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Category Archives: Health and Fitness

Turn Walks into Workouts

Interval walking

Breaking up your walk into slow and fast segments is a great way to increase your stamina, build muscle and burn more calories. “Vary the pace of your walk so that you have a phase of working hard (up to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate) followed by a recovery phase where you stroll slowly bringing your heart rate down,” Head for the hills

Rough it!

If you normally walk circuit on sidewalks or paved road shoulders, it might be time to find a trail. “Walking on a rough but level track requires 50 percent more energy than walking on a paved road,” Find a local park that has hiking trails or maybe there is a hiking club in your area that you can join. Look in the phone book or on the internet under volksmarching.

Circuit walking

A combination of walking and strength training. This may seem a little foreign at first but give it a try and you’ll find that time go by quickly and you’ll become stronger for it. Walk for a while then stop and do an exercise like sit ups or push ups on a park bench or even jumping jacks, just some exercise other than walking. This will shock your body into a new level of fitness.

Enter an event

Sign up for a 5K or 10K walking event or even walk for a cause, Breast Cancer or pregnancy center. Set a goal and train for that goal like an athlete. This will keep you motivated and push you towards the next level of fitness walking.

Six Pack Starts In Kitchen

First I will start with the thought process that went into this decision. You were_ (watching t.v., playing a video game, reading, you fill in the blank) and you felt a little pain in your stomach and thought to yourself I am hungry. This is the first thing we will examine. Were you really hungry or did you simply think you were by associating the rumbling stomach pain with a way your body lets you know it is time to eat? This alone can cause many of us to eat simply for the sake of eating. The trick I use to see if I am really hungry is to ask myself am I hungry enough to eat broccoli? (This can be replaced with any foods you may not be exactly fond of.) Be honest with yourself and if the answer is no you are probably thinking yourself hungry instead of really being hungry. Moving on to the next action, you leave your room and head towards the kitchen. Once in the kitchen you begin to look for something to eat. During your search you may ignore the healthier choices for something that you think will satisfy you. If you say that you want to be in better shape make sure that your decisions are in line with that vision or you will only end up further and further from your goal. Taking a look at the food stats for the sandwich without even identifying what kind of sandwich it is, I can safely guess that it would be processed or at the very least the meat on the sandwich would be processed. For those trying to lose weight, processed foods are big bumps in the road. I would suggest cutting processed foods from your diet out right if it is realistically possible for you. If you cannot cut all processed foods I would suggest slowly replacing some of your favorite processed meals or snacks with healthier alternatives. I say slowly so not to force yourself into a new lifestyle you may not be able to maintain. Processed foods are known to cause inflammation when consumed in large amounts which hurts most efforts to lose weight. The stats of the sandwich consumed would pale in comparison to a veggie/fruit smoothie for a mid day snack. I will not go too deep into benefits of certain foods in this article but it is important to start becoming aware of what you are eating and how it is helping you achieve your goal or stopping you from reaching it.

Eating dense foods like fruits, veggies, fish, nuts and legumes will help you lose more weight and feel better. Foods such as these are packed with nutritional value that your body can and will utilize. The reason I said crunches will not solve all your problems is because if you are destroying all of your gains in the gym by your poor diet in the kitchen you are at best fighting an uphill battle in which YOU are making the trip steeper and steeper only to fall down when the hill looks to steep to climb. Going through my journey I learned I was building core muscles underneath the belly fat. Unless your goal is to become a sumo wrestler I will assume you want to be proud to show off your body and let you know that hitting the gym hard but having poor discipline in the kitchen will lead to you following in my footsteps. Diet and excise are like two sides of one coin. I will admit with a proper diet you may be able to skip out on some excises but your body needs movement. It is healthy for you to get some excise in whatever fashion you can.

A few more tips to help you craft those abs is focusing on more lean proteins like chicken, fish, nuts, soy foods, eggs and dairy just to list a few. This will help to build more muscle. This is a good idea for women as well since the more muscle you have the more energy you will need to maintain it and the muscle will take from your fat reserves for energy which will help you tone your body faster.

Information of Physical Fitness

Agility is what let my friend run rings around us, leaping from rock to rock along the Pedernales River in Texas. Agility is what you see in top athletes who make great skill look effortless. Agility is what helps a ballet dancer make it look effortless. Agility is how Jackie Chan can still do martial arts even while he is rolling over tables, bouncing off walls, leaping between the rungs of ladders.

