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    Discover positive articles, with new ways to look at life and live healthy.

    • HealthDiscovery
      There are many things that could cause your workout routine to lose it's excitement. Luckily, there are just as many ways bring your motivation levels back up! You shouldn't be avoiding the mere thought of breaking a sweat... but if you are: Here are some of the best ways that you can get yourself back in the groove!

      Switch It Up!
      If your current workout routine seems as though it's not working anymore, or you've lost the initial excitement of working out. You'll need to switch it up and find a new routine! Start by compiling a list of exercises or activities that you DO enjoy. Which muscle groups do they the focus on? Are you getting enough cardio with them? Be sure that you are targeting all of your muscle groups, and alternating between them each day that you workout. You'll want to give each group some time to rest while you work the other muscles. Find the Right Intensity
      You'll know you're over-training if you start feeling tired all of the time, are having trouble sleeping, or feel sore most of the week. If that happens, you'll want to reduce the intensity of your routines. At some point, when you have gained strength and endurance, you may find your current workout routine is too easy (sometimes this will show itself as boredom). You're body is ready for more, and you should intensify your workout routine. Add Variety
      There are many ways to add variety to your workouts. Try a unique exercise that you've never tried before, get a new piece of equipment or workout dvds. Maybe there's a hiking trail nearby that you've never been down. Go and check it out! Always try to keep yourself 'in the game' with workout routines that you can tolerate. Find Support
      Moral support can be just the ticket you need to keep on keeping on with your workout routine. Find a family member or friend to workout with you. Join an online support group, like our Boot Camp Buddies, that you can check in with. Having others that are working out with you, makes you accountable for any missed workouts. Don't leave them hanging at the gym alone! If you find a good partner, they won't leave you hanging either.

    • HealthDiscovery
      When any workout or specific exercise causes you pain, pay attention. Knowing how to react can help you avoid a serious injury.   Strength training can cause several types of pain including: Muscle Soreness
      When you use muscles you have not used for a while or try a new exercise or training technique, it is normal to feel a dull ache of soreness in the muscles that were trained. This pain is caused by microscopic tears in the fibers of the connective tissues in your body--the ligaments that connect bones to other bones, and the tendons that connect muscles to bones. This microtrauma may sound harmful but is in fact the natural response of your muscles when they experience work. This is the primary reason it is so important that you get enough rest between specific muscle workouts. Each time you work out with weights, you cause this "damage"--these tiny tears in your muscles; they need ample resting time to rebuild and become even stronger, bigger, and more firm.
      Pain During or Just After a Workout
      During a workout, repeated contractions cause lactic and other acids, as well as proteins and hormones, to build up in muscle tissue. This can cause pain even without injury. But if you experience a sharp, continuous pain, or pain accompanied by a burning sensation, stop lifting and get it checked. Cramps
      These happen when muscles, often in the calves or feet, knot up in intense contractions. Cramps occur most commonly in endurance sports like cycling and running, where the athlete loses a lot of fluids through sweating. This is why it's very important to stay well-hydrated during exercise. If you do get cramps, the best way to stop them is to gently stretch the cramped muscle. Injury
      When working out with weights you need to be in full control of both the weights and your own body as it lifts and uses the weights. Careless weightlifting can result in injury. Not warming up, attempting to lift too heavy a weight, using momentum or jerky movements, letting the weights drop, not using correct form, or forgetting to stretch or cool-down after your workout can indeed result in injury. The following injuries can occur as a result of carelessness:
      Tendonitis: This is inflammation of the tendon and can occur if you begin your first set with too heavy a weight and/or are not properly warmed-up. Rest is the best treatment for this painful injury. Fascia injuries: Can occur if you suddenly jerk or pull the weight. Fascia is basically the packaging tissue of muscle. When fascia is torn, it becomes inflamed and the pain is severe. The injury should be treated with cold packs and wrapped with an ace bandage. Ligament injuries: Can occur when people use momentum and jerk the weight to accomplish a lift. This injury is treated by using cold packs and rest. Sprains or muscle tears: Are uncommon if you warm-up, stretch, and cool-down properly and implement the safety precautions and principles we teach. For injuries, R.I.C.E. is nice.
      Any time you do have inflammation or swelling, use the R.I.C.E method of reducing damage and speeding healing. Rest: When you are hurt, stop your workout immediately and take weight off the affected area. Ice: Wrap ice in a towel and hold it against the injury for 10 to 20 minutes, three or four times a day until the acute injury diminishes. Compress: Wrap the injured area in a snug, but not tight, elastic bandage. Elevate: Raise the injured limb and rest it on a pillow to reduce swelling. Strength Training Benefits
      Strength training provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercise or activity. However, when enjoying this great form of exercise, be sure to pay attention to pain and soreness so that your program is not only effective, but safe as well. Good luck: I hope you enjoy all the wonderful benefits of a safe and effective strength training program. Article by:
      Chad Tackett
      Chad Tackett is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and the president of Global Health and Fitness. Offering the best online programs and guides to meet your fitness goals.
       

