5 Reasons Why Good Quality Sleep Is Beneficial To Your Health & Fitness
Often we hear that sufficient good quality sleep is vital for our physical and mental well-being. But, we often focus on our diet and physical activity when trying to improve our health and fitness and ignore sleep. Though sufficient good quality sleep is a must for our body to rest and recover. And is equally important for us to stay healthy and fit.
In 24 hours of a day, we try to accomplish as many tasks as possible. But, when we don’t find enough time to complete our tasks, we tend to sacrifice sleep. Insufficient good quality sleep or poor sleep has an adverse impact on your hormones; which can lead to weight gain, mental stress, depression, anxiety, and other life-threatening diseases like cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes.
As per sleep experts, 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night is best to achieve optimal health benefits. Sufficient good quality sleep allows your body to take the complete rest that is required by it to recover from the hard work of the day and be ready for the task that needs to be accomplished the following day.
Insufficient good quality sleep also affects your social well-being, as it can make you irritable and moody. Plus, it can reduce energy levels and motivation to perform your daily tasks, ruining your productivity.
Older adults are more resistant to the effects of sleep deprivation. But young adults and children don’t have the same level of resistance and may become hyperactive or rebellious.
So, here are 5 reasons why sleep is good for your health and fitness…
1. Prevents Excess Weight Gain
Sufficient good quality sleep helps your body to prevent excess weight gain by stopping you from overeating and it allows your body to balance hormones, Ghrelin, and Leptin. These hormones control your hunger. Ghrelin, also called the “hunger hormone”, stimulates appetite and increases the intake of food; whereas Leptin inhibits hunger. Ghrelin promotes the storage of fat whereas leptin helps in reducing fat storage.
Insufficient sleep disrupts your body from using insulin properly. Your body becomes insulin resistant which allows fat to circulate in your blood resulting in the generation of more insulin. This excess insulin is stored as fat in your body
Insufficient good quality sleep also results in increasing your stress level. When your stress levels increase, your body starts producing more Cortisol; which forces your body to store more calories as fat.
2. Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
When you are asleep, your blood pressure level lowers down which results in giving your heart and blood vessels a rest. Insufficient good quality sleep or poor quality sleep is known to increase the stress level and increase anxiety; which can increase your blood pressure level and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and excess cholesterol level in your body can lead to serious life-threatening diseases like hypertension, coronary heart diseases, and diabetes mellitus.
In addition to diet control and physical activity, doctors recommend that 7-8 hours of good quality sleep daily is vital to reduce the risk of developing many cardiovascular diseases.
3. Improved Concentration and Productivity
Another reason why sleep is good for your health is because it helps to improve your brain health. An adequate amount of good quality sleep can boost levels of your concentration, problem-solving skills, and productivity.
Insufficient good quality sleep or poor sleep can impair the functioning of your brain, make you tired mentally, and reduce the level of alertness and concentration. Sleep deprivation can throw clarity of thoughts out for a toss and you won’t be able to make the simplest of decisions, and forget making complex ones because of which your productivity suffers.
The deep sleep stage is essential for your brain to consolidate memories and link stories of the day. While your body is resting, your brain is at work in consolidating feelings, memories, events, thoughts, and other sensory inputs gathered during the day and preparing for new inputs, memories, thoughts, events to be registered the following day.
4. Boosts the Immune System
Your immune system helps you to fight infection by identifying harmful viruses and bacteria and getting rid of them. Another health benefit of adequate good quality sleep each night is that it can help you improve your immune system and help fight infections like the common cold.
As per some studies, even a small reduction in the amount of required sleep can weaken your immune system. It found that people who sleep less than 7 hours per night are 3 times more likely to catch a cold than those who sleep a minimum of 8 hours per night.
Sleep deprivation weakens your immune system and your body is not able to fight infections with the same strength or pace. Due to a weak immune system, you may fall sick more often.
5. Helps to Reduce Inflammation
Insufficient good quality sleep increases stress hormones and anxiety which raises the level of inflammation in your body resulting in making your body prone to developing cardiovascular diseases, even cancer, and diabetes.
Also, inadequate good quality sleep or poor sleep has a major undesirable impact on your body as your body may develop inflammation due to cell damage. It may lead to recurring inflammatory bowel diseases due to inflammation of your digestive tract.
People have been flocking to the Keto Diet in recent years because of its reputation for enhanced weight loss. And a survey of dieticians in the United States in 2020 showed that the Low-Carb Ketogenic Diet will continue to be the most popular fat loss diet this year. But there are tons of other health benefits of Keto apart from total weight loss.
