Saturday, March 28, 2009
Unlike wine, cheese, and Clive Owen, workout strategies don't get better with age. That's because each year, fitness researchers release thousands of studies that challenge conventional thinking—or at least shed light on ways to tweak it. We've identified nine stale fitness approaches and sifted through the latest research to come up with surprising updates that will land you a scorching body ASAP.
Position your hands shoulder-width apart
You often see this in instructions for upper-body moves like bench presses and lat pulldowns. Why? Because it gives you a stable starting point. But that doesn't mean you need to stay there set after set. "Spreading your hands a few inches farther out stresses more of the inner portion of your biceps; bringing your hands in a few inches builds more of the outer part," says New York City personal trainer Steve Lischin, M.S. Switch up your position after every set for balanced strength and overall tone.
Crunches for a flat belly
Turns out Pilates abdominal moves are superior to crunches for sculpting your midsection and uncovering those abs, according to a study at Auburn University at Montgomery, in Alabama. An exercise called "The Teaser" is especially effective. It activates 39 percent more of your rectus abdominus muscle (that's your six-pack) and 266 percent more of your external obliques (your love handles). To do it: Lie face-up on a mat. Lift your legs so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor, and your knees are bent 90 degrees. Raise your hands toward the ceiling. Lift your torso and straighten your legs, so your body forms a V. Hold for one second, then slowly roll back down, keeping your legs raised. Do eight to 10 reps.
Squats=a perfect bum
To flaunt that sexy bikini bottom by your "when-will-winter-end?" beach getaway, try doing hip extensions instead of squats. The move hits 55 percent more of your hamstring muscle and 79 percent more of your glute muscle, according to a study by the American Council on Exercise. To do it: Get on your hands and knees. Keeping your knees bent, lift your right heel toward the ceiling, then lower it back down to the starting position. Do 12 reps, then repeat on the other side.
Eat lots of extra protein for less jiggle and more tone
While it's true that protein is a vital muscle food, your body can use only so much of it. "Any extra protein calories you take in will be stored as fat," says Molly Morgan, R.D., owner of Creative Nutrition Solutions in Vestal, New York. "As a general rule, remember that 20 percent of your calories should come from protein." So if you're eating an 1,800-calorie diet, try to shoot for a maximum of 360 calories, or 90 grams, of protein each day. Low-fat milk and chicken are all good sources of lean protein.
CONTINUED: Up-down-up-down. Repeat.
Instead of raising and lowering a weight (or your body weight) in one continuous motion, pause for a second about halfway up, continue the movement, then pause again about halfway down. "In a set of eight to 12 repetitions, you'll add only an extra 16 to 24 seconds to each set, but you'll exhaust your muscles," Lischin says. Translation: You'll fry more fat without sucking much more time out of your schedule.
Watch yourself in the mirror while you work out
While the occasional glance at your reflection to check form is a good idea, for exercises that involve balance, such as the one-legged squat, you'll get a bigger boost if you face away from the mirror and close one eye. Doing so activates neural pathways between your brain and your muscles that you don't otherwise use. "That forces your body to establish better balance," says Carter Hays, C.S.C.S., a speed and strength coach at D1 Sports Training and Therapy in Franklin, Tenn.
Burn the most calories with cardio
According to a recent University of Southern Maine study, 30 minutes of weight training burns as many calories as running at a blazing six-minute-per-mile pace for the same amount of time. (And it has the bonus of building more muscle tone than running.) What's more, unlike aerobic exercise, lifting weights has been shown to boost metabolism for up to 39 hours after you finish your last rep. Interval training—short, all-out sprints interspersed with periods of rest—has yielded similar benefits. For optimal results, do a total-body weight-training workout three days a week, resting at least a day between sessions, and do intervals on at least two of the off days.
