10 Foods That Every Breastfeeding Mother Should Include in Her Diet

For women who have recently become mothers, a healthy and nutritious diet is essential to boost lactation while strengthening the immune system. A newborn baby getting her share of required nutrition is just as important, which makes it mandatory for a mother to consume foods that will benefit her physical health and give her enough energy to combat post-pregnancy pressures.

Foods that have calcium, which is lost during the pre- and the post-natal period, must be included in the diet. Foods with omega 3 fatty acids are a great source of DHA for the mother’s milk. Iron which is an important nutrient is very essential since there is loss of blood during childbirth, followed by tiredness and long nights. Other vitamins and minerals like potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin D are essential for new mothers to nurture their newborns. Here are 10 foods that can easily be incorporated in your daily diet to keep yourself and your baby healthy:

Eggs

Besides being an excellent source of protein, they are also readily available in the market and are easy to cook. Eggs are recommended for new moms, not only for adequate protein but also choline, lutein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin and folate. They also contribute to bone strengthening and aid in the baby’s bone and muscle development.

Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are highly recommended for new mothers as they are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as fiber, antioxidants, and minerals including calcium. They suit a new mother’s diet well, as they are low in calories too, and can be consumed in a number of forms like salads, soups, curries, and other preparations.

Garlic

Although garlic as a good source of nutrition for the mother has often been the subject of several debates, studies have found that it truly is beneficial for the baby too. It has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that help combat infections and enhance milk production in the mother’s body.

Whole grains

These are recommended for the mother to get the required amount of carbohydrates for better digestion, and to maintain blood sugar levels. Rice, bread, oatmeal, and so on are a great source of carbs, as well as vitamin B, minerals, and fiber.

Nuts and seeds

They contain protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and work wonders on the skin. Almonds and sesame seeds, in particular, are a great non-dairy source of calcium for breastfeeding moms.

Milk and dairy products

Thanks to breastfeeding, the baby gets the calcium that helps with bone development and strengthening. Therefore, to produce enough milk, dairy products like buttermilk, cheese, and curd are recommended for lactating mothers.

Oranges

Oranges are ideal for breastfeeding mothers thanks to their rich content of vitamin C. Moreover, they strengthen the immune system and boost energy levels.

Legumes and beans

They are a good source of protein, fibre, minerals, iron, and phytochemicals. Beans, lentils, alfalfa, peas, and peanuts must be consumed by new mothers to produce high-quality milk for the child.

Brown rice

The fibre in brown rice helps with postpartum constipation and keeps the mother full while providing her with consistent energy, thus being another recommended dietary inclusion.

Healthy beverages

For breastfeeding mothers, staying hydrated is important to reduce fatigue. Therefore, water and beverages like coconut water and fresh fruit juices are recommended to recover lost electrolytes and retain energy.

8 Nutrition Rules That All New Mothers Must Know

After a long nine months of carefully evaluating every food item, new mothers can finally relax when it comes to rigid food rules post-delivery. Unlike pregnancy, no food is completely banned for a new mother to consume but care still needs to be taken to moderate the amount ingested.

A healthy and balanced diet is the best meal plan in order to provide the baby the nutrients needed for their development. Therefore, it is very important for mothers to include different sources of vitamins and minerals, vital to the health of both mother and child, in their diet. Moreover, new mothers should also inculcate some good eating habits. Here are a few nutrition rules that will benefit new mothers and their babies tremendously:

1. Make up for lost calcium

Post-delivery the new mother experiences severe calcium loss, making it one of the crucial elements that should be included in their diet. Milk, cheeses, and other dairy products are excellent sources for calcium. For vegans, tofu, soya beans, and soy-based drinks should be considered, along with vegetables rich in calcium such as broccoli, cabbage, and lady’s finger. Small fish like sardines and pilchards are also good sources of calcium and should be included in the new mother’s meal plan.

2. Protein is a must!

Inclusion of protein is crucial as it serves as the tissue’s building blocks and fosters growth. The new-born baby is in severe need of these properties and so the new mother must incorporate eggs, lean meat, fish, peanut butter, and beans in their diet.

Rich in protein, eggs are a nutritious snack for nursing mothers

3. Omega-3 fatty acids are important

Women, who have recently given birth and are breastfeeding, need to incorporate omega 3 fatty acids in their diet, as it is a crucial source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA has a number of health benefits for both mother and child, which includes aiding the development of the baby’s eyes and brain, reducing risk of chronic diseases, decreasing effects of ADHD, and more. The best source for omega 3 fatty acids is fish like rawas (Indian salmon) and pomfret. For vegetarian mothers, flaxseed, soya, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are fine sources for the same.

