300513 Do you need reasons to exercise?

300513 Do you need reasons to exercise?

Some people just naturally seem to be able to stay active every single day with their exercise program. For these folks it’s a daily part of their routine and if they miss a day, they feel terrible for doing so. For reasons unknown, others don’t have that same drive to stay on the fitness path.

If you are one of these people then perhaps, looking at some of the reasons to exercise may encourage you to reconsider your choice of not exercising.

The number one reason on this short list is the fact that exercise reduces the risk of dying prematurely. Notably, this is true of the diseases that are associated with your heart and the circulatory system.

Regular activity reduces the risk of developing colon cancer and diabetes.

Physical activity plays a prominent role in weight control while at the same time building and maintaining healthy bones, joints and muscles.

High blood pressure is often called the silent killer because most people don’t know they have high blood pressure. There are no symptoms until the disease has progressed to a dangerous degree. Get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. Spend some money and get a home model blood pressure monitor. If you do this, make certain the readings are consistent with your doctors. Take yours in and get the readings at the doctor’s office so you know if yours is reading the same.

Regular exercise can reduce these readings or reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. Losing weight has a similar effect on some blood pressure numbers.

Exercise produces endorphins (1), the feel good chemicals your body manufactures. These not only help promote a feeling of wellbeing, they may diminish depression and help with anxiety issues.

Recent studies have shown increasingly beneficial results of cardiovascular and strength training for the elderly populations in the prevention of falls, increased balance, confidence and flexibility.

(1) en•dor•phin, noun \en-ˈdȯr-fən\
Definition of ENDORPHIN: any of a group of endogenous peptides (as enkephalin) found especially in the brain that bind chiefly to opiate receptors and produce some pharmacological effects (as pain relief) like those of opiates; specifically : beta-endorphin

290513 Six stretches that will improve your mobility-2

290513 Six stretches that will improve your mobility-2

Our bodies were built to move gracefully and efficiently throughout our lives. Preserving this ability requires daily effort. In this particular instance, it does not require much time, space or equipment.

Effortless movement relies on a normal range of motion and flexibility from each of the joints in our body. Exercise is an essential part of staying healthy.

These are not listed in any specific order; therefore, you can begin with any stretch at any time of the day. Remember, none of these are jerky movements, they’re all slow and controlled.

Turning your head
Being able to move your head within its range of motion from side to side involves standing straight and looking over your shoulders without moving your shoulders. Slowly look to the side, continue looking further, and further to the side until you feel tension. At this point hold for 5 to 10 seconds and then repeat.

Half circles
Standing tall and with your chin on your chest slowly begin making a circle with your head. You do this by rolling your head from your chin to one ear, to the back of your head, to your other ear and then back to the chin again. With this stretch go both, clockwise and counter clockwise two to three times.

Arm crossovers
Be careful with this one if you have any type of a shoulder injury as it will tend to aggravate the joint. Begin with your right hand holding onto your left arm; slowly pull it across your chest until you feel the tension building in your left shoulder. Now switch hands and do it with your left hand holding onto your right arm.

Chest and shoulder stretch
Stand tall with your hands held straight behind your back. Once in this position, raise your arms toward the ceiling. Go as high as you can without leaning forward and without pain. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and then lower down.

Calf stretch
Keep both feet parallel and step forward about a foot and a half to two feet with either foot. Move your body weight forward and lean on the front leg, which is now bent. By keeping the rear leg straight and the heel on the floor, you will feel your calf muscle being stretched. Maintain a natural arch of your back to avoid low back problems.

Hamstring stretch
Begin this stretch by extending one leg forward and keeping the toe pointed upwards. Now bend the opposite knee and lean forward at the hips. Continue to lean forward until you feel mild discomfort, just below the buttocks, in the straight leg. While leaning forward, maintain the natural lordosis of your lower back to prevent any type of low back injury.

As can be seen by reading the descriptions of each of the stretching exercises they can all be done with minimal space and with minimal disruption in your life. Nevertheless, they are all effective if you do them consistently, you will notice a gradual improvement in your range of motion.
With this added range of motion, many daily tasks will be easier to perform.

270513 Six stretches that will improve your mobility-1

270513 Six stretches that will improve your mobility-1

Our bodies were built to move gracefully and efficiently throughout our lives. Preserving this ability requires daily effort. In this particular instance, it does not require much time, space or equipment.

Effortless movement relies on a normal range of motion and flexibility from each of the joints in our body. Exercise is an essential part of staying healthy.

Generally it is recommended that you start your exercise session with a general body warm-up, the goal of which is to raise your breathing, pulse and temperature levels to a degree that allows efficient, injury free movement.

However, none of the following stretches requires this type of preliminary warm-up and furthermore none of the stretches should be used before exercising unless there is a specific reason to slowly stretch out an area.

