New App Acts as a Digital Fitness Coach

Practically everything has gone digital these days. Daily activities like work, corresponding with family and friends, paying bills and making purchases are increasingly being completed in a digital format. It looks like even our health, diet and fitness is taking a digital turn.

A new app is being released in conjunction with a wristband that will help one monitor his health and activity levels. The new app is called Larklife and acts as a digital personal coach that keeps tabs on your fitness level as well as your diet and the amount of sleep you are getting.

Larklife comes with a wristband, which gathers data about activities within your body and transmits the information to your mobile device. The app will let you know if you are not getting enough exercise, are not consuming enough fruits and veggies or if you are not getting in your eight hours of sleep each day.

The app will provide advice throughout the day depending on what you are doing with your body. If you wake up in the morning with minimal sleep, for example, then the app may recommend that you consume an extra helping of protein for breakfast to help improve focus, which is often lacking when someone is fatigued from a poor night’s rest. Likewise, if you complete an intense exercise session, it may advise you to consume extra H2O to stay hydrated. The wristband will even remind you to stand up and stretch if you have been sitting for an extended period of time.

For serious dieters, the app and wristband will record and log your meal times as well as keep track of the foods you consumed and provide advice on the foods you should prepare for your next meal.

Larklife was created with information gathered from a team of experts in the field of fitness, nutrition, sleep and neuroscience.

Yoga for Stress and Back Pain

Most people who work don’t need anyone to tell them that the environment can be stressful. Having to deal with rude customers and a boss that is breathing behind your neck and constantly critiquing you can certainly raise your anxiety levels. Depending on the environment, work can also be bad for your posture. If you work at an office cubicle and sit behind a desk and pound away at a keyboard all day, then your back is going to ache.

While there are all sorts of recommendations for relieving stress in the workplace, one study found that yoga is a good remedy for reducing anxiety and can also combat back pain. The study consisted of 74 workers between the ages of 25 to 64 who reported on a questionnaire that they experience moderate levels of stress and backaches. The participants were divided into two groups, one of which practiced yoga for eight weeks.

The yoga group took a yoga class during their lunch break or right after work once a week. Every participant was asked about their overall well-being after the study. When the research began, 10 in the yoga group reported back pain, compared to eight for the no yoga group. When the study concluded, only four in the yoga group reported back aches, while the number of those with back pain in the control group increased to 13. The yoga group also reported less stress and anxiety than the control group by the end of the study.

While the study definitely provides strong evidence that yoga is a strong stress and back pain reliever, researchers admit that the yoga group may simply feel less stress due to the placebo effect. The majority of the participants were also women, which means that it may not be applicable to men.

Video Games can have a Healthy Impact on Children

Some parents have told their children millions of times that video games will rot their brain. Like watching television or spending hours online, video games have often been linked to weight gain and obesity. While these activities don’t cause an unhealthy lifestyle directly, those who spend more time doing these things tend to spend lesser time exercising or on activities that involve physical movement.

Parents have often been urged to limit their children’s time behind a television screen. However, new research suggests that allowing your children to spend more time playing video games may not actually be a bad thing after all. Video games may actually help to increase the amount of energy your child expends daily.

By video games, the study is referring to games like the Wii, which requires the player to get off the couch and mimic movements on the screen. Children who engage in active video games increase their heart rate and oxygen intake.

The study consisted of 18 children who either played an active video game or a normal one that used a traditional controller with a directional pad and buttons. Those who played the active video games increased their energy expenditure by as high as 263 percent and burned nearly twice as many calories as those who played the traditional games.

While it is unlikely that these types of video games alone is enough to meet a child’s recommended daily physical activity, it can certainly contribute to a child’s physical activity levels in the short run. This is certainly positive news given the fact that obesity among children has skyrocketed within the last three decades. About one-third of children and teens in the U.S. are now classified as overweight or obese.

While playing the Wii may qualify as exercise, children should still be encouraged to get exercise outdoors. Health experts recommend that an hour or so of moderate exercise is ideal for young children and teens.

Lance Armstrong Relinquishes Titles Amid Doping Allegations

It has happened so often that every time an athlete blows away the competition, you just can’t help but wonder whether he or she resorted to any form of illegal substance to gain an unfair advantage. Doping allegations have plagued so many star athletes that it is hardly ever a surprise anymore. It certainly wasn’t much of a surprise when Lance Armstrong was hit with the allegations.

After extensive investigations by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and Armstrong fervently maintaining his innocence, the Tour de France bicyclist has finally relented and announced that he will no longer be fighting the allegations.

By giving up the legal battle, Armstrong will be required to relinquish his Tour de France titles, all seven of them. He will also have to give up his bronze medal, which he earned at the 2000 Olympics. On top of that, he will be banned from competition for life.

