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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Steer Clear of Overtraining in Your Workouts

ThinkstockPhotos-sb10062340z-001.jpgOvertraining is something that is commonly experienced in the fitness world yet frequently not recognized. What exactly is overtraining? It happens when the volume or intensity of exercise goes beyond your capacity to recover. Progress is no longer seen, and as time goes on, individuals who are overtraining tend to lose strength and become weaker. This is something that by definition everyone would want to avoid, but it’s easier said than done!

A lot of exercise happens to be a mindset. We’ve all been there: “I’ll just go for a run since I ate a whole pizza last night,” or “I’ll grab a second workout today so I can pig out on dinner.” However, maybe these things are pushing you over the edge into the overtraining zone, a place that you really don’t want to be.

Let’s take a look at five signs that you could be overtraining, and then five potential solutions.

Five Signs of Overtraining

  • Repeated injury: Do you have an injury that heals and then comes right back again? One sign of potential overtraining is having repeated injuries pop up. Because you are not allowing proper recovery between training sessions, the injury will never fully heal and keep coming back.
  • Exhaustion: Do you feel like you just can’t quite seem to get enough rest between training sessions? When an individual is overtraining, the work capacity being done is greater than the recovery time allotted. If you feel your body is not quite ready for the next workout, consider taking a rest.
  • Lack of progression: Are you stuck in your workouts and not seeing any gains even with the greater work capacity? If you are overtraining, you will begin to see a lack of progression in strength and training gains. The workout plateau could be caused by other factors, but consider taking a look at your training if you are lacking in progression.
  • Nagging injury: Do you have a nagging injury that won’t heal? If you have an injury that you cannot recover from and it refuses to go away, you might be training too much. Taking a break will allow your body to recover from those nagging injuries.
  • Persistent muscle soreness: Are you constantly sore after workouts and never feel “normal”? A classic sign of overtraining is constant muscle soreness that will not go away. The lactic acid buildup in your body doesn’t have time to flush out of the muscles when the training regimen is too high.

If you are struggling with any of the overtraining signs, consider one of the following solutions.

Five Solutions for Overtraining

  • Take a break. This tends to be the hardest one because of the challenging mindset, but you will do your body a huge favor if you take some time off. Maybe it’s a week or two weeks, but allow yourself enough time off to fully recover and see the gains that come from it.
  • Reduce volume. One way to break overtraining issues is to reduce the amount that you are working out. You can reduce length or frequency of workouts during the week. Either way, cut down on the volume and see how you feel.
  • Rethink your training plan. You may need to rethink the training plan that you currently have. Maybe you need to change up days or space workouts apart from what you currently have going. Take a look and make adjustments where necessary.
  • Try a massage. Sometimes a deep-tissue massage will help to push out some buildup within your muscles. Take a day and schedule a massage in place of your training session and see if that helps.
  • Reevaluate your goals. While no one wants to reduce a goal they originally set, sometimes if your body cannot take the load you are putting it under, you may need to make a change. This doesn’t mean that you need to reduce your goals; maybe just making small modifications would be acceptable.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: workouts injury prevention overtraining exhaustion massage

4 Quick Workouts for Students

ThinkstockPhotos-177248545.jpgBusy college schedule? No time to fit in your workout between exams, papers, and class? Don’t let school be the excuse to skip or miss your workout. According to The Lancet, people who exercise as little as 15 minutes a day have a 14% lower mortality risk than people who don’t exercise at all. Just remember, something is always better than nothing!

Quick at-the-Gym Workouts

Here are some quick workout options, that require dumbells or kettlebells, that you can do if you are short on time.

Workout 1: 2–3 rounds

Workout 2: 2–3 Rounds

Fast Workouts That Don’t Require Equipment

No equipment, no problem. You can still get in a quick workout. Just because you do not have weights available doesn’t mean you should skip.

Workout 1: 3–4 rounds

  • Walking lunges x 8 each
  • Pushups x 10
  • Squat hold x 5 (hold the bottom position of your squat for 10 seconds)
  • Side plank lifts x 8 each side
  • March in place x 30 seconds

Workout 2: 3–4 rounds

  • Side lunges x 8 each side
  • Bear crawl x 30 seconds
  • Single-leg bridge press x 8 each
  • Eccentric pushups x 5 (8–10 seconds on the way down; 1 second on the way back up)
  • Jumping jacks x 30 seconds

Always remember, something is better than nothing! “No time” should never be the reason for not getting in some strength movements as a student. If you need more help for quick workout ideas, stop by the track desk at NIFS and a trainer can help you out.

