Exercises to Tone Your Legs to Perfection

Undoubtedly, one of your fitness goals is to have strong legs to support your body. But do you ever wonder if your leg exercises are as effective as they could be? Here are four new ways to work out your legs that will result in strong, lean muscles.

Warm Up

To get started, do a body-weight goblet squat with a 3-second hold and then a hold reverse lunge with a hold and reach 3- to 5-second hold, alternating sides. Doing these two exercises together helps to open up your hips and primes your knee joints and supporting muscles for your upcoming activity.

You can also help improve your range of motion by pushing your knees outward with your elbows at the bottom of your squat, and shifting the hip of your back leg forward while reaching your opposite arm up as you lunge. Move slowly through each rep and doing this for about five minute total.

Power Circuit

The most effective way to workout is to start with the most difficult movement and on an easy note. This is because your body is at its peak readiness at the beginning of the set before it fatigues. This 15-minute workout begins with squats and ends with the much simpler pull-through.

To help keep your heart rate up during this exercise, do a bunch of reps as a fast-paced circuit without resting in between. Try to do a total of three or four complete rounds of the following routine:

  • 8-10 goblet squats
  • 10 deficit reverse lunge reps per side
  • 10 dumbbell step-up reps per side
  • 12-15 single-leg pull-through reps per side

Strength Set

In order to build bigger, defined muscles, you have to challenge your legs with significant resistance. This breaks down muscle fibers which are then rebuilt while you rest. A good pair of moves you can do to allow your legs to handle heavier loads safely are goblet squats and deficit reverse lunges. Start with 2 reps and work up to 10 of goblet squats with a 10-second rest in between each. Follow this up with 10 reps per side of deficit reverse lunges.

Do this routine once a week with a weight that you can only handle for 10 squats at a time, which is probably heavier than you would expect.

Finisher

Doing this last exercise will help wear you out. It is important to note that once your body is tired, you tend to lose correct form, so it’s not a great time to do difficult exercises. However, a pull-through is a smooth and easy modified swing movement which is not too hard on your joints.

Do as many reps as possible of a pull-through and work for speed and intensity rather than control and balance. Do this with both feet on the ground and perform as many reps as you can with perfect form in 30 seconds. Rest for one minute and repeat up to five times.

Add in Some Cardio

To get even better results, add in some cardio each week that challenges the muscles in your legs. For example, hike up a hill or walk while carrying a heavy object at your side. Walking up an incline helps to increase the activation of your leg muscles. Remember, the steeper the incline, the more benefit your muscles will get out of it.

If you want to build your muscles to be able to complete heavy strength workouts, you have to improve your fast-twitch muscle fibers. This part of the muscle gives you the explosive power you need in order to do an effective workout. When you are doing cardio, add in some intervals such as sprinting for 20 seconds, then recover for one minute, then repeat seven more times.

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Facts You May Not Know About Sweat

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you need to look your best, but you can’t stop sweating? While it may be aggravating in these types of situations, sweat is actually a sure sign that your body is doing what it is supposed to do.

When your body begins to get too hot, your hypothalamus sends an activation signal to your sweat glands, creating an evaporation of sweat on your skin that cools you off. Perspiration helps to keep your body cool and prevents you from overheating.

Sweat Does Not Typically Smell

While people may believe that sweat smells bad, it is actually odorless. Sweat is mostly made up of water and electrolytes, and neither of these compounds has any kind of smells. Instead, unpleasant smelling sweat originates in the apocrine sweat glands, which are activated during times of stress, anxiety, fear, or arousal. Smelly sweat is thick and oily, causing it to trap in bacteria on the skin. Additionally, some synthetic fabrics are able to trap body heat and further interfere with sweat evaporation and produce a specific odor of their own.

Your Body Produces the Amount of Sweat it Needs

Your body has the natural ability to know what it needs to thrive. It produces the sweat it needs to keep you from overheating and it has a way of knowing how much perspiration your body needs, which varies from person to person. The amount of sweat your body produces on a certain day depends on several factors, including the number of sweat glands you have and the weather.

If you live in a hot climate, your body changes to adapt to that environment and learns to sweat more efficiently. Alternatively, if you live in a colder area, your body may produce a larger amount of sweat in the heat than someone who is used to that type of climate. Your body knows what it best for you, even if it is different from someone standing next to you.

