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Is honey one of the best treatments for coughs and colds? Maybe even better than medication and antibiotics? A new review suggests so – though with the caveat that over-the-counter medications do not actually offer much relief for sore throats, hacking coughs and sniffling noses. In other words, the bar for success is not that high. Plus, antibiotics do not actually do anything against viral infections like colds. So, the bar is not that high to begin with.

Treating colds with honey might sound a little pseudoscientific, but it is been a standard recommendation from doctors for children for at least a decade. The research on adults and honey is not so clean cut though: Only five out of the 14 studies in newer research included adult patients, and several of those studies included combination treatments like honey in coffee, or honey and herbal syrups. So, the data is not as solid as we’d like.

Researchers are not sure why honey might help to tackle cold symptoms, but it could have something to do with its antioxidants or the fact that it is viscous and thus coats an irritated throat. Regardless, treating respiratory symptoms with honey is not a high-risk approach. Honey is also cheap and readily available.

The bottom line is do not expect honey to work miracles, but do not ignore its positive potential either. It might make the experience of getting over a nasty cold just a little less miserable.

Honey’s History

Honey has been a home remedy for soothing sore throats and calming coughs – both of which can be grouped as infections of the upper respiratory tract. It is pretty well known as a respiratory infection treatment in Ayurveda, the healing tradition of India’s ancient Vedic culture. And honey mixed with hot water and lemon is up there with chicken soup in the top tier grandma cold cures.

In 2004, scientists published a study finding that the two commonly used over-the-counter cough medicines used in children, dextromethorphan and disphenhydramine, did not work better than a placebo at helping kids cough to feel better and sleep when they needed to. And the two drugs had negative side effects, including drowsiness for some children and issues sleeping for others.

So in 2007, scientists did a follow up study comparing dextromethorphan, honey and no treatment in night time cough in 130 children. They discovered that honey would often score the best for reducing cough frequency and severity and improving nighttime sleep over drug and no drug approaches, according to parents’ ratings.

Honey for Adults?

Another study comes to similar conclusions for all ages. Honey is an especially good alternative to prescribing antibiotics, they wrote: most upper respiratory tract infections are the result of viruses, and antibiotics do nothing against viral infections. In addition, overuse of these medications can lead to antibiotic resistance in microbes. Previous studies also found that there is no great evidence for over-the-counter cough medicines working for adults.

One unanswered question is why honey would help soothe cold symptoms more than over-the-counter methods. A possibility is that the antimicrobial ingredients in honey directly fight off the pathogen causing the cold, experts suggest. Another is that honey is viscous, coats and soothes an irritated throat. Honey – like most cough syrups – is also sweet, and the part of the brain that processes sweetness is near the part of the brain that controls cough, so there may be some interaction of nerves or neurotransmitters that calms cough in response to certain sugary flavours. Experts further state that sweetness also causes salivation, which might thin mucus. But currently, not one has a definitive answer and I am sure there will be more studies trying to understand why honey has such a powerful effect on cold.

Are you ready for a tough but incredibly effective way to lose weight? If the answer is yes, keep reading. Today I’m going to talk to you about intermittent fasting. I have successfully tried it, and I can tell you that it works, as long as you stick to it. There must be a reason that this method is so popular!

In the past, I have tried different dieting systems. Some have worked, meaning that I’ve actually lost some weight, but the problem with most methods is that when I eventually stopped dieting, the weight came back. And, in my case, really fast.

The Key Fundaments of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting manages to improve our body functions and strengthen our metabolic system. This way, the entire body responds to this type of diet with the same improvements resulting from an intense sport activity.

If we think about it, the habit of eating (at least) three times a day is fairly new and because we live in civilized (and rich) counties. But, during the course of history, men and women had to adapt to periods in which food was not so readily available. This is why humans had to develop the ability to survive without any food intake, even for more than one day.

The Benefits

Scientific research has shown that intermittent fasting helps avoid high-pressure problems, improves the circulatory system, and keeps blood sugar values under control. As for a positive effect on cancer prevention, it is still yet to be confirmed, but there is already some evidence supporting this theory, originally suggested by the famous Italian oncologist Giovanni Veronesi.

Studies have also highlighted that this diet acts towards cell renewal and the removal of cell components that have become old and unnecessary. At the same time, it also helps getting rid of viruses and bacteria in a process known as “autophagy.”

So basically, it means that intermittent fasting helps in developing a natural cell recovery and rejuvenation process. Plus, it’s very effective in reducing the dangerous belly fat. Since I started, I felt better, more active and alert, and, at the same time, I am losing weight: such a big result, compared to other diets I’ve tried in the past!