Rest between sets
"Less rest increases your calorie burn and adds a cardio component to strength training," says New York City personal trainer Lindsay Dunlap, N.A.S.M. Try supersets: two exercises performed back to back. For example, you might do a set of pushups immediately followed by a set of seated cable rows, then rest a minute before repeating.
Weigh yourself daily for motivation
The scale measures water and muscle, too. It's not a great indicator of fat loss. For a better—and more, um, hands-on—progress report, place your fingers on your belly and inhale deeply so that it expands. As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles and push your fingertips against your hard abdominal wall. Now pinch. "You're holding pure fat," says Tom Seabourne, Ph.D., co-author of Athletic Abs (Human Kinetics, 2003). Do this every day, 30 minutes before your workout, and you'll likely find that you rarely decide to skip a session.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Let's face it: it's not all that difficult to start a fitness routine. After all, most of us have done it more than once.
The trouble, of course, comes with sticking with it. All too often, our initial enthusiasm and energy wanes, we get distracted by other things going on in our lives, or we don't think we're seeing results quickly enough -- and we throw in the towel.
Yet many people do manage to hang in there, and would no sooner skip their regular workout than their morning shower. What's their secret?
A recent study by researcher Diane Klein, PhD, shed some light on the subject. Long-term exercisers (who had been working out for an average of 13 years) were asked to rank what motivated them to keep up with their regimes.
Their answers might surprise you. The exercisers were not as concerned with powerful pecs and awesome abs as they were with feeling good and being healthy.
Here's how the study participants ranked their motivators:
Feelings of well-being
Pep and energy
Enjoyment of the exercise
Making exercise a priority
So, once you have your priorities in the right place, how can you become one of the fitness faithful?
WebMD has compiled 10 tips for making fitness a habit in your life. To create the list, we sought the help of Klein, along with long-term fitness buff Roy Stevens and his wife, Wanda, who is transforming her hit-and-miss exercise schedule into an almost-daily habit.
1. Do a variety of activities you enjoy. And remember, there's no rule that says you have to go to a gym or buy equipment.
"We've shifted our perceptions from regimented exercise to physical activity," says Klein, assistant professor of exercise, sports and leisure studies, and director of gerontology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Having a variety of activities -- weight lifting, walking, running, tennis, cycling, aerobics classes -- will ensure that you can do something regardless of the weather or time of day.
2. Commit to another person. "The social aspect of exercise is important for me," says Wanda Stevens, a stay-at-home mom in Austin, Texas. "I'll let myself off, but if I've agreed to walk with a friend after dinner, I won't let them down."
She is six weeks into an exercise program, thanks in part to her husband's support. Roy Stevens, who works as a management consultant, has become her "in-house personal trainer." They work out together every morning, doing a combination of aerobics, strength training, Tae Bo, and stretching. If he's out of town, he gives her a wake-up call, and she takes the dog for a walk.
3. Make exercise a priority. "It has to be a non-negotiable,"
He began exercising to manage his weight when he was in the Air Force band some 20 years ago. "We'd travel, and other guys would get off the bus and go eat wings and drink beer. I'd go running." He's maintained the exercise habit even during his years working 70 hours a week as a restaurant owner.
There's another advantage to making exercise non-negotiable. Friends and family members learn that it's part of your identity, and give up saying things like, "Why don't you take it easy today?"
4. Exercise first thing in the morning. With two preschool children, Wanda Stevens couldn't find time to work out except on a hit-and-miss basis. Any number of things could sabotage her good intentions to walk or go to Pilates class after dinner. But all her excuses vanished once she started getting up before the kids so she could work out.
"I didn't think I was a morning person," she tells WebMD. "But it's working for me."
Experts agree that a morning schedule is best. "If you go to a gym, it should be located between your home and work," says Klein. "Exercise, take a shower, and you're energized for the day."
5. Or, exercise on your way home from work. The next best thing to exercising first thing in the morning is to do it on your way home from work, Klein says.
"Don't go home first," she says. "I learned that the hard way. There aren't a lot of people who are so motivated that after they go home and change clothes will go back out again and exercise."
