Sunday, July 31, 2011

Eating On The Go

Many days, our schedules are filled to the brim leaving us vulnerable to catching a quick and albeit, unhealthy meal or snack.  Avoid this by planning ahead.  Keep a stash of carrot sticks or almonds with you as a healthy alternative for a snack.  Take the extra time at night to pack a lunch instead of being left to grab finger food on the go.  It may take a few extra minutes of your day, but it will pay off in the long haul.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cardio VS Weight Training

 Cardiovascular Exercise
Cardiovascular (Cardio) exercise is aerobic exercise that causes more oxygen to be processed by the lungs with less effort, more blood to be pumped by the heart in fewer beats increasing blood supply to the muscles.  All this is increasing the body’s physical endurance and efficiency.  Other benefits to cardiovascular exercise include weight loss, stress reduction, cardiovascular disease prevention, and increased life span.
There are a variety of activities that encompass cardiovascular exercise.  They include running, swimming, cross-country skiing, biking, kickboxing, dance, sports, etc.  It is important to enjoy what you are doing so try a variety of these activities and see what fits you best.

Weight Training
Weight training (resistance training) is a type of exercise used in increasing muscle strength and size.  Weighted bars, dumbbells, and weight stacks are used as the force against concentric or eccentric contractions.  This type of exercise focuses on specific muscle groups through each type of movement.  Benefits of weight training include osteoporosis prevention, maintenance of lean body mass, and injury prevention.

Those who are new to weight training may want to start out with machine weights.  This allows the person to work out alone and to get to know different exercises and the muscle groups they target.  Free weights are great to use with a partner so that you have a spotter.  A spotter serves as support and safety to ensure that the athlete does not drop the weight on him or herself.  Free weights also use one’s natural range of motion and strengthen the stabilizer muscles. 

It is also important to know what the individual’s goals are through weight training.  Is the person looking to tone and maintain lean body mass or is the goal to gain muscle mass?  If the goal is to tone, using lighter weight and higher numbers of repetition can achieve that goal.  If the goal is to gain muscle mass, the use of heavier weight and less repetitions will assist in achieving the goal.

Exercise and Why We Do It

Exercise is any physical activity involved in maintaining or improving the body’s physical health and wellness.  Many people are physically active for a variety of reasons that include weight loss or maintenance, improving athletic performance, gaining muscle strength, improving cardiovascular endurance, and pure enjoyment.  Those who make exercise a part of their lifestyle can benefit by helping to prevent heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes, obesity, and depression. 
Physical exercise is known to reduce an individual’s stress levels by releasing feel good endorphins that distract you from your daily worries.  And since one may often have an increased perception of body image through exercise, as well as increased self-esteem, sex drive is also increased. 
Are you still looking for a reason to exercise?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fitness Myths

Crunches Flatten the Stomach
Myth - Your body and its genetic code decide where and when to store fat.  There are no exercises to reduce fat in any specific area of the body, only exercises to build and tone muscle. 
The best way to get a flat stomach is to burn calories through cardio exercise, which burns calories and in turn reduces body fat overall.  Crunches will tone areas, but won't reduce the fat there on their own.
If the majority of your fat is in your stomach area, you'll notice a difference.  Crunches do burn calories, so if you were to perform many of them on a daily basis, it could contribute to weight loss.  However, cardio will get the job done more effectively.
Muscle Can Turn to Fat
Myth - Muscle doesn't turn into fat and fat doesn't turn into muscle.  They are two different types of cells.  What actually can happen, is when someone stops working out, he or she is rapidly losing muscle and gaining fat.  Many people who do this do not cut down on their calorie intake, causing a quick gain in fat since they are no longer burning these extra calories through exercise. 
Stretch Before Exercise to Prevent Injuring Yourself
Myth - Research has changed over the years indicating that this is not so.  Individuals who have been injured are more prone to re-injury.  However, you need to warm these muscles up in order to prep them for a good stretch in the first palce.  Nothing too intense - start off slow, giving yourself a three to five minute warm-up, then stretch.  Stretching is mostly effective after a workout when these muscles are nice and elastic.  Stretching now will be helpful in maintaining flexibility and in turn, avoiding injury.

Diet Myths

Eating at Night Makes You Fat
Myth – There is no conclusive evidence that late-night snacking can cause you to put on weight.  The truth is that too many calories cause weight gain, and in many cases, high-calorie foods tend to be consumed late at night.  Try to stick to regular, earlier mealtimes to avoid the nighttime binge.

Not all Sugars are Alike
True - Added sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and table sugar which are added to products such as soda, candy, and other sweets, have a lot of calories.  Natural sugar, on the other hand, does not contain any artificial ingredients or chemicals.  Instead of scouring the ingredients on every box, remember that fresh produce will contain natural sugar whereas your processed foods will contain added sugars.

Coffee Isn't Good for You
Myth – Serving up 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day is part of a healthy diet. Research has shown that drinking coffee in moderation (such as 2 to 3 cups/day) may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, gallstones, Parkinson's disease, even some cancers.  What can make coffee unhealthy is all the added fixings such as cream, sugar, and flavored syrups. (Refer to #2 above)

The Less Fat You Eat, the Better
Myth - Your body needs protein, carbohydrates, and fats to survive.  So fuel your body.  The key to remember is that there are good fats and bad fats.  Nuts, seeds, and low-fat dairy contain high-protein and healthy fats (unsaturated fats).  Fats to avoid are saturated and trans fats found in high-fat dairy such as butter, red meat, and many processed foods.

Drink Water – Lose Weight
Myth – There is no arguing that water is good for your body, however, will it really help you to lose weight?  Not specifically.  If you tend to drink high-calorie drinks throughout the day, replacing them with water will help keep those unnecessary calories away and help you to lose weight.  Simply adding water into your diet along with those high-calorie drinks will not aid in any number drops on the scale.