Articles from June 2008

Benefits of aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is critically important to a woman over 40.  Not only does it increase metabolism, burn extra calories, and improve your well-being but it improves your heart health and is even associated with prolonging your mental capacity and staving off conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  You should never begin an aerobic exercise plan however, without consulting with your physician and making sure you are healthy enough to handle the exertion.

New studies have shown that aerobic exercise will help to keep your body fit and strong to help you in the fight against such diseases like colon cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer.  It is good for preventing osteoporosis and can help those who suffer from depression.  It has even been found to be a significant help to those with diabetes.

When you add aerobic exercise to your fitness plan, you should keep certain goals in mind.  First of all, you need to know your resting heart rate (the rate at which your heart beats when you are being completely sedentary).  Second, you need to determine your target heart rate (the rate at which you need to elevate your heart rate in order to get the most benefit from the aerobic exercise).

The average 40-year old woman’s target heart rate can be anywhere from 88 to 150 beats per minute.  Your physician will help you determine if your target should be higher or lower, but when you exercise, your goal is to get your heart rate up to your target and then keep it there for at least 40 minutes.  Aerobic exercise is most effective when done five days a week but will be helpful regardless of how little you are able to add to your fitness plan.

Aerobic exercise can be done in many ways.  Cycling, running, swimming, walking on a treadmill, going for a jog, or working out to a fitness video doing aerobics or kickboxing or any number of exercises can all qualify.  Choose something you know you will enjoy doing; do a variety of different aerobic exercises to maintain your interest level.  Be sure you drink plenty of water an hour to two before your workout.

Aerobic exercise can improve your energy level and give you more energy throughout the day.  It also ensures that you burn a lot of calories quickly, keeping your metabolism up and running.  Combined with strength and toning exercises, you will quickly see positive changes in both your physical and mental health.

Stretching 101

Before doing any kind of fitness training you need to remember to warm up. This gets your muscles ready for the strain you will impose on it and it will also enhance your performance.

Stretching is an excellent way of getting the muscles ready for the workout. Remember to stretch before and after the workout. Most persons will stretch before working out because we have been taught that we should do so in order to prevent injuries during the workout.  However few know or practice stretching after the workout while the muscles are still warm. This increases muscle flexibility.

If you are stretching for the flexibility benefit you should hold your position for at least 60 seconds.   This is important as many persons go into the stretching position them immediately return to the starting or relaxed position, and repeat. This is wrong and  a wastes of your effort as you are not in the stretch long enough to achieve the benefit. As was stated before, hold the position for at least 60 seconds then relax and repeat. Not only does it not benefit you if you rush the process, it can also lead to damage or strain to joint and or muscles.

Start off slowly allow your body to get used to the exercise. Do not immediately try to do the hardest positions. Try to take your ego out of it. Your head thinks you should be able to do it but you body is not quiet up to it as yet. Start slowly and carefully.

Pay attention to all muscle groups when warming up. Often times, even those of us who are more experienced tend to neglect some muscle groups. One important body part that often get’s neglected is the neck.

Make stretching a regular part of your routine. Over time you will notice you range of  movement will increase, along with your level of strength and flexibility.

Slowly increase the degree of difficulty. Don’t ignore when your body is telling you that you need to slow down.

Rest, rest, and rest. Do I need to say it again? No matter how hard you work out, you must rest because that is when the muscles grow, not during the workout.

Get yourself a good instructional DVD that will guide you in doing the proper stretching exercise in the proper way.

Fitness Equipment

The fitness industry is an $80 billion dollar a year industry.  Ironically, more people than ever are obese, out of shape, overweight, or struggling in some way with their health.  The problem seems to be that we like to buy exercise equipment much more than we like to use it.

If you are going to buy a piece of exercise equipment, whether it’s an exercise bike, treadmill, elliptical, at-home gym, or weight bench, the first thing you need to do is research.  Luckily, your research can be done online, doesn’t take much time, and can give you tremendous insight before you go shopping.

When you are researching a piece of exercise equipment, don’t make the assumption that the more you spend the better the equipment will be.  In fact, there are quite a few seemingly “low-end” pieces of exercise equipment that work as well if not better than there thousand-dollar counterparts.  What matters most is whether or not the equipment will meet your needs.  Will it hold your weight?  Will it fit in the space you have available?  Does it have the “bells and whistles” that you think are critically important?

Obviously, once you start shopping around for equipment, you will get a better idea of what exactly you want and don’t want in what you buy.  Buying online without seeing the equipment in person, however, is ill-advised.  Especially if you are buying a treadmill, elliptical, or an exercise bike, you will want to be able to climb on the equipment and try it out.  Is it adjustable, especially if more than one person will be sharing it?  Can you use it comfortable without feeling strained?  Does it have any pre-programmed exercises or health monitoring equipment (if that is important to you)?

Before buying any exercise equipment, you should firmly establish your budget.  You may go in knowing exactly what you want only to have a sales person convince you that for an extra hundred dollars you could have even more bells and whistles than you wanted in the first place.  If you go in knowing exactly how much you want to spend and stick to it, you will be more satisfied with your purchase in the end and have money left over for workout clothing.

One last thing you should do before buying equipment is to check the feedback the equipment has received online from other purchasers.  Thanks to the internet, consumers are more capable of letting each other know what brands or products to stay away from; you can get a lot of information by reading the feedback others give the equipment.  Always read more than just the first few – look for some who have had the equipment for a while to make sure it keeps working and isn’t prone to breaking quickly.