6. Exercise even when you're "too tired." Chances are, you'll feel better after exercising.
"It energizes us," says Klein. "You breathe deeply, and your body makes better use of the oxygen exchange. You'll get an exercise-induced euphoria during the activity and for some time after."
If Wanda Stevens thinks she is too tired to get up and exercise, Roy shows her no sympathy. "She gets mad, but then she feels better afterwards," he says.
7. Log your activity. Write down the things that are important to you. It could be how much time you exercise each day, how many steps you walked, how far you ran or cycled, what you weighed, etc.
Some people make a game of it. You may have heard of runners calculating the miles it would take to run from their homes to Boston (home of the famous marathon), figuring how far they run in an average week and setting a target date for "arriving" in Boston.
8. Be aware of all the indicators of progress. It's great when your clothes fit better and you can lift heavier weights or work out longer without getting exhausted.
But there are a slew of other progress indicators, such as:
Getting a good night's sleep.
Thinking more clearly.
Having more energy.
Realizing your muscles aren't screaming after you've helped a friend move furniture.
Seeing your resting heart rate drop over time.
Hearing your doctor congratulate you on improved cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density, triglycerides, and blood sugars.
9. Walk -- with a pedometer (or a dog). "If you enjoy walking and haven't exercised for awhile, 10 minutes three times a day will give you 30 minutes," says Klein.
Use a pedometer, and work up to at least 10,000 steps a day. "Nobody starts out with 10,000 steps," Klein says. Find out what your daily average is, and, the next week, strive to walk 300 extra steps each day. Increase your steps each week.
"Better yet, walk the dog," Klein says. That's how she motivated her sister to exercise. "Twice a day she walks her dog, which is good for them both and provides companionship."
Wanda Stevens also enjoys walking her border collie and finds there's another benefit: "It relieves the guilt I felt over not giving her enough attention now that we have kids."
10. Reward yourself. Are you telling yourself that you don't deserve a reward for something you should be doing anyway -- or that once you can zip your jeans without lying on the bed, that will be reward enough? Well, honestly, how inspiring is that?
Experts say that making behavior changes is hard, and rewards motivate. So decide on a goal and a reward, and work toward it. You might buy yourself a video you've wanted after you stick to your fitness plan for one month, or buy new walking shoes when you achieve 5,000 steps a day. Do whatever works for you.
Experts say there is no magic to exercise: You get out of it what you put in. That doesn't mean you have to work out for hours each day. It just means you need to work smart.
That said, experts agree that not all exercises are created equal. Some are simply more efficient than others, whether they target multiple muscle groups, are suitable for a wide variety of fitness levels, or help you burn calories more effectively.
So what are the best exercises? We posed this question to four fitness experts and compiled a list of their favorites.
Any exercise program should include cardiovascular exercise, which strengthens the heart and burns calories. And walking is something you can do anywhere, anytime, with no equipment other than a good pair of shoes.
It's not just for beginners, either: Even the very fit can get a good workout from walking.
"Doing a brisk walk can burn up to 500 calories per hour," says Robert Gotlin, DO, director of orthopaedic and sports rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. Since it takes 3,500 calories to lose a pound, you could expect to lose a pound for every seven hours you walk, if you did nothing else.
Don't go from the sofa to walking an hour day, though. Richard Cotton, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise, says beginners should start by walking five to -10 minutes at a time, gradually moving up to at least 30 minutes per session.
"Don't add more than five minutes at a time," he says. Another tip: It's better to lengthen your walks before boosting your speed or incline.
2. Interval training
Whether you're a beginner or an exercise veteran, a walker or an aerobic dancer, adding interval training to your cardiovascular workout will boost your fitness level and help you lose weight.
"Varying your pace throughout the exercise session stimulates the aerobic system to adapt," says Cotton. "The more power the aerobic system has, the more capacity you have to burn calories."
