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    Yoga Moves That Bonnie Mbuli Swears By

    “The quickest way to bring my mind and my soul into alignment is to discipline my body. If I discipline my body, I’m more likely to choose the right meal after I’ve worked out. I’m more likely to go and pray because I feel good. I’m more likely to make a better decision about something I need to do concerning work. I’m highly likely to have more energy to do the things I’m supposed to do. I’m more likely to look at the world in a positive way. So I use exercise as a tool for mastering myself,” enthuses the 42-year-old actress and author. The mom of two boys, who covers our Jan/Feb 2022 issue shares that she’s learnt that mind, body, soul and spirit are all aligned. She adds, “When one is out of whack, all of them get scattered!”
    Here are Bonnie’s go-to yoga moves. Get ready to feel calm, strong, and bendy.
    Downward Dog

    Bonnie’s Take: “It’s a superb hamstring stretcher – and mine are always tight! There’s also something about this position that forces me to fully face myself.” 
    Master It: Start in a high plank. Lift hips up and back, sinking heels toward floor, until body forms an upside down “V” shape. Press shoulders away from ears and relax neck. Spread fingers wide on mat, with palms pressed against the floor. Hold for five slow breaths.


    Bonnie: “It improves circulation and challenges my fears. I used to pull off headstands effortlessly as a child. Now, I can only master them against a wall! I think it’s fear though.”
    Master It: Begin by interlacing your fingers and placing your forearms on the mat, parallel, palms facing each other. Cup the back of your head in your hands, the top of your head on the floor. Take five breaths here. Then, pushing down through shoulders and forearms, lift one foot up into the air, knee bent. Using your core, lift the other to meet it. Brace abs and squeeze glutes and leg muscles, as you slowly straighten legs upwards, pointing toes. Your body should feel like a solid, secure cylinder, with minimal weight on head and neck. Hold for three breaths, then slowly lower legs back down.

    Humble Warrior 

    Bonnie’s Take: “It reminds me to strike a balance between being strong and vulnerable.”
    Master It: Start with legs almost as wide as mat, right foot forward, toes facing straight ahead, left foot back, outside of foot parallel to back of mat (right heel lined up with middle of left inner arch), torse facing left side, and arms at sides. Keep left leg straight while deeply bending right knee until thigh is parallel to mat, then extend arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Gaze should be over front fingers. Hold for three to five breaths.

    Any Hip Openers 
    Bonnie’s Take: “Hips are where we house our trapped emotions and trauma. Hip stretchers remind me to keep my heart open.”
    Master It: Happy baby is a beginner-friendly pose. Start lying on back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms at sides. Draw knees toward chest outside of ribs with legs bent and soles facing ceiling. Bring arms inside of legs and grab big toes with first two fingers and thumb of same hand. Gently pull knees toward floor. Hold for five to eight breaths.

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    ‘Science Says You Can Be Fat and Fit: So Why Do I Feel Like the Odd One Out?’

    A new study out of Arizona State University indicates that, to quote the researchers: ‘fat can be fit’.
    What’s more, the authors argue that when it comes to mitigating the health harms of obesity, focusing on fitness – as opposed to weight loss – is the smarter, more sustainable strategy.
    Here, one writer explores the science of being super fit while in a bigger body – and shares how it can feel:
    Sunday mornings – coffee brewing and radio playing in the background – I plan the week ahead. This usually involves shuffling coloured blocks around on my calendar app until the next seven days look like something I’m happy with.
    Of all of the comings and goings in my diary, there are a few entries that are unmovable: workouts. I made the decision long ago to plan my work and social life around exercise, rather than the other way around. If this makes me sound like a fitness junkie, that’s exactly what I am. In an average [pre-COVID 19] week, I’ll go to at least three cardio and strength classes (spin, kickboxing, HIIT); one yoga session (always yin); do one run (distance dependent on current training demands); and, hopefully, one swim. I also cycle as my main mode of transport in London, where I live.
    READ MORE: “I Cycled 300km in 3 Countries Over 4 Days & And Put On Weight”
    I lead a very active lifestyle; I love moving my body regularly and equally love the noticeable benefits this brings in terms of my strength, my fitness and my peace of mind. And yet, if social media, gym adverts, the average group exercise class and messages from general popular culture are to be believed, I don’t exist. Yes, I work out – but I’m also a size 16 to 18. I’m defined as ‘fat’ by most, no matter how fast I can run or how heavy I can lift.
    Growing up, I was always heavier than my peers and I only really saw people who looked like me in gym marketing that was centred around punishment; messaging that taught me exercise was penance for having a socially unacceptable body. At school, I considered sport a hobby that people did if they had a particular knack or really loved it, rather than exercise that came with myriad benefits. I chose other hobbies – ones that didn’t involve running around in short shorts or require a muscular physique. The result was a feeling that fitness just wasn’t a world in which I belonged; it wasn’t designed for people like me.

