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Category Archives: Fitness

Postpartum Exercise

If you attempt to perform strenuous abdominal exercises prior to this, you may permanently injure your abdomen. So be sure to check before you engage in any stomach exercises.

Here’s how:

– Life flat on your back.

– Bend your knees.

– Place the fingers of your left hand palm facing you above your belly button.

– Upon exhaling, lift your head and shoulders off the floor while sliding your right hand up your thigh toward your knee.

Feel your abdominal muscles tighten. As you do so, check for a gap between the edges of the muscle. If you have a gap that is more than two or three finger widths, you should perform only moderate exercise.

The gap will eventually narrow to one inch or so, and at this point you can typically safely perform crunches with no adverse effects. If you are having difficulty assessing whether or not your abdomen has a gap, ask your healthcare provider to point it out to you. This is actually a physical condition referred to as diastasis recti (but no need to get technical here!).

Below you’ll find some of the best exercises for restoring shape and flexibility to your stomach muscles:

Leg Slide

This exercise can generally be started during the first month post partum. You can do it while sitting on the floor watching your baby.

– Lie on your back with knees bent.

– Tighten your stomach muscles while pressing the small of your back against the floor, exhaling as you do so.

– Slide both your legs apart, so that they are moving away from your body. At the same time, keep your back flat on the floor.

– Return your legs to the start position when your back starts to arch.

– Repeat 5-10 times.

It is important that you pay close attention to your breathing during the leg slide, and tighten your stomach muscles before your slide your legs away from your body. Also pay attention to be sure the small of your back is pressed against the ground.

Pelvic Tilt

This is a great exercise for toning and strengthening the stomach, and can be started shortly after delivery.

– Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

– Inhale while allowing your abdomen to expand.

– Upon exhaling lift your tailbone toward your belly button, while keeping your hips on the floor.

– At the very top of the tilt squeeze and tighten your buttocks for five seconds, then slowly release.

– Repeat.

Standing Pelvic Tilts

A variation of the traditional pelvic tilt, you can accomplish this exercise anywhere even on the go!

– Stand with your knees bend and legs hip-width apart.

– Place your hands on your upper thighs while resting your upper body weight on your arms.

– Stick your buttocks out just enough to flatten your back.

– Inhale, and then as you exhale pull your pubic bone toward your navel, pointing the tailbone downward.

– Repeat to a flat back position.

Head Lifts

Consider this exercise a sort of ‘mini’ crunch that you can try if your abdomen is still healing from the trauma of birth.

– Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

– Be sure your back is pressed to the floor.

– Lift your head off the floor and bring your chin toward your chest.

– Hold this position and then return to start.

Seated Lat Rows

This exercise actually works to tone the upper arms and back. It is important that you establish balance in your exercise routine. By working out your back muscles in particular, you’ll provide extra support for your abdomen. For this exercise you’ll need either two light dumbbells or milk containers filled with water.

– Sit on the edge of a chair.

– Bend knees and keep feet flat on floor.

– Place dumbbells or milk cartons by your feet.

– Bend forward and bring your chest to your thighs, while keeping your back flat.

– Hold one milk carton or dumbbell in each hand, allowing arms to hang down with palms facing one another.

– Bend your elbows and bring them up toward your shoulders.

Straighten arms, repeat 5-10 times.

Push – Ups

Push ups can be done at any time, even during the first couple of weeks if you are feeling strong enough. Push ups are a great way to help strengthen your upper body, which will need to be strong to carry baby around.

Great Summer Workouts

It’s also an excellent fitness choice for all ages, from the very young to seniors. Water exercise is a very good way to burn calories, improve your strength and flexibility, tone-up, improve your cardiovascular system, and just get more fit overall. And, the types of workouts are practically endless. Most land exercises can be modified and re-created in water. Other benefits include:

  • lower injury risk
  • less sweating
  • works your entire body
  • challenges your body in a very different way then it is accustom to
  • refreshing way to workout
  • water provides natural resistance so no equipment is needed
  • can increase/decrease intensity (difficulty) simply by alternating between shallow and deep areas
  • good low-impact exercise choice for pregnant women
  • reduces joint compression and downward gravity pull (in other words – easier on the joints)
  • even people who can’t exercise on land can often exercise in the water
  • excellent rehabilitation exercise for people recovering from an injury
  • less stress on bones and muscles
  • great option for people with arthritis

Plus, water workouts also provide a fun and more socially interactive exercise option. For example, parents can enjoy time at the pool with their children while also fitting in some of their weekly workout sessions. Aquatic aerobic classes also provide a social, group-setting alternative.