I didn’t understand that until years after the hike along the Pedernales River. Now, after doing martial arts for almost 30 years, I understand. When you watch someone who moves with grace and skill, you’re seeing agility.

Have you ever had an experience where you felt clumsy?

Have you ever fumbled the ball, or tripped over your own two feet?

Or have you ever seen someone who is in great shape, but they just can’t coordinate, they can’t move?

The missing component of physical fitness is agility.

If you just do weights or cardio, you’re not going to develop agility. If you want agility, you have to move, and you have to adapt on the fly to changing (and often intense) situations.

Some sports and fitness activities promote agility more than others. For me, martial arts gave me agility. I’ve been dong WingTsun Kung Fu(TM) for 25 years, and martial arts in general for almost 30. I have to be able to adapt to what an opponent is doing quickly and perfectly. I have to seize the advantage, gain and maintain dynamic control. I have to stay balanced and graceful even while moving rapidly and adjusting to the changing dynamics of sparring.

Many other sports really develop agility as well. Basketball, tennis, soccer, hockey, skiing, snowboarding… they all develop and require agility.

If you’re not doing something to develop agility, today is a good day to start. You’ll be amazed at the difference increased agility will make in feeling physically fit. Before long you’ll move with the grace of a cat, you’ll bound like a gazelle.

Stomach Exercises

Regular Stomach Crunches

This is an exercise that many people frowned upon because it’s receiving a bad rap from manufacturing companies of various other products for losing belly fat; however, stomach crunches are very effective if done properly. To begin with, you should lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs positioned in a 90° angle. Then cuff your hands behind your head (some people prefer placing them over their ears or crossing them over their chest) and raise your shoulders from the floor with the intent of touching your knees with your chest.

This exercise is designed to target your upper abs; however, with your hands cuffed behind your head; instead of trying to touch your knees with your chest, try touching your left knee with your right elbow and your right knee with your left elbow. This way the oblique and “love handles” are targeted.

Reverse Stomach Crunches

Another exercise designed for removing belly fat fast and effectively is reverse stomach crunches. The dreaded lower abs is the central focus for performing this exercise. Begin by placing your back flat on the floor with your knees at a 90° angle and your hands cuffed behind your head. Now elevate your feet approximately six inches from the floor and bring your chest to your knees. The important thing it to perform stomach exercises such as regular or reverse stomach crunches correctly.

The Ab Circle Pro

And finally, if you’re looking to perform stomach exercises that will deliver the best results then investing $14.95 for the Ab Circle Pro would be your best option, especially if you want to remove belly fat fast and effectively. If you’re not into crunches, sit-ups and curl-ups then this is the best thing on the market for people who have been searching for idea way of losing weight in the midsection.

Back Pain Risk Factors

Poor posture: Today’s diverse clientele with varied needs offers a unique challenge to health and fitness professionals. The one-size-fits-all approach to exercise programs is commonly unproductive and potentially dangerous. Many injuries and chronic back pain is a result of cumulative affects overtime.

Faulty postures and poor body mechanics will cause lower back pain and be at least partially attributed to these same faults. Improper movements will cause micro trauma to the joints and soft tissues. You may experience pain initially maybe pain comes and goes and doesn’t get much attention but overtime the problem worsens and aching, pain, or stiffness begins more frequently.

Until you correct the problem not just the symptom your back will be prone to injury or re-injury. The problem (muscle imbalances) the symptoms (poor posture) the solution (Muscle Activation Techniques).

Not enough exercise: Inactivity can cause our muscles to shrink and lose strength. This is a natural process, but living an inactive lifestyle (no exercise) will accelerate the loss. Physical inactivity causes an average muscle loss of 5-7 pounds per decade. Strength training is a simple concept it involves briefly working your muscles, on a regular basis, a little more than they are accustomed to working.

This causes your muscles to become stronger and more toned. Also, your tendons, ligaments and bones will be strengthened. This strengthening will make your joints more stable and less prone to injury. Everyday tasks will become easier, such as picking up grocery bags or grandchildren, getting up from a low sofa or going up stairs.

A Call to Action

Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) combined with the corrective exercise program is critical for combating muscle, joint and lower back pain, for increasing strength, mobility, stability and for staying active and self-sufficient. Research has consistently shown the fitness and health benefits of MAT Therapy and strength training for injury prevention and recovery.

