Minute 1: How long is the ideal nap?
Nothing says “I’m on vacation” quite like an afternoon nap. Dozing off in a beach chair or in front of a crackling fire is a cheap luxury in life. As it turns out, a short nap is also good for your health, according to this new story: “This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Take A 20 Minute Nap.” In most ways, short naps are better than long naps, which can leave you groggy and mess up your nighttime sleep. That’s because after 30 minutes you fall into a deep sleep that is harder to emerge from. On the other hand, a brief nap has been proven to reduce fatigue, improve mood and boost alertness. (Keep this in mind on long evening drives!) If you really want to turbocharge your power nap, consume caffeine before your snooze. That buzz should kick in at about the same time you wake up. As for your nighttime REM sleep, a new study just pinned down the ideal time for lights-out: “This Is the Best Time to Go to Bed for Your Heart Health, According to Research.” The study tracked 88,000 adults over 6 years, and the people who went to bed between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm were the healthiest, controlling for other lifestyle habits. Those who didn’t go to sleep until after midnight were the most at risk of heart disease.
Minute 2: Should you ignore unsolicited advice at the gym?
If you just can’t head to bed without a dose of Jimmy Fallon or 1 more story to read on your iPad, there may be a way to offset those bad habits you indulge in past the ideal lights-out time we described above. Out this week is a story that provides yet another reason to practice yoga: “The Benefits of Yoga for Sleep.” At its core, yoga is a good form of physical activity which in itself promotes sound sleep. Yoga also helps with breathing and mindfulness which can help calm the brain after a long and hectic day. Besides the typical yoga studio practice, you may want to consider yoga nidra, also known as yogic sleep. It can be performed lying down and helps bring you to a state of deep relaxation with awareness. It has been shown to provide more benefits than meditation. As for the more traditional forms of yoga, we have always struggled with the idea of the all-or-nothing vibe of our friends who are serious about the practice. That’s why we appreciated this story out this week: “A Beginner Yoga Flow to Introduce You to the Most Common Poses.” This video will let you enjoy most of the benefits of yoga without the investment in Lululemon leggings and an expensive trip to a studio.
Minute 3: Running may be the best remedy for knee pain
Earlier this week we implied that knee pain and running went together like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump would say. Sorry for the pessimism, but at least we offered these 3 exercises as a way to prevent and cure the condition. As it turns out, Hollywood’s most famous runner was onto something with his running passion and epic mileage. According to a new study, one of the best things you can do for your knees is to have them join you for a run. Details are in this new piece from the NYT: “How to Save Your Knees Without Giving Up Your Workout.” Part of the reason is that the cartilage in your knees doesn’t like to sit idle. The motion of running compresses the vital cushioning tissue like a sponge, squeezing out old fluid and refilling with newer, nutrient-rich stuff. Sometimes when we feel a twinge and decide that’s a cue to switch exercises, we actually wind up depriving the cartilage of the action it craves. Interestingly, popular oral meds like glucosamine and chondroitin do not seem to provide long-term benefits according to the research. Of course if your knee pain persists for more than an hour post-run or appears the morning after, that is probably a sign to exercise more caution. The study recommends shortening -- rather than curtailing -- your runs as a result.
Minute 4: New features from Whoop and Oura
One of our editors has been testing a Whoop bracelet and tracking system for several months. He has been pleased with how accurate the data has been on rest and recovery. To be honest, others in the office have struggled a bit with the form factor of the device. Do we really need 2 devices on our wrists -- a watch plus a Whoop tracker? An alternative to the double-wristed approach is Oura, which offers a much smaller ring that can produce much of the same data as Whoop. Probably the biggest advantage for Whoop is that it offers heart rate monitoring during exercise which Oura has not yet released. A new story this week provides more detail if you are deciding between the 2 options: “Should You Buy Whoop or an Oura Ring Subscription?” The same author also dove into one feature of Oura that many readers may find valuable: “How to Predict Ovulation (and Your Period) With an Oura Ring.” Whether you are trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid getting pregnant, the author says the Oura body temperature tracking is remarkably accurate. That has enabled a “period prediction” feature in the Oura app which has been well received.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
When “life” gets in the way of living a healthier life, we all have to scrap plans for a run or workout. Rather than write off the day as a total loss, there are still things we can do on even the most crammed of days. A new story this week provides some practical advice: “Personal Trainers' Go-To Exercises When They Have Time for Only One.” Top picks include around-the-world lunges and bear crawls.
There are plenty of trending topics worth ignoring on TikTok, like the Tide Pod Challenge or dancing on graves. The newest TikTok fad has more than 100,000,000 views and is a lot more constructive than past phenomena: “How to ‘Rock the Boat,’ TikTok’s Newest Workout Challenge.” If you want to sound cool to the teenagers in your life while experiencing a new fitness challenge, you can watch music superstar Carrie Underwood demonstrate the workout here. The moves include shoulder taps, mountain climbers and plank jacks.
For most people, completing a Tough Mudder obstacle race is a bucket list item that is just a fun outing with friends. Once a year, however, the event convenes a much more serious crowd to compete in the World’s Toughest Mudder with $10,000 awarded to the top male and female finisher. The goal is to see how many miles on an obstacle course you can complete in 24 hours. This year, Mark Batres completed 115 miles in 24:18:57: “World’s Toughest Mudder Record Shattered in Laughlin, Nev.” On the women’s side, Katie Knight completed 90 miles in 24:04:20.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
The smash hit movie No Time To Die just surpassed $700,000,000 in box office receipts despite many theatres worldwide being restricted because of Covid. Viewers love the typical James Bond swagger and action scenes in the film, but they are also remarking on how fit 53-year-old Daniel Craig looks in the film. It’s more than just good genes. Craig has been working for years with trainer and ex-British Royal Marine, Simon Waterson. Men’s Journal just chronicled their relationship in this piece: “Daniel Craig's Trainer Explains How He Built James Bond's Body for 007 Hit 'No Time to Die'” Endurance athletes will like many elements of the workout routine since it contains both a 6-exercise agility and cardio circuit along with 2 strength training moves to cap off the session. We like the strength segment because it suggests 25 reps with a full range of motion rather than cranking out small sets with heavy weights. For inspiration and instruction, check out the video of the workout below.