Monthly Archives: September 2014

Top Six Reasons You Should Stretch

In my experience as a physical fitness buff, I have seen how people tend to forget to stretch. Perhaps that’s because there is not enough certainty of its benefits since they aren’t evident. Unlike when you run, you see the pounds going or when you lift weights, you see the bulks developing. But let me reiterate that stretching, like your regular exercise, is an important part of a fitness journey.

Stretching does not benefit the body only but the mind as well. That is why yoga or pilates are funnydogpicturesimportantstretch_thumbvery effective in giving that soothing, calming effect, physically and mentally. Both involve a lot of stretching, don’t they? Each session is a tension-release moment and that’s just a fraction of the benefits of stretching.

Let me go on then and share with you the top 6 reasons why you should stretch.

  1. Trains the body to deal with pain.

Exercising exposes your muscles to different aches and pain. Stretching allows good flow of blood where it is badly needed, providing enough oxygen so that you are able to bear with muscle soreness.

  1. Promotes faster healing.

Have you heard of muscle fever or DOMS (delayed onset muscle syndrome)? It is a common experience following a strenuous physical activity. When muscles are exerted, toxins are produced. Stretching moves these toxins towards the bloodstream to be crashed and eliminated helping the body to recover faster.

  1. Defense against injuries.

Stretching after an exercise makes your body flexible. Flexibility readies you better for the next workout schedule keeping you free of injury and other accidental wear and tear of ligaments.

  1. Helps strengthen and extend muscles.

This is another valid reason why I encourage you to stretch. You see those well-developed muscles that look kind of stunted? That’s because they don’t get regular stretching. When you stretch, you achieve toned muscles that don’t look underdeveloped.

  1. Gives a calming effect.

I just can’t get enough of how soothed I feel after a good stretch – body and mind! Give it a try and you will certainly know what I mean.

  1. Improves overall well-being.

Stretching lowers your risk of falling because of improved posture, balance and coordination. As someone who is so into workouts, I certainly know how the lower back is pained by stiff and tight glutes, hamstrings and hip muscles but stretching eases the pain away. On top of it all, I have learned from studies how stretching can help improve blood pressure because of improved artery function.

Considering all these benefits isn’t it about time you too did stretching? You’ve got nothing to lose but a lot to gain.

Exercising with a Medicine Ball

Ah, yes…that lean and toned body must only come from endless hours doing rigorous exercises at the gym. Hummm…Is that correct? If I weren’t so much into physical fitness and didn’t know any better, I would have agreed to the statement. But wait, there’s more to this story.

It’s true that we achieve strength, stamina, power, function and of course that great body out of doing exercises and yes, often in the gym or using exercise videos using different exercise tools. But let me tell you medicine_ball_exercises_lying_extensionthat with a medicine ball, you can achieve the same doing exercises. And you can do so right in your own home!Do I hear a, “woop, woop!” from busy ladies, mommies especially?

Roughly 14 inches in diameter, with varying weights (from 2lbs. to 25 lbs.) and a price range of $10 to $45, a medicine ball is one of the best exercise tools ever! It is easy to carry and hold, throw and catch. With it, you can easily do the following exercises I myself enjoy doing.

  • Squat, leap and toss

I am enthusiastic about how this exercise engages the glutes, quads, triceps and shoulders and all you need is a 5-lb. medicine ball.

  • Feet apart, about as wide as your shoulders, hold the ball at chest level.
  • Squat down, keeping your back straight, breathe in as you quickly leap up, tossing the ball above your head.
  • Catch the ball and land back to squat position as you breathe out.
  • Do at least 2 sets of 10 reps each.
  • Lunge and twist

Want to gain leg muscle strength as you firm up your abdominal area? Try this one. I advise that you do this where there is a bit more space.

  • In a standing position keeping your upper body erect, hold the ball close to you at waist level.
  • Start a lunge by stepping your right leg out.
  • Move the ball to your right, twisting your torso just enough.
  • Stand back up and do the same this time using your left leg and twisting to the left.
  • Make sure to maintain a straight body as you do the lunges up to 20 counts.
  • Stretch out and pass

You need a larger medicine ball with this one but believe me, if you have issues with holding your bladder, you’ll be thankful of this exercise. It will stimulate and strengthen your abdominal, pelvic and hip flexor muscles.

  • With your back flat on the floor, place the ball securely between your knees.
  • Raise your arms and your legs (the ball securely and comfortably positioned between your knees) straight up in the air. Remember to keep your back straight and flat on the floor.
  • Pass the ball from your legs to your hands then slowly lower your arms and legs back to the floor, your arms above your head as you hold the ball.
  • Raise your extremities up in the air again to pass the ball from your hands back to your legs in between your knees.
  • Keep repeating the process until you are able to do at least 15 passes.
  • Ball catch

Problem with flabs along your arms? Find a friend and try this one to tone your pectorals, deltoids and triceps. Use a heavier ball for more strength.

