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.

010513 Ankle weights

Ankle weights

Questions often arise as to the usefulness of the small Velcro style attached weights. But that may be the wrong question to be asking if you are interested in safe, healthy exercise.

Attaching the weights to your ankles and doing any type of fast movements, where your legs are extending, such as happens when running or jogging puts an excessive strain on the knee and hip joints. Over time, this can cause problems leading to laxity in the joint capsule, potential constriction, and/or adhesion of the surrounding tissues resulting in abnormal wear patterns in the joint.

Thus, using these ankle weights for any type of aerobic exercise is not recommended. However, there are times when they are useful in an exercise program. And those times are when you need some extra resistance doing leg curls and quad sets at home.

These little weights are ideal when you are recovering from a lower joint surgery, particularly a total knee replacement. They will help you get back your range of motion, help develop endurance and eventually increase your strength in small increments. All of which you will need to completely recover from this surgery.

They can be useful when rehabbing your ankle from a strain if you follow your doctor and physical therapists advice on when and how to use them.

Although I have never used them when riding a stationary bike they may even be of benefit here too.

150413 Get strong and stay strong with strength training

Get strong and stay strong with strength training

It would appear, from a casual glance at the magazines in the stores that aerobics is a panacea for all the health problems existing in our country. Well it does sell magazines, but is it true?

Certainly participating in aerobic activity plays an important part in accomplishing and then maintaining a certain level of good health. However, lifting weights or sandbags, using resistance bands, and body weight calisthenics are important to anyone who wants to preserve or increase their lean muscle mass.

We are not talking about showboat muscles. We are talking about muscles that are necessary to help lead an active daily life. Having a strong upper body, midsection, and lower body helps delay the frequent muscle weaknesses that automatically come with age.

Exercising the muscles increases the stress placed on the bones, which in turn makes the bones stronger and less susceptible to fracturing. Resistance training also helps increase the fat burning capability of the body due to the more active muscle tissue  in relation to fat.

Full body resistance training a minimum of two times a week and preferably three times per week for 30 to 40 minutes a session will most assuredly increase your fitness level and at the same time make you stronger. Follow a schedule that includes the major muscle groups of the body for 3-4 sets of 8 to twelve repetitions each set. Rest a minute or two and then start the set over again until they are all completed.

The major muscle groups include the shoulders, the chest, the upper back, the lower back, the legs (both front and rear), the biceps and triceps, and abdominal muscles. If you feel as though time is limited then do an upper body one day and the lower body the next day. Do your abs everyday on both the upper and lower schedules.

010413 Strength-training combats muscle loss during the aging process

As a person ages the tendency is to lose muscle mass and gain fat tissue, especially the deep visceral fat that has been linked to diabetes. This is an inevitable process but it can be slowed down with proper strength training.

Not only will strength training increase your strength and your lean muscle mass you will notice a decrease in your waistline. The whole body training program is a natural fit for most people. Don’t fall for a spot reduction program that an unscrupulous trainer may try to sell to you. Unless you are undergoing liposuction it is impossible to spot reduce.

Brenda Davy, associate professor of nutrition at Virginia Tech, states, “We use a whole body training program, not a spot reduction approach.” She then continues with a controversial statement by saying, “is not that we target the abdominal area with exercises, it’s just that fat in the abs is the first to go.”

She explains this latter statement this way,” the abdominal adipose tissue depot is particularly sensitive, so it’s easier to lose fat from there then from other fat storage depots in the body.” Even though the statement is controversial in the training world and in real life Davy clarifies by saying” you may have reductions in the abdominal fat even when you don’t necessarily observe large changes in total body fat.” This means your belly fat may still be there on the outside, however, on the inside the visceral fat has actually decreased through your training.

During the training session, your body is rapidly trying to adapt to the stresses that are being put upon it. It’s natural to assume, and you would be correct, that you’re using energy to perform whatever activity you have decided to engage in. However, it is not only during exercise that you burn fat, it also during the recovery period afterward.

In fact, according to Prof. Colberg, an Old Dominion University professor of human new movement sciences in Norfolk Virginia, “recovery from exercise is fueled primarily by fat, so the real benefit for fat loss is burning as many calories as you can during any type of physical activity.”

250313 Exercise-good for your bones

Exercise-good for your bones

After looking at the FRAX and maybe scaring yourself into doing something useful for your body when it comes to taking care of your bone health here are a few guidelines for starting an exercise program.

To begin with, exercising for at least a half an hour a day with weight bearing activities such as walking, jogging, skipping rope, running, or the mild plyometric rope skipping will improve the health of your bones. The literature recommends higher intensity load bearing such as that encountered when strength training.

When strength training, do so standing up, and not on a bench or a machine. The hips and spine seem to respond better to the upright position rather than the laying down or sitting versions of many popular exercises. A different neurological signal is sent to the bones when lying down as when compared to standing up.

Strength training exercise places a mechanical load on the bones and muscles. This in turn sends chemical signals to the osteocytes. These are cells within the bones that used to be osteoblasts, the bone forming cells that have been stuck within the bone itself. It is now thought that these trapped osteocytes have little tentacles that touch one another, thereby communicating amongst themselves that they need to begin building new bone tissues.

Therefore, when you are squatting with a bar on your shoulder or holding heavy dumbbells in each hand you are not only loading and making your muscles stronger, you are also strengthening your bones. When your muscles are strong, they exert a heavier pull on the areas of attachment to the bones and this in turn makes the bones even stronger.

Jogging, skipping rope and running all put at least your bodyweight on the joints and muscles as you do the exercise. This in turn makes the muscles stronger which contributes to denser and healthier bone structures.