Best fitness tracker for Cyber Monday: track steps, activity, sleep and cardio

Looking to get fit in 2020? The best fitness tracker (aka a fitness band, aka “those things you wear that count your steps”) is a decent place to start, especially if you’re trying to stick to New Year resolutions, even though it’s only autumn. Fitness trackers are not expensive but the best Cyber Monday deals brought the prices down even further. 

• Shop the best cheap Fitbit deals on right now. 

With the market extremely well established there really is something for everyone in terms of prices, from around £20 to £200+, with products that do little more than count steps and ‘track sleep’, with varying degrees of inaccuracy, all the way up to devices with heart-rate tracking that are more like scaled down running watches.

After many years of doing very little beyond counting steps, makers of trackers and bands are now realising that many consumers want more useful feedback on how fit they are and how to get fitter. They are addressing this with, it must be said, ‘varying’ degrees of success. Or, if you’re less diplomatic, not much success.

To cut a long story short, if you’re interested in fitness, my strong advice is to get a running watch instead. The term ‘running watch’ is just shorthand – they’re fitness watches that also useful when cycling, hiking, at the gym and even, in a few cases, swimming. 

However, if you must have a Fitbit or similar, get the new Charge 4 or one of their more versatile watches such as the Versa 2. 

But what is the best fitness tracker?

Okay, it’s a Fitbit. Quite hard deciding which, as they are so similar in terms of functionality but at present we rank them like this:

Fitbit Charge 4: best fitness tracker overall. Finally, Fitbit has given runners, HIIT workout heroes and anyone who likes more intense exercise what they want. There’s GPS to track outdoor activity, improved pulse monitoring accuracy and a new points system that rewards SWEAT. 

Fitbit Versa 2: best fitness tracker with smartwatch elements. With fairly good pulse tracking, Alexa, and an excellent app, this is a good fitness band made just big enough to incorporate a smartwatch-style screen and functionality. No GPS built in but you can tap into your phone’s.

Fitbit Versa Lite: best cheap fitness tracker and easily good enough for most people.

Garmin Vivoactive 4: best fitness tracker made by someone other than Fitbit. with built-in GPS, tracking of more intense workouts and impressive accuracy, this is obviously the device that the Charge 4 was built to take on. The look and feel of it, plus the social and app elements are a bit crappier, however.

Fitbit’s app, social network and general ecosystem are just by far the best. Seriously, it’s not even close. Garmin’s new, tightened-up app is a step in the right direction in some ways, but it’s still too sprawling, because it’s designed to be for everyone from 10,000-steps-per-day mums to elite triathletes. 

One

Read more

Best fitness tracker for Black Friday: track steps, activity, sleep and cardio

Looking to get fit in 2020? The best fitness tracker (aka a fitness band, aka “those things you wear that count your steps”) is a decent place to start, especially if you’re trying to stick to New Year resolutions, even though it’s only autumn. Fitness trackers are not expensive but the best Black Friday deals and best Cyber Monday deals. 

• Shop the best cheap Fitbit deals on right now. 

With the market extremely well established there really is something for everyone in terms of prices, from around £20 to £200+, with products that do little more than count steps and ‘track sleep’, with varying degrees of inaccuracy, all the way up to devices with heart-rate tracking that are more like scaled down running watches.

After many years of doing very little beyond counting steps, makers of trackers and bands are now realising that many consumers want more useful feedback on how fit they are and how to get fitter. They are addressing this with, it must be said, ‘varying’ degrees of success. Or, if you’re less diplomatic, not much success.

To cut a long story short, if you’re interested in fitness, my strong advice is to get a running watch instead. The term ‘running watch’ is just shorthand – they’re fitness watches that also useful when cycling, hiking, at the gym and even, in a few cases, swimming. 

However, if you must have a Fitbit or similar, get the new Charge 4 or one of their more versatile watches such as the Versa 2. 

But what is the best fitness tracker?

Okay, it’s a Fitbit. Quite hard deciding which, as they are so similar in terms of functionality but at present we rank them like this:

Fitbit Charge 4: best fitness tracker overall. Finally, Fitbit has given runners, HIIT workout heroes and anyone who likes more intense exercise what they want. There’s GPS to track outdoor activity, improved pulse monitoring accuracy and a new points system that rewards SWEAT. 

Fitbit Versa 2: best fitness tracker with smartwatch elements. With fairly good pulse tracking, Alexa, and an excellent app, this is a good fitness band made just big enough to incorporate a smartwatch-style screen and functionality. No GPS built in but you can tap into your phone’s.

