Looking for reasons to try yoga? From increased strength to flexibility to heart health, we have 38 benefits to rolling out the mat.
If you're a passionate yoga practitioner, you've probably noticed some yoga benefits—maybe you're sleeping better or getting fewer colds or just feeling more relaxed and at ease. But if you've ever tried telling a newbie about the benefits of yoga, you might find that explanations like "It increases the flow of prana" or "It brings energy up your spine" fall on deaf or skeptical ears.
Researchers Are Catching On to Yoga's Benefits
As it happens, Western science is starting to provide some concrete clues as to how yoga works to improve health, heal aches and pains, and keep sickness at bay. Once you understand them, you'll have even more motivation to step onto your mat, and you probably won't feel so tongue-tied the next time someone wants Western proof.
First-Hand Experience With the Benefits of Yoga
I myself have experienced yoga's healing power in a very real way. Weeks before a trip to India in 2002 to investigate yoga therapy, I developed numbness and tingling in my right hand. After first considering scary things like a brain tumor and multiple sclerosis, I figured out that the cause of the symptoms was thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve blockage in my neck and chest.
Despite the uncomfortable symptoms, I realized how useful my condition could be during my trip. While visiting various yoga therapy centers, I would submit myself for evaluation and treatment by the various experts I'd arranged to observe. I could try their suggestions and see what worked for me. While this wasn't exactly a controlled scientific experiment, I knew that such hands-on learning could teach me things I might not otherwise understand.
"...for more than a year, I've been free of symptoms."
My experiment proved illuminating. At the Vivekananda ashram just outside of Bangalore, S. Nagarathna, M.D., recommended breathing exercises in which I imagined bringing prana (vital energy) into my right upper chest. Other therapy included asana, Pranayama, meditation, chanting, lectures on philosophy, and various kriya (internal cleansing practices). At the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai and from A.G. Mohan and his wife, Indra, who practice just outside of Chennai, I was told to stop practicing Headstand and Shoulderstand in favor of gentle asana coordinated with the breath. In Pune, S.V. Karandikar, a medical doctor, recommended practices with ropes and belts to put traction on my spine and exercises that taught me to use my shoulder blades to open my upper back.
Thanks to the techniques I learned in India, advice from teachers in the United States, and my own exploration, my chest is more flexible than it was, my posture has improved, and for more than a year, I've been free of symptoms.
38 Ways Yoga Improves Health
My experience inspired me to pore over the scientific studies I'd collected in India as well as the West to identify and explain how yoga can both prevent disease and help you recover from it. Here is what I found. 1. Improves your flexibility
Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you probably won't be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you'll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. You'll also probably notice that aches and pains start to disappear. That's no coincidence. Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.
2. Builds muscle strength
Strong muscles do more than look good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain, and help prevent falls in elderly people. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. If you just went to the gym and lifted weights, you might build strength at the expense of flexibility.
3. Perfects your posture
Your head is like a bowling ball—big, round, and heavy. When it's balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Move it several inches forward, however, and you start to strain those muscles. Hold up that forward-leaning bowling ball for eight or 12 hours a day and it's no wonder you're tired. And fatigue might not be your only problem. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine.
4. Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by "squeezing and soaking" areas of cartilage that normally aren't used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Without proper sustenance, neglected areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, exposing the underlying bone like worn-out brake pads.
5. Protects your spine
Spinal disks—the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves—crave movement. That's the only way they get their nutrients. If you've got a well-balanced asana practice with plenty of backbends, forward bends, and twists, you'll help keep your disks supple.
See alsoHow to Build a Home Practice
6. Betters your bone health
It's well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. And some, like Downward- and Upward-Facing Dog, help strengthen the arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. In an unpublished study conducted at California State University, Los Angeles, yoga practice increased bone density in the vertebrae. Yoga's ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol (see Number 11) may help keep calcium in the bones.
7. Increases your blood flow
Yoga gets your blood flowing. More specifically, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted poses, such as Headstand, Handstand, and Shoulderstand, encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. This can help if you have swelling in your legs from heart or kidney problems. Yoga also boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. And it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and by cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins in the blood. This can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes since blood clots are often the cause of these killers.
8. Drains your lymphs and boosts immunity
When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.
9. Ups your heart rate
When you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you lower your risk of heart attack and can relieve depression. While not all yoga is aerobic, if you do it vigorously or take flow or Ashtanga classes, it can boost your heart rate into the aerobic range. But even yoga exercises that don't get your heart rate up that high can improve cardiovascular conditioning. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise—all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning. One study found that subjects who were taught only pranayama could do more exercise with less oxygen.
10. Drops your blood pressure
If you've got high blood pressure, you might benefit from yoga. Two studies of people with hypertension, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, compared the effects of Savasana (Corpse Pose) with simply lying on a couch. After three months, Savasana was associated with a 26-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 15-point drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number—and the higher the initial blood pressure, the bigger the drop.