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This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise exercise at home fitness center equipment workouts strength college students

Is Metabolism the Reason You’re Having Trouble with Weight Loss?

ThinkstockPhotos-505722820.jpgWe often hear people talk about their slow metabolism being the reason they cannot lose weight. While this may be true for some individuals, it does not apply to the majority of the population. If you have never actually had blood work done saying you have a slow metabolism, this more than likely is not the issue. Instead of blaming the metabolism, you have to look at the basic “recipe” for weight loss.

Two Ways to Lose Weight

As you might know by now, weight loss is caused by putting the body in a caloric deficit. Being in a caloric deficit means that the number of calories burned by the body has surpassed the amount of calories consumed by the body. This simple definition of a caloric deficit helps further explain the two popular methods in which you can obtain caloric deficiency.

  • Option 1: Consume fewer calories than required by the body for optimum energy output.
  • Option 2: Burn off more calories than consumed by the body.

Factors Affecting How Many Calories You Burn

Now let’s take a look at the things that affect your energy expenditure.

The first thing that affects total energy expenditure (TEE) is your resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR is defined as the energy your body requires for normal daily functioning without movement. This is your body’s set energy output on a daily basis.

TEE also takes into consideration something called the thermic effect of food (TEF). This is described as the energy required to break down the food you consume. Thermic effect of food usually makes up 10–15% of your energy expenditure.

The rest of your TEE is made up of your movement with intentional and non-intentional exercise or non-exercise physical activity (NEPA). NEPA can make up anywhere between 15–50% of your energy expenditure. If you are sedentary for a majority of the day, you may be burning only 15% of your energy expenditure; when you remain active for a majority of the day, you may be burning up to (but not limited to) 50% of your energy expenditure as compared to your RMR.

Looking at BOD POD Results

To put this into perspective, here is my BMR and TEE that I received from doing my NIFS BOD BOD.

TEE = RMR + TEF + exercise
RMR = 1,642 kcals 
TEF = 246 kcals (15%)
Intentional Exercise/ Non-intentional exercise = 246 kcals (15%) (1,642 x .15)
821 kcals (50%) (1,642 x .5)

Using the numbers above, on a sedentary day I would burn around 2,102–2,134 kcals (15%). On an active day, I would burn around 2,709–2,857 kcals (50%). On a very active day I could burn up to 3,415 kcals for the day. Now let’s say I eat around 2,200 kcals on a consistent basis. Eating 2,200 kcals on a sedentary day would put me in a caloric surplus, whereas eating 2,200 kcals on an active day would put me in a caloric deficit.

Sedentary day = 66 kcal surplus
Active day (including intentional exercise and NEPA) = 657 kcal deficit

So just by being more active throughout the day I would be able to take myself from being in a surplus to being in a caloric deficit, which is the basis for weight loss.

ThinkstockPhotos-154306165.jpgDo You Just Need to Move More?

Now ask yourself this: Are you having trouble losing weight because you have a slow metabolism, or are you just not moving and burning calories throughout the day? More than likely your caloric deficit difficulties are because of a lack of calorie burning due to a lack of movement throughout the day.

Being sedentary vs. engaging in intentional exercise and NEPA can make a world of difference as to whether you are achieving a caloric deficit. So if you don’t take anything else from this blog, remember this: weight loss usually requires a LIFESTYLE change instead of just engaging in intentional exercise. You must maximize your energy expenditure throughout the entire day to widen the gap between calorie consumption and total energy expenditure.

Schedule your BOD POD assessment today to find out your true numbers by calling 317-274-3432, ext. 262.

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This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS weight loss calories metabolism BODPOD

Balancing Academics and Fitness in College

ThinkstockPhotos-650623468.jpgWelcome back to school! Or, if you are new to the college experience, welcome to your first adventure in time management and balancing your life. This not only includes your academics and social life, but other areas that go under the radar as less important. I’m talking about fitness and wellness. College and university fitness centers are usually well populated with individuals with a wide variety of goals ranging from stress reduction to spring break abs, to meeting people.

Many of the students that I have met at NIFS are likeminded, health conscious, and body-image-positive, which makes coming to a campus-centered fitness center more enjoyable. In retrospect, when I was in school I found myself using the campus fitness and recreational center as a way to not only hone my training skills, but also to get away from the stress caused by deadlines and grades.

