The Surprising Benefits of Training in the Heat

One of the highest sweat rates ever recorded was that of marathon runner Alberto Salazar at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In the months leading up to the games, which were expected to be oppressively hot, the marathoner was put through a regimen of temperature acclimation training with the goal of helping him adapt to running in the heat. While Salazar placed only 15th overall, the program was deemed a success, physiologically speaking—vitals taken after the race found that Salazar’s hormonal and thermoregulatory systems were completely normal. His body had compensated by causing him to sweat at an incredibly high rate—about three liters per hour, compared to the roughly one liter per hour for an average human.

Researchers have been looking at the effects of heat on athletic performance for decades, and their results have been consistently surprising. Studies have found that, in addition to an increased rate of perspiration, training in the heat can increase an athlete’s blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness), reduce overall core temperature, reduce blood lactate, increase skeletal muscle force, and, counterintuitively, make a person train better in cold temperatures. In fact, heat acclimation may actually be more beneficial than altitude training in eliciting positive physiological adaptations, says Santiago Lorenzo, a professor of physiology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and a former decathlete at the University of Oregon. “Heat acclimation provides more substantial environmental specific improvements in aerobic performance than altitude acclimation,” he says. And in contrast to the live low, train high philosophy, we more quickly adapt to heat stress than we do to hypoxia. In other words, heat training not only does a better job at increasing V02 max than altitude, but it also makes athletes better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures.

Athletes can adapt to heat in one of two ways. The first is through incremental improvements in tolerance over time—work out in the heat a little bit every day, and eventually your body will dissipate heat more effectively. The second way is through thermotolerance, which is a cellular adaptation to an extreme heat experience, like suffering such severe dehydration after a run that you need an IV. Essentially, if you shock your system, your body will be able to withstand greater temperature stresses later on. But successful heat adaptation is difficult—and clearly dangerous—to achieve outside of controlled settings. Lorenzo explains that performance gains are possible only when athletes elevate their core body temperature, and without careful monitoring, it’s possible to elevate your core temperature to lethal levels.

When performed safely, however, heat training can have extraordinary effects. This phenomena fascinates Chris Minson, a professor of human physiology at the University of Oregon, who studies heat acclimation responses in athletes. According to his research, heat training can expand blood plasma volume, but Minson says there also seem to be inexplicable changes to the heart’s left ventricle, which helps to increase oxygen delivery to the muscles. In addition, he says that athletes who train in warm temperatures generally get better at regulating heat by sweating earlier, as Salazar did, or developing a colder resting body temperature.

A 2011 study by a group of researchers in New Zealand also found that overall volume of blood plasma increased at a greater rate when athletes did not drink water during exercise. While some coaches are carefully experimenting with dehydration, Minson and Lorenzo are not because it adds too much additional stress. However, they do say that this type of training can be beneficial because it produces a higher number of “heat shock” protein cells.

Ahead of Western States this June, ultrarunning coach Jason Koop worked on heat training with Amanda Basham and eventual winner Kaci Leckteig. Koop believes this type of acclimating is a good example of blending an academic concept with real-world training. But, says Koop, “at a certain level, you have to compromise training quality for the heat acclimation. Acclimating to the heat is additional stress [on the body], just like more miles or intervals, so you can’t simply pile it on. Something on the training side has to give.”

One method of heat acclimation that Minson uses with his athletes is to do hard workouts on colder days or earlier in the morning, and then start training in hotter conditions with less intensity. He is also looking into adding heat in ways that wouldn’t require an athlete to train in high temperatures at all—using hot tubs, for instance.

All this being said, not everyone responds to heat at the same rate or with the same physiological gains, which makes it similar to altitude training in that it might make a high-performing age grouper, college athlete, or elite a little better, but it won’t compensate for intelligent, consistent training.

How to Incorporate Heat Acclimation into Your Training Schedule

When acclimating to heat, you’ll be forced to compromise training quality, says Koop. While he understands the benefits of heat acclimation, he still prioritizes smart, solid training. But if you want to incorporate heat into your workouts, here’s how he recommends doing it safely.

1. First, pick a protocol (sauna, hot bath, or exercising in the heat) that minimizes the impact on training, both physically and logistically.

2. Koop most commonly recommends that his athletes use a dry sauna immediately after running. “It doesn’t impact training nearly as much as running in the heat, and the effects are similarly positive,” he says. He often tells his athletes to not drink water during these sessions to enhance the effect. Koop recommends spending 20-to-30-minutes in the sauna, depending on tolerance.

