5 Amazing Health Benefits of Golf

If you’re looking for a sport to take up on weekends, that you can also do when you’re on vacation, then consider adding golf to your list of hobbies. Though it doesn’t demand a lot from you physically, you can still get a decent workout from it as well as some mental benefits. Still not convinced? Check out some of the amazing benefits you get from playing golf in our top five list of benefits below.

It lowers your levels of stress.

When you’re playing golf, you are outside walking and taking in the fresh air and sunshine. And even if you get frustrated by a bad shot you made, all that nature, sunshine, and fresh air reduces stress. Plus, since it is such a challenging sport, the brain releases endorphins when yo play, which cause overall feelings of happiness and a more relaxed state.

It has a low chance of injury.

While you can certainly injure yourself playing this sport, overall it is a relatively low impact activity. There is no rapid movement required and you don’t even have to carry your own golf bag around the course if you don’t want to! That makes this the perfect sport for older individuals who worry about getting injured.

It improves your heart’s health.

While it’s common knowledge that cardio activities boost the health of your heart, but what you might not know is that even golf improves your cardiovascular health. Walking from hole to hole, swinging those golf clubs, and carrying that golf bag around the course all contribute enough physical activity to get that blood pumping for a healthier heart. This translates into a lower risk of diabetes and strokes, as well as lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

It helps you sleep better.

As we age, the quality of our sleep becomes worse over time. But when you play golf, you the exposure to fresh air and the exercise you get from walking the course work together to give you a better night’s sleep. You’ll also notice that you tend to fall asleep much quicker than when you’re not playing golf, and you stay in that deep sleep for longer periods of time. Overall, this contributes to a healthier you when you’re regularly playing golf.

It keeps your brain healthy.

The physical activity you engage in when walking the course does wonders for your brain’s health. It gives your brain a good supply of blood, which keeps it functioning in tip-top shape. It also strengthens the memory circuits in the brain, which is perfect for warding off Alzheimer’s disease as you age.

If you’ve been looking for a good excuse to get your spouse on board with your golf hobby, then these are some great reasons to use. Of course, these aren’t the only benefits that you get from the game. Learn about additional benefits in this Huffington Post article.

Baby Boomers say they feel fitter & healthier than Millennials

Millennial is the buzzword right now – they’re the ones we see on the covers of magazines or, more likely, on the front page of Instagram. So would it surprise you to know that the generation of Baby Boomers (those who were born between 1946 and 1964) feel fitter and healthier than Millennials, despite us not seeing these people represented in the fitness media?

busy millennials fitness survey

It’s true, according to a survey run by NRS Healthcare. They asked 3 groups of people: Millennials (18-35), Generation X (35-55) and Baby Boomers (55+). The survey showed that, overall, 86% of Baby Boomers would define their overall fitness as “average or above” whereas 72% of Generation X and a paltry 69% of Millennials gave the same answer, the rest answering that it was below average. The same group also spends the most time exercising a week – 43% exercise most days compared to 21% of Millennials and 24% of Generation X.

busy millennials fitness survey

The survey also asked how people felt about their diet – the super fit Baby Boomers also answered that their diets were healthy, in fact 100% of them said so! This compares to 79% of Generation X and Millennials saying that they tend to eat healthily. It does seem that many don’t necessarily regard breakfast as being an important part of a healthy diet however as only 72% of Baby Boomers eat breakfast every day, 77% of Generation X however find it more important, and only 54% of Millennials. Those Baby Boomers also feel that vitamins aren’t necessary to maintaining a healthy diet – only 28% of them take supplements to help give their body extra nutrients, whereas 45% of Generation X and Millennials do so.

It seems that Millennials are feeling self-conscious and under pressure to do something about their health or that the older generations are either simply more likely to find it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle or that they no longer feel pressured to live in a certain way. This is no more apparent than in their choices of diet:

busy millennials fitness survey

The most popular diet for Millennials was the newly popular 5:2; for Generation X, it was the traditional Slimming World; and for Baby Boomers, it was the old hat Atkins diet. However Millennials have tried far more diets than any other generation, despite respondents in this group all being under the age of 35 – 22 separate diets featured in their answers, the vast majority of which can only be classed as “fad” diets – juice cleanses, teatoxes, low carbs, Lean in 15 and raw food only diets were popular. In contrast, Generation X reported 10 different diets and Baby Boomers only 5.

