Minute 1: Active lifestyles lower anxiety, says research
There's a saying about anxiety that goes: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” Practically everyone will experience anxiety at some point in their lives, but luckily, there’s a lot we can do to minimize it. Fortunately for our readers, exercise is one of the best tools available for treating anxiety, as you can see in “Study: Active People Are 50% Less Likely to Develop Anxiety Than Their Peers.” Researchers in Sweden looked at a group of 200,000 people, focusing on those who competed in Vasaloppet, a 56-mile cross country skiing event. It’s safe to say, the race’s participants are all living highly active lifestyles. When compared to inactive people, the skiers showed a significantly lower chance of developing anxiety, even 20 years after they had completed the race. The mental health benefits of exercise don’t stop there. Check out this episode of the Six Minute Mile podcast: “Dr. John Ratey, MD - Author, Expert in Neuropsychiatry and connection of physical activity and brain health.” Dr. Ratey has conducted groundbreaking research investigating the relationship between physical activity and conditions like ADD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and more. He has found outdoor exercise in a group setting to be particularly impactful, so give the episode a listen to learn the details of his research.
Minute 2: What are the healthiest meal delivery services?
Mom told us that we should never go grocery shopping while we’re hungry. Finding the willpower to pass aisles of unhealthy snacks is hard enough, but when you’ve crossed the “hungarian border,” it’s a straight up gut check. On top of exercising shopping cart discipline, one of the challenges of seeking to eat healthy is planning out your meals for the week so you can shop for the right foods. Even equipped with a guide like this one from Men’s Journal (pardon the hardo title, there is actually some good advice on the list), you need to spend time and mental energy on menu planning: “The Only Grocery Shopping List You Need to Get Ripped.” What if we told you there’s a way to bypass both of these problems at once? The answer can be found in this new story: “Best healthy meal delivery services for 2022.” Most nutrition experts will agree, approaching your diet holistically is the way to go. Choosing home-cooked meals with unprocessed ingredients is a far more effective way to stay healthy, compared to fad diets that result in temporary weight loss. Meal kit services make things easy, and these days, there are tons of options so you can get exactly what you need. For low carb and keto options, check out Home Chef. Purple Carrot specializes in plant based meals, so they’re the go to choice if you’d like to eat vegetarian. For more ideas, check out Healthline’s rankings: “The 11 Best Meal Delivery Services.” Speaking of veggies, we’re shining the spotlight on cruciferous vegetables this week. If you don’t know what those are, read “3 Major Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables.” Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and kale are all members of this family, and they’ve got a unique set of perks to offer. First, studies indicate they can reduce your risk for heart disease by 16%. They’re also packed with fiber, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Last, cruciferous veggies contain glucosinolates, which have antioxidative effects that could lower your risk of cancer. #BoxedLunch
Minute 3: Mix up your cardio with battle ropes
If we were ranking fitness equipment by how impressive their names sound, battle ropes would certainly be near the top. If we didn’t know any better, we’d think they’re something you’d find on a pirate ship, not a gym, but battle ropes have moved past the fad stage and into the mainstream of fitness workouts. If you’re unfamiliar with them, you should check out “I’m a Personal Trainer, and These Are the Very Best Battle Ropes You Should Buy for Your Home Gym.” These ropes can be used to develop your strength and explosiveness, and they’ll fit right into a HIIT routine. They’re not just for developing your arms, either. Incorporate squats and burpees into your sets to hit your core and legs at the same time. For a list of great exercises you can do, take a look at “This 8-Exercise Battle Rope Workout Is Beginner-Friendly—but Not Easy.” Battle ropes are great for working on balance and stability, since you’re fighting shifts in momentum and moving in unusual directions when you use them. For a bit of their history, and a list of other benefits, see “11 Inimitable Benefits of Battle Rope.”
Minute 4: Have you heard of snowshoe running?
The last 5 years have been a time of rapid growth and development in running technology. Sneakers have added carbon plates, trail shoes use cutting-edge waterproofing, and even snowshoes have undergone a transformation. Given the big snows that hit much of the U.S. last weekend, you may consider adding some snowshoe runs into your normal routines. Gone are the days of awkwardly wide “tennis racquets” strapped to the bottom of your feet. Today, snowshoes are narrow and lightweight, so much so that you can run comfortably in them. Take a look at “Your new favourite winter sport: snowshoe running” from a publication that should know a thing or two about winter travel, Canadian Running. These new shoes are great, but don’t expect to mirror your road race performances step for step. You’ll have to widen your stance slightly, and expect to move a little slower, as if you were trail running in less than ideal conditions. Still, it’s impressive what runners like Derrick Spafford are able to do with the right gear. He’s been doing snowshoe running for more than 20 years now, and he’s organized a series of races in the Ontario area for snowshoe runners to test out skills. If you’re interested in competing in a snowshoe race yourself this winter, read “What Is Snowshoe Racing? A Look Inside the Niche and Challenging Winter Sport.” It should be noted that snowshoe running uses a bigger variety of muscles than most of us are used to, so a little prep work in the gym will serve you well.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Running continues to grow as a sport, as does the media coverage around events and notable competitors. We’re grateful someone’s there to roll the tape and capture Eliud Kipchoge’s quest to break 2:00:00 in an official marathon, or Gour Mading Maker’s journey from refugee to Olympian. You can see all these stories, and more, in “The 10 Best Running Documentaries to Watch in 2022.”
We usually meet “before & after” body transformation stories with skepticism, as they often promote extreme measures, or take advantage of camera tricks to portray an unattainable image. Every once in a while, we find one that isn’t trying to sell any products, or espouse some crazy exercise philosophy. William, a 31-year-old lawyer from LA, took 5 months of dedication to transform himself for the better. He did weight training 3 days a week, and ate as few processed foods as possible, managing to lose 20 lbs of fat and gain 10 lbs of muscle in the process. For details, check out “How Running and Weight Training Helped Me Get Shredded in 5 Months.”
Being fit doesn’t mean dedicating hours every day to intense exercise. On the days where you’re swamped with work, or just too tired to get a full gym session in, look for ways to insert mobility work into your daily routine instead. You’ll save time and energy, and lay the groundwork to have a great run the next time it's possible. To get you started, we’ve got “5 Run-Improving Exercises You Can Do During Daily Life.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Running is full of ups and downs, even for elite competitors on the biggest stages of their career. Legendary middle distance runner Hicham El Guerrouj knows this well, as he faced great adversity in the 1996 Summer Olympics. He fell toward the end of the 1500M final in an attempt to grab the lead, costing him several places and a potential medal. 4 years later, El Guerrouj was heavily favored to win gold, but finished with a disappointing silver instead. In response, he redoubled his efforts, and went on to win the 1500M gold medal in the 2004 Olympics. Relive his fall and rise to glory in the short video below. It’s sure to put a chill in your spine and a spring in your step.