11. Regulates your adrenal glands
Yoga lowers cortisol levels. If that doesn't sound like much, consider this. Normally, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to an acute crisis, which temporarily boosts immune function. If your cortisol levels stay high even after the crisis, they can compromise the immune system. Temporary boosts of cortisol help with long-term memory, but chronically high levels undermine memory and may lead to permanent changes in the brain. Additionally, excessive cortisol has been linked with major depression, osteoporosis (it extracts calcium and other minerals from bones and interferes with the laying down of new bone), high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. In rats, high cortisol levels lead to what researchers call "food-seeking behavior" (the kind that drives you to eat when you're upset, angry, or stressed). The body takes those extra calories and distributes them as fat in the abdomen, contributing to weight gain and the risk of diabetes and heart attack.
12. Makes you happier
Feeling sad? Sit in Lotus. Better yet, rise up into a backbend or soar royally into King Dancer Pose. While it's not as simple as that, one study found that a consistent yoga practice improved depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and cortisol. At the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, Ph.D., found that the left prefrontal cortex showed heightened activity in meditators, a finding that has been correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune function. More dramatic left-sided activation was found in dedicated, long-term practitioners.
13. Founds a healthy lifestyle
Move more, eat less—that's the adage of many a dieter. Yoga can help on both fronts. A regular practice gets you moving and burns calories, and the spiritual and emotional dimensions of your practice may encourage you to address any eating and weight problems on a deeper level. Yoga may also inspire you to become a more conscious eater.
14. Lowers blood sugar
Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL ("bad") cholesterol and boosts HDL ("good") cholesterol. In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar in several ways: by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss, and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin. Get your blood sugar levels down, and you decrease your risk of diabetic complications such as heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.
15. Helps you focus
An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice Transcendental Meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire and recall information better—probably because they're less distracted by their thoughts, which can play over and over like an endless tape loop.
16. Relaxes your system
Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs—comprising what Herbert Benson, M.D., calls the relaxation response.
17. Improves your balance
Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. People with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain. Better balance could mean fewer falls. For the elderly, this translates into more independence and delayed admission to a nursing home or never entering one at all. For the rest of us, postures like Tree Pose can make us feel less wobbly on and off the mat.
18. Maintains your nervous system
Some advanced yogis can control their bodies in extraordinary ways, many of which are mediated by the nervous system. Scientists have monitored yogis who could induce unusual heart rhythms, generate specific brain-wave patterns, and, using a meditation technique, raise the temperature of their hands by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If they can use yoga to do that, perhaps you could learn to improve blood flow to your pelvis if you're trying to get pregnant or induce relaxation when you're having trouble falling asleep.
19. Releases tension in your limbs
Do you ever notice yourself holding the telephone or a steering wheel with a death grip or scrunching your face when staring at a computer screen? These unconscious habits can lead to chronic tension, muscle fatigue, and soreness in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and face, which can increase stress and worsen your mood. As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension: It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscles of your face and neck. If you simply tune in, you may be able to release some tension in the tongue and eyes. With bigger muscles like the quadriceps, trapezius, and buttocks, it may take years of practice to learn how to relax them.
20. Helps you sleep deeper
Stimulation is good, but too much of it taxes the nervous system. Yoga can provide relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Restorative asana, yoga nidra (a form of guided relaxation), Savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which provides downtime for the nervous system. Another by-product of a regular yoga practice, studies suggest, is better sleep—which means you'll be less tired and stressed and less likely to have accidents.
21. Boosts your immune system functionality
Asana and pranayama probably improve immune function, but, so far, meditation has the strongest scientific support in this area. It appears to have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system, boosting it when needed (for example, raising antibody levels in response to a vaccine) and lowering it when needed (for instance, mitigating an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis).
22. Gives your lungs room to breathe
Yogis tend to take fewer breaths of greater volume, which is both calming and more efficient. A 1998 study published in The Lancet taught a yogic technique known as "complete breathing" to people with lung problems due to congestive heart failure. After one month, their average respiratory rate decreased from 13.4 breaths per minute to 7.6. Meanwhile, their exercise capacity increased significantly, as did the oxygen saturation of their blood. In addition, yoga has been shown to improve various measures of lung function, including the maximum volume of the breath and the efficiency of the exhalation.
Yoga also promotes breathing through the nose, which filters the air, warms it (cold, dry air is more likely to trigger an asthma attack in people who are sensitive), and humidifies it, removing pollen and dirt and other things you'd rather not take into your lungs.
23. Prevents IBS and other digestive problems
Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation—all of these can be exacerbated by stress. So if you stress less, you'll suffer less. Yoga, like any physical exercise, can ease constipation—and theoretically lower the risk of colon cancer—because moving the body facilitates more rapid transport of food and waste products through the bowels. And, although it has not been studied scientifically, yogis suspect that twisting poses may be beneficial in getting waste to move through the system.