The Method

Let’s take a closer look at the method so that you can judge if it can work for you. In the beginning, the word “fasting” was, for me, simply scary. I used to eat at least three times a day. I kept on saying to myself that my body was just not able to withstand a long period without any food intake. But I was wrong. In fact, with a bit of patience, good-will, and self-control, there is nothing that we cannot achieve.

This diet doesn’t tell you what to eat. Instead, it indicates when you can eat and when you cannot. There are many different ways to implement intermittent fasting. The most popular ways are indicated below:

  • The 5:2 method. You choose two days of the week (not consecutive) in which you have a total food intake summing up to no more than 600 calories. The remaining days, you can eat normally.
  • The 8:16 method. Over a period of 24 hours, you can eat for 8 hours and then have to fast for 16. You can put this method into practice by skipping breakfast and then regularly have your lunch and evening meal. It’s actually the method that I have chosen, and I have adjusted to it quite well. If you prefer, you can have breakfast at 8, a late lunch and then wait for the following day for your next meal. This way is a bit harder, but it’s very effective.
  • The Eat-Stop-Eat method. If you choose this method, you will be required to fast for 24 hours, 1-2 times a week. For example, you can have your lunch and then fast until lunchtime the next day.

Keep in mind that, if you want to lose weight, this diet will help you because the total count of calorie intake will be lower. But if you start binge eating when you are allowed to have food, then you won’t lose any weight at all!

Conclusion

From personal experience, I can confirm that healthful eating is the basis of our well-being. Intermittent fasting can help us in achieving that goal. On the other hand, we have to keep in mind the concept of moderation.

To give you an example, among Eastern monasteries, reigns the rule of the so-called “right quantity.” When approaching the dining table, monks practice orioki, which means “just enough.” Moreover, before you drastically change your food intake, it’s also important to seek medical advice, so that an expert can confirm if your body is ready for a diet.

Superfoods is the new buzz word in weight loss circles, and rightly so. Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods that are, therefore, beneficial for health.

They are helpful for losing weight because they ensure that you are provided with sufficient nutrients to sustain healthy and sustainable weight loss. Adding superfoods to your diet will only benefit you. With a myriad of different choices available, there will be suitable food for everyone.

Here we look at our picks for the top three superfoods that you should incorporate in your diet for weight loss.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit has long been known as the weight loss breakfast of choice, and for a good reason. It is nutrient and vitamin dense while being one of the fruits with the lowest calories.

Packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene, and flavanones, grapefruits provide various health benefits. Antioxidants help reduce the risk of multiple diseases and protect your cells from damage from free radicals.

Due to the fiber content of grapefruits, they can keep you full for longer, which, as any dieters know, is critical when trying to lose weight. The water content of a grapefruit further aids in satiety.

Studies have also shown that eating a portion of grapefruit before a meal assists in your digestion of that meal thanks to certain enzymes present in the fruit, and therefore aids in weight loss. Some even believe that grapefruit is, in fact, a fat burner; however, this is likely because grapefruits can assist in stabilizing insulin and blood sugar levels.

Because of the above, grapefruits are known as a negative calorie food, meaning that you, in fact, burn more calories in eating the fruit, than you actually consume.

It is clear, therefore, that grapefruits should be at the top of the superfood list for anyone looking to try and lose weight.

Grapefruits are incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet. They are easy to prepare and transport and therefore make the perfect snack in a pinch. They can also be paired with various other superfoods for the ultimate superfood power breakfast, such as oats or Greek yogurt. It can also be a delicious addition to a fresh summer salad, or in desserts.

Berries

Berries have long been known for their antioxidant properties. With the wide variety available, there is a range of vitamins and flavors to help you on your weight loss journey.

Studies have shown that berries can protect against high blood sugar levels by increasing your body’s responsiveness to insulin and, therefore, proactively acting to keep blood sugar levels low. They are accordingly perfect for diabetics trying to lose weight.

One of the leading superfood properties of berries is their anti-inflammatory benefits, which is vital in protecting your body against infection or injury. Modern-day diets and fast-paced, stressful lifestyles can often lead to excess inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation has been linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Berries are a good source of soluble fiber, which helps you keep fuller for longer, and further helps you to restrict your intake of excess calories.

Strawberries and black raspberries have been shown to offer a decrease in bad cholesterol in studies.

The main benefit of introducing berries into your diet is that they fit into various different diets, including the keto diet, which is known for limiting fruits due to their high sugar and carbohydrate content.

Berries can be eaten fresh or frozen, consumed throughout the day as a snack, or with yogurt, oats, or any other cereal at breakfast. There are also numerous variations of berries, from raspberries (which are more tart) to strawberries (which are sweeter), to blackberries and blackcurrants, so anyone is sure to find a berry that suits their tastebuds.

Because they are available frozen, it is also easy to ensure that you always have berries on hand, and you don’t have to worry about eating them within a specified time frame.

