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Category Archives: Exercise

How to Be Your Own Fitness Trainer

By Corrie Pikul

Your Goal: Find an “Emergency” Routine You Can Do Anywhere

You need a portable routine to squeeze in between scheduled workouts–something you can easily do in your living room, a hotel room or the spare room at your parents’ house (where you’ll be staying during your next visit). This routine by New York City celebrity trainer Joel Harper builds muscle, creates flexibility and keeps your fitness level up without requiring any equipment. Best of all: You need only 20 minutes. 

Your Goal: Work Out at Least Four Times a Week

You feel the most pumped to work out at night, but deadlines, family, friends and Mad Men have made it hard to stick to a schedule. Try picking an evening class (maybe even a pricey yoga or spin session) and treating it like a meeting or a social obligation. When you have a regular fitness appointment, you schedule the rest of your life around your workout instead of trying to fit your workout into your life, says Michelle Kennedy, MS, Best Life fitness expert. If that doesn’t work, you may have to override your natural rhythms. The first week or two might be tough, but Kennedy swears a.m. workouts get easier over time. And she should know: because of her schedule and two young children, she needs to leave for the gym by 4:30 a.m.

Your Goal: Transition from the Treadmill to the Race Course

You’ve been racing yourself (or the little red dot that serves as your digital doppelganger) for months, and now you’re ready to challenge another runner-or even a crowd of them. Personal trainer Andrea Metcalf has a six-week guide that will help you run your first 5K in under 30 minutes. It involves alternating a circuit of 2 minutes of walking followed by 2 minutes of jogging and then 1 minute of running.

Your Goal: Do Something About Your Tummy

It’s one of life’s unfair truths: Your chances of washboard abs are mostly determined by your body type-like how much extra weight you’re carrying and where you’re carrying it. But regardless of your abdominal DNA, you can build a stronger, more toned-looking core that can support your back, help you stand straighter (and therefore look slimmer) and lower your risk of injury. Skip sit-ups and crunches, and instead focus on planks: Here’s how to do them correctly. Once you’ve mastered them, incorporate your legs and arms by doing mountain climbers like these with a stability ball. 

Your Goal: Get Red-Carpet-Ready Thighs

Squats are a big-name trainer’s go-to move; you’ve seen them mentioned in articles about how this celebrity or that one got their pre-baby body back, or got fit for the beach scenes in their last movie, or prepared for that awards show. You know you can’t easily spot-shrink the thighs nature (or your parents) gave you, but squats can help you reshape them.

Your Goal: Develop Comebacks to Your Best Excuses

You’re pretty good about sticking to a fitness plan, but there are those days when you’d really love a kick in the sweatpants. Need a good reason to work out today? Here are Bob Greene’s Top 10 excuse-busters, including the obvious (you want to look better) as well as the ones you often forget about (you love your kids, you don’t sleep well). Print these out and tape them to the inside of your closet-it’s the next best thing to having Bob on speed dial.

Your Goal: Save Money on Gym (and Trainer) Fees

A new survey from the American Cancer Society found that women are more likely to consider working out to be “work” than men: 40 percent of women said they would be more physically active in their free time if exercise felt more like play. You can relate. You’re sick of cardio machines that don’t take you anywhere, and you secretly hope to get kicked out of boot camp. Good news: You can burn just as many calories with some of these nontraditional exercises that make working out feel fun again. Instead of running, try Ultimate Frisbee, or drop the dumbbells in favor of a hiking pack you can take with you into the hills.

 

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What’s the Best Time to Exercise?

By Matthew Park 

People who exercise want to utilize their time efficiently and get the most out of their exercise sessions. Knowing the best time to work out for weight loss can help you get faster results in less time. This is not just for athletes but for the average person who wants to use exercise to lose pounds or get in better shape.

Time is just one of the factors that affect your workout performance

As you will read below, there are studies that show when is the best time of the day to exercise for better fat burning results and for muscle building but time is just one of the factors that can affect your workout performance. Many other factors like the intensity and duration of the exercise play a very important role and these should not be neglected.

