Performing well during exercise is important to get the results you want. Your performance is dependent not only on a challenging workout, but also your exercise recovery. Check out some of this affordable exercise gear that can improve your workout and your recovery so that you can give your best during every exercise session.
A foam roller is a cylinder-shaped piece of firm foam used to give you a mini-massage that lengthens and stretches the muscles. Regular foam rolling has been found to decrease muscle soreness and improve range of motion.
Leg sleeves are one of the many forms of compression clothing that have gained recent popularity. While most research has not found a direct link between compression sleeves and better exercise performance, studies have shown that they may help with exercise recovery. In some cases, leg sleeves have been found to reduce muscle soreness.
A tennis ball is a simple piece of equipment that can be used to massage and stretch small target areas. For example, you can place the ball on the floor and put your foot over it. Then, slowly move your foot around to massage the soles of the feet. In a similar way, the balls can also be used to massage specific areas of the upper back.
Performing your strength training routine with exercise bands allows you to challenge your muscles in a new way. The bands are a great alternative to add variety to your routine. They are also ideal for traveling and can be used during stretching exercises to improve flexibility.
A study by the American Council on Exercise rated crunches on the exercise ball number 3 among numerous exercises tested for effectiveness. The exercise ball can also be used to improve balance and challenge smaller muscle groups while performing moves like push-ups and shoulder presses. It can also be used during stretching -- especially for the upper and lower back, abdominals, and hamstrings.
Muffins make a quick breakfast when you are on the go, but store-bought varieties are often loaded with calories and saturated fat. You can make a healthier muffin when you prepare them at home. The mashed strawberries and applesauce in this muffin reduce the need for added sugar and oil. Whole wheat flour adds fiber to make them more filling.
Yield: 6 muffins
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes
½ cup sliced fresh strawberries, mashed
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
¼ cup raw sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp fine ground sea salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a standard 6-muffin baking tin with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, stir together the mashed strawberries and applesauce. Stir in the egg until all ingredients are mixed together. Stir in the raw sugar and vanilla extract.
Add the baking soda and salt. Stir well until there are no longer any white clumps from the baking soda.
Fold in the flour and mix just until all ingredients are incorporated into a batter. Transfer the batter to the muffin tin, filling each slot with an equal amount.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, remove from the muffin tin and serve warm, or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Nutrition information for 1 muffin: Calories 131; Total Fat 2.3 g; Saturated Fat 0.6 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 82 mg; Sodium 294 mg; Carbohydrate 23.8 g; Fiber 2.3 g; Sugar 9.3 g; Protein 5.2 g
At first glance, brunch menus may seem lighter and healthier than foods shared during winter holidays, but pastries, high-fat meats, and heavily-dressed salads can add unnecessary calories and unhealthy fat to your meal. By making a few simple changes, you can stay on track and enjoy a healthy brunch.
Work in more spring fruits and vegetables.
Spring means more fresh fruits and vegetables are available so don’t pass up the opportunity to fill the table with healthy options. Radishes, asparagus, spring peas, spinach, arugula, raspberries, and strawberries are just a few of the healthy foods that you can work into soups, salads, and fresh salsas. Center your dessert options around fresh fruits by serving yogurt parfaits or incorporating them into frozen yogurt and frozen pops.
Keep heavy food portions small.
On special occasions, it’s okay to enjoy higher calorie foods like cheese, sausage, or bacon in moderation. You can help to keep servings under control by using limited amounts for flavor and keeping portions small. Use half the amount of cheese or meat in baked casseroles and omelets. Instead of sausage patties, serve smaller sausage balls. Fill plates with more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and use meats and cheeses as a small side to complement healthier foods.
Modify your baked goods.
Serve biscuits and scones made with whole grain flours. Add oatmeal to pancake and muffin batters. Whole grain flours and oats will add fiber to make these foods more filling. Substitute mashed fruits and apple sauce to reduce the need for excess oil and sugar.
Find substitutes for alcoholic drinks.
Alcoholic drinks can drastically increase your calorie intake. Find appealing substitutes to ensure you pass them up without feeling deprived. Make alcohol-free Bloody Mary’s and create spritzers with fresh fruit juices and sparkling water.
Having a plan in place will help things run smoothly and reduce the chance that overlooked details will force you to grab an unhealthy option. The spring brunch menu plan below will help you outline your shopping list and estimate the time needed to prepare your meal. The recipes can easily be doubled for larger crowds. Sit down to a portion of each of these foods and you will only consume 449 calories and 4.2 grams of saturated fat along with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Carbohydrates are often the first food component to be blamed for empty calories, excess sugar, and weight gain. The truth is that carbohydrates play an important role in health. They are the body’s main source of energy, and they fuel the central nervous system and influence mood. There are plenty of refined, high-fat, and high-calorie carbohydrate sources with little nutritional value, but don’t label all foods that contain carbohydrates as bad. The following healthy foods are high in carbs and provide many nutritional benefits.
Bananas contain natural sugar, but they also contain pectin, potassium, soluble fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese. Pectin aids digestion and regulates the impact a banana has on spiking blood sugar; potassium helps to maintain normal blood pressure; and soluble fiber is linked to a reduced risk for heart disease.
Oats, oatmeal, and oat bran are another valuable source of soluble fiber. Research shows that the soluble fiber in oatmeal can lower total cholesterol, which can lead to a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Research also suggests that unique antioxidants in oats may also help to protect against heart disease. The beta-glucan in oats has been found to reduce a rise in blood sugar in type 2 diabetes patients, when compared to white rice and bread.
Beans provide complex carbohydrates with heart-healthy soluble fiber, as well as plant-based protein. Beans are full of vitamins and minerals, such as folate, iron and potassium, many of which are linked to reduced cholesterol and blood pressure. Different varieties of beans also contain unique phytonutrients that act as antioxidants.
Peas contain unique phytonutrients that act as antioxidants to fight inflammation. These phytonutrients have also been associated with protecting against stomach cancer. Peas contain omega-3 fatty acids, and each cup provides about 7 grams of protein.
Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A, which plays a role in the health of the eyes, skin and teeth. Substances responsible for the color of sweet potatoes, such as anthocyanins, help to fight inflammation that is often associated with chronic disease. Sweet potatoes have also been found to help regulate blood sugar.
Deviled eggs are a staple for spring parties and picnics, but they are often high in unhealthy fat, cholesterol, and sodium. This version uses fewer egg yolks and adds non-fat yogurt to reduce the saturated fat and cholesterol. Herbs and spices add flavor to the filling without excess salt.
Yield: 8 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
4 large, hard-boiled eggs
¼ cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
½ tsp chopped fresh chives + plus extra for garnish
½ tsp chopped fresh dill
1/8 tsp hot or sweet smoked paprika
1/8 tsp fine ground sea salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
Carefully cut the hard-boiled eggs in half. Gently remove the yolks. Place two of yolks in a small bowl and discard the other two. Place the egg whites, cut-side up on a serving plate.
Add the yogurt, chives, dill, paprika, salt, and pepper to the two egg yolks. Use a fork to smash the yolks and stir all ingredients. Stir for about 30 seconds, until smooth and all ingredients are blended.
Transfer the filling to a pastry bag with a star tip, or to a zip lock bag with the bottom corner cut off. Pipe an equal amount of filling into each egg where the yolk was held. Sprinkle with any remaining chives and serve.
Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 27; Total Fat 1.2 g; Saturated Fat 0.4 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 53 mg; Sodium 66 mg; Carbohydrate 0.4 g; Fiber 0 g; Sugar 0.2 g; Protein 3.1 g