Bearing the above in mind, none of these are dynamic movements; they are all semi-static, slow and meant to be pain-free. To get started, move into each of the positions at your own pace and then push the stretch until you start to feel mild discomfort. Hold this position for five to fifteen seconds and then relax.

Do these stretches three to four times throughout the day for the first week and then once or twice every other day for the next week. Afterwards a maintenance schedule of twice a week should be sufficient.

240513 Strength and flexibility training-2

240513 Strength and flexibility training-2

Increasing your lean muscle mass through the use of bodyweight, bands or free weight exercises  boosts your metabolism, maintains and increases your bone mineral density. A study conducted in 2002-2003 showed that regular strength training, note the words strength training, reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by approximately twenty three percent when compared to men who did not resistance train.

As a minimum, head off to the gym or to your exercise room and work the large muscle groups at least three times a week on alternate days for a minimum of twenty minutes each session. If you’re already exercising for twenty minutes then bump it up to thirty with the goal of forty five to fifty minutes three times a week. Do so in stages of ten percent per week until you reach the top times.

The large muscle groups include the shoulders, chest, legs and back. You can use your body weight, free weights or elastic materials during these training sessions. Keep a log book.

After the strength training session is over, move into five to ten minutes of static stretching. Hold these stretches at the point of mild discomfort for ten to thirty seconds, three to five times per stretch per area.

Stretching will improve your flexibility; the answer to those tight lower back, hamstring and shoulder muscles and joints. It is vital that you do stretches for your calves, thighs, hips, low back, your neck and shoulders if you want to stay fluid in your movements. Do them slowly and hold them for the prescribed amounts of time for each one.

220513 Strength and flexibility training-1

220513 Strength and flexibility training-1

Engaging daily in a regular physical activity will make a positive difference in your overall health status. Being active strengthens the skeletal bones, muscles and your ability to maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, your mind tends to remain sharper.

As a person gets older, it becomes even more important to stay active or become active if this has not been the case in the past. Keeping the muscles strong helps ward off some of the inevitable muscle loss that affects every one after the age of thirty.

It is estimated that muscle mass decreases on an average of about one percent per year after reaching thirty. With this diminished capacity to exert force, balance problems begin to show up along with a lack of energy to sustain normal daily living habits.

Just because our body begins to lose muscle, doesn’t mean we have to stop exercising. It is never too late to slow this age related degeneration down. Your muscles were meant to be worked. As the old adage goes, use it or lose it.

200513 The link between gardening and stronger bones

The link between gardening and stronger bones

Calcium has been the go to supplement recommended by doctors and used by women to help maintain their bone health. Even though calcium is necessary for strong bones, it is not enough. You still need to do weight bearing exercises such as those found in strength training.

Adding an external load to your body puts a healthy stress on your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. All of which working together increase the density and thereby the strength of your bones. Placing an emphasis on the long bone in your lower torso by doing squats and deadlifts not only strengthens the bones but also makes you stronger as well in your abs, legs, lower back, and shoulders.

Somehow, I got off track a bit from the link between gardening and your bone health. Recall earlier on when mention was made of the connection between load bearing exercise and bone health – it was in the previous paragraph and earlier still of calcium supplements.

It just so happens that gardening with all the stooping, squatting, lifting, walking and carrying stuff around in the sun is great for your bone health because the sunlight provides bone building vitamin D. and the rest of the movements support the process of building stronger bones.

There is a caution that needs to be said here and that is to use sunscreen if you are going to be outside longer than fifteen minutes. This is particularly important if you are out there between 1000 and 1400 hours.

170513 Getting rid of your belly pouch

Getting rid of your belly pouch

Stop doing crunches, leg raises, and sit ups!

There are several reasons to stop doing these exercises. The first and most important is they put an undue amount of stress on your lower back. According to Dr. Stuart McGill, world renown low back specialist, “sit ups (both straight leg and bent-knee are characterized by higher psoas activation, with consequent high low back compressive forces that exceed NIOSH (1) occupational standards.” The second reason for not doing crunches and sit ups is they lengthen the transverse abdominus muscles at the same time they are strengthening the rectus abdominus muscle.

This is what causes your lower abs to pouch outward. Not a pretty sight.

Another thought for you to consider is this: doing crunches or sit ups, especially if you are holding onto your head, as so many poorly informed trainers ill advise, may cause your head to be pushed out of alignment with y our spine and create undue tension in your shoulders. Both can cause damage to your spine, your health and create a lasting level of pain that is unnecessarily caused by doing these exercises.

There is a better way to tighten up your abs and one that is easy on your back while at the same time produces results. This is the curl up, not to be confused with the notorious aforementioned crunch.

