Category Archives: Exercise

Keeping Active for Better Aging

It’s a simple fact: as start to get older, we simply aren’t as active as we once were in our younger days. That’s unfortunate though. Staying active is vital to staying healthy and in turn, vital if we want to remain independent for as long as possible.

“Exercise is important for almost everyone.” says Dr. Keith Veselik of the Loyola University Health System. He said he even will write it out in a prescription for patients to try to make them see the importance of exercise and the connection it has to their health. Maybe more doctors should write out prescriptions for exercise. People need to start understanding that taking care of your body is just as powerful as medication once something goes wrong.

Of course, staying active isn’t always as easy as you get older. But Dr. Veselik has plenty of tips for older generations to be able to get in some exercise…

If Join Pain is a Problem

Joint pain and muscle aches increase dramatically once you hit your 50′s. He recommends to try cardiovascular exercises that get your heart pumping without putting too much strain on your joints. If you used to be an avid runner, that may not be the best choice anymore. That doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy the same routes, though. Try a bicycle. That’s much easier on your joints than running. Even better is swimming, which works the majority of your muscles in a gentle way and gets your heart racing. This is a great way to get exercise if you suffer from arthritis.

If you insist on running though, please just make sure you have good running shoes that provide plenty of cushion and support.

If you get your rate up with cardiovascular exercise regularly, you can greatly reduce the chances of developing serious health problems like asthma and heart disease. However, if you haven’t been exercising for a while and want to get started, talk to your doctor first. They can help you develop a safe plan to get you active while reducing the risk of injury.

If Back Pain is a Problem

If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid joint and muscle pain, there’s still a good chance you will start experiencing back pain. If that’s the case, he says you should focus on strengthening your core muscles. Of course, always make sure you life heavy objects properly – with your legs and by not bending over and using your back to stand up and lift.

Other Tips

  • Include weight-bearing exercises in your routine. This will help you minimize the risk of osteoporosis by keeping your bones nice, strong and healthy.
  • Include exercises that strengthen your legs and improve your balance. This will help you stay flexible, balanced and minimize the risk of potentially dangerous falls.
  • Exercise not only keeps you healthy and helps prevent heart disease and such, but it can also reduce pain from arthritis and might even help prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

 

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Interval Training for Quick Results

Is your exercise routine getting boring or just not providing the same kind of results as it once did? If so, you might wanna look into interval training.It doesn’t matter what you like to do… running, zamba, swimming, spin classes, etc. All you have to do to incorporate interval training is to push it extremely hard for a few minutes, then slow it down or rest for a few minutes (or maybe seconds).

What’s this do? You’re stressing the heck out of your cardiovascular system, that’s what! Why would you want to do that? Your muscles build up something called lactic acid. This acid improves your stamina, energy and strength. So while you’re on the down swing and easy mode (or rest) your body is actually preparing for the next push.

Professional athletes or at least life-long athletes have been using interval training for years. They know it’s the key to getting quick results and constantly improving your athletic ability. But for the general population, it’s still relatively new. Let’s look at why you should incorporate interval training into your routine…

It’s been shown that if you use interval training to its fullest, you can greatly improve your athletic ability. Your body learns to maximize the use of oxygen to gain energy when you need it – much better than if you always maintained the same level of difficulty in an exercise session. As your body learns to process oxygen better, you get stronger. You get faster. You up your game dramatically.

Are You Ready for Interval Training?

Of course, if you’re a beginner who has just started to exercise routinely then you may need to wait a bit before you try to push yourself too hard in interval training. You need to have a solid base level of physical fitness or you’re very likely going to risk injuries. If you don’t have any health conditions, shoot for 30-40 minutes of exercise several times per week at least. When you’ve been doing that and are comfortable with it, aim to get to a heart rate of 220 minus your age. i.e. if you’re 20, then aim for 200. That’s how you can figure your max heart rate.

Start Interval Training

Ok, you’ve been exercising regularly and you’ve established a healthy, strong fitness base. It’s time to up the ante. But don’t do interval training everyday. Your body needs 24/48 hours to fully recover from such intense exercise. Also keep in mind that with interval training, you’ll burn quite a bit more carbs than before. That means you should feed some extra carbs back into your body to refuel and recover. Don’t go crazy, but get a few hundred grams definitely.

Don’t Crash and Burn

When you start doing intervals you want to make sure that you’ll be able to finish. If you’re running, do a strong fast run during the high-intensity portions, but don’t flat out sprint if that means you won’t be able to finish. By being able to finish, we mean two things: You want to be able to finish the last few seconds high-intensity portions with the same speed and strength as the fist few seconds. You also want the last high-intensity portion to be as strong as the first one of the day. Remember it doesn’t have to be an ‘all or nothing’ type of thing. Some research has shown just as good results with medium-intensity portions as high-intensity. Just make sure you’re getting in those short burst of oomph!