The way to do it is to push the intensity or pace for a minute or two, then back off for anywhere from two to -10 minutes (depending on how long your total workout will be, and how much time you need to recover). Continue doing this throughout the workout.
Strength training is essential, the experts say. "The more muscular fitness you have," says Cotton, "the greater the capacity you have to burn calories."
And our experts tended to favor strength-training exercises that target multiple muscle groups. Squats, which work the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals, are an excellent example.
"They give you the best bang for the buck because they use the most muscle groups at once,".
Like squats, lunges work all the major muscles of the lower body: gluteals, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
A lunge is a great exercise because it mimics life, it mimics walking," only exaggerated, says Petersen.
Lunges are a bit more advanced than squats, says Cotton, helping to improve your balance as well.
Here's how to do them right: Take a big step forward, keeping your spine in a neutral position. Bend your front knee to approximately 90 degrees, focusing on keeping weight on the back toes and dropping the knee of your back leg toward the floor.
Petersen suggests that you imagine sitting on your back foot. "The trailing leg is the one you need to sit down on," he says.
To make a lunge even more functional, says Rufa, try stepping not just forward, but back and out to each side.
"Life is not linear, it's multiplanar," says Rufa. And the better they prepare you for the various positions you'll move in during the course of a day, the more useful exercises are.
even the core trunk muscles, all at one time.
"I'm very much into planking exercises, almost yoga-type moves," says Petersen. "Anytime you have the pelvis and the core [abdominals and back] in a suspended position, you have to rely on your own adherent strength to stabilize you."
Push-ups can be done at any level of fitness, says Cotton: "For someone who is at a more beginning level, start by pushing from the kitchen-counter height. Then work your way to a desk, a chair, the floor with bent knees, and, finally, the floor on your toes."
Here's how to do a perfect push-up: From a face-down position, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Place your toes or knees on the floor, and try to create a perfect diagonal with your body, from the shoulders to the knees or feet. Keep the glutes [rear-end muscles] and abdominals engaged. Then lower and lift your body by bending and straightening your elbows, keeping your torso stable throughout.
There are always ways to make it harder, says Rufa. Once your form is perfect, try what he calls the "T-stabilization" push-up: Get into push-up position, then do your push-ups with one arm raised out to the side, balancing on the remaining three limbs without rotating your hips.
6. Abdominal Crunches
Who doesn't want firm, flat abs? Experts say that when done correctly, the familiar crunch (along with its variations) is a good choice to target them.
For a standard crunch, says Cotton, begin lying on your back with feet flat on the floor and fingertips supporting your head. Press your low back down and begin the exercise by contracting abdominals and peeling first your head (tucking your chin slightly), then your neck, shoulders, and upper back off the floor.
Be careful not to pull your neck forward by sticking the chin out; don't hold your breath, and keep elbows out of your line of vision to keep chest and shoulders open.
For his part, Petersen teaches his clients to do crunches with their feet off the floor and knees bent. He says that with feet kept on the floor, many people tend to arch the back and engage the hip flexors.
"Crunches can be excellent, but if they're not done correctly, with the back arching, they can actually weaken the abdominals," Petersen says.
To work the obliques (the muscles on the sides of your waist), says Cotton, take the standard crunch and rotate the spine toward one side as you curl off the floor.
"Twist before you come up," he says. "It's really important that the twist comes first because then it's the obliques that are actually getting you up."
But keep in mind that you won't get a flat stomach with crunches alone, says Cotton. Burning belly fat requires the well-known formula: using up more calories than you take in.
"Crunches work the ab muscles; [they're] not to be mistaken as exercise that burns the fat over the abdominals," he says. "That's the biggest myth in exercise going."
7. Bent-over Row
Talk about bang for the buck: This exercise works all the major muscles of the upper back, as well as the biceps.