4. Don’t ignore iron

New mothers need to include food containing iron in order to reduce the chances of anemia in their newborns. A deficiency of iron in the body could lead to inadequate growth and development of the baby’s cognition and behavioral abilities. Thus, foods like turkey, chicken, legumes, spinach, and kale should be liberally inserted in the diet.

5. Avoid empty calories

The first few days after delivery are very hectic and it is extremely tempting for the new mother to turn to convenience food or junk food. These contain a number of empty calories that can affect insulin levels in the body which can lead to obesity. Thus, mothers should turn to healthier options that take little to no preparation like carrots, hummus, yogurt, fruits, and hard-boiled eggs.

Experts suggest that nursing mothers limit their daily caffeine intake to two-three cups.

6. Moderate caffeine intake

After nine months of avoiding caffeine, new mothers can finally enjoy a cup of coffee again, but only in moderation, as excess intake of caffeine can leak into the mother’s breast milk and reach the baby’s system. Two or three cups a day is the ideal consumption limit during this time.

7. Eat frequent, healthy meals post-partum

Energy levels drop often during this period, which is why it is advisable to eat smaller meals on a frequent basis. These can keep blood sugar at a more even level, which can help avoid fatigue.

8. Avoid dehydration

Delivering a baby causes immense fluid loss in the mother’s body and it is crucial to replenish them as soon as possible. Drinking enough water can help avoid symptoms of dehydration, which is important for breastfeeding mothers as dehydration leads to a reduction in milk production in the mother’s body.

Using TV Time to Your Advantage

Despite the lure of social media and sports, outdoor activities and hobbies, watching TV still reigns supreme as one of the world’s most popular pastimes. 95% of Americans watch TV every day and watching TV takes up over half of our daily leisure time.

The Atlantic reports that although many predicted TV watching habits would decline with the advent of smartphones and social media platforms, “Americans still watch an absolutely astounding amount of traditional television,” they explain. “In fact, television viewing didn’t peak until 2009-2010, when the average American household watched 8 hours and 55 minutes of TV per day. And the ’00s saw the greatest growth in TV viewing time of any decade since Nielsen began keeping track in 1949-1950: Americans watched 1 hour and 23 minutes more television at the end of the decade than at the beginning.”

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

So, we watch a lot of TV. Is that a bad thing? In a word, yes.

Many of us view TV as a relaxing activity, and in some ways it is. Research shows than brain activity while watching television switches from an active state to a passive, receptive state. The site I Am Awake explains, “In an experiment in 1969, Herbert Krugman monitored a person through many trials and found that in less than one minute of television viewing, the person’s brainwaves switched from Beta waves – brain waves associated with active, logical thought – to primarily Alpha waves”.

This relaxed state, however, comes at a cost. TV watching also has marked, measurable negative effects on our health and wellbeing. LiveScience shares the results of a 25-year study examining TV-watching habits and explains “In the study, researchers looked at the TV viewing habits of more than 3,200 people, who were 25 years old, on average, at the start of the study. The people in the study who watched more than 3 hours of TV per day on average over the next 25 years were more likely to perform poorly on certain cognitive tests, compared with people who watched a little TV, the researchers found.”

Not only that, but when you’re watching TV, you’re not doing other things – like working out, walking, playing sports, or engaging in active hobbies.

So while your mother may have been trying to scare you when she warned you that watching too much TV would rot your brain, she wasn’t far off.

The Upside

The good news is you don’t have to give up your TV watching habits to get healthier. Instead, you can use your TV time to build healthy habits into your day.

Statistically speaking, TV shows run between 11-15 minutes of commercials every hour. That’s 11-15 minutes of workout time if you put your ad-breaks to good use! In our next few articles, we’ll discuss how exercising during commercial breaks can help keep you fit, active, and physically healthy.

Quick Ab Exercises for Commercial Breaks

What can you do in 2-3 minutes? You’re about to find out!

Complete a selection of the following ab exercises during the commercial breaks of your next TV-watching session and see how much your body can do with just a few minutes of work. The key to this habit is persistence, so learn the exercises and stick to it!

Let’s get started.

