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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Lost In TheBeat

The Synergy of fitness and music.
Running shoes? Check. Gym shorts? Check. T-shirt and hoodie? Check. Headphones? Headphones? Oh PLEASE tell me I brought my headphones. Of course not. A very disheartening feeling, knowing I’d made it all the way to the gym and forgotten a crucial piece of workout equipment. Yes, I consider headphones workout equipment, but I’m not the only one. Not by a long shot. At my University fitness center, every head was sandwiched between a pair of the things. And not just earbuds. We’d use anything we had available to us to make sure we could jam while working out, regardless of circumstances. Seeing someone struggling to keep a huge pair of studioesque over-ears from bouncing off their head on the treadmill was entertaining, at the very least. If nothing else, it further illustrated to me the intimate relationship between music and exercise.
Whether we’re exercising or not, music moves us, figuratively and literally. Music doesn’t just compel us to dance, it lends us energy. Peace when we’re stressed. Stress when we’re too peaceful (heavy metal, anyone?). Those who listen to music while working out know that it doesn’t simply help you pass the time. It gives you the second wind to run that extra mile, or the emotional power to fuel three more repetitions when you thought you’d given up. Music helps us find strength in ourselves. And just as people’s personalities, workouts, and lives are varied and organic, so is music. Subtle nuances give your favorite songs and artists their flavor and character. For this reason, different music is better for different workouts and everyone has their own cup of tea, so to speak. I recall an instance where a dedicated amateur bodybuilder dropped his phone pulling his headphone cord out, immediately filling the freeweights section with Korean pop music. Go figure.
The point is, better sound can capture those elements of our favorite music that motivate and energize us. As exercise continues to gain popularity in the US of A, streaming music companies compile workout playlists for users, and audio tech companies like Koss have started creating sweat-proof earphones designed to withstand drastic movement and stay on your noggin, like the KSC32i FitClips. “Music is inspirational; getting lost in the right song can really take you to the next level” says Michael J. Koss Jr. of Koss Corporation. “We’ve created a line of headphones specifically crafted for the active music lover.”
Every pair has been delivering the excitement of a live performance since 1958, when John C. Koss invented personal listening with the world’s first SP/3 Stereophone. Now, that quality sound can carry you through your next workout. Oh, and the KSC 32i’s come in several colors, including coral pink. For you, K-pop guy.
-Fitness Fanatic
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Walking to a Healthy Future

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
As the temperatures become milder and spring weather calls us to enjoy the world around us, we begin our summer fittness routines … and what better way to kick off the season than with daily walks! Walking is a great, low-impact exercise that comfortably takes you into a highly improved level of fitness. It’s a simple, everyday activity for most people and offers many health benefits. If you’re looking for a convenient way to improve your health, walking may be the answer.
What can walking do for you? A lot! Maybe these benefits will encourage you to go out for a walk today!
• Reduce symptoms of depression. In one study, walking for 30 minutes, three to five times per week for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of depression by 47%.
• Reduce the risk of colon cancer. Many studies have shown that exercise can prevent colon cancer. Exercise also has been shown to improve the quality of life and reduce mortality for colon cancer patients .
• Prevent type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program reports that walking 150 minutes per week and losing just 7% of your body weight can reduce the risk of diabetes by 58%. Pretty sweet!
• Improve brain function. Researchers found that women who walked at an easy pace (2 miles per hour) at least 1 1/2 hours per week had significantly better cognitive function and less cognitive decline than women who walked less than 40 minutes per week at the same pace. Literally food for thought!
• Strengthen the heart. Mortality rates among retired men who walked less than one mile per day were nearly twice that among those who walked more than two miles per day in one study. Women in the Nurse’s Health Study who walked three hours or more per week reduced their risk of a heart attack or other coronary event by 35% compared with women who did not walk.
• Strengthen bones. Studies have indicated that postmenopausal women who walk approximately one mile each day have higher whole-body bone density than women who walk shorter distances
• Improve overall fitness. Walking three times a week for 30 minutes at a time can significantly increase cardiorespiratory fitness. Shorter walks improve cardiorespiratory health, too! A study of sedentary women concluded that short brisk walks — three 10-minute walks per day – were as effective in decreasing body fatness as long bouts and offered similar overall fitness.
Walking is the most popular activity among members of the National Weight Control Registry. The NWCR is a list of 5,000 men and women who have maintained a 30-pound weight loss for a minimum of one year. The current average weight loss among NWCR members is 60 pounds and the average time that loss has been maintained is about five years!
The Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes or more of accumulated moderate intensity physical activity on five or more days per week to improve health and fitness. Accumulated means you can do it in shorter routines throughout the day. Moderate intensity is indicated by a feeling of warmth and being slightly out of breath. Walking counts!
It’s easy to incorporate walking into your day and accumulate 30 minutes.
• Park your car farther from the store.
• Do you commute? Get off the bus a stop earlier, if you drive, park farther away from the building.
• Walk to pick up your lunch, or the newspaper.
• Walk for errands like picking up a gallon of milk or running to the post office instead of driving short distances.
• Finally, keep your walking shoes handy, and take a quick walk to relieve that stress instead of an aspirin!
If you’re beginning a walking routine for the first time, make reasonable goals to help motivate yourself. Try a daily ten minute walk and increase by a few minutes each week, you’ll be taking 30 minute walks in no time!
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Getting Fit for Summer Sports