3. Koop says that when he has his athletes exercise in the heat—either naturally or by wearing extra clothing to simulate the experience—it will be on a long, slow day for 60 to 90 minutes. The time completely depends on the athlete’s tolerance and previous experience. But he stresses to not do this on a recovery day, because heat training is an added stress on the body. Koop recommends drinking 30 to 40 ounces of an electrolyte drink per hour during these sessions  And for safety, he advises using low-traffic sidewalks and bike paths—not trails.

4. Despite the benefits of heat training, Koop reminds his athletes that running in the heat is extremely difficult and usually replaces a hard day. “You are substituting one potential gain for another one,” he says. In other words, use it carefully.

Fitness Fraud… Signs Your Personal Trainer Is Ripping You Off

1. They’re fat.

“If your trainer looks like they could stand to lose a few pounds, abort mission immediately. There’s a difference between a football coach and a fitness trainer. The former gets paid to come up with winning strategies while the latter is paid to embody a healthful lifestyle you can emulate—with their help, of course.”

2. They’re not being nosy enough.

“It’s important for a personal trainer to have a comprehensive understanding of your lifestyle so they can tailor their efforts specifically to you. Therefore, your trainer should be asking you a lot of questions regularly—not just about your diet, but also about your medical history/existing conditions, occupation, sleep patterns, menstrual cycle, etc. If they’re not prying, they’re not doing their job correctly because they don’t have enough information to personalize sessions.”

3. They have experience—but in the wrong field.

“A lot of people decide that they know enough to become a personal trainer because they’re generally healthy and fit and they enjoy hitting the gym. Maybe they were even captain of their high school soccer team. But the proper training credentials go far beyond looking good in spandex. So do your research and ask the right questions from the outset. They have a degree? Great—as long as it’s not in Economics, or Journalism. Also, ask who trained them. And don’t be afraid to check out their other clients. You want a trainer with trainees who look good—or at least fitter than when they started out.”

4. They agree to meet you anywhere.

“It’s a rookie move to train somewhere unless you’re insured there. Accidents are bound to happen, and your trainer should have the wherewithal to be insured at the exact place you agree to meet so you’re both protected from physical and/or financial ruin. If a trainer offers to come to your building (and they haven’t trained other residents there already) or to meet you at a gym they’ve never been to before, consider it a bright red flag.”

5. They’re watching you run.

“If your trainer puts you on a treadmill or any other cardio machine for ten to fifteen minutes before starting a session, they’re wasting your time and money. Warming up is something you can do on your own, and if your personal trainer doesn’t advise showing up a little early to jog, they’re either an idiot or a money grubbing asshole.”

6. They insist on stretching you for too long.

“In the same vein, if a trainer spends ten minutes at the beginning and/or end of an appointment stretching you, that’s twenty minutes out of an hour (30 percent of the entire time) you’re wasting on techniques that are easily learned and executed on your own!”

7. They’re not checking in during sessions.

“In addition to asking broader questions, your trainer should be checking in throughout workouts. Part of their job is to make sure you’re okay at all times—and especially when they’re pushing you to intensify the workout. Do you feel a burning sensation or any pain? Are you tired or physically exhausted? Dizzy? Nauseous? Your trainer needs to know—and it’s their job to open up the channels of communication.”

8. They’re glued to their phone.

“The only time a trainer should ever touch his cell phone during a session is if he’s using a stop watch app to time reps and sets. If they’re checking their phone otherwise, even for just a few seconds, it’s a bad sign. Seconds add up, after all, and you’re paying this person to pay full attention to you, not an electronic device.”

9. They’re too lazy to demonstrate.

“Every trainer should be able to demonstrate exactly what they mean when they describe any exercise. If you express confusion over the instructions you’re given and their first instinct isn’t to demo it themselves, be worried. Safety is often dependent upon technique and form, so you should be able to get a solid sense as to how you should position and move your body.”

10. They’re not changing things up.

“Diversity and intensity are critical to physical fitness. If your trainer is running you through the same program over and over again, they’re lazy. And while it might seem like you’re getting stronger because these repetitive exercises are getting easier, the opposite is true. You’re not getting any fitter. Plus, you’re probably pretty bored.”

