Articles from March 2008

Dumbell arm exercises

Incorporating a series of low-weight, high repetition arm exercises into your fitness plan can do more than just help you look good in sleeveless blouses and sundresses. According to a study completed by university researchers in Phoenix, women can use weight lifting as a positive method for building bone mass, muscle strength, and preventing the onset of osteoporosis.

As women age and their hormones change with the onset of perimenopause, maintaining bone density becomes a critical issue.  Women who don’t maintain muscle in their arms may eventually find that even every day tasks like lifting, turning, and pulling difficult.

Often women avoid showing their arms because of unsightly jiggle that occurs in the upper arm.  Most women assume that to tighten that area, they should increase the number of triceps-focused exercises they do.  Unfortunately, the triceps is a relatively small muscle, and this misconception can be frustrating for the woman who wants attractive and healthy looking arms.

bicepcurl 300x237 Dumbell arm exercisesWhen doing arm exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions, it is important to be sure you are using the proper technique in order to avoid straining your elbow joint.  For bicep curls, stand comfortably with your feet shoulder-width apart.  As you lift the dumbbells, keep your elbows close to your body and make sure your wrists stay straight.  When you lower the weight, be sure to do so in a slow and methodical way so that you don’t strain the muscle on the way back down.

Tricepextension 200x300 Dumbell arm exercisesWhen doing a tricep extension, hold the dumbbell securely over your head, wrist stiff and palm facing in.  Gently bend your elbow to no more than a 45 degree angle and then lift again.  Move slowly and carefully, alternating between arms.

While bicep and tricep exercises are important, the best way to exercise your arms is to ensure that your fitness routine contains plenty of cardiovascular exercise as well.  Walking, swimming, and bike riding can all greatly benefit your overall health and your arms in particular.  In addition, specific exercises that focus on both biceps and triceps are important to ensure that your arms look spectacular.  Yes, you should work your triceps, but you should also do bicep curls, shoulder raises, and most of all, pushups.

Pushups are one of the most effective and efficient upper body exercises you can add to your fitness routine.  Not only do they work most of the major muscle groups of the upper body, but they can be done anywhere, without any equipment.  If you want your arms to look beautiful all year round, make pushups a main player in your fitness routine.

Swimming for fitness

For women who are heavier, for those who struggle with joint or bone difficulties, and for those who suffer from chronic pain or have arthritis or arthritic conditions, physical exercise may be something you can only contemplate with pain.

However, those sufferings will only become worse with time if you don’t begin being more active.  Swimming is one of the best ways to increase your physical activity without risking injury to an already aching body.  In fact, women of all ages benefit from swimming and the low-impact, high-resistance workout you can get in a pool.

Swimming for exercise does not necessarily imply getting up at the crack of dawn and doing laps at the local Y.  In fact, swimming has become a very mainstream form of exercise particularly attractive to older or heavier women and includes everything from water jogging to water aerobics.  Any exercise you would do out of a pool has a less negative impact on your joints and bones when done inside a pool because the water’s natural buoyancy protects you.

Swimming, like other aerobic exercises, improves bone density and can help prevent osteoporosis.  It is ideal for women who experience chronic pain from any number of chronic disorders.  Swimming is even a great choice for pregnant women (always check with your doctor first).

swimming 300x199 Swimming for fitnessSwimming increases your endurance and stamina, improves your cardiovascular health, helps you lose fat and build muscle (which helps to increase your metabolism) and gives you more energy throughout the day.  The mental benefits of swimming are also well-noted, as it has been shown to improve depression and anxiety as well as reduce stress.

While you may be sore for the first few days after starting a swimming routine, the likelihood of being injured is much smaller.  You should still warm up and cool down before and after swimming, and you should start slowly and build up your exercise time.

Swimming does not have to be an expensive exercise; check with your local community center or school and find out if the pool has public use hours; this accessibility is typically offered at very low prices if not for free.  If you don’t have easy access to a swimming pool but live in a moderate climate, consider purchasing an above ground pool.  The maintenance is fairly simple, the pools inexpensive, and the long-term benefits of swimming will make it worth it in the end.

Running for exercise

People who incorporate running into their fitness plans either love it or hate it.  Some people claim running gives them that endorphin high we have all heard about, while others complain that the impact of running cripples their exercising efforts.  If you plan to add running to your fitness plan, be sure you clear your health with your physician first.

Running can be great, calorie-burning, aerobic exercise.  It can be done on a treadmill or even better, when the weather is nice enough, it can get you out into fresh air.  Running can also be a troublesome form of exercise if you don’t take the proper precautions.

running 225x300 Running for exerciseThe most important consideration when adding running to your exercise regimen is to make sure you have a pair of great-fitting running shoes.  The shoes should be professionally fitted, and you should try them on wearing the type of socks you will be wearing when you run (which should be slightly padded, moisture-wicking athletic socks).  Running shoes absorb the impact of your feet hitting the ground and help prevent you from sustaining injuries that keep you from exercising.

The next major consideration for running is a sport bra.  You cannot just go to the local department store and grab a small, medium, or large sport bra off the shelf.  You need to buy a sport bra that is sized by circumference and cup size, offers more than adequate support, and is designed from a moisture-wicking material.

Finally, before and after your running session, you should stretch and warm your muscles.  In fact, if you haven’t been running and decide to start, you should start by walking and incorporate a few minutes of running combined with your walking.  Each day, you can increase your running time and decrease your walking time until you are running the entire time.  It can take six to ten weeks to bring your body to a point where it can accomplish a run without overexertion.

As your body adjusts to running, you may find yourself wanting to run longer and more often.  Be careful not to overstress sore muscles; if you feel as though you’ve pulled a muscle, go back to walking and running in combination until the pain is gone.  Running and ignoring the pain will eventually make it impossible for you to exercise.  Be smart and listen to your body, and you will find that your body will respond well to running and you’ll see many positive benefits.