Category: Health and Wellness

Let’s Talk Bananas!

Don’t throw those browned bananas away:

The problem many of us have with bananas is how quickly they ripen – especially bananas from the organic aisle. Did you know that as bananas ripen and change color, their nutrient profile changes as well?

Regardless of color, bananas are a good source of potassium and vitamins, but as a banana gets browner, its concentration of antioxidants increases. Eating a brown banana can boost your antioxidant intake, helping your body protect itself against inflammation and free-radicals.

As bananas age, that resistant starch that acts as good dietary fiber begins to convert in simple sugars. A green banana is fiber-rich, and good for your gut bacteria, while a browner banana is sweeter, and may provide more carbohydrates than you think – one reason why it’s of recommended that Type-2 diabetics avoid the browner variety as a way of cutting back on sugar.

Those who aren’t counting carbs as closely, but who may suffer from irritable bowels may benefit from brown bananas, as much digestion is already done, and these fruits may cause less irritation for a sensitive digestive system.

Green bananas or brown?

So what bananas are best for you? Well, if you want to add fiber to your diet, or you’re looking to cultivate healthier microbial allies in your gut, greener bananas are best. If you want something a little sweeter, have a ripened banana – you also get the benefit of all those extra antioxidants.

If you don’t like the taste or texture of a browning banana, what should you do? You can throw overripe bananas into your freezer for longer storage. Some of us at AGS, store our over-ripe bananas in the freezer to use later in smoothies – a great way to sweeten the a health shake and bolster our antioxidant count! Or if you’re a baker, use them in banana-bread and cookies. Brown bananas can also liven up a bland dish like steel-cut oatmeal or plain Greek yogurt.

 

by James McGivern

Warm It Up!

How often do we run into the gym for a quick workout? We are running late, and simply need to get it done, before we head to the next thing on our “to do” list. Many will run in and do these quick static stretches and they are actually not beneficial to your workout until after the workout has ended. There is a difference between stretching and warming up. Warming up is an essential part of your workout. Truth be known, without the proper warm up, we may be risking injury and less results from our workout.

In The Anatomy of a Great Warmup, Lauren Bedosky explains:

Who’s Your Gym Buddy?

You do everything right for your health, from tracking food and eating nutrient-dense options to working out regularly, getting enough sleep and hydrating like a champ. (Well, maybe “mostly” on all of that, anyway.) But are you potentially missing a big health booster if you spend more time scrolling social media than hanging out?

Many people focus on taking care of themselves with all the sure-fire tactics but forget social connection is just as critical as food, movement and sleep, according to Emma Seppala, PhD, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, and author of “The Happiness Track.”

Research has shown that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure,” she says. “On the other hand, strong social connections can have huge benefits, and may even lengthen your life.”

Lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.

Here are numerous reasons why you need to use that smartphone to set up coffee dates and gym buddy time, rather than just scrolling through Instagram posts:

In a study done at Carnegie Mellon University, college freshmen were studied for their antibody response to the flu shot, based on their self-reported levels of loneliness and social network activity. Those who felt lonelier and had fewer real-life social connections had a worse antibody response to the vaccine.

Also, researchers added, loneliness was associated with poor sleep quality, which has often been linked to decreased immune system response.

When you’re out with friends, especially if you’re a hugger, you tend to be better at regulating your level of cortisol — the hormone most responsible for your stress response.

Even better, research has found simple human touch (or even petting an animal) can reduce pain as well as improve mental and emotional health, making it a plus for body and mind.

What’s good for your figurative heart is also beneficial for your literal one — forging deeper social connections can lower blood pressure, and that reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Improved blood pressure is partly due to lower cortisol levels, but loneliness also creates other stresses on the body, including increased inflammation, which can also be tough on the ticker. One study noted that poor social relationships were associated with a 29% increase in risk of coronary heart disease and a 32% increase in risk of stroke.

Despite all of these benefits, loneliness and isolation are on the rise in the United States, says Seppala, adding that it’s been estimated that up to a quarter of all Americans feel they have no one with whom they can share a personal problem. Social media can exacerbate this, because you can have 10,000 followers and still not feel like you have a single close friend.

Set up gym buddy time, rather than just scrolling through Instagram posts.

So, for the sake of your mental and physical health, start the process of going to the gym and asking others to join you. Find some good friends to workout with and you will begin to feel more alive than ever before.

 

 

adapted from Elizabeth Millard, myfitnesspal.com

Drink up!