Quinoa

A superfood grain pronounced “keen-wah” it is a low-glycemic index food and, therefore, a great substitute to high-glycemic-index foods such as rice and potatoes. It is also an alternative for those avoiding wheat products such as bread and couscous, and also has a more significant nutrition benefit than ordinary grains. It has a distinct flavor and a chewy texture and is easy to prepare by simply boiling similar to rice. It can either be boiled in water, like rice or in stock such as chicken or vegetable, which helps give it a more rounded flavor.

Quinoa is known as a complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids and is, therefore, also full of B vitamins. It also keeps you full for longer. It is also high in iron and magnesium and is, therefore, a perfect addition to vegetarian and vegan diets.

Quinoa is the perfect addition to a weight loss plan as it can be made in batches and kept in a container in the fridge for several weeks, and either reheated or eaten cold.

It is easy to incorporate into a diet as a substitute. It can be made into a delicious salad, without other types of carbohydrates or proteins. It can also be an alternative for rice in any main meal that you would ordinarily include rice as a side dish. An unusual secret is that quinoa can be used as a breakfast item and a high protein alternative for oats, by simply boiling in any dairy or nut milk, and adding any of your favorite toppings.

Most people understand the importance of physical exercise, but only a few get enough. If you have a very demanding career, it is not easy to stay committed to an optimal fitness routine. Like every other person out there, you will be giving such excuses as, “I don’t have enough time to go to the gym,” or “I get bored easily with routine workouts.” If this is what you have been feeling lately, it is high time you try HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training.

HIIT Defined

HIIT is a collective term for intense exercises completed in short bursts and alternated with low-intensity exercises as a form of recovery. The most crucial benefit of HIIT is that it offers optimal benefits within the least time possible.

Ideally, a HIIT workout lasts between ten to thirty minutes. While this may seem like a short duration, the effectiveness of HIIT is twice as much as that of moderate-intensity workouts. Some of the most common exercises for HIIT include jump ropes, mountain climbing, biking, lunges, squats, sprinting, and push-ups, among other types of full-body workouts.

A HIIT workout can include cycling a stationary bike for half a minute in the fastest speed possible with high resistance followed by a few minutes of slow but easy cycles in low resistance. The two will make up for a single round or rep like you would complete one rep in a normal gym workout.

Reasons You Should Be Doing HIIT

Here, we shall look at the top five benefits of High-Intensity Training.

Efficient Burning of Calories

The biggest selling point of HIIT is that it caters to people who want to lose weight but don’t have enough time to hit the gym. For instance, 30 seconds of high-intensity running alternated with 40 seconds of a break. By combining an active period with a rest period, you burn a higher amount of calories in less time than you would normally. This improves your cardiorespiratory fitness in almost half the time. This way, your body can supply oxygenated blood to the muscles faster. Keep in mind that for every liter of oxygen consumed, the body burns 5 calories. Generally, HIIT exercises increase the demand for oxygen hence increasing the caloric expenditure during and after the reps.

Maintaining a Metabolic Rate Even After Workouts

Short, intense reps demand a huge amount of oxygen during the activity and even afterward. Burning calories hours after exercising is one of the best things that can happen to you. The impressive ability of HIIT to maintain a high rate of metabolism throughout the day is a huge plus. This allows the body to start using up fat for energy instead of carbs. Ultimately, you burn more calories throughout the day.

Physiological Benefits

There is a significant amount of metabolic waste that is produced during HIIT, including lactic acid and hydrogen ions. During an active recovery period, these waste products are eliminated to allow the active muscles to continue with the next bout of high intensity. Overtime, HIIT trains your body to endure and recover faster from intense activities. Other physiological activities that HIIT contributes to are enhanced oxidative capacity, improved mitochondrial density, increased aerobic efficiency, high stroke volume.

Endurance

Endurance refers to the highest amount of oxygen your muscles can utilize during an exercise. This is a good indicator of your overall health. With HIIT, you will see significant improvements in the maximum oxygen uptake compared to other types of exercises. Ideally, endurance training boosts the consumption of oxygen in the body. Think of continuous sessions of cycling or running at a steady pace. Similarly, HIIT produces the same effects but in a very short period. So, you not only increase your oxygen uptake abut also do it in half of the time you would with typical workouts.

Improved Heart Health

Not so many people can push themselves into the aerobic zone. Normally, you reach a point where you feel like you are running short of breath and could possibly faint. But when you get accustomed to extreme exercises, you may start exercising twice as much as you were doing before. Interval training is associated with improved heart health, while less intense workouts done on shorter periods have the least benefits for your cardiovascular system. With improved heart health, you have a lower risk of developing, say heart disease or stroke.

