What if your pillow could be more than just fluff or feathers that you rest your head on at night? What if your pillow was an active participant in your sleep? Now, there’s technology to do just that. Smart pillows, such as ZEEQ by REM-Fit, are designed to not only monitor your sleep patterns but analyze them to improve your sleep.
In a survey conducted by the NSF and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), 60% of sleep technology owners reported being more aware of their sleeping patterns; 51% said their sleeping had improved. Specific benefits of using a smart pillow include:
- Stop snoring – Nearly 90 million adults snore. Which probably keeps 90 million others awake at night listening to their partner “saw logs.” A smart pillow can detect when you begin to snore and encourage you to adjust your sleeping position; ZEEQ uses subtle vibrations. Welcome to a snore-free slumber.
- Play your music – without disturbing your partner: Does ambient noise or soft background music help you fall asleep faster? A smart pillow, such as ZEEQ by REM-Fit, can stream a playlist of songs using wireless speakers inside the pillow. Even better, if your partner prefers silence at night, they won’t hear a peep.
- Track your patterns in bed: A smart pillow can show you how often you toss and turn throughout the night, and at what point you got your deepest sleep.
- Wake up without grogginess: Are you and your snooze button close acquaintances? By using a smart pillow, the data it collects can help inform the right time for you to wake up in the morning.
So you finished your daily workout. Now what? The cool down is an essential part of any fitness routine. Without a proper cool down, you’ll have a harder time reaching your goals. Here are some ways to cool down after a workout.
- Stretch: Generally people remember to stretch before a workout, but what about after? Stretching after your workout can also have many benefits to you, especially over time. Stretching helps promote strength, flexibility and decrease injuries. Just as stretching before your workout, stretching after your workout can be beneficial to your workout goals. These stretches should reflect your workout for the day. For example, if you did a spinning class you should concentrate on stretching your legs, glute, and wrists. If your workout tends to focus on the whole body, here is a 13-minute stretch for your total cool down.
- Use the Cool Down Button or gentle exercises: You may have noticed that workout classes add in a cool down for you. They do this because during an intense workout your body goes through stress. Your heart rate will increase. Damage or strain can happen to your muscle fibers, ligaments, and tendons. Your body needs a moment to repair itself and assess the changes. If you work out on your own, one way to cool down is a gentle workout. Try low-intensity yoga, walking or swimming. If you workout on a treadmill or elliptical, use the cool down button to slow down your workout. This should last about 3-5 minutes at a minimum. The American Heart Association recommends slowing your heart rate to below 120 beats per minute during a cool down workout.
- Hydrate: As you should hydrate throughout your workout, you should continue to do so after. Water can prevent dizziness and other discomforts after physical activity. It will also help bring your heart rate down and breathing to a normal pace. As a general rule, you should drink 8 ounces of water within 30 minutes after you finish your workout. However, depending on your age and perspiration level, the amount of water can increase.
- Get a Massage: Your main goal after working out is to relax your body. This helps with your recovery efforts. One way to meet this goal is to get a massage after your workout. Okay, this may be expensive and unpractical for the average gym goer. Not to worry; massages can also be performed in the comfort of your home. Many people use a foam roller, like this one, to achieve similar results. Either option can relax you, decrease your heart rate, help with muscle damage and decrease injuries.
- Deep Breathing: After a workout, you’ll breathe harder than usual. It may feel uncomfortable. This is due to an increase in heart rate or your blood pooling. This is why it is important to concentrate on your breathing. It allows for your body to relax and return to normal function.
A post workout cool down will help you reach the “feel good” feeling after a workout. It may not make you less sore the next day, but it can help you continue your goal to a happy, healthy lifestyle. We recommend picking several of these cooldowns and combine them. Forming a makeshift cool down routine will help to reach your goals over time and help your body recover!
Do you find mornings to be the hardest part of your day? Are you envious of people who are clearly morning people?
Mornings can set the tone for your entire day, so creating a routine can be critical to help you get started on the right foot. We have tips and tricks to creating a morning routine that will help you rise and shine with the best of the morning people.
- The goal in any morning routine is to help you have a happier, easier day. When deciding what you want in a routine, consider what is important to you. Whether that is eating breakfast, showering, exercise, painting or reading. You should plan your mornings around what will help you have a successful day. Make a list of all the activities you want to accomplish in the morning and narrow it down to what you can fit in your time.