Best time to work out for fat burning is the morning

When you exercise in the morning your body tends to burn more fat. The main reasons why this is happening are:

  1. Low blood sugar levels force the body to look for other energy sources so it starts converting fat from the reserves to fuel.
  2. Some hormones that accelerate fad burning (like cortisol) are at high levels in the morning.

Benefits of exercising in the morning

  • People who participated in a study about the effects of morning exercise were more likely to stick to a workout after doing their morning exercise. In other words people who can exercise in the morning are more likely to build a routine and follow that for a long time.
  • For some people it is easier to exercise in the morning since in the afternoon they get tired and lose their desire to workout.
  • It can be a stressful task for the body. This does not apply to everyone but depending on your hormone levels you may find it very stressful to exercise in the morning.
  • Intense morning exercise may lead to muscle loss instead of fat loss. If you exercise on an empty stomach and do a very intense workout your body may end up utilizing muscle mass for energy. That’s why it is important to have a good protein breakfast especially if you plan to exercise hard in the morning.
  • If you exercise before breakfast, you may not be able to keep the intensity high since your energy levels are low.

Disadvantages of morning exercise

  • It can be a stressful task for the body. This does not apply to everyone but depending on your hormone levels you may find it very stressful to exercise in the morning.
  • Intense morning exercise may lead to muscle loss instead of fat loss. If you exercise on an empty stomach and do a very intense workout your body may end up utilizing muscle mass for energy. That’s why it is important to have a good protein breakfast especially if you plan to exercise hard in the morning.
  • If you exercise before breakfast, you may not be able to keep the intensity high since your energy levels are low.

Best time to workout for performance is the afternoon

Exercising in the afternoon can give you better performance than exercising in the morning. Several studies analyzed the performance of a group of people exercising in the morning and in the afternoon. The afternoon sessions produced better results in terms of performance, strength and power. Participants reported that their bodies’ response was better and that they were able to push more and achieve more repetitions than in the morning.

What is the best time to workout for weight loss for you?

The different studies and theories are useful and can be used for educating yourself about best practices but when it comes to when is the best time to workout it’s up to you to decide. Some tips to help you out:

  1. Try to do some cardio exercises in the morning (e.g. walking for about 10 minutes) and see how it feels. If you think this is something you can do for a long time try to add jogging as well (for 3-5 minutes) in your schedule.
  2. If you exercise on an empty stomach and feel tired or weak try to eat breakfast first and then do your workout. 
  3. You can always combine your morning and afternoon workouts for better results. For example you can do a quick 10 minute cardio session in the morning and then a 20 minute intense session in the afternoon. This will also have a positive effect in EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption) that will help you burn more calories after exercise.
  4. Don’t do very intense exercise in the morning without having a good breakfast, as explained above this may lead to muscle loss which is not recommended.
  5. Have in mind that too intense exercise late in the afternoon may negatively affect your sleep. It is better to exercise at least 4 hours before going to bed.

Exercise is important for health and weight loss and you should allocate some of your time per day to exercise either in the morning or afternoon. I personally like to exercise in the morning and this helps me to wake up and feel energetic throughout the day but this does not work for all people. Find what works best for you and stick to it for a number of weeks if you want to see results. Finally, have in mind that according to the US department of Health the recommended time you should spend on moderate aerobic physical activity for adults is 150 minutes per week or 75 minutes per week for vigorous intensity exercise.

 

 

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Rev Up Your Willpower–The Easy Way

By Jim Healthy

Making New Year’s resolutions is the easy part.Keeping them … well, that’s another story, isn’t it?

 Many of the health and financial troubles we get ourselves into are because we either can’t control our impulses to overeat, overspend, or overindulge – or we’re unable to stick with a plan to reverse the damage.

 That’s why most New Year’s resolutions are about exercising more self-control and self-discipline, two of our least favorite words. (Interestingly, when researchers asked people what their major weakness is, they said “not enough willpower.”)