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Spring fever has hit! That means many of you are looking forward to heading outside to hit the golf course, the basketball court, the baseball or soccer field. But before you step one foot out on the green, court or field are you ready? Yes I know you’re ready mentally, but what about physically? Are you in shape for summer sports? This is very important especially for people who have been cooped up inside all winter.
Start an Exercise Program-Now! The first thing you need to do before you participate in any sport is make sure you are working out on a regular basis. A good regular exercise program will increase your physical fitness and help reduce the chance of injuring yourself. Your program should include strength training and cardiovascular exercise. Then you can move on to more intense conditioning with plyometrics.
Make the most our of your cardiovascular exercise program you should keep your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time. (see chart below) The best way to do that is through repetitive activities such as walking, jogging, cycling or using machines such as the elliptical trainer or a stepper. Use the F.I.T. (Frequency, Intensity, Time) principle to determine what is best for you. (see chart below)
• Frequency: You should try to do cardio at least 3-5 times each week.
• Intensity: You should strive to maintain a target heart rate between 70 and 80% of your max heart rate. Use the formula below to determine your range.
• Time: Each of your cardiovascular workouts should last for 30 to 60 minutes or more.

220 – Age = Max HR
Max HR x .7 = Low end of range
Max HR x .8 = High end of range
The second part of your exercise routine should be resistance training. This is the best way to build muscle. Try to do two to three sets of 10-15 repetitions for each muscle group.
Now if you want to put some power behind your conditioning, try plyometrics. This type of exercise is used by many athletes to increase their speed and strength. The exercises were developed for Olympic competitors to make a muscle reach full movement as quickly as possible. During each exercise your muscle will reach its concentric contraction (muscle shortens) immediately followed by an eccentric contraction (muscle lengthens). Then the force of each exercise will increase. Here are some examples of lower body and upper body plyometric exercises.
Lower Body:
• Drop Jumping- For this exercise you will drop-not jump-to the ground from a raised platform and them immediately jump up. The drop down gives the pre-stretch to the leg muscles, the intense jump up causes the concentric contraction. The exercise is more effective the faster you do it-meaning the shorter your feet are on the ground. Start slow and then build up to 3 sets of 10 drops.
• Bounding- This exercise will help with your speed. Push off with your left foot and bring the left leg forward. Your knee should be bent and thigh parallel to the ground. At the same time you’ll reach forward with your right arm. As the left leg comes through, the right leg extends back and remains extended for the duration of the push-off. Hold this extended stride for a brief time, then land on your left foot. Make sure you’re landing flat footed and you feel the energy pumping through your leg. The right leg then drives through to a forward bent position, the left arm reaches forward and the left leg extends backward. Think of it as a slow, exaggerated run. You want to make sure each stride is long and cover as much distance as possible. Do 1 to 3 sets covering 30 to 40 meters each set.
• Hurdle hopping- Jump forward over barriers or hurdles with your feet together. The movement should come from your hips and knees. Another form is with one leg. Push off with the leg you are standing on and jump forward, landing on the same leg, then immediately jump again. Do one leg then switch and do the same thing with the other leg. Do 1 to 3 sets jumping 6 to 8 hurdles each set.
• Jumping- With a box in front of you, start in a deep squat with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep you arms behind your head and jump onto the box. Stay in the squat position and then jump off. Do 1 to 3 sets jumping up on the box 6 to 8 times per set. You can also jump without a box. Start in the standing position, then jump up grab both knees as they come up to your chest and return to the standing position-then immediately jump up again. Do 1 to 3 sets with 5 to 10 repetitions per set.
Upper Body:
• Clap push-ups- Begin in the push up position then lower your chest to the floor, explosively push upward to cause your hands to leave the floor, clap and put your hands back on the floor, then immediately explode upward. Do 10 repetitions.
• Medicine Ball- Lie on the ground face up, a partner drops the ball, you catch it and immediately throw it back up to your partner who drops it again. Do 10 repetitions.
Specificity is key! Think of the movements you perform in your sport and condition your body properly. If you’re a basketball player jumping and bounding plyometrics are areas you should concentrate on. For golf, upper body plyometrics and stretching are important. But remember, it takes overall full body conditioning to avoid a sport injury.
Start your program now to be ready for the fun and games this summer.
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Expand Your Fitness Regimen