Here's how to do it with good form. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then bend knees and flex forward at the hips. (If you have trouble doing this exercise standing up, support your weight by sitting on an incline bench, facing backward.) Tilt your pelvis slightly forward, engage the abdominals, and extend your upper spine to add support. Hold dumbbells or barbell beneath the shoulders with hands about shoulder-width apart. Flex your elbows, and lift both hands toward the sides of your body. Pause, then slowly lower hands to the starting position. (Beginners should perform the move without weights.)
Sprinting not only burns HUGE amounts of calories, it also keeps your metabolism flying for days after. Sprinting combined with running / jogging can bring amazing results, especially when combined with a healthy diet!
It can be done on a stationary bicycle, a stair stepper, or any activity where you can alternate periods of high intensity with periods of low intensity.
The research, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, shows that just 15 minutes of sprint interval training over a two-week period was enough to improve exercise performance by almost 100%
Benefits to sprinting
Sprinting is an amazing exercise period. It is a great tool to help in fat loss, kill stress as well as increasing your metabolic rate for days. On top of all this, sprinting is a great exercise for your hamstrings and can help sculpt and tone those muscles you would kill to have.
Besides, sprint training may offer an option for individuals who cite lack of time as a major impediment to fitness and conditioning. One other positive motivational benefit you will find with sprinting is that the uncontrollable human urge to beat a STOP-WATCH can help your clients' blast through plateaus and dramatically increase performance.
Plus there is at least some preliminary evidence that sprint training causes the body to release anabolic hormones: testosterone and human growth hormone with all the positive physiological and anti-aging effects you are striving for in a workout. Sprinting is the original CORE exercise. That means, for a minimum amount of time you spend sprinting you can replace hours spent in the gym on CORE or Functional exercises.
A study was conducted on 16 subjects: eight who performed a two-week sprint-interval training program and eight who did no exercise training
The training program consisted of between four and seven 30-second bursts of "all out" cycling followed by four minutes of recovery three times a week for two weeks. Researchers found that endurance capacity in the sprint group increased on average from 26 minutes to 51 minutes, whereas the control group showed no change. The muscles of the trained group also showed a significant increase in citrate synthase, an enzyme that is indicative of the tissue's ability to utilize oxygen.
How many days a week should I be sprinting?
team suggests spreading you’re sprinting out evenly and doing it two times a week. Mondays and Thursdays would be fine, leaving enough time for recovery between each day as your muscles will need time to grow and heal. Not only will spreading it out help you recover faster it will also keep your metabolism peaked more evenly and prolong the effect.
If you are ready for sprint training, check out the following sample program:
10 minutes - Jog (vary intensity from 40-60%/max)
Sprint (at 80-90%) 4 Reps for 10-15 seconds
Walk at slow jog for 5 minutes between reps
10 minutes - Jog/walk (low intensity, slowing to walk)
10 minutes - Jog (vary intensity from 50-70%/max)
Sprint (at 85-95%) 5 Reps for 12-15 seconds
Walk at slow jog for 4 minutes between reps.
10 minutes - Jog (low intensity, slowing to walk)
10 minutes - Jog (vary intensity from 60-80%/max)
Sprint (at 85-100%) 6 Reps for 12-15 seconds
Walk at slow jog for 4 minutes between reps
10 minutes - Jog (low intensity, slowing to walk)
10 minutes - Jog (vary intensity from 60-80%/max)
Sprint (at 90-100%) 7 Reps for 15 seconds
Walk at slow jog for 4 minutes between reps
10 minutes - Jog (low intensity, slowing to walk)
After week four, you focus on improving time in the sprints by optimizing technique. Two to three sessions/week will be all you need to make great gains. Remember, recovery occurs within 24-48 hours, adaptation takes longer, usually 72-96 hours after an intense exercise session. By week five you will be operating at maximum intensity, which will require 3-4 days rest for full recovery and adaptation. Plan your training accordingly
Thursday, March 5, 2009
There's no easy answer to this question. What you weigh — and how easily you lose weight and keep it off — depends on a variety of factors. Some (how much you eat or exercise) are within your control; others (genetics, body type) aren't. Read on to learn more...