Two Way Plank Pose

This exercise from Fitness Magazine targets the abdominal muscles with a series of dynamic plank poses perfectly timed for a commercial break. Get ready to feel the burn!

  • Get into a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders and legs straight.
  • Tighten your abs and bring your knee to left elbow.
  • Extend your left leg behind you, then bring your left knee toward your right elbow.
  • Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch to the right leg for another 30 seconds.
  • Do three sets total.

 

Seated Scissors

Thrive Market suggests this simple exercise that will work your lower abdominals. The best part? You can do it without even getting off the couch!

“Sit on the edge of the sofa, leaning back so your torso creates a 45-degree angle with the couch. Raise both legs up in front of you, and do quick, little kicks, alternating between legs. Do 20 kicks, take a five-second rest, and then do 20 more.“

Bicycle Crunches

PopWorkouts suggests this challenging move to work your abs and get your heart rate up, too.

Lie faceup and place your hands behind your head, supporting your neck with your fingers.

2. Have your abs tucked in and the small of your back pushed hard against the floor.

3. Lift your knees in toward your chest while lifting your shoulder blades off the floor.

4. Rotate to the right, bringing the left elbow towards the right knee as you extend the other leg into the air.

5. Switch sides, bringing the right elbow towards the left knee.

6. Alternate each side in a pedaling motion for 3 sets of 12 reps.

Sit-Ups

This classic ab-workout is a classic for a reason. It works your abs as well as your hip flexors, chest, and lower back, too.

HealthLine suggests performing sit-ups using the following technique:

1. Lie down on your back.

2. Bend your legs and place feet firmly on the ground to stabilize your lower body.

3. Cross your hands to opposite shoulders or place them behind your ears, without pulling on your neck.

4. Curl your upper body all the way up toward your knees. Exhale as you lift.

5. Slowly, lower yourself down, returning to your starting point. Inhale as you lower.

These exercises are a great start, but feel free to add in your own favourites, too!

To make your ab workout fun, try competing with yourself to see how many reps you can fit in each commercial break and try to beat your high score.

And remember – while ab exercises alone won’t help you lose belly fat, they do burn calories which can help reveal abdominal muscles and strengthen your core, which is essential for balance and posture. Stick to the habit of exercising during commercial breaks and see how these small efforts add up.

Quick Cardio Exercises for Commercial Breaks

The relaxation you feel from a laid-back evening watching TV and the rush of endorphins you get from a challenging workout – two satisfying feelings that seem like complete opposites unless you blend them.

Doing quick bursts of cardiovascular exercise during commercial breaks is a fantastic way to merge watching your favourite shows with the activity needed to keep your heart healthy and your body strong.

Take a few of these exercises for a test drive the next time an ad-break comes on. Your body will thank you!

5-Move Circuit

Women’s Running spoke to Bedros Keuilian, CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp, who suggested working your way through the following moves for 30-seconds each.

Burpees: Start in a standing position and jump down onto your hands and toes (like the beginning of a pushup). From there, walk or jump your feet up to your hands. Then, jump up straight into the air, with your hands above your head.

Mountain Climbers: Start by getting into a pushup position with your hips slightly raised. Alternate stepping both of your feet to your hands, bringing your knees straightforward in a series of rapid steps, as if you are climbing. Keep stepping for 30 seconds.

V-Ups: Lie flat on your back with your feet together. Start with your arms straight, flat on the ground, above your head. Then, raise your legs and arms all together and try to have them meet in the air above your body. Lower your limbs, then repeat.

Lateral Raise with Dumbbells: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, dumbbells in hand. Keeping your arms straight, raise the dumbbells out to your sides until they reach about forehead level and then lower them. Repeat.

Squats: Start by standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your thighs or straight in front of you. Then, lower your body as if you were sitting in a chair, going down as far as you can. Slowly raise yourself back up repeat.”

[From Women’s Running]

Set a 30-second timer to help guide you through each exercise and see how many circuits you can complete in each commercial break!

Keep it Simple
If complicated moves and quick changes between exercises seem too daunting or complicated, don’t worry, there are some simple exercises you can do to get a great cardio workout.

Jumping rope: You remember this from your childhood, right? Well, dust off your jump rope and get going. Try to jump rope for the entire commercial break – and if you’re not quite there, yet, take a 15-30 second break halfway through, then begin again.