It Is Not Beneficial to Be Sweat Free

Some people go to an extreme and get Botox injections or light wave treatments to help them produce less sweat. However, while these treatments are approved by the FDA, they can lead to skin irritations such as burning, bruising, itching, and swelling. Also, because these treatments are relatively new, the long-term side effects are not completely known. It is best to let your body do what it needs to do than to have medical treatments for cosmetic reasons unless the benefits of the treatment outweigh the risks.

If you feel like your body produces too much sweat, there are some natural ways that you can manage it. First, layer with cotton, which absorbs sweat and dries quickly. Synthetic materials, on the other hand, trap heat and keep sweat in. Also, it is important to try to relax. If you’re concerned about body odor, try to limit your stress because when you are stressed, your body sends a signal to the apocrine glands to produce water and lipids, leading to odor-causing bacteria. Finally, avoid drinking too much caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, sending your body into flight-or-fight mode and increasing the activity of your apocrine glands.

Overall, while sweat may be inconvenient and even embarrassing at times, it is just like any other bodily function that your body does for a reason. If you are concerned that you sweat too much (or not enough) then contact your doctor. It may be a sign that there is something else going on with your health, so it is best to get checked out just to be sure.

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The Health Benefits of Coffee

If you are like many other people around the world, you look forward to enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning and rarely start your day without it. But, do you know its impact on your health?

Studies have shown that coffee may actually lengthen your lifespan. How is this possible? Researchers have found that while everyone is different, coffee is associated with a decreased death rate from digestive, circulatory, and cerebrovascular diseases in ten European countries.

The study reports that compared with subjects who did not drink coffee, participants drinking one cup per day had a 12% lower risk of death from diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and respiratory disease. The mortality risk from these diseases was found to be 18% lower for those who drank three cups of coffee each day.

These studies show that moderate coffee consumption should not make people worry about its health implications and people may benefit from drinking it. During these studies, differences among the subjects were anticipated and noted. For example, Danes tend to drink more coffee and Italians drink less coffee but in higher concentrations.

A second study looked at the consumption of coffee by 185,855 Americans aged 45 to 75 of all different races. It turns out that it didn’t matter if people consumed regular or decaf coffee, the mortality rates remained the same, suggesting it is not about the caffeine. Instead, it has been noted that coffee contains many antioxidants and phenolic compounds that likely play a large role in preventing diseases, particularly liver cancer and liver disease.

Another important point is that if people choose to drink coffee, they are less likely to be consuming high-calorie and high sugar beverages in the morning such as energy drinks.

How can coffee become unhealthy?

Many people who enjoy coffee do so by adding lots of sugar and creamers. Both fake creamer and conventional milk can lead to serious health problems and negatively impact people’s health, causing the morning cup of coffee to become harmful.

However, organic, raw, and grass-fed cream or milk can be beneficial. People also choose to put coconut oil or MCT oil in their coffee to liven it up a bit. These oils are good for your brain, memory, hormones, and disease prevention.

Making coffee with these oils allows your body to get enough of the really useful MCTs and lauric acid. Widely known as Bulletproof Coffee, this morning beverage is made from coffee that is free of mitochondrial-inhibiting mold toxins, grass fed butter, and Brain Octane Oil. Some people choose to add butter, coconut oil or MCT oil to their black coffee, however, it doesn’t elevate ketone levels as much, which limits the activations of CCK, a satiety hormone. This may result in food cravings and hunger pangs. Ketones are also great brain food which helps increase mental clarity.

Using MCT Oil in Place of Coffee Creamer?

There are several ways in which MCT oil can improve your health:

  • Reduce appetite
  • Prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve mitochondrial function
  • Improve cognitive and neurological function
  • Reduce disease risk
  • Act as a dietary therapy for treating epilepsy

Adding MCT oil to coffee is simple because it is tasteless and odorless, and makes a healthy substitution for artificial creamers. Additionally, both coffee and MCT oil are beneficial to liver function.

What kind of coffee is the best?

Coffee is made with a lot of pesticides, so it is best to choose organic. Organic coffee has no chemicals and uses no synthetic fertilizers when it is cropped. The beans also have a richer flavor and provide the body with natural antioxidants.

There are many benefits of choosing organic coffee for your health and the health of the environment. Organic, shade-grown coffee is available in most retail markets, and can also be ordered online. Also, purchase your coffee in whole bean form and grind it yourself to prevent it from becoming rancid.

Drink your coffee black, without the addition of cream or sugar and consider adding a health boost with MCT oil. Coffee should always smell and taste fresh, so be sure to smell your beverage before indulging in it!