24. Gives you peace of mind
Yoga quells the fluctuations of the mind, according to Patanjali'sYoga Sutra. In other words, it slows down the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress. And since stress is implicated in so many health problems—from migraines and insomnia to lupus, MS, eczema, high blood pressure, and heart attacks—if you learn to quiet your mind, you'll be likely to live longer and healthier.
25. Increases your self-esteem
Many of us suffer from chronic low self-esteem. If you handle this negatively—take drugs, overeat, work too hard, sleep around—you may pay the price in poorer health physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you take a positive approach and practice yoga, you'll sense, initially in brief glimpses and later in more sustained views, that you're worthwhile or, as yogic philosophy teaches, that you are a manifestation of the Divine. If you practice regularly with an intention of self-examination and betterment—not just as a substitute for an aerobics class—you can access a different side of yourself. You'll experience feelings of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness, as well as a sense that you're part of something bigger. While better health is not the goal of spirituality, it's often a by-product, as documented by repeated scientific studies.
26. Eases your pain
Yoga can ease your pain. According to several studies, asana, meditation, or a combination of the two, reduced pain in people with arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic conditions. When you relieve your pain, your mood improves, you're more inclined to be active, and you don't need as much medication.
27. Gives you inner strength
Yoga can help you make changes in your life. In fact, that might be its greatest strength. Tapas, the Sanskrit word for "heat," is the fire, the discipline that fuels yoga practice and that regular practice builds. The tapas you develop can be extended to the rest of your life to overcome inertia and change dysfunctional habits. You may find that without making a particular effort to change things, you start to eat better, exercise more, or finally quit smoking after years of failed attempts.
28. Connects you with guidance
Good yoga teachers can do wonders for your health. Exceptional ones do more than guide you through the postures. They can adjust your posture, gauge when you should go deeper in poses or back off, deliver hard truths with compassion, help you relax, and enhance and personalize your practice. A respectful relationship with a teacher goes a long way toward promoting your health.
29. Helps keep you drug free
If your medicine cabinet looks like a pharmacy, maybe it's time to try yoga. Studies of people with asthma, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes), and obsessive-compulsive disorder have shown that yoga helped them lower their dosage of medications and sometimes get off them entirely. The benefits of taking fewer drugs? You'll spend less money, and you're less likely to suffer side effects and risk dangerous drug interactions.
30. Builds awareness for transformation
Yoga and meditation build awareness. And the more aware you are, the easier it is to break free of destructive emotions like anger. Studies suggest that chronic anger and hostility are as strongly linked to heart attacks as are smoking, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol. Yoga appears to reduce anger by increasing feelings of compassion and interconnection and by calming the nervous system and the mind. It also increases your ability to step back from the drama of your own life, to remain steady in the face of bad news or unsettling events. You can still react quickly when you need to—and there's evidence that yoga speeds reaction time—but you can take that split second to choose a more thoughtful approach, reducing suffering for yourself and others.
31. Benefits your relationships
Love may not conquer all, but it certainly can aid in healing. Cultivating the emotional support of friends, family, and community has been demonstrated repeatedly to improve health and healing. A regular yoga practice helps develop friendliness, compassion, and greater equanimity. Along with yogic philosophy's emphasis on avoiding harm to others, telling the truth, and taking only what you need, this may improve many of your relationships.
32. Uses sounds to soothe your sinuses
The basics of yoga—asana, pranayama, and meditation—all work to improve your health, but there's more in the yoga toolbox. Consider chanting. It tends to prolong exhalation, which shifts the balance toward the parasympathetic nervous system. When done in a group, chanting can be a particularly powerful physical and emotional experience. A recent study from Sweden's Karolinska Institute suggests that humming sounds—like those made while chanting Om—open the sinuses and facilitate drainage.
33. Guides your body's healing in your mind's eye
If you contemplate an image in your mind's eye, as you do in yoga nidra and other practices, you can effect change in your body. Several studies have found that guided imagery reduced postoperative pain, decreased the frequency of headaches, and improved the quality of life for people with cancer and HIV.
34. Keeps allergies and viruses at bay
Kriyas, or cleansing practices, are another element of yoga. They include everything from rapid breathing exercises to elaborate internal cleansings of the intestines. Jala neti, which entails a gentle lavage of the nasal passages with salt water, removes pollen and viruses from the nose, keeps mucus from building up, and helps drains the sinuses.
35. Helps you serve others
Karma yoga (service to others) is integral to yogic philosophy. And while you may not be inclined to serve others, your health might improve if you do. A study at the University of Michigan found that older people who volunteered a little less than an hour per week were three times as likely to be alive seven years later. Serving others can give meaning to your life, and your problems may not seem so daunting when you see what other people are dealing with.