Jumping jacks: If you don’t have a jump rope handy, doing jumping jacks works just as well to get your blood pumping. See how many of these surprisingly challenging exercises you can do during a single commercial break.

Stairs: If you have a set of stairs in your home, try walking or running up and down during commercial breaks. Stair climbing is one of the most challenging cardio exercises, so don’t be surprised when you’re sweaty after just a few minutes! Stairs do a great job of building leg muscle, too.

No matter which cardio exercise you choose, make sure it gets your heart rate up and leaves you feeling a little bit breathless. Take your time easing into it when you first get started, listen to your body, and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Remember, most of the challenge of physical exercise comes down to mind over matter – remind yourself that you can do anything for just three minutes.

Good luck!

Quick Strength Exercises for Commercial Breaks

Before we dive into today’s exercises, it’s important to underline an important perspective on this habit: Exercising during commercial breaks isn’t about punishing yourself for watching TV or “earning” some downtime.

You are allowed to rest. And rather than viewing exercise as punishment for inactivity or payment for something you ate earlier, it’s helpful to remember that exercise is good for your body. Exercise is, in fact, an incredible reward- it helps your body move, realign, and become fitter and stronger. Exercise may feel challenging when we’re doing it, but it pays off in so many ways; relieving stress, building strength, and ensuring we care able to live long, happy, healthy lives.

So next time you’re fitting in a workout during a commercial break, take a moment to appreciate that you’re getting the best of both worlds! A few hours of entertaining TV and the chance to let your body move the way it’s made to.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about building strength! These exercises will target major muscle groups to help you build muscle tone.

Let’s get started.

Squats

The Daily Beast is positively evangelical about this simple exercise, saying that squats “… build full-body strength as you use your core to stabilize and keep everything aligned. The glutes and hamstrings are very large muscles so buy utilizing them you tend to burn a lot of fat. Squats invigorate your nervous system and help your stress response since the squat is a naturally defensive position. They can even help your digestion and the regularity of your bowel movements. This is essentially the swiss army knife of exercise.”

12 Minute Athlete shares this method to proper squatting form:

“Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward. Your arms should be hanging loose by your side. Then engage your core muscles and push out your chest slightly by pulling your shoulder blades towards each other.

Step 2: Bend your knees and squat down as if you were sitting into a chair. Keep your weight on your heels and keep your core tight. Your eventual goal will be to touch your glutes to the back of your calves but if you can only get to parallel right now, that’s fine. Make an effort to keep your knees externally rotated (don’t let them collapse inward). As you lower down, you can either raise your arms straight in front of you or keep them bent in front of your chest. Focus on keeping your torso upright and core tight.

Step 3: Straighten your legs and squeeze your butt to come back up, lowering your arms back to your side.”

Push-Ups

Many of us may dread this familiar exercise but with proper form and repetition, you’ll be able to master the push-up in no time.

Womens Health magazine suggests performing a pushup using the following technique:

“Bring yourself into a high plank position, with your feet to a bit wider than hip-width apart. This will give you more stability. Think about wrapping your shoulders back, but keeping your ribcage knit together. Everything is super engaged in your core.

As you lower yourself down, elbows should point out at a 4:30 and 7:30. Don’t let your elbows flare out, but don’t keep them too narrow, either. Then push into your entire hand and press yourself back up.“

If a standard pushup is too challenging for your current fitness level, don’t worry, everyone has to start somewhere! Rather than modifying a push-up by lowering to your knees, look for a bench, couch, or low coffee table to use, instead. Doing a push-up on an incline will be less challenging than a flat floor, but it will still encourage you to practice proper form.

Planks

This is a surprisingly challenging exercise, especially for one which incorporates virtually no movement! Holding a plank for 1-2 minutes at a time during commercial breaks will engage your core, build abdominal strength, challenge your arms and target your glutes, too.

Greatist advises performing a plank using the following technique:

“1. Plant hands directly under shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder-width) like you’re about to do a pushup.

2. Ground toes into the floor and squeeze glutes to stabilize your body. Your legs should be working, too — be careful not to lock or hyperextend your knees.

3. Neutralize your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond your hands. Your head should be in line with your back.

4. Hold the position for 20 seconds. As you get more comfortable with the move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising your form or breath.”

Perform one of these exercises during each commercial break and you’ll build strength, challenge your muscles, and increase your fitness level, too. Happy sweating!

Does Exercising During Commercial Breaks Have an Effect?