You might already know that ketogenic diets were actually developed to reduce symptoms in epilepsy patients. Or that Keto can help to boost your immune system function. However, there are lots of other unexpected health benefits that are contributing to the Keto diet reigning supreme.
So, here are seven other unexpected health benefits of the Keto diet…
1 – Lowered Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
On a ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are cut to just 5% of your daily food intake. High-fat and low-carb intake is part of the keto basics. Your body usually breaks down carbs to produce glycogen which fuels your body. On Keto, the high fat intake and reduced carb intake trains your body to start burning fat into chemical compounds called ketones for energy instead.
Type 2 diabetes usually develops as a response to overconsuming sugary and starchy foods. Eating too much of these foods causes your pancreas to make high levels of insulin in an attempt to regulate blood sugar levels. When your insulin levels are consistent that high, your body becomes resistant to insulin which is a key marker of Type 2 diabetes.
But on the Keto diet, your body is not relying on carbs and sugar for energy. The drop glucose helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and therefore lower insulin levels. Doctors often recommend lower carbohydrate intake for patients with Type 2 diabetes, and studies have shown that the Keto diet helps to improve weight loss and reduce insulin levels.
2 – Alleviation of Depression & Anxiety Symptoms
Depression and anxiety are closely linked to the brain. And early research has begun to establish a link between ketogenic diets and the alleviation of typical symptoms of these common conditions.
A study conducted on rats showed promising results. Low physical activity is a common symptom of depression in people. In this study, one group of rats were put on a ketogenic diet. Those rats showed similar results to other groups of rats that had been treated with antidepressants. The scientists concluded that the Keto group were less likely to show “behavioral despair.”
In another study, one group of pregnant mice were fed ketogenic diets while another group was fed a standard diet. The mice born to the Keto group were more active physically than their standard diet counterparts.
The exact link between Keto and depression and anxiety has not been established. But anecdotal feedback among people who suffer from depression and anxiety has been very positive so far.
3 – Improved Sleep Quality
In the short term, Keto can actually have a negative impact on your sleep. This is most likely due to lower levels of serotonin and melanin. But these symptoms are short-lived. And research suggests that in the long term Keto can lead to better quality, deeper sleep.
Once you transition into ketosis (when your body is primarily burning fat into ketones for energy), your body settles down into better sleep patterns. Not only does Keto result in a deeper sleep and increased time in the all-important REM cycle, but a study by the International League Against Epilepsy found that people on Keto diets also needed less sleep time.
Fatty liver is a chronic condition that can lead to very serious health implications including cirrhosis of the liver, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It’s also a condition that affects around 25% of adults in the Western world.
Two significant research studies have shown that low-carb diets, such as the Keto Diet, can quickly and dramatically reduce liver fat and the risk of these conditions. The first was a small study but produced highly compelling results. Participants experienced a massive loss of liver fat when following a low carbohydrate diet.
In another study, patients following a ketogenic diet showed significant improvement in the risk for non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFLD), liver scarring, and a 60% reduction in liver fat.
5 – Increased Brain Function
In the early twentieth century, ketogenic diets were developed to help relieve symptoms in epilepsy patients with groundbreaking results. More recently, studies suggest a link between the Keto diet and reduced risk for other neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease amongst others.
Some followers of Keto experience alleviation of chronic ailments like headaches and sleep disorders. It also has the potential to decrease the risk of certain brain cancers.
The science behind Keto and improved brain function is complex and not conclusively established. But scientist’s early research suggests the production of certain chemicals and ketones interact differently with the brain as a more efficient energy source.
6 – Healthier Cardiovascular System
Following the Keto diet has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health and may help prevent heart disease. However, this health benefit is closely linked to the nutrition sources used by Keto diet followers. It’s vital that your high fat intake is achieved from healthy sources and the “right” type of fat.
For example, a study in 2010 found that, between two low-carb diet groups, those that sourced their fats from vegetables and rich Omega-3 fatty acid foods decreased the risk of heart disease by 23% more than those who sourced fats mostly from meats.
To derive cardiovascular health benefits from Keto, it’s essential to source fats from unprocessed options like avocado, salmon, and nuts.
Much of the evidence that says ketogenic diets improve acne is largely anecdotal. However, when you examine what we know about how acne flare-ups are triggered, combined with conclusive biological changes due to ketogenic diets, the effect of Keto on acne makes sense.
Acne is caused by a build-up of excess oil on the skin through sebaceous glands. This causes blockages in the pores which result in acne breakouts.
In one small study, it was found that diets low on the glycemic index reduced insulin levels and androgens (male hormones) which contributed to a reduction in acne. Keto is also proven to reduce inflammation in the body. And since inflammation can drive acne flare-ups, it’s logical that this may be a contributing factor in how ketogenic diets alleviate acne symptoms.
