Apple Watch on Wrist

The Apps You Need On Your Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has officially been on the market for five years now, and while the device itself was originally advertised as an “iPhone for your wrist,” the Apple Watch has truly made a name for itself as one of the best wearable fitness tracking devices out there. When the Watch first launched back in 2015, it had about 3,000 compatible applications available to download. Now, there’s over 20,000 apps, 21 of which are pre-downloaded onto the device itself.

“The watch is really about convenience. You’re not going to spend so much screen time on your watch. So I think the secret of building a good Apple Watch app is to think of it as an accessory in addition to something. Very few people use it as a standalone unless it’s for fitness or health, or some kind of monitoring.” said Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research.

So what are some of the best applications for the Apple Watch that have been able to withstand the test of time/multiple generations of Watch upgrades?

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Noise: This application is available for anyone with an Apple Watch Series 4 or later and allows users to measure the ambient sound in your surrounding environment. This application is especially useful for those with hyper-sensitive hearing, or any other type of hearing impairment. If the decibel level in your environment has risen to a point where your hearing itself may be impaired, the app can notify you. 

Cycle Tracking: No not bicycle tracking, menstrual tracking. With this application, individuals who experience menstruation are able to log details about their cycle; including flow information, and what symptoms they normally experience. Using that data the app is able to alert users when it predicts your next cycle to begin, and allows them to track where they’re at every month. 

ECG: As previously stated, the Apple Watch has really made a name for itself as one of the best wearable fitness tracking devices on the market currently. If you have a Series 4 or later, there’s an electrical heart rate sensor built into your watch that works in sync with the ECG app. This app works like a traditional heart monitoring app and tracks your heart-rate as you do various activities throughout the day. 

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Breathe: The breathe app is a reminder to stop for a few moments every day and take a breath. This is an especially great tool to use during this time of constant uncertainty and panic. You can set breath reminders everyday, or just open the app itself when you feel like you need a break. You’ll see a calming animation that encourages you to sync up your breathing with its movements for 5 minutes. During this time, you can also use the app to check your heart rate. 

Remote: If you have an Apple TV, you can use your watch as a second remote using the remote application. If you already have an iPhone or iPad, you may be familiar with this application as it’s available for both those devices as well. 

Walkie-Talkie: The Walkie-Talkie app is definitely one of the most popular Apple Watch apps that has been around since the very beginning. This app allows you to use your watch like a real walkie-talkie for you and any other individual who also has the app. You simply press and hold the button to speak, and then you can listen to it back before sending it on its way, it’s basically like sending voice messages, but you’ll feel much more like James Bond. 

Voice Memos: Speaking of voice messages and memos, this application is perfect for the individual on the go who’s constantly being inspired by the outside world. Instead of taking out your phone and opening up a note to quickly jot down, simply record your memo into your Apple Watch, and it will save the recording across all of your iCloud devices.

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Apple Partners With Gyms to Offer Perks for Working Out

If you own an Apple Watch, you may already be motivated to go to the gym thanks to the watch’s various fitness features, including heart rate monitoring and automatic exercise detection. However, Apple is planning to incentivize owners of the Apple Watch even further by partnering with gyms to offer perks like discounted membership fees and even gift cards for frequent visitors of the gym. Apple’s plan is called “Apple Watch Connected,” and in order for a gym to partner with Apple under this plan, they need to meet a set of standards set by the technology company. In order for a gym to be granted Apple Watch Connected branding, it’ll need to offer four things: an iPhone and Apple Watch app that presents information like class times; Apple Pay support; perks like membership discounts for Apple Watch users; and equipment that supports GymKit, a system Apple uses to sync Apple Watch data with machines like treadmills and ellipticals.

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The partnership should improve the gym-going experience for Apple Watch users, who already enjoy the benefits of continuous heart rate tracking and tracking of other statistics while working out. By using a treadmill that supports GymKit, for instance, gym members can record exact data about their distance and speed while walking or running. The partnership should also encourage more gyms to develop their own apps, which should improve the workout experience for technology fans. In theory, the partnership should benefit Apple as it should expand the number of gyms that support its products, but also the gyms themselves, as the partnership could help them attract and keep customers. 

