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11/27/2009

Water Exercise for Arthritis Relief - Fun and Effective

Everybody knows exercise is a significant part of staying healthy. As anyone with arthritis can tell you, though, when your joints say no to play, exercise goes from pleasurable and stimulating activity into a trial of how much pain you can tolerate.

The tendency when suffering from arthritis is to keep your joints as motionless as possible. The problem is that this leads to weakening of the muscles and tendons and a stiffening of joints, which makes the pain worse over time. It is a self-feeding cycle difficult to break out of.

One solution comes in the form of The Arthritis Foundation Aquatics Program, a warm water exercise program designed by the Arthritis Foundation. Why warm water exercise? The warmth offered by hot water allows muscles to relax and intensifies circulation of blood to the joints. In fact, ever since the discovery of the first hot springs, humans have used the miracle of warm water baths to fight aching joints.

Besides reducing the pain in your joints, exercising in water permits body weight to be supported. This makes exercising in water easier, safer and more relaxing. Not only that, but the resistance that water provides as your body moves in it helps strengthen muscles

These days, what with spas, health clubs and backyard hot tubs, just about anyone has access to a pool of hot water to relax in. Not only does this bring some immediate relief of arthritis symptoms, but it also provides us with a great environment in which we can exercise.

You should consult your doctor before beginning water exercise. Water exercise is completely safe for most people, with a few exceptions. If you’ve have suffered serious joint damage or replacement surgery you may be among them. Your doctor will know what’s right for you. Also be aware of temperature. Water between 83 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for exercise. Anything over 100 degrees may be relaxing, but can lead to overheating. After you’ve gotten the doctor go ahead, it’s time to get started.

The Arthritis Foundation Aquatics Program exercises can be found in the free brochure "Water Exercise: Pools, Spas and Arthritis” from the Arthritis Foundation. Classes are also offered at local pools nationwide—contact your local Arthritis Foundation office for information. The classes are lead by a trained instructor, usually last between 45 minutes to an hour and are scheduled 2 to 3 times a week.

With a doctor’s guidance, whether at a local pool or at home, a water exercise program is a fun and effective way to combat arthritis and keep joints and muscles healthy.

11/23/2009

Can a 30 Minute Workout Really Work?

If you talk to almost anyone who goes to the gym to workout and ask them how long a good workout usually takes, they will often answer with; “it takes a good hour to get in a good workout”, or even; “if I don’t spend 1 ½ to 2 hours in the gym, I just don’t get enough from my workout”.

Based on these kinds of typical responses, you can imagine how surprised many of these same people appear to be when I tell them that I only workout for 30 minutes a day, yet still get the kind of results that they do! Many of them will say, no way you only workout for 30 minutes a day! How can you ever get results doing that?

The plain fact is there are a lot of people who have such busy schedules that finding more than 30 minutes to dedicate to a workout is just impossible. It’s not that they don’t want to do it; there just aren’t enough hours in the day to be in the gym for 1 to 2 hours at a time.

If there was a way to get an effective workout in 30 minutes however, then perhaps they could spend half of their lunch hour in the gym, and the other half eating their lunch. That would be perfect, wouldn’t it? But is it really possible to do a workout in 30 minutes that will bring real results? The answer is a definite yes, but you will need a few simple strategies to make it happen.
 Here are some tips on how to make your workouts really work in only 30 minutes a day.

To start with, make sure you have a plan for each day. Write down all of the exercises you will be doing for that day and write down all of the weights you will be using for each exercise. Write down how many sets you will be doing for each exercise and how many repetitions you will be doing during each set.

Do split body part routines. For example, on Monday and Thursday, do legs, arms and abs. On Tuesday and Friday, do chest, back and shoulders. This way you only have half of your body parts to work on each day cutting down significantly on time spent in the gym.

Upon arriving at the gym, set up as many things as you can in advance so that when you get started, you can keep moving from one exercise to the other without wasting time getting the next piece of equipment set up. This way, you can go strait through each exercise without stopping, take 1-2 minutes rest, and then simply repeat until you finish all of your sets.

Avoid socializing. While being friendly is ok, don’t let yourself get distracted by having a conversation with others in the gym. Remember, you only have so much time and 5 minutes spent talking rather than exercising is 5 minutes wasted. Explain to people wishing to talk to you that you are on limited time and you just can’t stop what you are doing at the moment or better yet, put on a pair of headphones before you begin your workout; they’ll get the clue.

Always do your weight training and cardio training separately. On days you are not doing weight training, you can spend 30 minutes on the treadmill or on the stair climber. This way you are still only working out for 30 minutes. Combining the two only means you will have to spend more time in the gym and time spent in the gym is what you are trying to cut down on.

