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.

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.

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.

Common sports injuries found in women

Common sports injuries found in women

On many levels, men and women are equal except when it comes to injuries where a female is 2 to 6 times more likely to become injured than a man is. Of course, this depends on the sport.

Women are particularly susceptible to developing knee injuries such as patellofemoral pain syndrome (1) , more commonly known as runner’s knee. This injury comes about due to the degeneration of the cartilage under the kneecap. The ability of the cartilage in the knee joint to provide any type of shock absorption is compromised by this degradation of the tissues.

Another injury that shows up all too often is a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This ligament is one of the prime stabilizers of the knee joint and when it is damaged, the knee becomes unstable. These two injuries can put severe limitations on an athlete’s participation in their favorite sport.

Furthermore, any injury to the weight-bearing joints of the lower torso, such as to the ankle and hip increases the risk of osteoarthritis in later years. There are several reasons that explain this difference in the injury rates between men and women.

It is more than obvious that anatomical differences exist between the two genders, but the causes are not solely anatomical in nature. Females generally have smaller and weaker muscles surrounding their knees. Additionally, the ligaments surrounding a females joints tend to be more lax thus allowing a certain amount of looseness to take place within the joint.

There are specific training programs designed especially for women targeting the ACL joint that help prevent these injuries from happening so frequently. It may be a wise choice on the parent’s part to enroll their daughters into one of these programs. Check out your local physical therapist and see if they have the knowledge and skills to work with your child in this type of training.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain in the front of the knee. It frequently occurs in teenagers, manual laborers, and athletes. It sometimes is caused by wearing down, roughening, or softening of the cartilage under the kneecap.


[1] Patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain in the front of the knee. It frequently occurs in teenagers, manual laborers, and athletes. It sometimes is caused by wearing down, roughening, or softening of the cartilage under the kneecap. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/patellofemoral-pain-syndrome-topic-overview

Optimizing the mind body connection-part two

Optimizing the mind body connection

Eating and drinking a healthy diet provides your brain with the necessary nutrients known to be beneficial to your brain health. Foods rich in antioxidants, i.e. the brightly colored fruits and vegetables, foods with omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats like fish and olive oil, are excellent for your brain. The vitamins folate (1) (folic acid is the synthetic version) and vitamin B-12 are sources of brain food, especially if you aren’t already getting enough in your daily diet. Exercise and diet may not be the only issues that are causing a lack of high quality sleep.

Stress management in your daily life is another crucial piece to getting more sleep. Unless you are able to harness the negative stress in your life, you will continue to be sleep deprived. This is not to say that all stress is bad because it’s not. Some stress adds spice to your life.

Too much chronic stress causes a reduction in the part of your brain that creates and stores memories. It can also be a source of mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. Another source of a recurring sleep problem can be physical illness. How you manage, your medical problems may well determine how well your brain functions.

Short-term memory is affected by depression, as well as your ability to focus on daily tasks, decision-making or other day-to-day problems. The side effects of drugs, prescribed or otherwise, can interfere with cognition and memory. Heart disease and stroke may predispose a person to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Included in these medical conditions are likely preventable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and obesity.

The conclusions a person can make from this is to stay active, eat and drink the right things and manage your stress and medical conditions if you want to keep your brain in peak condition.


(1) http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/folate/

Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is found in supplements and added to fortified foods

Leafy green vegetables (like spinach and turnip greens), fruits (like citrus fruits and juices), and dried beans and peas are all natural sources of folate.

(2) http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-QuickFacts/  Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy. It also helps prevent a type of anemia that makes people tired and weak.

One minute movement to a smaller waist line

One minute movement to a smaller waist line

A small study of 169 adults conducted in Australia by researchers at the University of Queensland, Hurston, Queensland, Australia found that just one minute of standing and walking around made a difference in the circumference of the waist over a period.

They found that people who got up regularly to switch the TV channels by hand rather than using the remote had a stomach circumference that was on the average 2 1/2 inches smaller than those who used a remote. This is almost un-American to get up and switch the channel by hand. Perhaps that is why it was conducted in Australia because it is unlikely they would find 169 adults in the United States who would actually get up and manually change channels.

This same study revealed that these small amounts of activity also led to a lower body mass index, lower glucose and triglyceride levels in those who were physically active while watching different stations on their TV. This led the researchers to make further recommendations as to how to control the ever-expanding waistline of native Australians.