Armstrong took home seven Tour de France titles, which he won from 1999 to 2005. However, his victories came under heavy scrutiny after fellow cyclists spread stories of doping and steroid use of which they claim Armstrong was a part of. One of his accusers was none other than one of his former teammates, Floyd Landis, who was himself stripped of a title.

Armstrong continues to maintain his innocence and says that he is giving up on the case because of the toll it has taken on his family and on his work for the cancer foundation he is running. He also took a swipe at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and slammed it for not taking into consideration the many drug tests he submitted and passed with flying colors.

Armstrong was not only a celebrated athlete, but also an inspirational hero to some. He emerged as a champion cyclist despite battling life threatening cancer. His inspirational life story will now be forever marred by the allegations of doping.

Olympic Shot Putter Stripped of Gold Medal in Light of Positive Drug Test

There is a reason anabolic steroids are banned in the Olympic games as well as in all other areas of professional sports. Steroids give the athlete an unfair advantage over other players who are trying to compete completely based on their own natural ability. Furthermore, steroids, if used too often, can have dangerous side effects and cause irreversible damage to the organs.

Just hours after the 2012 Olympics came to a close in London, the International Olympic Committee has already taken measures to weed out the athletes who have tested positive for illegal substances found in their bloodstream.

Nadzeya Ostapchuck, a female shot putter from Belarus, was one of the first to be tested with the results returning positive. Ostapchuck put on an impressive performance at the games and took home the gold medal. However, the revelation of her doping will cost her dearly. The IOC has already announced that Ostapchuck will be stripped of her medal. This means that Valerie Adams of New Zealand now be the official gold medalist winner.

Being stripped of her gold medal is only one of Ostapchuck’s many concerns. The IOC Disciplinary Commission has also decided to revoke her accreditation card and Olympic identity. She will also be required to return her diploma and medalist pin. This is all only the tip of the iceberg; in the coming days, Ostapchuck may face further sanctions.

For Ostapchuck, this was her third Olympic appearance. She came in fourth in 2004 and took the bronze at the Beijing games in 2008. With her testing positive, it may not be such a surprise if she does not return for a fourth time for the games in Rio De Janeiro in 2016.

The IOC is sending a clear message to all the athletes; even though the drug tests may take weeks, anyone using any form of banned substances will be caught and exposed as a cheater.

Study Shows That Nearly Every Health and Fitness Product is Overhyped

The fitness industry releases new products every year. This includes workout apparel, supplements and exercise equipment designed to increase the output of your performance during high intensity workouts. Manufacturers have spent millions of dollars on these products and even backed them up with “scientific research.” However, a recent study reveals that nearly all these items do not live up to their claim when placed under unbiased studies.

The research was headed by Dr. Mathew Thompson, a clinical scientist from the University of Oxford. Thompson examined the claims made by companies that produced fitness products, such as sports drinks, running shoes and exercise clothing. This included websites that advertised such products with claims of improved performance and speedier recovery.

In all, 615 products found in health and fitness magazines were studied. 54 of these claimed that the product could enhance performance output, though only three of them backed it up with reference to scientific research. Even then, most of the research provided was done on laboratory mice and not on human test subjects.

Thompson contacted 42 of the companies that did not contain references for their products. 27 of them replied but only nine of them provided sources to additional material to back up their claims.

What’s more, the ones that had scientific research either funded the study themselves or were conducted by their own team of researchers, which greatly increases the chance of researcher bias. Coca-Cola, for example, also created Powerade and provided the grant necessary for the research in order to support claims that the sports drink can boost the performance of endurance athletes.

What this study appears to show is that all you really need is the common sense to exercise and eat a well-balanced diet if you want to stay fit and healthy. No overpriced sports drink or piece of equipment can do the job for you.

Physical Education May Lead to Better Grades

Most school districts include physical education as part of the academic curriculum. P.E. has caused some controversy in the past as some parents feel that school is a place to learn and not to sweat. However, a new study finds that children who engage in physical education actually outperform those in schools where P.E. is either not taught or is emphasized to a lesser degree.

The study was conducted in Sweden and consisted of over 200 students from first to third grade. The students’ academic activity was followed for nine years. Some of the subjects received physical education five days a week as well as additional training in skills that improved their motor, reflex and coordination.

The results showed that 96 percent of students who received additional P.E got grades that made them eligible for the honor roll and advanced placement courses. This is compared to 89 percent for those who did not receive the extra physical training.

The difference was even more apparent among boys. Male students who spent more time in physical education training also scored significantly higher in the classroom on subjects like math and English.