 

 

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Crazy Fun Exercise Classes

Push-ups and squats in an airless, unforgivingly bright room? Huffing and puffing and sweating next to 25 strangers? The fitness classes of yesterday, maybe. But those are practically archaic by now. Hello, slithering, gravity-defying routines, party music, and flashing lights. Some classes are hybrids of old and new exercises; others are high-intensity variations on the norm. All will boost your fitness. U.S. News highlights some of the most out-of-the-box options:

Aerial dance. Always envied Cirque du Soleil performers? Stop at Heliummm Aerial Dance and Entertainment in New York. You’ll learn the tricks of aerial dance, while giving your arms and abs a workout. The bulk of your time will be spent hanging from and climbing up silky fabric that dangles from the ceiling. “It translates into other areas of your life, too,” says event producer and performer Heather Hammond. “Once you’ve overcome the fear of hanging upside down, you feel like a million bucks. You’ve just done something death-defying. It’s a physical, mental, and emotional challenge.” And there are no age constraints: Heliummm clients range from age 7 to 72.

[See: Arm Exercises for Short-Sleeve Season]

Burlesque dancing. You’ll learn the art of the slow tease by shimmying your shoulders and wiggling your hips. At some schools, you’ll also learn how to walk in heels to optimize your appearance, how to improve your posture, and how to lure others via eye contact. Other moves you’ll master: bumps, grinds, and chair dancing. Classes aren’t for the shy or delicate, though, instructors say: You’ll be working hard and getting on your hands and knees.

Trivia training. Boot camp meets Jeopardy. Be prepared to stretch your mind and your body. This type of class is based on research suggesting that working out increases blood flow to the brain region that controls memory; using your memory while exercising, the thinking goes, could improve brain function. During a typical class, participants are divided into teams, and whichever group answers a question correctly chooses the next exercise. In a lightning round, the instructor reads statements—if they’re true, prepare to run. False, drop to the ground and do push-ups or squats.

Piloxing. It’s a heart-pumping, body-toning, unlikely combination: pilates and boxing. Participants can wear athletic shoes or go barefoot, and some opt for half-pound weighted fingerless gloves to enhance the upper body workout. Expect to punch, jab, and execute quick footwork, while switching it up with balance poses, balletic plie squats, and other graceful dance moves.

AntiGravity yoga. Take your workout to the next level. Participants perform the poses of traditional yoga while hanging in a large silk hammock raised off the ground. The weightless routine helps strengthen the core, while relieving aching joints and stretching tight muscles. These classes are available nationwide; see a listing at antigravityyoga.com.

Party ride. It’s 9 p.m. on a Friday night. Throw on your sneakers and head to the “healthy nightclub,” says Julie Rice, co-founder and co-CEO of SoulCycle, a chain of indoor cycling studios in New York. The 45-minute “party ride” class merges the intensity of a full-body workout with dim lighting, glow sticks, and pulsing pop music—Lady Gaga, for example, or Rihanna. Riders also use hand weights to tone their cores and upper bodies. “It’s a super-invigorating, high-energy cardio party,” Rice says. “We have a disco ball and a bouncer at the front door. It’s awesome.”

Kangoo Jumps. Strap on these low-impact rebound sports shoes—rollerblade-like boots with springs instead of wheels—and head to the gym. During class, you’ll bounce, jump, skip, and run, mimicking a kangaroo while doing leg lifts and dance moves choreographed to energetic tunes. Kangoo Jumps were designed by a Swiss engineer whose aging knees interfered with his ability to run, and they’re claimed to reduce the impact on joints by up to 80 percent. The shoes typically cost between $169 and $279.

Hoop-ercise. Thought hula-hooping was for the kids? Wrong. Participants use weighted, adult-size hula hoops—and say that it’s not just fun, but it works. An hour of intense hooping can burn as many calories as an hour on the treadmill, and classes are typically set to fun tunes. Some hooping moves stimulate the entire core; others target the back and thighs, or tone the biceps and triceps.

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Amazing Swimsuit Arms in 3 Super Simple Moves

Losing weight and getting in decent shape is one thing, but toning up the arms is often a very tough challenge for women. Getting your arms ready to show off in an evening dress or even a swimsuit doesn’t have to be as tough as you think, though. If you’re like many women, you’ve tried and tried and nothing has seemed to work in the past. You can run till you drop and tone your entire body, but your arms (especially the top under-arms) just laugh at you. If that sounds familiar, don’t fret… here are some simple moves that will help you finally conquer the mystery of toning up those arms.

