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12/27/2009

Walking in the UK

Walking in the UK and Walking holidays in the UK are becoming increasingly popular as a result of the huge diversity of the UK’s landscape and the good road and rail network that make the national parks easily accessible. All levels and types of walking are available from the stark and challenging mountains of the Inverness Highlands to the gentle rolling countryside of the Downs.

   
The most popular areas for walking in the UK are Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons, Cairngorms, Cheviot Hills, Chilterns, Cotswolds, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Grampians, Inverness, Lake District, Loch Lomond, Mendip Hills, Nevis Range, New Forest, North York Moors, Northumberland National Park, Peak District, Pennines , Ribble Valley,  Salisbury Plains, Snowdonia, Solway Coast, Thames Valley, The Downs, Yorkshire Dales.


The landscape in the different areas is as a result of thousands of years of changing climate. The most significant period that resulted in the current landscape was the last ice age where most of the area now known as Britain was covered in a huge ice sheet. As the ice sheet moved across the United Kingdom it cut great swathes through the landscape. These changes were then further developed as the receding melt water flooded down the newly cut glacial valleys cutting rivers, gorges and valleys. Big piles of rock that had been caught up in the ice sheet were also dropped back onto the landscape creating moraines which are a regular feature of the current British Landscape.


The UK has been exceptionally well mapped and various scales of map are available and cover the whole of the UK. The National Parks in particular are extremely well mapped. It is always advisable to carry a good local map when you go walking and a compass, whistle and waterproof jacket (British weather is famously changeable).


Footpaths are generally well signposted but in some more remote areas this may not be the case. For the best sign posted routes it is best to stick to the large national routes that are maintained by national government.

12/21/2009

Walking For Health And Friendship

Many studies show that walking is good for your health, but sometimes it helps to get out of the "around the block" rut and into something more challenging and fun.

Long-distance walking events help get you in shape--and if you walk for a good cause, your stroll can raise funds for groups that need it. An added bonus: Walking as part of a team can increase the enjoyment, keep you focused and build great friendships.

But what is a walking team? In the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, teams include two people or dozens-women and men, neighbors, colleagues, family, spouses or new acquaintances, from the same town or across the country-who share a commitment to taking personal steps (literally) in the fight against breast cancer.

One team that takes humor in stride is the "Back of the Pack Walkers." It consists of nearly 10 women who come together each year for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, D.C. They walk in memory of a friend, Robyn Cain, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2004. Team Captain Candi Hoffman says that "after spending so much time together, training and at the Walk, I consider the girls on my team to be some of my closest friends."

"Team Maureen" is a fixture at the Avon Walk Chicago, with team members participating as walkers, volunteers and cheerleaders, all in bright green shirts. According to Donna Lahey, "Team Maureen" Walker Captain, the 2006 team has 64 members from age 1 to 81. The team is named for Maureen Buescher, who died of breast cancer in 2002. It includes family and friends who walk for their own health and the health of all women.

Mike McElduff has put a unique spin on the team concept by leading "Team Peggy's Spirit," named for his mother, at all eight Avon Walk events across the country from April to October. "Peggy's Spirit" includes McElduff's siblings, friends and solo walkers who are seeking camaraderie as they tackle the long walk.

12/19/2009

Breathing – an Important Factor in Fitness

With the exception – probably the only one – of pearl gatherers, who dive without any autonomous equipment, breathing counts in all sports – as well as in fitness. Each sport branch has imposed its own breathing style – according to efficiency, effort timing, meteorological conditions etc.

If we take breathing as a taxonomic criterion, sports can be divided in two big groups:

1. The first one includes all the sports that use the technique of respiratory stop or blocking. The most typical among these are force sports such as athletic weight throwing, weightlifting, body building, gymnastics etc. In short, we might say that here the anaerobic extreme is concerned – the one which imposes apnea (blocking the thorax and respiration). The main advantage of diaphragm blocking is the rising, for the moment, of the explosive force of the sportsman. A rise in execution speed for maximum force efforts has also been observed. The classic example is the snatch of weightlifting in which force and speed are simultaneously implied on the basis of respiratory blocking.