Still not convinced that an aquatic workout will challenge your body as well as some of the more common workouts like walking or jogging. Well, try some of the sample exercise below and you’ll probably quickly change your mind. But, don’t judge the workout solely on how high your heart rate gets. Keep in mind that swimmers generate a slightly lower heart rate when compared to cyclists and runners. This does not imply that they aren’t working as hard. Experts equate the lower heart rate partially to the effect of immersion in a relatively cool environment. So, keep this in mind when determining your target heart rate, which may be 10 beats per minute lower when in the water. Also, don’t make the mistake of assuming you are well hydrated just because your body is submerged in water. You still need to drink about ½ a cup of water about every 20 minutes of exercise.

Swim/Walk interval laps: Swim 1-2 laps (use any swim form you prefer: crawl, backstroke, etc). Walk 1-2 laps in the pool. Repeat sequence 4-6 times.

Water Squats: Stand in the water with feet about hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly as you push your hips back as if you are sitting on a chair. Keep your knees behind your toes. Return to start position and repeat. The water provides extra resistance and makes this move more challenging.

Wave Jumps (for those with access to the ocean or a wave-simulator): Stand in knee-deep or less water. Each time a wave comes attempt to jump over it. Note: this is a more advanced move that requires good balance and strong swimming skills. Do not attempt this move unless you have experience swimming in waves.

Double Calories Burned

There is no need for people to run five miles before breakfast. A healthier more focused you is within five minutes reach! Also there are other benefits of doing something physical upon rising in the morning. Breathing deeply and moving your body first thing not only allows you to burn more calories throughout the day but it also puts you in a better mood as well as obviously going a long way to providing yourself with better health.

In short, you will be more inclined to take the day by the “scruff of the neck”, so to speak, and to want to pursue goals and objectives if you are fully awake and energised for the day.

Below are listed some of the major benefits of doing something active each morning. Remember them when you think it is “too much effort!”.

1.Increased calorie burn throughout the day.

2.Higher energy levels.

3.Better health and fitness.

4.Due to point number three, a higher chance of living a longer more abundant life.

5.An increased likelihood that you will want to reach and achieve targets and ambitions in your life due to feeling positive and energised through exercise.

Remember, then, that success in fitness, or indeed in any area of life, is so often dictated by what you do (or do not do) each and every day for as little as five minutes at a time!

Fitness Focus

Principle #1 Move into the Fear.

“Train you mind to believe no mountain is too high or any goal is too difficult to attain,” Tom tells me. Basically, it’s all about meeting your fears and facing them head-on.

In this principle, aim to recognize your fears, acknowledge them and then move through them. Ask yourself what is it that makes you uncomfortable? Have you let yourself get out of shape and are afraid you’ll never get back? Do you have an injury that’s caused you to be afraid of your body?

If you can visualize creatively, then you can put your fears in check. See your self as you’d like to be. Remember: your body loves you and has the potential to heal itself to perfection. Your only job is to trust it and listen.

Q: What is your body saying to you?

Principle #2 Trust Your Intuition.

It is important when overcoming obstacles and learning to break through barriers that you begin to listen to the still small voice of your body. In most cases, we all want the comfort of having someone telling us what we can and cannot do. However, our highest truth lies within us. This is not to say that the good opinion of others is not important, but ultimately the decision making comes from within.

When facing a challenge or an obstacle look to how you feel. What are your instincts telling you? Often it is simply your instinct that will move you into a new mindset and raise your consciousness.

“I wasn’t about to let the wheelchair stand in my way,” Tom tells me. In fact, he says he had to merely change his perspective about it. He says he first had to learn about what his restrictions were then, create a boundary for himself. “We all have boundaries,” he tells me. “Regardless if a person can walk or not, obstacles are as unique as people themselves. Therefore, it’s first best to know your boundaries.”