As the temperature rises this summer, we want to strongly encourage you to drink plenty of water. Water is an essential nutrient that makes your body run smoothly and efficiently. Because the average adult’s body is about 65% water, it’s no wonder that we can only survive for about three to five days without it! Water transports nutrients and oxygen to cells, carries away waste products and lubricates our digestive tracts, joints and cartilage. The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences suggests an adequate total fluid intake of about 13 cups per day for men and about 10 cups per day for women. (Keep in mind that you may need more or less, depending on activity level, body size and environment.)

As the foundation for all body functions, this zero-calorie drink is a liquid asset. Here are five reasons why you should make water your pal:

1. IT CURBS HUNGER AND PROMOTES SATIETY

The body’s “thirst center” in the brain, the hypothalamus, also regulates appetite. When you’re dehydrated, your body can perceive mixed signals on hunger, causing you to believe that you need to eat when you’re actually just thirsty. One study found that drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals helped subjects lose more weight. Hungry? Drink some water first. Staying hydrated can help you ward off fake hunger signals.

2. IT KEEPS YOUR MIND SHARP

In addition to being naturally calorie-free, sugar-free and caffeine-free, water helps transport oxygen to the brain to ensure it functions at optimum levels. Even mild dehydration can impact your cognitive performance, tamper with your mood and make you feel fatigued. These effects can lead to mindless stress eating, poor food choices and, ultimately, breaking the calorie bank. Next time you’re feeling spaced out, try drinking some cold water to zap the sluggishness out of you.

3. IT POWERS YOUR WORKOUTS

In addition to boosting your metabolism, water helps prevent muscle cramping, so you can work out harder and longer. Take note that your water needs increase after working out. During long endurance workouts, drink water with carbohydrates and electrolytes to help maintain fluid balance and prevent post-exercise exhaustion.

4. IT HELPS YOU STAY HEALTHY

From start to finish, water keeps your digestive system running smoothly. The saliva in your mouth contains water and digestive enzymes to break down your food. In your stomach, water balances the acidic environment to prevent ulcers, indigestion and heartburn. 2 glasses after waking up help activate your internal organs. 1 glass 30 minutes before a meal helps digestion. 1 glass before taking a shower helps lower blood pressure. And 1 glass before going to bed avoids stroke or heart attack.

5. IT HELPS YOU SAVE ON CALORIES

Liquid calories like juices and sodas don’t fill you up, and their high sugar content can cause insulin spikes that can set you up for a crash. According to this systematic review, drinking water in place of sugar-sweetened beverages resulted in less weight gain over a four-year period. If you want more pizzazz than plain water, try sparkling water, or give it a flavor makeover with berries, cucumbers, mint or grapefruit.

Finally, if for no other reason, drink plenty of water a day and you will avoid other people’s drama, because you will be too busy going to the bathroom!!

Drink up and stay hydrated, BlackWatch family!

Put An Egg On It

Avocado Toast is getting much attention because of its fiber and healthy fats that help keep you full and satisfied. Avocados are also a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as several minerals. But what if you were able to add some protein to this delicious mix?

AVOCADO ENGLISH MUFFIN

 

Swap out basic toast for a Thomas’ Original English Muffin, paired with mashed avocado, a poached egg, and a little onion salt. If you want even more protein, add yourself some Canadian bacon or turkey bacon. And for an added kick, toss a dash of hot sauce on there!

This beauty is a great, easy-t0-make breakfast sandwich rocking only 300 calories, before adding the additional proteins.

So instead of grabbing something unhealthy on the go, take 5 minutes to make you this delicious and simple breakfast.

 

 

8 Reasons To Join A Gym

WHY YOU’LL BENEFIT FROM JOINING A GYM

We’ve all at some point in time made a decision to get fit. The problem is we never follow through with it, or it just seems to fade.

Statistics are staggering at the number of people who are either inactive or have very little physical activity. You don’t have to become a part of that statistic. If you need a little help to take action, read the top 8 reasons to join a gym and get moving.

1. Huge health benefits

It’s clear, but we’ll mention it anyway – going to the gym is good for your health and fitness! Put simply, during exercise we increase our cardiovascular fitness through strengthening our heart and lungs and we increase our strength through creating lean muscle. Many Departments of Health recommend five hours of moderate exercise per week, including muscle strengthening activities at least twice per week.