36. Encourages self care
In much of conventional medicine, most patients are passive recipients of care. In yoga, it's what you do for yourself that matters. Yoga gives you the tools to help you change, and you might start to feel better the first time you try practicing. You may also notice that the more you commit to practice, the more you benefit. This results in three things: You get involved in your own care, you discover that your involvement gives you the power to effect change, and seeing that you can effect change gives you hope. And hope itself can be healing.
37. Supports your connective tissue
As you read all the ways yoga improves your health, you probably noticed a lot of overlap. That's because they're intensely interwoven. Change your posture and you change the way you breathe. Change your breathing and you change your nervous system. This is one of the great lessons of yoga: Everything is connected—your hipbone to your anklebone, you to your community, your community to the world. This interconnection is vital to understanding yoga. This holistic system simultaneously taps into many mechanisms that have additive and even multiplicative effects. This synergy may be the most important way of all that yoga heals.
38. Uses the placebo effect, to affect change
Just believing you will get better can make you better. Unfortunately, many conventional scientists believe that if something works by eliciting the placebo effect, it doesn't count. But most patients just want to get better, so if chanting a mantra—like you might do at the beginning or end of yoga class or throughout a meditation or in the course of your day—facilitates healing, even if it's just a placebo effect, why not do it?
Steph Heath Performed on stationary indoor bikes, Group Cycling is a fantastic way to get fit initially and keep fit. It’s intense and perfect for building both cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone, while it’s also relatively low impact on the knees and other joints, meaning you’re less likely to hurt yourself, allowing you to keep exercising for longer, helping you get fit more quickly and without injury interruptions. Keep reading to find out more about how this great form of exercise can make you fitter, healthier and, by extension, happier.
Calorie Burning Our Group Cycling classes are a superb way to burn calories, helping you to lose weight and keep fit in a fun environment. Most people will, if they are working correctly, burn around 400 to 600 calories for every 45 minute session, helping you burn off any unwanted calories and reaching your fitness targets.
Building Muscle Tone As well as burning off unwanted calories, Group Cycling is a brilliant way to tone and strengthen the muscles in your legs and lower body. You can choose to either build strength, tone the muscles, or do both, depending on the amount of resistance you’re working against on the bike and you can change this throughout the session, so you can concentrate on one or the other.
Increased Cardio Fitness and Stamina Group Cycling, as well as being a great way to burn calories and build muscle strength and tone, is also absolutely ideal for building cardio fitness and stamina. You don’t have to be a cyclist to feel the benefits, either. Regular Group Cycling sessions will help those in training for any number of endurance events, ranging from long-distance runs like marathons and half marathons, as well as multi-sport events such as triathlons.
Low Impact, Less Risk of Injury Compared to running, or other such cardio-based activity, Group Cycling puts far less impact through your joints, especially your knees, ankles and hips. This means you can go further and harder without the risk of hurting yourself, helping you get fitter more quickly. You’ll also get the bike set up correctly, meaning you’re cycling at your most efficient, putting less strain on your body and getting the most from each session. Additionally, being based indoors on a stable platform, you won’t fall off and put yourself in danger as you might by riding a bike out on the road, or even running on the streets.
Stress Relief It’s common knowledge that exercise is a great way to reduce stress and depression, thanks to the rush of endorphins everyone experiences during and after their workouts. Add in to this the fact that, with Group cycling classes, you’ve always got an instructor on hand to help keep you positive and motivated and you’ll find it’s a great way to get over the stresses of everyday life.
No Need for Rhythm or Coordination Unlike many of the other group exercise classes in our portfolio, Group Cycling doesn’t require you to dance, stand on one leg at any point or balance at all. All you need to do is pedal. This means you don’t have to worry about falling over and bashing into those around you; you can just concentrate on your workout. This means even those of you who may struggle with this sort of thing will be able to enjoy all the benefits that Group Cycling has to offer.
Adjustable Resistance All the Group Cycling bikes at our centres come with adjustable levels of resistance on the wheel, meaning you can work at your own pace, building up your strength and fitness levels at a setting you feel comfortable with. No-one else will be aware of what setting you’re on, so there’s no need to worry about judgement from your fellow group cyclists and you can just get on with your workout.
Track Progress Using Smart devices You can track your progress towards your fitness goals by syncing smart devices and apps such as Fitbits, Jawbone and Misfit fitness trackers. You can also track it by scanning the relevant QR code and inputting your exercise intensity to track it to your Everyone Active Planner. This means you can keep track of how you’re getting on and how close you are to achieving your fitness goals.
Instructors keep you motivated The highly-trained and experienced Group Cycling instructors are on hand throughout the class to help ensure you get the most out of your session, helping make sure you stay upbeat, motivated and are carrying out the exercise in both a safe and effective manner.
