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Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Huge Benefits of a Cardio Workout….

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

(WFN) Yes. OK, now that we’ve made our point you can read on. No matter how you cut it, there is just no substitute for exercise when it comes to losing weight. Diet is, of course, extremely important and there are other factors also weigh in. But for permanent weigh loss – pounds that you keep off – some sort of aerobic exercise is necessary.

America is weight conscious and millions are obsessed with losing unwanted pounds. Of course, everyone wants it to be easy. Well, it’s not; it means you have to do something. There is no secret to weight loss. If you want to lose pounds you must burn more calories than you consume. That means cut down on excessive calories and get some cardio! Too many people are sitting around hoping that the next miracle diet will be the answer. Once they are off the diet, the pounds go back on. Why? Because they haven’t learned to burn calories with a healthy cardio workout program.

Many experts feel that if you truly want to lose weight, you need to be doing a good 45 minute to 1 hour cardio workout 4 to 5 times per week. Less than that will help you to maintain your current weight, but won’t help you to shed those pounds. For example, if you plan to lose 1 pound a week, that’s a total of 3500 calories. Then you should burn at least 500 calories a day doing cardio exercise 5 days a week.

You must commit to some kind of rigorous workout schedule. It really doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you select – running, step aerobics, cycling or spinning, cardio machines at the gym – it only matters that you commit to 4 to 5 hours a week minimum and get you heart rate up into the ‘aerobic zone’ for at least 30 minutes. The benefits are tremendous. It’s great for your heart, to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and will definitely reduce stress. And always move your entire body (arms, legs) when doing any cardio since the more movement means the more calories you will be burning! To determine what you heart rate level is you can use the Target Heart Rate calculator at

Make your cardio workout a priority. Quit scheduling your workouts around everything else you have to do, and instead schedule everything else around your workout. Don’t let anything interfere. If you make it important in your daily routine, then you will find ways to work in everything else you need to do. If you can join a gym get there as often as you can. You will find that working out around like-minded people will help support your goals. And, when the workout is fun chances are you’ll be better able to stick with it. If you cannot get to a gym then there are several ways to get the direction you need at home. Many full cardio workout machines, like elliptical trainers and treadmills, are available at reasonable prices. There are many excellent cardio fitness videos on the market too. And, if you can afford a machine, don’t have a DVD player or live too far from a gym then you can always put on your sneakers, step out the door and go for a run.

Joel Shapiro of Sebastian, Florida did just that. “I was about 20 pounds overweight and it was really starting to bug me. I also had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I had trouble motivating myself to drive to the gym and I wasn’t good at sticking to a diet. One day I was sitting on my couch watching TV and having some ice cream and I realized I was killing myself. I put on a pair of sneakers, went outside and ran down the block. I barely made it to the corner and back but I did it. It was a first step. I went out the next day and the next. Now I run about 2 miles almost every day and I have lost almost 15 pounds. My pressure is down and I feel great. I know I’m going to lose the next 5 pounds and I am going to keep running.”

Remember consistency is the key to losing weight. Sticking with a cardio workout program combined with healthy nutrition are essential. According to an article on, the best 30 minute aerobic exercise routines for fat burning are: Spinning (450 calories), swimming (380 calories), elliptical trainers (265 calories), kickboxing and step aerobics (345 calories) and racquetball (345 calories). The actual amount of calories burned varies by weight, age, and intensity.

Source (article): WORLDFITNESSNEWS

Source (picture): BLOGSPOT

Fit Body Makes a Fit Mind

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Exercise can not only buy you a fit body but also a better memory. A new study has revealed that physically fit people tend to have a bigger hippocampus, which is responsible for the formation and storage of new memories as well as for spatial navigation.

Researchers from the University of Illinois and the University of Pittsburgh have found that fitness increases hippocampus size, which in turn improves spatial memory, making it easier to record information about one’s environment and its spatial orientation and consequently ensuring the convenience of navigation around a familiar city.

Previous studies have depicted that the volume of hippocampus can be increased by exercising its spatial skills and its memorizing abilities. Cabbies in London are known to have a larger hippocampus than other citizens, and experienced cabbies have it bigger than the new ones. Constantly making use of the memory-making skills of hippocampus can also help it grow; study of German medical students revealed that their hippocampus got larger, while studying for finals.

Studies in the past have shown that exercise increases hippocampus size and spatial memory in rodents, but scientists have demonstrated for the first time that exercise can affect hippocampus size and memory in humans.