    Happily, that changed five years ago when, at the age of 27, I caught the fitness bug. Yes, I’ll admit, I first embraced exercise with a desire to change the shape and size of my body; to make it more acceptable, more likely to be validated by others. I’d always enjoyed swimming and began going twice a week. To start with, I felt self- conscious in my swimming costume, but that gradually passed. I started a Couch to 5k plan, too, as the idea of building up my fitness by exercising alone – without the judgemental looks of others – was appealing.
    READ MORE: Beginners 5K Training Plan And Tips To Crush It In Just 6 Weeks
    Like anything, it was tough at the start, but I soon noticed a huge difference in my mood before and after a run — I was suffering badly with the symptoms of undiagnosed OCD at the time, and exercise granted me a short reprieve from the mental torment. Once I’d built up enough confidence, I started cycling 20km every day to and from work, which meant I was exercising more consistently than I ever had before.
    Since learning to love exercise, my weight has fluctuated, boomeranging across a range of four clothing sizes. Other things have changed, too – my work, relationships, where I live – but my workout routine has been the constant. Though sometimes I’ll do more and sometimes I’ll do less, I don’t think I’ve gone longer than a week without some form of high-cardio activity – unless I’ve been injured. Sometimes, it’s been more of a struggle, usually when I’ve stepped away from exercising alone and into a group setting, be that at a gym, a studio or space that should be engineered to guide, motivate and empower.
    “I don’t think I’ve gone longer than a week without some form of high-cardio activity”
    Particularly when I’ve been on the heavier side, I’ve had trainers underestimate me, misunderstand my goals and fat-shame me in front of a whole class, telling me I need to work harder if I’m going to lose weight. I’ve been handed lighter weights and given less ambitious targets than slimmer women standing next to me and been offered wide-eyed high fives from trainers who’ve been surprised to see me accelerate on a treadmill just as quickly as anyone wearing size eight leggings might.
    In the beginning, of course, this hurt and there were times when I wanted to walk straight back out, but, as my confidence and fitness improved, I started to use it as fuel to push myself harder; to prove everyone wrong. My self-esteem is robust enough that I can use this fuel to keep pushing myself forward without resenting other women.

    Even now, I’m not immune to feeling anxious when I enter a new fitness space for the first time; I can become hyper-aware of my body and how much room it takes up. It’s as if I need to do a bit of extra work to build up to feeling confident working out in an environment that’s not created with me in mind. On a bad day, this self-consciousness can slip into anxiety. I’ve noticed a tendency to push myself harder when training alongside thinner people to prove that I’m as fit as – or fitter than – them. It’s hard to say whether I’m projecting my own body insecurities, or whether it’s a response to judgemental looks in classes or changing rooms; in all honesty, it’s probably a combination of the two.

    “I can become hyper-aware of my body and how much room it takes up”

    Sadly, I’m not alone in feeling this. Suzy Cox is a 41-year-old who works in sales. ‘I’m a size 16 to 18 and, a year ago, I’d never been to a spin class – the thought of any form of organised group exercise made me shudder. I was worried that I’d feel out of place and wasn’t fit enough,’ she tells me. ‘I nearly didn’t go into the first class because I was terrified of all the people in leggings and crop tops, but I’m glad I did – now I spin three times a week. I love the way that, whatever’s going on in my life, it clears my head and makes me feel like I can take on anything.’
    READ MORE: “I Went From The Overweight Girl Who Couldn’t Exercise To A Spinning Instructor”
    The feeling that organised fitness is off the table because you don’t fit in could result in scores of women missing out on exercise – and achieving fitness goals – well within their grasp. ‘Gyms in general can be such intimidating body-focused spaces, full of mirrors and people taking sweaty selfies,’ says Hannah Lewin, a PT and spin coach. ‘This can be really stressful for people starting out. It’s likely to hold you back in terms of your workout and make you less likely to perform as well – limiting the mind-body benefits for the exerciser. All in all, not a good starting place.’
    Nike stuck its neck out in 2019 when it featured plus-sized female mannequins in its flagship London store, but it faced a backlash. It suggests to me that both inclusivity and society’s understanding of an individual’s health and wellbeing beyond aesthetics have a long way to go. For me, seeing those mannequins was the first time I’d ever really felt represented in the world of fitness, despite spending so much time in it. It reiterated the need to make women like me feel welcome in workout spaces more effectively than any previous efforts to do so.
    Representation is key; is there anyone above a size 10 manning the front desk? Across marketing material? Teaching the classes? I’ve only seen this once – at fitness studio Flykick, where the focus in all the marketing material is on strength, and the coaching team is size diverse, which made me feel part of a community: welcome, comfortable and celebrated.
    It matters in the fit kit boutiques housed in gyms and studios. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve rifled through rails of leggings, ready to drop cash on a shiny new pair, only to discover they stop at size 14. If your size isn’t catered for, the underlying message is that you don’t belong, or at least won’t belong until you slim down. It’s the same with the physical set-up in some classes.