Next, Tom tells me he aims to meet those boundaries.

“I first reach as high as I can within the confines of what I am able to do. Whether it be more sets, reps, or greater endurance, I allow myself as much time as necessary to accomplish my small goals. It always surprises me, with small steps, how quickly I can reach a Big goal.”

Principle #3 Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

What then, about fear? I wanted to know. If we move into the fear and meet it eye to eye what if fear meets us there? “So,” I asked Tom: “are you ever afraid?

“After 19 operations in my life, I’ve really come to terms with fear,” he says. “It really comes down to our most primal fear; fear of death. Once you realize that death is all part of the divine plan, it’s liberating, you can let it go and, instead, choose how to live. So instead of being afraid of death I decided to choose how to live.”

So what’s the take away message? Talking to Tom, I’m reminded of the poem by Dylan Thomas who said: “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” It seems appropriate here. The bottom line: Staying afraid often keeps us from truly living.

Tom reminds me that a positive attitude is key, “Life is all about attitude.” He also says he could let fear beat him down, yet he doesn’t. “I wouldn’t want to miss being part of tomorrow,” he concludes.

That said, what fears are getting in your way? Make today the right time to face them.

In conclusion: Life Beyond The Boundaries.

When you’ve faced your fears and pushed your boundaries to the edges, what then? I wanted to know.

Tom smiles. “Find a new mountain to climb,” he says matter-of-factly. “It’s what makes life fun. I know I have considerations. I know that there will be days that I’ll need to stay in bed and rest while my braces are getting tuned up. It’s those times when I am with my thoughts that I decide what I am going to set my sights on.”

Author’s Note: In my personal quest to live beyond the boundaries I’ve chosen Tom as my role model (lucky for me, he’s my brother). We so often look to the media for these sources and so often they are illusory. There are “real” people everywhere doing great things…look around you; angels are everywhere! Learn from them. Choose someone you look up to, admire or of whom you appreciate their values. Set goals, climb mountains! Set intention in motion and enjoy the healthy process.

Salsa Dancing for Fitness

Salsa music first appeared in the 1960s as a rhythmic fusion, birthed in the cultural melting pot of New York City. Combining Cuban Son with Guaracha, Montuno and Guaguanco, it also has a strong Puerto Rican Plena, Bomba and American jazz influence that mellows the smoking urban sound.

Salsa’s popularity began to percolate beyond the borders of the Latin neighborhoods in the early Seventies, spreading into New York’s ballrooms and dance halls. Although somewhat formulized when practiced by those who favor profession competitions, salsa dancing in its most traditional form is typically spontaneous and extremely energetic. Dance movements alternate between the very slow and the furious, an embodiment of its lively musical style.

From a strictly athletic point of view, a night of dancing is a superb workout. It merges aerobic and anaerobic training, working your stamina and leg strength. Any kind of dancing is a great way to build the perfect body shape. The continual movements build up aerobic stamina while steadily burning calories over the course of the evening. This helps to strengthen and tone your legs at the same time you lose weight. But salsa excels at this.

Experts say that dancing salsa can burn up to 10 calories a minute, without the negative side effects of high impact exercises such as running. You can learn salsa dancing in the privacy of your home or in a studio, with or without a partner and it’s a fitness program that can easily be integrated into your social life. By using salsa dancing to get fit, you will not only look great, but you’ll have no excuse not to get out more and improve your social life.

The sudden bursts of frenzied dancing in Salsa also can help to improve the anaerobic fitness essential to sports like sprinting, swimming and basketball. Equally important to the aerobic paybacks are the improvements in flexibility and dexterity, a commonly overlooked facet of fitness. Elasticity from dancing will help your swiftness, power and co-ordination by growing your overall range of motion.

Abdominal Exercises

Probably the simplest, and most popular, abdominal exercise is the crunch. Lying on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat will get your crunch started. Some people like to place their fingertips to the sides of the head, just behind the ears, while others like to do crunches with their arms crossed over their chest. Either way, the next step is to push your lower back to the floor and hold that while you crunch your abdominal muscles to lift your shoulders a few inches off the floor.