    • HealthDiscovery
      It's kind of like running into a wall - that feeling you get when, after a few months on a weight-loss program, you suddenly stop seeing results. This is called hitting a plateau and it is not uncommon.   In fact, unless you continually update your program to reflect the changes your body has already experienced, you can almost be guaranteed to plateau at some point along your journey toward reaching your goal weight.
      Weight-loss Plateau Woes
      The first thing you should do upon hitting a plateau is try to determine the cause. Could you be eating more calories than you think? Research shows that most people under report the number of calories they eat - it's not that they're lying, they just don't know how to make an accurate assessment of how much they're eating. And even if you're eating less calories than before you lost the weight, you could be eating just enough to maintain your current weight at your current activity level. It is important to keep in mind that as you lose weight, your metabolism slows down because there is less of you to fuel, both at rest and during activity. So, while a diet of 1,800 calories per day helped you lose a certain amount of weight, if you've hit a plateau, it could be that 1,800 calories is the exact amount you need to stay at your current weight. Exercise Your Options
      This leaves you with two options: Lower your caloric intake further or increase the amount of time you spend being physically active. The first option is less desirable because you may not be able to get sufficient nutrients from a diet that is very low in calories, and it is difficult to stick to it for very long. It is much better to moderately reduce calories to a level that you can sustain when you reach your goal weight. The same is true for exercise. Trying to exercise for several hours per day to burn more calories is a good way to set yourself up for failure. Not only does this type of regimen require an enormous time commitment, it is hard on the body, making you more susceptible to injury and overuse syndromes. To help balance the intake with the expenditure, a good rule of thumb is to multiply your goal weight by 10 calories per pound, and add more calories according to how active you are. Again, be realistic. Don't attempt too much in an effort to burn more calories. Instead, aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity most of the days of the week and, as you become more fit, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercise sessions. Choose activities that you find enjoyable, whether that be in-line skating, step classes or even mall walking. Another means for getting you off the plateau is strength training, which has been shown to be very effective in helping people manage their weight because the added muscle helps to offset the metabolism-lowering effect of dieting and losing weight. Muscle is much more metabolically active than fat; therefore, the more muscle you can add, the higher your metabolism will be. Get Off The Plateau
      If you've stopped losing weight, the key to getting off the plateau is to vary your program. The human body is an amazing piece of machinery, capable of adapting to just about any circumstance or stimulus. By shaking things up a bit and varying your program by introducing some new elements, you'll likely find yourself off the plateau and back on the road to progress in no time. Article written by:
      The American Council on Exercise

    • HealthDiscovery
      What is Tae-Bo?
      Tae-Bo, a unique and challenging fitness system, is a martial arts/aerobics hybrid created by Billy Blanks in 1975. Tae-Bo combines Tae Kwon Do, boxing and dance disciplines and puts them together in a challenging program set to hip-hop music. A typical one-hour class consists of a series of jabs, punches, kicks and steps, choreographed in a series of eight-count combinations. The name, Tae-Bo, is a combination of other words. "Tae" means "leg" and it relates to the kicks and lower body part of the workout. "Bo" comes from boxing and the upper body punches that are an integral part of the workout. Set to the upbeat music, Tae-Bo can be a very satisfying workout because it engages the entire body.