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The Unknown Benefits of Strawberries


Strawberries are a very popular fruit due to their sweet taste and versatile uses. However, most people do not realize that this delicious fruit contains a powerful polyphenol that can not only help prevent and improve several diseases in your body, but it can also help to treat them as well.

This polyphenol, fisetin, helps decrease pain, improve energy, and prevent toxicity, which together leads to certain overall health benefits.

Fisetin was discovered just over ten years ago when researchers isolated certain plant flavonols that have the ability to keep brain cells healthy. Similar to quercetin, fisetin activates sirtuin, which aids the body in weight loss.

Fisetin also provide strawberries their rich color. It can also be found in apples, persimmon, grapes, mangoes, onions, and cucumbers, but strawberries contain are much more potent in this compound.

Fisetin is an antioxidant, which helps stop cell damage that is caused by free radicals, however, one of the biggest ways it improves your health is by staving off age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers have referred to it as being a neuroprotective and cognition-enhancing molecule that is able to benefit the brain as well as other areas of the body.

Fisetin can help protect against the damage that is caused by aging while also improving your memory. It works with other chemicals in the body to activate nerve cells and increase the body’s defense systems to help fight against diseases.

A recent study on mice examined possible advantages that fisetin can have on sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. The mice studied were genetically engineered to begin the aging process prematurely, mimicking sporadic Alzheimer’s disease.

At three months of age, the mice were divided into two groups. The first group consumed fisetin with their meals every day for 7 months, while the second group did not.

Both groups of mice were subject to cognitive and behavioral tests during the study and assessed for levels of stress and inflammation. The study revealed that the mice who were not given fisetin had more stress and inflammation than the mice who did not consume fisetin. Additionally, the mice who ate a regular diet performed significantly worse in cognitive testing than the mice who were given fisetin. Specifically, two anti-inflammatory neurons, astrocytes and microglia, appeared to be increasing the inflammation in the brains of the mice not eating fisetin.

This study helps suggest that fisetin has the potential to be a preventative measure when it comes to health, not only for Alzheimer’s, but also for many age-related cognitive diseases. Fisetin has also been recognized as a compound that can decrease brain damage from a stroke and minimize brain damage after an injury.

Fisetin clearly plays many vital roles in the body for brain health, mental health, and inflammation. This helps your body function better overall and stay in optimal health. Some other benefits of fisetin include:

  • it helps treat inflammatory bowel disease
  • it decreases inflammation caused by high blood sugar
  • it inhibits inflammatory cytokine production which helps treat allergic reactions
  • it inhibits the growth of cancer cells
  • it treats eczema
  • it suppresses mast cells that are found in skin, respiratory and GI tract tissues

Although there are many health benefits to eating strawberries, it is important to note that strawberries are also known to be one of the most pesticide-laden foods as well. Because you would have to eat 8 pounds of strawberries each year to get the amount of fisetin needed to have health benefits, many people choose to take fisetin supplements as well. If you are unable to grow your own strawberries or buy them organically, it is best to get your fisetin benefits from a supplement in order to avoid harmful pesticides.

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Fidget Spinners in the Fight Against ADHD


Fidget spinners, which are all the rage lately, are marketed as trendy toys and tools to help relieve stress and increase focus. But are these really all they are cracked up to be for people with ADHD, anxiety, and autism? While they first became newsworthy due to their potential choking hazard, they’ve continued to be talked about because experts can’t decide whether fidget spinners are helpful or hurtful for children.

Is fidgeting beneficial?

Humans have fidgeted since the beginning of time and it has actually proven itself to increase energy and even help some people lose weight.

It has also been suggested that fidgeting can help occupy your brain, providing a distraction from negative thoughts and aiding in calmness and focus. Sensory putty and other therapy toys have been around for ages helping children with ADHD, autism, and anxiety, and fidget spinners could provide a similar benefit.

Some people who have experience with both autism and fidget spinners report that the sensory tool helps to relieve stress release from daily demands, similar to a stress ball or other devices that help to distract the mind. Because of this, professionals note that these gadgets should be referred to as tools instead of toys, and can be used to successfully manage fidgety behavior if they are introduced to children as a standard part of the classroom culture.

What about science?

While fidget spinners have been very helpful for some children, they have served as a distraction for others. Researchers have reported that these products have not been subjected to rigorous scientific research and therefore their alleged benefits are scientifically unfounded. They also want to remind parents that fidget spinners are a potential choking hazard and there are no peer-reviewed studies to support any beneficial claims.