- Consider how much time you have to dedicate to a morning routine. If you are ready to start getting up an hour earlier then great! But if you need more time to adjust start getting up 10 minutes earlier. Even with 10 extra minutes, you can do an activity on your list.
- Stop thinking about negative topics. It is a bad habit to begin your day thinking of all the stuff you don’t want to do that day. Instead, push yourself to think positive. Avoid your electronics for the first half hour after waking up. Instead, try meditating or journaling in the morning. This will help lead your mind to all the positive things happening to you. Try this 5-minute Journal for an easy writing guide to concentrate on positivity. Or this guided meditation for clearing your mind.
- A routine is not created overnight. It takes time to make something a part of your lifestyle. It will take time and dedication, but the investment will be worthwhile. While many people suggest it can take up to 21 days to form a new habit, it will take everyone a different amount of time to change their lifestyle. Remember to be consistent and stick to the routine, and soon enough it will feel natural to you.
- Do your research. What do other people do in their mornings to be successful in their day? Here are some articles that can get you started: The Morning Routines of the Most Successful People and The Morning Routines of 12 Women Leaders. However, remember that not all morning routines are the same. You should pick and choose the parts that will help you lead a more successful life.
Once you have created a morning that fills you with positivity, making this into a routine only comes with repetition. Remember to concentrate on what will help you have a successful day, share positivity and be consistent. All these tips and tricks will help you start your day on the right foot!
Have you noticed that some of your workouts feel more comfortable than others? Perhaps you notice feeling bloated or fatigued only in half of your workouts? Feeling ineffective during a workout can relate to the foods you choose before you get to the gym. Here are seven foods to avoid before your workout.
- High Fiber: Foods like flaxseed, fruit, veggies, whole grains, and chia seeds are great additions to your diet but not to your pre-workout meal. Since these foods are so effective in helping your digestive track, it may have a negative reaction while you’re performing exercises like cardio.
- Protein bars: Some protein bars can be misleading in their health benefits. While it is best to choose pre-workout foods high in protein, don’t let advertising fool you into thinking all protein bars are created equal. The best way to choose a protein bar to assist your workout, instead of cripple it, is to check the nutritional facts and make sure it is low in sugar and high in protein.
- Dairy: Milk, yogurt, and cheese can make a lot of people bloated and uncomfortable during a workout. Many researchers recommend avoiding dairy products three to four hours before your workout. Your goal in your pre-workout meal is to eat foods that are easy to digest, not foods that make your body uncomfortable.
- Sugary foods: This one may seem obvious to the average dieter, but sugar can be in many “healthy” pre-workout snacks. Foods or drinks like flavored water, some protein shakes, juice, store-bought smoothies, and of course, known sugary goodies can cause the antithesis to your workout goals. Foods that are high in sugar cause fatigue and weight gain. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your sugar intake a day to six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men.
- Caffeine: Drinks like coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks or energy gels can be an effective addition to the start of your day, but can slow you down in a pre-workout meal. Some caffeinated drinks are high in sugar and carbonated, which can cause bloating and fatigue during your workout. However, some caffeinated products can be an effective boost for your workout. Instead of your normal Starbucks order, opt for a warm green tea if you’re looking for a little pep in your step.
- Spicy Foods: Great for calorie burning, terrible for workouts. Spicy foods can cause heartburn and indigestion. Make sure to avoid these before your workouts to ensure you won’t have to stop to take an antacid. If you just can’t put down the spicy foods, here are heartburn prevention tips for the spicy food lover.
- Avocados: If you love avocados this may be disappointing to hear, but they are high in fat. While good fats, like avocados, can be effective in your diet, they are not helpful during a workout. Fats are harder to digest and cause the blood in your body to prioritize your digestive track. During a workout, this can cause cramping and fatigue. It’s best to avoid fats at least an hour before your workout and save the guacamole or avocado omelet for your post-workout snack.
There is no ideal meal for your pre-workout, but if you focus on low fat, moderate carbs and protein, low fiber, non-sugary foods, and foods your body knows then your workout will be effective. However, remember that it is worse to workout on an empty stomach. So pick up that grilled chicken sandwich or banana and enjoy your workout!
Summer officially kicked off this week. For many, it’s time for traveling, relaxing and taking it a little slower while spending more time with friends and family. For those of us who are hoping to take advantage of warmer weather, longer days and being outside, here are some tips to help make the most of the season.
Sign up for a race: Many races and events take place this time of year, so consider looking for upcoming opportunities in your area where you could participate. If you live in the Chicago area, consider downloading the REM-Fit Life app(also available on Google Play), which details many upcoming races. And, the REM-Fit Recovery Station and team could be there!