      Who can participate?
      Tae-Bo is for anyone who wants a complete workout. But more than just calorie and fat-burning exercise Tae-Bo offers a workout for the entire body. As with any new exercise program, you should consult your health care provider first before embarking on it.

      Tae-Bo can be done at your own rate. As you build strength, you can do more and you can increase your level of physical fitness, Tae-Bo officials say.

      Many women are attracted to the program as a form of strength building. Since Tae-Bo is set to music, it's a lot of fun. You build strength while enjoying yourself.

      In addition, while Tae-Bo shouldn't be considered a self-defense course, you can learn defensive moves through it because the program uses imaginary opponents as targets. How soon can you see results?
      According to Billy Blanks Enterprises research, some people report feeling a change in their body the very first time they do Tae-Bo and they begin to see results in as little as three Tae-Bo sessions. Others report change over several weeks. Everybody is a little different and individual results vary. How often should I do Tae-Bo?
      First, as with any fitness program, check with your physician to make sure you can start an intense workout program. Tae-Bo can be done everyday or a couple of times a week. For maximum benefit, like any other cardiovascular program, you should consider doing the Tae-Bo at least three times a week, according to Billy Blanks' Enterprises.

      Beginners are advised to start slow and build up their endurance. Tae-Bo is challenging and requires use of your entire body. Don't get discouraged if you get tired quickly in the beginning. The entire idea of Tae-Bo is to maximize the benefits by incorporating the entire body into the workout. Where can you practice Tae-Bo?
      Tae-Bo is a trademark of Billy Blanks Enterprises. The routines and music mixes have been designed by Blanks. The Billy Blanks World Training Center in Sherman Oaks, CA. is the original setting for Tae-Bo classes. But, if you don't happen to live near the studio, you can get started on your Tae-Bo workout in two ways: Find an instructor who has completed the Billy Blanks Tae-Bo training course. The training program has graduated many instructors from all over the U.S. Beware of copy-cat programs, however. There are many "sound-alike" programs that promise the complete workout, but the Billy Blanks organization says there is no substitute for the original program. Buy a videotape. To buy "The Tae-Bo Way," check out www.taebo.com or watch for the popular infomercial. By watching the tape and following the Tae-Bo routine, you can get the benefits of the whole-body workout in the privacy of your own home. Article by:
      Billy Blanks Enterprises

    • HealthDiscovery
      Instead of another tie for your dad or music CD for your sister, why don’t you give them a truly unique and invaluable gift?

      I’m talking about the gift of fitness.
      The gift of fitness is something that you can give to just about everybody on your shopping list, from your parents, to your spouse, a friend, your siblings, an employee or co-worker, even your children. And it’s a gift that is invaluable to everyone. After all who doesn’t want to look better, feel better, and be healthier?
      And, it’s a gift that you can truly feel proud to give. When you give someone the gift of fitness, you are helping him open a door to better health (both physically and mentally). I can’t think of a more thoughtful gift that shows the recipient how much you care about their well-being. By giving the gift of fitness you are providing them with unlimited health benefits.
      Of course, we all know that exercise can help people stay slim and fit. But, do you also know about all the other great benefits of exercising? Daily physical activity reduces stress and can help you sleep better. Fitness has been linked to reducing the risk of some diseases and to warding off depression. Researchers also believe that strength training can help prevent osteoporosis. Not to mention that exercise also improves self-esteem, increases stamina and ultimately helps you be able to do continuous work for longer.
      I bet a lot of people on your shopping list would find these fitness benefits incredibly invaluable. If the people on your list are like most of us, they’ve probably even mentioned how they want to drop a few pounds of just get in better shape. In fact, experts say that about 62% of Americans are currently on a diet. By giving the gift of fitness you are helping provide them with motivation (which is one of the biggest obstacles in getting fit). They may feel more motivated to actually get fit because they don’t want to feel guilty for ignoring such a thoughtful gift (this is especially true when you give an online personal training gift certificate, which is a great motivator).
      While fitness gifts are incredibly valuable, they don’t have to be expensive. Gifts can cost as little as $5 or range into the $100s of dollars. Here are a few suggestions in the various price ranges:
      Under $15: Resistance Band (also makes a great stocking stuffer) Dumbbells Jump Rope (also makes a great stocking stuffer) Exercise Mat $15 - $35 Fitness Ball Online Personal Training Program (custom designed for the gift recipient) Home Exercise Video (also makes a great stocking stuffer) Heart Rate Monitor Over $35 Full dumbbell set Treadmill Bicycle Yoga Kit Giving something that supports health and wellness will be appreciated for years to come and may even turn someone's life around. The gift of fitness will make the recipient feel special – they’ll know that someone cared enough to give them the opportunity to improve their health. And, giving a gift that will help someone lead a healthier life is also one of the most rewarding gifts you can give. So why spend another holiday season searching for the perfect gift only to end up with the same old things like gift certificates or socks or books? Surprise everyone this year and give the gift that comes from the heart and truly keeps on giving throughout the New Year and beyond. And don’t forget yourself – you deserve the gift of fitness too!
      Article prescribed by:
      Lynn Bode
         