You don’t have to live with lower back pain or any pain for that matter! You can control pain or even reverse it with MAT Techniques and strength training—it will have a great impact on the quality of your life.

All about Interval Training

Interval training is simply a matter of alternating high intensity exercise and low intensity exercise. It allows one to get the benefits of the high intensity work while giving the body some rest time. It allows one to extend a workout time period and build endurance gradually.

Running on a flat surface burns calories and gives your heart and lungs a great cardiovascular workout. Running up hill challenges your muscles, heart, and lungs, burning more calories and providing additional toning. But taking a 30 minute run up hill or on a steeply inclined treadmill would quickly exhaust most of us, or likely force us to stop early. However, running up hill then back down, or up hill then on flat ground would allow for high intensity work counter balanced by intervals of slower periods of active recovery. Interval training burns more calories and pumps more blood than continuous lower intensity exercise because it includes intervals of energy and oxygen-hungry work.

Because interval training burns a lot of calories and provides good muscle work, it may help you save time. A pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of bricks. Likewise, running one mile burns the same number of calories as walking one mile. But walking one mile takes a lot more time. If your goal is calorie burning and toning, and you are short on time, then interval training does more, faster. Just remember that improving cardiovascular health requires aerobic exercise of 30 – 60 minutes, so don’t make all of your workouts quickies, save those for when you’re in a rush.
Interval training can also be helpful if your goal is to move yourself up to the next level of endurance and fitness. Maybe you have been trying to start a running program, but can’t seem to maintain such a demanding exercise. Interval training is, in fact, one of the most effective ways to train the body. Marathoners commonly use this method to train for an up-coming race. A good program is to run for 4 minutes then walk at a good clip for 1 minute, or do a 3/2 interval. Your body will work hard then rest (while remaining active), work hard then rest. Your heart, lungs and muscles will make the transition to running, running farther, or running faster in a safe and productive manner.

There are a lot of ways to add intervals to your workout. If you are already a runner add hills or speed segments. If aerobics classes are your genre, add explosive moves like jumps or sprints. Include segments of speed walking in your normal walking routine or take the incline of your treadmill up a little higher at timed intervals.

Exercise for Arthritis

Proper function of hip area is very important for pain free backs and knees; the stiffness caused by arthritis hinders this function and creates a situation, where you can end up having even more pain, than what would be caused by just inflammation or joint degeneration.

You want to ease in to squatting; if you don’t ease in to it you might end up aggravating your knees/hips and back even more.

Great way to ease in to squat is to pile up some books on to a low chair, and the start to practise sitting down to it.

The chair will help to emphasize the sitting back motion, which is important when you first start to learn this movement.

And as your flexibility and ability to squat deeper increases, you can remove books accordingly.

Use common sense; if it squatting aggravates you conditions don’t do it anymore.

Now, it’s possible that you are unable to squat because the nature of your arthritis just downright prevents that, if this is the case don’t force the squat, it’s not exercise for all.

Important tip – Trigger point massage

Before you start squatting, take couple of weeks to massage your back muscles, not forgetting glutes and hamstrings, daily with a tennis ball.

It would be also great to massage your psoas and abdominal muscles.

Training After Fifty

Unfortunately, strength training still conjures up images of young guys with bulging peck muscles and barely there tank tops. More and more fitness centers across the United States are seeing more and more fifty+ members. And that’s a great movement.

So where should you begin if you happen to be one of the many strength training after fifty people? Let’s start with the basics- measurements. And I’m not talking about weight only here. I am talking about body fat percentage and resting heart rate. These two elements are critical when determining a starting point for your strength training program.

Armed with that data, we proceed to talk about goals. What do you hope to accomplish? A drop in blood pressure? A decrease in clothing size? An increase in health? Whatever your goals may be, your trainer should be properly prepared to walk with you along your journey. Remember that safety is always a top concern. Go with a trainer that you feel comfortable with.

A typical beginning routine for those strength training after fifty may look a bit like this-

* Warm-up for 5-10 minutes

* Begin with isolated (one-joint) strength training exercises such a bicep curl or chest fly

* After completing 3 sets of 12 reps for each major muscle group, move onto cardio

* Cardio can be anything that gets your heart pumping to approximately 60-70% of your maximum heart rate

Spoiled Rotten

CARDIOVASCULAR TRAINING

You either don’t watch TV or you don’t read magazines if you’ve never seen an advertisement that shows some buff young girl or guy pounding out miles while running on a beach, or happily sweating profusely while cruising on an elliptical or enduring an intense Spinning class.

