TIME Exercise/Fitness

This No-Gym Workout Gets the Job Done in 10 Minutes

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High-intensity interval training (HIIT) gets results in less time

Can’t get to the gym? No problem!

There’s a notion out there that you need to belong to a gym in order to maintain a fitness routine, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with leaving your house to get your sweat on, it’s also completely possible to get a great workout in the comfort of your own living room.

This HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout is the perfect fat-burning addition to any exercise program you’re currently doing. The best part? It will only take you 10 minutes, you can do it in front of the TV, and the only equipment you need is a stopwatch (or the timer on your phone).

Perform each move below for 20 seconds, trying to get as many reps in as you can, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Do two full sets (meaning 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, then repeat once) of each exercise before moving on to the next. Let’s HIIT it!

Squat jumps

Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Squat down, keeping the weight in your heels, until you have reached the bottom of a squat. From here, jump straight up into the air as high as you can. Land softly on your toes and repeat.

Push-ups

Get into a standard plank position, with your arms slightly wider than your shoulders and your feet just a few inches apart. Slowly lower yourself down, getting as close to the ground as possible. From here, push back up through your chest and arms to starting position. Keep your core tight throughout the entire movement and fight the urge to allow your mid-section to either arch up or sag.

Jumping lunges

Start in a lunge position with your right foot in front and left foot behind you with your left knee about an inch from the floor. From here, explode straight up out of the lunge, switching your legs mid-air and landing softly on your toes. You will now have your left leg in front and right leg behind you. Remember to keep your front knee at a 90 degree angle and try not to let it go past your toes.

Sit-ups

Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands behind your head. While keeping your chin angled towards the sky, use your core to sit up until your elbows touch your knees. Lower back down to the ground and repeat.

Burpees

Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Squat down to the floor and place your hands on the ground in front of you. From here, jump back into a pushup position. Jump your feet forward until you are at the bottom of a squat again, then jump straight into the air.

Want more moves like this? Check out 6 Moves That Burn More Fat in Less Time

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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Read next: 5 Research-Backed Habits of People Who Never Skip a Workout

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

How Exercise Helps Curb Alzheimer’s Symptoms

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Most studies so far have focused on the importance of physical activity before you develop Alzheimer’s. But can it treat the disease once you are diagnosed? Two studies hint that may be the case

At the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in July 2015, scientists report some encouraging news about the benefits of exercise. In the first studies to look at physical activity among people already diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s, moderate to high intensity workouts may not only slow down the biological symptoms of Alzheimer’s—but may lead to improvements in cognitive functions as well.

In one study involving 200 people with mild or moderate disease, Dr. Steen Hasselbalch from the University of Copenhagen and his colleagues randomly assigned some participants to an hour of exercise three times a week for 16 weeks, while allowing the remainder to continue without a regular activity regimen. After a phase-in period, the exercisers were working at a moderate to intense level, achieving 70% to 80% of their maximum heart rate for at least half of each session.

MORE: Your School Grades Affect Your Risk of Dementia

That level of intensity is important, says Hasselbalch, to achieve results. Compared to the control group, the exercisers showed fewer symptoms such as anxiety, changes in mood and depression that are common among Alzheimer’s patients. Overall, those who were more active did not show any changes in cognitive functions, but when Hasselbalch looked at the results more carefully, he found that participants with milder disease who exercised actually did perform better on intellectual skills after the 16 weeks. They were tested on memory, language, mental speed and other executive functions.

“It’s been shown with other diseases that exercise can have beneficial effects,” he says. “Now we have shown it’s also important for dementia. So if you now have this alternative treatment, it sends a message that you can do something even after diagnosis to treat dementia.”

MORE: Two New Alzheimer’s Drugs Offer Hope—With Caveats

Because the people exercised in a group setting, he says that simply being part of that social situation and getting out of the house and interacting with others appears to reduce the mood-related symptoms of Alzheimer’s. “But if you really want an effect on cognition, then you have to exercise hard.”

He admits that his study did not delve into how the exercise might be contributing to the improved cognitive changes, but he will be analyzing the blood and cerebral spinal fluid collected from the participants to study that further.