    • HealthDiscovery
      Consumers are faced with so many options that the task of choosing a pair of athletic shoes has become increasingly complicated and confusing, not to mention expensive. If you've tried to buy a pair of athletic shoes recently, you probably realize that the canvas sneakers of the past have been replaced by high-tech, state-of-the-art athletic gear of the present and future.
      By attaining a good working knowledge of athletic footwear, you will be less likely to fall for the latest gimmick or be coerced into spending above your budget.

      Know What You Need
      When shopping for athletic shoes, the most important step is deciding what sport you will be using them for. Most sporting goods stores carry a variety of shoes for activities such as running, walking, tennis, basketball and aerobics. Multi-purpose shoes such as cross trainers may be a good alternative for those who want to combine several sports or activities, such as bicycling or other exercise equipment, and weight training, in a single workout.

      Once you have decided on the particular type of shoe you need, it is important to know how to get a good fit. Remember, no matter how popular a shoe is or how good it may look, it won't do you any good if you have blisters after the first week of wearing it. Guidelines For Buying Shoes
      When purchasing shoes for a specific sport or fitness activity, you must consider your foot type. People with high-arched feet tend to require greater shock absorption than those with average feet. High-arched (cavus) feet also suffer from lateral instability and are more prone to ankle sprains. Conversely, people with low-arched ("flat") feet require shoes with less cushioning but greater support and heel control.

      After considering the type of shoe needed for a particular activity and evaluating your needs based on your foot type, use the following information to ensure you get the best fit: Choose an athletic-shoe store or specialty store with a large inventory. They will have a variety of sizes available. Try to get fitted for footwear at the end of the day, when foot size is at its maximum. It is not unusual for an individual's foot to increase one-half a shoe size during the course of a single day. Allow 1/2 inch, or the width of your index finger, between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. If one foot is larger than the other, buy the larger size. The shoe should be as wide as possible across the forefoot without allowing slippage in the heel. If the shoe has variable-width lacing, experiment with the narrow and wide eyelets to achieve a custom fit. Some Final Considerations
      Athletic shoes no longer require a breaking-in period. However, they will lose their cushioning after three to six months of regular use. It is important to be aware of when your shoes need to be replaced because, if they are no longer absorbing the pounding and jarring action of the sport, you are more likely to sustain knee and ankle injuries.

      A final consideration when buying athletic shoes is price. It is possible to spend anywhere from $19.99 for no-name brands to more than $170 for Reebok's or Nike's latest technological wonder. Be sure to consider both your budget and your fitness needs before spending a small fortune on shoes.

      Finally, though purchasing may be a big investment, it is not a long-term one. If you spend a fortune on the latest style today, a new style will probably replace it tomorrow. It would be more practical, unless you are at a competitive level, to spend a reasonable amount and get the most for your money. Article prescribed by:
      The American Council on Exercise
      The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is the largest nonprofit fitness certification, education and training organization in the world.