HIIT Can Be Customized to Your Needs

If you are looking for a flexible and convenient workout regime, then HIIT is the best way to go. It may seem a little intimidating, especially if you just started out. There is a wrong notion that HIIT is only for hardcore gym-goers. However, HIIT is something you can tailor to your specific needs without interfering with your regular schedule. Simply select a set of exercises that you are comfortable with depending on your fitness level. It is a very approachable program for any level of fitness. The main idea is to get the heart pumping, and this happens in different ways to different people. If you want to know whether the interval is intense enough, simply measure your heart rate. If it is not spiked, then you need to shift to more vigorous activity. It may be uncomfortable at first, but that would be a good sign that your body is pushing on. You can use a heart rate monitoring gadget to know when to take rest or push yourself harder.

Conclusion

There are countless benefits of doing HIIT exercises from fat burning to cardiovascular fitness. By adding this type of training to your regular routine, the rewards you can reap are immense. Moreover, you have the flexibility and convenience to see outcomes and remain motivated within the shortest time. Not to mention, anyone can do it because there is no need for gym equipment.

Children need to engage in physical activities for strength, coordination, and self-confidence. Exercises are some of the best foundations for a healthy life. There are many opportunities for kids to keep fit during holidays, depending on their interests, age, talents, and personality. It is good to discuss workout ideas that feel right with your kids. As long as the activity is fun to do, kids don’t mind a daily dose. The recommended time for kids’ workouts is at least one hour of moderate activity. Here, we shall highlight some of the most exciting exercises for kids when not going to school.

1. Organized Sports

Most parents consider organized sports only when they feel their kids are not physically fit. But there are many benefits of signing up your child for an organized sport regardless of their fitness level. It is very healthy for a child to participate in games one or two times a week in addition to their usual playing at home. The truth is, you cannot entirely depend on the physical education your child receives at school.

Basketball is a fun game. There are many basketball courts, and all you have to do is make your child turn up, and you will find a coach. Soccer is another favorite sport, especially for little boys. And when the weather is just perfect, take your child for some advanced swimming lessons. To avoid the cold, look for heated indoor swimming pools instead. Children are challenged to swim certain distances as they compete with friends every time they are at the swimming pool. They get to learn new techniques such as front crawl butterfly strokes. This, in turn, improves their cardiovascular fitness.

The other sport for kids that is often overlooked is horse riding. As an isometric activity, it works out certain muscles by making them remain in specific positions. This is how children learn to maintain balance while horseback riding. Apart from working out the core muscles, horse riding keeps the postural muscles in shape. This is a solid foundation for strength training and endurance.

2. Indoor Exercises: Crab Walks and Bear Crawls

Have your little one sit with hands behind and feet in front. Help the kid lift up their hips and ask them to walk like crabs. The activity is fun and hilarious. It targets the arms and core muscles hence increasing their strength. With time, the child will master the movement and move it up a higher notch. To make it more challenging, let the kid try to balance smaller objects placed on the midsection as they move around. This can be a shaker, toilet paper roll, stuffed animals, bags of pretzels, or a bean bag.

Also, let them try bear crawl if they don’t want the crab walk. This is merely walking like a bear. So, the child crawls on their hands, but the knees should not touch the ground. From strengthening the core to building the strength of the limbs, the bear crawl is a full-body workout as it engages every muscle group. Also, it is an excellent way to enhance a kid’s spatial awareness. That is why bear walks are recommended for kids as they maneuver the house rather than walking around. In fact, you can create a holiday-theme in the house and place various items such as gifts, candy, and decorations. Ask your child to bear-crawl towards those items like in a scavenger hunt game. Design competitions after dinner to help them burn calories.

You can also bring a rock climbing adventure into your house. Indoor rock climbing allows kids to start small with a single hand. They develop courage and strength in the process without the risk of outdoor climbing. Climbers use the legs to propel themselves up and then use the arms to power up and reach the target. In the end, it engages a wide range of muscles.

3. Outdoor Activities

A trip outdoors is one of the most extraordinary and exciting things you can do. Think about a vacation that involves camping or exploring a national park. Any outdoor experience is bound to keep your kids active. Make sure the kids have the right gear and that they get enough play on the vacation. When surrounded by nature, you don’t have to try so hard to motivate the kids to be active.

Road activities are more attractive as kids get to see things when moving around. When the weather allows, try road trips with your kids or take on bike riding on a safe lane in the neighborhood. The local park is also a perfect spot. Remember to take your dog along with you. When taking road trips, look for designated areas to stop with access to restrooms and playgrounds. Children often get grumpy after staying in the car for long hours. So every stop should be an opportunity to do some stimulating activities. Allow enough time for the kids to run and jump freely. They usually burn more calories if left to play on their own. Carry a variety of sporting equipment in the boot e.g., jump ropes, hula-hoops, bean bags, and balls.