The study also showed that by the time these students reached their freshman year in high school, 93 percent of the subjects who took P.E. displayed better physical motor skills, compared to just 53 percent for those in the other group.

At this point, it is not entirely clear how physical education helps students learn in the classroom. It is believed that the time spent engaging in exercise and socializing are contributing factors.

The study appears to be another reason for keeping physical education around. Learning should not be limited to the classroom. By teaching students how to stay active, schools are conditioning kids how to prepare for a long-term healthy lifestyle.

Jogging May be the Key to Longevity

Aerobic activity is good for the heart, though most people avoid it like the plague. The feeling of being out of breath and feeling like your heart is about to burst out of your chest can be a torturous sensation. However, while you may find aerobic activity unpleasant and even boring, new research gives you incentives for including it into your daily routine.

Jogging May be the Key to Longevity The Copenhagen City Heart study conducted at Dublin, Ireland, showed that a light jog a few times a week can add an additional 6.2 years of life for men and 5.6 years for women. The research has been going on since 1976 and includes data from over 19,000 men and women.

The research is headed by cardiologist Dr. Peter Schnohr, who began the research after critics argued that jogging can be counterproductive and places too much strain on the heart and muscles for middle aged people.

Schnohr’s research indicated that moderate levels of jogging can increase longevity. He recommends about one to two hours of jogging a week, divided into two to three workout sessions. He suggests going at a pace where you experience a little breathlessness, but not to the point where you are panting and gasping heavily for air.

The research also showed that jogging is actually better than resistance training for burning body fat, which poses a serious health risk. A separate study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine also concluded that regular jogging can delay aging by as much as 12 years.

If you’re like most people, you do not look forward to jogging whether it is done outside or on a treadmill. However, if a long and vibrant health means anything to you, then it is well worth it to invest a half hour two to four times a week to get your heart rate up.

Can too Much Sitting be Hazardous for Your Health?

Can sitting shorten your life span? The idea of sitting yourself to an early grave sounds farfetched, though a new study done at the University of Sydney suggests that there may in fact be a correlation between too much sitting and dying of natural causes.

Hidde van der Ploeg, the head of the research team, collected data from over 200,000 adults past the age of 45. From the sample, it was discovered that those who reported sitting for 11 hours or more a day were more likely to experience common health problems than those who sat for just four hours or below.

This doesn’t mean that sitting in itself is hazardous for your health, though the research also suggests that remaining in a sitting position for prolonged periods may increase fats in the blood, thereby lowering metabolism and lowering good cholesterol levels. Factors, such as pre-existing health conditions, lifestyle, and weight were also taken into consideration. The same health problems were observed in those who sat more frequently regardless of these conditions.

Obviously, some people may have a job that requires them to sit for long intervals. This includes most office and secretary positions. This doesn’t mean that you should do your job standing. Just get up and do a little bit of stretching and moving around periodically. If you are sitting down and watching television in your down time, then get up and walk around during a commercial break. This will keep the blood circulating and keep your body from remaining stagnant for too long a period.

It all comes down to common sense. The less your body is moving, the less exercise you are getting. As long as you monitor your daily physical activity and make sure you don’t become a frequent couch potato, then there is nothing to worry about.

The Maharishi Says

Ayurveda is “the complete knowledge for long life.” Ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional India medicine which has found a vogue in other parts of the world concerned with alternative medicine.

In Sanskrit, the word ‘ayurveda’ consists of the words ‘?yus’, which means “longevity”, and veda, which means “related to knowledge” or “science”

The Maharishi Ayurveda advocates internal cleansing for every change of season.
To the Maharishi Ayurveda, detoxification and purification is a foundation for vivacity, as well as a crucial component of Ayurveda.

Detox, according to the Maharishi, is especially beneficial in the spring; as this is the time when nature rejuvenates itself.

In Maharishi Ayurveda, the rule is balance first. This principle is stressed by Charaka, one of the great ancient Ayurvedic healers. The belief is not complicated: The “solutions” shouldn’t create new imbalance in order to repair imbalance.

Here are some tips

Keep a detoxifying diet:
Eat light, warm, cooked foods like soup.

Eat easy-to-digest fruits, vegetables and grains like cooked prunes, apples, figs, pears, pineapples and papayas. And cooked vegetables such as leafy greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. As for grains, choose fresh flatbreads like chapati, barley, quinoa, amaranth, rice and kanji.

Season your food with detoxifying spices like cumin, turmeric, coriander, fennel, black pepper and fresh ginger.
Avoid canned, frozen, packaged or processed foods..

Stay away from heavy foods like red meat, fried foods, oily foods, yeasted breads, sugary desserts, crackers and dairy products like cheese and yogurt.

Drink eight cups of pure, filtered water, daily.