A fidget spinner may actually be counterproductive in helping a child focus at school, as it may draw a child’s attention away from learning. It can also serve as a distraction for classmates. While there may be some instances when fidget spinners offer some type of benefit, but, overall, physical activity is a better option for helping children achieve success.

How exercise helps children with ADHD

While there is very limited science behind fidget spinners for ADHD, there is a lot of research that shows exercise can relieve ADHD symptoms. Researchers have found that as little as 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day has been able to enhance the cognitive function of children during tasks that require greater focus.

Physical activity is vital for any child’s development, regardless of whether or not they have a learning problem. Both the cognitive and the physical benefits of exercise for children has been proven many times over as a do-no-harm intervention.

Specifically, a 10-week physical activity study performed on children with ADHD showed improvements in their muscular capacities, behavior, motor skills, and information processing ability. One reason for this is that exercise elevates dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels in the brain, which all play a role in attention span.

Exercise can have similar effects of medication for ADHD because it helps to ignite the attention system. This leads to improvement in focus, memory, and cognitive flexibility while causing children to be less impulsive and making them ready to learn.

What are the best exercises for children with ADHD?

Certain activities, such as competitive sports, may not be the best choice for children with ADHD, as they often have difficulty following directions or may lack the coordination skills of their classmates.

Instead, choose sports that let children be part of a team while also developing their own individual goals. Swimming, track, wrestling, or even playing tennis may be beneficial, especially if the coach is a supportive role model. The chosen activity should be something your child enjoys so they will want to keep doing it.

Activities such as gymnastics or martial arts that require close attention to body movements also help children with ADHD activate their attention system. Other sports that help promote teamwork, self-confidence, concentration, and self-esteem are soccer, archery, and horseback riding.

Try essential oils instead of a fidget spinner.

If you think your child benefits from using a fidget spinner, but you think it is distracting, consider offering essential oils to help increase focus and attention. Vetiver oil is one oil that has shown to be particularly useful. It has shown to improve the brain wave patterns and behavior in children who breathed it in three times a day.

Vetiver essential has also shown promise for children with ADHD. An animal study revealed increased alertness and research on human subjects showed faster reaction times and an increased stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system following inhalation.

What about lifestyle changes?

Natural and behavioral therapy are both important in the treatment of ADHD. Dietary strategies can also be very helpful, such as limiting sugar and avoiding gluten. Some studies have actually suggested that celiac disease should be considered when diagnosing a child with ADHD.

Children who are low in omega-3 fats may also be more prone to being hyperactive, have a learning disorder, and exhibit behavioral problems. Addressing nutrient deficiencies like these and avoiding toxic exposures is an important part of managing ADHD symptoms.

While a fidget spinner may provide some distraction or calmness depending on the child, treating ADHD, anxiety, and other mental health illnesses requires a more comprehensive and holistic approach.

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Most Beneficial Foods for Heart Health

The foods you choose to eat throughout your life have a large impact on your heart health. The importance of eating healthy dietary fats is well known, but eating a nitrate-rich diet also helps to protect your heart.

Nitrates are not the same as dangerous nitrites, which are found in cured meats such as bacon and hot dogs. Rather, nitrates are naturally found in vegetables. When you eat nitrates, your body converts them to nitrites, but because vegetables have antioxidants, the nitrites are not dangerous. Your body also turns nitrates into nitric oxide, which is a gas that is constantly being produced by the amino acid L-arginine inside of your cells.

Nitric oxide is important to your health because it supports endothelial function and protects your mitochondria from damage. It also helps relax and widen your blood vessels, which allows more blood to flow through.

Having a healthy circulation is important for proper health because your blood carries oxygen and nutrients to your organs, heart, and brain. It also nourishes your immune system and muscles while helping your heart beat and gets rid of waste and carbon dioxide.

Eating a diet high in nitrate is a natural way to treat high blood pressure and protect people who are at risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, raw beets, which are rich in nitrates, can lower blood pressure by up to five points within a few hours.

Studies have also shown that drinking a glass of beet juice can reduce one’s systolic blood pressure more than most prescribed blood pressure medications.