Today I want to tell you about an ingenious technique that can help you succeed at anything you want to accomplish, whether it’s losing weight, changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or improving your health.

Is there a shortcut to self-discipline?

 While human beings are naturally resistant to change, I’ve discovered an ancient Japanese technique that outsmarts this innate stubbornness and actually makes breaking any bad habit easy .

 In his book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, UCLA Medical School psychologist Dr. Robert Maurer describes his success in changing unhealthy behaviors in his patients and helping to break their bad habits using the Zen principle of kaizen (literally, “continuous slow improvement”).

Why we resist change (even if it’s good for us)

 We humans are creatures of habit. Anything we do with regularity takes on a force of its own and doesn’t require much energy to continually repeat. This “force of habit” makes it easy for us keep doing the same thing (even if it’s bad for us).

 Faced with the prospect of changing any comfortable routine, our brain rebels by triggering the “fight or flight” response. We actually experience fear at having to give up the familiar activity.

 The results of this reaction are all-too-familiar. We find ways to “excuse” ourselves from our new diet, from our exercise program, or from our plans to quit smoking or drinking. Psychologists refer to this as “self-sabotage.”

 Our best intentions to change our ways frequently fail because the rational part of brain (“I want to lose weight”) is battling the emotional part (“I’m afraid to give up my favorite foods”).

 When this happens, you’re usually doomed because the emotional brain creates physical sensations which feel more real, more important, and more urgent than the rational reasons to change.

How kaizen outsmarts your brain

 The genius of the kaizen approach is that it completely avoids this inner conflict by never threatening your comfort zone.

 Say you want to start a walking program. The conventional strategy is to choose a regular walking time, select your route and duration, pick a start date, and then “just do it,” as the Nike ads urge.

 But most people never make it to Day One because all this feels too overwhelming and threatening.

 And of those who actually start this program, very few stick with it long enough for the force of habit to kick in so that the going gets easier.

“The least you can do”

 Kaizen asks you to imagine the smallest part of a new activity that you know you can commit to. In other words, something so non-threatening that your “fight or flight” center isn’t aroused at all.

 Maybe this is merely putting on your walking shoes after dinner. Nothing more.

 Or simply walking to the front door and opening it. That’s it.

 Don’t laugh. Performing this one simple action over time will accomplish two powerful goals.

 First, it will interrupt your old habit of climbing onto the couch for some after-dinner TV. And second, it will plant the seed of a new habit (a healthful, post-dinner stroll) in your brain.

 After doing this regularly for a while, you’ll notice the force of habit taking hold. Your new activity will become easier. This is when you can up the ante and walk out the front door and perhaps down to the curb.

The power of small actions

 The most important benefit of the kaizen approach is that it strengthens self-confidence – and this will give you a new sense of belief in yourself.

 You see, what really keeps us stuck in old, self-defeating behaviors is the self-doubt fostered by continually failing in the past efforts. It doesn’t take long for us to become discouraged and believe we are “weak-willed” and “a loser.”

 We forget that willpower works like a muscle that must be trained into strength.

 A new scientific understanding of this is described in the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, by psychologist Roy Baumeister and New York Times health writer John Tierney.

 Expecting to shed 100 pounds of excess weight without first having honed your will on smaller accomplishments is as unrealistic as expecting to bench press 300 pounds or runn a 4-minute mile without any prior training.

Train your willpower for success

 I’ve spent my entire life as an athlete, so I know what I’m talking about here.

 Having exercised for six decades, my force of habit is so strong that I’m physically uncomfortable if I miss a day or two.

 I never have to “talk myself into” exercise. And while I don’t always have the greatest workouts, my exercise habit gets me to the gym. My muscle memory takes it from there.

Build your willpower the kaizen way

 We didn’t get soft of sick overnight, so we shouldn’t expect to develop super-willpower in a weekend.

 The key is to start with one small task and build on our success.

 According to Baumeister and Tierney, it’s nearly impossible to make a change in more than one area of your life at a time.