In the new study, researchers measured the cardiorespiratory fitness of 165 adults (including 109 females) between 59 and 81 years of age. After measuring their hippocampus, the volunteers were given a test of spatial memory. Later, their aerobic fitness was measured by VO2 max.

The scientists found a “triple association” – physical fitness was associated with a larger hippocampus, which in turn was related with better spatial memory.

Hippocampus is a brain structure inside the medial temporal lobe of the cerebral cortex, which known to shrink with age, causing small but significant cognitive decline. However, the rate of its deterioration is different among individuals.

“The higher fit people have a bigger hippocampus, and the people that have more tissue in the hippocampus have a better spatial memory,” said University of Illinois professor Art Kramer, who led the study along with Pittsburgh psychology professor Kirk Erickson.

“Basically, if you stay fit, you retain key regions of your brain involved in learning and memory,” said Erickson.


All’s Fair in Love & Fitness

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

A bottle of wine (or two), an order of calamari, a nice filet, and of course, chocolate cake. Sounds like the perfect romantic, candlelit dinner, right? Not necessarily. These romantic dinners could be doing more harm to your body than good for your relationship.

Laura Delcore, Leawood senior, says some of her favorite evenings with her boyfriend, Patrick, are spent dining at The Eldridge. However, these dinners can make it a challenge for her to maintain a slim physique. When Delcore started dating Patrick a year ago, she wondered if her health habits would have to take a backseat to their relationship. Delcore is not alone in her struggle to balance healthy eating and exercise with her relationship.

According to The Obesity Society, young women in romantic relationships gained an average of 15 pounds over five years and men saw similar upward trends.

Your partner’s health habits can have a large influence on your diet and exercise routine, too. “Oftentimes our behavior is shaped by the people around us,” says Jenny Prohaska, M.A. in clinical psychology. “When one member of the relationship is more sedentary than the other, the lazy person influences the more active.”

Students in relationships may have a hard time finding activities to do together that are healthy. In the beginning of Andrew Wank’s relationship, the Leawood senior says he tried to impress his girlfriend, Kristen Conway, by taking her out to dinner and to movies. Both found it hard to continue their healthy diet and exercise habits with meals at restaurants and movie popcorn every weekend.

“I transferred from a school where my only focus was tennis. When I came here, I no longer played a sport and I spent more time with her so I got away from diets,” Wank says.

However, as a beauty pageant competitor, it was not a choice for Conway to let her diet and exercise go. Being in the pageants kept Conway motivated and showed how the trend of conforming to your partner’s habits can work both ways.

This fall, Conway suggested they make a commitment to having a healthier relationship. “We both had to be ready to do it for ourselves before we could do it for each other,” Conway says.

Since then, Conway and Wank spend time going on walks, playing tennis and cooking dinner for each other. It is a far cry from the fat-laden meals and hours spent in front of the TV that consumed their relationship before. Cori Colombe, holistic health counselor with Your Wellness Connection, says this is a perfect example of how to resolve a diet-related relationship issue.

Colombe says communication is the key. She says people have a hard time understanding when their partner says “ugh, I’m fat … ” Colombe says it is much more effective to say you want to be healthier or have more energy. From there you can find things you would enjoy together, such as yoga, golf, tennis and the gym.

Some suggestions for maintaining a healthy and fit romantic relationship include taking up a new sport together, parking farther from dinner or exploring new, healthy recipes at home. Colombe recommends going back to what made you happy as a child—being outside, playing sports, or playing a simple game of tag.

No one is saying you have to throw those romantic dinners out the window, just modify them. In the end you will be a happier and healthier couple.


Dance Your Way To Fitness

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Michelle Cabral was ready for another night of fun with her friends.

But she wasn’t at a club. She was inside a school cafeteria in a quiet neighborhood preparing to teach an exercise class.

“It’s almost like you’re going out with a bunch of friends to go clubbing, but you don’t have to worry about the cigarette smoke or the crazy men coming over to you,” Cabral joked.

If all this sounds a bit odd, you don’t know Zumba.

The Latin-influenced fitness program has been gaining popularity for the past year or so in the county, with classes sprouting up at a host of local gyms, community centers, and through the county’s Recreation and Parks Department, which also offers children’s Zumba.

Cabral is currently teaching three classes through the department, including the one that met Wednesday at Piney Orchard Elementary School in Odenton.

Long after students had departed for the day, more than 30 women clad in sweats filed into the cafeteria and got ready to salsa, merengue and mambo their way to better bodies. Zumba is a kind of hybrid of Latin dancing and traditional aerobics, with an emphasis on the dancing to create a fun, fast-paced fitness environment.