Foods That Contain the Most Nitrates

Leafy greens are the most nitrate-rich foods, however, there are many other foods that contain a healthy and advantageous amount of nitrates. Beets, a root vegetable, are clearly known for being high in nitrates, however, leafy greens have even more nitrates per serving. Here are the top 10 foods containing the most nitrates:

  1. Arugula (480 mg of nitrates per 100 grams)
  2. Rhubarb (281 mg)
  3. Cilantro (247 mg)
  4. Butter leaf lettuce (200 mg)
  5. Spring greens such as mesclun mix (188 mg)
  6. Basil (183 mg)
  7. Beet Greens (177 mg)
  8. Oak leaf lettuce (155 mg)
  9. Swiss chard (151 mg)
  10. Red beets (110 mg)

Some other foods high in nitrates include:

  • Bok choy
  • Mustard greens
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Eggplant
  • Winter melon
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Onion
  • Turnips
  • Cauliflower
  • Parsley
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Protection Against Heart Disease

Studies have confirmed the results of past research that shows that the more fruits and vegetables you eat, your risk of heart disease decreases. Leafy greens are known to be the most protective, likely due to their NO-boosting nitrates.

In one example, almost 1,230 Australian seniors without heart disease or diabetes were tracked for 15 years. They took a food-frequency questionnaire to evaluate what they ate and their nitrate intake was calculated with a comprehensive food database. Just as predicted, there was an inverse relationship between the amount of vegetable nitrates each person consumed and their risk for both heart disease and overall mortality.

These findings were independent of lifestyle and heart disease risk factors and supported the idea that nitrate-rich vegetables can reduce the risk of age-related heart disease mortality.

Leafy Greens for Athletes

Some competitive athletes choose to take nitrate supplements to boost their sports performance, but it is also possible to get the same benefits using whole foods. Research shows raw beets, for example, can help to increase exercise stamina by as much as 16% due to its NO.

In one study, nine patients who were diagnosed with heart failure and had loss of muscle strength benefitted almost instantaneously from drinking beet juice with an increase in their muscle capacity by around 13%.

However, it is important to avoid using mouthwashes or chewing gum because they both prevent the body from being able to convert NO. This is because nitrate is converted into nitrite by saliva and friendly bacteria, which is then converted into NO throughout the body.

Exercise can also help to boost NO production, so athletes are able to get double the benefit by doing their exercise and eating leafy greens.

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The Link Between Chocolate and Heart Health


Of course everyone loves to eat chocolate because it is delicious, but did you know that is has many health benefits as well? It can increase your energy and libido level and has also helped cases of diarrhea, syphilis, migraines, and even cancer.

Consider this, the catechins found in dark chocolate are antioxidants that were found to reduce lung cancer rates and rectal cancer. Studies have shown that people who consume cocoa up to three times a month were about 10% less likely to develop AFib, which is the medical term for irregular heart beat.

Research has shown a reduced risk of AFib for women who ate just one serving of chocolate each week, while men should aim for two to six servings. Consuming cocoa and foods containing it can help your heart healthy because of its potent antioxidants, inflammation-fighting characteristics, and blood vessel-relaxing flavanols.

Flavanols are a type of polyphenols that are found in tea, red grapes, wine, and chocolate, which are all powerful antioxidants. Previous studies have shown that dark chocolate, specifically, contains the most flavanols to give health advantages, including the reduction of inflammation. Flavanols can also prevent dangerous blood clots from forming.

Because of this, eating dark chocolate on a regular basis is associated with a decreased risk of heart attack, cardiovascular failure, cognitive impairment, and early death. But are scientists convinced that it is actually the chocolate that prevents atrial fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation: Studies, Symptoms and Risks

Over 2.5 million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, and 33 million suffer from it worldwide. Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of blood clots, which can result in strokes, cognitive impairment, and heart failure

Studies show that about 25% of adults are projected to have atrial fibrillation in their lifetime. Studies provided information that showed the dietary habits of adults between 1993 and 1997. This data was then linked to national health registries to see who was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Findings showed that 3,346 of the cases occurred over this period of time.

Based on their diets, people who ate about 1 ounce of chocolate each week were 17% less likely to develop atrial fibrillation by the close of the study than those who reported consuming chocolate less than once a month.

Factors to Consider

In previous studies, researchers did not consider factors such as sleep apnea or kidney disease, which can also influence atrial fibrillation. They also did not note if their subject ate dark or milk chocolate. As a result, the amount of flavanols connected to the chocolate they ate is variable.

The data does suggest that people who consumed more chocolate also ate more calories, but had a lower BMI than those who ate the least amount of chocolate.