How to Work Out Like an Olympic Athlete

Olympic athletes spend hours every day training, building their muscles, and perfecting their skills. Olympic training is more than a hobby, and more than just for health. Even so, their workouts may be way more intense than ours, but we can still adapt their workouts into something that us mere mortals can do.

Sprint Like a Track and Field Pro

What Olympic Sprinters Actually Do: Running short distances requires explosive power. That means sprinters focus on getting their muscles as big and strong as possible—unlike marathoners, who need to balance strength with being lightweight.

Sprinters do plenty of workouts in the gym, building leg muscle with squats and lunges, and strength in their whole body with core and arm work, too. They practice running on the track, at a variety of short distances. And they do a lot of explosive, jumping moves to build the power they need to push off strong with each step.

What You Can Do: This workout from Usain Bolt (yes, the fastest man alive) has you covered. Three types of jumps work a variety of muscles at full power. You can do these as a workout on their own, or at the end of an easy run.

  • Bunny hops (5 sets of 20): Start in a squatting position with your arms behind you, then jump forward with both feet while swinging your arms up. Your aim is to cover as much ground as possible.
  • Box jumps (4 sets of 8): Jump onto a sturdy box or bench, again from a squatting position. Jump back down, and repeat.
  • Bounding (3 sets of 10): This is exaggerated running. Leap from one foot to the other, covering as much distance as you can.

Dafne Schippers, 2015 World Champion 200m sprinter and heptathlon athlete from the Netherlands, designed both sprinting and core strength workouts for the free Nike Training Club app (on iOS and Android).

What Gymnasts Actually Do: By the time a gymnast makes it to the Olympics, they’re capable of stringing together insanely difficult moves into hopefully flawless routines. The routines are what they’re judged on, so they’re a key part of practice. Simone Biles, three-time all-around world champion gymnast, explained to Women’s Health that a typical training day is a morning of practicing basic skills, and an afternoon of nailing routines.

Gymnasts also do pressure sets for mental preparation, where all eyes are on you, and the stakes are high. For example, everybody on the team might have to sit and watch each person do their routine, and if anybody screws up, everybody has to do theirs again too.

You wouldn’t want to be too tired to do your routine, either. In this video of a day at the gym with Team USA, the women alternate routines with running. How close to perfect can you get your moves when you’re already out of breath?

What You Can Do: You may not be able to do sky-high flips, but you can blend skills work with traditional cardio and strength moves. Forward rolls and cartwheels are some accessible exercises most people can try.

  • Run 300 meters (¾ of a standard track), six times
  • Run 200 meters (half the track) six times
  • Run 150 meters six times

Rest for one minute between repetitions. If you’re familiar with how fast you run at different race distances, do the 300s at the same pace as a 5K race, and the 150 meter repeats at the same pace you would use for a one mile race.

Get Flexible and Improve Your Cardio Like an Olympic Gymnast

Most of us can muddle through at least one of these moves. If you’d like to channel the Olympians and actually work on getting better at gymnastics moves, try this 11-minute workout geared towards improving your cartwheel.

For a cardio-and-skills workout, go to a track that has a grassy field in the infield. Take a few minutes to figure out which of the beginner moves you’re comfortable with. Then, begin your workout: Run a lap around the track, then return to your home base on the grass to practice tumbling for one minute. Ten rounds of this should take between 30 and 40 minutes.

Boost Your Muscle Endurance Like an Olympic Swimmer

What Swimmers Actually Do: Swimmers, like sprinters, do a lot of fast repeats of short distances. They work on endurance, and also practice different parts of their stroke (for example, just kicking or just pulling with their arms). A typical training routine includes hours in the pool, but also plenty of “dry land” training in the weight room or with bodyweight exercises.

What You Can Do: Michael Phelps’s coach gave a mini version of a Phelps endurance workout to a writer for Men’s Journal that you can follow. The aim of this workout is to spend time at the lactate threshold, a sort of sweet spot where any harder would be impossible to keep up for more than a few minutes. It’s slower than an all-out sprint, but faster than an easy effort. Here’s what the workout looked like:

  • Warm up with some 50-meter drills. We don’t know exactly what warmup the coach used, but it may have been similar to this one: start the first 50 meters at about half of your top speed, accelerating to about 80% by the end of the lap. Do three more of these accelerations, each one faster than the last, so that by the end you’re pushing as hard as you can.
  • Swim 50 meters, then 100, then 150, then 200, resting for 30 seconds between efforts.
  • Reverse the sequence: 200, then 150, then 100, then 50, going faster each time.