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As of today, four gyms have already announced their participation in the Apple Watch Connected program, which are YMCA, Crunch Fitness, Basecamp Fitness, and Orange Theory. Initially, the program will only apple to select locations, but Apple hopes to expand its network of participating partners as time goes on. The perks that are offered to Apple Watch customers varies by gym; Crunch Fitness offers membership discounts to regular visitors; Orange Theory is offering gift cards; and the YMCA will donate classes to kids. Apple recognizes that one of the primary appeals of the Apple Watch to consumers is its ability to function as a fitness device, and seeks to capitalize on this demand by giving its customers as many reasons to visit the gym as possible.


How Strava Can Motivate You to Work Out

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to commit to a healthier lifestyle, which often includes regular exercise. But though there is strong agreement about the benefits of a physically active lifestyle, it can be difficult to stay motivated, particularly at the start of a new year when it’s cold outside and gyms are crowded. Luckily, there exist a number of smartphone apps that offer a plethora of features designed to motivate you to maintain a regular and consistent workout schedule. One such app, Strava, motivates runners by allowing them to track their activities, check their stats, and compete with others.

Unlike many sports, running is an activity that can easily become dull over time, as the sport is repetitive, simplistic, and can be grueling. However, running is a very effective way to burn calories and maintain cardiovascular fitness, and it requires virtually no equipment save for a pair of running shoes. Running, like most sports, is more exciting when performed alongside others; however, people who are very busy may have difficulty finding a group of people to run with that fits into their schedule. Recently, though, many smartphone apps have been developed that allow people to virtually compete with one another by tracking their pace and mileage via GPS sensors and letting users upload their statistics to the internet and view others’ stats. A large number of apps exist for this purpose, each offering its own unique set of features, but Strava is perhaps the best choice for runners with a competitive mindset.

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Strava, which calls itself the “social network for athletes,” is available on both Android and iOS devices as well as through a web browser at Like competing apps MapMyRun and Runkeeper, Strava uses your phone’s GPS to record and track your workouts, giving you information about your performance after you complete your run. What sets Strava apart is its inclusion of extensive social features, which take the form of challenges, wherein users compete to achieve a goal designed by the app’s developers, and virtual running clubs, where people can make friends, compare their stats, and organize to meet up in real life. Although Strava is free, the company offers a paid membership called Summit, which unlocks advanced features like more detailed analysis, additional training tools, and safety tools that allow users to share their location with trusted contacts during a run.

While most runners are unlikely to pay the necessary $6 a month for a premium membership, the base app still offers a plethora of features to motivate and engage runners. One distinct benefit of the sport of running is that it’s easy to track your progress over time, as using a GPS tracker lets you know whether your performance has improved, even if only by a few seconds per mile. This characteristic of running makes it particularly appealing to people who like to work with numbers or fans of role playing video games, which are based on the concept of slowly improving your character’s stats over time through continued play. In this way, running can provide the same feeling of accomplishment associated with improving a fictional character’s stats in a video game, with the main difference being an improvement in overall health rather than an improvement in a virtual character’s abilities. The gamification elements offered by apps like Strava only make the sport more appealing to these type of gamers, as the app provides users with a rewarding feedback loop by showing them their progress over time and encouraging them to push harder when appropriate.

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Recently, Strava released its “Year in Sport” report, which analyzes all of the data collected by the app over the year and arrives at conclusions about the user base as a whole. The report found that the number of runners who completed a marathon or ultra distance run rose this year compared to last year, with Japan seeing a 23.2 percent boost. It also found that the runners who were the most successful at maintaining their habits were the ones who woke up early to run, and that people are increasingly recording sports other than running, including yoga and weight training, through the app. Given the growing popularity of technologies like smartwatches and virtual exercise classes, these numbers are sure to continue to rise.


What It’s Like To Be A Low-Ranked Tennis Player On The Tour

Marina Yudanov is the 536th best tennis player in the world. It is an unremarkable statistic that hides a remarkable story. Back at the start of 2017, Yudanov, 29, was earning more than £30,000 a year as an engineer for Volvo in her native Sweden.

She was financially secure and settled, physically at least, in the buzzing second city of Gothenburg. But something was missing. That was when she threw herself into the cut-throat world of a hustling lower-level tennis pro, in search of what might have been.