Because of this, a double-blind randomized controlled trial should be performed to evaluate the real efficacy of chocolate for preventing atrial fibrillation. This would require using quantified doses of cocoa.

Does the Type of Chocolate Matter?

Some types of chocolate are more healthy to consume than others. It’s true that chocolate often contains large amounts of sugar and fats that can contribute to chronic disease.

However, dark chocolate contains more cocoa solids. So while milk and white chocolates may be more harmful than helpful, chocolate with more cocoa can be more beneficial to your health.

This doesn’t mean that people can eat as much chocolate as they want. It only suggests that chocolate lovers stick to eating a 1-ounce piece of chocolate each day. Even though there is a substantial link between consuming chocolate and a lowering one’s risk of AFib, eating too much chocolate is not recommended due to the high-calorie content from sugar and fat which can lead to weight gain and other metabolic problems.

What to Look for in Chocolate

Make sure your chocolate doesn’t have artificial sweeteners such as aspartame that can cause serious chronic neurological disorders. Also make sure that the chocolate you are eating contains flavonoids.

Make sure to read the labels to determine the amount of grams of carbohydrates, subtracting the dietary fiber, and sugar alcohol to find the net carbs.

Moderate intake of chocolate that has a high cocoa content can be a healthy choice, which has led scientists to wonder if creating a chocolate pill would be beneficial to people’s heart health.

The best way to get the health benefits from chocolate is to eat raw cacao butter or raw cacao nibs.

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How to Warm Up Your Joints to Prevent Injury


Your shoulders are made up of complicated and intricate joints that can easily be damaged while you are working out. Because shoulder injuries are so difficult to heal and certainly painful, you will want to warm up your shoulder joints before working out so you can avoid injuring them.

Shoulder injuries are very common due to the fact that there is so much opportunity for your shoulders to get hurt. However, many of these injuries can be prevented with a short warmup that helps to make the health of your shoulders a priority. Because they are both versatile and delicate, it is important to take the time to take care of your shoulders.

If you can take five to ten minutes of time before working out to concentrate on your shoulders, the payoff will be worth it. This will set you up to be able to lift heavier weights, lift with proper form, and lift without experiencing pain.

All you need for a quick warm up is a light resistance band. This can help you to strengthen and prepare your rotator cuff muscles, which are vital to your workouts. These muscles help to properly stabilize your shoulders while you are lifting weights and also help to maintain proper positioning.

However, it is important to remember that you are warming up during this process, not working out. So do not reach for the biggest resistance bands, thinking that you can warm up and add in some workout at the same time. This will now allow you the time that you need to activate your rotator cuff muscles because your muscles will end up doing all of the work for you.

To warm up your shoulder, set up your resistance band around a pole and tuck your outside elbow in at your hip. Position your forearm parallel to the ground and turn your forearm and shoulder away from the pole. Do this stretch as far as you are able to so you are training your rotator cuff muscles to rotate externally.

If you do not train properly, your rotator cuff muscles will not rotate externally, especially if you are one of the many people who spend a lot of time at a computer with your shoulders leaning in, your stabilizing back muscles stretched out, and your chest muscles shortened. Living in this position can actually cause the tendons in your shoulder joints to become pinched. It is very important for the health of your shoulders to restore and maintain the external rotation position when you are training.

After doing this exercise, turn around and pin your elbow into your hip. Rotate your forearm in toward your abdomen.

Then, tighten and activate your lower lats and rhomboids that are often being overstretched throughout the day. These muscles are very important to maintaining proper posture and form when you train. They also help keep your shoulders in a proper position during your workout by opening the joints so your ligaments and tendons are not left to grind against the bones near your front shoulder area.

To warm up these muscles, do 30 lower lat pulls followed by 30 band pull-aparts. This will help to strengthen your rhomboids and create some depth in your middle back, which will make your back appear to be larger.

Archer rows are another effective warm up for your shoulders. You can do these by grasping one end of your resistance band and extending it out like you are shooting a bow and arrow. Keep your free hand bent, using your shoulders to do the rowing motion. This will help get your external rotators activated, and create a strong mind-muscle connection.

Do at least one of these warmups before you engage in any upper body workout to help protect the health of your shoulders. These warm ups can also be done on off days as a standalone workout to keep your shoulders limber.

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The Benefits of Growing Kale at Home

Kale is a popular superfood due to its richness in healthy fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is low in calories and free from unhealthy fat, so it is a great source of healthy nutrition for the body. Studies have even suggested that kale can help lower your LDL cholesterol while raising your HDLs, which decreases your risk for cardiovascular disease. With all of its health benefits, it is no wonder why people are always looking for new ways to use kale.