  • Face each other but put a distance of 5 feet minimum.
  • Hold the ball at chest level then exchange throws and catches, maintaining a straight ball path.
  • Both should take one step back at each throw to lengthen the distance between, requiring stronger hurls each time.
  • Stop when you reach the distance where you are unable to catch the ball anymore.

Repeat at least twice.

With the right exercise, you can get the most out of a medicine ball. The list of activities is quite long. What I shared here is just some of them. You can choose what you are most comfortable with and I guarantee that it will do you wonders.

Top Five Ab Exercises without Equipment

You wish for a toned tummy muscle but you don’t have the equipments or can’t afford gym membership? Cheer up! I am sharing with you 5 ab exercises that are sure to get rid of those stubborn fats and give you the tummy to die for.

Bicycles:

Biking is among the best ab exercises there is, stimulating more muscles than you can imagine. No bike? Don’t mope, this is about no equipment ab exercises, right? Go right ahead and do the following:

  • Lie on the floor, make sure the whole length of your back is flat.
  • Support your head with your hands keeping your elbows out.
  • Angle your knees up, about 45 degrees.
  • Do a pedaling motion and as you do, alternately touch right elbow to left knee, then left elbow to right knee.
  • Make sure to breathe in and breathe out and not to pull your neck forward.
  • Maintain a proper posture and repeat as many times as you can.

Planking:

While this won’t require you to move too much, trust me, it will strengthen your abdominal muscles before you can spell A-B-S!

  • On a prone position, keep your feet together, your forearms flat on the floor.
  • Pull your ab muscles in to engage your glutes.
  • Lift your body off the floor, your weight resting on your forearms and toes and then hold up to ten counts, longer if you can.
  • Remember to keep your back straight.
  • Slowly return to starting position then do another 2 to 3 rounds.

Vertical Leg Crunch:

I like this one a lot being one of the most effective ab exercises. Give it a try and feel how your ab muscles (obliques and rectus abdominis) become engaged.

  • Lie on the floor, face up, your hands resting behind your head.
  • Put your legs up in the air, heels crossed.
  • Lift your chest off the floor, concentrating on engaging your ab muscles as you do, then a627408229ee1735b9e5e1003939f574bring it back down.
  • Keep your hands relaxed so that your head stays down and not pulled forward.
  • Do 12 counts for each set of at least 3.

The Russian Twist:

This is one exercise that I recommend to those who really want to feel a bit of “no pain, no gain” in the belly area.

  • Sit on your butt, knees bent, your feet about a couple 24 inches in front of you.
  • Lean back a little so that your side view forms a “V”. This will also help fully engage your core and back muscles.
  • With your arms straight and your hands clasped together at rib level, twist from side to side.
  • Do a set of at least 3, each set 12 counts.

Reverse Crunch:

This is like a regular crunch with a twist and I like the way it effectively engages the rectus abdominis.

  • Lay flat on the floor with your legs up in the air, your heels crossed.
  • Keep your arms straight at your sides so that they serve as support.
  • Slowly lift your hips off the floor, keeping your legs up and not swinging.
  • Lower your hips to starting position then repeat 12 times.
  • Do a set of at least 3.

Why I love these exercises is the way the make all tummy muscles work from the core. Use these variations of training and soon enjoy better posture and better looking tummy.

Below is a free ab workout called Killer Abs #5, enjoy!  For more ab workouts, go to:  http://workoutsondemand.com/exercise_videos.htm

What’s so Great about Kettlebells Anyway?

Celebrity body, improved posture, boosted rear, easier time doing daily chores, more muscles fired up…I could go on and on enumerating the many benefits I get from different exercises using Kettlebells.

Do I hear you go, “Kettle what”? Believe me, these funny-looking cannonball-like weights with handles can work various muscles at the same time. I say it’s high time you give it a try.

  1. Kettlebell activates your core muscles.

Hold, lift or swing a kettlebell and your core muscles (upper abs, lower abs, obliques and lower back) contract. Exercises like rack, swing, snatch, clean or overhead squat & lunge are perfect imagesfor posture and alignment.

  1. It stabilizes your shoulder muscles.

Your shoulders’ trapezius and deltoids (composed of posterior, lateral and anterior) are important workers when doing movements above your head. Workouts using kettlebells help keep these muscles strong and steady such as swing, halo and snatch exercises.

  1. Keeps the knees steady by stabilizing the quads and the hamstrings.

Why do I sit down and go right back up in an instant with ease? I owe that to lunges and squats workouts that I do using kettlebells. These activities strengthen the quadriceps (large thigh front muscles that move each time you straighten the knees) as well as the hamstrings, our knees’ flexors.

  1. Stabilizes the glutes.

Rising from a squat can be a challenge when your glutes are weak. With kettlebell swing and deadlift exercises, glutes are made stronger, firmer.

  1. Strengthens back muscles.

Arm and renegade rows, high pulls, swings, deadlifts are just some of the exercises that those with back issues will surely benefit from as the back muscles (latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and erector spinae) are engaged and strengthened.