 Why? Because willpower is like money – you only have a certain amount to spend each day. If you try to make 20 changes in your life, you’re multiplying your willpower exertion by 20 times.

 We’ve been raised to believe that willpower is a virtue, but it’s really more like a muscle. If you overtax it before it becomes strong, it merely gets exhausted from overuse – and you end up failing.

 Choose the one behavior you want to change first, and conserve your willpower for that priority. After that goal is achieved, you’ll be able to tackle something new and different – and you’ll be in even better shape to succeed.

Now it’s your turn

 What is the one behavior you’d most like to change?

 What has worked for you in the past – and what seems to always trip you up?

 What is the simplest kaizen action you can take that you know you can stick with?

 Please “go public” with your personal declaration of independence by leaving your comment.

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Get stronger, leaner and healthier with strength training

by Mehsel Hartwell

You know exercise is good for you. Ideally, you’re looking for ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. If your aerobic workouts aren’t balanced by a proper dose of strength training, though, you’re missing out on a key component of overall health and fitness. Despite its reputation as a “guy” or “jock” thing, strength training is important for everyone. With a regular strength training program, you can reduce your body fat, increase your lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently.

Use it or lose it

Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. “If you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you’ll increase the percentage of fat in your body,” says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center. “But strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass — at any age.”

Strength training also helps you:

  • Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Control your weight. As you gain muscle, your body gains a bigger “engine” to burn calories more efficiently — which can result in weight loss. The more toned your muscles, the easier it is to control your weight.
  • Reduce your risk of injury. Building muscle helps protect your joints from injury. It also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.
  • Boost your stamina. As you get stronger, you won’t fatigue as easily.
  • Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, back pain, depression, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.
  • Sharpen your focus. Some research suggests that regular strength training helps improve attention for older adults.

Consider the options

Strength training can be done at home or in the gym. Consider the options:

  • Body weight. You can do many exercises with little or no equipment. Try push-ups, pull-ups, abdominal crunches and leg squats.
  • Resistance tubing. Resistance tubing is inexpensive, lightweight tubing that provides resistance when stretched. You can choose from many types of resistance tubes in nearly any sporting goods store.
  • Free weights. Barbells and dumbbells are classic strength training tools.
  • Weight machines. Most fitness centers offer various resistance machines. You can also invest in weight machines for use at home.

Getting started

When you have your doctor’s OK to begin a strength training program, start slowly. Warm up with five to 10 minutes of stretching or gentle aerobic activity, such as brisk walking. Then choose a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 repetitions.

“On the 12th repetition, you should be just barely able to finish the motion,” Dr. Laskowski says. “When you’re using the proper weight or amount of resistance, you can build and tone muscle just as efficiently with a single set of 12 repetitions as you can with more sets of the same exercise.”

To give your muscles time to recover, rest one full day between exercising each specific muscle group. When you can easily do more than 15 repetitions of a certain exercise, gradually increase the weight or resistance. Remember to stop if you feel pain. Although mild muscle soreness is normal, sharp pain and sore or swollen joints are signs that you’ve overdone it.

When to expect results

You don’t need to spend hours a day lifting weights to benefit from strength training. Two to three strength training sessions a week lasting just 20 to 30 minutes are sufficient for most people. You may enjoy noticeable improvements in your strength and stamina in just a few weeks. With regular strength training, you’ll continue to increase your strength — even if you’re not in shape when you begin.

Strength training can do wonders for your physical and emotional well-being. Make it part of your quest for better health.

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What is the best time to exercise?

The Best Time to ExerciseBy Leanna Skarnulis

Some people swear by a 6 a.m. jog to get their hearts racing and get them psyched up for the day. Others wouldn’t dream of breaking a sweat before noon, preferring a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. But is any one time of day the best time to exercise?

The truth is that there’s no reliable evidence to suggest that calories are burned more efficiently at certain times of day. But the time of day can influence how you feel when exercising.

The most important thing, experts say, is to choose a time of day you can stick with, so that exercise becomes a habit.