In summary, just remember to write out a plan for each day, split those body parts on different days, keep moving during your routine, don’t socialize, and don’t do weights and cardio on the same day and you will see excellent results in only 30 minutes a day.

11/20/2009

Excessive Exercise and Eating Disorders

In our society, the perceived perfect image of women falls right in line with the slenderness of girls 10 to 12 years old. This unrealistic perception spawned by the supermodels seen today in ads for popular clothing and undergarment makers such as Victoria’s secret has caused many women to become obsessed with their own images.

 In our society, women are ten times more likely to develop eating disorders and compulsive exercise habits that can be life threatening and often do prove to be fatal.
Here are the most commonly developed eating disorders:

“Anorexia nervosa” is a life threatening disorder that occurs when you eat very little food and become obsessed about your weight even when you are badly underweight. An anorexic person will often see themselves as being fat when they look at themselves in the mirror even though they appear very skinny to everyone else. People with this disorder often turn to laxatives and various diet aids such as fat burning pills to bring their weight down to dangerous levels.

“Bulimia” is a disorder that occurs when you go on an eating binge, and then immediately purge it all out. You will eat a large amount of food, even junk food, and then get it all back out of your system by both self-induced vomiting and laxative use. This practice may throw off your body’s mineral balance in the blood and put the health of your heart at risk.

“Compulsive overeating” followed by “compulsive over exercising” is a pattern that is not as dangerous as anorexia and bulimia but still can lead to both physical and psychological problems. This is a pattern in which you will eat a large amount of food followed up immediately by exercising excessively hard and for a long period of time.

It is estimated that more than one out of three collage female athletes may at one time develop an eating disorder. If you suffer from an eating disorder, seek medical help as soon as possible because if left untreated, these disorders can cause permanent health problems and even death.

11/18/2009

Dumbbell Exercises That Suit Beginners

The aim for beginners to weight training must be to lay the foundations for the intensive workouts that their bodies will eventually be subjected to. Obviously successful bodybuilding involves bringing together disparate elements such as nutrition and rest but choosing the right exercises is crucial. In this article we'll outline the dumbbell exercises that will enable new bodybuilders to develop the general strength and body conditioning needed.

Initially beginners should aim to complete two sets of ten to twelve reps but after a few weeks, when you have developed sufficient control and basic strength, experiment with one set of six to eight reps to failure. This will maximize your muscle growth and give you the impetus to move on to the next stage of development. Before long you'll find the use of this single piece of equipment restricting, so later in this series of articles we'll pull together a muscle boosting program that utilizes other equipment to take you to the intermediate level. In the meantime, get to work with these exercises in order to get used to working your muscles.

Start off training four days per week and work body parts on the following basis not forgetting to incorporate rest days:

Day 1 - Biceps, Back, Abs

Day 2- Hamstrings, Shoulders, Abs

Day 3 - Quads, Forearms, Calves

Day 4 - Triceps, Chest, Abs

The exercises recommended for beginners are as follows:

CHEST: Bench press, flyes

UPPER BACK: Prone reverse flye, seated reverse flye, bent over row, pullover

SHOULDER: Lateral raise, shoulder press, upright row

TRICEPS: Lying triceps extension

BICEPS: Curl, concentration curl

FOREARMS: Wrist curl, wrist extension

LEGS: Squat, leg curl, calf raise

11/15/2009

Aerobic Exercise for Weight Loss Can Be Fun

The word aerobic literally means "with oxygen" or "in the presence of oxygen." Aerobic exercise is any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously for a long period of time and is rhythmic in nature. Aerobic exercises utilize oxygen as the major fuel for sustaining activity for relatively long periods.

In general, aerobic exercises are those activities that require large muscle work, elevate the heart rate to between 60 percent and 80 percent of maximal heart rate, are continuous in nature and are of 15 to 60 minutes in duration. An aerobically fit individual can work longer, more vigorously and achieve a quicker recovery at the end of the aerobic session.

Aerobic exercises fall in two categories:

Low to Moderate Impact aerobics – These include walking, swimming, stair climbing, step classes, light water aerobics, rowing and cross-country skiing. Nearly anyone in reasonable health can engage in some low- to moderate-impact exercise. Brisk walking burns more calories than jogging for the same distance because it takes more time to walk than jog that distance and poses less risk for injury to muscle and bone.

High-Impact aerobics – Activities that belong to this group include running, dance exercise, tennis, racquetball and squash. High-impact aerobics should be performed on alternate days. People who are overweight, elderly, out of condition or have an injury or other medical problem should do them even less frequently and only with clearance from their doctor.

Here are some of the many aerobic exercises you can do and because of the variety you have to choose from, it can not only take the bordum out of doing it, it can make doing it downright fun as well.