    “If your size isn’t catered for, the underlying message is that you don’t belong”

    As I’m sure is the case for many women, floor-to-ceiling mirrors mean I’ve become distracted mid-workout by my own reflection, self- conscious about my body while sweating buckets sprinting on a treadmill. But what the average gym-goer might not have reflected on is the layout of an everyday spin class. Because bikes are crammed so close to each other that people can barely move between them, I’ve been left apologising (cringing on hearing myself ) while trying to squeeze through. The takeaway? This place isn’t made for me. There are few ways to kick off a workout that are more disempowering.
    And that’s a pretty poor outcome. Fitness should be fun, not some punishing chore, whatever your size. And surely it’s especially important that working out is fun for people for whom weight management is a struggle, and those who haven’t yet found their ‘thing’ with fitness and developed a sustainable routine.

    Dr Josh Wolrich – a surgeon who campaigns to end weight stigma – explains, the benefits of exercise, whatever your size, are broad.
    ‘Regular exercise can have a positive impact on weight distribution, which can carry great benefits in terms of your metabolic health, thereby lowering your risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes,’ he says. ‘Weight-bearing exercise can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis, and cardio workouts can improve your heart health.’
    And, despite decades of association between thinness and wellness, the two aren’t always correlated. ‘A person who’s considered thin may be unhealthy,’ Dr Wolrich adds – ‘depending on their exposure to other risk factors, such as alcohol intake, lack of exercise or poor diet.’
    READ MORE: What Exactly Is The Ayurvedic Diet And What Are The Health Benefits?
    And, yes, while obesity can lead to poor health outcomes – especially if an obese individual isn’t regularly exercising – the assumption that bodies larger than society’s ideal are automatically seriously unhealthy is outdated and misleading.
    “Science is catching up to the idea that you can be both fat and fit”
    A new review of studies from the University of Arizona hammers home this point. The authors analysed recent research to gauge how effectively intentional weight loss reduced the mortality risk of people living with obesity, compared to focusing on physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness.
    Their findings? That increasing fitness and physical activity was associated with reduced harms from obesity – more consistently than when people with the condition focused on weight loss.
    ‘We would like people to know that fat can be fit, and that fit and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes,’ says Professor Glenn Gaesser, from the university’s College of Health Solutions.
    Their analysis underlined that when it comes to helping those with obesity, it’s better to emphasise fitness and activity; they also encourage health professionals to big up the benefits of physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness, even in the absence of weight loss.

    “Falling in love with fitness should be for everyone”
    While a growing number of scientists and clinicians are catching up to the idea that you can be both fat and fit, mainstream society stubbornly puts out the message that they’re mutually exclusive. This prevents those who could benefit the most from discovering the positive benefits of exercise on their health from doing so.
    Falling in love with fitness can help those who feel ‘othered’ by society to develop a habit that’s a robust, get-back-what-you-put-in source of self-esteem. Few other things make me as happy, and I want everyone to be able to get in on the action.
    [Editor’s note: this feature was written pre-COVID 19]
    This article originally appeared on Women’s Health UK

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    What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (aka DOMS) & How Should You Treat It?

    We’ve all been there: walking slightly bent over, the muscles in our legs/core/back/arms screaming as we try to sit down, reach up, climb the stairs or, worse yet, go down the stairs. A result of a new workout plan, extra hard session or “forgetting” to warm up or cool down, delayed onset muscle soreness (aka DOMS) really can feel like a harsh trade-off when it comes to our fitness routines.
    READ MORE: This Is Exactly Why Your Muscles Get Sore After A Good Workout
    Whether you’re a resistance training regular, Pilates aficionado or circuit training convert, few escape from DOMS pain all the time – although there are some things you can do to mitigate how badly we experience it. Read on for our expert guide to dealing with delayed onset muscle soreness and the best course of action to make it hurt less.
    What is delayed onset muscle soreness?
    As with a lot of fitness terms (e.g. compound exercises or glute isolation exercises), delayed onset muscle soreness is really ‘does what it says on the tin’, so let’s break it down.
    ‘Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS for short, is a condition where your muscles get sore not immediately but a short time after a workout,’ explains P.Volve physiotherapist Dr Amy Hoover. ‘Typically DOMS occurs 24-48 hours after a hard workout.’
    READ MORE: 7 Best Lower Back Stretches To Ease Aches And Pain
    The nature of DOMS pain means that you’ll likely not feel muscle soreness until one to two days after your workout, hence the ‘delayed onset’ element in the name.
    What are the causes of delayed onset muscle soreness?

    Trying a new workout or sport
    Lifting more weight than usual
    Performing more reps
    Changing the tempo of your exercise
    Returning to exercise/sport after time off