Beyond the obvious benefits, studies have been conducted that actually link exercise to getting better grades. Here is what I have found, along with some constructive ideas to help you benefit from fitness.

Set Goals

Breaking through your fitness barriers is the first step to getting what you want out of your fitness experience. In previous blogs, I have talked about setting realistic goals and expectations; because of all the time allotted to school and social life, you may find yourself in a crunch to dedicate any extra time to your goals. Choose goals that can be measured, such as coming to the gym four days per week for the entire semester or wanting to complete a 5K in less than 25 minutes. This will allow you to focus while you are at the gym and not tune out what you are trying to accomplish.

Find Motivation

Also, finding something you love to do for exercise helps. If you love swimming or plan to have swimming as part of your training goal, you should practice swimming often. Finding a support network can also help bridge the gap between your student life and fitness life. These people do not have to have the same goals as you, but it helps when training for an event. NIFS offers group fitness classes daily that are included in the membership; this is a great way to meet people and commiserate about how much fun burpees are!

See How Exercise Helps You Get Better Grades

The benefits go beyond looking good for spring break. Studies conducted at Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, have shown that if a student works out as little as once per week, they have a better chance of having a higher grade-point average than their classmate who doesn’t work out. The findings supported not only improved grades, but also better time-management skills and mental wellness. As these studies become more and more prevalent, there is a noticeable trend for better, more suitable campus fitness centers to fulfill the needs of the students.

A worrisome trend in schools today is the deemphasis on physical education classes. From a young age, I remember having physical education class and never thought twice about how much exercise I was getting because I was having fun playing games and interacting with others. Based on the researchers’ data from Purdue, the trend of discontinuing physical education, which is leading American children down the road toward obesity and lack of knowledge regarding wellness, could affect their ability to get better grades. With anything in life, balance is the key. The right amount of study, exercise, nutrition, and recovery can benefit anyone.

Just Get to the Gym

In closing, all signs point to fitness as being undeniably great for people. We find that having a goal in mind is good, but really just getting to the gym can be beneficial. NIFS, located at the south end of IUPUI’s campus, is staffed with individuals looking to help you on your fitness journey. Along with the staff are thousands of everyday people just like you who are trying to do the same thing you are. You can do a different class every day of the week or have a trainer design a specific plan tailored to meet your needs. Welcome back and have a great school year!

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor and personal trainer. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness fitness center Thomas' Corner motivation goals college time management

NIFS Personal Trainer Takes on a Triathlon Challenge (Part 2)

IMG_5313.jpgTriathlon training is past the halfway point (see part 1 of my blog) and has been quite the journey! With long days of juggling my work schedule, the training plan, a dog, a home life, and trying to find time in there to rest, training for this triathlon has been quite challenging! In addition to the training plan that I am following, I have analyzed areas where I need to improve, especially in the swim portion of the race. I have noticed that not only the physical aspect of the triathlon training needs work, but my attitude does as well.

Back to the Basics

How do I tackle this without being overwhelmed with the other 50 things running through my mind that need to be done, and then keeping a positive mindset about my energy to top it off? I have decided to break it down and take each segment one step at a time, in order to not become so stressed out. I have taken the mindset of going back to the basics of training and mastering those first.

Mastering Swimming Basics

On our first swim training, one immediate thing I noticed was how my heart rate skyrockets when I’m in the water. My quads are on fire from kicking incorrectly, my breathing and head are uncontrolled, and I tend to hold onto the edge of the pool in order to not drown. Even worse, this all seems to happen within a 50-meter stretch in the pool! While I wanted to quickly bail, I was reminded to take it one step at a time.

Something that really helped to reassure me was that our coach mentioned to our group, “The hardest part is getting in the water; once you’re in, you’ve accomplished half of the battle. The key is not swimming faster, but it is to concentrate on your form and technique.” Needless to say, I’ve been focusing on those basic tips and am beginning to feel more comfortable in the water and see my swimming improve!

Biking: Getting to Know the Bike

I ride my bike for recreational commuting purposes but have never raced competitively. One of our first rides as a group was focused around getting to know your bike. We had to check our seat height and the air in our tires (and know how to fill them up), learn the gearshifts, and learn a few other tricks about knowing our own bikes. This was a huge help for me.