    1. Walking
        Walking is a popular form of exercise because it requires little in terms of equipment or facilities. Walking an extra 20 minutes each day will burn off 7 pounds of body fat per year. Longer, moderately-paced daily walks are best for losing weight.
   

    2. Jogging/Running
        In jogging or running, an individual is able to cover greater distances in a shorter period of time. Therefore, greater numbers of calories can be burned per time spent.

    3. Choreographed Aerobic Exercise
        Choreographed aerobic dance is a very popular form of exercise throughout the world. Aerobic dance helps in toning up the muscles of the body and many people find it fun to do as well.

    4. Step Aerobics
        Step aerobics incorporates the use of a step or bench typically about one foot wide and three feet long and about six inches high. Instructors use many moves that require participants to step up and down from the platform. This way, the activity will not be boring and tiring, but will be lively and motivating.

    5. Water Aerobics
        Water aerobics incorporates a variety of movements from both swimming and land aerobics to develop vigorous routines that are aerobic in nature. It utilizes the resistance to movement that water creates to elevate heart rates and also helps you if balancing yourself on land is difficult. It is a good way to lose weight.

    6. Swimming
        Swimming is a very popular form of regular exercise. Due to the resistance of water, the amount of energy required to swim a certain distance is greater than that needed to run or walk the same distance. In other words, swimming can burn more calories than running per time spent.

    7. Stationary Cycling/Bicycling
        Stationary cycling or bicycling are excellent forms of aerobic exercise when done continuously. Like swimming, cycling is a non weight bearing activity that builds muscular endurance and strength and improved flexibility of selected muscles of the legs and thighs.

    8. Jumping Rope
        Jumping rope can be a great aerobic workout as long as it is performed at     a slow to moderate pace and is done continuously for a relatively long period of time (15 minutes or more).

    The key to effective weight loss is through use of a healthy exercise program which is performed on a regular basis while following a healthy dieting & nutritional plan. Aerobic exercise is good for weight loss because it uses more calories than other activities and helps raise your metabolic rate.

This helps your body burn calories at a faster rate. It is an effective way to lose fat only if you are motivated enough to do it frequently. Aerobics only burns fat during the workout itself. So if you want encouraging results you need to be able to exercise daily and for longer periods.

11/09/2009

10 Things You Should Know About Stretching

Before fitness training, one must give importance to doing warm-up or stretching exercises to prevent accidents or to enhance the output during the training. There are also a number of precautionary measures and tips to serve as guidelines when doing fitness exercises. Here are some of them.

1. To increase your flexibility and to avoid injuries, stretch before and after workout. Almost everyone knows that stretching before workout prevents injuries during the exercises, but only few people know that stretching after workout, when muscles are still warm, can increase flexibility.

2. Hold your stretching position for more than 60 seconds to increase flexibility. While holding your position for 20 seconds is enough for warm ups, holding each position for at least 60 seconds will develop the body's flexibility.

3. Do not go into a stretching position then immediately return to the relaxed position, and do it repeatedly. This is more appropriately termed as bouncing while in a position. When stretching, hold that position for several seconds, and then slowly relax. You may do this exercise repeatedly this way. Bouncing or forcing yourself into a position during stretching can strain or damage some joints or muscles.

4. Work slowly in increments instead of immediately proceeding to doing the hardest exercise or position.

5. Make sure that you have stretched or warmed up all muscle groups. For some people, even if they have strong bodies, they tend to neglect the neck when working out of stretching. Stretching the neck muscles can be as simple as placing the palm of one's hand against the front of the head and pushing it. Then, do the same to the sides and the back of the head.

6. Stretch regularly to continually increase your range of movements and your level of flexibility and strength.

7. Workout considering only your capabilities and not of others. Do not force yourself to do exercises that you are not yet capable of just because there are people who can do it. Increase your limits slowly. Listen to your body. There are days when your body may be too tired that you may have to consider reducing your range of motion.

8. Learn to rest. Rest in between sets and stations to make sure that the body has enough time to recover its energy. Also, it is advisable that you don't work the same muscle groups consecutively for two days. The muscles grow during the period when you rest and not when you are working out.

9. Do aerobic exercises to strengthen your heart. Aerobic exercises are those physical activities that much oxygen for fuel. This includes cardiovascular exercises such as skipping rope, running or swimming.

10. Music may help you when you want to train for longer periods or to increase your intensity. You can use mp3 players, CD players or lightweight am radio receivers for this. Just make sure that you brought your headset with you so you wouldn't disturb people who don't prefer music while exercising.

Apart from preventing injuries and increasing one's limit, it is also said that stretching is good for a tired body and also for a stressed mind and spirit.

11/06/2009

Benefits of Pilates

Pilates is one of the most rewarding types of exercise because it encompasses stretch, strength and improves flexibility in the safest way while avoiding injury.