They recommended standing up when answering the telephone and walking around while talking. This is much easier to accomplish if you have a portable phone since most phone cords limit your mobility to within five or six feet. Not only can you walk around with your phone at home, you can do the same at your job if you use a speakerphone, which to many people is annoying and crosses the threshold of proper office etiquette.

They also suggested, while at work, taking the long way back to your desk. However, you probably ought to be holding onto some papers so looks like you are busy while wandering around the office, otherwise people may just think that you are lost or don’t have anything to do, which is a possibility.

If you want to look really odd in your office, do a few stretches before you open up and read a new e-mail. All of these suggestions may be fine if you own the business or work with your wife but it’s uncertain whether not most modern business offices would allow such shenanigans to go on.
The thought certainly is nice that small amounts of activity can help shrink your stomach but t

Submaximal loads and strength development

Submaximal loads and strength development

Coaches are constantly searching for answers to how they can make their trainees stronger. Some use a mixture reps and sets, some use percentage based loads and others stick to heavy, high intensity sessions. One thing is certain; using light loads for high repetitions will not get your athlete stronger. They may be able lift the lightweight twenty, thirty or more times, but when the weights start pilling on the bar, they are unable to move the load.

When a person lifts a lightweight, some positives do occur. They are exercising; however, they are not maximizing their time in the session.

The physiological response to the lightweight exercise results in several different actions with in the body.

Only a portion of the available motor units (MU) [1]are recruited to lift the load.
The fastest twitch and strongest MU’s are not called upon to lift the weight at all.
The neural stimulation frequency is not at its optimal state.
The MU activity is not synchronous within the muscle.
Thus, the lightweight loads produce a limited training effect on the lifter. However, this situation changes immediately when a heavier, higher intensity of the 1RM is used in the training schedule

The most dramatic change occurs in the number of motor units that are recruited to lift the load. In the case of the heavy loads these MU are maximized to their fullest extend.
The fastest and strongest MU are then recruited.
The MU’s discharge frequency is at its optimal state.
It is believed that the motoneuron activity is synchronous meaning the structure is working together to produce a superior muscleman effort output.
V. M. Zatsiorsky states in his book, Science and Practice of Strength Training, that lifting at a level of low intensity will not improve the intramuscular coordination that is so vital to successfully lifting at the heavier percentages of your one repetition maximum.

Bearing the latter in mind, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend a great deal of time lifting lightweights does it? Unless you are training for speed, but that is a whole different issue.

[1] Motor unit (MU): a motonneuron and the muscle fibers that it fires up

The health problems of too much salt in your diet

Contrary to recent news articles suggesting that the low-salt diets are not helpful studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that one high salt meal of 1500 mg of sodium (this is at the upper end of the recommendations suggested by the US dietary guidelines for a full-day), reduces the ability of the blood vessels to dilate. Even though blood pressure is not affected, this reduction in dilation ability in healthy people was noted within thirty minutes of the meal.

High sodium loads in the body of people with impaired heart functioning can start a heart failure incident, which may lead to death. Not only is excessive salt hard on your blood vessels, it also affects your bones, kidneys, and your stomach.

The system within your body that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance is also involved in bone health. It appears as though a high sodium intake increases the elimination of calcium through the urine. This in turn causes calcium to be leached from the bone with the attending bone loss and increased risk bone fractures. It’s well known that reducing the salt intake has a positive effect on the bodies calcium balance. For this reason, a low-sodium diet may help slow the progression of age-related bone loss. Not only is the skeletal system adversely affected by high sodium, so are your kidneys.

In many people, additional salt contributes to hypertension which is a major cause of kidney dysfunction and even failure. Evidence collected from the studies of animals and humans lead directly to the contention that salt may, in some people, directly impair kidney function. Another side effect of increased calcium in the urine, see the previous paragraph, and high sodium intake is a potentially higher risk of kidney stones. The story doesn’t end there. Some studies have linked higher salt to cancers and ulcers of the stomach.

The stomach isn’t the only soft tissue organ that may be adversely affected by a high sodium diet, others are the colon and the rectum. According to the research, the evidence is not extremely clear but it is thought that the salty foods adversely affect the stomach lining and make it more likely that bacterium H.pylori can affect the tissues of lining. This bacterium is when the major cause of ulcers and stomach cancer something that most of us may want to avoid. Other findings theorize that the salty stomach environment could be altering the structure of the H.pylori and increases its ability to continue to live and do more damage to the stomach.