Fitbit Versa Lite: best cheap fitness tracker and easily good enough for most people.

Garmin Vivoactive 4: best fitness tracker made by someone other than Fitbit. with built-in GPS, tracking of more intense workouts and impressive accuracy, this is obviously the device that the Charge 4 was built to take on. The look and feel of it, plus the social and app elements are a bit crappier, however.

Fitbit’s app, social network and general ecosystem are just by far the best. Seriously, it’s not even close. Garmin’s new, tightened-up app is a step in the right direction in some ways, but it’s still too sprawling, because it’s designed to be for everyone from 10,000-steps-per-day mums to elite triathletes. 

One outlier

Read more

Good Sleep Habits Tied to Lower Risk of Heart Failure

A combination of healthy sleep habits may help reduce the risk for heart failure, new research suggests.

Scientists studied 408,802 generally healthy people aged 27 to 73 between 2006 and 2010, collecting information on their sleep habits. Each person got a zero-to-five “healthy sleep score,” based on five healthy sleep practices: being a “morning person”; sleeping seven to eight hours a night; rarely or never snoring; rarely having insomnia; and rarely being excessively sleepy during the day.

Over an average follow-up of 10 years, there were 5,221 cases of heart failure. Compared with people who scored zero or one, those who scored two had a 15 percent reduced risk for heart failure; those who scored three had a 28 percent reduced risk; and those who scored four a 38 percent risk reduction. Those who scored a perfect five had a 42 percent lower risk of heart failure compared with those who scored zero or one.

The study, in the journal Circulation, controlled for smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity, diabetes, hypertension and other variables. It is an observational study, however, so it does not prove causality.

“We should consider all of these sleep behaviors together rather than treating them as separate phenomena,” said the senior author Dr. Lu Qi, a professor of epidemiology at Tulane University. “People regulate their sleep as a whole, not as separate events.”

Source Article

Read more

My Weight-Loss Efforts Are Messing With My Sleep. Any Knockout Tips?

It’s a nightmarish scenario: you stave off cravings from dawn to dusk, only to be rewarded with a night of broken sleep. Not only will you struggle to recover properly from yesterday’s workout, but your sleep deprivation causes the hunger hormone ghrelin to surge, making another day of sticking to the meal plan all the more difficult.



The MH experts put this problem to bed for good


© Malte Mueller
The MH experts put this problem to bed for good

If you want to put this problem to bed for good, you need to wake up to your diet’s deficiencies. As nutritionist and weight-loss consultant Kim Pearson explains: “If you suddenly slash your daily calorie count too far, your blood sugar levels will plummet at night. And to stop it from dropping further, your body releases stress hormone cortisol. That’s what jolts you awake at 3am.”

Sadly, indiscriminately scoffing more calories isn’t the remedy for blissful slumber – a Pot Noodle free pass, this ain’t. While your body will burn through a plate of starchy food and max your blood sugar concentrations mid-sleep, an evening meal of protein, healthy fats and fibre offers a slow-energy release, says Pearson. Plus, upping your intake of steadily digestible fibre promotes the release of your sleep hormone melatonin, knocking you out 20 minutes faster, according to the Journal of Sleep Medicine.

Don’t worry if this upsets your overall calorie tally, as extra time between the sheets can power up your diet’s fat-burning potential. As a University of Chicago study found, increasing your sleep time from five to eight hours supercharges your metabolism, helping you shift 55% more body fat over a period of two weeks. It’s a weight-loss plan so easy that you can do it with your eyes closed.

Sign up to the Men’s Health newsletter and kickstart your home body plan. Make positive steps to become healthier and mentally strong with all the best fitness, muscle-building and nutrition advice delivered to your inbox.

SIGN UP

For effective home workouts, uplifting stories, easy recipes and advice you can trust, subscribe to Men’s Health UK.

SUBSCRIBE

Source Article

Read more

Sleep experts: It’s time to ditch daylight saving time

Oct. 30 (UPI) — For most of the United States, the clock goes back one hour on Sunday morning, the “fall back” for daylight saving time. Many of us appreciate the extra hour of sleep.

But for millions, that gain won’t counter the inadequate sleep they get the rest of the year. About 40% of adults — 50 to 70 million Americans — get less than the recommended minimum seven hours per night.

Some researchers are concerned about how the twice-a-year switch impacts our body’s physiology. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the largest scientific organization that studies sleep, now wants to replace daylight saving time with a move to a year-round fixed time. That way, our internal circadian clocks would not be misaligned for half the year. And it would eliminate the safety risk from sleep loss when transitioning to daylight saving time.