It might not seem like fitting in a little exercise for 2-3 minutes each commercial break could have much of an effect, but the littlest healthy changes in your life DO add up.

Today we’re going to examine the effects of squeezing in a bit of a workout during each commercial break. We’ll crunch the numbers and tell you exactly what this added effort adds up to.

Which Workout?

There are several different options for commercial break workouts, you can follow a workout video, do some cardio work, or focus on distinct muscle groups like abs or arms. Today we’ll look at the results of two different methods.

Step Up

For beginners, simply stepping in place during every commercial break is a great place to start. According to one study, walking in place during each commercial break helped burn an average of 148 calories per hour. If you watch 2-3 hours of television each day that easily adds up to 296-444 calories! It takes a 3500-calorie deficit to lose one pound of fat, so by using this method you’d be able to lose a pound every 8-11 days.

Now, a single pound might not sound like much but by maintaining this habit for a year, you’d be able to lose up to 45 lbs., just by putting your commercial breaks to good use.

HIIT the Ground Running

If you wanted to step it up a notch (pun intended), start doing short bursts of HIIT workouts during commercial breaks. This high-intensity interval training style is perfectly suited to situations like this because it combines short periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of rest to get your heart rate to return to normal.

With HIIT workouts you’re getting your heart rate up higher and doing more challenging exercises than simply stepping in place, so your calorie burn will be higher as well.

There are around 15 minutes of commercial time every hour – for those of us who watch 2-3 hours of TV each day, that’s 45 minutes of workout time! The number of calories you burn during a workout varies according to age, weight, gender and fitness level, but on average, a 45-minute HIIT workout can burn around 500-600 calories. Keep at these workouts every day and you’ll lose a pound a week, or 52 pounds in a year! For an added burn, step in place throughout your TV show and do HIIT workouts during the break.

Slow and Steady

The beauty of this habit lies in its simplicity. You don’t need to rearrange your schedule, buy fancy equipment or invest in a gym membership. You simply fit a few active minutes into each hour and watch your efforts add up!

Next, we’ll walk you through some quick, effective workouts to do during each commercial break. Stay tuned!

Meditation 101: Understanding the Mind

If you’re trying to begin a regular meditation practice, it can be helpful to understand why meditation works to calm the mind, soothe the spirit, and improve physical wellbeing.

Brain Waves

The main reason that meditation is so effective at creating a state of calm in your life is due to the activity in your brain during focused meditation. The brain has five distinct types of brain waves:

  • Gamma State: Hyperactivity and active learning
  • Beta State: Working mind/thinking mind – we spend most of our day in this state
  • Alpha State: Calm, peaceful, grounded
  • Theta State: Deeper state of awareness, this is where your mind sits during a meditation practice
  • Delta State: Tibetan monks can reach this state during meditation, but most of us experience it only during deep sleep

Meditation works to shift your brain activity towards lower frequency brain waves, which means your brain activity is slowed down and you have more time between thoughts, which means you have a greater awareness of your thoughts and greater control over which thoughts you invest in. This awareness is key in moderating your inner thoughts and your reactions to them.

How to Meditate

Although there are special meditation cushions and pillows available for purchase, you don’t need any special equipment to meditate, just yourself and the willingness to learn a new skill.

Here are five steps to starting a meditation practice, adapted from Leo Babauta’s Meditation Guide at Zen Habits.

1. First, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. It helps if you wear loose clothing that won’t bind, dig in, or restrict your body at all. A quiet place may help you focus, especially as a beginner.

2. Sit cross-legged or lie down in a neutral position (on your back with your arms at your sides).

3. Start to bring your awareness to your breath. Don’t change your breathing, just notice it. Notice what parts of your body move as you breathe, anywhere you’re holding tension in your body, and how your breath feels as you continue to inhale and exhale.

4. Continue breathing. Some find that it’s easier to maintain focus if you count your breaths – “one” as you breathe in, “two” as you breathe out, and so on. Start over each time you reach ten.

5. As you sit, your mind will want to wander. This is normal! Our minds like to be busy and we’re used to constant distraction and stimulation. It can be really hard to simply sit with our thoughts and not try to avoid them, indulge them, or follow them. But this is your goal! Simply count your breaths. In and out.  In and out.

When you noticed that your mind has wandered away from your breath, just smile and bring it back. Do this as many times as necessary.