This respiratory blocking, inevitable in the above-mentioned sports, has also some disadvantages. Among these we could mention high pressure values in the thorax, abdomen and skull, high pressure on blood vessels with low feed-back through the veins etc. Thus, due to the rising of pressure inside the eyes the aggravation of previous short-sightedness is possible. Also, in the inferior limbs, varicose veins can either appear or worsen. Effort in exclusively anaerobic conditions increases rigidity both in the blood vessels and in the muscles.

2. The second big group is the one of sports that do not use respiratory stop. Here we enter the realm of purely aerobic effort. The typical examples are running races, swimming, cycling etc. - generally efforts on long and very long distances. In these events the muscular force implied is little - medium at most - the stress affecting the cardiovascular component and leading to increased cardiac frequency and pulmonary ventilation.

There is also a third category - mixed sports, both aerobic and anaerobic, in which the two techniques alternate. This is the case of sports games, contact sports, rhythm breaking in medium distance running races, etc. In the case of fitness, as both types of effort - aerobic and anaerobic - are present, apnea, as well as effort without respiratory blockage, is used. As far as correct respiration is concerned, there is a general rule stating that one should breath out during the most difficult part of the movement (the positive or concentric course) and breath in during come-back (the negative or eccentric course). Within these courses, we can have or not have a respiratory stop/ blockage. If we have it, it will occur at the critical point of the course.

Another breathing rule is the one that takes into consideration the dilatation of the thorax. In this case, breathing in is done on the course which allows thorax expansion, and breathing out on the movement that contracts it. In both cases, breathing in is done through the nose - in order to filter and warm up the air flow and breathing out is done through the mouth in order to be faster and more efficient.

It is interesting to know that the 'shouting' that we hear in many weightlifting training sessions or contests, is actually the sound of forced breathing out.

12/14/2009

Use Caution When Exercising in the Heat

It is the dog days of summer, and here in North Carolina it is Hot and Steamy. I'm talking Tarzan jungle hot. It is hot enough that I am making several adjustments to my exercise routine. I normally run outside every day, but this is the time of the year when I least appreciate it. Consequently I am using the elliptical trainer a few days a week, and the other days I head out for a real good sweat.

I’m one of those people who sweat profusely. By the time I am done my body and my gym clothes are soaked. This means I am draining some serious fluids, which is not a problem as long as I adequately replace them, and I monitor any abnormal physical symptoms.

Heat related illnesses are usually due to people ignoring the warning symptoms. They include weakness, dizziness, headaches, muscle cramps and nausea. This means you need to be aware of your mental state. What appears to be fatigue can progress to unconsciousness.

So I have been doing my research and have come up with a list of valuable suggestions to make certain you summer outdoor workouts are healthy and rewarding:

Stay Hydrated

Even in cooler temperatures, there is a tendency not to adequately replace expended body fluids. In the summer it is an absolute necessity. It is important to drink water or sports beverages before and after your workout. If you are engaging in extended outdoor exercise (running, walking, bicycling), replace fluids periodically. For runners, consider a hydration pack. If you do not maintain your fluid levels you risk circulatory failure.

If you are exercising for an hour or less, water is sufficient. Longer than an hour and you need to replace carbohydrates. Warmer weather metabolizes these substances faster. Consider one of the popular sports drinks that contain carbs.

Time of Day

When they are predicting some scourging weather, schedule your workout early in the morning or later in the evening. Avoid the mid-day heat and humidity. Workout indoors if that is the only time you have to exercise

Humidity

Be aware of the relative humidity. The body responds to overheating by the evaporation of moisture through perspiration. When the humidity is high, the air is less capable of evaporating excess moisture. Consequently your natural cooling mechanism is compromised. Monitor your vitals. If you start to feel light headed, or you feel completely drain, immediately stop, find a place to cool off and once again replace those vital fluids.

Cool Clothing

No, I am not talking about the latest fashions. When exercising in heat you do not want clothing that will retain heat. That includes cotton apparel. Go for synthetic breathable fabrics that release moisture from your body and allow efficient airflow. Hats are good for preventing the sun from heating up the blood vessels lining your scalp. But remove the hat occasionally to let the heat escape.
Problems of Pollution

Due to some misguided political policies and our desire to drive gas-guzzling vehicles, the air quality in urban environments in the summer often sucks. During days when there are orange, red or even purple alerts it is best to limit your outdoor activities. And air pollution is not limited to just cities. For example, the air quality in the mountains of North Carolina during the summer can be equivalent to the air in Los Angeles. The trees are actually dying in the high altitudes. Furthermore, the air quality in a number of our national parks and beaches can be potentially hazardous during the summer months. Excessive physical exertion in areas of poor air quality can be detrimental to your health.