To mix things up a bit, you could add an exercise ball to your crunch. You will want to sit on the exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly let the ball roll as you lie back until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Then you will contract your abs, raising your torso no more than 45 degrees. The exercise ball is a lot of fun and can really help keep you from getting too bored with your usual abdominal exercises.

Whichever abdominal exercises you determine to be the best route to six pack city, don’t overdo it and end up having to postpone your trip. You should always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program and of course you can’t forget to stretch.

About Cross Training

In order to maintain the effectiveness of your workouts over the long term, you have to employ a concept known as cross training. Although there is no hard and fast definition of cross training, the basic idea is that you continually change your exercise program to work both your muscular and your cardiovascular systems in a variety of ways, forcing your body to adapt to a new stimulus. Remember that the whole idea behind exercise is to make your body do things that it is not used to doing. In response to that effort, your body naturally adapts in order to meet the changing energy demands of the activities that you engage in. This process happens with your muscles, as well as with your heart, lungs, and circulatory system – collectively known as the cardiovascular system. To ensure you get the most out of your cross training efforts, you should make changes to the activities that challenge your muscles as well as your cardiovascular system.

Challenging Your Muscles

When you are putting together the muscular training part of your exercise program, remember that the primary mission of the activities is to challenge your muscles and connective tissues – tendons and ligaments – beyond their normal boundaries. For example, if you were to pick up a suitcase that only weighed 5 pounds, it would probably not be very difficult for you. However, if that same suitcase had 50 pounds worth of items inside, it would be significantly more difficult to pick up and carry. In response to that increased demand, your body would recruit additional muscle fibers to assist with the work, and in some cases would even recruit a different type of muscle fiber. Although we won’t get into the details about the different types of muscle fibers in the human body, you do want to take away the fact that the number and type of muscle fibers recruited for any given task is proportionate directly to the difficulty of the task.

Let’s apply this concept to weight training – or resistance training, as it is often called. If you were going to do a basic bicep curl with 5 pounds, your body would engage a certain number and type of muscle fibers. Doing exactly the same exercise with a more challenging weight would cause your body to need additional resources in order to handle the increased demand. However, is that only true of picking up a heavier weight? What would happen if you used the same weight, but did a higher number of repetitions? The same basic concept applies – your body will recruit additional resources in order to accomplish the task. What can be determined from that fact is that in order to change the stimulus on your body, two easy ways to do so are are to increase the weight and/or increase the number of repetitions.

However, there are other ways to challenge a particular muscle group in addition to simply adding weight or repetitions. What about changing the position of your body when you do the exercise? Using the same example as above – the bicep curl – most people do the basic version of that exercise standing up, with their arms extended, elbows at the side, and palms facing forward. What if you were to do the same exact movement, only this time, you turn your palms to face the center of your body throughout the entire exercise? Do you see how that would change the stimulus? You would still be engaging the biceps of your upper arm, but you would also engage the muscles of your forearms in a different way, just because of the position of your palms.

Further, what if you were to change the speed at which you did the exercise? Most resistance exercises should be done as a basic count of 2 seconds during the initial phase (also known as the concentric phase), and then a count of 3 to 4 seconds during the second phase of the movement (known as the eccentric phase). What if you were to reverse that process? Count to 4 during phase one, and only count to 2 during phase two. Do you think your body would need to react differently to handle the different stress? Of course!

Triathalon Racing

It will not be easy, but if you stick to it, you can overcome all the obstacles in your way.

Triathalon racing is a complex sport that just looks easy. What you don’t know is that there was a lot of preparation for the average triathlete

The run. The swim. And, the biking.

These three aspects of triathalon racing will need to be carefully understood and developed.

You will need to first prepare your mind for the struggle that lies ahead.

You will then need to prepare your body and make it as nutritiously sound as can be.

Then, you will need to condition it to the elements that you will test it on. How do you do all of these things?

Training and coaching. Be prepared to spend a lot of energy and time if your goal is to be competitive, but even if your desire is just to take part in triathalons and stay healthy this still is true.

It starts at the beginning. You will need to shed those extra pounds and become a lean, muscled body.