Studies show that regular exercise and an increase in strength and cardio fitness levels can help reduce the risk of health concerns and diseases, including:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes (type II)
  • Depression
  • Stress related illnesses

2. Access to equipment

One of the big advantages of joining a gym is the wide variety of equipment available, that keeps your exercise interesting. It might be intimidating at first, but you’ll find friendly experts on hand to help you use it all. Trust them – it’s all a lot simpler than it looks!

3. Make friends

The gym is a great way to be social and meet like-minded people. Group fitness classes will help you work towards your goals and are a fun way to make friends. You might find someone who loves strength training  just as much as you! Once you connect with someone at your fitness level and appoint them as your official training buddy, you’ll be able to team up and partner in workouts for maximum results.

4. Access to knowledge

The best gyms have qualified, experienced personal trainers (many with health and sports-related degrees) on hand who can advise you on the best exercises and workouts for reaching your goals. They can give you individualised direction for your workouts in the gym, keeping you safe and motivating you along the way too.

5. Establish a healthy routine

One of the hurdles in committing to a gym membership is justifying the cost and how much you will use it. It’s easy to establish a healthy routine with a gym membership when you have the use of facilities regardless of rain, hail or shine outside. There’s no soggy ground to worry about, no dogs to hurdle when running and no risk of heat exhaustion on summer days. So flip that financial hurdle into a motivator, establish a routine and you’ll create a new healthy habit well worth the investment in no time.

6. Increased energy levels

One of the side effects of exercise is an increase in energy levels and enhanced mood, due to the release of natural, happy endorphins. There’s no better feeling than leaving the gym after a workout feeling energised and ready for whatever the day throws at you. If you’re looking for an extra spring in your step, it’s a great benefit of joining a gym!

7. Be challenged

When you work out at home alone, you do not tend to challenge yourself at all. Look to your gym to offer a targeted exercise program to help you achieve long-term and life-changing results. From strength training to cardio boot camps to fun challenges, a gym will mix it up and provide challenges that you would never participate in at home.

8. Be motivated

You either love exercise or you have to drag yourself along to get it done! If you’re one of the latter, heading to the gym and being around others who are in the same situation as you can be just the incentive and motivation you need to keep going. You might even find yourself converting into an exercise lover when you’re heading to the gym on a more regular basis, hitting your fitness goals and seeing results on the inside and out!

 

 

adapted from Emily Doughty

7 Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Let’s be honest. The holidays can take a serious toll on our health. From extra stress and lack of sleep to indulging in sweets, our waistlines can begin to expand and out goals can start to fall by the wayside.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Like anything else in life, having a plan helps. If you’ve already done some holiday damage, it’s time to get back on track! Check out our 7 ways to stay healthy during the holidays and you’ll enter the New Year feeling energized and motivated to reach new goals.

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Drinking water may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s an easy thing to let slip. In between shopping trips or while you’re grazing the snack table at holiday parties — take a moment to hydrate. Keeping out bellies full with H20 (and not candy) can go a long way in terms of reaching our goals and keeping holiday weight gain at bay!

2. Keep your long-term goals in mind

What’s your “why” for staying healthy? Is it to improve your fitness? To reach a new level of stamina? Or, to stay healthy for your kids? Whatever your long-term goal is, keep it in mind when you feel like reaching for that second (or third) serving. Our goals are what motivate us and keep us on track.

3. Keep an eye on portions

One cookie won’t hurt you. Ten cookies? That can do some damage. Keep your portions in check during the holidays — making sure you only indulge a little. Think about all the hard work you’ve done up until this point. It would be a shame to let your progress unravel over a few weeks.

4. Schedule your workout plan in advance

This is the time of year when planning is paramount. If you’re worried about getting off your workout schedule, then take time to put it on your calendar every day. Or, better yet, find an accountability buddy who will call or text — making sure that you get to the gym.

5. Set realistic goals

It’s important to realize that we might get off track (a little) during the holidays. But, it’s also important not to set lofty goals and totally deprive ourselves of little pleasures. This kind of thinking has the potential to set us up for failure if we miss the mark. Set realistic goals this season, and allow yourself to partake in the merriment!

6. Take time to rest

Sleep is your friend during this season. When we sleep, we recover from the day before and reset our internal batteries for the next. Just like any other time of the year, getting a full 8 hours of sleep is important to staying healthy and reaching our health and fitness goals.