MORE: Alzheimer’s May Show Up in Saliva

Such changes are what Laura Baker, from Wake Forest School of Medicine, and her team did with another group of early stage Alzheimer’s patients. They wanted to see what biological changes exercise might have on the Alzheimer’s process, and focused on 70 patients with mild cognitive impairment and diabetes, both of which significantly increase the risk for Alzheimer’s. Some were randomly assigned to simple stretching exercises, while others were told to exercise four times a week and, like those in Hasselbalch’s study, had to work hard enough to raise their heart rate to 70% to 80% of its maximum for 30 of the 45 minutes of each session. Baker then studied their cognitive function tests, brain imaging and levels of Alzheimer’s proteins in their cerebral spinal fluid.

She found that those who exercise rigorously increased the blood flow in the areas of the brain responsible for memory and higher level processing. The result was a dramatically increased score, by 80%, on average on the cognitive tests than those who just stretched, even after accounting for age-related changes in thinking. More intriguing, the exercisers also showed on average a 14% lower level of the protein tau, which is a good indicator that brain neurons are dying and Alzheimer’s processes are well underway, at the end of the study compared to before they began the exercise regimen.

“What’s encouraging to us is that we don’t have treatments now; there’s nothing for Alzheimer’s patients,” says Baker. “The possibility that a non-medicine intervention could actually change the disease — we’re just very encouraged by these results,.”

While the exercise regimen wasn’t an easy one — it qualifies as moderately intense physical activity, which for a group of older adults who are likely sedentary to begin with is certainly a challenge, both Hasselbalch and Baker say that with the right execution — by working with participants and by gradually increasing their exercise level — achieving the amounts of activity needed to help their brains is possible. Baker also points out that it’s time to start studying the combined effects of new medications that are being tested for Alzheimer’s and increased physical activity. Together, she says, they may hold the key to actually slowing down and possibly even reversing progression of the disease.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

5 Research-Backed Habits of People Who Never Skip a Workout

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Here's all the motivation you'll need to move

The first few weeks of a new fitness routine, you couldn’t be more stoked. You practically pop out of bed to hit the gym—rain or shine, snow or sleet. And then life happens. A colleague calls an early-morning meeting. A nasty cold strikes. You start to feel deflated, and your willpower fades.

Sound familiar? It’s a “vicious cycle of failure,” according to Michelle Segar, PhD, director of the Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan. For 20 years, she’s been studying motivation to figure out why so many of us struggle to keep it—especially when it comes to healthy habits.

Her new book, No Sweat ($17, amazon.com), reveals how to make one of those key habits, exercise, a part of your life—for good. (Hint: It involves banishing “should” thoughts.) Here, Segar, who also coaches clients, shares five simple tips that make perfect sense:

Count everything—and add it up

Physical activity doesn’t have to be time-consuming or intense to count as exercise. “Many of the things you’re already doing qualify as healthy movement,” says Segar. So give yourself credit for crossing the parking lot (2 minutes), walking the dog (10 minutes), playing tag with your kids (15 minutes), gardening (20 minutes), even pushing a cart around the grocery store (25 minutes). “Virtually all of my clients have told me that the notion that ‘everything counts’ has been transformative for them,” Segar adds. “It makes them feel successful every time they move, which leads to higher energy levels all day long.”

Focus on the now

Once you start counting all the physical activity in your day, you realize it’s possible to squeeze in a little more (without changing into workout clothes). “Rather than thinking, I don’t have time, you start thinking, I can fit this in!” Segar explains. Whenever you have a small pocket of time—even if its just five minutes—ask yourself, What can I do right now? You might end up jogging the stairs 10 times, or knocking out a series of ab moves on the floor.

Do what feels good

“Our brains are hardwired to respond to immediate gratification, and to do what makes us feel good,” says Segar. This is one of the reasons we tend to give up on chore-like workouts. Segar’s advice: Choose a type of movement that feels good to you, and you will want to choose it again and again—whether it’s as simple as hiking or as trendy as Buti yoga (think power yoga fused with tribal dance and plyometrics). Research backs up this advice: A Portuguese study from 2011 found that enjoying exercise was among the strongest predictors of whether a person continued exercising and maintained weight loss for the next three years.

Take ownership of your fitness

There are a lot of voices proclaiming that you “should” exercise—from your friends and family to your doctor and the media. But the most important voice is your own, says Segar: “Research suggests that a behavior change is more likely to ensue when you’ve identified what you really want from it.” You may be seeking better moods or stress relief, or maybe you just want to catch up with your workout buddy—it doesn’t matter, as long as you know what you’re after. (Not sure? Segar’s book can help you identify goals that will really work for you.)