Weight Loss and Water, Some Helpful Tips

We don’t need to look any further than the advances that has taken place in technology and in our way of life to have an explanation for the problems we are experiencing with weight. There was a time when all work involved some kind of physical activity, we walked where we wanted to go, or rode a horse. we also used to get out more and engaged in physical activities because that was how we kept ourselves entertained.

Now everything has changed. We drive or ride the subway, we sit at a desk all day or at the computer. Our lifestyle no longer encourages us to get the kind of exercise we need to keep in shape.  Here are some simple tips to help you achieve your objective.

In any weight loss regime, watching what you drink is the easiest way to loose that first 10 pounds. Let’s not forget how remarkable water is, over 66% of our body weight is water. This is why it is important that you pay attention to your water intake when you are dealing with weight control.
Here are 12 useful water tips;

  • Make sure you drink lots of water.  Water “does a body good” and your body needs it to flush out all the toxins. With the toxins flushed out the body looks and feels healthier. Ridding your body of toxins makes you feel fit and this can help to motivate you to loose weight. Drinking lots of water helps you to deal with hunger so you eat less. Try this, the next time you feel hungry, have a glass of water instead. Often times you are really dehydrated rather thank hungry. A good way to ensure that you drink the required amount of water per day is to buy a jug that will hold 8 glasses.
  • Make a glass of water be the first thing you have in the morning.  The benefits of this are two fold. First, a glass of water will wake up your digestive juices and get them ready to work. Second it will prevent you from eating too large a meal at breakfast time. There is nothing wrong with having your regular coffee or tea, but be sure you have a glass of water as well. You may want to watch the amount of coffee and tea you consume as caffeine dehydrates you.
  • Before you sit down to have a meal, have a glass of water. It will ensure that you do not over eat.
  • Have some water while you are eating as well. This helps your food to settle thereby causing you to feel full faster.
  • All sodas are sweetened with lots of sugar.  Also, diet soda is still soda.  If you drink a soda, counteract it with a glass of water.  Remember, caffeine dehydrates you as well.
  • We often think we are doing ourselves a favor when we drink fruit juice instead of sodas. Actually we are not, as fruit juices contain a lot of sugar. If you want a glass of juice try fresh fruit juice instead of processed juice that has a lot of sugar, flavoring and coloring. In addition to natural juices try eating more fruits as they provide the body with much needed fiber and vitamins in addition to tasting good.
  • Do not drink too much tea and coffee and when you do, try not to add too much cream and sugar. The amounts that you use may look small but it adds up over time. Try to switch to green tea, which is a much healthier alternative.
  • Try to drink your tea and coffee black. There are actually health benefits to be derived from both in their natural state. When you are done drinking them you should treat yourself to a healthy glass of water.
  • Try to avoid beer which is especially fattening.
  • In general try to stay away from alcohol. When you do indulge try to stick to dry wine as it is better than sweet wines which have a lot of sugar.
  • An anecdotal word on coffee. There is no scientific basis for this but persons have reported that they loose more weight when they consume black coffee before working out. .We don’t know if it works but it may not hurt to try. Just don’t use it as a substitute for water while you work out.
  • Also if you are a coffee drinker you may want to cut down on the amount of coffee you consume. While caffeine has natural fat burning effects,  too much and the body will become desensitized.

Exercise Video DVD

Perhaps you live in a rural area, miles and miles from the nearest gym.  Perhaps your budget doesn’t allow for a monthly gym membership.  Maybe you are just extremely shy and cannot bring yourself to exercise in front of other people.  There is no reason your health and physical well-being should suffer.  All you need to do is invest in a few fitness videos.

Fitness videos come in every workout imaginable, from aerobics to yoga and hosted by every celebrity imaginable; from Richard Simmons to Gene Simmons (the lead singer of KISS launched his own “sexercise” video in 2006).  Whatever you are looking for, you can find it on video, DVD, and some are even available digitally through iTunes and other digital outlets.

Finding the right fitness video for you may require doing a bit of research.  You’ll first want to narrow it down to what kind of exercise you want to do, and then find out which video will best meet your needs.  The great thing about fitness videos is that you can do them anywhere, anytime, even when the gym is closed.  They’re small enough to travel with you, and most hotels have video players in the room.

One of the most important things to consider when purchasing a fitness video is at what level the exercises are. Some videos may be a better buy than others if they show you a more advanced routine – something you can grow into – while also providing you with ways to modify the exercises for beginning and intermediate workouts.  Fitness videos that offer these multiple levels of experience allow you to gradually work your way up to a more advanced routine without having to continually invest in new material.

If you are hesitate about buying a fitness video, consider going to your local library and checking one out for free or even renting one from your local video rental shop (although video rentals being what they are these days, it might be cheaper to buy a used one).  After trying out the fitness video, you will be able to determine whether or not you like it enough to buy it.  If you find that it will be a beneficial addition to your fitness plan, then you can buy your own copy.

If this is the route you are going to choose then I would suggest you build a “library” gradually over time of different workouts. This will help to keep you on the right track as you will not become easily bored doing the same routine day after day. This does not have to be ab expensive venture. Check online for used copies.  Half.com and amazon.com both offer used fitness videos, some as low as seventy-five cents plus shipping.