Take advantage of free athletic fields and playgrounds. You can also go hiking, hit the ski slopes, or try rock climbing. Make sure every family member is participating. Go snowboarding and sledding at nearby ski resorts for a couple of hours. The idea is to stay active together while on the road.

4. Backyard Workouts

Any sunny day should be an exercise day for your kids. Running in the backyard may seem simple, but it could be the best fitness activity. Have the children chase each other in the yard to help them strengthen their bones and muscles. Running assists in maintaining a healthy weight and gives the brain an oxygen boost.

The other backyard activity that can also be performed indoors is squatting. Squats are good for strength and endurance. Bring a stool behind the child as they squat so they can shortly have a seat and stand up quickly. This is known as a hot seat squat. The next exercise that is also a brain booster is skipping. It increases the heart rate and works out the whole body to strengthen the core.

Most exercises for kids are aerobic in nature. Aerobic activities utilize major muscle groups, and they allow metabolism to continue for hours, even after the activity. It is, therefore, important to teach your kids how to alternate intense exercises with moderate or low-intensity activities. Naturally, kids build strong muscles when jumping, running, or playing around. For safety purposes, these programs must be well-designed and supervised.

Family holidays are a great deal. In addition to the excitement that comes with travel, every family should look for activities to keep their kid’s body in good shape. Let the kids know that exercises are a top priority. You never know, your little ones might discover new hobbies to continue throughout the year.

For a long time, I wanted to find an active exercise routine that I can follow. I started asking around to see what people were up to. After a little research, I came across the Couch to 5k program. The idea sounded quite doable, so I decided to give it a try.

Given that I am the kind of person who loves new challenges, this one felt like the perfect place to begin my journey to an active body routine. However, I must admit that mostly I wanted to find out if this would actually work. There are many great testimonies online, and I wanted to find out if it would work just as well for me. Before I let you know how it went, I thought I would begin by defining what the Couch to 5K program is.

What is Couch to 5k?

Josh Clark, a famous runner, wanted to get his 50+-year-old mother started on running as well. He, therefore, developed a weekly running plan. It involves three running days with a day of rest in between and different schedules for every nine weeks.

Preparing for the Couch to 5K

To get started, I downloaded the Couch to 5k podcasts on my phone. You can do this using your computer or laptop as well, but you will need to send the audios to your phone since you will not be running with your computer. Alternatively, getting the Couch to 5K app on your phone is much easier.

Secondly, I planned out my next three months to ensure that nothing would interfere with the Couch to 5k schedule as long it was within my power. After this was clear, I ensured that my route was well-mapped and that I had all the gear I needed to make this work.

The Weekly Schedule

I will break down what happens every week, so you know what to expect.

  • Week 1: I found it quite simple. You will not even feel that much strain. On the schedule is a five-minute brisk walk, then a one-minute run and finally a one-and-a-half-minute walk. This cycle is to be repeated for 20 minutes.
  • Week 2: I started each day’s routine with a five-minute walk, followed by a one-and-a-half-minute run and lastly a two-minute walk. The cycle continues for 20 minutes.
  • Week 3: This is where I started feeling the burn. The schedule includes a five-minute walk with a repetition of a one-and-a-half-minute run and walk, and a three-minute run and walk.
  • Week 4: By week four, I had to say goodbye to a predictable routine. My three days of work out involved a five-minute walk warm-up, a three-minute run, a one-and-a-half-minute walk, a five-minute jog, a two-and-a-half-minute walk, a three-minute run, a one-and-a-half-minute walk and finally a five-minute run.
  • Weeks 5 and 6: These two weeks differ from the rest since each day has a different schedule. Spontaneous people like me will love it.
  • Weeks 7, 8, and 9: The rest of the days only need a five-minute walking warm-up, followed by a 25-minute, a 28-minute, and a 30-minute run for each week.

The Results

The burn was intense, especially when I went out in the first week. This is expected, especially if you are a beginner, and your body is not used to being up and active for 20 or so minutes. I found the rest days effective since they killed the everyday routine boredom, and I had more energy. I felt more cheerful after the exercise.

By the time I was getting to the sixth week, my body was already getting into the flow of running three times a week. I could also see the results in my work and every other aspect of my day. My head felt lighter, my body was more alert, and generally, it felt like finally, I had an active routine that worked. Soon I was looking forward to my running days. I even advised a friend to try it out.

Purpose and Hack It

At the end of the Couch to 5k challenge, I realized that the main thing that got me started was the purpose of doing it. If I wanted the results, then I had to put in the work. The best part is that the challenge keeps you looking forward to a new way of doing it for the first six weeks.