She funds this testing journey herself, giving everything on court and scrimping everywhere off it. Mammoth road trips over expensive plane tickets, cheap rental flats instead of hotels, sometimes sharing a twin room with the player she is facing the next day.

“Nothing of what I say is me whining or complaining, I really am not,” Yudanov says. “I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to do this but it is very difficult.” Yudanov was once a teenage national champion, but a promising junior career flamed out as the pressures of academia, adolescence and sporting excellence bore down on her.

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“I had been in the top juniors of my age, ranked 250 in the world at 16. But all those things were too much for me,” she says. “I was hanging out with people who were not good for me, smoking, drinking and seeing older men. I thought, ‘I hate this’ and I walked away when I was 18.”

For the next six years, Yudanov didn’t pick up a racquet. But tennis crept back into her life, first as a practice partner for a friend, then as a tentative competitor in national tournaments. Then, aged 27, she handed in her notice. “I had got myself somewhere with a good salary, but every single day I just wanted to get out on court and compete,” she adds.

“I was getting up at 5am to go and do some kind of fitness before work and directly after work I would go and play tennis. It would fill my existence. People at work were like ‘oh that is great, follow your dream’. In the back of their head they thought: ‘What the hell does this girl think she is doing, quitting her job to travel the world and lose money playing tennis?’”

And losing money, certainly at the start, is pretty much inevitable. As an unranked player, as Yudanov was in the summer of 2017, you are a freelance bounty-hunter. Starting a tennis career from scratch involves searching out tournaments with tiny pots of prize money and ranking points, which in turn give you a chance to enter the next tier of slightly larger events and slowly inch your way up the sport’s greasy pole.

Yudanov began with 20,000 euros of family savings, approximately £18,000, to help her cover the costs of travel, accommodation and equipment as she started out. Every decision in her career is an investment. A wager that she will collect enough points and prize money at an individual event to offset her costs.

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The major purchase she would make to help her career if she came into some unexpected money would be a campervan or motorhome to travel to tournaments in. “There are a lot of mental sums in deciding the itinerary,” Yudanov says.

“You check and see if the prize money and the points on offer and if your ranking is going to be good enough to get you in. If there are very few tournaments on a particular week globally, then you are going to have to travel further to find one because the fields will be stronger.

“If I go long haul, can I afford the investment of a plane ticket over there? Can I be there a few days in advance to cope with the jet lag or is that too expensive? Is there another player who might make the journey as well who I could share costs with and practice with? It is a gamble every time.”

Yudanov knows her rewards from tennis won’t be measured in millions of dollars. The bottom line for her is that initial family investment in a last grab at a disappearing dream. She has stemmed the rapid losses she incurred as she found her way on the professional circuit, but is down to her last 5,000 euros, about £4,400.

“I don’t have 10 years ahead of me to keep playing,” she says. “How much time do I have left to keep doing this and how long can I justify playing full time? My end goal is to make a living from competitive tennis. If I get there I want to play forever. Because tennis is where I show everything that I am.”


Golfers Looking To Improve Their Game Urged To Focus On Fitness

Dan Valentine, Director of Fitness at BodySmart Golf has worked within the fitness industry for over 20 years. During this time, he has earned himself the reputation of becoming a top level rotational strength specialist, working with professional athletes from a wide range of sports such as Ice Hockey, Rugby, Tennis and Golf. He has travelled all over the world training athletes to give them the edge they need to outperform the competition, working with players performing at the very highest levels of sport including the NHL, England Rugby, US Golf Tour Pros and the ATP. All of these players require rotational power and strength, whether it be to hit a 100mph slap shot or hit a drive over 300 yards.

Dan has a Honors Bachelors Sport Science with Coaching degree from one of the top sporting universities in the country. Studying subjects such as Advanced Biomechanics and Exercise Science put him on his path to understanding how the body moves, what muscles are being used and what exercises are best to achieve the desired result. He is certified by the Titleist Performance Institute to work with golfers of all levels, analysing movement through screening in order to ascertain what exercises need to be done to improve.

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Even the most experienced of golfers can suffer from frustrating physical limitations that hold them back from achieving their full potential. These can even cause some golfers to consider abandoning the game altogether as they know exactly what they are trying to do, but their body will not let them. Dan argues that it is here where a coach or fitness specialist provide vital support to move forward as they can take a look at your performance as a whole and use their expert knowledge to help your improve upon your physical weaknesses.  