Another training day we were working on mounting and dismounting our bikes in order to learn to be efficient with our transitions between the swim-to-bike and bike-to-run. A few seconds in your time makes a difference. I ended up having a nice bruise on my leg as my pedal caught my knee on my first try. On the plus side, the convenience of working at NIFS and being downtown has enabled me to run errands and train with my bike, accumulating cycling miles over the course of the week. This has helped me to be more comfortable on my bike and learn how to get on and off quickly.

Improving My Running

Running is probably my strongest event in the triathlon. Last year I ran competitively in the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, although I have not kept up with a consistent cardio program until now. My goal is to increase my pace in hopes of making up for where I am challenged in swimming and biking, but without running out of energy before I cross the finish line. Getting back into a running program is hard! I’ve battled plantar fasciitis in my left foot and a mild case of low back pain. I’ve mixed my workouts with weight training prior to running, sprints, and longer-distance runs in hopes of mimicking the fatigue that I will feel from swimming and biking on race day.

My Top Triathlon Tips

I have learned through this triathlon training program so much about myself and the importance of not stressing over the big picture, but instead focusing on each segment of the training and race. As a trainer and a first-time triathlete in training, here are a few tips I’d like to share:  

  • Use a coach to help you. It’s hard to see your technique when you are swimming, biking, and running, and a few simple tips will make a big difference. You can always improve.
  • Warming up is essential. Techniques such as foam rolling, tension release, dynamic stretching, and letting your body adjust to the environment have made such a big difference in my workouts.
  • Bring on the food. Don’t get me wrong; eating healthy, meal prepping, and portion control are all essential to my daily way of living. However, what I’ve noticed is that I’m hungrier and my body has been leaning out and getting toned from the additional training. I’ve had to increase my food/calorie intake so that I can stay energized throughout the whole day.

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This blog was written by Crystal Anne Belen, personal trainer and health fitness instructor at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS running swimming triathlon cycling nifs staff triathlon training program personal trainer

Coconut Oil: Good or Bad Nutrition?

ThinkstockPhotos-690357892.jpgCoconut oil definitely seemed like the food craze of the year in 2016. People were putting it on and in everything, from baked goods to coffee and lots of food choices in between. People were using it as moisturizer and hair cream; it was the cure for all! However, in June 2017 the American Heart Association came out with a statement advising against using this oil. So, should you ditch those giant bottles in your pantry, hold onto them just in case more research flips the advice again, or keep using it daily?

What Are the Arguments Against It?

The reason for the new report is that 7 out of 7 studies found that coconut oil, which we know is very high in saturated fat, raised LDL or bad cholesterol levels. They established no difference between it and other high-saturated-fat oils like butter and beef fat. Interesting to know is that coconut oil is 82% saturated fat versus 63% in butter and 50% in beef fat.

One reason coconut oil was touted to be so healthy and good for you was the high amount of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which the body can break down much more easily than the longer-chain triglycerides found in fatty meats, dairy, and oils. MCTs have been found in studies to raise heart-healthy HDL cholesterol and help with weight loss by increasing your metabolism, which is why so many people see the benefit of this oil. Keep in mind that it is a fat, which means it is very calorie dense. One tablespoon has 117 calories. Therefore, if weight loss is your main goal, you still need to calculate this in when coming up with an appropriate calorie count for you.

Use Other Plant-Based Oils

What we do know is that plant-based fats such as olive and vegetable oil, nuts, and avocados have been found time and time again to be heart healthy. These are the type of fats that should make up the majority of fat in your diet on a daily basis. Using these oils for cooking and baking should be a priority. Adding in other fats sparingly can be a part of a healthy diet.

Nutrition Advice Is Always Changing

The science of nutrition is constantly changing, so it is important to be aware of this. That’s why the policy of a balanced diet with everything in moderation is key. Even if every new research study showed the health benefits of coconut oil, that still doesn’t give you a pass to consume it in unlimited quantities. And remember, many of those wonderful uses are completely calorie free when you aren’t ingesting it!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition calories fat diet trends

NIFS August Group Fitness Class of the Month: Yoga

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Yoga is good for all types of people who have all types of fitness goals. No matter what your age, size, shape, or training regimen, you can reap the benefits of doing it on a regular basis. In fact, there are different types of yoga, and some of them are quite challenging regarding strength and balance.