Pilates started as a way of rehabilitating athletes and dancers but is now used by millions of people across the globe because it is one of the safest forms of exercise.

Forget going for a run, pounding on pavement with the potential risk of getting shin splints, a knee injury or worse, falling and getting an even more severe injury. Pilates is one of the safest exercise systems in existence. The only equipment used is a floor mat. But for more advanced pilates exercise enthusiasts, other equipment can be added to simple routines. Nevertheless, once you begin this solid workout regimen, you will begin to notice healthy improvements in your body.

Regardless of whether you are 20 or 60 years of age, Pilates can work for anyone – male or female, old or young. No matter what condition you’re in, the health and fitness benefits are endless. Pilates improves flexibility, core strength and range of motion. It is also known to help alleviate chronic health ailments as well as fight back pain.

But the best part about Pilates is it’s fun!

It’s an exercise that bonds the mind and body allowing them to work together to establish balance. But the biggest benefit is Pilates improves overall body alignment, making it less prone to injury.

Here are some more benefits of Pilates:

• Improves breathing
• Corrects spinal and pelvic alignment through the concentration of slow, flowing, smooth movements with maximum power.
• Builds long, lean muscles that are less prone to injury, while building strength - without the bulk.
• Improves flexibility and range of motion.
• Improves back and abdominal strength.
• Creates balance between muscles - as weak muscles become stronger and the strong muscles also gain more strength never over training or under training any particular muscle group. This balance makes it easier to enjoy daily activities with less risk of injury. Pilates allows you to retrain your body to move in smoother safer, more efficient patterns of motion, which is essential in optimal performance and overall health.
• There is no pounding or bouncing in Pilates. It is the safest form of exercise. This is why it began as a rehabilitation exercise system for sports athletes and dancers. It is an intense exercise system working all muscle groups but still sustaining and improving overall balance.
If you are looking for a fitness routine that’s safe and easy to do - and that doesn’t involve a lot of heavy equipment, Pilates is an excellent choice. But best of all, with the popularity of this system, it can be performed in the comfort of your own home! Many videos and DVD’s are available for rent at your local video store as well as for sale at your local supermarket.
Need the right exercise system? Pilates may be just the right thing for you. Fun, easy and relaxing exercise that strengthens and restores flexibility… Doesn’t get much better than this!

11/04/2009

20 Minute Home Work Out

If you are busy, not able to get up early morning or have no time for gym just follow this 20 minute home work out to stay healthy and fit.

1) Jog : in one place for 3 minutes

2) Jumping jacks: 25 repeats
When landing, bend your knees slightly to reduce the impact on knee joints.

3) Crunches : 15 repeats
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Place your hands behind your head with elbows pointing outwards. Support your neck with your hands. Keep your neck in a straight line with your spine. Flex your waist to raise the upper torso from the mat. Lower yourself until the back of your shoulders touches the mat.
Muscle worked: rectus abdominis

4) Hip Bridges : 10 repeats
Lie on your back. With your hands at a 90 degree angle to the floor, lift your body off the floor to form a straight line, a sort of a bridge, from the shoulders to the knee. The position should resemble a table … your hands and legs as the legs of the table and your upper body to your knees as the surface. Hold this position for two seconds. Squeeze your gluteus (butt muscles) and then lower yourself.
Muscle worked: Lower back, hamstrings and gluteus.

5) Step – up’s : 1 minute
You will need a stepper for this.
Muscle worked: hamstrings, gluteus, quards.

6) Reverse crunches: 15 repeats
Lie on your back with your hands on your sides. Keep you knees bent. Bring your knees towards your head, till your hips come slightly off the floor. Hold this position for a second, and then lower your knees.
Muscle worked: lower abs and obliques.

7) Mountain climbers : 1 minute
Get your hands and knees and raise your knees like a starting block sprinter. Run in that position, supporting your upper body with the palms of your hands. Keep your back straight.
Muscle worked: triceps, deltoid muscle, gluteus, quards, hamstrings, calves.

8) Push – ups : 15 repeats
Muscle worked: triceps, deltoids, pectorals.

9) Squat thrusts: 1 minute
Stand straight. Now, drop to a crouch position. Immediately thrust your legs out straight behind on your toes, in push up position, now jump to pull legs back to the chest, in crouching position , then stand up straight,
Muscle worked: arms, legs, chest, and lower back.

Cool down by walking around, till your heart rate starts getting back to normal, stretch.

A minutes rest is needed in between exercise. Proper form is important. Do not hold breath. Sip water during the workout. This workout targets the whole body, improves cardiovascular efficiency and tones and strengthens the body.
Dr. Ernest C. Wong, DDS, MS, a premier dental office near San Diego
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