By the seventh week, I was already in the flow, so doing a continuous run was almost an automatic achievement. If you wonder if the Couch to 5k works, I hope my experience helped you see that it does.

So, you have signed up for an event or are just thinking about running your first 5K. But have you any idea about what you can expect? If you are able to plan ahead then you will have a smooth run. While there are some things that you cannot control on the day of the race like the weather and the crowd, there a few things that you can do to make the day worthwhile. In this article, I will take you through 6 tips that will help beat your personal record when running a 5k marathon.

Train on Short Distance and Long-Distance Races

Enough training prepares your body for the race itself. This makes your leg muscles strong and able to withstand any pressure. When tendons and ligaments are in good shape, they are less susceptible to injuries. You can work out in the gym or go bike riding. I tried bike riding in a hilly area and I really enjoyed the experience.

Training over short distances is like warming up your body for the real event. While long-distance training makes you confident you can go the extra mile. Knowing good running technics will save you a great deal. If you want to run faster, run slowly but do so regularly. Learning how to balance this will make you run a longer distance with less time.

Cross-train

This will improve your endurance and oxygen capacity. Try walk, running, and swimming to prepare your body for the race. As the joints become stronger your heartbeat improves also. Strong cardiovascular muscles will keep you going even when you are tired.

Lifting weights is also a great way to strengthen ligaments and joints. It also makes them resistant to injuries. It also keeps you fit by inducing fat-burning hormones. Try performing a full-body program with 3 sets of 10 repetitions done for 2-3 days.

Change your training routes from flat grounds to hilly areas. This will help you keep a constant pace on different routes. Repeat the training and know when to increase your speed and when to keep low

Train Three Times a Week

Nobody said that you have to run every day! Three times a week is enough. I often advise people, athletes, or not, to have a running routine. You can, for instance, decide that your first day you will take a walk or run a short distance at a fast pace. Start with a ¼ mile at a fast pace, and gradually increase the distance until you can manage to walk or run fast for a mile.

The second day can be a strength day where you run or walk at a modest pace up a sharp hill or hills. Start with two hill repeats and steadily work to five or ten.

The third day could be endurance day where you increase the distance and walk or run at a slower pace. On this day, start with 1-2 miles and gradually work up to 3-4 miles.

I also recommend you try stretching after increasing your running distance. Increasing your running distance makes certain muscles get tighter. This interferes with your body flexibility and hence stretching will loosen them up. A yoga class can help and also a dynamic flexibility routine. It includes foam rolling, marching, lunging, and sideways stepping.

Have enough rest the previous night

It is normal to feel nervous before the race but try to keep calm and relaxed. Try activities that will distract you like chatting with friends or watching a comedy. Just like the saying early to bed early to arise try resting enough. You should also avoid eating foods that may lead to gastrointestinal issues.

Wake up early and have some breakfast. Don’t eat heavily as it can lead to cramping which is uncomfortable. Choose a light meal that is easy to digest at least an hour before the race. Food high in carbohydrates and lower in fats and protein is recommended. Avoid high fibe and fatty foods as they may cause stomach issues.

Get to the race early and give yourself time to be ready. Ensure you have everything you need like your bib number and the right outfit. Walk around to know the place and chat with other participants.

Warm-up before the race

Warming up before the race is a good idea. It gives me a good mood and makes me feel ready for my race. It raises the heartbeat slowly and keeps its steady ready for the race. Try jogging for about 10-15 minutes before the race. This prepares your muscles and makes them more flexible. I also find stretching much fun while waiting in line.

While doing all this ensure you have your bib number well placed on your shirt. The bib is used to identify you by the race officials. It’s worn on the front of your shirt. Make sure the number is in place and clearly visible from all corners.

Knowing where to line up might be hard for the first time. Usually, don’t line up on the front if you are not a faster runner. Try being in the middle, at first it may feel crowded but will space out when the race begins. When the race has begun trying to be constant with your pace. Try walking and running at the beginning of the race. The keep your pace constant and push yourself harder during the last minutes.

Have a support team

Invite friends and family to come and watch as they cheer you. Let them stand in the middle and on the finishing line. This will motivate you to keep you going and keep you focused on reaching the finishing line.

If you don’t have your friends with you then you should appreciate those who wave and cheer you. There are people who volunteer for services like handing you water for hydration. Appreciate them and make use of the water stands.

You can also have them run with you to set a pace for you. I always find it more fun involving friends as it is more interesting. You keep each other energized and motivated. Finishing the race and enjoying yourself is a perfect goal for a first-timer. Don’t feel performance pressure appreciate your results.

Conclusion

If you are interested in running the 5K marathon, I highly recommend these tips. Either it’s your first time or it’s your thing, these tips will work for you. As you create an enjoyable experience for yourself in running know that champions are not made in a day. Regular exercise and passion for running are the main drivers that can keep you going.