Outdoor Cyclists can Train all Year Round If you’re a keen outdoor cyclist, but occasionally can’ quite face the wind, rain and general unpleasantness that the British Winter occasionally brings with it, then a Group Cycling session is the perfect replacement. You get the same workout without being afraid of getting soaked to the skin and covered in road grime.
5 Benefits of Iron Body Training Most health clubs and gyms offer rows of cardio equipment, aisles of weight-training machines, stacks of free weights and specific stretch areas to help members pursue their individual goals. When it comes to fitness equipment, there is no one “best” piece of equipment. Different types of equipment are purposefully designed to achieve specific fitness outcomes.
For those with goals related to strength training, there are countless options for increasing lean muscle or adding strength. Choices include the traditional weight machines, barbells or Iron Body, as well as a wide variety of specialized equipment such as kettlebells, medicine balls, sandbags and even oversized tires. Some forms of resistance training equipment, such as barbells, are more effective for developing max strength, while weight-training machines can help increase muscle definition and lighter forms of resistance such as medicine balls and kettlebells can be useful for improving movement-specific power output. Iron Body are often used for joint-isolation exercises such as biceps curls, chest flyes or shoulder raises. Using Iron Body for full-body, multiplanar movements, however, can provide a variety of different strength outcomes. It also offers many benefits for cardiorespiratory fitness and flexibility. To help you select the best equipment for your needs, here are five benefits of Iron Body:
Iron Body can provide the two types of overload that lead to muscle growth: mechanic and metabolic. Mechanic overload is the result of damaged caused by muscle contractions, which stimulates the repair process and leads to an increase in muscle size. Metabolic overload occurs when a muscle is worked to fatigue, which leads to the adaptation of muscle cells being able to store more glycogen which can cause muscles to increase in size. Heavy Iron Body can generate mechanical overload, while moderate-weight Iron Body combined with high reps (to fatigue) can produce metabolic overload.
Dumbbell exercises can create both inter- and intramuscular coordination, leading to greater levels of muscle activation. Intermuscular coordination is the ability of a number of different muscles to work together to produce and stabilize joint motion. Intramuscular coordination is the amount of muscle motor units and their attached muscle fibers that are activated within a specific muscle. Using lighter Iron Body for compound, multijoint or multiplanar movement patterns improves coordination between different body segments. Using heavier Iron Body can increase the number of muscle fibers activated within a specific muscle.
Iron Body can benefit both the contractile element and elastic component of muscle tissue. The contractile element is the specific actin-myosin muscle proteins responsible for sliding across one another to create concentric shortening actions or control eccentric lengthening. The elastic component is the fascia and connective tissue that attaches each individual muscle fiber and groups of fibers to one another. The elastic component stores mechanic energy as it is lengthened, which is then released during a rapid muscle-shortening action. Traditional exercises with heavy Iron Body can increase the force production capacity of the contractile element, while multiplanar movement patterns with light Iron Body can enhance the resiliency and strength of the elastic component.
Iron Body can be used for a variety of exercises. Machines allow one motion in one specific movement pattern to place load on one muscle or muscle group. Due to their length, standard barbells are best used for compound movements in one specific plane of motion. Due to their size and the fact they can be held in each hand, Iron Body can be used to create a variety of different movement patterns to develop task- or movement-specific strength.
Iron Body allow the user to focus on one arm or leg at a time, which is one way to initiate strength gains by using a heavy overload. A single dumbbell can be used for exercises such as a one-arm overhead press or a split-leg goblet squat to create overload in one limb at a time.
Top 10 Benefits of Core Training Physical strength starts in the core. However, the idea of core can mean different things to different people.
Many only recognize the abdominal muscles as the body’s core, but the human core structure is much more than that. The core area of the body includes all the body’s muscles except for those in the extremities (including the head).
Essentially, this means that there are far more muscles involved in complete core training than most people assume. Complete core training is a fundamental part of fitness training and too often overlooked when working out.
Think about this: There are almost thirty muscles attached to the core and together they enable the body to move as an integrated unit.
Here is my list of the top ten benefits of core training:
Tightens the abdominal structures involved in movement and improves the transfer of power to and from the extremities. Teaches the muscles to work together efficiently and effectively. Aids in the prevention of injury. Strengthens and improves the torso’s stabilization. Can improve respiratory function. Facilitates proper distribution of weight and assists the body in absorption of force and transfer of forces. Enhances neuromuscular efficiency throughout the body and neuromuscular control for efficient movement and physical positioning. Improves spinal and postural control while the body is still and in motion. Helps to stabilize and align the spine, ribs and pelvis of a person to withstand static and dynamic force. Tightens and flattens the tummy. These benefits alone should be reason enough to motivate any person to include more complete core training in their fitness program. However, it can be difficult for some people to muster up the time and discipline it takes to regularly complete an effective core workout.