For their workouts in the gym, swimmers need to spend a lot of time working on their shoulders, back, and core. Swimming may look like it comes from the arms and legs, but you need a strong core to put it all together.

The video above shows you some dry land exercises that work the muscles swimmers need most. They include:

These moves challenge your coordination in addition to strengthening and stretching your muscles—super important for getting your body to work as a unit when you’re in the pool.

Olympic athletes’ workouts are crazy hard, and they take up hours of each athlete’s day. Combined with a heavy training schedule, practice, and a highly specialized diet, they’re the pinnacle of human physique. But with these smaller, more doable versions, you can still add a fresh challenge to your own training schedule, and take your own workouts to the next—and inspired—level.

New Study Claims Following Fit Instagrammers Helps You Lose Weight

We tend to use Instagram for a lot of different reasons. We Instagram our food, our kids, our health and so much more. A new study conducted by Northwestern University claims that taking part in an online community helps us lose weight. This may seem bombastic, even crazy, but the study asserts that being online and engaging has become a crucial part of weight loss for many people. According to the study’s senior author, Luis A. Nunes Amaral, “we found that the frequency with which you report your weight is a good indicator of positive outcomes. If you monitor your weight, you are engaged. If you communicate online with other people, you are even more engaged. And when you need support, you might be able to get it.”

We all need a little support to get us through those long days of diet and seemingly endless cardio. Sometimes binging Netflix isn’t enough to get us through an hour on the treadmill. Instagram (amongst other online resources) seemingly might be a good place to find that support according to Northwestern’s study. Swiping through a thread of fellow people succeeding and struggling on Instagram may well be what we need to motivate us and keep us positive about our own image and fitness. Conversely, interacting with others online with a little anonymity seems to be a big part of what keeps us coming back and free of shame.

The study is called ‘Friending’ Your Way Thin and it may be a way forward for some people struggling with weight loss. At the very least, it’s an outlet to find motivation and a community. So let’s try, shall we?

Study Finds That Exercise Really Can Boost Your Memory

If you’re trying to learn something new, you might want to hit the gym a few hours after studying. According to new research, exercising 4 hours after learning a task can improve memory.

In a recent study published in the journal Current Biology, researchers discovered exercising four hours after a memory task helped people better retain the information and increased brain patterns associated with memory.

The experiment involved a picture location memory task that 72 people participated in for about 40 minutes. Then the participants were randomly instructed to either exercise right away, exercise 4 hours later, or not exercise at all.

Two days later, the researcher scanned the participants’ brains and tested them to see how well they remembered what they had learned.

The people who exercised hours after studying remembered more information. The areas of their brains associated with memory retrieval were also more clearly activated.

Evidence from animal experiments suggests that the neurotransmitters released by exercise lead to a production of proteins that “help stabilise new memory traces”, study author Guillén Fernández, director of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour at Radboud University Medical Center, wrote in an email to TIME.

Plenty of reports claim that regular exercise can improve brain health, but Fernández says the new study increases the evidence by demonstrating how an isolated session of exercise can aid in memory retention.

However, the theory was tested on a small number of people, so more research is needed to determine exactly when we should time our workouts after learning something important.

Regardless, the study authors believe their findings are proof that exercise should be used as a strategy for long-term memory retention.

How to Parlay Your Stress Into Productivity

It starts off slow. Heart rate building. Dry mouth. A drip of sweat slowly rolling down from your temple to your cheek. And then wham. A punch to the gut. Stress. It’s inevitable in life. And yet so many of us see it as something we can’t control. Or worse, something we should bury and ignore.

Stress affects us in different ways, at different times, but one of the most common situations we’ve all encountered is right before a big performance. Whether that means talking to your boss, singing karaoke, or playing sports. Pre-performance stress is a real thing. And it kills our ability to act.

But what if there were ways to rewire our brain to use stress to our advantage? To take those feelings of dread and anxiety and transform them into energy, excitement, and focus? To make stress our own version of Popeye’s spinach? Sounds like a dream. But thanks to new research into how our brains handle stress, it doesn’t have to be.

How Our Brains Handle Stress (and How to Train It to Use Stress to Your Advantage)

When our brains feel stressed, they release a chemical called noradrenaline.

Noradrenaline is one of these strange chemicals that is both amazing for us, and terrible. In the brain, it both increases arousal and alertness, promotes vigilance, enhances formation and retrieval of memory, and focuses attention; while also increasing restlessness and anxiety.