    ‘DOMS is caused by stress on the muscle fibres as you work them in excess of what they are used to, or load them with more weight than usual. It can also occur if you are using muscles in a way that your body is not used to, like playing a sport for the first time,’ explains Dr Hoover. ‘It is also more common after eccentric exercise or movements that challenge the muscles to work as they lengthen.’
    A quick refresh on eccentric exercises. Every exercise you do will have an eccentric and concentric element. Concentric is when the muscle contracts and shortens, i.e when you bring a weight towards your shoulder during a bicep curl. The eccentric element is when the muscle fibres lengthen again – continuing the example of a bicep curl this would be when you lower the weight back down to your side.
    Other eccentric movements include bringing the barbell or dumbbells to your chest during a bench press or lowering down into a squat position with thighs parallel to the floor.
    READ MORE: This 30-Minute Workout Is The Perfect Balance Of Strength And Cardio
    Is delayed onset muscle soreness normal?
    ‘Totally normal!’ says Tash Lankester, PT at FLEX Chelsea, explaining why DOMS are not only normal but can be a sign your body is building muscle as usual. ‘Progression and muscle growth come after the micro-tears. In response to tears, our bodies produce cells to repair and protect our muscles from tearing in the future – this is what leads to an increase in muscle mass.’
    However, she says, ‘if you are sore after every workout, this is a sign you are probably pushing it too hard, not taking effective recovery measures, and it may be time to slow it down, as you won’t actually be making progress.’
    How do you treat DOMS pain?

    Ice therapy
    Foam rolling exercises
    Using a muscle gun
    NEAT exercise

    Besides muffled shouting every time you get up or down from a surface, there are actionable ways to treat your DOMS pain. From adding in foam roller exercises to your post-workout routine and stretching before and after a workout (save the dynamic stretches for after the workout, though), to walking more and using hot/cold therapy, there are myriad options, all at different price points.
    One of the best ways to make sure your body’s in the right place is by making time for proper rest.
    ‘It’s during the rest days the tissue really heals and grows, resulting in stronger muscles, so make sure you get those rest days and recovery sessions in. Plan your rest days as part of your workout diary, including stretch sessions or restorative yoga classes,’ suggests Maria Eleftheriou, Head of Barre at Psycle. ‘If you commit to this you will feel a difference in your workouts, recharge your batteries and most importantly, you’ll be much less likely to cause injury.’
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    Is it okay to work out with DOMS?
    We get it – you’re in the swing and don’t want to ruin your workout streak because of sore glutes or quads that feel like breeze blocks. Fair enough. But is it a good idea to work out with DOMS pain? We asked the expert.
    ‘It is fine to work out with DOMS, but you want to avoid heavy resistance training exercise while your sore muscles recover. Varying which muscle groups to focus on day to day can also allow the body to recover before the next intense workout,’ suggests Dr Hoover.
    ‘DOMS may be a normal part of strength training or new activity, but as your body adjusts to heavier weight or more intense workouts you should experience delayed onset muscle soreness less and less.’
    READ MORE: 5 Easy Pilates Stretches That’ll Finally Sort Out Your Stiff Upper Back
    How to prevent DOMS and reduce DOMS pain post-workout
    ‘The best way to avoid DOMS is to prevent it in the first place. Slowly and gradually increase your workout load, and properly warm-up and stretch after your workouts,’ says Dr Hoover.
    Here’s your play by play guide to swerve DOMS pain before it sets in.
    1. Focus on cool down exercises
    There shouldn’t be a situation when you’re rushing from your gym workout or spin class without any time to cool down. The same way you wouldn’t regularly emergency brake on the highway (if you can avoid it), you shouldn’t be slamming the brakes on your workout either.
    Instead, save 10-20 minutes for cool down exercises, they’ll help your heart rate come back to baseline slowly and prevent muscle tissue from seizing up.
    2. Keep moving
    Once you’re out of the gym, try not to sit down all day. We say try because some days, it feels impossible to get a moment away from the computer – we get it.
    However, a light walk back to the office or around the block will keep your body and muscles moving and increase the blood flow to your muscles, aiding in recovery and cutting down the time you’ll be wincing. (This is known as NEAT exercise if you want to find out more about it.)
    3. Add in some protein
    Protein is a key ingredient to muscle tissue recovery, so don’t skip it. Whilst you don’t need to chug a protein shake the minute you leave the gym, having a diet in which protein is an important part is crucial – especially if you’re strength training or resistance training regularly.
    Chicken, tofu, cheese and fish are all great whole food options. Or, if you’re in a rush a protein powder can help you hit your macro goals, too.
    READ MORE: A High-Protein Breakfast That Tastes Great!
    4. Stretch or foam roll
    Finally, when you’re in for the night and ready to relax, take 20-30 minutes to stretch or do foam roller exercises. This will help with loosening the fascia (the sticky connective tissue that surrounds your muscles) and helping with feeling a little more loosey-goosey.
    Oh, and drink water. No excuses. You need it.
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    Is it possible to get rid of delayed onset muscle soreness?
    Mmmm, no. Not in the way it’s possible to get rid of dry hair with Olaplex or period pains with Myprodol. It is possible to mitigate DOMS pain, though.
    ‘I’m a big fan of active recovery, especially with a foam roller. It can help relieve tightness, reduce inflammation and increase your range of motion. Research also shows that water can help recovery, so swimming or stretching in the water will really have an impact on joint and muscle recovery,’ says Eleftheriou.
    ‘Healing and repair also require good nutrition. A well-balanced diet of anti-inflammatory foods for example avocado, broccoli, cherries, salmon and turmeric can help ease pain and promote recovery.’
    ‘Finally, get in your sleep! Without enough physical and mental rest, it can really pull you back on your athletic performance.’
    This article was originally published on Women’s Health UK