For Dan, there are certain physical limitations that hinder the development of golfers. When coaching, he checks the head position of the golfer during the backswing as this can be a clear indicator tight neck muscles if this is incorrect. Similarly, limited hip movements can cause golfers to be unable to move towards the ball and an incorrect finishing position demonstrates a lack of balance or problems in the downswing. 

The game of golf can quickly lead to injury if the player is not fully prepared and this is why Dan thinks it is so important for players looking to enhance their game to work with a dedicated fitness coach. He says that attempting to hit the ball like Tiger Woods or Gary Woodland will only cause physical issues and injury if the player is not equipped with the physical capabilities to support their actions. 

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Four areas Dan thinks are vital to golf fitness are mobility, balance, strength and speed – when all three are invested in the player becomes much more likely to reach their golfing goals. 


Dan argues that to be successful in golf, golfers should have a wide range of movements so they are able to seamlessly move from one position to another, particularly in the swing. Without high levels of mobility, the golfer will find it tough to extend through their arms, rotate through the upper spine and limit any hip turn when on the downswing. He says that a fitness coach can support any golfer, at any level, to increase their mobility. 


For Dan, balance is of vital importance to a successful golf swing. Without it any golfer will struggling to put power into their shots. A firm connection should always be made with the ground as this helps to control the swing. Balance and mobility go hand in hand as they help golfers to create defined and controlled movements that do not cause any physical difficulties. 


He says that the strength and power from a golf swing comes from the kinetic chain. This begins at the feet, move up the body and to the hands into the swing. It is only when this is a fluid movement absent from pauses will the swing have maximum speed and power. Dan thinks that the most effective golf programmes not only include strategies to increase strength but it should also include techniques to help golfers utilise their power most efficiently.


Dan thinks that speed does not always mean doing things as quickly as possible; golfers need to know when to slow-down. Both are very important aspects of golf. Fast movements are essential during the downswing because this creates the power to drive the ball but it is important to then maximise balance skills and remain controlled during the downswing because this important to finishing in the right position. Dan says that a lack of control when decelerating increases chances of injury. 

From Dan’s extensive experience in the fitness injury, he has seen that it is only when golfers invest in their physical abilities will they be able to consistently better their game pain free.


Google in Talks to Buy Fitbit

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is currently in talks to purchase the fitness-oriented smartwatch manufacturer Fitbit, according to Reuters. In response to the news, Fitbit’s stock rose by 18% before the stock was halted. If the purchase goes through, the implications for both companies as well as for the smartwatch industry generally could be significant.

While Fitbit enjoyed tremendous popularity with the release of its original fitness trackers, which introduced the concept of tracking one’s health with a smartphone-connected wearable device to many consumers, the company has since been overshadowed by the release of competing products, not the least of which is the Apple Watch. Apple’s take on the smartwatch concept includes essentially all of the fitness-related features Fitbit’s products offer, including heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking, while adding unique features and integrating deeply with the company’s iOS platform. Google, on the other hand, has found little success with its Android Wear operating system, and the Android-compatible smartwatch market in general suffers from an overabundance of mutually-incompatible software choices, including Samsung’s Tizen and Fitbit’s proprietary operating system.

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The acquisition of Fitbit, then, could potentially lead to an abandonment of the Wear OS platform, which has failed to meaningfully take off with both manufacturers and third-party software developers, and the integration of Fitbit’s software more deeply into the Android operating system, among other outcomes. Though Google has recently made strides in its hardware offerings, the company has never manufactured a smartwatch. Currently, Fitbit products are compatible with both iOS and Android devices, providing near-identical functionality on both; it remains to be seen whether a Google-owned Fitbit would continue to produce devices that work with Apple’s line of smartphones. In the past, Google has shown more of a willingness to work with its competitor’s platform than Apple has; Google has made many of its applications available on Apple’s App Store, while the inverse is not true. As such, there’s a good case to be made that a Google-owned Fitbit would continue to make fitness trackers that work with iPhones, though they may begin to include Android-only features stemming from a close relationship between the manufacturer and their potential parent company.