The summer offers an incredible opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature while you exercise. A walk or run on a tree-lined trail or sandy beach surely beats the congestion of a health club. But when it heats up outside use common sense and caution. And if those dog days of summer start barking consider heading indoors.

12/11/2009

Benefits of Stretching

The body is flexible. It is supposed to be flexible. You must be able to bend and reach that something you dropped on the floor. You must be able to zip the back of your favorite dress on your own. You must be able to reach that book you need to read at the top shelf.

These are simple activities. Nothing grand about them, you merely stretched out a bit. However, if there are difficulties in doing such simple motions, then you have to stretch your limits. You already need a stretching program.

What Is Stretching?

Stretching is simply the act of extending to full length the body or simply a part of it. This activity involves straightening or stretching the structure or the limbs.

How Does One Do the Stretching?

Stretching is fairly easy. As mentioned in the introduction, it is involved in the normal activities. It can be done by any people, regardless of age.

However the extent of stretching and flexing differs. The muscles tighten as a person ages. The range of joint movements can be minimized. This can very well obstruct an on-the-go lifestyle. That is why as the person grows older, bending or flexing becomes more limited. This is why stretching regularly, as part of a routine is very important.

Simple stretches can be done everyday. It can be incorporated in the lifestyle and the daily activities. It does not require much of your time.

Stretching exercises can also be done while training. Actually, stretching is an essential part of any training or sport. It must be done first before anything else. Stretching the body and the limbs is a good preparation for a more rigorous activity.

Most athletes would do the sit and reach, wherein they position on the floor, extend their legs and reach the tip of their foot with the tip of their hand. Actually, most trainers actually require their athletes to really do the stretching before playing.

There is actually an ideal length of time in stretching. It is best to do it in 10 minutes. This will give the body enough opportunity to move and flex the muscles, thus preparing it for more complicated and strenuous movements.

Experts however would frown upon going way beyond 10 minutes. Stretching the exercise to 30 minutes or more will already wear out the body. This will not be favorable if one is preparing for a game.

What Are the Benefits of Stretching?

1. Increase the Range of Movement
As one constantly do the stretching exercises, the length of the muscles and the tendons are also increased. This will help in increasing the range of your movement. Thus, the limbs and joints will be able to move, way before an injury can take place. You are definitely physically fit.

2. Increased Ability to Perform Skills
When you have a wide range of movement, the more you will be able to do more things. For example, you can jump high without feeling any pain when you land back on the floor. This will also help you start a new sport or improve more if you are in one. Stretching in this aspect also allows you to have a more active lifestyle.

3. Injury Prevention
One can prevent injury to joints, tendons and muscles with stretching. When the muscles and tendons are well-flexed, they are considered in good working order. This will help in a faster recovery and decreased soreness. The muscles of the body will be able to take more exhausting and rigorous movements with less probability of being injured.

4. Reduce Muscle Tension
If the muscles are given their regular exercises and stretching, it is less likely that they will contract. This will definitely relieve you of any muscle pain or problems.

5. Enhance Energy
Being able to move more will also give you more energy. Stretching will also help enhance your awareness, like knowing that you have a body that is capable of doing many things. As such, you are going to be more driven to move rather than sulk in the corner.

6. Reduces Cholesterol
Research also shows that doing prolonged stretching exercises, like yoga, will help reduce the cholesterol in the body. This of course must be done with a healthy diet at hand. This could prevent and even reverse the hardening of the arteries, allowing you to avoid coronary diseases.

Incorporate stretching in your everyday lifestyle. It has benefits you can not say no to. It also does not require much. It can be your usual activities, bending and flexing every now and then. After all, your fitness is everything so do what it takes to keep the body healthy.

12/07/2009

Benefits of Boxing Training for Fitness

You may improve your health and have a physically fit body by getting into boxing training fitness programs. This is the best way for you to have a stronger body and gain confidence. Boxing workouts can help you to be at your best fighting form as well.

Many people see positive results from boxing trainings. You may build stronger and more defined arms and legs. These programs and classes also help you to gain a sense of inner strength and emotional balance.