Heredity: Your genetic makeup (the physical traits that get passed down to you from your parents) plays a big part in determining your size and weight. Fatter people tend to have very efficient metabolism; they require less fuel to run than thin people, and store excess fuel in the form of fat.
As powerful as they are, genes only determine a tendency towards higher or lower metabolic efficiency; they do not by themselves determine what actual body metabolism will be.
Body-Type: Have you ever heard someone say a person is "big boned"? It's a way of saying the person has a large frame, or skeleton. Big bones usually weigh more than small bones. That's why it's possible for two person with the same height, but different weights, to both be the right weight.
Each type has its own advantages and characteristics:
•Ectomorphs are typically tall and thin, and don't gain fat or muscle as easily as others. They make good distance runners and ballet dancers.
•Mesomorphs are generally shorter and stockier and gain muscle mass (and weight) more easily. They are good at power sports like soccer, softball and sprinting.
•Endomorphs carry more body fat — their metabolisms actually slow down when they try to lose weight. They excel at distance swimming, field events and weight lifting.
Set-point theory: According to this theory, each person has a predetermined level of body fat. How the body controls its fat stores is unknown, but the regulatory mechanism, sometimes called the adipostat, is probably located in the hypothalamus.
The adipostat monitors body fat stores, possibly through the actions of leptin on its hypothalamic receptor, and works to maintain the prescribed level of fat, or set point, by adjusting appetite, physical activity, and RMR to conserve or expend energy.
Thus, actions perceived to be voluntary, such as eating and physical activity, may be subtly controlled by the set-point mechanism.
B.M.R: For every ten years beyond our early to mid-twenties our metabolism slows about 10%. While a reduction in metabolism is observable as we age, such a reduction may be more due to a sedentary lifestyle than to mere aging.
Muscle tissue is metabolically active compared to fat, and thus our metabolic level at any moment is in large part due to the state of our muscle mass. Inactivity accelerates loss of muscle tissue over time which decreases metabolism, making it all but certain that weight will be gained.
Activity, on the other hand, reduces muscle loss, or even increases muscle mass, with the effect of increasing metabolism and making it easier to lose weight.
Diet: A person's food related habits and cultural expectations are also important determinants of their weight, influencing the types and amounts of foods consumed. families who push members to eat, or who keep high fat snacks and deserts handy are at greater risk for weight problems than are families that promote sensible portion sizes and save treats for special occasions.
The speed at which people learn to eat and the consciousness with which they do so are important too.
People who eat quickly tend to eat more than people who eat slowly as it takes a few minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it is full. Fast eaters sometimes finish their plates before getting the stomach's fullness message.
In theory, if you cut 500 calories a day from your diet, you'll lose a pound in a week.
In real life, it's not that simple. For example, a woman weighing 125 pounds at age 20, and starts the pattern of overeating by just 25 calories a day will consume 9,125 excess calories over the course of a year and so will gain 2 1/2 pounds (a pound of body fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories) and weigh 175 pounds by the time she is 40.
Activity Level: Where a person's genetics are more or less set at conception, the amount of energy a person expends in physical activity is under voluntary control. People can choose to be more active, and becoming more active will help people to lose weight. Exercise builds lean muscle mass and burns up fat reserves.
Muscles are very metabolically active. Adding muscle mass through strength training raises metabolism (the rate at which the body burns calories) which makes it easier to lose weight. A significant loss of muscle mass, on the other hand, which is what happens when people are sedentary, reduces resting metabolic rate and makes it harder to lose weight.
Adding muscle mass helps people to look firmer and slimmer because muscle takes up less space than fat. Careful strength training reduces the risk of accidental injury, improves bone density, helps with digestion and assists in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels (all predictors of disease when elevated).