    • HealthDiscovery
      If you’ve decided to join the ranks of treadmill owners, there are a number of factors to consider to ensure that you purchase a machine that meets your needs. There are a multitude of treadmills on the market with prices ranging from $299 to $4,000. You are likely to find that a treadmill’s cost directly reflects its quality.

      Before you leave your home, measure the space in which you’d like to keep the treadmill. While the average treadmill measures 64 inches long and 28 inches wide, there are machines that fold up to be stored under a bed or in a closet. Drive to the nearest fitness-equipment speciality store where the staff will be knowledgeable and you can choose from a wide variety of machines. Wear a comfortable pair of athletic shoes — the same pair you’ll wear as you exercise on the machine at home.
      Consider three key elements as you shop:
      Construction
      First, look at the treadmill’s motor size (measured in horsepower) to determine the machine’s longevity. Some manufacturers measure horsepower at continuous duty (the motor’s ability to function under a load for an extended period of time), others at peak duty. Look for a motor with a minimum 2.0 continuous-duty horsepower, which will accommodate users who weigh more than 180 pounds. Next, examine the treadmill’s belt and deck. The belt should be at least two-ply, 17 inches wide and 49 inches long. The board thickness should measure at least an inch.
      The deck acts as a cushion for the joints, legs, back and feet. The most sought-after treadmills feature low-impact decks that flex under the user’s foot plant to absorb the shock without rebounding to cause additional jarring. This feature is essential for individuals with shin splints and foot and back problems.
      A sturdy frame supports the belt and deck system. Treadmills that cost between $399 and $1900 usually have a steel frame; treadmills with a price of $1900 or higher often are constructed with aircraft aluminum frames that offer additional flexibility for impact absorption. Aluminum frames don’t rust or corrode and are lighter and easier to move.
      Programming Features
      Lower-priced treadmills offer basic programming for variable speed, time, distance and calories. However, they seldom utilize user information, and the calorie counters aren’t very accurate. The price rises when you add quality programming features, such as preset programs that automatically vary the workout intensity by raising or lowering elevation and increasing or decreasing speed.
      Heart-rate control programs are convenient features that consider the user’s age and weight and keep the exerciser at an intensity sufficient to achieve maximum fat-burning or cardiovascular benefits.
      Other programming options include incline/grade settings. A maximum grade of 10 percent may challenge beginning exercisers, while experienced exercisers may need a treadmill that reaches a 15-percent grade.
      Warranty
      Most manufacturers warranty against manufacturing defects only, not normal wear and tear, and if a user weighs more than the machine’s specifications, a warranty may be voided. Many machines come with a lifetime warranty on the frame, while warranties on features and components usually range from 90 days to three years, depending on the machine’s quality.
      Higher-end machines often come with a one-year in-home labor contract. You can purchase renewable extended warranties that cover everything from parts to labor.
      Don’t Give the Man Your Money Yet
      Is the machine loud? Do you like how it looks? Does it offer a smooth ride? Is it easy to operate? Remember, this product will be around for a long, healthy time, so determine what you want and need from it before you begin shopping to prevent a regretful purchase. Why Treadmills Are Ranked #1
      The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that, based on a study from the Medical College of Wisconsin and Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Milwaukee, Treadmills provide the most efficient way to burn calories when compared to other popular exercise machines. Researchers asked eight male and five female young adults to exercise on six different types of indoor exercise machines, including a cross-country skiing simulator, cycle ergometer, rowing ergometer and stair stepper.
      They compared energy expenditure at ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) levels of 11 (fairly light), 13 (somewhat hard) and 15 (hard), and found that subjects who exercised at an RPE of 13 burned approximately 40 percent more calories per hour on the treadmill as compared to the cycle ergometer, which produced the lowest energy expenditure.
      Article prescribed by:
      The American Council on Exercise
      The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is the largest nonprofit fitness certification, education and training organization in the world.