Your Body Clock

Your body’s circadian rhythm determines whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, and there’s not much you can do to alter it.

Circadian rhythm is governed by the 24-hour pattern of the earth’s rotation. These rhythms influence body functions such as blood pressure, body temperature, hormone levels, and heart rate, all of which play a role in your body’s readiness for exercise.

Using your body clock as a guide to when to go for a walk or hit the gym might seem like a good idea. But, of course, there are other important considerations, such as family and work schedules, or a friend’s availability to walk with you.

The Perks of Morning Exercise

If you have trouble with consistency, morning may be your best time to exercise, experts say.
“Research suggests in terms of performing a consistent exercise habit, individuals who exercise in the morning tend to do better,” says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief science officer with the American Council on Exercise in San Diego.

The best time to exercise

“The thinking is that they get their exercise in before other time pressures interfere,” Bryant says. “I usually exercise at 6 a.m., because no matter how well-intentioned I am, if I don’t exercise in the morning, other things will squeeze it out.”

He recommends that if you exercise in the morning, when body temperature is lower, you should allow more time to warm up than you would later in the day.

When Insomnia Interferes

Unfortunately, hitting the snooze button repeatedly isn’t exercise. But, if you’ve suffered insomnia the night before, it can seem a lot more appealing than jumping out of bed and hitting the treadmill.

Good, regular bedtime habits can help you beat insomnia. They include winding down before bedtime.
“Your body needs to get ready for sleep,” says Sally A. White, PhD, dean and professor in the College of Education at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.”You want your heart rate and body temperature in a rest zone. It starts the body getting into a habit of sleep.”

Exercising or eating too late sabotages your body’s urge to sleep.
“Both exercise and eating raise your heart rate and temperature,” White tells WebMD. “That’s not conducive to sleeping.”

When Later Is Better

White, who studies achievement motivation in exercise and other areas, says that in spite of good intentions to get up early and get her exercise over with, she is more likely to exercise after work.
“It’s easier to get my body into a rhythm because I’m not fighting my body the way I do in the morning,” she says.

For some people, lunchtime is the best time to exercise, especially if co-workers keep you company. Just be sure to eat after you work out, not before.

“Don’t exercise immediately following a meal,” says Bryant, who lectures internationally on exercise, fitness and nutrition. “The blood that needs to go to your muscles is going to your digestive tract. Give yourself 90 minutes after a heavy meal.”

Finding Your Own Best Time to Exercise

You don’t have to be an expert on circadian rhythms to determine the best time to exercise. Steven Aldana, PhD, advises trying different times of the day.

Work out in the morning for a few weeks, then try noon, then early evening. Which do you enjoy most and which makes you feel best afterward? Also, consider the type of exercise, and other daily commitments.
“Most of all, find a time that helps you make your exercise a regular, consistent part of your life,” says Aldana, a professor of lifestyle medicine in the department of exercise sciences at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. “This is more important than the time of day.”

Establishing the Exercise Habit

One day, you’ll reach a point where daily exercise comes as naturally as breathing. At that point, you may want variety.

“In an effort to stay regularly active, some people change the type of exercise they do and the time of day they do it,” says Aldana, author of The Stop & Go Fast Food Nutrition Guide.  “Keeping it fresh makes it more enjoyable and more likely to be continued.”

But if you’re still at the point where exercise is hit or miss, scheduling it for the same time each day will help you make it a habit. Whether you choose morning, lunchtime, or after work to exercise, make it part of your routine.

“People who are just starting out and who exercise randomly are more likely to drop out,” White says.
She adds that starting out can be as simple as changing the route you come home from work so that you drive by a gym.  “Get into the habit of going that way, and keep a bag of exercise gear in your car or at work,” she says.

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Dr Akilah El  is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritionist  and also holds a PhD degree in Naturopathic Medicine. She has been helping people all lover the world successfully achieve their weight loss and fitness goals for over 10 years. To learn more about how you can benefit from her easy to use weight loss and fitness programs go to:http://www.celestialhealing.net/weightlossintro.htm