Make one change at a time

Many of us feel so excited about “getting healthy” that we try to do multiple things at once, Segar says. “We decide to simultaneously work out more, learn to meditate, and start a new diet—and that’s a recipe for burnout.” Try focusing on just exercise first, Segar says. And above all else, remember to keep it fun, because that is the true secret to lasting motivation. As Segar puts it, “Do the physical movement you want to do, when you want to do it, for the amount of time your life allows.” That’s the best way to keep from lapsing altogether.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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Find Out How Many Calories to Cut For Weight Loss

A new NIH calculator gives you a personalized plan in minutes

Forget the number 2,000—a new government calculator uses the latest research to spit out an exact calorie count and exercise regimen you’ll need to hit your weight loss goals.

The calculator, called the Body Weight Planner, is now available online for public use, but the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has used it in research since 2011. “We originally intended the Body Weight Planner as a research tool, but so many people wanted to use it for their own weight management that we knew we needed to adapt it with more information about how to achieve a healthy lifestyle,” said Kevin Hall, PhD, one of the creators of the tool and a senior investigator at the NIH, in a press release.

Read more The Best Way To Make Your Exercise Habit Stick

The calculator asks your weight, sex, age and height—standard measures often used to prescribe a calorie plan. But it also incorporates more recent research about exercise to further personalize your plan, asking you to estimate your physical activity level on a scale of 1.4 (sedentary) to 2.5 (very active), to name your goal weight and to pick a date by which you want to reach it.

Most of us get about that far in thinking through a weight loss plan, but the calculator doesn’t stop there. It also asks you to name a percentage by which you plan to increase your physical activity and tells you what kind of exercise, how much, how often and what intensity level it’ll take to get there. Adding in a routine of light running isn’t the same as starting intense swimming, and in a distinctive feature, the calculator doesn’t weigh all physical activity equally.

The resulting calculations tell you three things: the daily number of calories you’ll need to eat to maintain your current weight, the calories you’ll need to reach your goal in your specified time, and the calories you’ll need to maintain your goal once you’ve met it. You can then use SuperTracker, a meal-planning tool developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to devise a meal plan based on your calorie stats. =

For people motivated by microscopic proofs of progress, there’s even an expert version of the calorie calculator that breaks down your goal by day, so you can see exactly how your weight loss will likely progress—decimal by decimal—if you stick to your program.

Read next: Here’s The Amount Of Exercise That Lowers Breast Cancer Risk

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Here’s the Best Way to Make Your Exercise Habit Stick

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Having this kind of habit will make you a more successful exerciser

It’s not always easy to convince yourself to exercise after a long day of work. (Ok, it’s never easy.) But people who consistently manage to do it may be using a simple trick—whether they realize it or not—according to a new study published in the journal Health Psychology.

The most consistent exercisers, researchers found, were those who made exercise into a specific type of habit—one triggered by a cue, like hearing your morning alarm and going to the gym without even thinking about it, or getting stressed and immediately deciding to exercise. “It’s not something you have to deliberate about; you don’t have to consider the pros and cons of going to the gym after work,” explains L. Alison Phillips, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University and one of the study’s authors. Instead, it’s an automatic decision instigated by your own internal or environmental cue.

The researchers wanted to see whether this type of habit, known as an instigation habit, was better than another type of habit at predicting who stuck with a month of exercise. At the beginning and end of the monthlong study, they asked 123 university students and faculty questions that assessed how often they exercised and how strong their exercise habits were—whether they did it without thinking, for example. From these questions, they gleaned whether a person has a strong instigation habit—one where a cue triggers the instantaneous decision to exercise—and whether a person has a strong execution habit—that is, knowing exactly what kind of exercise they’ll do once you get to the gym, or being able to go through the motions of an exercise routine while being mentally checked out.

The only factor that predicted how often a person exercised over the long-term, they found, was the strength of their instigation habit.

MORE: 7 Psychology Tricks To Make Your Resolutions Stick

It got stronger with time, too. “When people started exercising more frequently over the month and became more active, I saw that their instigation habit strength increased with that frequency, but execution habit didn’t really change in relation to frequency at all,” Phillips says. Zoning out mentally during exercise didn’t have a negative effect, but it didn’t help a person adhere to a regimen, either.

That’s good news for newbie exercisers who might be intimidated by the same routine day in, day out. “In the long term, it seems beneficial, or at least not harmful, to have variety in your routine,” Phillips says of the results. “A lot of people might shy away from starting to exercise because they think, oh man, I can’t possibly imagine myself doing this forever. They might think of one boring routine—running on the treadmill—and to them it sounds like torture, so they give up before they even begin.”

