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.

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.

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.

060513 May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

This is your month to change the way you live by doing something good for your mind and body every single day.

If you don’t have a gym to go to, then start walking, jogging, running, do a series of squats onto one of your kitchen chairs-the tall bar stools in the kitchen don’t count, skip rope, ride a bike with your kids, walk in the woods, pick up your yard, do push ups, lunges, get in a few curl ups, lift some rocks, cut up tree trunks if you have cut down any trees or tree branches, be physical during some part of each day.

Raise your heartbeat and keep it within your target heart range for twenty to forty minutes most days of the week with your physical exercises. This helps you do more with your time because it allows your heart and circulatory systems to keep the nutrients and oxygen flowing throughout your body.

Mind your mental health by reducing the stress in your life. Make things simple and not more over complicated than they need to be.

Rest more often and practice getting good sleep at night. Nap if you have the time and most of us do have the time, we just aren’t using it wisely.

Eat nutritious food to fuel your body in the most effective manner. Cut back on your salt and sugar consumption; get your weight under control and lose those unnecessary pounds that are dragging you down by watching what you put into your mouth each day.

Keep track of your progress with a daily diary. You will be surprised how much more you’ll accomplish if you keep track of it. For some reason, doing so spurs you onward to doing more.

311212 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome is the name given by the medical profession to a group of health risks having a strong potential to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. These unhealthy conditions are for the most part avoidable simply by eating less and getting more exercise.

The five components of the syndrome are:

  • A waist that is larger than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men. Some men may be at risk even if their waist is greater than 37-39 inches.
  • Low cholesterol readings of the good HDL. Women should have numbers under 50 and men should have their numbers under 40.

Higher than normal, but not necessarily high numbers in the following categories:

  • Systolic blood pressure of 130 or higher and a diastolic reading of 85 or higher.
  • Fasting blood sugar count of 110 or higher
  • Tested triglycerides of 150 or above after fasting.

According to the doctors, a person with three or more of these five categories raises their risk of becoming diabetic and developing heart disease.

The research specialists believe the root cause of this syndrome is an inefficient insulin response.

The metabolic syndrome is the consequence of our body being ineffective in processing fats and sugars. The research shows that belly fat creates increased inflammation and a greater risk of heart disease in those with big bellies. These fat cells also release a product that can drive up blood pressure by reducing the blood vessels ability to relax between strokes. Additional problems with belly fat cells occur because they generate proteins that increase the process of insulin resistance.

In case you are wondering what the term insulin resistance means here is a brief explanation.

The hormone insulin makes it possible to remove glucose, also known as blood sugar, from the blood stream and put into the muscle tissues. The muscle uses this as energy for movement. If too much glucose is in the blood stream it is stored as fat. Therefore, the term insulin resistance means the body is having a hard time delivering the glucose to the muscle tissues (insulin resistance) so the amount of blood sugar rises in the blood stream.

The cause is the waist is too big! Our bellies are too fat, too large, too much over the belt, hanging out too far, you can call it whatever you want to, but the fact remains we are a nation of too much fat. And it is all in the wrong place.

This problem exists because we eat too much and we don’t exercise enough

100313 Healthy movement

Healthy movement is beneficial to your body and at its lowest level, even some activity is better than doing nothing. If you are just starting out then gradually build up your endurance with 5 to 10 minute exercise breaks throughout the day. At the 10-minute level, your body begins to adapt and then noticeable changes become evident.

After you are able to exercise aerobically for at least 10 minutes, it is time to branch out by adding resistance exercises to the daily routine. One way to begin is by doing one 10-minute session of endurance work and then later on in the day doing 10-minutes of resistance training.

Alternate between aerobic and resistance training for at least thirty minutes for the day.

The aerobic exercises can be brisk walking, skipping rope, riding a bike or any other activity that is continuous and places a demand on your breathing and heart rate. After you are finished then cool down with static stretches, holding each one for fifteen to thirty seconds. Do this three to five times for each stretch.

For the resistance training start out with body weight calisthenics by doing 3-5 sets of fifteen to thirty bodyweight squats, push ups, calf raises, prone back extensions, curl ups, leg raises or others of your choosing. You can do these in a circuit or one exercise at a time. Stay with it for the full 10 minutes.

If you are over sixty-five, the health benefits of activity are just as important to you as they are to the younger people. Start slowly and build up your fitness levels over time. If you have chronic health problems, work around them and do what you can.

If you aren’t able to ride a bike or have access to a treadmill or other such equipment, then get one of the hand ergometers available at Costco for about $49.00 and exercise your upper body. Do counter top pushups by standing two or three feet away from a counter top and then doing pushups on it.

Do chair sits. Sit in and stand up from a chair without pushing on your legs with your hands as you stand up. Practice sitting down on a chair; standing up, walking away briskly for 10 feet, and then coming back and sitting in the chair again. Repeat this for a minute or more. This builds up leg strength and helps with your balance.

Practice your balance to help prevent falls by walking sideways, standing heel to toe; practicing the stork stand on one leg with the other bent ninety degrees at the hip and knee or any of the many other balancing exercises.

The benefits of strength training for older adults

The benefits of strength training for older adults

Lifting weights, using bands and other resistance training methods has a proven record of accomplishment of making life easier for an older adult. You will get stronger, regardless of your age, by making resistance training a part of your lifestyle. More so for an older person because these strength increases may mean the difference between living independently and having to have assistance to do daily activities.

Muscle strength diminishes as we age, everyone knows this, but not everyone does anything to slow this natural process from happening. Progressive resistance training uses various methods to increase strength including free weights, elastic materials and even machines.

The key strategy in getting stronger is to vary the load, repetitions and sets that you use while exercising.

One organization conducted 121 trials involving 6700 people over 67 years old who trained two to three times a week. Such training demonstrated large improvements in muscle strength for each person. The study showed moderate to large strength improvements in the participant’s ability to do simple daily activities like getting up out of a chair, climbing stairs or walking at a faster pace.

If you are older and hesitant to try lifting weights, check out one of the local gyms in your area and find a certified strength coach to get you started.

Perhaps you may decide to start out on your own with bodyweight exercises, if this is your choice then follow a few basic suggestions before doing so. Talk to your doctor and set up an exercise plan to follow such as the following seventeen to twenty one minute bodyweight schedule. Adjust the exercise times to fit your personal capabilities. Keep a log of what you do.

  • Walk for five minutes.
  • Do chair squats for one to three minutes.
  • Walk for five minutes.
  • Do wall or counter top pushups for one to two minutes.
  • Walk for five minutes at a slower pace to cool down.

Keep it up for a month to six weeks until exercise becomes a habit and you too will realize the benefits of strength training in your own life…regardless of your age.