Boxing training classes got across to the mainstream of physical fitness training a few years back. They have seen the benefits on the cardiovascular and toning of the muscles by these boxing training workouts. Tae bo work out videos also popularized these boxing and kickboxing exercises.

Cardio boxing training classes and the innovative variations of the sparring jabs, power punches, defense, and fitness has all blends of aerobics exercises. You will learn the proper execution of the punch and kick combinations for a more intensive workout that can help you become stronger and more confident.

The combinations you perform on the blocks, jabs, and kicks are executed to an imagined opponent. You may see classes where participants throw punches and kicks on the air. You will also find training camps that have quality equipment such as punching bags and you may also have the option of getting a partner that has padded hands.

You may also enjoy more benefits aside from the physical aspects of boxing trainings. Cardio kick boxing workouts allow you to burn out 350 to 500 calories in just an hour. It also helps maintaining the heart rate at 75 percent to 85 percent regular beat. This has been proven to be good and is the recommended range if you are exercising or into training.

Moreover, these boxing training classes improve your speed, resistance, and strength. Flexibility and the reflexes of the muscles are also enhanced. Repetitive motion on arms by sparring and jogging while you punch helps your arms and legs gain strength and power.

These workouts also enable your joint movements to build very efficient fitness results.
These movements require you to develop balance and coordination that enables your body to be stable and maintain a good form.

These physical benefits you gain from boxing and kickboxing are just few of the many benefits that they can provide. You will be able to learn more about defense mechanism skills, which you may use in case of unwanted instances. You will also feel the satisfaction when you punch or kick. Relaxation and self-motivation is also developed.

You will feel a sigh of relief and feel that you are released from stressed. It also helps you to get rid of that anger that is inside of you. Once these things are releases, you may feel lightness into your body and peace of mind as well.

Many aerobic and fitness experts recommend boxing training lessons for beginners. It allows you to workout on your desired pace and body condition. Boxing classes let you to push yourself to the limit as long as you are safe and well conditioned.

Positive results await you with boxing training. You will enjoy a physically fit body and will keep you in better shape. You have the option working out and exercising at your preferred level and skill. Enjoy the fun of these boxing training programs.

12/05/2009

Walk 10,000 Steps to Improve Health and Fitness

It’s a fact, America is becoming obese at an alarming rate and the rest of the world is following close behind. We are eating more (and more of the wrong stuff) and exercising less or getting no exercise at all. Our health is in steep decline and doctor and hospital visits are at all time highs. Just a brisk 30-minute walk a day can begin to turn that around.

You name it, we have it, and it’s getting worse. Heart and cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, out of control blood sugar levels, diabetes, obesity, and more. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends getting at least 20-30 minutes of moderate activity each day and many of us are falling far short of even that.

Studies show the average person takes about 3000 to 5000 steps a day, and some even much less. Let’s face it, we just do not get the exercise our ancestors did a hundred or so years ago and we tend to eat more refined foods. For some of us, most of steps we take are from the easy chair in front of the TV to the fridge so we can fill up on snacks. For others, like me, we sit at a computer all day as part of our jobs.

Many fitness experts recommend we walk 10,000 steps a day to maintain our weight and overall good health. 10,000 steps are approximately 5 miles, give or take depending on the length of your stride. You will need to purchase and wear a pedometer to count how many steps you take each day. Follow the directions that usually come with the pedometer. Do this for a week or two and you will get a good average step count. Your goal is to reach 10,000 or more steps each day. There is nothing magical about 10,000, but it will put you in the right ballpark.

As a general rule, a person will burn about 100 calories walking a mile, depending on age, size, and fitness level. The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn.

Become creative on ways to increase your steps. At work, go for walks at lunchtime. Go for walks with your spouse or children. Walk the dog. Walk to the store instead of driving, or park at the far end of the parking lot. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. For me, I take brisk 2-mile walks around the neighborhood twice a day everyday (aerobic walking). Just do whatever works best for you, but do it! You will need good walking shoes and socks to prevent injury when walking for exercise (like aerobic walking).

Go to your favorite search engine and type in “10,000 steps” to learn more about this life saving, life changing program. The information is abundant.
Dr. Ernest C. Wong, DDS, MS, a premier dental office near San Diego
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