Okay let’s admit it; beginners hate planks! And why just the beginners, even the experienced players in the field of fitness hate it. But considering the benefits of planks, there is no second thought as to why you must practice planks every day. Here’s how you perform a normal plan. Lie down on the ground on your stomach; then support your body weight on your elbows and toes while keeping your back straight, and hold on to this position. Phew! Planks really are challenging. But on the positive side, planks are the best way to come in shape without the need for equipment or a trainer to guide you. This core exercise mainly focuses on strengthening your entire body. But there’s a catch; planks should be practiced for longer stretches to get maximum benefits from this workout.
Still not convinced, aren’t you? We’ll give you 8 solid reasons to practice planks every day. Keep reading:
Planks help you find your centre of gravity while trying to balance your body on your elbows and toes. It is that point where you can rotate in any direction; basically a point where your body weight is the balanced on the opposite sides. Side planks can be very helpful for you to maintain balance and improve coordination.
2. Body posture
While practicing planks, you are required to keep your back straight. In the initial few attempts, you may experience some back pain. But eventually, as your body adapts to the posture, it strengthens your back and improves your posture. A good body posture boosts your productivity, improves mood and aids breathing.
3. Improved core definition and performance
Planks are a core-strengthening exercise. It engages all your core muscles at a time to give you the following benefits:
Improved ability to lift weights
Improved athletic performance, especially where you are required to run
Improved ability to bend on your sides and twist your waist
4. Decreased risk of back injury
Planks help you ensure that you are not exerting too much pressure on your hips and spine. Practicing planks regularly can help you reduce back pain and will strengthen the areas around your upper back.
5. Improved metabolism
One of the most important benefits of planks is its ability to boost your metabolism. Planking challenges your entire body at a time. This one form of workout helps you burn more calories than regular crunches and sit-ups. This muscle-strengthening exercise helps you burn more energy even if you are sitting the whole day. Practicing planks 10 times a day, for a stretch of 60 seconds boosts your metabolism and keeps it high throughout the day.
6. Improved flexibility
Lack of flexibility is one of the most important causes of workout injuries. This exercise stretches your shoulders, collarbones, hamstrings and other muscles and strengthens them. Adding a side plank to your regular planks can be very helpful in improving your overall flexibility.
7. Improves mood
Exercising in every way boosts your mood. However, this is considered to be one of the important benefits of planks. It helps you release the muscles which become stiff due to lack of physical activities. Release of such physical stress helps you relax both physically and mentally.
Some tips to maximize the benefits of planks:
1. Perform planks for at least one minute at a time
2. Practice this 10 times a day to get maximum benefits
3. Do not look at the clock while doing so, try to distract your mind from the pain
4. Try out side planks as well
5. Include other movements like hand presses as well
6. Plank in front of a mirror to ensure that you are doing it correctly
7. Practice planks in sets so that you can you can do more number of reps at a time
This winter control asthma with inhalation therapy
Whether youre indoors or outdoors, winter will exacerbate asthma attacks. Winter is the most loved season, but it might be unpleasant for patients with lung diseases. An American Lung Association fact-sheet states that asthma is one of the most common chronic disorders and currently affects about 7.1 million children under 18 years. The World Health Organisation Global Burden of Disease Study estimates that 13.8 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are lost yearly due to asthma, representing 1.8 per cent of the total global disease burden.
For 300 million people around the globe suffering from asthma, the cold winter months often lead to a worsening of their symptoms.
The cold environment it not suitable for asthma patients. Their lungs and airway passages are quite sensitive. To a larger extent, asthma symptoms related to winter can be in controlled and managed by precise treatment and medication. Due to the swelling in the lining of the airways which leads to their narrowing, and the sticky mucus or phlegm build-up that blocks the airways, breathing is difficult and forced for asthmatic patients.
During winter, the cold air causes airways to tighten further, making it even more difficult to breathe.
Many patients and their family members are misinformed about the causes of asthma and the treatment options available. It is a necessity to educate patients and caregivers about the disease and treatment with minimal side-effects of inhaled corticosteroids, i.e. inhalation therapy.
Many pharmaceutical organisations are running campaigns to bust myths around inhalation therapy. Often, the word steroids evokes apprehensions in the minds of patients causing them to shy away from inhalers. The steroid is produced by the human body naturally to deal with inflammation and it is also safe for children and pregnant women. The inhalation therapy consists of an inhaler pump to send the corticosteroids into airway passages.