    • HealthDiscovery
      The word has been tossed around quite a bit lately. Pilates (pronounced Pi-lah-teez), used primarily by dancers for deep body conditioning and injury rehabilitation.
      It's is a 70-year-old exercise technique first developed by German immigrant, Joseph Pilates. Only recently has it migrated from its long-held position at the fringes of traditional fitness methods such as aerobics and weight training. Hollywood has been a key factor in turning the spotlight on Pilates, as numerous models and actresses pay homage to Pilates for their beautifully toned, fit bodies.

      Focusing on the Core
      The abdominal and back muscles are often collectively referred to as the body's core. Pilates exercises are designed to strengthen this core by developing pelvic stability and abdominal control. In addition, the exercises improve flexibility and joint mobility, and build strength. How can one exercise technique claim to do so much?
      The Reformer, a wooden contraption with various cables, pulleys, springs and sliding boards attached, lies at the foundation of Pilates. Primarily using one's own body weight as resistance, participants are put through a series of progressive, range-of-motion exercises. Despite the appearance of this, and several other equally unusual-looking devices, Pilates exercises are very low impact. Instructors, who typically work one-on-one or with two to three participants, offer reminders to engage the abdominal muscles, the back, the upper leg and buttocks to stabilize the body's core. Exercise sessions are designed according to individual flexibility and strength limitations. Pilates exercises are not limited to specialized machines, however. In fact, many gyms across the country now offer Pilates floor-work classes. These exercises also stress the stabilization and strengthening of the back and abdominal muscles.
      Connecting with Pilates
      The mind/body connection associated with yoga and meditation also plays an integral part in Pilates. Unlike exercise techniques that emphasize numerous repetitions in a single direction, Pilates exercises are performed with very few, but extremely precise, repetitions in several planes of motion. So, what will all this focus and stabilization get you?
      Well, according to its adherents, Pilates can help you develop long, strong muscles, a flat stomach and a strong back, and improve posture. Of course, these changes are dependent upon other lifestyle factors, such as a well-balanced diet and regular, aerobic exercise. (Though some may claim that Pilates is all you need to develop stamina and endurance as well, an additional cardiovascular component may be advisable.) Pilates From the Start
      An initial Pilates session typically includes a body assessment, which allows the instructor to pinpoint strength and flexibility weak spots. This is the time to become familiar with Pilates' unique breathing patterns, which don't always follow the exhale-on-the-exertion pattern of traditional exercise. Sessions typically run 60 minutes, at a cost of $30 to $50 for private sessions, and $8 to $25 for group sessions.  
      If you're more comfortable exercising at home, there are several Pilates and Pilates-type videos available, including the Fit & Flexible series, and The Method Precision series. Several home versions of the Reformer also are currently available on the market.
      Whether you work out at a studio or on your living room floor, Pilates is an excellent way to challenge your muscles, improve flexibility and incorporate the mind/ body element into one effective exercise session.
      Article prescribed by:
      The American Council on Exercise
      The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is the largest nonprofit fitness certification, education and training organization in the world.

    • HealthDiscovery
      Have you ever heard the expression "use it or lose it"? It's true! If you don't use your body, you will surely lose it. If you don't exercise, your muscles will become flabby and weak. Your heart and lungs won't function efficiently. And your joints will be stiff and easily injured. Inactivity is as much of a health risk as smoking!