Start Small

In the beginning, aim to meditate for just 2 minutes before bed. This seems like a short length of time (and it is!) but it can also feel like an eternity when you’re trying to calm a wild and easily distracted mind. It’s important, to begin with small, easily achievable goals in order to establish a solid habit.

As you progress, add a minute or two to your meditations each week, until you reach ten minutes at a time. Stay tuned for more meditation tips!

What Are Negative Thoughts?

Our minds are a constantly-flowing stream of thoughts. Some conscious, some unconscious, but all day, every day, they show up in our minds and ask us to pay attention to them. You might be surprised to know just how many thoughts we have each day – according to the National Science Foundation, between 12,000 to 60,000.

More shocking, however, is that approximately 80% of those thoughts are negative, and 95% are repetitive.

This means that for most of the day, we’re ingesting a steady diet of repetitive, negative thoughts. These thoughts can be about our weight, our looks, our performance, our achievements, our social interactions, our finances, our decisions – you name it, we think negatively about it.

What Effect Do Negative Thoughts Have?

It’s not just that negative thoughts are a bummer – they have marked, measurable effects on your mental health.

Psychology Today reports, “Last year, a study of more than 30,000 people revealed that harping on negative life events (particularly through rumination and self-blame) can be the prime predictor of some of today’s most common mental health problems. Results from the eye-opening U.K. study, the largest of its kind, indicated that it isn’t just what happens to us that matters, but how we think about it that shapes our psychological well-being.”

We don’t have control over everything that happens to us – accidents occur, our health falters, relationships end and jobs come and go – but we can control how we think about these events. That’s where negative thinking comes to play.

What is Negative Thinking?

Most negative thinking shows up in the form of a critical inner voice. Dr. Lisa Firestone explains that a critical inner voice is “an internal dialogue that drives rumination, self-blame and self-loathing. It mocks us, shames us, scares us and lures us into self-limiting or self-destructive behavior. It tells us not to trust the people we love. It influences us to not try to reach a goal. It advises us and subdues us, keeping us seemingly safe inside a miserable, albeit familiar, shell.”

For some of us, the critical inner voice sounds a lot like one or both of our parents. For others, it’s simply a voice that seems never satisfied, endlessly critical, and unnecessarily cruel. To understand how harsh your negative thoughts can be, ask yourself if you’d ever talk to a friend or loved one the way you talk to yourself inside your own head.

Digesting a steady stream of negativity can be terrible for your mental and physical health, but it is possible to interrupt the process by reframing negative thoughts into positive ones. Stay tuned to find out how!

 

Dear Men, Here’s Why You Should Train Harder, For Less Time

A new study, published in Experimental Physiology by researchers from the University of Glasgow, has highlighted several of the positive health effects of short duration, high-intensity resistance exercise training programme in overweight men.

According to the study, a six-week programme consisting of three 15 minute sessions per week dramatically improves insulin sensitivity, as well as muscle size and strength in men.

The authors hope that these results can be shown to apply to individuals with Type II diabetes, of whom 90 per cent are overweight or obese.

According to the study, short-duration bouts of exercise to exhaustion are just as effective in improving insulin sensitivity (how sensitive the body is to the effects of the hormone, insulin) as longer duration (45 minutes) resistance exercise sessions. Such short sessions might be more appealing and attainable in a world where time is a frequently cited barrier to physical activity.

Notably, when insulin sensitivity decreases (as in Type II diabetes), blood sugars rise, which in the short-term can lead to feelings of fatigue, but over time is related to complications including heart disease and stroke.

Previous research had suggested 45 minutes of resistance training with multiple sets of each exercise could increase insulin sensitivity, muscle size and muscle strength, but no studies had tested the efficacy of shorter exercise resistance exercise programmes.

The research team recruited ten overweight men (as distinguished by a Body Mass Index of 25-30), who trained three times a week for six weeks.

Each training session involved a single set of nine standard resistance exercises such as leg presses and bicep curls, performed at 80 per cent of their maximum single repetition lift until volitional failure (i.e. when a further repetition could not be completed).

Muscle size, muscle strength and insulin sensitivity were measured before and after the training period. Comparisons of these measurements revealed that insulin sensitivity increased by 16 per cent following the exercise regimen.

Stuart Gray, who led the research group, is already thinking of other ways to build on his team’s work.

“On top of these results, we know that the gym is not for everyone. Therefore, we also need to see if we can get people doing similar exercises at home without gym equipment, to achieve similarly beneficial effects,” he said.

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