The curl up


Curl up start


Curl up top

Curl up exercise description

  • Lay on the floor looking up at the ceiling.
  • Place your hands under the small of your back – do not flatten your back to the floor because this places an unnecessary stress on the lower back.
  • Bend one leg to about ninety degrees and leave the second leg in a relaxed position straight out on the floor – this helps to keep the lumbar spine from actually flattening against the floor.
  • Keep your head and neck rigid. DO NOT bend them up as you move upward. 
  • Focus on the ceiling as you raise your upper body upward. 
  • Lift the head and shoulders a short distance off the floor. 
  • Rotate only at the thoracic region and NOT at the neck and head.
  • The chin should NOT be jutting up or down during any part of this movement.
  • Hold the up position for a count of five to ten and then lower back down for one repetition.

(1) The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

130513 Getting more fiber in your diet-1

Getting more fiber in your diet

Dietary fiber is fiber that your body is unable to absorb or digest, it passes reasonably intact through your intestinal track and out of your body. Most fiber is either soluble, meaning that it dissolves in water or insoluble, meaning that it does not dissolve.

Fiber that dissolves in water forms a material substance that is gel like in appearance. This fiber helps to lower your blood cholesterol and glucose levels. It is found in apples, barley, beans, carrots, citrus fruits, oats, peas, and psyllium (1).

Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is important to you because it increases the bulk of your stool and then helps move the food and drink through the digestive system in an orderly fashion. Common insoluble fibers include beans and vegetables, cauliflower and green beans as prime examples, wheat bran, whole-wheat flour, and the potato.

If you are looking for a food that contains a combination of both insoluble and soluble fiber then look no further than oatmeal and beans – not necessarily mixed together.

(1) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a601104.html Psyllium, a bulk-forming laxative, is used to treat constipation. It absorbs liquid in the intestines, swells, and forms a bulky stool, which is easy to pass.

100513 How to make a smooth smoothie in a small amount of time

How to make a smooth smoothie in a small amount of time

Be bold with your creations, you’ll never know if it tastes good unless you try it. Pick out foods you already like, combine them, and see what happens. You may be surprised or gagged, either way you are ahead of those who don’t try something new. But to be more specific in building a smoother smoothie, try these suggestions.

Buy ripe fresh fruit and/or vegetables. They are full flavored and will most certainly taste better in your drink. Cut the fruit up into usable chunks and then put it away in a freezer container for use later on. It probably won’t taste as good as it could be if you let it stay in the freezer beyond two weeks. If this happens, then take the fruit out and rinse it with cold water before using it in your smoothie.

At the start of your smoother smoothie put in the liquid portion first, and then add the fruit or vegetables last. Set your blender on a low speed chop until it looks like the mixture could be blended at high speed. It will be up to you to decide when the high speed button is pushed.

Common sense advice now follows. If your smoother smoothie is too thick, what do you suppose the answer may be; Add more fruit or more liquid? If you choose add more solids, then making smoothies may not be intuitive on your part and you may want to consider buying them somewhere rather than making your own. However, if you have passed this short quiz with flying colors then let us continue.

When adding more liquid, go slowly because it won’t take much to have too much liquid in it. If this happens, add a few ice cubes or fruit to tighten it up a bit.

Some experts suggest having a binder to add to the mixture of fruit or vegetables such as regular or frozen yogurts, tofu, and buttermilk – if you can stand the taste of this stuff, or fruit juices. You can also add in some protein powder with dry milk or applesauce if you like.

Finally, the end result is going to depend on the quality of the ingredients that you start out with. As the geeks in computerdom are fond of saying, “junk in junk out.”

080513 Six common sense strategies to help with your allergies

Six common sense strategies to help with your allergies

Suggestion # 1. On windy days, the pollen is everywhere, so stay indoors as much as possible. This is especially important between the hours of 0500 and 1000 hours. During this time, the air is thoroughly saturated with pollen just waiting to get to you.

Suggestion # 2. At the end of the day take a quick shower and get the pollen off of you. Wash your clothes or put them in a sealed hamper to be washed later in the week.

Suggestion # 3. After washing your clothing or bedding, don’t hang them outside to dry. It may smell nicer but it is absorbing the pollen like a wick in a lantern.

Suggestion # 4. When vacuuming, and you should do this quite frequently, maybe even as much as once a day, change your bag or filters often. Don’t let your hard work be for naught with a filled up vacuum cleaner bag that is regurgitating the pollen back into your living space.

Suggestion # 5. During the summer, if you happen to use your air conditioner, make it a habit of changing the filters so the pollen isn’t simply being moved from room to room in your home. The same goes in the winter – change the filters frequently.

Suggestion # 6. Keep your pets clean. Give them a bath (or have a pet care shop do it for you) more frequently than during the non allergy season. Brush them more often and use a mask when doing so.

If these suggestions are not effective, then see your doctor and get tested to find out what is causing these allergic reactions.