It’s pretty clear that the benefits of ketogenic diets go far beyond weight loss. So, if you’ve been thinking of trying Keto to eat clean and improve your general health and wellness, give it a try!
Keto Diet Starter Guide
Get started on your Ketogenic Journey today with this awesome infographic fromTotalShape.com.
What is Cancer? What are the Signs and Symptoms? Am I at Risk for getting Cancer? And how can I prevent it? These are some very common and important questions to ask about this terrible disease known as Cancer. This article will tell all and even teach you about using prevention as a cure for cancer!
Plus, join the fight, and help cancer victims when you buy a shirt today!
First, I want to begin by stating that, to date, there has not yet been found a cure for cancer. Cancer is a disease that the best doctors and scientists in the world are still trying to truly understand; to better help care for those with it.
This article is not meant to give false hope that a new discovery has been found. Or to argue against qualified medical professionals on how to treat cancer of any kind.
This is merely a helpful guide, for both those with and without cancer, to better understand how to decrease its negative effects. And how to prevent it from ever occurring to you.
With that being said, let’s begin…
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease where your body’s affected cells grow rapidly, randomly, and without control; blocking normal cell growth. This continuous growth forms into what is known as a tumor, or group of continuously growing cells. These cells can break off of the tumor and spread to other areas of the body, adding to the damage created by this unforgiving disease.
Tumors are also dangerous because they affect the cells around them, and start to modify the functions within the body’s systems to where the systems can no longer do their job properly. And if the cells within a system cannot perform their job, then the system breaks down and that body part no longer functions.
Imagine if that was your lungs, bones, or digestive system (colon). If any of those systems no longer function properly, then we will soon be brought to the harsh reality of cancer.
We Are All Born With Cancer
The truth is, we all already have cancer.
We are all born with cancerous cells within our bodies. If we did not, we would not be alive. Cancer is just a continuous growth of cells that can get out of control if triggered. That is why we see cancer occur at all stages of life. Even in children.
We all have cancer cells. Though many of us will live a long healthy life without ever experiencing its devastation at work.
Why is simply unknown. But we can speculate that it is due to the cancerous cells being triggered by a combination of unhealthy living, heredity, and old age. And the more triggers you send to your cells, the more likely you are to start having them grow rapidly.
If un-triggered, then you will likely never get a tumor. So the best way to prevent cancer is through healthy living.
Signs and Symptoms of Cancer
Before continuing, here are some common signs and symptoms that may help you determine if someone has cancer.
Unexpected Weight Loss
Fatigue – felt often
Pains – that are reoccurring or in specific common cancer sites
Next, here are some physical guidelines that can help you better determine if you have a “healthy” amount of exercise and body composition to help prevent cancer:
Weekly Exercise Minimums
Below is a chart stating the minimum amount of weekly exercise you need to do in order to maintain a healthy body and prevent cancer. But realize that these are only minimums. And if you truly want to be healthy, you should do at least twice as much exercise, if not more.
% VO2 Max
Minutes / Day
Days / Week
A Combination of these 2 Intensities
Reference: Williams, L., Wilkins. (2019). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. American College of Sports Medicine. Tenth Edition. [Text]
Note: These are the weekly physical activity minimums as stated by the American College of Sports Medicine for an individual to obtain the physiological benefits of exercise required to not be considered sedentary, or without exercise.
First of all, I know that most people do not know their VO2 Max. Also known as, the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use at one time during exercise. So let me simplify it for you.
Moderate-intensity is a pace that you can maintain for an extended period of time. And is intense enough that you cannot maintain a conversation during the activity. Think of it as between a 4-6 difficulty on a 1-10 scale. 10 being the hardest thing you have ever done and 1 being just above rest, such as standing.
Vigorous-intensity is a near-maximal intensity where you are working at a rate in which you may need to stop and do multiple bouts within the given time. Usually, this exercise lasts only 3-7 minutes per bout and is between a 6-8.5 on a scale of 1-10.
Why Do We Care?
Now, why do we care about VO2 Max and meeting the exercise minimums, suggested by ACSM? We care because it has been shown that an increase in VO2 Max, also suggesting an increase in heart efficiency, decreases the rate of all-cause mortality.
This means that the more efficient you are at exercising, the better chance you have to avoid all causes of death by cardiac (heart) instances, illness, and disease.
This, of course, does not guarantee that you will not have something like a heart attack or cancer occur. But it greatly decreases your chances.