      Helps Prevent Diseases
      Our bodies were meant to move -- they actually crave exercise. Regular exercise is necessary for physical fitness and good health. It reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases. It can improve your appearance and delay the aging process. Improves Stamina
      When you exercise, your body uses energy to keep going. Aerobic exercise involves continuous and rhythmic physical motion, such as walking and bicycling. It improves your stamina by training your body to become more efficient and use less energy for the same amount of work. As your conditioning level improves, your heart rate and breathing rate return to resting levels much sooner from strenuous activity. Strengthens and Tones
      Exercising with weights and other forms of resistance training develops your muscles, bones and ligaments for increased strength and endurance. Your posture can be improved, and your muscles become more firm and toned. You not only feel better, but you look better, too! Enhances Flexibility
      Stretching exercises are also important for good posture. They keep your body limber so that you can bend, reach and twist. Improving your flexibility through exercise reduces the chance of injury and improves balance and coordination. If you have stiff, tense areas, such as the upper back or neck, performing specific stretches can help "loosen" those muscles, helping you feel more relaxed. Controls Weight
      Exercise is also a key to weight control because it burns calories. If you burn off more calories than you take in, you lose weight. It's as simple as that. Improves Quality of Life
      Once you begin to exercise regularly, you will discover many more reasons why exercise is so important to improving the quality of your life. Exercise reduces stress, lifts moods, and helps you sleep better. It can keep you looking and feeling younger throughout your entire life. How Often Should You Exercise?
      The benefits of any exercise program will diminish if it's disrupted too frequently. A "stop-start" routine is not only ineffective, but can cause injuries. Being consistent with exercise, therefore, is probably the most important factor in achieving desired results. People often assume that more is better. Wrong! Doing too much too soon or performing intense exercises on a daily basis will have deleterious effects, such as muscle/tendon strains, loss of lean tissue, and fitness-level plateaus.
      Cardio
      If you are a beginner, start off slower than you think you should. Three days per week is realistic, safe and effective. If you are experienced, do cardiovascular (aerobic) exercises such as walking, jogging and bicycling for no more than 200 minutes per week with no more than 60 minutes per session. Lifting Weights
      Weight training should be done no more than three times per week targeting the same muscle groups. Exercise the same muscle groups on non-consecutive days because muscles need adequate time to recover and cannot be effectively trained if they are tired or sore. Stretching
      Many people forget to stretch or make the excuse that they don't have the time. Flexibility is important, so make the time! Stretching can be done every day, but stick to a minimum of three times per week in order to reap the benefits. When the body is warmed up, such as after a workout session, perform five to 10 stretches that target the major muscle groups. Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds. Article by:
      Armand Tecco, M.Ed.
      Armand Tecco is certified as a health/fitness instructor by the American College of Sports Medicine and as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.
      With more than 18 years of experience in the fitness industry, Armand Tecco has personally trained and prescribed exercise programs for thousands of people, from professional athletes and corporate executives to stay-at-home moms and older adults. Armand has a Bachelor of Science degree in fitness management and a Master's in Education degree in exercise physiology.
      In addition, Armand is the inventor of AB-Weights, a patented abdominal training product endorsed by Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan and fitness celebrity Denise Austin.
      Armand serves as fitness director and co-owner of HealthEase, Inc., a fitness consulting firm based in suburban Philadelphia, PA. Founded in 1986, HealthEase has expanded rapidly into a leading regional force in the health and fitness field.
      Services range from the design and management of a full-scale fitness facility to an analysis of the health/fitness needs of employees, health fairs, seminars, aerobic exercise classes and personal fitness training.