- Play sand volleyball: With many courts and clubs open, sand volleyball is a fun way to get friends together, go outside and switch up your typical exercise routine, too.
- Hit the pool and soak up some rays: If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a pool, take full advantage! You can spend the afternoon lounging, pepper in some cardio (don’t forget to get the goggles out!) and even add some strength. Shape offers great suggestions on how to train in the pool if you’re not a fan of swimming laps.
- Go canoeing or kayaking: Nothing brings you back to your summer camp days quite like canoeing. And now many outfitters also carry kayaks, so you can grab a friend and take your workout to the water.
- Clear your schedule for an afternoon: Most will find that one of the best parts of summertime is how everything slows down just a tiny bit. Whether you’re still a student or have kids on break, now is the time to relax. Even if you work full time, many people go on vacation over the next few months, which makes it easier to take an afternoon off here and there. One tip is to try to disconnect to maximize the benefits of your vacation or staycation. If you can, leave the electronics behind. Research has shown how important not checking email or social media is. It allows you time to focus, let your mind wander and fully be present with those you’re spending time. It’s tough to commit to, but you may find you’re more relaxed and more productive once you return to your normal schedule.
- Switch up your routine with outdoor exercises: Do you love the gym? Consider changing your routine to experience the great outdoors. From bike riding to simply going for a walk, you’ll find there’s so much to do outside of the gym. Consider exploring nearby parks or running through downtown. For ideas, be on the lookout for your community’s event schedule – many fitness studios and gyms will take their classes outside.
- Make time for rest: With longer days and so many available activities, don’t forget rest is critical no matter the time of year. Consider making the most of your relaxation time by having quality pillows.
Summer is the chosen favorite season of many, and it’s easy to understand why. There’s so much to do! Enjoy summertime to the fullest by trying something new and spending more time with friends and family. You won’t regret it as the season wraps up and we head into fall – which will be here before we know it!
So you’re in a groove with your exercise program and decide to take it up a notch. When you wrap up the session, you’re sweating profusely. You immediately think, “Oh, that’s going to hurt” and ask yourself, “How long is it going to take for me to fully recover?” First, kudos for pushing yourself. But, don’t forget that once the workout is over, recovery is a major key in getting up and moving again the next day. Here are seven ways to optimize recovery and get you back to another hard-hitting session as soon as possible.
- Make the first hour count. Many know of the window of opportunity where eating is best because you burn calories faster than if you ate several hours later. But did you know that if you miss that window, you’re actually decreasing your chances of a full recovery? Research shows that even consuming a post-exercise snack or meal immediately after working out is better than eating only one hour later. If you wait too long (1-3 hours later), nutrient replenishment and protein repair could diminish.
- Not all food is equal when it comes to recovery. Building on how important the timing is of your next meal, don’t skimp on nutrients. Who hasn’t thought they earned a burger and French fries after a tough workout? Eating a good protein-to-carbohydrate ratio is paramount. Whether it’s a turkey sandwich or cereal, here are some options to consider adding to your diet.
- Remember to stretch. Stretching is one of those activities that can go by the wayside if you’re rushed. Yet, it’s also one of the most critical in ensuring that you come back in full form later. According to Health.com, here are the best post-workout stretches – even if you feel like you don’t have enough time.
- Embrace the foam roller. Foam rolling is close to getting a massage. And, bonus: foam rollers and barbells help the lymphatic system get rid of waste created during a tough session. Just make sure you’re using them correctly. Here are some tips from Greatist to ensure you’ll be a foam-rolling pro in no time.
- Sleep it off. Sleep can be an overlooked component of any exercise regimen, but it’s actually one of the most important. If your plan is really tough and only going to increase in intensity, you’ll need at least eight hours of sleep a night. More studies show that sleep is when the body has time to fully recover and rebuild. So many important processes take place while sleeping, such as the body fighting off the inflammation associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Go low impact. If you struggle to move your arms or legs the day after your tough workout, then you may want to think about how to best avoid overexertion. For instance, if you maxed out on leg day, running five miles the next day will most likely not be in the cards for you. Perhaps consider swimming or yoga to still reap training benefits while protecting yourself from overtraining.
- Know when to take a rest day. You may wake up the next day so painfully sore, attempt a low-impact exercise such as walking and miserably fail. That’s okay. It’s a sign that you need to take some time to rest and recover. It can be hard to know when you’ve hit the overtraining limit, but the best plan is to always err on the side of caution and take the day off. If you’re not sure you need a rest day, consider these five signs that you may be missing.