Cardio Counts

When you think about toning your arms, you probably don’t think about running, aerobics or swimming. But all of these can help… anything that gets you moving and gets your cardio going. Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of any muscle-toning you want to do. Simply targeting one area and only working that area will not give you the results that you’re looking for. So before we get into arm-specific moves, we want to emphasize that you have to include cardio workouts into your routine regularly. Aim for five hours of cardio each and every week. We’re not saying you have to dedicate a full hour five times per day, either. You can split this five hours up however you like, but just be sure to shoot for getting in a full five hours throughout the week.

Strength Training

Like we said, you don’t want to focus on just one muscle or area that you want to tone. So as you do these, remember that on some days you should be focusing on other areas, too. The more muscle you build through strength training, the more calories you’ll burn naturally. Building muscle increases your metabolism, which is a great way to get passive calorie-burning going on.

To begin with, you’ll need a couple of dumbbells. Using two small ones is better than one big one, because you can control your movements more precisely, but either will work. If you have one big one and can’t get two little ones right now, then start with that until you’re able to get two small ones.

Rear-Facing Arm Lifts

Get your dumbbells out and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Stretch out your arms behind you with your hand sitting slightly behind your upper thighs. Of course, if you’re using two dumbbells, you’ll have one in each hand and if you’re using a single one then you’ll be holding it with both hands.

Lift the dumbbell(s) up until it starts to become uncomfortable – don’t go past that or you will risk getting hurt. Keeping your arms straight, lower them back down slowly and repeat the lift.

Sidearm Lifts

For this one, you really need two small dumbbells since you’ll be doing them both at the same time and one large one may be too heavy to do for single arm lifts. Put one dumbbell in each hand and let your arms relax by your sides. Slowly lift your arms straight out to the sides until they get to shoulder height. Lower them and keep doing the lifts. Lifting them shoulder height shouldn’t be painful. If it is, then it’s likely that your weights are too heavy.

Straight-Up Lifts

Remember at the beginning when we talked about the underside of the upper arms often being the toughest to tame? Those areas that sag are often referred to as saddlebags. This exercise is a great way to get rid of them and tone that area. Unlike the sidearm lifts, where two small dumbbells are pretty much required, you can do this one with two small ones or one larger one.

Put your arms straight up. Now bend them at the elbows to bring your hands down behind your head holding the dumbbells. Lift ‘em straight up above your head slowly, lower and repeat. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t do many of these, as it’s a more advanced lift than the others. Just do what’s comfortable and over time you’ll be able to add more.

 

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Taking the WORK Out of Working Out!

If you’re trying to shape up, then you’re bound to know that there are literally hundreds of different kinds of exercises you can do. The problem a lot of people face is they simply never find the right one for them – that exercise routine that they actually enjoy and look forward to doing. Some people enjoy walking, jogging, riding a bike, swimming or something else that keeps them outdoors. Others don’t enjoy the outdoors as much and would prefer working out at the gym with weights, machines or taking different group classes.

If you enjoy the outdoors and live an area that often has nice weather, then consider trying to get a group of friends together to get out and exercise together. You could do weekly hiking trips, jogs or head to the river (or whatever water is nearby) for an afternoon of swimming. If you’re into sports, then you all could hit the batting cages or form games of softball, tennis, basketball or hit the golf course and driving range.

The possibilities are endless. It all just depends on what you like to do. A lot of people get bored with doing just a particular thing, too. So mix it up some. Hit the gym one day and on another day you and your friends can shoot some hoops. Exercise doesn’t have to be tedious, boring or ‘hard work’. There are all kinds of things that are fun and you probably enjoy that you didn’t even really consider exercise before. Heck, even getting out in the garden for the afternoon is a form of exercise.

Check in with your local gyms and see what they offer. Today there are all kinds of different classes that are often available. From yoga and pilates (you’d be surprised just how challenging those can be regardless of whether you have always considered them ‘sissy’ like), to kickboxing, to the new big craze – Zumba.
Pick something and just get started. Try new things. Eventually you’re going to find the perfect fit for you and end up with a routine that’s tailor made for you. Just don’t get into a rut doing the same thing and always try to challenge yourself. Swimming doesn’t seem like much, but it’s actually one of the best things you can do. The resistance your muscles get is amazing and it works just about every muscle in your body.

It really doesn’t matter what you’re doing as long as you’re getting out there and doing something for about half an hour per day. Find a few things you like and switch ‘em up as you go along so you’re never getting bored and your body doesn’t get to used to it. If you’re doing the same exact thing constantly, your body adjusts to it and will end up not getting much out of it.

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Building Stamina with Exercises to Lose Weight Fast

Stamina is by far one of the most important things if you’re trying to do exercises to lose weight fast. What makes stamina so important? Well, you aren’t going to be able to do much exercise in any given session if you don’t enough stamina. That means less exercise, less calories burned and less weight you’ll be losing. A really good way to build up your stamina quickly is to get plenty of cardio exercises in.