Behavioral and psychological issues: Several psychological factors affect weight. The message to eat often comes from external cues rather than hunger--noon means it's time for lunch, for example. Food and emotions are closely linked; many people use food for comfort or to release tension.
The amount of exercise a person engages in is also shaped by habit and attitudes toward physical activity. Some studies suggest that lean people may expend more energy than obese people in ordinary activities, as well as during formal exercise. For example, lean people may walk around (rather than sit) while on the phone, or they may take the stairs rather than an elevator or escalator.
Hormonal (endocrine) abnormalities: An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is often a layperson's explanation for obesity, but even when present, hypothyroidism is rarely a primary cause.
Other conditions that may affect weight include polycystic ovary disease, tumors of the pituitary or adrenal glands, an insufficient production of sex hormones, and insulin-producing tumors of the pancreas. Although they are uncommon, these disorders need to be ruled out by a thorough medical evaluation before determining the best course of action to achieve weight loss.
Medications: About 50 common medications can cause weight gain, but they don't all have the same effect on all people.
Some of the most common types of drugs that can add unwanted pounds include steroids, hormones, and certain drugs used to treat diabetes, seizures, high blood pressure, depression, heartburn and psychological disorders. But it isn't always the drug's fault.
For instance, if a drug eases your depression or relieves your heartburn, you may feel better and eat more.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of the drugs you take might be affecting your weight. Whatever you do, never stop taking a prescribed medication without your doctor's approval.
Remember, how much you weigh is a balance between the calories you eat and the calories you use.
If you eat more calories than your body needs to use, you will gain too much weight. If you spend your free time watching TV, your body won't use as many calories as it would if you played basketball, skated, or went for a walk.
If you are in balance, your weight will stay right for you as you grow. But if you eat more and exercise less, you may become overweight. On the other hand, if you eat less and exercise more, you may lose weight.
There is no perfect weight for anyone, but there is a healthy range of weights for everyone. Being at a healthy weight really pays off. It will decrease your risk for high blood pressure, raised blood cholesterol levels and diabetes, all risk factors for developing heart disease or stroke
According to Doctors, "The goal of stretching is to lengthen a muscle and move the corresponding joints through the full range of motion, thereby allowing both the contractile (muscle and tendon) and the noncontractile (ligament and joint capsule) structures to lengthen."
•relieve muscle tension
•keep muscles flexible, which can help your posture and balance
•lengthen muscles and increase range of motion, which helps lengthen your stride
•help prevent muscle and joint injuries by elongating and relaxing muscles
•flush lactic acid out of your muscles.
Do a walk or slow jog for 5-10 minutes, and then stretch.
Neck, Scalene and Upper Trapezius
This stretch helps to re-align the cervical spine and is good for posture. It improves breathing and alleviates neck pain. Office workers constantly on computers can do this stretch five or six times a day, and people who carry bags over one shoulder should also do it regularly.
•Place a hand on the side of your head and breathe in. The hand is used only as a guide and does not drive the motion.
•Active the opposing scalene muscles by flexing the neck to the side until you reach your barrier. Once your barrier has been reached, gently pull and hold for two seconds while breathing out, then return to neutral (the starting position). Repeat 10 times.
•There are three scalene muscles that move the neck in slightly different directions. Scalene are used in breathing but also stabilize the neck.
Pectoralis Minor (chest)
This stretch will help pull your shoulders back into their rightful spot, reduce rounding of your shoulders and improve your breathing.
Your lungs get compressed if your shoulders are rounded; you can’t breathe in properly because your ribcage is also compressed. This stretch will help bring your center of gravity back into alignment.
•Breathe in and place your hands in a position like you’re under arrest.
•Pull your shoulder back and breathe out, extending the elbows and contracting the muscles in the back (rhomboids, middle trapezius). When you reach the end point, lift your shoulders at a 45-degree angle to target the pictoralis minor. Hold for two seconds and release back to neutral. Repeat 10 times.