Whether you’re frequently pushing yourself or just beginning to take it to the next level, don’t forget that recovery is one of the most critical components of a robust exercise regimen. And, if you exercise too intensely and panic about what to do so that you’re not sore for a week, consider these tips. From preventing injuries to helping you see progress, recovery will help you tackle your next tough workout.
Have you noticed or accepted that you’re not getting enough sleep? If you can’t fall asleep or if you sleep for a full eight hours and don’t wake up feeling refreshed, there could be a few sneaky culprits that are keeping you from getting enough rest. Consider the following six surprising reasons you’re not getting enough quality sleep.
- You check your email or browse the Internet before bed. Did you know the blue light from your devices’ screens tricks your brain into thinking it needs to be awake and slows the production of melatonin (the hormone that tells us it’s time for bed)? Create a wind-down routine that doesn’t involve any electronic devices. Make a cup of tea, write in a journal or read for 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Your room temperature is either too hot or too cold. As we approach warm summer nights, it’s important to know you’ll need to keep your bedroom cool to get amazing rest. The perfect temperature is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. And for the best sleep possible, you should think of your bedroom as a sanctuary. If it’s cluttered or doesn’t have adequate shades to keep out street lights, then you may want to consider upgrading to new shades and keep your room clean and free of distractions.
- You need a new mattress. If you wake up feeling stiff or have back pain, then you may need to upgrade to a new mattress. Here’s how to tell if you need a new one. If you’re interested in a new mattress, consider purchasing one from the REM-Fit SLEEP collection.
- You eat too much or too little before bedtime. Eating too much before bedtime can cause you to wake up during the night. Ideally, don’t eat large, heavy meals for two hours before you go to bed. However, if you go to bed with a rumbling stomach, you most likely will have difficulty falling asleep or will wake up in the middle of the night. If you notice you’re often hungry before bed, find a happy medium by eating a little more at dinner or budgeting an extra 100-150 calories to allow for a bedtime snack.
- You consumed too much caffeine. Caffeine can crop up in surprising places. If you love dark chocolate, don’t forget that it usually has more caffeine than milk chocolate. For instance, Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bar contains 31 milligrams of caffeine, which is almost the same as a can of Coca-Cola. While some people can consume more than others, you should avoid consuming more than 400 milligrams (four cups of coffee) in order avoid the negative side effects of too much caffeine.
- You exercise too little or too much. People who exercise regularly report getting better rest than those who don’t exercise according to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation. Even adding a 10-minute workout can improve sleep quality. On the flip side, if you’re working out too much, you may find you’re getting less sleep than if you scaled back a little bit. Be on the lookout for signs that you need a rest day.
Hopefully, these six tips will help you improve the quality of your sleep. Good luck as you strive to reach for amazing shut-eye!
We’ve all been there. Everything is going great, and then suddenly anything bad that could happen crashes down all at once. On the days where it feels like everything is spiraling out of control, take a deep breath and think of these six tips to help you weather the storm.
- Listen to music: Music can help alleviate any bad mood. One study found that listening to music released dopamine, which helps with feeling relaxed, less anxious and not as stressed.
- Work it out: Countless articles and studies show the positive effects exercise can have on the body when it comes to relieving stress. Have you ever found yourself debating whether you’re too stressed to exercise? Next time, consider this scenario SELF
- Take a nap: Feeling overwhelmed? If you lie down and take a quick nap, you may find when you wake up you feel more refreshed and have a clear mind to tackle the day’s challenges. Even if you’re not able to sleep, by letting your heart rate slow down, you’ll give yourself time to create a plan of attack. Don’t forget to consider your sleep environment, too; you’ll want to go somewhere you can relax and have a comfortable pillow handy, such as the REM-Fit Adjustable Pillows.
- Watch a funny video: If you have two minutes, watch one of your favorite YouTube videos. If you’re able to genuinely laugh, you’ll most likely feel a lot better after. It’s amazing the effect that laughter has on the body.
- Focus on what you can control in that instant: By concentrating on only what you can do at that exact moment, you’ll realize that you do have power over your bad day. A lot of times, a bad day seems terrible because things happen that are beyond our control. Turn your day around by focusing your energy on one thing at a time.
- Hug or give someone a high-five: Research shows that physical touch can be a mood booster. It also can make you smarter and less stressed. Why don’t we give high-fives more often?
