weight loss program if that’s what you’re aiming for.

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Hydrate

Drinking plenty of water is half the job. For all the gut-wrenching exercises you’ll experience on your fitness journey, your body needs to hydrate regularly. Water controls and regulates the body’s temperature, it aids proper digestion, lubricates the joints, and transports nutrients all over the body. It is arguably the most important substance in the body.

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And that’s why it’s important to drink plenty of it and avoid dehydration. When exercising, the body cannot perform at its full capacity unless it has been stocked up with plenty of water. Hydrating during workout sessions is important. Drinking plenty of water before and after workout sessions can regulate the body’s temperature and give you a strength boost. Sports drinks should be chosen carefully, some of them could end up doing more harm than good. They are usually loaded with calories and sugar.

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Working out with a friend

As clichéd as this might sound, it’s one of the most effective ways to get fit. Getting fit is all about consistency, not giving up, repeating exercises, and changing your lifestyle to accommodate your new goals. All these things may take its toll on the mind and body, without proper guidance it would be almost impossible not to give up. That’s why it’s important to find a friend that will help push you over, through, and around obstacles. Anyone could help you really; it could be a mentor, a friend, or your very own personal trainer. All you need is someone who will keep you going through the good and hard times.

Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do At Home 0 57451

Working Out At Home

It can be especially difficult to drive to the gym and spend hours there if you simply don’t have the time. Some people have crazy schedules and can’t afford to spend all their spare time at the gym. The drive there is just too time-consuming. Since most people don’t have an indoor gym or expensive equipment at home, they tend to assume it’s impossible to get an intense workout without fancy equipment. So not true!

Before there were fancy equipment that do some of the work for you, there were great exercises that capitalize on your bodyweight, get you sweating, and give you that great burn you’re looking for. Here are some of the most effective bodyweight exercises that will target all of your essential muscle groups. These are just a few of them. There are an extensive and surprising amount of bodyweight exercises that burn your muscles; these ones just cover the essentials.

Push Ups
Pushups

Pushups

Pushups are the bread and butter of bodyweight exercises. Most people are familiar with this exercise and tend to think it’s clichéd and ineffective, but we beg to differ. Basic pushups target the pectorals and triceps mostly, it also hits the anterior deltoids, the serratus anterior, and the abdominal muscles. Suffice to say, it hits a lot of muscle groups at the same time. There are a lot of ways to isolate specific muscles like the pectorals through pushup variations like diamond pushups, or core and shoulders with Spiderman pushups or pike. The basic pushup entails a simple range of movements. Start off by finding a mat and continue by placing both hands beneath your shoulders and then stretching your legs until you are resting on the balls of your feet. Close your legs until they are firmly tight. When you are done you should be in a plank position.

Lower your body until you achieve a 90° angle or lower and then try to get back into starting position and repeat that range of motion again.

The benefits of a proper pushups are endless. They target all major muscle groups of the upper torso and carve them out. It is the singular most encompassing upper body exercise. If you’re a newbie to pushups, you should start with box pushups and knee pushups and work your way up to a full pushup.

Box Pushups
Box Pushups

Box pushups

Get on the mat and assume a crawling position, then lower your body until your chest is almost touching the ground, and get back into starting position.

Knee Pushups
Knee Pushups

Knee pushups

Knee pushups are just like a tweaked box pushup. You start at a crawling position, then you lift your feet off the floor so that only your knees and your palms are the only part of your body touching the floor. Then you lower your body and simultaneously stretch forward and return back to starting position.

To get a worthwhile workout focusing on pushups you should complete 20 reps and sets of each exercise.

Situps
Sit-ups

Sit-ups

Sit-ups are also very effective and clichéd; like most clichéd exercises they have variations that stem from their original range of motion. Exercises like crunches and reverse crunches, were formed from observing the sit-up. The sit-up targets the abdominal muscles and works them hard (if repeated enough times). To pull off a sit-up, you need a mat and a partner (ideally). Sit-ups are somewhat problematic in that it’s hard to keep your feet down while performing the exercise. It’s also possible to perform a sit-up without help. First you lie on the mat face up and then try to bend your knees until they reach a 90° angle. Make sure your feet are touching the mat, they should not leave the mat at any point during the exercise. With both your arms tucked behind your neck, try to reach your knees with both elbows and return back to starting position. If this action proves difficult you should get a partner and try again. Also, when performing the exercise, try not to use your hands to pull your body upwards, it compromises the entire exercise. Keep your chin up! 30 reps of sets should be enough for a thorough workout.

Jump Rope
Jump Rope

Jump rope

Jump ropes make you remember simpler times… That simple range of motion can take you back decades, you remember the other kids you played with, you remember hopscotch, but what you don’t remember is how tired you got after playing jump rope for a long time. Jump rope, as simple as it seems, is very effective. It’s so effective it’s almost better than jogging, well, almost. Jump rope has been said to burn an equal amount of calories as jogging, if done at a fast pace. The beautiful thing about jump rope is that you can do it in the confines of your own home, and it can be every day without having to leave the house. With 20 minutes of jump rope every day you get good cardio without prior planning or stress. Take a trip down memory lane today!

Pull-ups
Pull-ups

Pull-ups

Pull-ups are one of the few bodyweight exercises that can give you massive gains when it comes to back width. It attacks the lateral muscles which are responsible for most of the width of the back and give guys that coveted V-shape. Pull-ups alone, if done properly and consistently, can give you a properly toned back and aid substantial growth. If you’re looking for a toned physique, this exercise is right up your alley. It’s important to note that this exercise doesn’t necessarily get your back looking all muscly, you need to do it for a long time to get that look going. For this exercise, you need a pull-up bar or just any bar that is above your head (and can hold your bodyweight). Stretch both arms upwards and grab the bar, widen your grip, your arms should be around shoulder length apart, and pull up your body from the ground. You should try to cross your legs to make the exercise easier. When your chin is above the bar and you have completed the full motion, squeeze your back and hold it for a second or so before returning to the starting position. It’s important to note that while doing this exercise, your feet should not touch the floor.

Pull-ups are particularly tricky so you should do each set until you fail and complete about to sets.

YouTube videos

Modern technology has allowed us access to an almost infinite source of knowledge. YouTube is considered one of the greatest assets of the 21st century. It’s a livelihood to some, entertainment to others, and a wealth of knowledge to those who seek it. There are various channels stocked with videos that feature exercises that target your desired muscle groups. There are numerous bodyweight exercises that are far more complex and rewarding than the ones we’ve listed above, and they come with clear, visual instructions that will help you perform them. It’s never a bad idea to visit YouTube. There are exercises that will address your specific needs and help you get an intense workout from the comfort of your own home.

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