Is the world a difficult place for a Millennial to navigate in terms of health and fitness, or are Baby Boomers simply more secure in their bodies? The rest of the survey results can be found on NRS Healthcare’s blog here.

7 Exercises to Target Your Lower Abs

Being in possession of a perfect six pack is a goal that pushes many people to pump out endless reps of crunches and leg lifts. Yet studies have shown that the physical attribute that even the most fit people often lack is those perfectly toned lower abs. Why is a chiseled lower abdomen such an illusive goal?

The answer lies within fat distribution. The vast majority of humans are genetically programmed to deposit fat and store fat in their lower abdomen, which is why achieving those chiseled lower abs can feel so impossible. Luckily, there is hope: with the right exercises, such as making use of an ab machine, weight bench and more, you can finally achieve the six pack of your dreams! Read on to discover 7 exercises to target your lower abs.

1.         The Bicycle Crunch:

When trying to develop lower abs, your first instinct is always to pump out the crunches. The problem with crunches is that we tend to rely more upon our necks- which can be dangerous-and our upper abs than our lower abs in order to complete the reps. Say goodbye to tired, old crunches, and switch up your routine with fat burning bicycle crunches.

Bicycle crunches force you to work your lower abs, both to pull yourself up and to twist from side to side. To complete a bicycle crunch, lie on your back with your arms behind your head and one leg extended, while driving the opposite knee towards your chest. Then pull yourself up, touching your opposite elbow to your knee. Switch sides each time you sit up for a fat burning, lower ab focused workout.

If you like to learn more about crunch, read this article.

2.         The Ab Machine- Hanging Leg Circles:

Even the most barely equipped gyms feature an old fashioned, weights only ab machine. Use the high bar on this machine to complete a killer lower abs workout. Hang from the bar and ensure your feet do not touch the ground. Engage your core, focusing on your lower abs, and raise your legs upward. Trace a circle in the air using your legs, then reverse the circle. A circle in one direction counts as 1 rep. Complete 8 to 10 reps for the best results.

3.         The Ab Machine- Hammer Crunch:

The Ab Crunch is a very popular ab machine that can be used at homeor at your local gym. One great lower ab exercise on the ab machine is the hammer crunch. To complete the hammer crunch, sit down on the ab machine, making sure your back is in line with the top of the back rest. Grip the bar with both hands and contract your abs, focusing especially on contracting your lower abs. Slowly lower the weight as far as you can. Complete 25 reps for best results.

4.         Weight Bench- Reverse Crunch:

The weight bench is a great place to really work those lower abs. To complete the reverse crunch sit on the edge of the weight bench and place your hands on either side of your hips. Make sure your back is straight, then brace the abs and raise your feet off the floor, keeping the knees bent. Lean back slightly and raise your knees closer to your chest, focusing on your lower abs in order to complete this motion. Lower and complete. 30 reps for best results.

5.         Weight Bench- Leg Raises:

Lay down on your back on top of the weight bench, your legs extended straight off of the weight bench. Brace your abs and focus upon maintaining strength especially within the lower abs. Then use your lower abs to raise your legs upward until they form a 90 degree angle with your body. Lower them slowly, using the lower abs to maintain control. 30 reps for best results.

6.         Weight Bench- Feet Elevated Cross Body Mountain Climbers:

This weight bench move is designed to very intensely work the lower abs, and also help develop the obliques. Place your feet upon weight bench, and place your hands upon the floor, so that your body forms a sort of extroverted plank. Bend your knee towards the opposite elbow, twisting the body to allow them to meet. Switch sides. Two sides is one rep. 25 reps for best results.

7.         Weight Bench- Abs Ladder:

This move will get your lower abs burning! Kneel on the floor and place your hands beneath your shoulder upon the ground. The put your weight into your hands, engage your core, and raise your knees off the floor, balancing upon the balls of your feet. This is the starting position. Reach one hand up to the weight bench, then the other. The place on hand back down upon the floor, then the other. This is one rep. Compete 20 reps for best results.

Annie Jones is the founder of BoostBodyfit. She is a huge fan of healthy eating and living! She creates the blog purely to share her experiences and expertise on health, nutrition, exercise and everything else between. Say Hi to Annie on Twitter @boostbodyfit,  Facebook @boostBF and Pinterst @boostbodyfit

How Running Slower Will Make You Faster (in the Long Run)

Runners often get too obsessed with breaking their personal records. But contrary to the widespread belief, the best way to improve your time are not the constant tempo runs . Instead, adding a bit of speed variety to your weekly schedule (and doing it right) is the key. And this is where long steady runs come to play. If you want to run faster and set your new best personal time, you simply have to work on your endurance and stamina. Here is everything you need to know about running long slow distances and why they are so important for all runners out there.