Yoga is NIFS Group Fitness Class of the Month. Let’s take a look at some specific groups of people and why yoga can be beneficial to them.

Athletes

For many athletes, the idea of getting a good, solid workout means needing a wheelchair to get out of the gym. However, a good 60-minute yoga session could really help far more than the mind tells you it can. In fact, one of these sessions may be, at times, even more beneficial than that 60-minute lift you were just about to do. Yoga helps to improve strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, mental control, and mobility; increases power; and works as a perfect active-recovery exercise.

Seniors

For senior fitness, yoga is great to help gain better stability and balance. As people age, their balance, stability, and proprioception diminish. But with the help of yoga, you can slow down the process. On top of improved stability and balance, yoga helps to improve flexibility and overall joint health, reduces high blood pressure, improves breathing, and helps to reduce anxiety or depression.

The General Population

For the everyday exerciser who is simply trying to fit exercise into their regular, busy life schedule, yoga is great, too! Yoga is actually a form of physical fitness and has several benefits for those looking for a relaxing yet challenging workout. Yoga helps boost emotional health, reduce back pain, reduce heart disease, put asthma at ease, boost memory, improve flexibility… and the list goes on.

Youth

Yes, yoga is good for kids as well. Yoga is good for the youth population because it gives them time to step away from technology, inwardly connect with themselves, and listen to their own feelings and ideas. For this age range of people, it has been found that yoga can help improve self-esteem, attention span, empowerment, and self-regulation.

August_Yoga.jpgPowerlifters

Believe it or not, powerlifting and yoga are a match made in heaven! Yoga for those who like to lift heavy helps improve grip strength and endurance, improve breathing, relieve knee and lower-back pain, aid in flexibility (specifically in the back for power lifters), and increase strength. While you might not be the first one in class to touch your toes, make that your next goal, then lift the car above your head!

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Check out NIFS’ group fitness schedule and join us for a class in Indianapolis. Namaste, friends and fellow soon-to-be yogis!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS yoga group fitness balance senior fitness kids powerlifting athletes Group Fitness Class of the Month

Small Group Training EXPRESS: Get a 30-Minute Strength Workout

GT class.jpgHave you ever wanted to try out small group training? If you’ve wanted to but have never taken the step to do so, maybe you share some of the same concerns as many others. A common concern that I often hear is that working out for a full 60 minutes is not currently your cup of tea because of your schedule or fitness level. Maybe you have seen people in SGT workouts before and you don’t feel up to that level. Or maybe you just haven't gotten around to it yet.

If any of these things strikes a chord, I have something that might be in your future. I am excited to announce that I have started small group training EXPRESS! This express-style group training will offer the same benefits as regular group training and a similar format, but for 30 minutes instead of 60!

GT_Express-logo.jpg

Here are the top 3 reasons I think you should try it.

1. The 30-Minute Format Is Perfect for Those Shorter on Time

SGT EXPRESS is only 30 minutes! That is 2.08% of your day. You get to the gym, get in a great workout with the perk of training with others, and before you know it you are finished. I think some days short and sweet workouts are all you need. I know some may be thinking, 30 minutes, is that even worth it? The answer is yes! You will still benefit from a 30-minute workout. During this half hour, we will simply maximize every minute instead of spanning it over an entire hour. So don’t let the shorter time keep you from trying it. Also, this class is offered during the lunch hour, perfect for squeezing a workout into your busy day and clearing your mind before getting back to work.

2. Get in That Much-Needed Strength Workout

If you have only 30 minutes to work out, many people don’t think they can squeeze in a good strength session, so they go on a run instead. With SGT EXPRESS, you will get that total-body strength workout that you need to get in for the week. No need to think about what you can squeeze in; the workout is already planned for you. A typical SGT EXPRESS workout will consist of a warmup, core/power movement, a strength portion, and a finisher to leave you walking out knowing that you had a great workout.

3. All Fitness Levels Are Welcome—and the Group Setting Will Give You Motivation to Push Yourself

SGT EXPRESS is for a beginner or a veteran of exercise. All exercises have different progressions that can easily be adapted to meet any fitness level. I will coach you in choosing what works best for you. Training in a group setting also brings out most people’s competitive side. The group will help you push yourself harder than if you just came in for 30 minutes on your own. Don’t let the SGT part of it scare you away.

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Try your first SGT EXPRESS session led by trainer Kaci Lierman FREE! Classes are offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 to 12:30pm in Indianapolis. Contact Kaci at klierman@nifs.org for more information.