Some days it’s easy to want to throw in the towel and start over the next day. However, for the times where you need to keep powering through, don’t forget other simple things, such as calling a good friend or writing down what you’re thankful for. Hopefully, you’ll be back to your normal self in no time.
Have you ever felt like you hit a wall in your fitness routine? If you’re no longer seeing progress or you’re not excited about your usual workout, it may be time to shake it up. Here are seven ways to add excitement to your regimen while still getting a killer workout.
- Get out of your comfort zone: It can be intimidating, but if you try something completely new (Rock climbing? Boxing? Zumba?), the change-up will surprise your body. Keeping your body guessing is a good thing because you’re less likely to experience plateaus when you experiment with new exercises.
- Limit your workout time: Do you spend more than an hour at the gym? This could be contributing to your burnout. Consider how to get as much done as quickly as possible (think about combining two moves together, not rushing). Once you up the intensity to complete a workout sooner, you’ll notice a big difference.
- Track your activity: If you don’t have one already, a sleep and activity tracker, such as the REM-Fit Active 200, can help you see your progress from the beginning and keep you motivated to move forward. Keep your eye on the prize by establishing a new goal to reach.
- Get outside: We’re approaching the summer season, which is the best time of year for summer activities. Hiking, kayaking, cycling, tennis, rollerblading – you name it – are always great choices to get out of the gym and into the great outdoors. And, the REM-Fit Active 200 also tracks more than just steps; it gives you ActivePoints so you can track any activity.
- Consult your resources: Have you never run a 5K? There could be one coming up near you – do some research online to see if there are events around you that you could explore. Or, reach out to a friend to see how he/she stays active – you might be able to buddy up and go to a new class or train together.
- Sleep more: Sleep is a key element of any training plan. The most important part to remember is that you need sleep AND exercise. Many times, we sacrifice one for the other. Stay focused and motivated by making more time for both.
- Check your fundamentals: Taking a timeout to head back to the basics is always a good idea. When you focus on the fundamentals, you may find that you previously had improper form or that you needed to stretch more, which could contribute to plateaus or worse, injuries.
Whether you’re looking for a new challenge or feeling like you’re in the middle of a rut, sometimes you need a break. However, there are ways to stay active, feel great about exercise and see results; it just requires a little bit of change.
Have you ever felt like you dominated your fitness regimen, decided to advance to the next level and then found yourself feeling unmotivated? You probably wondered, “How did that happen?” Surprisingly, the situation could be a classic example of overtraining. When you typically love exercising and going to the gym but all the sudden can’t stand the thought, you need a break. Here are five other instances where it might be worth taking a rest day:
- You’re having trouble sleeping: Too much exercise can impact how much sleep you get at night and affect sleep quality. In one study, 13 cyclists competed at a higher level of intensity over two days. Researchers found that while the cyclists spent more time in bed, they reported that they were getting less sleep than before. Sleep is critical for tissue and muscle repair, too, so you’re going to need plenty of it before you conquer your next challenging workout.
- You can’t concentrate: Overtraining can affect your hormones – leading to mood swings and difficulty concentrating. When this happens, it’s a good idea to stop going at your current rate and prevent yourself from overdoing it more. You may want to consider taking a few days off until you feel like you’re back to normal.
- You’re not seeing progress: You’re working out six days a week and eating clean but notice you haven’t made any progress. The solution isn’t to bump up the six days a week to seven; it most likely will be to scale back and possibly include a few lower-impact exercises to let your body have time to recover. Try it and see if you recognize any changes.
- Your normal workout is harder than usual: Do you usually find running five miles and then weightlifting a few sets to be a breeze but now it seems nearly impossible to complete? Overtraining is probably the culprit. The best path forward is to allow yourself a few rest days.
- You’re painfully (as in you can’t move) sore: Ever added something new to your fitness routine and then found yourself unbearably sore? It’s a sign that you need to take some time to rest and recover. It’s always tough when you’re trying out new workouts to know when you’ve hit the overtraining limit, but the best plan is always to err on the side of caution.
It’s easy to forget that rest is equally important as the exercise. Your body needs time to rebuild and recover. And, quality sleep every night is absolutely necessary to kill your next workout. To monitor your sleep activity and to ensure you’re getting a full eight hours, consider using the REM-Fit Active 200, a fitness and sleep activity tracker that provides qualitative and quantitative data so you can see how active you’ve been throughout the day – and how soundly you slept at night.