ACSM Body Composition Guidelines
Another way to decrease your all-cause mortality and prevent illnesses, such as cancer, is through maintaining healthy body composition. This is what the ACSM gives as basic guidelines for body composition:
BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a measurement of body mass density. This measurement is the leading standard for determining the risk level for all-cause mortality. Or the likelihood of death from a heart-related incident (heart attack, heart disease, etc.) or illness (cancer, life-threatening diseases, etc.).
Body Mass Index (BMI) Risk Level and Classification
Obese – Class 1
Very High Risk
Obese – Class 2
Obese – Class 3
*Risk Level is greatly increased when paired with a large waist circumference.
Reference: Williams, L., Wilkins. (2019). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. American College of Sports Medicine. Tenth Edition. [Text]
Your waist circumference is a measurement around the largest area of your stomach, or just below the navel.
While standing with feet together, arms at sides and feet relaxed, take a horizontal (level) measurement around the narrowest part of the torso between the umbilicus (belly button) and xiphoid process (base tip of the sternum).
Waist Circumference Risk Level
<80cm / <31.5 in.
<70cm / <28.5in.
80-99cm / 31.5-39in.
70-89cm / 28.5-35in.
100-120com / 39.5-47in.
90-110cm / 35.5-43in.
>120com / >47in.
>110cm / >43.5in.
*Risk level is greatly increased when paired with an obese BMI measurement (≥30).
Referenced by: Williams, L., Wilkins. (2019). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. American College of Sports Medicine. Tenth Edition. [Text]
Muscle vs. Fat Tissue
By improving your body composition, you are much more likely to live a longer, healthier, cancer-free life. As you will place less stress on your body’s systems, allowing them to function better.
However, both your BMI and your Waist Circumference present the same health risk; whether your mass is made mostly of fat or muscle tissue. In fact, the stress on the heart may even be greater in those with more muscle.
This is because muscle tissue has blood vessels and must be maintained. While fat is simply stored, with little maintenance. And muscle puts increased stress on the heart to function at a higher rate at all times.
So it doesn’t matter if you are made mostly of rock-solid muscle or fat. The same risk applies because it is based on your heart. Not based on your tissue.
A lot is still unknown about Cancer. Except that we are all born with the potential for it to occur.
This is why we see children with cancer even though they have done nothing to trigger these uncontrolled growth responses. We simply do not know why they occur. And they can happen to anybody.
Even the most elite athletes can obtain cancer, such as Lance Armstrong. He was a world-class athlete and had multiple battles with cancer. But he survived them all. And he is a great example that cancer can be overcome.
Yet, the best treatment for cancer is still prevention.
And many people can prevent cancer, along with other illnesses, just by simply taking care of their body’s. If you live a lifestyle where you do not care for your body, then you cannot expect it to be able to protect you when you need it most.
However, just by taking a little time to exercise, eat clean, and avoid bad habits, you can greatly decrease your chances of ever getting a life-threatening illness. Then you can feel better and be there for the people and things that you love.
So I suggest that you choose to challenge yourself. To make a better life for yourself, and those around you by taking action. And fight back against cancer, by preventing it all together!
I know it is not always easy and many of us already do way too much. But we have to put ourselves first sometimes to better be able to help others.
And that can be as simple as just being there for them in the future. And not placing the stress of possibly preventable illnesses on them.
So take action and be different today. Because tomorrow may be too late.
However, like other workouts, your yoga practice can plateau. If your yoga flow has started to feel like you’re just going through the motions, why not introduce new challenges into your yoga practice? These are four tips, tools, and tech you can use to keep things interesting on the mat.
If you’re sporting an outdated phone that doesn’t support the latest apps, use this as the push you need to finally upgrade. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go broke just to replace your smartphone; even the iPhone XS is only $41.66 a month through a provider like Verizon. Android users also have options at all budget levels, and it only takes a little research to find the right one.
2 – Find a Teacher You Click With
Most people tend to stick with the same few routines when practicing yoga at home. Searching for videos is tedious, and once you find an instructor and flow that you like, it’s easier to return to an old favorite than sift through the countless options online.
Taking a yoga class for weightloss can be just what you need to push your practice to the next level. In class, there’s no fast-forwarding through sequences or turning the video off early. And with an instructor to mix things up each time, you’re forced to stay alert in order to keep pace.
You’ll get more out of a yoga class if you find an instructor you enjoy learning from. Look for instructors who teach your preferred yoga style, whether that’s Vinyasa, Bikram, Ashtanga, or another yoga variant, then test out different classes until you find a teacher who makes you feel comfortable yet motivated in your yoga practice.