We don’t function too well with too much or too little of this chemical, but, according to Ian Robertson, a cognitive neuroscientist at Trinity College Dublin and author of the upcoming book The Stress Test: How Pressure Can Make You Stronger and Sharper:

“There’s a sweet spot in the middle where if you have just the right amount, the goldilocks zone of noradrenaline, that acts like the best brain-tuner.”

Effectively, noradrenaline helps the different areas communicate smoothly while also making new neural connection.

Which means that as long as we find ways to control and handle stress emotionally, it can actually be an incredible way to boost brain function, increase creativity, and ultimately (and somewhat ironically) become happier, less anxious, and less depressed. But the trick is just that: How do we change the way we deal with stressful situations so that we use them to our advantage instead of crippling us with anxiety?

Start by Reframing the Situation

Many of the symptoms of anxiety and stress—dry mouth, racing heart—are the same as excitement. And studies have found that when people are put in stressful situations such as public speaking or singing karaoke, telling yourself to calm down can actually backfire. Instead, those who reframe the situation as exciting and ride the wave of stress are better equipped to handle it.

When we feel anxious right before a meeting or before talking to someone we respect, that anxiety can drain working memory capacity, decrease self-confidence, and harm our overall performance.

And knowing that this is our usual reaction makes matters even worse. The anticipation of anxiety makes us think of the usual counter-balance: calm down.

But when Alison Wood Brooks, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, began looking at how we react to the idea of stress, she found that people who reframed their anxiety as excitement performed better than those who tried to bury it with calmness.

Both stress and excitement are characterized by high arousal levels and a low sense of control.

See Stress as a Challenge, Not a Burden

Another way to look at this is as either a ‘growth’ or ‘fixed’ mindset—an ideaproposed by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, which basically means that those who believe they can change, do.

With a fixed mindset, you believe that the things happening to you or the way you feel can’t be changed. This fatalistic approach holds you back from being able to change the way you see a situation.

On the other hand, people with a growth mindset see potential failure as a chance to learn. They’re the ones who can turn stress into excitement and find that sweet spot where stress actually enhances performance.

Think about comedians or performers who worry if they don’t feel that ‘edge’ of anxiety before a performance. Or Tiger Woods, who said if he doesn’t feel anxious before a match, he knows he’s going to do badly. With the right mindset, stress can be a performance enhancer.

Build a New Track for Your Mind

We’ve all felt those situations where negative and unproductive thoughts, stress, and anxiety just won’t leave us alone.

Each ‘thought’ is actually a complex pattern of activity between proteins and chemicals, gene expressions, and neural connections in our brain. And the more we have a thought, the stronger that mental connection becomes. Neuroscientist Alex Korb describes this like a ‘ski track in the snow’:

“The more you ski down a path, the easier it is to go down that path and not another.”

So just like the fixed mindset, the more you react to stress with anxiety, self-doubt, and fear, the more likely you’ll feel the same way in a similar situation. But psychologists have found a fix. It’s called ‘cognitive reappraisal’.

A cognitive reappraisal isn’t about turning off your negative thoughts (which is pretty much impossible). It’s not about turning untrue negative thoughts into untrue positive ones. The goal is to step back and ground your thoughts in reality.

Here’s how Hooria Jazaieri, a licensed family therapist explained in The Wall Street Journal:

“I tell clients to think like a scientist. You are using your observations and descriptions about yourself non-judgmentally, observing and describing facts.”

So, rather than letting your negative self-doubt run wild, you need to recognize when you’re going down this negative path and stop yourself.

Writer Elizabeth Bernstein suggests we write down our thoughts and identify what specifically triggered them: “My boss sent me an email to call him and I started worrying that he hates my work and I’m going to get fired.”

Get those thoughts out of your head and on paper, and then get toss on your lab coat. Challenge your assumptions as a scientist would challenge a hypothesis.

Is your work bad?

Will you get fired over it?

Chances are when you start to actually think about it, you won’t have grounds to support your initial feelings. But don’t stop there. Look for evidence to the contrary. What are your successes? Did you get a promotion recently?

Write down all of the things that counter your self-doubt. Writing strengthens memory, and the more you commit to reframing doubt as confidence, the more you’re able to veer off that ski course you’ve been on.

And if that doesn’t work? Take it to the extreme.

