120613 Using exercise to lose and maintain your weight-part two

120613 Using exercise to lose and maintain your weight

“The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” — Napoleon Hill, author

Many people equate physical fitness with being able to run long distances or ride the cardio machines for a long time without stopping. Certainly those are admirable goals but jogging or using these machines for long slow workouts does very little to increase your fat loss. One proven way to lose fat is to increase the intensity. You can do that by doing hard, fast, intense intervals.

Interval workouts consist of specific, high-intensity, time limited exercises and using 20 to 90 seconds of rest in between each high-intensity section.

For example, if running outside, you would warm up with an easy 5-minute run. Once warmed up, you would transition into 5 to 10 high-speed sprints. Each of these high intensity sprints would last between 20 to 30 seconds at approximately 80 and 90% of your fastest speed. Keep in mind that if you continuously try to go one hundred percent of your fastest speed, eventually you will create a speed barrier, which is another topic altogether and will not be further discussed. Suffice it to say these self-inflicted physical and mental barriers are hard to break.

By continually challenging yourself and lowering the rest periods between the intervals you increase the intensity, which increases the benefits, which burns more calories. It sure sounds simple doesn’t it?

Anyone trying to lose weight knows it’s not as easy as this to do. Cardiovascular exercise is not the only ticket to increasing weight loss nor is it the only ticket to staying physically fit. Well-structured weight-loss programs utilize strength training to boost metabolism (1) and increase lean muscle mass.

(1) Metabolism–noun 1. Biology, Physiology. The sum of the physical and chemical processes in an organism by which its material substance is produced, maintained, and destroyed.

100613 Using exercise to lose and maintain your weight

Using exercise to lose and maintain your weight

“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you’re ready or not, to put it into action.” — Napoleon Hill, motivational expert

Losing weight, in the simplest of terms, means using up more calories than you take in. According to the scientific research, one pound of fat is 3500 calories. Therefore, in order to lose one pound of fat you either have to burn up 3500 calories or cut 3500 calories from your diet. Obviously not eating 3500 calories from your diet in one day is not going to cut it.

Maintaining your ideal weight is a matter of balancing the number of calories required to remain there. This means balancing out the number of calories consumed with the calories burned during the day. The United States Department of Agriculture’s site at ChooseMyPlate.gov states that 60 minutes of moderate to intense exercise is needed each day to prevent an increase of body weight or to lose weight.

If you have already lost the weight and want to keep it off, then maintain your caloric intake and physical activities at the current level and you should be OK. But pay attention to the scale and don’t let it creep back up again.

The key ingredient to losing or maintaining weight is to have an exercise plan.

Throughout the week, schedule time to do cardiovascular work, strength training, and stretching exercises. You could do each of these in each session but doing so would mean giving short shrift to one or more of them. You may be better off scheduling separate times for each.

For instance, one week’s schedule could look similar to this: three days of cardio and two days of strength training with stretching include at the end of each. The next week would be three days of strength training, with two days of cardio with stretching at the end. The reason you do the majority of stretching at the end is because your muscles are warmed up and your body is in a much more receptive mood.

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.

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.