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Expanding the variety while focusing on the quality of your fitness regimen is more important than adding on extra hours in the gym according to new research recently published in the The Journal of Applied Physiology. The study was authored by Paul J. Arciero DPE, the director of the Human Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratory at Skidmore College.
The sixteen-week study included fifty-seven participants, 36 women and 21 men, between the ages of 35 and 57 years old. The participants were obese or overweight and exercised less than 60 minutes each week. Participants were then randomly separated into three groups. One group was sedentary throughout the study, one group did intense resistance training four times per week, while the third group’s training sessions included resistance, interval sprints, stretching, and endurance exercises. All included the same amount of whey protein in their nutrition regimens.
At the end of the study all participants demonstrated a decrease in body fat, which is attributed to the addition of the whey protein to their diets. However, the group that followed the varied, multidimensional regimen had significantly more health improvements than the other two groups — the largest reduction in body weight, total fat and abdominal fat mass, smaller waist circumference, healthier blood glucose levels, and the largest increase in lean body mass.
This study indicates why you round out your fitness routine with:
• Resistance exercise or strength training to increase the strength and mass of muscles, bone strength and metabolism.
• Sprint interval workouts to help build endurance, increase your anaerobic threshold and burn more calories and fat both during and after your workout.
• Stretching exercises increase flexibility and improve the range of motion of joints.
• Endurance (aerobic) exercise to increase your breathing and heart rate and keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy while improving overall fitness.
A well-rounded exercise regimen can help you maintain interest in your fitness program while preventing injuries that can occur from overuse of the same muscles. Combine the four basic types of exercise in your fitness regimen; you’ll notice the difference … and feel it!
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Brain Workout

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
The benefits of exercise for brain health have long been accepted, but new research just added a big item to the long list of bonuses for the brain from physical fitness!
We know that the benefits of physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise, have effects on brain functions. A study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Studies has shown that even 20 minutes of exercise will improve information processing and memory functions. Exercise increases heart rate and pumps more oxygen to the brain. It aids the release of a number of hormones which aid in and provide a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells. Exercise also stimulates the brain by boosting the growth of new connections between cells in cortical areas. Researchers also found that the antidepressant-like effects associated with “runner’s high” is caused by a drop in stress hormones which is associated with added cell growth in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory. This increase in brain activity increases the brain’s need for food.
Scientists used to believe that the brain absorbed glucose from the blood, but about 10 years ago, they found specialized cells in the brain, known as astrocytes, that act as support cells for neurons and contain stores of glycogen, or carbohydrates. Glycogen turned out to be critical for the health of cells throughout the brain. However, there was no way to measure the levels of the glycogen, in order to understand how it works to support brain health.
This spurred researchers to develop a method that could measure how much brain glycogen uses. Scientists at the Laboratory of Biochemistry and Neuroscience at the University of Tsukuba gathered two groups of adult male rats. One group was put on a daily treadmill running program, while the other group was sedentary for the same period of time each day. They discovered that prolonged exercise significantly lowered the brain’s stores of energy, particularly in the areas of the brain that are involved in thinking, memory, and movement. After a single session on the treadmill, the animals were allowed to rest and feed, then their brain glycogen levels were studied. The scientists found that the levels of glycogen had not only been restored to what they had been before the workout, but had increased by as much as a 60 percent in the frontal cortex and hippocampus. The astrocytes had overcompensated, resulting in a kind of brain carbo-loading. The levels returned to normal within about 24 hours.
However, when the animals continued the exercise program for four weeks, heightened levels became the new normal, with levels of glycogen showing substantial increases compared to the sedentary animals. These increases were especially notable in the parts of the brain critical to learning and memory formation — the cortex and the hippocampus. In other words, this energy balance affects how well the brain functions during exercise, and how well our thinking and memory work the rest of the time!
This is more proof of the overall importance of exercise for good health!
• Aerobic exercise is great for body and brain.
• Exercise in the morning before going to work. It prepares you for mental stresses of the day, and improves your reaction to complex situations.
• The best brain health workouts involve routines that integrate different parts of the brain such as coordination, rhythm, and strategy. Try a new activity that incorporates coordination along with cardiovascular exercise, such as a dance or zumba.
Keep these tips in mind when designing your fitness regimen. They give ‘work smarter’ a new meaning!
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Incline Walking