According to a research article published in Respiratory Medicine journal, the correlation between inhalation therapy for asthma and clinical efficacy is positive, with improved symptom-control and lung-function shown in most studies of adults, adolescents and children.
In the inhalation therapy, the inflammation of the airway requires a very small quantity of corticosteroids — around 25 to 100 micrograms — but when it is consumed through the oral/intestinal route the amount administered is very large — about 10,000 micrograms, since only a fraction of the drug reaches the lungs. This means that every time an asthma patient pops a pill or a tablet, he/she is actually taking almost 200 times the amount of medication required, leading to ill-effects on health.
Inhalation therapy directly gives body only that amount of steroid needed to control the symptoms. Against this, oral medication first gets dissolved in the blood and then reaches various organs, including the lungs.
Thus, inhalation therapy is a simple and easy solution for asthma patients to enjoy their winter to the fullest.
Some nose, throat bacteria less likely to develop into flu: Study
US researchers have identified a cluster of nose and throat bacteria that made their hosts less likely to get flu.
The researchers from the University of Michigan (UM) looked at samples of nose and throat bacteria and used DNA sequencing to identify which bacteria were present.
Analysing the bacterial composition across all samples, they found five clusters.After taking into account other known factors that could affect an individual’s
susceptibility to influenza, such as age, exposure to tobacco, crowded household and flu vaccination, the researchers then looked to see if individuals with a given cluster were less likely to get influenza.
“We looked at who had which cluster and whether it makes a difference on whether they got influenza, and it does,” said lead author Betsy Foxman, Professor at UM. “That’s the exciting thing about it. It tells us if you have this bacterial community, you have lower risk for getting the flu. That’s big news because it really hasn’t been shown before.”
However, the findings published in PLOS ONE journal also bring new questions.”Is it really possible to push someone’s microbiome in a way that would make a difference? Is it possible that we could tell people – ‘Here’s your microbiome pill?'” Foxman said, adding that “It’s a very long road and we’re at the beginning.”
Researchers hope that similar studies can be done in a different population and possibly follow them longer for secondary bacterial infections.”We know we are always going to need new antibiotics but this way we could hold on to them longer and, presumably, if we could intervene in this way there would be fewer side effects,” Foxman said.
For the study, the team enrolled 717 participants from 144 households. Household members of individuals with confirmed influenza were recruited for the study and followed for 13 days or until they developed influenza, whichever came first. They included only the 537 individuals who tested negative for influenza at the beginning of the study.
Taking artificial sweeteners as a sugar substitute? Study says it may not be effective
While some people who are trying to avoid sugar are increasingly opting for artificial sugar, a recent study has revealed that taking artificial sugar may not be a good idea after all.”Growing concerns about health and quality of life have encouraged people to adapt healthy lifestyles and avoid the consumption of food rich in sugars, salt, or fat to prevent obesity and other non-communicable diseases. With increased consumer interest in reducing energy intake, food products containing non-sugar sweeteners (NSSs) rather than simple sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides) have become increasingly popular”, the study stated.
But replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners used in Diet Coke and other soft drinks has no effect on weight loss and their long-term health effects are still poorly understood, the review said. The study titled ‘Association between intake of non-sugar sweeteners and health outcomes: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised and non-randomised controlled trials and observational studies’ was led by the University of Freiburg and published in the BMJ.
It also highlighted the absence of research on the long-term health effects of sweeteners when taken over years or decades. In this comprehensive systematic review, a broad range of health outcomes was investigated to determine a possible association with non-sugar sweetener used by a generally healthy population.
“The studies were set up to look at different types of sweeteners, measuring weight, blood sugar (glycaemic) control, oral health, cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, mood and behaviour in consumers. For most of them, there was no statistical difference in weight loss or health benefits of adults and children using higher doses of sweeteners rather than small amounts or none”, a report in The Guardian stated.
This comprehensive systematic review covers a broad range of benefits and harms of NSSs in a generally healthy population of adults and children, following rigorous systematic review methods. “Overall, we included 56 studies of adults and children, which assessed the associations and effects of NSSs on different health outcomes.
For most outcomes, there seemed to be no statistically or a clinically relevant difference between NSS intake versus no intake, or between different doses of NSSs. No evidence was seen for health benefits from NSSs and potential harms could not be excluded. The certainty of the included evidence ranged from very low to moderate, and our confidence in the reported effect estimates is accordingly limited”, the study stated.