If you are like me and you take your exercise programs seriously, then you recognize the importance of proper stretching before you begin exercising. You will also agree with me that everyone seems to have a different approach when it comes to stretching exercises that improve flexibility. However, there is a right way to stretch and a wrong way to do it. Here are some scientific tips that I apply to improve my flexibility.

Determine the Right Amount of Flexibility

In most cases, a limited range of motion that is not due to an injury can be attributed to stiff or tight muscles. The tightness can be linked to chronic pain and even poor posture. If my muscles are too tight, then it might be a good idea to stretch them.

However, too much flexibility may make my muscles too loose and even weak. Also, if I am not careful, I may end up inflicting a sprain or dislocation to my joints. Also, if my joints and muscles are too loose, then I might be forced to remedy this condition by taking up resistance training.

So, what is the right amount of flexibility? The level of flexibility depends on the muscle and joint movements that I make daily. If I was a baseball pitcher (in my dreams), then my shoulders should be flexible compared to a basketball player such as LeBron James or Usain Bolt, the runner. If I was a cyclist, I might need more flexibility in my legs, unlike Bruce Lee, a martial arts fighter who might have required more waist flexibility. Just like everything else in life, remember that moderation is vital. So I do not stretch my muscles too fast, and too soon lest I end up inflicting injury to my joints and muscles.

Know the Right Time to Do Static Stretches

Static stretching involves stretching a muscle for a short time. Most people perform these stretches as they prepare to exercise, but this is not the right time for static stretches. Static stretching should not be done as a warm-up exercise. Such stretching reduces the impact of activities and can predispose me to injuries during the workout.

Recent research shows that static stretching right before a workout or playing a sport can hinder performance and lead to decreased muscle strength, reduced jumping height, and slow sprint time. This is not to say that static stretching is bad. It is one of the safest and most effective forms of stretching, but it should not be done as a warm-up exercise.

So when should static stretching be done? Experts recommend that static stretching be done as a cooling down activity after exercising or as the main workout. It is more effective at this time since the muscles are more elastic, warm, and have a lower likelihood of getting injured. Cold muscles should never be stretched while I am static because they are more likely to tear when improperly stretched. Before stretching them, I make sure I perform some dynamic stretches.

Use Dynamic Stretches as a Warm-Up

The best form of warm-up exercises are dynamic low-intensity movements that are similar to the workouts I will be doing later on. Here are some examples:

  • If I want to go jogging, then I begin with a slow walk and increase my pace for up to five minutes.
  • If I want to bench press, then I start with a few sets; five to 10 with a lighter weight, about 50% to 70% lighter compared to the load that I plan to use later on.
  • If its leg day and I want to exercise the leg muscles, I do some high knee marches to warm them up.

Some other dynamic warming up exercises that I engage in include jumping jacks, arm circles and rope skipping. Studies have shown that dynamic stretches raise my blood pressure, thus increasing blood flow to my muscles.

As I mentioned earlier, stretches should be done in moderation. I avoid stretching muscles to the point of being painful because I do not want to suffer from a sprain or strain due to exercise. Thus I stretch a muscle to a comfortable point then hold it in place for a maximum of 15 seconds only.

If you have been wondering how to improve your flexibility, then these practical and scientific tips will help you achieve your goal. The tips apply to professional sportspeople as well as regular folk who want to improve their flexibility during their exercise programs. Sometimes I come across some other suggestions, but I always try and fact check it against relevant bodies such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Quick: name the third most popular team sport in the United States. If you guessed soccer, you would be correct! It ranks behind only baseball and basketball in terms of participation figures. Much of that growth is in the youth ranks, which counts over three million participants in the United States, up nearly 90% from 1990. That widespread popularity is starting to show up in Major League Soccer’s (MLS) attendance numbers. In 2016 MLS averaged 21,692 fans per game, ahead of both the NBA and the NHL.

The rise in MLS’s popularity has arguably coincided with a rise in the quality of play. Once derided by fans of other leagues, MLS is starting to establish a reputation among players and fans of the game. Not only the home for the majority of United States’ players, MLS has attracted top European and South American stars like David Villa, Didier Drogba, Sebastian Giovinco, Robbie Keane, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Kaká, Pirlo, Thierry Henry, and (of course) David Beckham. Add in top American talent like Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey, and you end up with a league riddled with talented stars. Perhaps the most famous American star, Landon Donovan, spent the majority of his career playing in MLS.

The league is growing its number of franchises too. In 2017, Minnesota United FC and Atlanta United FC opened their doors to bring MLS to twenty-two teams. In fact, new teams joined MLS in all but two seasons since 2005. As MLS expands into new markets, it will continue to reach new fans, further fueling its growth.