Get the proper coaching. If not a physical trainer there are clubs to join and books to read that will assist your training.

You will need to learn how to eat the right foods to fuel your body when you need it the most.

Knowing when to eat the carbs and when to eat the protein is important, ie. Consuming the proper nutritution to help you train and race.

The good news is that triathalon racing is a sport in which you can constantly push yourself and training for, plus you end up in great shape and you generate some great friendships.

You can find outstanding training programs and even the best triathlon gear right online.

Exercise Plateau Breakers

Take an Active Rest

If you have hit a plateau, it may be time for an active rest. Take a week off from structured exercise, and instead take leisurely walks, play ball with the kids, or take a yoga class. Active rest rejuvenates the mind and the body and allows for overworked muscles to rest and rebuild. You will return to exercise stronger and ready for new challenges.

Time to Eat

As you increase your fitness level, your body’s metabolism may increase and so will your calorie needs. If you hit a plateau, evaluate how much you are eating. You may need to eat more than you have in the past for your body to continue to increase its fitness level. If you find you are often hungry, this is a clear sign you need to eat more to sustain your exercise program.

Mix it Up

If you do not vary your workout routine your body will eventually run on cruise control, and you will experience a plateau. Try new cardiovascular activities, or use free weights if you always use machines for strength training. Changes in your routine will surprise the body and force it to adapt, bringing you to new levels of fitness.

Different Day, Different Intensity

Varying your activities, or cross-training is important to avoid or break through a plateau. While cross-training the type of activity is often recommended, it is also important to cross-train the intensity of your workouts. Specify different days of the week as low, moderate or high-intensity days. Try interval training work at a low intensity for a couple of minutes and increase to a high intensity for a couple of minutes, and repeat. If you use a heart rate monitor, be sure your average heart rate for your exercise sessions vary from day to day.

Sleep It Off

Be sure you are getting enough sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep for your body will allow time for your muscles to recover from exercise. This will ensure that you can come to your next exercise session with enough energy and at full strength to take on a challenging workout.

If you are still frustrated, find inspiration in the story of Chris Witty, winner of the Gold Medal in 1000 meter speed skating in the 1998 Winter Olympics. A month before she was to compete in the Olympics, she was diagnosed with mononucleosis. Of course she had to cut back on training, and at the time that she should have been preparing to peak for competition. Not only did she win the Gold Medal, which nobody expected, she broke the world record! Imagine what a little rest might do for your workouts!

Arthritis Exercise

For your upper back, you can stand upright in front of a table, then lean over and place your hands on the table and tuck your chin back toward your collarbone. Once positioned as such, lift your upper back upward and simultaneously take a deep breath. Hold that position for 5-10 seconds and then relax while exhaling. While doing this, lower your spine slowly as you move both shoulder blades forward as if toward each other. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions.

For the shoulders and middle back, start again from an upright position standing as straight as you can, reach back and lock the fingers of both hands together. Breathe slowly and deeply and lift upward with your shoulders while at the same time, exhaling. Be sure to keep your chest up and your chin in. Repeat this for about 10-15 sets.

For the shoulders and upper chest, choose a free corner of the room to stand in and place your hands on the opposite sides of the corner. Take a step back about 18 inches from the corner. You now should be facing the corner directly with your hands on both of the walls with your body some distance from the wall itself. Keeping your chest up after inhaling, lean in toward the corner while exhaling. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 sets.

Whatever exercise program you choose, be sure to breathe properly when exercising. Oxygenation is important to any exercise regimen as it promotes a healthy heart rate and reduces fatigue; additionally oxygenation helps circulation, which is vital to achieving the flexibility and strength that you are trying to achieve in battling arthritis. Also, listen to your body. It is natural to feel a little fatigue and soreness when starting a new exercise regimen, However if the pain of soreness persists for more than one hour, or you have a decrease in mobility that lasts longer than an hour, then the regimen should be reduced until the soreness desists. Also, look for signs of increased swelling of joints or any persistent increase of weakness; these are signs of activities that are too strenuous and a reduction in activity will be necessary. Just remember to take all new exercise regimens slowly at the start. The idea is to increase flexibility not train for the Olympics.