In a bid to maintain its relevancy amidst increasing competition from larger manufacturers, Fitbit acquired Pebble, one of the very first smartwatch manufacturers which began life on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, in 2016. This coincided with the discontinuation of all Pebble smartwatches as the original team was absorbed into the larger company, much to the disappointment of fans of the first significant smartwatch. Today’s news suggests that Google is poised to make a similar move. While the Fitbit brand still has sway over consumers, the company’s notoriety is fading, and Google is focused on unifying its hardware offerings under the Pixel brand umbrella following the announcement of its Pixel 4 smartphone, the new Pixelbook, and the upcoming Pixel Buds. Google has also recently discussed its focus on “ambient computing,” or a way of interacting with computers that blends seamlessly into the user’s ordinary life. As such, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Google shutter the development of Fitbit-branded devices, instead announcing a “Pixel Watch” or something similar, which would combine the health-tracking capabilities now standard on smartwatches with new Android-specific features.

As of now, of course, it’s unclear what these features could entail, but Google’s unmatched investment in developing artificial intelligence combined with their focus on ambient computing could offer clues. For several years, Google has developed and refined its Google Assistant, which is featured on Android phones as well as the Google Home line of smart speakers; it stands to reason that the virtual assistant would make the leap to any potential Google smartwatch. Additionally, Google has debuted radar-based gesture recognition technology on the Pixel 4, which allows users to control their phone by moving their hands over the screen; a similar system, if executed effectively, would seem right at home on a Google smartwatch. As Google has a history of making surprising and innovative technological developments, particularly in the areas of neural networks and machine learning, the company has a lot of potential to make waves with its take on the smartwatch.


The Reviews for Nintendo’s Quirky “Ring Fit Adventure” Are In

Ring Fit Adventure is the type of video game only Nintendo could make. While many developers have tried their hands at the often-unsuccessful genre of “exergaming,” Nintendo’s latest take on the concept represents a breath of fresh air, as the title amusingly combines the worlds of fitness and role-playing games by asking players to perform yoga poses and strength training exercises to defeat enemies and progress through a colorful and creative game world. The game works by combining the Nintendo Switch’s unique hardware offerings with custom fitness peripherals, as the title asks the player to connect one of the console’s controllers to a flexible ring device and to strap the other controller to his or her leg in order to track their physical movements. Reviewers have confirmed that this configuration provides for a challenging, if comical, workout, and mostly agree that Ring Fit Adventure succeeds in the difficult pursuit of making exercise fun.

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This is not Nintendo’s first foray into the world of exergaming. The company previously debuted the fairly popular Wii Fit, which included a so-called “Balance Board,” a sophisticated and expensive scale which tracks the player’s center-of-weight, used in combination with the motion-sensing Wii Remote. The title was a moderate success, but suffered from a general lack of structure, as while it included a number of activities for the player to engage in, it was devoid of character and personality. Ring Fit Adventure seeks to address this criticism, as while its basic and cartoonish story mode likely appeals more to children than adults, it nevertheless provides players with the motivation to return to the game as their avatar levels up and progresses towards the goal of defeating the title’s antagonist.

Dana Wollman, writing for Engadget, enjoyed her time with the game, and while she was not particularly interested its simplistic and childish story and characters, she thought that it was more than capable of providing motivation to those looking to incorporate fitness into their lives, particularly for children, teenagers, and families. While she notes that the game is not entirely necessary for working out, she points out that this is true of nearly all fitness accessories, as their value is not in the workout they provide but in the motivation they offer to their customers. The Verge’s Andrew Webster was even more laudatory, as he praised the game for changing his mindset about exercising, as for the first time he felt guilty when he had to pass on his daily workout. Additionally, he praised the game for being easy to fit into your life, due to its flexible yet consistent structure, though he believed the game’s heart rate measurements were likely inaccurate.

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Dami Lee, also writing for The Verge, thought the title was so fun that it works as a standalone party game, as each of Ring Fit Adventure’s twelve minigames provide an amusing and competitive experience. And Stephen Totilo, writing for Kotaku, went so far as to call the game “ingenious,” praising its success in combining a thoroughly-conceived exercise regimen with traditional role-playing-game elements, to the point where he didn’t even realize how effectively the game targeted various muscle groups, as it felt more to him like levelling up his character’s stats as in any other RPG. Though Totilo was skeptical that the game would be effective for anyone looking to build a significant amount of muscle, he considered the product a more effective motivational tool, in all of its charming weirdness, than any other he had tried.