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    Get Those Trainers on for a Spot of Healthy Competition

    Get Those Trainers on for a Spot of Healthy Competition
    Join thousands of South African runners on a 10km virtual run. Who knows, you could even win a prize!
    This post is sponsored by Nedbank | 5 September 2020


    If you haven’t yet joined the #NedbankRunified series, there is still time! There’s no denying the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all our lives. For many of us, running is what kept us sane (even if it was around our own yards during stage five) and that’s why the guys at Nedbank created the #NedbankRunified series – a unique platform designed to bring South Africans together through our shared love for running.
    More than 92 000 runners took part in the first two instalments of the #NedbankRunified virtual running series in July (5km) and August (8km), the former having the largest number of participants in a South African virtual race to date.
    Round 3 of #NedbankRunified
    The third and penultimate challenge of the #NedbankRunified series is currently underway and will be live from 12-26 September 2020 – this time around, runners are expected to complete a 10km run.
    Runners who successfully complete each monthly challenge will stand a chance to win up to R50 000 in Greenbacks, plus exclusive Nedbank Running Club hampers courtesy of the club’s sponsors: Futurelife, Nike, Bavaria, and Biogen. What’s more, there are also cash prizes up for grabs for Nedbank Running Club members who finish in the top 10 of their respective categories.
    The overall series winner will walk away with the chance to compete in a major international marathon and an all-expenses-paid trip for two to get there. Because we all know there’s a good cheerleader behind every great runner.
    Stay in the loop and follow Nedbank Sport on Twitter and Facebook.
    Need a little more encouragement? Get inspired by the runners in this clip on YouTube.
    [embedded content]
    Participate in the series by simply downloading the Strava app and then joining the verified Nedbank Running Club:


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    Here’s The Challenge You Need To Ace Those Running Goals

    The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world and turned the way we do things on its head. We’ve had to adjust to a new way of living. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up on our passions – we just need to find different ways to pursue them. That’s why Nedbank has created the #NedbankRunified series – a unique platform designed to bring us together through our shared love for running.
    – Whether you’re a pro runner, an amateur, or someone who just indulges in an after-work pavement pounding therapy sesh, #NedbankRunified is for you…
    The first challenge in July saw more than 50 000 participants and the numbers have just kept growing! If this doesn’t activate a healthy competitive spirit in you, then a few prizes (including cash) will…
    Win with #NedbankRunified
    Runners who successfully complete each monthly challenge stand a chance to win up to R50 000 in Greenbacks, plus exclusive Nedbank Running Club hampers courtesy of the club’s sponsors: Futurelife, Nike, Bavaria and Biogen.
    There are also cash prizes up for grabs for Nedbank Running Club members who finish in the top 10 of their respective categories.
    Plus, the overall series winner walks away with the chance to compete in a major international marathon – including an all-expenses-paid trip for two so they can bring someone along to cheer them on.
    [embedded content]
    To join the series, simply download the Strava app and join the verified Nedbank Running Club…

    Stay on top of all announcements, news and events relating to the #NedbankRunified series by following Nedbank Sport on Twitter and Facebook.

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    A Trainer Explains What Cardio Actually Is And What Workouts Rev Your Heart Enough To Count