These young models always look extremely satisfied to be working their bodies so hard, and they also share one other common characteristic: they are already in shape! Have you ever seen a commercial for a gym or exercise device that showed a 5-foot, 300 lb person grinning from ear to ear?

This is a common example of how the media and fitness industry retailers promote the mass-confusion over cardio. The ads scream messages like, “Buy our pill, put on some sexy clothes while running on the beach, and you’ll look just as good as our models do!”

Gym owners do it, too. “Join our gym now and we’ll give you one month free! Just by joining and then attending our Award-Winning Spinning Class, you will look just like Cindy, the Supermodel we hired to do our commercial!”

It’s ridiculous how the “powers that be” portray cardiovascular exercise as some effortless activity that you can easily use to gain the body of your dreams just by purchasing their product or joining their facility.

The truth of the matter is that cardiovascular training works. The additional truth of the matter is that it can range from moderately to intensely difficult, and that it will take you weeks, months, or maybe even years of combining cardio with resistance training and proper nutrition to attain the body of your dreams.

Is that what you wanted to hear about cardio? Probably not, but it’s the truth. If you think there is some shortcut to being buff, young, tan, and in complete control of your life, then you should go turn on the TV. There is a commercial on right now that is just waiting for you to call in your credit card number!

RESISTANCE TRAINING

The hype surrounding resistance training isn’t quite as appalling as the myths about cardiovascular training, but it still exists. Regardless of what you have seen, heard, or been taught, the truth is this: everyone needs resistance training.

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to be a bodybuilder or a 90-year old who can tie your own shoelaces, you need resistance training. Listing the many reasons for engaging in a consistent resistance training routine is beyond the scope of this article, but there are some myths about weight training that need to be brought to light.

1. Weight Training makes you big and bulky. Actually, the size of your muscles is determined primarily by your gender, the type and intensity of your training program, and your nutrition. If you think you will just “magically” turn into a muscle-bound athlete because you picked up a couple of dumbbells, just ask any bodybuilder how much time, energy, and raw will power goes into building his or her incredible physique. It does NOT happen by accident.

2. Using any given device or exercise will “sculpt” your abs, biceps, butt, or any other muscle. There is one thing and exactly one thing that determines the shape of your muscles, and that is your DNA. It is quite impossible to “sculpt” any part of your body – that job belongs to your chosen deity. You can control the size of your muscles, but you cannot control the shape. Anyone who says otherwise is straight up lying.

3. Resistance training is just for men. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to be healthy, strong, and have a great metabolism and energy level? Then weight training is for you. Period.

Power of the Push Ups

Stage 1 – Dumbell Push-Ups

Set two dumbells on the floor in the approximate hand position and spacing you would use for a push-up. You will essentially be using the dumbells as push-up handles.

The plates on the dumbell should be round (meaning that they’ll roll) for maximum instability. Use fairly lightweight dumbells, e.g. 15 to 20 pounds each, so they’ll move around more.

This variation by itself is an excellent exercise for beginner to intermediate trainers. You may do this variation with your knees on the floor if you’ve not yet developed the strength for regular, full push-ups.

Stage 2 – Swiss Ball Push-Ups

Set a large Swiss Ball (the inflatable exercise ball) on the floor where you’ve got some space.

Place your hands on the floor in your regular push-up position then set your legs on top of the Swiss Ball. Your shins should be on the top of the ball, placed slightly to the sides so you can use them to maintain your balance.

Do push-ups in this position. You will find that the ball will shift around as you are doing the exercise and you’ll be forced to move your body around to keep your legs on top of it. The ball will roll slightly forward with you as you drop down to the bottom of the push-up position and roll slightly back as you push yourself up.

Stage 3 – Swiss Ball/Dumbell Push-Ups

Now that you’ve experienced instability at both ends of the push-up, it’s time to put them both together and feel the burn!

Be sure you are comfortable with other two progressions before attempting this one and be sure you are not too close to anything should you lose your balance and roll off.

Set the dumbells up as you did in Stage 1 and set the ball up as you did in Stage 2. Place your hands on the dumbells first then set your legs on the ball.