Some repetitive behaviors do reinforce exercise, she says. “When you’re just starting to develop an exercise routine, I think it might be helpful to engage in the same behaviors, to have this patterned action.” But sticking with a cue—instead of clinging to the same tired routine—appears to be what will get you back to your workout again and again.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

You Asked: Is It Healthy to Sweat A Lot?

You Asked Healthy Sweat
Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

If you’re hot, perspiration is normal—even lots of it. But there are other times when excessive sweating could be cause for concern.

Here’s the tricky thing about using sweat as a barometer for health: “A lot of it comes down to biological variation,” says Dr. Craig Crandall, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Crandall says if you examined two people—same height, sex and build—one might produce twice the volume of perspiration as the other. “It could just be one person has more sweat glands,” he explains. “Everybody’s baseline is different, so it’s hard to say what amount of sweat is ‘healthy’.”

Still, patterns emerge when you look at big groups of people.

A 2010 study from Japan examined how fit men and women sweat in response to exercise, and compared their sweating rates to those of unfit people. Fit people not only perspire more, but they also start sweating sooner during exercise, says study coauthor Dr. Yoshimitsu Inoue of Osaka International University. Men also tend to sweat more than women, Inoue says.

Crandall says the differences between fit and unfit people has to do with each person’s capacity for heat generation. “A high fitness level allows you to exercise at a higher workload, which generates more heat, which in turn leads to more sweat,” he explains.

He says men tend to sweat more than women for the same reason overweight or obese adults often sweat more than thin people: Their bodies are larger, which leads to greater heat generation during activity.

Crandall’s own research has found people sweat more after spending time in hot climates. “An athlete training here in Texas versus someone up in Montana may sweat differently in the same conditions,” he says. “Their bodies adapt in response to hot or humid environments.”

So sweat is complicated. But most of the research suggests perspiring in response to heat or exercise—whether you sweat a little or a lot—doesn’t mean much about your health.

Of course, there are other forms of sweat that have nothing to do with heat regulation.

People sweat when they’re nervous, and Crandall says nervous sweat tends to come from different glands than exercise- or heat-induced sweat. “The sweat glands that are sensitive to emotions are mostly under the arms, in the palms, and in the soles of the feet,” he says. While that’s unfortunate for nervous sweaters, there’s no evidence that people who sweat a lot due to worry are less healthy than those who aren’t as emotionally sweaty.

There’s also a condition called hyperhidrosis, which is excessive sweating either all over your body or in one particular area, such as your palms or pits. Excessive means up to four or five times what most people would sweat, says Dr. Adam Friedman, a dermatologist and residency program director at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

While the cause of this pernicious perspiration is often not identifiable, it can stem from an infection or illness, certain medications or an underlying endocrine condition like thyroid disease, Friedman says. Because of these links to health concerns, he says people who sweat all the time, day and night, should speak with a doctor.

Regardless of how much you perspire, exactly what you’re perspiring doesn’t vary much from person to person. Crandall says, “Sweat is basically water, sodium chloride, and potassium”—all of which you have to replenish after sweating heavily, he says.

And no, despite what you may have heard from the detox circuit, sweating does not rid your body of “toxins”. “It’s not like parts of the junk food you ate are going to escape through your sweat,” Crandall says. “There’s just no evidence of that.”

TIME Exercise/Fitness

11 Training Tips for Running Your First Half-Marathon

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Remember: every run has a purpose, so don't skip any

Running a half-marathon is all the rage these days, especially among women. In fact, a recent Running USA Report revealed that 13.1 is the fastest-growing race distance. What’s more, in 2014, the ladies made up 61 percent of the field.

So why are women rushing to the starting line?

“We are seeing an exciting time for women’s running in general,” Knox Robinson, coach at Nike+ Run Club NYC, publisher of the international running culture journal First Run, and co-founder of the Black Roses NYC running collective told Health. “It’s a combination of everything from women having more disposal income as consumers, companies giving more attention to women’s gear, and the ability, through social media, to see women of all shapes and sizes running, which is empowering.”

Adds Jenny Hadfield, founder of CoachJenny.com: “The training is the new way to socialize and catch up with friends. Plus there are a host of women’s specific races that provide a friendly, non-competitive environment for newbies.”