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Looking for a workout that will let you burn the maximum amount of calories in a minimum amount of time? Treadmill walking or walking up an incline might be the solution. The benefits are impressive!
• Increase Your Calorie Burn Rate. It’s simple, walk for 30 minutes at 4 miles per hour and you’ll burn 145 calories… raise the incline for the same distance and time and you’ll burn 345 calories!
• Improve Cardiovascular Health. Walking on an incline increases the workload on your system, and increases your the heart rate!
• Burn Fat. When you walk on an incline, your body uses a greater percentage of fat. Studies have shown that walking 3 miles per hour on an inclined raised between 16 and 18 percent will burn 70 percent more fat than running on a flat surface.
Treadmill walking on an incline works the muscles of the calves, hamstrings and glutes. For optimal benefits increase the incline fifteen percent or more!
Incline walking is stunningly effective! A one hundred and sixty pound man walking a treadmill at just two and a half miles per hour burns around four calories a minute. That burn amount surges up to seven calories a minute when walking up a ten percent grade and ten calories a minute when walking up a twenty percent grade! Help yourself succeed. Start off slowly and work your way up! If you use your treadmill effectively and gradually increase the incline, it could give you just the kind of lift you’ve been dreaming about to help shed those unwanted pounds!
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Winter Roots

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
The humble beet, often used as a colorful garnish on the table, is a terrific source of nutrients for your winter diet. Rich in natural sugar, sodium, sulphur, chlorine, iodine, copper, it’s also a terrific source of vitamins B1, B2, C and bioflavonoids. This tasteful root vegetable’s health benefits have been known for generations. A fibrous root, it’s also an excellent source of bulk fiber, and the fresh beet offers all this for 30-58 calories per cup! Are you interested yet? The beet is also high in folic acid, potassium, calcium and antioxidants, and that’s just the beet roots, the leafy beet greens can also be used for juicing, or cooking as you would any other green. In fact the beet greens contain significantly more iron, vitamin A, potassium and calcium than the roots!
Beets are not only delicious, they offer excellent health benefits:
• Detoxification – The Encyclopedia of Healing Juices states that the beet is a blood-building herb. It detoxifies blood and renews it with minerals and natural sugars.
• Fighting Cancer – Early research in Hungary indicated that beet juice slows the development of tumors. It’s thought that betaine, an amino acid in beet root, has significant anti-cancer properties. Studies show that beet juice inhibits formation of cancer-causing compounds and is protective against colon and stomach cancer.
• Blood Building – The high content of iron in beets regenerates and reactivates the red blood cells and supplies fresh oxygen to the body, while the copper content in assists in iron absorption, helping in the fight against anemia.
• Lowering Cholesterol – Beets help to keep bad cholesterol at bay. Studies show that eating beets on a regular basis can lower LDL cholesterol by as much as 30 percent.
• Regulating Blood Pressure – In a British study of 14 healthy volunteers, half drank 2 cups beet juice and half drank 2 cups of water within 30 minutes. Their blood pressure was checked every 15 minutes for one hour before and every 15 minutes for three hours after drinking the beet juice. They were also checked every hour for six hours with a final check at 24 hours after drinking the juice. The results were amazing! Compared with the water drinkers, blood pressure dropped one hour after the volunteers drank the beet juice. It reached its lowest point 2-1/2 to 3 hours after ingestion and continued to have an effect for up to 24 hours.
Roasted, boiled or juiced, beets are great winter superfood!
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Aerobic Fitness