I am a neurologist at the University of Florida. I’ve studied how a lack of sleep can impair the brain. In the 1940s, most American adults averaged 7.9 hours of sleep a night. Today, it’s only 6.9 hours. To put it another way: In 1942, 84% of us got the recommended seven to nine hours; in 2013, it was 59%. To break it down further, a January 2018 study from Fitbit reported that men got even less sleep per night than women, about 6.5 hours.

The case for sleep

Problems from sleep shortage go beyond simply being tired. Compared to those who got enough sleep, adults who are short sleepers — those getting less than seven hours per day — were more likely to report 10 chronic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma and depression.

Children, who need more sleep than adults, face even more challenges. To promote optimal health, 6- to 12-year-olds should sleep nine to 12 hours a day; teens age 13 to 18, eight to 10 hours. But a Sleep Foundation poll of parents says children are getting at least one hour less than that. And researchers have found that sleep deprivation of even a single hour can harm a child’s developing brain, affecting memory encoding and attentiveness in school.

Sleep impacts every one of our biological systems. Serious consequences can result with poor sleep quality. Here’s a short list: Blood pressure may increase. Risk of coronary heart disease could go up. Our endocrine system releases more cortisol, a stress hormone. We become more aroused by “fight or flight” syndrome. There’s a reduction of growth hormone and muscle maintenance. There’s a higher chance of increased appetite and weight gain. The body has less glucose tolerance and greater insulin resistance; in the long term, that means an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Sleep deprivation is associated with increased inflammation and a decreased number of antibodies to fight infections. It may also cause a decrease in pain tolerance, reaction times and memory. Occupational studies show sleep loss can cause poor work performance, including more days missed and more car accidents.

Recent research

Read more

Insomnia With Short Sleep Linked to Cognitive Impairment



Dr Julio Fernandez-Mendoza

Insomnia with objective short sleep duration is associated with a significantly increased risk of cognitive impairment (CI), particularly as it relates to cardiometabolic health, new research suggests.

Results of a population-based analysis show that participants who reported poor sleep or chronic insomnia and who objectively slept less than 6 hours per night had a twofold increased risk for CI.

The findings suggest that insomnia with objective short sleep duration is a more severe phenotype that is associated with cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and neurocognitive disease, according to the researchers. The findings also indicate that objective sleep measures may reflect a patient’s insomnia severity and phenotype.

“This is the first study to show that adults who complain of insomnia and sleep objectively fewer than 6 hours in the lab have a twofold increased prevalence of mild cognitive impairment, particularly cognitive impairment associated with vascular contributors such as stage 2 hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or stroke,” Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania, told Medscape Medical News.

The research was published online September 24 in Sleep.

Highly Prevalent

The prevalence of insomnia symptoms in the general population may be as high as 30%, and approximately 15% of the general population has chronic insomnia.

Previous research has established an association between insomnia and psychiatric disorders, but fewer studies have examined the association between insomnia and cognitive impairment.

Furthermore, many studies that have analyzed the relationship between sleep and cognitive impairment have relied on self-reported measures of sleep, rather than objective measures.

For the study, researchers examined data from the Penn State Adult Cohort, which was a random, population-based sample of 1741 adults. Each participant spent one night in the sleep laboratory, during which he or she underwent 8 hours of polysomnography.

Participants also completed a questionnaire about sleep disorders, physical and mental health status, and substance use. They reported having normal sleep, poor sleep, or chronic insomnia.

The investigators obtained each participant’s clinical history, including mental and physical health conditions. Participants also underwent a battery of neuropsychological tests, including the Mini-Mental State Examination, the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, and the Trail Making Test.  

The analysis included 1524 participants. The study population had a mean age of 48.9 years. Approximately 47% of participants were men, and about 92% were non-Hispanic Whites.

A total of 155 participants (10.2%) had CI. Overall, 899 participants (59%) reported normal sleep, 453 (30%) reported poor sleep, and 172 (11%) reported chronic insomnia.

Need for Objective Assessment

Poor sleep and chronic insomnia were not significantly associated with CI or possible vascular cognitive impairment (pVCI). However, objective short sleep duration was significantly linked to CI (odds ratio [OR], 1.90) and marginally associated with pVCI (OR, 1.53).

Participants with self-reported poor sleep or chronic insomnia who slept less than 6 hours had a significantly increased risk of CI (OR, 2.06 and 2.18, respectively), as well as increased risk of pVCI (OR, 1.94 and 2.33, respectively), compared with participants with

Read more

Get Over Your Sleep Disorder With Orthomolecular Medicine

Treating and healing sleep disorders with ordinary amino acids is the basis for Orthomolecular Medicine. Large doses of naturally found proteins called amino acids can repair the imbalance in the brain and repair its malfunction. These amino acids are affordable and are used in therapeutic doses much larger than those levels normally found in food. The concept of orthomolecular medicine is based upon the use of very large doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or botanical extracts for the cellular repair and enhancement of normal brain activities.