Thinking of tackling 13.1 in the near future? Consider these tips from top running pros before you lace up.

Know it’s possible

“From the beginning, I try to communicate in all ways— visually, literally and coaching-wise— how possible it is to reach this goal through intelligent training and preparation,” says Robinson who also notes that the half is a manageable distance for everyone to train for and wrap their heads around. “But you have to believe in yourself” to really succeed.

Be selective about your shoes

Your feet are your foundation, so give them the respect they deserve by investing in a good (good doesn’t always mean super pricey) pair of kicks that are comfy and truly fit your feet. Look to your neighborhood specialty running store for help, advises former Olympic runner John Henwood, founder of TheRun, a boutique treadmill studio in New York City. Here, they’ll perform a gait analysis to help decode what style of shoe is best.

Build your base

A running base is the number of miles and weeks of running you have in the bank before you being training for a race, and it is essential to a successful training season. “It’s like the foundation of a house,” says Hadfield. “The stronger the base, the more easily the body can withstand the demands of a training program.”

Find the right training plan

Before you settle on a regimen, ask yourself what your goals are, and then work back from there. “Long distance running is about being able to run faster, longer and better,” says Robinson, “so your training must be oriented in the same way.” Choosing a plan that suits your style and fitness level is also key. “When you start from where you are, you progress more readily and enjoy the journey,” explains Hadfield.

Give yourself enough time to prepare

Not only does the body need time to adapt to the progression of the mileage, but sometimes life gets in the way, so it’s wise to have a little extra cushion. Look for training schedules that fall between 14 and 16 weeks. “This gives you weeks to play with in case something happens along the way, time to live your life and have vacations and plenty of time to build up the longer runs safely,” says Hadfield. “Plus, the shorter the season, the higher the risk of injuries as well as burn out.”

Remember: every run has a purpose

So don’t skip any. The long runs on the weekends are the bread and butter and build your endurance and ability to run far. The shorter, faster workouts build speed and fitness. And the easy mid-week runs bridge the gap between these two. “Get into the habit of training by your breath, like in yoga and tuning into how it responds to the workout on the given day,” says Hadfield. “Some days will feel easier, and some harder, but when you train your body, you’ll always be in the optimal zone.”

Whatever you do, don’t neglect the long run

For some, long runs, for lack of a better word, just suck. Regardless, it’s important to get in a handful of them for the length of time you expect to be out on the course. Just as important as getting comfortable with the amount of time you’ll be on your feet, is training your mind for those miles, too. “The challenge for distance runners is that you have to give your mind something to do,” says Robinson. “Our minds aren’t used to occupying that amount of time, and after an hour or so it begins to wander.” And a idle mind is a breeeding ground for negative thoughts that make the urge to walk or stop that much harder to resist.

Hit the weight room regularly

You may think you just need to pound the pavement to prepare, but keeping your body strong through weight training is a big factor in your success. Stronger muscles improve not only your running skills, but help ward off injuries too. Build strength days into your training one to two times per week, along with another day of cross-training in some form of cardio, such as spinning,” advises Henwood. And don’t forget to work that core; a strong one can improve running biomechanics, making you more efficient at pounding that pavement.

Get on a Roll

All that running (and strength-training!) can leave muscles super tight; loosening them up with daily self-massage can go a long way in terms of keeping you injury-free, says Henwood. In fact, research shows that it can boost tissue repair, increase mobility and decrease soreness. So grab a foam roller and get down to business; your muscles will thank you on your next run.

Mix it up

You may feel a sense of comfort sticking to the same route day in and day out, but it could lead to burn out and overall resentment of those miles. For the sake of your sanity, and to keep things fresh, Henwood suggests opting for a change of scenery or surface (track, trail, treadmill) every once in a while. Other ways to hit refresh: creating a new playlist or buddying up if you are typically a solo strider.

Have fun

“Running is an emotional experience; it’s a whole body experience,” notes Robinson “Take time to have fun, as you build toward your goals.”

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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6 Ways to Get More Out of a Push-Up

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Pay attention to your breathing

The push-up is one of the most overlooked exercises in the metaphorical exercise book. Sure, it looks pretty easy and most of us know the basics: heels together, wrists underneath shoulders, bend and press your elbows, and voila, a move that works your entire body pretty much.

But there are certain tweaks you can make to take your push-up technique to the next level. Here are 6 key ways to perfect this exerciseand get the most out of it. All you have to do is follow these tips.