    By now, you probably know that cardio training is something you should be doing on the regular. Experts recommend getting in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate cardio exercise (or 75 minutes of more vigorous cardio). But if you find yourself wondering: What is cardio, exactly? As in, which workouts will get your blood pumping enough to count toward your goals, you’ve come to the right place.
    Here’s the short answer: Cardio — short for cardiorespiratory training — refers to any exercise that creates such an energy demand on your system that it elevates your heart rate and gets your blood pumping faster.
    The result? “Cardio makes your body, specifically your heart, able to deliver more oxygen to your muscles,” says Austin Martin, an exercise physiologist. Your bod’s capacity to consume oxygen is called its VO2 Max, and cardio training can increase this number and your overall cardio fitness level.
    Danielle Keita-Taguchi, a certified trainer, says that a good way to figure out your cardio fitness baseline is by comparing your resting heart rate to the average resting heart rate for adults, which is 60 to 100 beats per minute.
    How to find your resting heart rate: First, find your pulse, then count how many times your heart beats in 15 second, and multiply that number by four, according to the Mayo Clinic.
    The lower your resting heart rate, the higher your cardio fitness level is — FYI, athletes can have resting heart rates that dip into 40 bpm territory. Your resting heart rate depends on a lot of factors like your age, medical history, and physical activity level. “A nurse, who is running around a hospital for a 12 hour shift, is burning way more energy than someone who has a desk job,” Keita-Taguchi explains. “She likely needs less weekly cardio than the person who is mostly sedentary.”
    To learn more about what qualifies as cardio and just how it helps your body stay healthy read on.
    What are the benefits of cardio?
    In terms of long-term benefits, Martin says that cardiovascular exercise reduces your overall risk of death and disease. “It makes you effectively younger,” he says. “Many people who have exercised [throughout] their lifetime will have a physiologic age way less than their actual age.” In fact, one study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that marathon training, which requires you to regularly run, can reduce four years’ worth of blood pressure and stiffness to your arteries.
    It’s especially beneficial to people on a weight loss journey. “It’s a great way to supplement strength training to help reduce body fat,” says Keita-Taguchi. When you combine cardio training with strength training, you create an opportunity for your body to burn calories and an elevated rate even after you’re done exercising as your body works to recover and repair its muscles. This fitness phenomenon is formally known as EPOC.
    Not only does cardio have physical benefits, but it can also have an effect on your mental health. There are studies linking cardio training specifically to a lower risk of depression. A study published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal found that even modest levels of exercise can contribute to the improvement of symptoms in people with depression.
    Aside from improving your mental health, cardiovascular training also has a positive effect on cognitive function, since it increases overall blood flow to the brain, says Keita-Taguchi. Aerobic exercise improves the brain’s ability to reason, plan, and problem-solve, according to a study by Columbia University”s Irving Medical Center.
    What are the best types of cardio exercises?
    While cardio may instantly make you think of running, Keita-Taguchi says that really any exercise which stimulates an increased heart rate can really be considered cardio, though your workouts should fall in line with your goals.
    If you’re looking for moderate cardio, stick to workouts that feel like a six or seven out of 10 in terms of effort, if 10 is your all-out max. Anything that feels like an eight or above is considered vigorous exercise.
    Swimming: This is perfect for people who don’t want to put too much pressure on their joints. “Swimming is great because it’s low-impact and builds great cardiorespiratory health. If you have knee issues or jumping is not for you, swimming can be a great alternative,” says Keita-TaGuchi.
    Hiking: Not only does hiking promote physical activity, but spending time in nature is restorative for mental and emotional health, too. It actually quiets the part of the brain associated with overthinking, according to research published by PNAS.
    Running: Steady-state jogging is arguably the form of exercises most people think of when it comes to cardio. If you’re looking for ways to become a runner, here’s where to start.
    Bodyweight HIIT Exercises: Working on explosive, high-intensity exercises for about 30-45 seconds bursts is an easy way to create a challenging and sweaty exercise, says Keita-TaGuchi. Here are five HIIT workouts for women who want to get fit fast.
    Kickboxing: With kickboxing, you may just be able to burn between 582 and 864 calories an hour. Spar for 90 seconds at a time and then rest for 30 to create a serious burn.
    Stairs: Martin says climbing stairs is a demanding exercise that also builds leg strength. This can be a steady state workout, or you can do it in interval format, where you alternate between one minute of low and moderate-to high-intensity climbing, playing with the length of your intervals and rests.
    Rowing Machine: Though it’s a low-impact exercise, rowing workouts are really high-intensity. What’s more, they activate all the major muscles in your legs, arms, back, and core.
    Kettlebell Circuit: Adding kettlebells to your circuit training can keep you burning calories for up to 36 hours after you’re done working out, according to Noam Tamir. In just one hour, you can burn between 554 and 822 calories.
    Biking: “Cycling is an awesome steady-state and HIIT option that is also low impact,” Martin says. “With an indoor bike, you can try 30 seconds on hard, followed by 30 seconds easy for an amazing burn.” He also says it’s a great option for people who want to achieve a sprint, but aren’t necessarily in the best physical condition to run.
    Jump rope: Not only is jumping rope one of Halle Berry’s fav forms of cardio, but it’s super effective at burning major calories too.
    Bottom line: Cardiovascular training is a great way to burn calories, improve your heart’s ability to pump blood, and a complement to any weight loss journey. Its benefits include better cognitive function and mental health in addition to maintaining physical health and strength. A ton of exercises including skipping rope, swimming and biking all qualify as cardiovascular training.
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    5 Workout Shoes That Are Perfect For Training At Home

    Here’s the thing about working out at home. When you’re at the gym, you’re in a controlled environment. The flooring has been specifically selected with exercise in mind. The only obstacles in your path are the weights you didn’t pack away (tsk, tsk). But at home you may find the terrain less than ideal. Were you thinking of broad jumps when you laid down those shiny porcelain tiles in your dining room? And does your dog / cat / toddler keep a respectable distance during your weekly Zoom Zumba class? Didn’t think so. That’s why your choice of workout shoes matters more than ever now that you’re training at home. Here are the WH team’s tried-and-tested staff picks.
    Reebok NanoX

    The latest iteration of Reebok’s Nano trainer has the same great stability that previous versions were known for, but with even more support, thanks to extra reinforcement around the heel and a wider base at the back. These cool-looking workout shoes hold up well in lateral movements (speed skaters; avoiding the dog), jumping and one-legged moves like lunges and “Oh, sh-, Gemma, get out the way!” The woven upper allows your toes to flex freely but seems more durable than regular mesh. Rubber reinforcement in the front further reduces the chances of a toe breaking free during repetitive skipping or jumping.
    READ MORE: 7 Best Trail Running Shoes For Women In 2020, According To Athletes And Experts 
    Deputy editor Wanita Nicol says: “What makes these really great workout shoes for home is the seriously grippy outsole. I jumped around freely and never felt like I was in danger of slipping, even on parquet flooring. It’s roomy enough for broader feet — if yours are narrow, like mine, I’d recommend a thicker sock. The forefoot is springy, which is great for shuttle sprints, but I wouldn’t wear these to go for a run. For functional training, they’re awesome! And they look so hot with dark jeans.”