Are you not getting a promotion because you are tired at the office? Are you close to a divorce from fatigue and lack of sleep? Can you not handle your children because you are too tired? Sleep disorders can cause many problems and you may not be able to break the pattern on your own. Sleeping pills can help you fall asleep, but most cause you to sleep too much or wake up with fatigue. Modern orthomolecular medicine can help these problems disappear for many people within several weeks. There may be sleep habits that also need to be altered and dietary changes that should be made. Do not eat or watch television in the bedroom if you have sleeping problems. Stay out of bed until you are ready to fall asleep. Purchase a good mattress and cotton, silk, linen, hemp, or wool linens for the bedroom. Try to avoid caffeine and excess alcohol in the late afternoon and evening. Do not take over the counter sleeping aids.

Orthomolecular Medicine uses several supplements to improve and improve sleep. These can be botanical products like Kava, Valerian, St John's Wort, Passion Flower, Lemon Balm, and Chamomile. The botanicals should be taken on a daily basis for several months. This may take three to five weeks to make a noticeable change in sleep.

Melatonin and a combination of Vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium should be tried for very serious sleep problems. Melatonin does not always work and should be taken in levels of 1.5 to 3 mcg / day about thirty minutes prior to bedtime. You may want to take selenium along with the melatonin to enhance your immune system.

Chinese patent formulas to improve sleep include Amnien Pian, Bu Nao Wan, and Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan. There are at least twelve different patent formulas from China that can aid sleep. The correct formula is selected based upon your needs. Most Chinese patent formulas should be taken for at least six weeks or longer to address the underlying disorder causing the insomnia symptom.

Amino acids needed to enhance sleep include 5-HTP, theanine, and GABA. The addition of bio-identical hormones may be needed for men in andropause or women in menopause. Do not ever take any type of hormone without a blood test or saliva test to determine which hormones are low. Remember that the Chinese have avoided many sleep disorders and hormone imbalances by using food therapy and Chinese herbs. Consider these options with …

Read more

Why Sleep Is So Powerful For Mental Health

In this fast-paced western society we are constantly connected and available 247, we have information flowing into us on a daily basis and there's an increasing expectation for us to respond instantly. Given all of this, there is a growing need for us to be operating or functioning in terms of our mental health not just at 'normal' or 'acceptable' levels, but 'optimal' levels.

Optimal means we are functioning at the highest levels mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, such that we're able to cope well with the demands of life. If we are operating at sub-optimal level, it's much harder for us to perform even the basic of life's functions.

So how do we ensure our health and wellbeing levels are what they should be?

One key contributory factor for long-term mental health and wellness is to ensure we have 7-9 hours of good quality sleep per night.

Repair

Sleep repairs the body. This has a positive knock-on effect to how you function cognitively the next and following days. When we sleep, we sleep in cycles of 60-90 minutes. During that time we oscillate between deep (so-called delta) sleep where the body repairs itself and the lighter REM sleep.

Recall

REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep, or lighter sleep, moves information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. This helps you to better recall information you absorb on a daily basis. It is during this REM phase of sleep that your eyes move rapidly from side to side (hence the name) and that you dream.

Rhythm

Getting to bed at the right time (ideally 10pm) and getting the right amount of sleep every night keeps your circadian rhythm in check. Your circadian rhythm is your natural body clock that gives you signals when it's time for you to sleep and when it's time for you to wake up. Working shift patterns (especially night shifts) can knock this out of balance which can have major consequences not only for your mental and physical health but also for your gut health.

Lack of good quality sleep means that instead of being fully awake and energized during the day, you may find yourself sleepy, sluggish and unable to focus for any significant length of time. In addition, when you're in bed at night you may feel 'tired and wired' (meaning your body is physically tired, but your mind is wide awake and you're therefore unable to sleep).

Melatonin, the hormone that prepares your body for sleep, and serotonin (your awake hormone) need to be in balance for you to function at your best in the day. This means melatonin kicks in naturally from around 9pm (to help you sleep) until about 7am when serotonin is released to take you through the day. When this melatonin, serotonin cycle is in balance you are fully awake during the day and sleepy at night (when you should be). This in turn means you get a better night's sleep.

Immune Booster

So never underestimate the power of sleep if …

Read more