“I think it’s great for the mind, body and soul,” Cabral said. “It just feels so good.”

So good, in fact, that dietitian Nicole Mazur is thinking about getting certified to teach classes herself. She’s in her third session with Cabral.

“I love the energy,” Mazur said. “I think it’s the music in combination with the dance.”

It’s also an alternative to “boring” workouts on the treadmill or other more traditional cardio work at the gym, she explained.

“They don’t go fast,” she added. “Here, the music and energy keeps you going. You don’t even feel like you’re exercising. This is the first class I’ve ever looked forward to coming to.”

Anne Raup, a Piney Orchard resident who was standing nearby, said the 45-minute session seems like it takes 10 minutes. The intensity shows up in perspiration. “I never, ever sweat when I exercise,” she said. “But (with) this, I’m drenched in five minutes.”

Cabral, whose outfit included black exercise pants and a white tank top that said “Zumbalicious,” taught the class from the stage at the end of the cafeteria. Several times during the night, she invited a couple participants to join her onstage. Even the initial warm-ups looked like a dance, albeit a bit slower than the ones that followed.

“It’s the moves,” said Rosie Neely of Annapolis. “You get to shake it up a little bit. I’ve always done dance (and) I’ve always done aerobics. But now, I get a combination of both.”

It’s probably safe to say Melinda McArdle is more at home with Zumba than most instructors.

She teaches it in the basement of her Annapolis home, which is equipped with a sports court. Three times a week, McArdle holds houlong Zumba sessions in the space. She also teaches at a couple local fitness clubs as well.

“The biggest thing about Zumba is that it’s fun and easy to follow,” McArdle said. “I think a lot of people are intimidated when you say ‘dance.’ Most people have a very negative opinion of themselves and their dance ability. (But) if you can breathe, you can dance.”

And like Cabral, she starts off classes slowly, building to the more intense and involved routines. She coaxes her students along, but also realizes different people have different skill sets.

“(It’s) fun … and nonjudgmental,” said Tracy Exarhakis of Annapolis, who smiled continuously during the class. “There’s no expertise required.”

Terry Sindler, also of Annapolis, said the comfortable atmosphere also contributes to the classes’ appeal. “The camaraderie keeps you going and giving a little extra,” she said.

“This is more friendly,” added Jan Funkhouser of Edgewater, who has lost 25 pounds since September, thanks to Zumba and a nutrition plan.

Although a few men have been known to attend Zumba classes, it’s definitely a rarity. Raup’s explanation is that men might be a bit embarrassed by the amount of hip shaking involved in the routines.

“It’s too bad more men don’t feel comfortable doing it,” she said.

Added McArdle, “It’s movement that’s so far out of the box for men.”

There wasn’t too much time in either class to ponder the issue further, though, because the music had started. “I want to see big legs,” McArdle said over the thumping rhythm. “Go for the gusto. Dance like your life depended on it.”

And the women did, as sweat beaded on their foreheads and their expressions grew more determined. At the end of the session, everyone looked like they’d worked out hard, yet all were happy.

“It puts a smile on your face,” McArdle said. “It’s a mood lifter — and that’s worth the price of admission.”


Exercise is Good for the Brain Too

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Brian Christie is wearing an Old Guys Rule surfing T-shirt, but the University of Victoria neuroscientist knows that one of the best ways to keep his brain young is to exercise.

It has only been a decade since scientists discovered that brain cells could be increased and made more active through exercise, not just lost through disease–and Christie was part of that groundbreaking research team at the Salk Institute in California. Granted, the studies were on mice.

He’s still looking at ways to help regenerate neurons in the adult brain and isn’t waiting for the research on humans.

“Exercise creates new cells and changes old cells for the better,” says Christie, who bikes or runs two kilometres to and from UVic each day.

“Even if you’re diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, if you exercise, the progression of your disease will slow considerably. As little as 20 minutes of brisk exercise three times a week–if you just do that, it re-ally produces a lot of benefits.”

Backing that is a 2008 study by Dr. Jeffrey Burns of the University of Kansas that found only one-fourth the brain shrinkage in fit people with Alzheimer’s disease compared to less-fit participants.

Abnormalities in new brain-cell growth and connections are linked to Alzheimer’s, major depression and schizophrenia. It’s especially important because brain volume and the production of new neurons decline with age.


Getting Back to Fitness Basics

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Our next fitness trend for 2009 is “Getting back to basics.” Well it sounds a lot simpler than you may think.