You think your work is bad? Tell yourself it’s the worst. Tell yourself that there’s never been a worse writer/designer/developer than you and that you’re lucky they don’t toss you out to sea just to make the world a better place.

“You’re going for the laughter,” explains Steve Orma, a clinical psychologist and author of Stop Worrying and Go To Sleep. The laughter will make you feel better and will help underscore the absurdity of your negative thoughts.

If you want to get in shape, it takes more than one monster session at the gym. And your brain is no different. Learning to reframe how you handle situations and turn stress and self-doubt into Red Bull for your productivity takes time. But actually not that much.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a 2014 study in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy showed that people who practiced cognitive reappraisals were able to significantly reduce their negative emotions in just 16 weeks. Four months to a better, happier, more productive you. And all it takes is a little perspective.

The Apple Watch Will Soon Track Fitness for Wheelchair Users

Fitness trackers routinely measure physical activity such as running and cycling and encourage people to stand up and walk around throughout the day. But if you’re in a wheelchair, you’re out of luck.

Apple wants to change that with an upcoming Apple Watch feature announced Monday. Instead of standing breaks, people in wheelchairs will be prompted to wheel or spin their chairs around regularly. Apple will also start tracking distance, speed and calories burned during wheelchair use, just as it does for walking or running.

The efforts could give Apple’s smartwatch an image boost over stand-alone fitness trackers such as Fitbit, though the target market isn’t likely large enough to significantly lift sales. In the first three months of the year, three Fitbits shipped worldwide for every Apple Watch, according to research group IDC. Apple hasn’t released sales figures for its watch.

Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said the feature isn’t about market opportunities.

“We want to make products that serve every walk of life,” Williams said in an interview. “We realize that while it was great for messages on the wrist, we wanted to offer this group of people the same opportunity to get healthier using Apple Watch.”

Apple partnered with two groups that promote physical fitness in disability populations, the Lakeshore Foundation of Birmingham, Alabama, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation of San Diego. The two groups recruited about 300 people in wheelchairs for more than 3,000 hours of activity research.

Jeff Underwood, Lakeshore’s president and CEO, said wheelchair users tend to be more sedentary than the general population because they face more barriers to physical activity. Although having a fitness device alone won’t make someone fit, he said, having one sends a message that inactivity shouldn’t be the norm.

The feature is part of a free software update, watchOS 3.0, expected later this year. No new hardware is required.

The $300-and-up Apple Watch appears to be the first fitness device to offer extensive wheelchair capabilities. GPS wristwatches can measure distance and speed fairly accurately, but calorie measurements assume moving the entire body, said Dawna Callahan, a four-time wheelchair finisher in the Boston Marathon and director of programs at Challenged Athletes. In addition, GPS devices aren’t good for all-day tracking because of battery constraints.

Apple largely had to start from scratch because past scientific studies on burning calories weren’t designed with wheelchair subjects. The company couldn’t simply translate formulas meant for walking and running.

For one thing, people push their wheelchairs differently when approaching a ramp or circumventing an obstacle. Apple also had to factor in different seat and wheel heights and different surfaces, like carpeting or asphalt. And some formulas change depending on whether the disability is from a spinal-cord injury or muscular dystrophy.

“The more you look into it, the harder and more challenging you realize it was,” said Ron Huang, Apple’s director of software engineering for location and motion technologies.

The Apple Watch already has larger watch faces for the sight-impaired and a mono audio mode for those with hearing difficulties in one ear. The upcoming watch OS 3.0 update will also have an option for “displaying” the time using Morse code and other tactile feedback.

Suunto’s Spartan is the Smartwatch for the Fitness and Outdoor Obsessed

Suunto’s next generation sport watch just landed and its a merging of their outdoor watch expertise with smartwatch technology. From cycling to running, the watch is perfect for a multitude of athletic disciplines and built-in GPS, compass, and navigation make for the perfect smartwatch for outdoor exploration. No compromises have been made to build quality either, the watch is everything you’d expect in a Suunto with a outdoor-proof touchscreen, titanium bezel, sapphire crystal, and Bluetooth connectivity. The watch will come in four styles and will launch next month.

Think You Need to be Stretch Armstrong to Do Yoga? Think Again.

Think back to a time before you ever set foot on a yoga mat. When you thought about yoga, did you imagine svelte athletes twisting themselves into pretzel shapes? If that’s the case, you weren’t alone. When most people think about yoga, they picture all the most complex and advanced poses and immediately consider themselves too inflexible to keep up.