3 – Incorporate Mini-Sessions Into Your Practice
If you struggle to find the motivation for full-length yoga practice, give yourself permission to practice for as little as seven minutes at a time. You might not get the same physical workout you’d get from a 60-minute flow, but short sessions are a great centering activity. Incorporate seven-minute flows into your morning and bedtimeroutines, squeeze a session into breaks at work, or intersperse high-intensity workouts with yoga stretches to prevent stiff muscles.
4 – Attend a Yoga Workshop
Is there one yoga skill that keeps tripping you up? If something is holding your yoga practice back, a yoga workshop is a great chance to overcome it. Workshops let yogis dive deep into one particular skill or pose, and with more opportunity for one-on-one work, you can get the expert advice you need to step up your practice.
Yoga workshops might focus on mastering an advanced pose, learning yogic breathing styles, improving alignment and posture, overcoming an injury, or another topic. Ask your instructor if you’re not sure where to find yoga workshops near you.
There’s no one right way to practice yoga. Maybe you practice yoga as a “rest day” activity, or perhaps yoga is a core part of your fitness routine. No matter how you approach yoga, you should always strive to grow in your practice.
We all know diet and exercise are important. However, it doesn’t have to be hard! So many people make it out to be much harder than it really is. If you just do a little planning and put in the effort, your health and weight loss goals can be accomplished.
Neither diet nor exercise trump the other. They are BOTH important if you want to reach your strength, health and fitness goals! They both work together to help create a healthy body. If you do one or the other well with little regard towards the other, you will not get near the results as if you worked both together.
“Your diet helps to amplify the effects of exercise…”
Have you ever heard something like, “You can’t out exercise a bad diet”? Well, though exercise is highly valuable, and burns a ton of calories, it’s too easy for us to eat more calories than we can burn off. Also, if you have a bad diet, you likely will not have the energy to exercise enough to maintain a healthy body.
Have A Good Diet
Your diet helps to amplify the effects of exercise and gives you the energy to perform at your best. So, in order to perform your best, YOU NEED A GOOD DIET!
That doesn’t mean you should be stuck eating bland foods like chicken and broccoli every day, but you should put more thought into it than “oh look, ice cream has 2g of protein in it!”.
Your calories and their sources matter. Have a reasonable amount of fats, carbs, and protein if you want to perform your best and get the most out of your workouts.
DO NOT make one nutrient out to be “bad” and another the only thing you concern yourself with. Find an equal balance that fits your lifestyle and stick to it with little variation.
Do Real Exercise
“If you want to create change, you have to do things that are harder than walking your dog.”
If you don’t exercise you aren’t going to change much of anything. You can’t diet your way to a 6-pack while just sitting around or going through everyday activities. You need some amount of exercise no matter how clean your diet is.
Exercise not only burns calories, but it also creates numerous changes in your body, including hormonal, that changes how your diet affects you. If you want to look like you are fit and workout, then guess what? You’re gonna have to exercise, and exercise enough to create change.
If you want to create change, you have to do things that are harder than walking your dog! Even if you walk your dog uphill, that is still not considered exercise.
Do some strength training, go for a run, do calisthenics at home, cycle, or anything you enjoy. Do it multiple times per week and put in some strong effort so you can get some great results. This will amplify your results as your diet and exercise routine work together to create the most amount of change within your body.
Make Progress Every Day
“You can do 1 push-up or squat today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next day and so on.”
Your diet and exercise routine doesn’t have to be complex. Let it be simple.
Let go of the excuses, we all can make them, and get started today. Right now is the time to make a change. Tomorrow is too late!
Get up and do SOMETHING! Anything! Just move and work towards becoming stronger!
Start easy and progress forward by doing just a little more each day. You can do 1 push-up or squat today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next day and so on.
You can run for 1 minute today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next day and so on.
The Daily 30 is also a great choice and it was made specifically for beginners!
“Most of us overeat at night due to under-eating throughout the day.”
When it comes to diet and exercise, keep it simple! Start with a simple diet change, like taking a multivitamin or drinking an extra glass of water every morning. Then you can move onto adding in a healthy snack during the day. Such as some fruit, vegetables or some nuts.
YES, I did say “add in” a meal before I said to take anything away. This is because most of us overeat at night due to under-eating throughout the day. If you add in a healthy snack/meal during the day when you need the energy, you will tend to eat less as night, which will make a big difference in itself!
For exercise, start with doing some push-ups, planks, squats, jogging, the Daily 30 or something! You MUST EXERCISE if you want to create change! This tends to be the hardest part for everyone, but it is extremely important! Diet and exercise go together.
Take it slow, but make a change! Your world starts to change the moment you start changing it! So let’s get to it!
“Your world starts to change the moment you start changing it!”