Press Your Hands Into The Floor

When performing a push-up, you want to press the palms of your hands firmly into the floor as if to push away from your wrists. Simultaneously, rotate the arms externally so that the elbows and biceps face forward. This pressure provides a natural tension in your arms, shoulders, and upper back, which will help you maintain stability in the upper body throughout the exercise, which helps keep you working hard in proper form.

Squeeze your lats

Another way to stabilize the upper body is to engage your lats. These muscles are found underneath your armpits and run along the sides of your body. By pressing your palms firmly into the floor you can start to activate them. Then, in addition, think of squeezing your armpits as tightly as possible, like you are holding something in between them. This will keep your upper body completely stable.

Draw your shoulder blades down and back

Keeping your shoulders shrugged up to your ears puts excess strain on the neck, and makes it harder to work the muscles you’re trying to tone: your arms, shoulders, and core. The body needs to move as one solid unit. Before you bend your elbows, check to make sure your shoulder blades are pulled down and back away from the ears, engaging your back muscles. To do this, act as if you are trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Keep your neck in line with your spine

Dropping your head too far down or tilting it too far upward can put too much pressure on the spine and put you at greater risk for injurythe opposite of getting stronger. Find a neutral spine: Instead of tucking your chin completely or looking straight out in front, gaze about 6 inches or so in front of your fingertips and keep your eyes focused there as you push up.

Keep your core engaged

The core is made up of more than just your abdominal muscles. It’s the entire midsection of your body, basically everything but your extremities. Activating all of your core muscles, including your obliques, abs, and glutes, takes stress off the lower back in addition to stabilizing your hips so your body stays in one long line, even as you lower down. By actively squeezing your navel towards your spine, the push up becomes just as much of an abdominal workout as performing a plank.

Master the breath

If we were listing these in level of importance, this would probably be number one. As with any exercise, breath is always going to help improve your form. It is what drives the movement. Remember to always exhale on the effort of the movement. In this case, that means inhale when you go down and exhale when you press up. As you exhale, you are essentially trying to empty the lungs of as much air as possible to help contract the core and give more power to your movement.

Now that you know how to do the perfect push-up, you can try different variations with 7 Ways to Do a Push-Up

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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6 Moves That Burn More Fat in Less Time

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Here's everything you need to know about plyometrics

 

There’s an in-vogue specialized training method that many people are using to get crazy results, and it is one of the fastest methods to get fit in a short amount of time: plyometrics.

Plyometrics are explosive movements that combine power, speed, and strength by working several body parts at once. Since they recruit more muscles than your average exercise—compare a bicep curl, which isolates only that one muscle, with a move that activates your arms, legs, and core simultaneously, like many of the ones below—you burn more calories not only during your workout, but up to eight hours after you’ve finished.

While plyometrics are well-known in the world of sports as a way to help athletes improve their game, they’re starting to take the rest of the fitness world by storm, and for good reason: In addition to toning and sculpting your legs, booty, arms, and abs, plyometrics help to build strength, increase balance and coordination, and improve cardiovascular health.

Before you jump off the couch and head to the gym, make sure you’re ready to handle plyometrics; since the difficulty level is somewhat advanced, being able to perform a proper basic squat and lunge first is important. Once you’ve mastered those moves, you’re ready to move on. Here are 6 plyometrics that will burn fat in no time:

Squat Jumps

Start by getting into the bottom of a squat position. Your legs should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and slightly turned out. Your chest should be out, shoulders back, and core engaged. From here, explode straight up in the air, allowing your feet to leave the ground. Make sure to land softly on your toes when you come down. Doing this will protect your knees and hips. Complete 10-15 squat jumps.

Lunge Hops

Start in a lunge position with your right foot in front and left foot behind you with your left knee about an inch from the floor. From here, explode straight up out of the lunge, switching your legs mid-air and landing softly on your toes. You will now have your left leg in front and right leg behind you. Repeat this until you’ve completed 10 total lunge hops.

Skaters

Start at the bottom of a squat position. Jump to the left, landing on your left leg, while bringing your right leg behind your left ankle. From here, jump to the right side with your right leg, bringing your left leg behind your right ankle. This completes one rep. Complete a total of 30 skaters.

Toe Taps

Find a stable medicine ball, step, or bench. This will be your base for the toe touches. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your sides. Bring your right toe to the edge of your base. From here jump and switch your feet so that your left toe is at the edge of the base and your right foot is now back on the floor. Repeat this for a total of 30 toe taps.