Let’s put this myth to rest once and for all. You don’t have to be flexible to enjoy yoga. You don’t need to touch your toes or do a hand-stand to enjoy all the health benefits that yoga has to offer.

Flexibility is a Result of Yoga, Not a Prerequisite.

Some people are naturally more flexible than others, and others have gained it through dance or gymnastics. But flexibility is something that comes with practice and improves over time.

A marathoner would never simply get up one day and run 26.2 miles. Distance runners spend months training, lifting weights, and building endurance before they even attempt to tackle such a feat. Likewise, flexibility is a result of a consistent yoga practice. It takes time and commitment to become more flexible and build the endurance necessary to take on advanced movements.

The best way to use yoga for flexibility is to begin today. Work on one pose at a time. Stretch gradually and slowly, protecting your muscles and teaching your body to move in a new way. Make it challenging, but don’t rush the process. Even 5-10 minutes a day of practice will help soften your muscles, and you’ll see improvements within a few practice sessions.

Don’t Skip Breathing and Meditation

Flexibility is only part of what yoga is all about. Breathing, or pranayama, and meditation can reduce your stress and anxiety, relaxing your mind and allowing you to see things from a new perspective. Yoga is the connection of mind and body, so you should cultivate mental flexibility just as you work on your physical flexibility.

Not Flexible Enough to Touch Your Toes? We Don’t Mind.

Yoga instructors agree – it doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes or not. We mean it.

The best way to begin a yoga practice and work towards improving your flexibility is to find the right teacher and the right class. Maybe a beginner’s yoga class will make your transition into yoga easier, or maybe you have a friend who can go along and provide support.

Yoga instructors provide modifications that allow anyone to participate at their own comfort level, so feel free to use whatever works for you. If you aren’t ready to take on an advanced pose, that’s fine. Use a modification whenever necessary, and go at your own pace.

Yoga is About Honoring Your Body.

Your body is amazing. Think of all it does for you every day. Honor your body in your yoga practice by challenging it and recognizing its limits.

Every body is different. Even your genetically-determined skeletal structure can impact your ability to move in certain ways. Your movements in yoga will also reflect your other daily activities. Cyclists, for example, typically have tight hip flexors that need extra attention on the mat.

Yoga isn’t just for the flexible, the skinny, or the active. Yoga is for everyone. Including you.

New Study Finds That Short, Intense Workouts Are More Beneficial Than Traditional Sets

What’s better, running for 60 minutes at an easy-going pace or running for 30 minutes broken up into alternating chunks of sprints and jogging?

Of course, it all depends upon what your goal is. But if you want to burn fat, work your muscles harder and increase your cardiorespiratory fitness, two recent studies show interval training may be the way to go.

Unlike endurance workouts, which are comprised of moderate exercise conducted over a longer period of time, interval training, or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as it’s sometimes called, is short and sweet, with high-intensity exercise mixed in with lower-intensity cool down periods.

An April 2016 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitnessstudied 39 adults for eight weeks. The volunteers were split into two groups. One group did HIIT twice a week and regular gym workouts twice a week. The other group did only regular gym workouts four times a week. While participants in both groups reduced their body fat and improved their flexibility, researchers found only the group that did HIIT improved their cardiorespiratory fitness.

A 2015 study conducted by researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute also looked at the health benefits of HIIT. They evaluated a group of male volunteers who alternated between pedaling a stationary bike for 30 seconds at top intensity and resting for three minutes. They completed this workout six times.

Researchers say what they found in the muscle cells of the participants reveals why HIIT workouts are so effective.

Tissues samples from the thigh muscles of the volunteers showed even after just one exercise session, the muscle cells had broken down in a way that promoted energy production to improve efficiency. Essentially, they found their muscles were reacting to the stress of the interval workout by becoming faster and stronger than before.

“During any physical training, the cell senses, ‘I have a problem here,’” Hakan Westerblad, a professor of physiology and pharmacology from the Karolinska Institute told Time magazine. “So to be better safe than sorry, they adapt so the next time they experience the intense exercise, the problem is lessened.”

And Westerblad and his colleagues found these adaptations were greater and more effective after interval training than after longer workouts. Even after just one workout, the volunteers had changes in their muscle cells that could be detected 24 hours later.

So if you’re crunched for time, don’t skip the workout, just dial up the intensity. You’ll still get in some quality exercise and a major boost to your heart and muscle health.