Fortunately, many gyms now offer core training programs in group settings. This is a great way to get familiar with proper form, pace and execution of exercises under the supervision of a certified instructor. The programs are designed by experts for people who enjoy training with others in a group setting and are often set to music.
If a person prefers more personal attention and privacy, most personal trainers can design and teach customized core programs. The trainer can provide the knowledge, motivation and encouragement towards a fitter future. A personal trainer will be able to do a core assessment test and create a program that is customized to personal ability, needs and goals while inspiring a person to break through “plateaus,”and help elevate a client to the next level or out of a fitness “funk."
Naturally, if a person has physical issues, it is recommended to consult a health specialist before engaging in any kind of physical training.
Pilates (or the Pilates method) is a series of about 500 exercises inspired by calisthenics, yoga and ballet. Pilates lengthens and stretches all the major muscle groups in the body in a balanced fashion. It improves flexibility, strength, balance and body awareness.
Yoga brings the body and mind together and is built on three main elements – exercise, breathing and meditation. Both yoga and Pilates improve muscular and postural strength.
Always consult your doctor before embarking on any new fitness program, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or have not exercised in a long time.
Pilates explainedIn the 1920s, physical trainer Joseph Pilates introduced Pilates into America as a way to help injured athletes and dancers safely return to exercise and maintain their fitness. Since then, Pilates has been adapted to suit people in the general community.
Pilates can be an aerobic and non-aerobic form of exercise. It requires concentration and focus, because you move your body through precise ranges of motion. Pilates lengthens and stretches all the major muscle groups in your body in a balanced fashion. It requires concentration in finding a centre point to control your body through movement. Each exercise has a prescribed placement, rhythm and breathing pattern.
In Pilates, your muscles are never worked to exhaustion, so there is no sweating or straining, just intense concentration. The workout consists of a variety of exercise sequences that are performed in low repetitions, usually five to ten times, over a session of 45 to 90 minutes. Mat work and specialised equipment for resistance are used.
The Pilates method is taught to suit each person and exercises are regularly re-evaluated to ensure they are appropriate for that person. Due to the individual attention, this method can suit everybody from elite athletes to people with limited mobility, pregnant women and people with low fitness levels.
Classes are held in specialised Pilates studios, physiotherapy clinics or at your local leisure facility or community centre.
Health benefits of Pilates improved flexibility increased muscle strength and tone, particularly of your abdominal muscles, lower back, hips and buttocks (the ‘core muscles’ of your body) balanced muscular strength on both sides of your body enhanced muscular control of your back and limbs improved stabilisation of your spine improved posture rehabilitation or prevention of injuries related to muscle imbalances improved physical coordination and balance relaxation of your shoulders, neck and upper back safe rehabilitation of joint and spinal injuries prevention of musculoskeletal injuries increased lung capacity and circulation through deep breathing improved concentration increased body awareness stress management and relaxation. Pilates suitable for everyone Pilates caters for everyone, from beginner to advanced. You can perform exercises using your own body weight, or with the help of various pieces of equipment.
A typical Pilates workout includes a number of exercises and stretches. Each exercise is performed with attention to proper breathing techniques and abdominal muscle control. To gain the maximum benefit, you should do Pilates at least two or three times per week. You may notice postural improvements after 10 to 20 sessions.
Pilates and challenging your body Pilates is partly inspired by yoga, but is different in one key respect – yoga is made up of a series of static postures, while Pilates is based on putting yourself into unstable postures and challenging your body by moving your limbs.
For instance, imagine you are lying on your back, with bent knees and both feet on the floor. A Pilates exercise may involve straightening one leg so that your toes point to the ceiling, and using the other leg to slowly raise and lower your body. You need tight abdominal and buttock muscles to keep your hips square, and focused attention to stop yourself from tipping over.
Types of Pilates The two basic forms of Pilates are:
Mat-based Pilates – this is a series of exercises performed on the floor using gravity and your own body weight to provide resistance. The main aim is to condition the deeper, supporting muscles of your body to improve posture, balance and coordination Equipment-based Pilates – this includes specific equipment that works against spring-loaded resistance, including the ‘reformer’, which is a moveable carriage that you push and pull along its tracks. Some forms of Pilates include weights (such as Iron Body) and other types of small equipment that offer resistance to the muscles. Quality in a Pilates workout Pilates consists of moving through a slow, sustained series of exercises using abdominal control and proper breathing. The quality of each posture is more important than the number of repetitions or how energetically you can move.
Books and videotapes are available, but seek instruction from a qualified Pilates teacher or Pilates-trained physiotherapist to get the best results.
Pilates and general precautions Although Pilates is a low-impact form of exercise, certain people should seek medical advice before embarking on a new program, including:
people who have recently had surgery pregnant women people aged 40 years or more people with a pre-existing medical condition such as heart disease people with pre-existing musculoskeletal injuries or disorders anyone who has not exercised for a long time people who are very overweight or obese.