How to Build Stamina with Cardio Exercises

There are lots of cardio exercises to choose from, so really it all boils down to your preferences and what you enjoy doing. You can get on the treadmill or if you don’t like running on the treadmill then maybe a stair stepper is more your style. If you need motivation, classes are a great option. You’ll be motivated by everyone around you in the class and the leader of the class is almost sure to push everyone to do their best. You could simply try aerobics or yoga (it’s harder than you might think) or something more modern like dance or Zumba.

If you’re just now starting to exercise then take it slow at first. Yes, you want to build your stamina as fast as possible, but you want to do it without risking injury. The last thing you want is to end up getting hurt and not being able to exercise at all. Start slow. Gradually work up to higher intensity cardio exercises until you can do 30 minutes of intense cardio without killing yourself.

There are plenty of classes that are aimed at beginners so don’t be afraid to ask about them. By starting with a beginner’s class, others will be nearly on the same level as you and you won’t feel intimidated by super-fit people you can’t keep up with.

Not too long ago, spinning became the craze and people, beginners and advanced, flocked to spinning classes to get an intense workout. You might be tempted to jump into something like this, but just a bit of a head’s up – don’t start out with something like this. The classes are very intense. You’re better off starting with a beginner’s aerobics class.

Of course, once you get some stamina built up then the possibilities are pretty much endless. Keep upping the intensity of the cardio that you do, but also start adding in other types of exercises. Strength training is important to add into your routine. Strength training will help you build and develop your muscles, which means you’ll increase the amount of fat you burn. More muscles equals passive weight loss and more fat burned when you do workout.

Proper Form for Weights

It can be difficult to know whether or not you’re using proper form when you first start lifting weights. For that reason, it’s a good idea to get yourself a trainer (most gyms have personal trainers that will work with you for free or a nominal fee). They can watch your movements and make sure you’re using good form. If you don’t use good form, then first of all you’re risking injury. Secondly, you won’t be getting as much out of your workouts as you could.

 

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Managing Diabetes with Diet and Exercise

As you probably know, there are two types of diabetes: Type I and Type II. Type II can often be managed and treated with the right exercises and diet. Type I is a completely different monster, though. If you or a loved one has Type I diabetes, here are some tips to help you manage it and stay as healthy as possible through diet and exercise choices.

Carbs

Carbohydrates have gotten a pretty bad rep over the years. It’s not that they’re all bad, though. There are both good carbs and bad carbs. This is especially true if you’re trying to manage diabetes. Including carbohydrates in your diet can give you plenty of health benefits, it’s just you have to be smart about which ones you eat. Some of the carbs that you should generally avoid include:

  • White rice
  • White flour
  • White sugar
  • De-germed cornmeal
  • Fruit juices

Instead of eating any of the above, try to replace them with better, ‘nicer’ carbs. Foods that are generally considered to be good carbs are whole grain foods, brown rice, whole natural fruits and whole cornmeal.

Using Protein to Process Carbs

If you choose your proteins and carbs carefully, you can combine them to keep your blood sugar levels in-check and avoid those nasty spikes that lead to bad situations. While you don’t want to overdo it on carbs, you can usually get away with some of them by eating protein with it. Basically, the protein helps your body process the carbs more effectively and consistent to avoid sugar spikes. Some combinations that you might want to try are:

  • Add some unsweetened, natural nut butter to a piece of whole grain bread or crakcers
  • Top some whole grain crackers with your choice of low fat cheese
  • Cook up some brown rice and add some beans into it
  • Create your own “party mix” – combine some pretzels, peanuts and your favorite whole grain cereal in a bowl to snack on
  • Fill a whole grain pita with lean turkey breast

Good and Bad Fats

Just like with carbohydrates, not all fat is bad. Sure, you want avoid eating too much bad fat, but you want to make sure you’re getting enough good fats in your diet. Bad fat is saturated fat. It’s found in things like butter, sugar and shortening that you find on the shelves of the grocery store at room temp.

Try adding some of the following into your diet if you aren’t already doing so…

  • Fish,
  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Replace any of your cooking oils with canola oil

Exercising

Exercise is pretty much considered a must if you want to properly manage your diabetes. One of the most important types of exercise in regards to managing diabetes is strength training. There have been cases where strength training benefits even rivaled that of diabetes medicines.

Aerobics or some type of cardio exercise is also important. You burn calories (even more if you’re strength training too, as muscle burns fat) and you get your heart rate going.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to get in about 30 minutes per day five days per week. You’ll feel better and you’ll manage your weight, which is directly connected to managing your diabetes. Getting enough exercise and staying healthy overall also helps prevent your chances of developing diabetes in the first place.

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