    • HealthDiscovery
      If you just can't bring yourself to toss the scale in the trash, you should definitely familiarize yourself with the factors that influence it’s readings. From water retention to glycogen storage and changes in lean body mass, daily weight fluctuations are normal. They are not indicators of your success or failure. Once you understand how these mechanisms work, you can free yourself from the daily battle with the bathroom scale. Water makes up about 60% of total body mass. Normal fluctuations in the body’s water content can send scale-watchers into a tailspin if they don’t understand what’s happening. Two factors influencing water retention are water consumption and salt intake. Strange as it sounds, the less water you drink, the more of it your body retains. If you are even slightly dehydrated your body will hang onto it’s water supplies with a vengeance, possibly causing the number on the scale to inch upward. The solution is to drink plenty of water.
      Excess salt (sodium) can also play a big role in water retention. A single teaspoon of salt contains over 2,000 mg of sodium. Generally, we should only eat between 1,000 and 3,000 mg of sodium a day, so it's easy to go overboard. Sodium is a sneaky substance. You would expect it to be most highly concentrated in salty chips, nuts, and crackers. However, a food doesn't have to taste salty to be loaded with sodium. A half cup of instant pudding actually contains nearly four times as much sodium as an ounce of salted nuts, 460 mg in the pudding versus 123 mg in the nuts. The more highly processed a food is, the more likely it is to have a high sodium content.
      That's why, when it comes to eating, it's wise to stick mainly to the basics: fruits, vegetables, lean meat, beans, and whole grains. Be sure to read the labels on canned foods, boxed mixes, and frozen dinners. Women may also retain several pounds of water prior to menstruation. This is very common and the weight will likely disappear as quickly as it arrives. Pre-menstrual water-weight gain can be minimized by drinking plenty of water, maintaining an exercise program, and keeping high-sodium processed foods to a minimum.
      Another factor that can influence the scale is glycogen. Think of glycogen as a fuel tank full of stored carbohydrate. Some glycogen is stored in the liver and some is stored the muscles themselves. This energy reserve weighs more than a pound and it's packaged with 3-4 pounds of water when it's stored. Your glycogen supply will shrink during the day if you fail to take in enough carbohydrates. As the glycogen supply shrinks you will experience a small imperceptible increase in appetite and your body will restore this fuel reserve along with it's associated water. It's normal to experience glycogen and water weight shifts of up to 2 pounds per day even with no changes in your calorie intake or activity level. These fluctuations have nothing to do with fat loss, although they can make for some unnecessarily dramatic weigh-ins if you're prone to obsessing over the number on the scale.
      Otherwise rational people also tend to forget about the actual weight of the food they eat. For this reason, it's wise to weigh yourself first thing in the morning before you've had anything to eat or drink. Swallowing a bunch of food before you step on the scale is no different than putting a bunch of rocks in your pocket. The 5 pounds that you gain right after a huge dinner is not fat. It's the actual weight of everything you've had to eat and drink. The added weight of the meal will be gone several hours later when you've finished digesting it.
      Exercise physiologists tell us that in order to store one pound of fat, you need to eat 3,500 calories more than your body is able to burn. In other words, to actually store the above dinner as 5 pounds of fat, it would have to contain a whopping 17,500 calories. This is not likely, in fact it's not humanly possible. So when the scale goes up 3 or 4 pounds overnight, rest easy, it's likely to be water, glycogen, and the weight of your dinner. Keep in mind that the 3,500 calorie rule works in reverse also. In order to lose one pound of fat you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in. Generally, it's only possible to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week. When you follow a very low calorie diet that causes your weight to drop 10 pounds in 7 days, it's physically impossible for all of that to be fat. What you're really losing is water, glycogen, and muscle.
      This brings us to the scale's sneakiest attribute. It doesn't just weigh fat. It weighs muscle, bone, water, internal organs and all. When you lose "weight," that doesn't necessarily mean that you've lost fat. In fact, the scale has no way of telling you what you've lost (or gained). Losing muscle is nothing to celebrate. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue. The more muscle you have the more calories your body burns, even when you're just sitting around. That's one reason why a fit, active person is able to eat considerably more food than the dieter who is unwittingly destroying muscle tissue.
      Robin Landis, author of "Body Fueling," compares fat and muscles to feathers and gold. One pound of fat is like a big fluffy, lumpy bunch of feathers, and one pound of muscle is small and valuable like a piece of gold. Obviously, you want to lose the dumpy, bulky feathers and keep the sleek beautiful gold. The problem with the scale is that it doesn't differentiate between the two. It can't tell you how much of your total body weight is lean tissue and how much is fat. There are several other measuring techniques that can accomplish this, although they vary in convenience, accuracy, and cost. Skin-fold calipers pinch and measure fat folds at various locations on the body, hydrostatic (or underwater) weighing involves exhaling all of the air from your lungs before being lowered into a tank of water, and bioelectrical impedance measures the degree to which your body fat impedes a mild electrical current. If the thought of being pinched, dunked, or gently zapped just doesn't appeal to you, don't worry. The best measurement tool of all turns out to be your very own eyes. How do you look? How do you feel? How do your clothes fit? Are your rings looser? Do your muscles feel firmer? These are the true measurements of success. If you are exercising and eating right, don't be discouraged by a small gain on the scale. Fluctuations are perfectly normal. Expect them to happen and take them in stride. It's a matter of mind over scale.

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