What does ‘slow’ means?

You have probably followed a professionally made training plan at least once in your life, so you already know that it includes long runs at a moderate pace at least a couple of times a week. You can find them in both 5K and full marathon programs. Even though these runs are low intensity, they will eventually help you reach your goals and make you a better athlete. And you will avoid overtraining which is very harmful to both your body and your mind.

If you are a beginner and you want to get faster, there are two ways to determine the right slow pace that will work for you. It will be quite easy if you have a heart rate monitor which tells you the exact stats of your body and the performance. Maintaining your heart rate somewhere around 135 beats per minute is ideal but you can drop it a bit lower as well. Make sure you don’t go over 145 beats per minute.

However, if you don’t own a heart rate monitor, you can still estimate your pace by measuring your effort. For instance, on a scale from one to ten, tempo runs should be at a nine or a ten in terms of difficulty. The perfect number for long slow runs is six or seven. This means that the run should not be super easy and it will be difficult to talk while running, but you will not be pushing yourself to the very limit. After all, you need to cover more mileage than you are used to and it should feel a bit challenging, right?

running slower when outdoors on road

The benefits of slow pace

If you have just completed your first 5K race and you feel like signing up for a 10K or a half-marathon, you should start thinking bigger. Long distances will become a part of your weekly training and you have to learn how to combine them with tempo runs in order to perform really well on your race day. Let’s take a look at the benefits of the slow long runs:

  1. You will burn more fat

Running at a slow pace will help you reach your best form by tapping into your fat reserves. So instead of using glycogen, your body will burn fat. Our bodies do not store a lot of glycogen (we get it from carbs) and you will run out of it pretty quickly, leaving you tired and a bit sleepy. On the other hand, running at a slower pace will teach your body to use fat as well which means you will have more fuel on your race day and be able to finish really long distances without feeling drowsy or spent in the process.

  1. Stronger muscles

Treating your muscles right is the key for completing long distances in the future. You can view your long slow runs as a form of recovery because you will not exert yourself and the chances are you will have more energy afterward. Your capillaries will grow which means that your body will be able to use more oxygen, making you more focused. So yes, long slow runs will improve your mental state which sometimes can be crucial for finishing the actual race.

  1. They are perfect for building stamina

If you are training for an endurance race, your stamina has to be at the highest level. You also need to get used to the constant motion. Training at a slower pace at least a couple of times each week will generally improve your cardiovascular system, prepare your body for really demanding conditions, and show you what to expect on your actual race day. Make sure you don’t start with really ambitious distances, especially if you are a beginner. Gradually increase the intensity in your tempo runs as well. Make a slow progress and you will see a huge difference when you actually need to be fast.

The dangers of overtraining

New runners have to understand that the progress doesn’t happen overnight. You simply cannot get fast in just a couple of weeks by running at a very high speed all the time. It is quite opposite really because you’ll exhaust your body, probably damage the muscles, and eventually lose interest in running.

Long slow runs are the perfect way to recover and give your muscles some love. They will also make you feel relaxed and stress-free because you don’t have to worry about maintaining the high tempo every day. Instead, take an occasional look at your heart rate monitor (if you have one) just to make sure you are in the zone and simply run.

Always keep in mind that you shouldn’t do more than two high-intensity tempo runs in a single week and don’t do them back-to-back. Your body is not a machine and exhaust will very likely slow down your progress. Create a good running schedule that will provide you with enough recovery time, and your time will improve.

Conclusion

Running at a slower pace is the foundation for breaking your personal records. It is the best way to adapt your muscles to running, especially if you are a novice and your body is not used to the regular activity. So don’t hesitate or feel pressured to always run fast – having stamina and endurance will eventually pay off and you will see the actual improvement after two or three weeks. Plus, your tempo runs will not feel as difficult as before. So get out there, conquer those long miles, and ignore your clock. Trust us, it will make you a better runner.

If you have any questions about this topic, leave us a comment below.

Bio: Jessica Natalie is a health and fitness lifestyle blogger who is passionate about running and wants to spread the love on her blog Cause I Love Running.