Walk into any facility in the area you will see machines, machines, and more machines. Where did these machines come from? And what purpose do they serve? Well believe it or not, Nautilus machinery was once considered “intelligent exercise”. I find it quite funny that sitting in a machine which gives you a fixed path of motion (and may require a seatbelt) with which to work with could be considered “intelligent”.

Luckily present day science has shown that the benefits of machine work may in fact be counterproductive due to the dysfunction that they cause. Let’s take the leg extension for example, an extremely popular machine in many facilities, but an incredibly dangerous one. In lifestyle movement, whether it is walking, squatting, etc, the patella (knee cap) rotates on the femur (thigh bone) but in a leg extension it is reversed. There is also a reduction in hamstring activity, a necessary component in natural movement at the knee joint. There are countless other problems with the leg extension in regards to its safety, so overall we can deduct it is fairly useless.

Examples like this exist with most of your fixed movement exercises, so why use them? The answer for all your problems is getting back to the basics, or in buzz terminology, primal movement patterns. Primal patterns are movements your body performs everyday. By exercising within the primal movement patterns you will increase your strength and endurance of daily activities, in other words, training your body to be the best at what you need it to do.

You will find a few different primal patterns, but for my clients we use the following:

1. Squat

2. Lunge

3. Push

4. Press

5. Bend

6. Rotation

7. Posture

8. Gait

These movements are the basis of human bio-mechanics. By performing them in their basic form and then progressing to additional loading and movement through multiple planes, you can train your body for proper function and strength gains.

For an exerciser unfamiliar with these patterns and the exercises that correspond to them, search out a personal trainer at your local facility. Ask them if they understand functional primal patterns. If they look at you strange, move on, chances are you will be taken through another round of tedious machine work.

Owners and managers out there, are your trainers taking advantage of these functional processes? If not, shame on you and them. Our society is full of dysfunctional, over weight, inactive people who are constantly in pain from the simplest forms of exercises. Can exercises that allow them to sit really help? The answer should be obvious. In the meantime, send your trainers for some continuing education and give them the education to continue to grow. Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen would be a great start.

So for those of you who still spend your time sitting in a machine, wrapped in a seatbelt, and measuring your workout on the amount of “pump” you have garnered, it’s time to change things up. I guarantee you will continue to see gains all while preparing your body to be functionally preserved as long as it can.


Mario, My New Fitness Coach

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Cut up your gym membership card, fire your personal trainer and cancel that Jenny Craig food order. If you want to get lean in 2009, perhaps you should start with a video game console.

If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, fitness-themed games could get you more excited than Richard Simmons at a short-shorts sale.

OK, this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. We’ve seen dancing diversions such as Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution games for many years now, but the “exer-gaming” trend really took off with Nintendo’s Wii Fit ($89.99) when it debuted last spring, thanks to its collection of aerobic exercises, stretches, yoga lessons and minigames for the Nintendo Wii console. Included with the disc is the Wii Balance Board, which resembles a white bathroom scale that measures your weight and senses your movement when you stand on it.

More than a dozen other fitness games have launched since, all designed to trim a waistline. Even the sexy star of the reality TV show The Biggest Loser hosts her own exercise game. Majesco’s Jillian Michaels’ Fitness Ultimatum 2009 ($39.99) dishes workout regimens, expert advice and stretching cool-downs while you follow along on the Wii Balance Board. While the graphics aren’t anything to write home about, this is a good purchase for weight-conscious players who already own Wii Fit because the Wii Balance Board is required.

While not compatible with the Wii Balance Board, Ubisoft’s My Fitness Coach ($29.99) for the Nintendo Wii is like having a virtual trainer on your TV. Your coach in the game, Maya, motivates you and teaches nearly 500 unique cardio exercises, strength training, yoga and more.

The Nintendo DS version, called My Weight Loss Coach ($39.99), includes a pedometer you can clip on while walking around your home or city or on the treadmill that counts your steps and imports the data into the bottom of the portable player. You can set various goals to reach and are rewarded with amusing stick-figure animation, unlockable games and other goodies.

Video games are also helping players eat better. Atari’s What’s Cooking with Jamie Oliver ($29.99) for the Nintendo DS leverages the famous U.K. chef’s name to serve up a digital cookbook with hundreds of recipes to tackle in your kitchen.

Ubisoft’s Gourmet Chef ($29.99), on the other hand, lets you master the art of French cooking through dozens of missions. You can use the Nintendo DS stylus pen to cut, mix and cook 70 authentic meals as you cater to 20-odd types of customers (including food critics) and work your way up to become top chef at a high-end restaurant.