But did you know that kale can easily be grown at home? Conventionally-grown kale is often contaminated with pesticides, which makes it important to always buy organic. However, growing as few as three or four plants in your own yard can supply you with enough greens each week to feed a family of four. Many people love to grow kale because of its decorative value as well.

Toxic Risks

Like other leafy greens, kale can absorb toxins that are present in the soil. Thallium toxicity has been a concern with kale and has even been reported in organically-grown plants. “Kale poisoning” refers to the possibility of ingesting dangerous levels of heavy metals kale leaves.

Some studies have shown that thallium levels in vegetable samples have led to people suffering from fatigue, nausea, and brain fogginess, which are all signs of low-level heavy metal poisoning. However, there is no proof that these symptoms are directly caused by the consumption of kale or other cruciferous vegetables.

While it is important to recognize the correlation between nutrient and contaminant uptake, and soil quality is important, this does not necessarily mean that there is an issue with the kale plant. If you are able to grow your vegetables in clean and healthy soil, you will avoid having a problem with heavy metals in your produce.

Kale Breeding Programs

There are a lot of different types of kale, all of which have different colors, tastes, and textures. New kale cultivars are even being produced on the basis of consumer preferences in kale. New cultivars will change consumer expectations for kale by introducing a range of new colors, textures, and leaf shapes.

Kale breeding programs gather feedback from every angle of the kale industry, including seed producers, kale growers, grocery store managers, and consumers. Consumer trials are being performed to gather data to establish a trait hierarchy so breeders know what people want in their kale.

Popular Varieties of Kale

So, what are people looking for in their kale? The oldest and possibly most wellknown variety of kale is curly kale. Its ruffled leaves and deep-green color provide a bitter and pungent flavor. Recently, other varieties of kale have surfaced, such as ornamental kale, Redbor kale, Red Russian kale and dinosaur kale.

Ornamental kale, which is often planted for decorative purposes, comes in shades of green, white, and purple. Its mellow flavor and tender texture vary greatly from the larger-leaved varieties that people also enjoy.

Kale Planting Practices

Kale thrives the most when it is grown in cooler temperatures. Kale that is grown in warm weather tends to be woody and bitter, which people do not prefer. Because of this, it is best to harvest your kale before it becomes too hot in the summer.

Plant your seeds indoors about six weeks prior to your last frost date. If you are looking for a healthy fall crop, plant your seeds about eight weeks prior to your first frost date. Because kale is tolerant of cold temperatures, you can even harvest kale after a light snowfall. Most varieties of kale can thrive in temperatures as low as 15 degrees F, which allows you to develop a winter crop.

If you are planting in the early spring or fall, be sure to plant your kale in full sun. However, during the summer months, plant them in partial shade. Remember that kale will not typically thrive in the summer, and will taste more bitter than a crop that is grown in a cooler climate.

Plant your seeds about one-half inch under fertile soil. Kale prefers soil that is slightly acidic and high in nitrogen. It is important to keep the soil moist, but avoid watering it too much because it may cause the seed to rot. You can use straw or mulch to preserve the soil’s moisture and to help prevent the roots from being exposed to excess heat.

The plant will typically develop in about 10 days. Once your inside seedlings are about 9 inches tall and you are able to see at least four developed leaves, you can transplant them into your garden.

Diseases and Pests

Kale is a member of the cabbage family, which makes it prone to rot diseases such as black rot, wirestem, and club rot. Kale is much more resistant to diseases than other vegetables, but common pests like aphids, slugs, cabbage loopers, flea beetles, cabbageworms, cutworms, cabbage root fly, and cabbage whitefly can post a threat.

One of the most efficient ways to protect kale from pests is to use a light row cover. After removing your row covers, check your kale for signs of pest damage and disease.

Harvesting and Storing Kale

Your kale can be harvested once the leaves are about five inches long. Harvest your kale by cutting the outer leaves off from the stem, leaving the center leaves on the stem to ensure continued growth.

Try to eat your kale within a few days of harvesting it so it is able to maintain its crispy texture. People love to use kale in their salads or soups and some people even bake it to make kale chips to have as a snack.

Kale is such a versatile and healthy plant to grow at home and it is easy to do with just a little bit of knowledge. Try using these kale growing tips to create your own supply of kale so you can incorporate this superfood into your daily diet.