For those who are looking for an effective and fun motivational tool for introducing basic workouts into their lives, and aren’t too afraid of looking a little bit ridiculous in the process, Ring Fit Adventure releases today, October 18, exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.

Marathon runners

The Science Behind a Runner’s High

There are certainly aspects of physical exercise that many of us dread. Nearly everyone can sympathize with the impulse to instead lie down, watch TV, and eat junk food when faced with the prospect of getting our hearts pumping and body moving. The threat of injury is an ongoing concern, particularly for beginners or for those working with heavy weights, and the process of building muscle is tiresome and leads to soreness and pain. But despite these difficulties, the scientific consensus concerning the health benefits of regular physical activity, combined with healthy eating habits, is clear. Not only does exercise contribute to an improved mood and overall sense of well-being, but prolonged, intense cardiovascular activity can generate a burst of euphoria and optimism known colloquially as a “runner’s high.” Many long-distance runners find this experience to be so joyful as to become somewhat addictive; unlike most other addictions, however, chasing a runner’s high is generally understood to be a practice which has the side effect of improving other aspects of life as well.

While not everybody who runs reports experiencing a high from going a long distance, this phenomenon is frequent among runners who are particularly serious about committing themselves to the hobby. People who have have had a runner’s high describe experiencing an almost-magical sensation whereby all of their ordinary worries and even the physical stress of running seem to melt away, replaced by an overwhelming sensation of joy and accomplishment, with positive after-effects that can last throughout the day. Many runners who get high during their workout report feeling more energized, motivated, and focused in their ordinary lives afterwards, contradicting the popular belief that exercise leaves one feeling listless and exhausted.

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To better understand how this effect emerges, it’s a good idea to take a look at the medical literature that has emerged concerning the subject. For several decades, understanding of the physical and chemical phenomena occurring in the brain during a runner’s high was only speculative, and there existed controversy over whether the effect was actually a myth or placebo. For a long time, it was thought that the runner’s high was a consequence of elevated endorphins in the circulatory system, but in studies where the effects of endorphins were blocked chemically, runners still reported the sensation in question. Other theories that attempt to explain the effect suggest that the hormones norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine play a contributing role, or that an increase in body temperature triggers a change in mood. 

A groundbreaking 2015 study, however, presents evidence of a new theory that claims the effect of a runner’s high is in fact actually related to the brain’s endocannabinoid system, the same system that interacts with marijuana to produce the similar feelings of euphoria related to usage of the drug. The researchers theorize that, from an evolutionary point of view, the body releases a natural drug during sustained exercise to take the edge off of the pain of physical activity when chasing prey or escaping predators, both of which were necessary for survival during the vast majority of the species’ evolutionary history. Though the study in question used rodents as test subjects, the research likely explains the effect in humans as well, as all mammals share generally similar biological systems.

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Scientists who study the runner’s high effect say that the keys to experiencing the phenomenon lie in experience and balance. As people generally experience a runner’s high after more than an hour into their run, it can take a while for a beginner to build up his or her endurance before being able to run for this length. Additionally, runners need to run fast enough to trigger the response in their endocannabinoid system, but not so fast that the brain’s self-preservation mechanisms trigger, which results in reduced blood flow and stimulation. This balance is called steady-state cardio, and occurs when the heart rate is elevated to the general range of 135-140 beats per minute.

Despite the name, however, a runner’s high can be experienced during any form of extended cardiovascular activity, which is good news for anyone looking to become proficient in swimming, bicycling, or any other form of fitness. As such, it perhaps may be more fitting to instead call the effect a “fitness high.” In any case, while the process of becoming sufficiently fit to experience this high can be grueling, setting a goal to do so can be an excellent motivational tool for those looking to incorporate a greater degree of healthfulness into their lives.

Healthy Lifestyle App

Finnish Study Reveals Potential of Apps to Inspire Healthy Lifestyle

A study conducted by the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, through its StopDia program, and published by Science Daily showed promising results when it comes to using apps to promote healthy lifestyle changes, particularly in people who are susceptible to developing type-2 diabetes.