Posterior Deltoid and shoulder capsule
This stretch is more focused on the shoulder capsule, the most mobile part of the body. A lot of people have adhesions – sticky and gluey tissues in the shoulder capsule – which restrict mobility. People who slouch, as well as tennis players, cricket bowlers and baseball pitchers, will benefit greatly from this stretch.
•Sitting down, take a deep breath. Don’t lean forward. Keep your back straight and tighten your stomach.
•Breathe out, raise one arm above your head to maximum range, pointing your fingers upwards, and bring the other arm backwards to the maximum point as a counterbalance. The anterior deltoid is the prime mover here. Hold for two seconds. Repeat 10 times on each side.
•The long head of the triceps also gets a stretch, as do the posterior deltoid and the gleno-humoral (ball and socket) joints. This is a great warm-up for the connective tissue around the joint, which is being supplied with lots of blood and nutrients.
Erector Spinae (back extensors)
The objective here is to lengthen the spine, which helps to extend your back, giving you more of an upright stance.
This is one of the most important postural muscles; it keeps your back straight. Most people are weak and tight in this area, and people who sit at desks all day are particularly vulnerable. This stretch helps correct slouching.
•Sitting up, hold the upper abs (rectus abdominus). Breathe in and lengthen through your spine. Relax your neck and shoulders.
•Contract your abdominals, which releases and relaxes the erector spinae muscle group. Lean forward with a straight back and grab hold of your ankles. Pull through to your barrier, hold for two seconds, then release back to neutral. Repeat 10 times.
•This stretch also works into the sacro-spinalis attachments in the lower lumbar region of the lower back.
It lengthens through all three muscles (spinalis, longissimus, illio-costalis) on each side of the erector spinae muscles. This muscle group keeps you erect; if it’s weak, you slump forward and buckle.
Upper Quadriceps (thigh)
This should be an integral part of any daily stretching routine because it works what could be the most used muscle in the body.
This is what’s called the proximal attachment of the rectus-femorus, the second most important postural muscle, after the hip flexors.
This stretch will improve knee extension and improve your gait. It’s also integral to increasing speed, strength and power. It’s essential to have strong but flexible quads, which give you a solid base and are important in stabilizing your knees.
•Sitting in a neutral position, breathe in and lift your heel into your bottom. Keep your back straight and your stomach tight.
•Extend the hips using the hamstring and the gluteals (buttock muscles), which are driving the movement; the hand is merely a guide. When you reach your barrier, use your hand to pull through the barrier to the point of light irritation. Hold for two seconds and release back to start. Repeat 10 times.
•The upper quad is generally the tightest part of the thigh. You should feel the stretch at the Alls (anterior inferior iliac spine) attachment of the rectus femoris.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Step1:Request omelettes and scrambled eggs prepared from egg substitutes or egg whites only.
Step2:Avoid high-fat meats such as bacon and sausage. Eat lean ham or Canadian bacon instead.
Step3:Be careful in your consumption of dairy products. Try low-fat or nonfat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, and skim milk with your cereals.
Step4:Drink fruit juices instead of coffee.
Step5:Watch the spreads that you eat. Try an English muffin, toast or a bagel with jam or margarine instead of butter.
Step6:Eat plenty of fresh fruits, either alone or with a waffle.
Step7:Consider ordering hot cereals such as oatmeal, cream of wheat or cream of rice - or eat whole-grain cold cereals.
Lunch and Dinner
Step1:Look for steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached or roasted dishes.
Step2:Avoid high-fat foods such as fried, basted, braised, au gratin, escalloped, sautéed, stewed or stuffed dishes, as well as creamy and buttery foods.
Step3:Avoid foods high in salt or MSG, as well as gravy and sauces. If you plan to eat salad dressings and sauces, ask for them on the side.
Step4:Trim fat off meat and skin off poultry.
Step5:Try fruit, ices, sherbet or nonfat frozen yogurt for dessert.
Happy eating :)