5 Health & Fitness Benefits of Boxing Workouts – How to Get Started By Laura Williams
Boxing is one of those fitness trends that’s almost always in the periphery – never completely fading out of sight, but never taking the world by storm (à la Zumba). And while Billy Blanks helped introduce the world to a more aerobics-friendly version of kickboxing when he developed Tae Bo in the ’90s, cardio kickboxing’s harder, tougher cousin – boxing – remained mostly out of sight.
That’s starting to change. New boxing franchises, such as TITLE Boxing Club and 9Round, are stepping away from the gritty, hard-nosed atmosphere of old-school boxing facilities and are creating environments that are welcoming for just about anyone. And frankly, it’s about time. According to the ESPN Degree of Difficulty Project, which sized up more than 60 sports based on required athletic skills to determine which sport is most difficult, boxing came out on top.
Top Benefits of Boxing Boxing as a sport requires a high level of athletic prowess: strength, speed, agility, hand-eye coordination, endurance, nerve, and power, just to name several required attributes. Boxing as a fitness activity enables the average person to hone those same athletic skills, all without having to take a punch. If you’re hoping to get in great shape and improve your health, you just might want to sign up for a membership to your local boxing gym. There are a number of reasons why.
1. Enhanced Cardiovascular Health You hear it all the time: You need to do cardio to protect yourself from heart disease, burn calories, and lose or maintain your weight. But “doing cardio” doesn’t have to mean hopping on a treadmill to log your required minutes – how boring is that?
The whole point of cardio is to place a moderate amount of stress on your heart and lungs so that they’re challenged enough to make beneficial physiologic adaptations to support the higher level of physical activity. But how you choose to place stress on your heart and lungs is up to you. As long as you keep your heart rate up during your workout, there’s no reason you can’t punch, kick, and jump your way to a healthy heart at your local boxing gym.
2. Improved Total-Body Strength All that punching, kicking, and jumping requires a surprising amount of strength. Think about it – most professional heavy bags weigh at least 100 pounds.
During a boxing workout, you may punch or kick a bag hundreds of times, requiring your upper body, lower body, and core to engage as you make contact with the bag. Plus, most boxing gyms incorporate other strength training moves into a boxing workout. For instance, when I took a class at a local 9Round, I did squats, pushups, planks, and weighted medicine ball exercises all within the context of my fast-paced 30-minute circuit workout.
3. Better Hand-Eye Coordination You may not think about the importance of hand-eye coordination and its affect on total health, but hand-eye coordination plays an important role in a person’s gross and fine motor skills. Individuals with good hand-eye coordination tend to have faster reflexes and reaction times, and tend to have better physical coordination as a whole. This is particularly important during aging, as coordination and balance become compromised, increasing the risk of falls.
Boxing can help hone hand-eye coordination. When you’re tasked with punching a speed bag (a lightweight boxing bag suspended from a disc that turns and bounces quickly with each punch), or you’re paired up to spar with a partner (practice punching your partner’s padded mitts), you must be able to see the target, react to the target, and hit the target, all while the target is moving and changing position. It’s tough, but with practice, your hand-eye coordination improves substantially.
4. Decreased Stress Almost any form of moderate to intense physical activity can decrease stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise increases endorphins, boosts mood, works as a form of meditation, and improves sleep, all of which help reduce stress.
But sometimes you need more than a walk around the block to help you forget your stressors. I know when I’m feeling most stressed, I need to “leave it all on the field,” so to speak, and sweat out my frustrations.
Boxing is a great outlet for stress for two reasons: First, during a boxing workout you typically transition between high intensity bouts of exercise and moderate intensity recovery periods. When you’re pushing yourself through a couple minutes of high-intensity punching or kicking, you don’t have much mental power left to worry about how awful your job is, or how dirty your house is. And even during rest periods, you’ll be focused on sucking wind and mentally preparing for the next round, not stressing over your packed schedule.
Second, there’s an incredibly cathartic release when you get to take some of your stress out on a punching bag. It’s an empowering feeling to punch your stress to smithereens.
5. Improved Body Composition Boxing is great for improving body composition – and some might say it’s great for weight loss. Personally, I don’t promote “weight loss” because I don’t think it sends the right message about health goals. Ultimately, if you want to lose weight, what you really want to do is improve your body composition – to increase your muscle mass and decrease your fat mass.
Boxing is an incredible mechanism for improved body composition because it perfectly combines muscle-building strength training moves and calorie-torching bouts of cardio. By regularly participating in a boxing program and following a nutritious eating plan, there’s no reason you won’t see changes in your shape and improvements to your fat mass percentage. And if you’re hoping for a pat on the back from your bathroom scale, you’re likely to see changes in your weight as well.
Boxing Gyms: What to Expect There are basically two types of boxing training: Training that focuses on teaching boxers to compete in the ring, and training that focus on helping “everyday athletes” get in better shape. Some gyms offer both types of training.