A critical and underappreciated component of MLS’s success is the teams’ youth academies. For MLS to be recognized as truly elite, it needs to develop players, not just sign them from other top leagues. MLS has recognized this fact by incentivizing teams with its Homegrown Player Rule. This rule allows an MLS to directly sign a player from its youth academy instead of going through allocation processes. In addition, homegrown players do not count against a team’s salary cap. These rules give teams major incentives to invest in their academy programs. Some of the most well-known players to develop through this program include Andy Najar, DeAndre Yedlin, Bill Hamid, Kellyn Acosta, and Marco Farfan.

So with new teams joining the league, new fans attending the games in large numbers, increasing numbers of young talent graduating through the youth academies, and increasing numbers of stars seeing MLS as a viable option to continue and further their career, what’s the next step for MLS? MLS has stated that it wants to be one of the top leagues in the world, and the track it’s on has the league pointed in the right direction. The face of soccer in the US will arguably always be its Men’s National Team (USMNT). Although the composition of the USMNT ebbs and flows with each new camp and round of call-ups, MLS players have always been a significant portion of the team in recent years. In fact, one could argue that the future success of the USMNT is intrinsically linked to the success of MLS. For even if the most talented members of the USMNT continue to ply their trade in Europe (e.g., Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood, Fabian Johnson), MLS will be relied upon to provide depth to the squad.

In conclusion, soccer has an incredibly bright future in the United States, and MLS is both a catalyst and beneficiary of this. Although many Americans still only pay attention to soccer during the World Cup, that is starting to change as MLS expands into more cities and increasing numbers of people can call a professional team their own. This in turn fuels participation, which fuels player development, which fuels quality of play, which fuels interest in soccer, which fuels participation, etc. For the American soccer lover, it’s a beautifully positive feedback loop. All in all, it’s a wonderful time to be a soccer fan in the United States, and it’s only going to get better.

Every jiujitsu practitioner knows how big the game can get. BJJ is a human-like chess game with thousands of moves, each one carefully thought to inflict as much damage possible with minimum effort. Upon an endless sea of moves and strategies, any player can get lost and drown. If you want to start a difficult albeit amazing journey towards a Brazilian jiujitsu blackbelt, you cannot do so at random. You need to follow a plan. Otherwise, you’ll feel confused with nowhere to go, exactly how a white belt feels the first time he gets his back taken. If you follow these five tips, you’ll get on the right track in no time.

1. Bruce Lee had it right: how to approach each class.

If you want to become good at jiujitsu, you’ll have to become the man Bruce Lee claimed to fear. You need to choose one technique and practice it thousands of times. The only way to accomplish such a thing is to discover which technique works better for you and dedicate yourself to it whole-heartedly. When you step into the mat, you’ll have to remind yourself that when the time comes to spar, all your efforts will go towards one technique and that one only. Once you have mastered it, you can move onto another one. Eventually, you’ll develop a solid game plan.

2. Develop a foolproof game plan and stop using it.

It is not hard to develop a game plan. To do so, you’ll need two takedowns, a solid guard, and one go-to finisher from the top. Once you have achieved that, congratulations! It is time to let it go. Jiujitsu is complex and diverse. The moment you decide to stay in your comfort zone is the moment you become terrible. You might not notice it overnight, but it only takes one guy to shut down your entire game to realize how hopeless things can get. Jiujitsu is like stocks and bonds; you need to diversify to secure yourself.

3. Write down the good, the bad, and the ugly

After enough battles, your fingers will be sore from constant grip fighting. Past a certain point, you will think of your hands as gi-grabbing machines. You need to step out of that mind frame when you come back from the gym and use your hands to record your training sessions. If possible, use a pen and paper to avoid social media distractions. Write down your thoughts, accomplishments, failures, and what it is you need to work on. It’s the only way to clearly remember what you did in class. Otherwise, once the adrenaline starts to fade, so will most of your sparring memories.

4. Jack of all trades, master of one.

If you want to be truly great at jiujitsu, you need to train other martial arts. You shouldn’t follow this step before you get your blue belt. Once you have a solid foundation, you need to think about cross-training. Wrestling and judo are great for this, especially if your gym doesn’t focus on takedowns. If you thought you were a gi-grabbing beast, wait until you experience judo’s kumi-kata. New experiences will broaden your fighting horizons, kick your ass, and teach you invaluable lessons.

5. Stop altogether to get better.

Every once in a while, you need to take a break. Otherwise, you will burn out. Helio Gracie trained until he was close to 100 years old. You can do it too if you pace yourself. Take a couple of days off and let your body heal. In a week or so, you’ll be craving a sparring season. And then, you’ll be ready to go back, with a clear mind and better than before.