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This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, NIFS Personal Trainer. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

The Hidden Wellness and Fitness Benefits of Yoga

Yoga3.jpgMany of us know that yoga serves as a form of physical activity that increases flexibility for participants. Yoga focuses on putting the individuals in body poses that elongate muscles from head to toe. While this is very true, and I encourage anyone looking to improve their flexibility to incorporate yoga into their weekly workout routine, yoga has so much more to offer than just improvements in flexibility. In fact, the original context of yoga had very little to do with improving flexibility at all.

Originally the purpose of yoga was spiritual development practices to improve mind-body awareness. Over the years, however, many have begun to focus more on the physical benefits of yoga than the mental and spiritual benefits, which has led the practice of yoga to take on newly defined purposes. However, it is important to understand the mind-body awareness benefits of yoga, as they can be just as if not more beneficial than the physical attributes. Let’s take a look at what some of those hidden benefits are.

Nervous System and Digestive System

One major focus of yoga is to become more aware of and to control your breathing patterns. By learning to control breathing, you can move from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system almost instantaneously. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response, or the part of your nervous system designed to respond to stress. When the sympathetic nervous system is in control, heart rate and blood pressure rise as a response to fight a possible threat. You want to limit the activity of this side of the autonomic nervous system. This is important because when the parasympathetic nervous system (or rest and digest) is in majority of control, your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels lower while your digestion rate increases. Once your body reaches this relaxed state, anxiety becomes something of the past. A faster digestive system helps your body make the most of nutrients found in the food you consume while regulating regular bodily function.

Focus and Creativity

If you ask an experienced yogi what the hardest part of yoga is, you might be surprised by their answer. Typically, one might assume that holding the different yoga poses would be the most challenging aspect; however, there is an even bigger challenge, which includes focusing—on nothing. Meditation is another crucial component of a successful yoga session. Experienced yogis are able to focus their attention on nothing but their inner self; all outside distractions are eliminated, at least temporarily. This may sound very simple, but if you have ever tried to completely clear your mind of all inner thoughts besides what you are feeling at that exact moment, you may be able to grasp how difficult a task this is to successfully complete.

However, once one is able to control their center of attention, they will find their ability to stay focused on one particular task (especially those that require attention to detail) becomes better and better. In a 2012 study published by the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers were able to determine those who practiced meditation for at least 10 minutes a day for up to 16 weeks performed better with divergent-thinking tasks than those who did not participate in meditation at all.

Strength and Muscle Definition

Just in case you are not fascinated by the mind-body awareness benefits of yoga, there is a less discussed muscle defining and strengthening benefit as well, for those who are solemnly interested in the physical benefits. Who knew that yoga is actually great for improving muscle definition, and in rare cases even muscle hypertrophy? Because yoga focuses on moving and upholding your own body weight in various positions, it serves as a great strength workout in addition to flexibility and mind-body training.

Unlike traditional resistance training, which focuses primarily on the concentric contraction (the muscle contracts as it shortens) of a muscle, yoga focuses primarily on the eccentric contraction (the muscle contracts as it stretches) of a muscle. The eccentric contraction component gives muscles a more elongated look, while concentric contractions give muscles a shorter, more bulgy, look. If you have ever seen an experienced yogi’s physique, it may resemble that of a gymnast, basketball player, or even a track athlete versus those who participate in more traditional forms of resistance training, who might resemble a football player or bodybuilder with more muscle hypertrophy.

Yoga tends to train small and large muscles all over the body due to its high demand for muscles to work in conjunction with each other to perform the different body movements in various planes of movement. This is good for the reason that you often tend to work smaller muscle groups that may get little to no attention when practicing machine-oriented resistance training. With a machine that focuses on a one-dimensional plane of movement, it’s often impossible to train multiple muscle groups at the same time. Therefore, yoga tends to be a better option for improving overall body strength along with achieving a more proportional muscular physique.

Other Wellness Benefits

Some additional notable benefits of yoga also include (but are not limited to) immune system boost, pain management, increase in gray brain matter and increase in balance, and function ability. As noted above, the mental and nervous system benefits of yoga must begin to take back priority. Although improving flexibility can be a great thing, many have found that these additional benefits are what separate this form of physical activity from any other form.

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This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: yoga muscles focus flexibility digestion wellness nervous system mind-body