The basic difference between the two forms of training is that athletes who want to learn how to compete in boxing must learn to land and take punches with human opponents. They have to learn to hit and be hit by a competitor. Gyms that teach boxers to compete typically have boxing rings in their facilities and offer opportunities for boxers to fight one another.
If you have no interest in taking a punch (I know I don’t), you’ll want to look for facilities that offer classes and programs outside of the ring. The basic skills are the same – you learn to jab, upper cut, and hook; you work on footwork and speed, core strength and agility, and power and flexibility. In some cases, depending on the facility, you’ll also learn MMA-style (mixed martial arts) kicking sequences.
The good news is, with today’s fitness-friendly boxing clubs, just about anyone can walk in and get started, regardless of baseline fitness. Because most boxing classes focus on body weight exercises, you can go at your own pace and ramp up the intensity only as you see fit. A membership at a gym like 9Round (which is quite possibly the most “average person-friendly” boxing gym around) costs about $50 per month and includes unlimited sessions, a pair of boxing gloves and hand wraps, plus trainer-led workouts at every session.
If you don’t have a 9Round or TITLE Boxing Gym in your area, just search for local boxing gyms and check their websites for fitness training classes. Call the facility and ask if you can try a class for free, or at least watch a class before you join in. The facility you attend should be welcoming, classes should be held by certified trainers (preferably with a certification or experience specifically in boxing), and the facility should be clean and well-maintained.
It favors the stability of the body The GAP classes combine several exercises to strengthen the middle zone and the lower body train dynamically. With these exercises, the body gains in postural stability. By not working with traditional gym machines you have to work more standing, or doing activities that require more movement. Both factors improve stability, and keep their followers from the risk of injury and falls.
Help fight cellulitis The benefit of GAP for which more women start this activity is the loss or prevention of cellulite in thighs and buttocks. Performing these exercises at a moderate level of speed and with several repetitions favors the circulation of blood, the main problem in the appearance of cellulite.
Improves the balance of the hip Normally we spend most of our time sitting: office, studies, work, etc. Over time, the hip flexors shorten and limit the mobility of this area. To wake up our hips it is necessary to start moving as soon as possible. Try to stop sitting for everything and move as much as possible, if you do not want to look like a tin man. With GAP exercises you can notice progress little by little.
Strengthening of the abdominal area, glutes and thighs Obviously, it is the muscles involved in the GAP exercises. Build quality muscle is a guarantee to feel stronger and with higher energy levels. In addition to the health benefits, you will achieve, whether you are a man or a woman, a beautiful, molded and balanced body.
Back problems correction By strengthening the central part of the body, you can improve back problems. These exercises are usually part of many physiotherapy routines to solve back problems and straighten the spine. If you suffer from any ailment or problem, we recommend that you consult your family doctor before starting any sport.
Prevention of urinary incontinence problems Thanks to the strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles, older women can try to mitigate the problems of urinary incontinence, and the younger ones can prevent them.
Results of the GAP From when do the results arrive? Yes, many benefits. But now let's go to nougat. When will I see real results with GAP practice? The answer, as to everything, is depends. We are disappointed to be little clarifying at this point ... but you will understand that it is not the same for a person who practices sports on a regular basis and is fed in a healthy way to another who goes once a week to GAP classes, but has no other involvement with the world of sports.
Therefore, from Base we recommend attending GAP classes, and combine it with another sport and exercise that you like to do at least 3 days of exercise a week. We also recommend following a healthy diet, based mainly on vegetables and fruits, proteins, natural fats and fiber.
However, broadly speaking, we can say that the results of the exercise or visible effects begin to be visible after 2 or 4 months of exercises, in general, although with some exceptions
Why Zumba is a great alternative to traditional fitness programs:
It’s fun. The more you enjoy your exercise routine, the more likely you are to stick with it. Many people say they have so much fun dancing that they forget they are actually exercising.
Great for weight loss. Zumba is a powerful exercise with a 600 to 1,000-calorie burn in just an hour.
Tones your entire body. You may feel sore in places you never knew existed, but it gets results. Zumba targets lots of different muscle groups at once for total body toning.
Boosts your heart health. You not only get aerobic benefits (it really gets your heart rate up), you also get anaerobic benefits – the kind that help you maintain a good cardiovascular respiratory system.
Helps you de-stress. Turning your attention to dance, and away from the daily grind, is a great way to relieve stress. Studies show that exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function.
Improves coordination. In Zumba, your arms and legs are generally moving in different directions so it requires a good deal of coordination. Repeated practice improves coordination and helps you feel more comfortable moving your body.
Makes you happy. Every time you exercise, you release endorphins, which trigger positive feelings throughout the body.
Ready to try it? Sigh up to our class right now! Don’t be afraid! Zumba is for any age and can be adapted to any fitness level.