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The Dangers of Mass Produced Meat


In an effort for meat companies to reduce overhead and increase profits, they have developed large-scale animal farm factories that now make most of the meat that is sold in the U.S. today. These concentrated animal feeding operations have resulted in repercussions such as an increase in antibiotic-resistant diseases and a significant negative impact on the local water supply near these establishments due to the waste water runoff from the animals. These significant global issues cause concern with water quality and bacterial diseases that are resistant to antibiotics.

What’s more, aside from the environmental issues that these farms create, the companies are also destroying the businesses of American farmers, driving them into financial debt as the larger corporations continue to see growing profits.

Confined Animals

While animals on farms used to be able to roam free, they are now trapped in confinement operations to help boost productivity. Small farmers were once optimistic about new production methods to help improve their sustainable agriculture and protect their animals, however, once this practice has been opened up on a larger scale, it has not produced the results that benefit small family farms.

While family farmers once used their own special additives to feed their animals and improve production, such as all natural cinnamon and honey, once the use of government-approved growth hormones and antibiotics were introduced, this changed the animals and created a host of problems that were not present before.

With animals packed in tight quarters and fed dangerous diets, diseases began to spread quickly and easily. The use of low-dose antibiotics slowed infectious disease and encouraged animals to grow at an increased rate, which did lead to an increase of profits for the farmers, but also an increase of health risks for the consumer.

The antibiotics that are used on these farms kill the majority of the bacteria in the animal, however, they leave enough bacteria in the animal that are resistant to the drugs and are therefore able to multiply. This unsafe meat ends up being sold in stores.

Once large producers began to take over the meat industry, it forced family farmers to become “contract growers,” meaning they provided labor to the farms without actually owning the animals. This allowed some farmers to keep their family farm without having to absorb the fluctuating prices of the meat market.

While this helped to keep farmers insulated from changing prices, it still caused them to face new challenges, such as an increase in production losses and corruption of the larger, sponsoring companies.

While family farmers may find a contract from a large corporation to be a promising business move, it requires these farmers to run a 365-day business without taking a break or having a consistent income per pig, which has driven some of these farmers out of business.

Without actually owning the animals, farmers are making less money but continue to have high overhead costs. Some farmers have had to put themselves into debt using loans to build confinement facilities for their animals while only bringing in between $20,000 and $60,000 every year. While farmers used to raise the corn to feed their pigs and sell them locally, now the animals might be owned by someone in one state, raised in another, slaughtered in yet another, and shipped to another country.

Confinement of animals and their stressed immune systems also increase the opportunity for viruses to spread quickly. This then hurts the supply of meat, which leads to price increases and lowers consumer demand. Throughout the fluctuation of the pork market, contract farmers still get paid the same amount of money for each pig that is delivered to market, yet their overhead costs continue to rise.

This results in pig farmers dealing with declining profits and the potential of farm loss, however, large companies that own the contracts of the family farmers are continuing to make profits.

Ractopamine

The export of meat to China has dramatically declined, along with its prices. This is partly because China, like other countries, bans the use of Ractopamine, a growth stimulant that U.S. producers give to their animals to increase their weight before slaughter. This drug helps to increase the development of protein and reduces the amount of fat on the animal. This drug is banned in almost 160 countries due to health concerns but is still legal in the United States. Research has linked Ractopamine to reproductive problems, birth defects, the development of mastitis in dairy animals, and an increased rate of death.

The Growth of Large Meat Companies

Companies such as Smithfield are advancing their global impact on the meat market by using popular branding and collaborating with well-known sports teams to get the attention of consumers.

Smithfield foods is also trying to expand by acquiring more meat processing plants worldwide to grow their meat empire around the world. Smithfield has proposed to purchase 100% of the company shares of three separate meat processing plants, which will increase the ability of Smithfield to create and process their product.

This potential growth forces smaller contract farmers and consumers to be at the mercy of one meat provider. The powerful meat business has connections throughout the government that have even proven to include bribes from politicians and inspectors to approve meat export certificates for products that have never been inspected. This criminal activity puts consumers at risk for contracting diseases.

Sustainable Farming

The importance of fighting antibiotic-resistant diseases in meat continues to grow stronger. You can help protect your health by choosing your foods wisely and responsibly using antibiotics for your own health. Purchase only antibiotic-free meat that has been raised by organic, grass fed, and regenerative farmers. Also, research organizations that can help you locate healthy farm-fresh foods.

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