I find it an understatement to say that kettlebell exercises make up for a complete total body workout. In a single exercise, all groups of muscles may be engaged from front to back to sides. These trainings significantly helped me improve my posture, gave me more agility and flexibility. I recommend that you try it so you too can enjoy reduced back pain and prevent injury while you go about your daily chores and while exercising. And if that is not enough, this might catch your interest. A study has it that working out using kettlebells, just as other exercises do, improves the cardiovascular system, increases the heart’s volume and weight and helps stabilize blood pressure.

Below is a free kettlebell workout video.  For more online exercise videos like this, go to:  http://workoutsondemand.com/workouts_total_body_toning.htm

 

Weight Loss is a “Walk in the Park”

In my fitness journey I have discovered that if you put your heart and soul into it, losing weight can indeed be just a walk in the park – literally and figuratively. It’s true! Losing weight can be easy and I’ve figured out some simple ways to do it so you too can incorporate fitness in your daily living.

  • Enjoy the seasons in the sun and walk this way…and that way – here, there and everywhere. Even a short 5-minute walk counts. Take a walk and you’d naturally burn some fat. The longer & faster your walks, the more fats you burn, the more weight you lose.
  • Take the stairs if your destination is just 2 or 3 floors up and on every chance you can.
  • Do a 5-minute abdominal workout, instead of turning on the TV. Or do the 5-minute workout while watching TV. The point is, sneak in the exercise in small chunks.
  • Give up using the leaf blower and sweep your yard and drive way. Instead of power mover, use the manual edition so you can push your way to a healthier you and to having a neat yard.
  • Don’t deny yourself of food but switch to low-calorie versions. Add more of the healthy stuff like snow peas, grapes, cherries and veggies. Take more fiber to keep you feeling satisfied longer.
  • Don’t wait until you are starving before having a meal. You will just find yourself justifying the extra food intake. To help you feel less famished, down a glass of water before your funny-fitness-ecard-exercisefirst bite.
  • Avoid overstuffing by sharing your meal or use smaller plates or cups. The trick works well for me because when I see the bottom of my bowl, I tend to feel satisfied as opposed to seeing small portion served on a bigger plate. We go by physical cues, don’t we?
  • We just can’t avoid relaxing in front of the boob tube so make it a productive moment, health-wise. At home, I position my treadmill where I can watch TV at the same time so I can sweat it out while I tune in to my favorite show. Before I know it, I have already spent more than my share of daily mileage to fitness.
  • I like how my body responds to scheduled meal time. Do the same by eating at the same time everyday so that your body would learn to expect when the next meal comes and not feel the need to eat randomly.

Cultivating these practices isn’t exactly effortless but let me tell you that once you lose weight today, keeping it off becomes easier over time so come on and let’s take a walk in the park.

Sugar and Weight Loss

Sugar makes a lot of what we eat or drink taste better that often, we don’t think twice about adding more. Each of us may consume up to 200 lbs of sugar in a year so I might as well warn you that that could be bad for your health.

The various forms of sugar are sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (dairy sugar) and glucose (blood sugar). Our energy and how our hunger is affected depend on blood sugar which can come from converted carbohydrate after food intake. The excess amount is stored by the body as fat which we burn by exercising. Without exercise, that stored fat means weight gain.

Gaining weight because of sugar

  • Like most foods, sugar contains calories. Too much of it is equivalent to weight gain if our intake is greater than how much we are able to burn.
  • We tend to consume more of it, unaware, because sugar is often masked under many wpid-tumblr_miu3x9m66n1s6a2lvo1_500different names found in most common types of foods and drinks.
  • Sugar causes blood glucose levels to rise then suddenly drop leaving you craving for more hence the tendency to overindulge and eventually gain unwanted pounds that usually go in the wrong places.
  • To some extreme extent, it can lead to obesity and the dreadful sickness, diabetes.

Managing weight despite sugar

I believe the lack of nutritional assessment is the reason why sugar is considered an unhealthy nutrient. But not all sugar is bad because the pure form found in fruits for instance may contribute to becoming healthier.

  • Sugar contains about 4 calories per gram or 16 calories in one tablespoon. This is not particularly fattening provided that diet and exercise are incorporated in your life. Glucose from sugar is needed by the body for fueling energy when working out. Only excessive calories beyond the body’s energy needs are stored as fats.
  • Because our body needs to be supplied with energy coming from proper sugar amount, go for low-calorie, low-fat sweets for easier weight management. Instead of using margarine on my toasts, I substitute that with jam or jelly. Makes better sense to me, not to mention tastes better. 1 tbsp (about 15g) of margarine has 102 calories; jam or jelly, 51 calories.
  • Foods with sugar but more in fiber such as fruits are digested more slowly and helps keep you feeling fuller longer. I’d say that’s a better choice that munching on pretzels.

“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine (and the weight, if I may add) go down.” Moderation is always the key to almost anything including managing weight.