Medicine Ball Squat Thrusts

Grab a medicine ball and stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold the ball at belly-button height and slowly squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor or lower. (Do not let your knees extend past the tip of your toes.) From here, explode upwards and toss the medicine ball straight in the air. Keep your eye on it so you can catch it and drop right back into the squat position. Do 12-15 medicine ball squat thrusts.

Medicine Ball Burpees

Grab a medicine ball and stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Squat down to the floor and place the medicine ball between your feet while keeping your hands on the ball. From here, jump back into a pushup position, making sure your hands are placed securely on the ball. Jump your feet forward until you are at the bottom of a squat again, then stand up straight. Try to do 10-12 medicine ball burpees.

Liked these moves? Check out A 5-Move Workout To Get Your Butt In Shape

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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How to Manage Stress

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Shane Parrish writes Farnam Street

Exercise can become your best medicine

For any of you who have experienced a ‘runner’s high’ or endorphin rush while exercising you know how powerful the feeling can be. But there are many more chemicals at play than just endorphins and they can do much more than just make you temporarily feel good. Regular exercise can help you combat high levels of stress and anxiety.

In Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain the authors explain how exercise can become your best medicine.

Aside from elevating endorphins, exercise regulates all of the neurotransmitters targeted by antidepressants. For starters, exercise immediately elevates levels of norepinephrine, in certain areas of the brain. It wakes up the brain and gets it going and improves self-esteem, which is one component of depression.”

“Another factor from the body that comes into play here is the atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP). Produced by the muscles of the heart itself when it’s really pumping, ANP travels through the bloodstream and into the brain, where it helps to further moderate the stress response and reduce noise in the brain. It’s a potent part of a cascade of chemicals that relieve emotional stress and reduce anxiety. Along with pain-blunting endorphins and endocannabinoids, the increase in ANP helps explain why you feel relaxed and calm after a moderate aerobic workout. When you talk about burning off stress, these are the elements at work.

We all know that chronically high levels of stress is very unhealthy but did you know that it can actually destroy the connections between nerve cells in the brain?

If mild stress becomes chronic, the unrelenting cascade of cortisol triggers genetic actions that begin to sever synaptic connections and cause dendrils to atrophy and cells to die; eventually, the hippocampus can end up physically shriveled, like a raisin.

But this process can also be reversed.

Studies show that if researchers exercise rats that have been chronically stressed, that activity makes the hippocampus grow back to it’s pre-shriveled state

It’s important to note that while a lot of stress is bad, a little stress can be very good. Physical fitness is one discipline which has always advocated introducing controlled stress to your system. That is, after all, how we break down and build up our muscles. The neurons in our brains benefit from a bit of stress in the same way our muscles do.

What’s gotten lost amid all the advice about how to reduce the stress of modern life is that challenges are what allow us to strive and grow and learn. The parallel on the cellular level is that stress sparks brain growth. Assuming that the stress is not too severe and that the neurons are given time to recover, the connections become stronger and our mental machinery works better.

To get the most mental benefit from your exercise program ideally you need to spend some time pushing yourself and getting a bit outside of your comfort zone.

Psychologically, this is where you ‘confront the self,’ in the words of my colleague Robert Pyles… By going beyond where you thought you could, straining and stressing and lingering in that pain for even just a minute or two, you sometimes transcend into a rarefied state of mind, in which you feel like you can conquer any challenge. If you’ve ever experienced the phenomenon of runner’s high, it probably came in response to a near maximum effort on your part. The euphoric feeling is likely due to the mixture of extremely high levels of endorphins, ANP, endocannabinoids and neurotransmitters pumping through your system at this intensity. It’s the brain’s way of blocking everything else out so you can push through the pain and make the kill.

You also need to build a routine. The stability of a routine can have dramatic effects on your mood and motivation.

Exercise immediately increases levels of dopamine and if you stay on some sort of schedule, the brain cells in your motivation center will sprout new dopamine receptors, giving you new found initiative.

Lastly, exercising at a moderate intensity serves another important function; it helps take out the trash.

Inside your brain cells, the higher activity level triggers the release of metabolic cleanup crews, producing proteins and enzymes that dispose of free radicals, broken bits of DNA, and inflammation factors that can cause the cells to rupture if left unchecked.

Okay, maybe I won’t skip yoga tonight.

This piece originally appeared on Farnam Street.

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