7. Get your cardio in while shopping!

Don’t have time to workout because you have to get gifts for family and friends? No worries. Park a little farther away from the store, take the stairs and get your heart rate up while you shop! You’d be surprised how many calories you can burn by taking a few extra steps every day.

 

5 Myths About Youth Resistance Training

Kids and weights — do they go together? Unless those weights are book bags, the most common answer is “no.” New studies, however, are pointing to a different answer.

By participating in resistance training, children can essentially get a leg-up on muscular fitness early in life. And, even though most parents know this, plenty of myths are still out there. We all agree that physical activity is good for our kids, but once weights come into the picture, hesitation sets in.

Aside from improving muscular strength, resistance training affords children the opportunity to practice movement skills and establish long-term physical development.

If you’re still on the fence about youth resistance training, let us dispel some rumors for you. Here are 5 myths you might have heard:

 

1. Resistance training can stunt child growth

Why it’s false: There’s no scientific evidence to support that resistance training stunts growth. If well-designed and supervised, resistance training can actually improve bone growth and development.

 

2. It’s unsafe

Why it’s false: Like any other intense physical activity, resistance training is only unsafe if it’s unsupervised. You wouldn’t let your child practice resistance training without an experienced coach just like you wouldn’t let your child play contact football without a helmet. Although accidents can happen, the key is in providing qualified instruction.

 

3. Youth need to be at least 12 years old to lift weight

Why it’s false: The only true requirement for youth resistance training is the ability to listen and follow instruction. When children are ready for organized sports — which usually happens at around age 7 or 8 — then they are ready to to be exposed to resistance training in a safe environment.

 

4. It makes girls bulky

Why it’s false: The only true effect of resistance training in young females is getting stronger — and that’s a good thing. While girls and boys react differently to this type of training, there is little evidence that resistance training will make girls bulky. Especially if the training is light and done daily, the outcome will be ideal.

 

5. Resistance training is only for young athletes

Why it’s false: Regular practice in resistance training can benefit any child — even those who are not on an athletic team. Resistance training builds strength for healthier body composition and improved physical skills. In fact, because the benefits are so many, resistance training is an encouraged behavior for children.

 

We hope this helped dispel some of the myths about youth resistance training. If you have any more questions, reach out to us and we will be more than happy to tell you about our programs and how they can improve your child’s physical strength.

(Content curated from this article)

Tips to Prevent Injury in Young Athletes

First Things First

The best way to determine whether your athlete is ready to tackle a new sport is to invest in a pre-season physical. An experienced medical professional will be most capable of examining your young athlete for pre-existing conditions. They will be able to distinguish minor aches and soreness from serious problems. Thus, this first step is incredibly important.

Don’t let your young athlete push through pain. Talk to them to ensure that they are not just being tough, but that they are actually pain-free. If your child does seem to have soreness, an injury, or minor aches and pains frequently, consult a doctor before allowing them to enlist in a sport. Many times, children and teenagers can experience problems like scoliosis without realizing it. These types of conditions should be treated before they worsen from activity.

Staying Hydrated & Healthy is Key

Dehydration is the root of many illnesses, especially for athletes. On those hot summer days or cold winter nights, it is important that your young athlete drinks enough water before, during, and after the game. Fatigue and nausea are common signs of dehydration. If you start to see signs of weakness, pull your athlete out immediately and tend to them with an adequate amount of water before letting them get back in the game.

Hydration is only the start to preventing injury. Overall nutrition is important as well. You want to be sure that your athlete is eating a well-balanced diet everyday. Foods like meat and vegetables (which have protein), nuts (which have fiber), and milk (which has calcium and vitamins) help keep your kids healthy and stronger against injury. Make sure they are eating enough and that they are eating foods with nutritional value. It is also good to try to maintain a healthy eating schedule. If possible, feed your kids meals around the same times every day.

Cross Training Can Help

When your kids play one sport year round, they are putting strain and stress on the same muscles repeatedly. To make sure that different muscles are being used, see if they might be interested in playing more than one sport. Not only will they diversify their skills and make new friends, they will mix up their routine and ensure that certain muscles are not overused.

Stay Ahead of the Game with Blackwatch Sports

Blackwatch Sports is comprised of a dedicated, passionate staff that has competed at the highest levels of athletic performance. Our coaches, instructors, and medical advisory board are here to provide years of nutritional, medical, performance, strength, and conditioning experience to your young athlete and help prevent injury. Learn more from our experts. Contact us today!

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