    Puma Provoke XT

    The WH team have worn many a Puma cross trainer into the ground, but the Provoke has to be the hottest one yet. We’re all a little obsessed with the geometric styling and hot pink details. Although the Provokes have more going for them than their flashy good looks. These are great home workout shoes if your house has hard floors or you’re training outside on, say, paving, as the soft, bouncy PROFOAM midsole offers excellent cushioning. They’re also super grippy and stable.
    READ MORE: 6 Exercise-Friendly Face Masks And What To Look For When Buying Them
    Digital editor Gina Beretta says: “First off, I really like the look of these ones! You can easily go from workout mat to coffee date in these — they have major street style vibes. I did a HIIT workout in them and I felt that they were really supportive and flexible. My foot didn’t move around inside the shoe at all and it didn’t feel like I was wearing a ‘sock’.”
    Senior copy editor Leigh Champanis-King says: “These shoes are so great for working out in. They give lots of support and are really stable during a high-intensity workout. My feet don’t slide around inside, but they’re roomy (no squished toes!), and the PROFOAM midsole is light and bouncy and so comfortable to jump around on.”
    Nike Metcon 5

    Nike has always made great workout shoes, but, dayumn, they’ve upped their game with the Metcon 5. If you’re familiar with the Metcon 4, the 5 has more cushioning, but doesn’t sacrifice grip. You can jump, sprint and change direction quickly without losing your footing. You could even do a short run, but not more than 5 kays max. They’re nice and pliable, so they move with your foot, but are still stable enough to prevent rolling an ankle. They also have a few bonus features: For starters, they’re available in UK size 2.5. through 9. Non-sample size women, rejoice! They also come with 6mm inner soles that you can slip into the shoes for an extra lift in workouts comprising moves like wall balls, snatches and thrusters.

    Key account manager Jeanine Kruger says: “The Metcon 5 is comfort in every way. They fitted like a glove from the moment I tried them on. I have had shoes which I had to replace in a month as the material is too soft for the hardcore exercises CrossFit demands, but the Metcons have a durable material which keeps all toes and feet well cushioned inside the shoe (no holes coming up or any material tearing loose from the soles). And if you hit your feet with a skipping rope doing double-unders, you will not feel a thing. Another great feature: The added 6mm inner soles. Definitely a money-saving technique, as I don’ t have to worry about buying extra lifting shoes for weightlifting activities. Doing single-leg squats has never felt better! The shoes are also easy to clean; you can literally just wipe off dust or any marks. It’s versatile, durable, and on top of its game.”

    Under Armour HOVR Apex

    The HOVR Apex features Under Armour’s Tribase technology in the sole, designed for extra stability, especially in workouts where you need to change direction very quickly. And stability should certainly be its middle name. It almost feels like you’re wearing a brace. If you struggle with ankle instability and are prone to twisting or spraining ligaments, this is a really good option. Because it’s not quite as grippy as some of the other shoes we’ve tested, it performs really well on carpets. There’s no chance of getting stuck as you jump around. Keep it in the workout space though – it’s a little heavy for running.

    Deputy editor Wanita Nicol says: “These are among the most stable workout shoes I’ve ever trained in. Thanks to clever lacing design and a reinforcement around the midfoot, my narrow feet felt supported, even wearing a thin sock. They are a little snug when you pull them on, but UA seems to have thought of that — there’s a loop on the heel that makes it easier. They also have good ventilation so my feet don’t get hot and sweaty when I train.”
    adidas Primeblue Ultraboost 20

    adidas Primeblue Ultraboost 20
    R 2999

    A recent worldwide study of internet search results across 40 countries by revealed that the Ultraboost is the most popular running shoe in both South Africa and the world: 32 out of 40 countries search it more than any other running shoe and it averages 327 000 searches a month! To be honest, we weren’t really surprised. It’s an awesome running shoe for any distance and a firm favourite of many of us here in the WH office. And despite technically being a running shoe, it can also handle a home workout. The upper hugs your foot snugly, but the Primeknit material prevents your feet from feeling squashed. The signature Boost foam in the midsole propels you forward with every step.

    Content creator Cally Silberbauer says: “I’ve used these shoes for road runs as well as HIIT workouts and they’ve delivered in every way. There’s a great ankle support system which is a winner for me as I do tend to roll my ankles when running (weak ankles!). The Ultraboost range always has a great energy return or bounce factor and the 20s are no exception. All-in-all, my feet are always happy working out in these beauts!”  

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    7 Reasons The New Fitbit Charge 4 Is The Perfect Tracker For Lockdown

    Remember the beginning of lockdown, when we were all posting #homeworkout selfies with dogs and kids providing raucous comic relief? Or that first weekend of Level 4, when we donned masks and hit the streets in a glorious celebration of freedom? Personally, I thought I was going to emerge from lockdown like an action hero from a montage, all snatched and svelte and ready for the beach. Shame. Truth is, with each message from Uncle Cyril, my enthusiasm for exercise waned. The first winter cold front finished it off. And load shedding drove a nail through the coffin, making it sure it was dead. Then, one day, as I was shovelling down another spoonful of my feelings, a package arrived: the Fitbit Charge 4. And with it, renewed motivation. Because this nifty little tracker really is perfect for lockdown.
    Value For Money
    For most of us, 2020 is not going down as a year of balling. So if we’re going to splash out on something, it needs to be worthwhile. The main difference between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker is that a tracker’s main purpose is to gather data about your activity and feed it into an app for your viewing pleasure. A smartwatch, on the other hand, has a lot more functionality at the wrist and is more geared towards managing your life — receiving emails and notifications and so on. Smartwatches also tend to have more features. And you pay for all of these privileges. Coming in at R2 999, the Charge 4 has an impressive list of capabilities. You get a lot of the functionality of a smartwatch but at a fraction of the price.

    There’s a walking mode.
    Even at peak fitness, I’m no triathlete. No marathon runner, either. I like to lift heavy things, run the odd 10-kay and torture myself in HIIT classes. Often the smartwatches I test seem geared towards serious endurance athletes. I feel a tad loserish when I set the watch for a Parkrun, knowing it was built to traverse deserts on a single charge. The Charge 4, however, is a great match for someone like me. There are 20 exercise modes available and you can programme six of them into the tracker at a time through the Fitbit app. I felt a twinge of sadness as I scrolled past gym-based options like swimming (it’s waterproof), spinning, treadmill (sob), elliptical and circuit training. But it was convenient to have lockdown-specific activities to choose from, such as yoga, Pilates and hiking. I added running; there was a time, four months ago, when I called myself a runner. But I also added walking; a more accurate reflection of my current reality.
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    You can leave your phone behind.
    If all of this is sounding so far, so mundane, here’s where the Charge 4 gets properly impressive: It has built-in GPS and integrated Fitbit Pay. That means, for the first time in a Fitbit tracker, you can leave your phone at home when you head out for a walk and still use GPS tracking. The battery will last five hours in full-GPS mode — that’s plenty of time to complete a 10-kay or even a 21, if you’re so inclined. And if you activate Fitbit Pay, you can stop for a coffee and pay with the device. So no need to carry a wallet, either.
    It helps you sleep.
    Anyone else struggling with really messed-up sleep schedules since lockdown started? You’d think that spending more time at home would be conducive to getting more sleep, but apparently you’d be wrong. Fitbit has always been a leader in sleep hygiene and the Charge 4 has a number of features designed to help you get more and better-quality shut-eye. If you set your preferred bedtime, it’ll prompt you to start winding down half an hour before. Set a Smart Wake alarm and it’ll monitor your sleep patterns and buzz you awake during a light sleep cycle for a gentler wake-up. In sleep mode you don’t get alerts and it doesn’t light up when you move your wrist — something that irritated me with previous Fitbits. You can also dim the screen.
    READ MORE: This Is The Effect Lockdown Is Having On Your Sleep, According to New Studies
    Charge 4 says, “Move your ass.”
    OK, not in so many words. But I’d forgotten how that little buzz on your wrist prompting you to move every hour gets you off your butt. Now there’s an added incentive: Active minutes are a new goal Fitbit has created to get your lazy lockdown self moving. It’s not necessarily structured exercise, but rather based on non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) i.e. you being active while just living your life (say, vacuuming the house; walking the dog; chasing the fleeing toddler). The tracker registers the activity automatically and it counts towards your daily goal of 150 minutes.
    READ MORE: What Is NEAT And How Can It Help Me Shed Lockdown Weight?
    It’s user-friendly.
    I’ve tested a few smartwatches that were so difficult to get the hang of, I would have thrown them on the ground in frustration had I not had to give them back a few weeks later. The Charge 4 is refreshingly simple. There’s one concealed button on the side that you need to find. Once you’ve made that discovery, it’s pretty straightforward to navigate using the touch screen and the app. As a small-boned woman, I also like that it’s light and discreet and not clunky on my little twig-wrist.
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    More cool stuff
    The Charge 4 has heart-rate tracking at the wrist, menstrual cycle tracking, integrated Spotify, you get call, text, calendar and other app notifications of your choosing and you can even send quick text replies on android.
    So is there anything not to love?
    Honestly, not much. The battery life is not what you’d get with a decent smartwatch. You’ll need to plug in your Charge 4 every four or five days, maybe sooner, depending on how much time it’s spent in GPS mode. If you haven’t used GPS much at all, it can last a week. But it charges fast, which is a bonus. Like previous Charge models, the 4 has the option of interchangeable wristbands, which is awesome for #fashun, but I found my previous model eventually came loose where the bands attach. Of course, this is something you’d probably only become aware of a couple years down the line. And by then, who knows what fun new toy you might have you eye on?

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