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Aerobic exercise pumps oxygenated blood from the heart to working muscles. To accomplish that, it stimulates the heart and breathing rates throughout your exercise session. As a rule aerobic exercise can be light-to-medium intensity activities that can be performed for extended periods of time, such as walking, jogging or biking. Whatever your age, weight or athletic ability, aerobic activity is a health booster that gains efficiency as your body adapts and gets stronger and fitter!
What are the benefits offered by aerobic exercise?
• Reduces Fat: A study published in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism found that vigorous aerobic exercise such as jogging or brisk walking beats weight or resistance training for reducing belly and visceral fat.
• Increases Stamina: Increased stamina improves your overall physical health and the power to endure disease, fatigue, and illness.
• Protects the Brain: A new study from the University of Washington School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System finds that regular aerobic exercise can protect the brain and even improve cognitive performance in older adults showing signs of mental decline. It’s important to note that the study found that memory gains may take 6 months or longer to emerge.
• Boosts the Immune System: Aerobic exercise activates your immune system. This leaves you less susceptible to minor viral illnesses, such as colds and flu. Aerobic exercise may accomplish this by flushing bacteria out from the lungs, and may even flush out cancer-causing cells by increasing output of wastes, such as urine and sweat. It also sends antibodies and white blood cells through the body at a faster rate, allowing them to detect illnesses earlier than they might normally. Additionally, the temporary rise in body temperature may inhibit bacterial growth, allowing the body to fight the infection more effectively.
• Strengthens Bones: In a new study, step aerobics offered the greatest gains in leg, spine, and heel bone density, while hip bones health was heightened most with weight training.
• Reduces Health Risks: Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.
• Strengthens the Heart. Regular aerobic exercise increases the heart’s efficiency,leading to a reduced risk of developing heart disease. When a person is aerobically active, more capillaries develop as the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange between blood and cells increases. If for any reason an artery is damaged or blood flow is blocked, the blood can easily be rerouted to deliver the necessary oxygen.
• Increases Good Cholesterol, Burns the Bad: Research shows that moderate aerobic exercise increases the number of HDLs in the bloodstream and reduces the number of LDLs by increasing lipid metabolism. Like fat, cholesterol is a lipid that can be oxidized, or broken down, for energy.
• Supports Mental Health: Aerobic exercise relieves depression, and promotes relaxation. Exercise also slows down the release of stress-related hormones.
Remember, if you’ve been inactive for a long time or if you have a chronic health condition, talk to your doctor before you start. Begin slowly and build each day.Try walking five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening and add a few minutes each day. Pick up the pace and soon you’ll be enjoying all the benefits of regular aerobic activity!
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Cold Weather Workout Tips

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Winter weather can wreak havoc on your workout schedule, but don’t give up! That winter weight gain isn’t all tied to eating more or lack of exercise. New research shows how important exercise is … especially in the winter. In this study, researchers from the University of Colorado followed a group of twelve women and six men in both summer and winter. They discovered that their production of ATLPL (Adipose Tissue Lipoprotein Lipase), the chemical that promotes fat storage, almost doubles during the winter and dropped during the summer. They also found that the increase of muscle enzymes gained from exercising can help to counter the increase of ATLPL, and help the battle against those extra winter pounds.
Winter workouts carry their own dangers, here are a few tips to protect you on the coldest days.
• Wear layers. Insulate yourself against the wind and cold with a layered barrier rather than a single, bulky garment. The first layer that’s directly touching your skin should be a lightweight synthetic or polyester material. It will dry quickly and wick away moisture. The second layer should be wool or polyester fleece. The outermost layer — worn in the rain, snow, or wind — should be lighter weight and water-repellent to help you stay dry.
• Keep your head covered. It is believed that between 50 and 70 percent of body heat is lost when your head is unprotected in cold weather. Wearing a hat can help your body retain heat.
• Protect your feet and hands. Keeping hands and feet warm is vital. Your body concentrates on keeping your internal organs warm in cold weather. Gloves also help prevent skin damage and frostbite. To keep your feet warm, make sure your torso is properly insulated and keep feet dry with winter athletic socks that have an inner layer that moves moisture away from the skin to an outer absorbent layer.
• Wear a face mask or scarf in frigid temperatures. A loose layer over your nose and mouth can warm cold air before you inhale and protect your lungs.
• Drink Water. You don’t feel as sweaty as you do in the summer, but water is just as important in winter months. It even keeps you warm by helping the body retain heat!
• In extreme cold, which we’ve seen this winter, move your workout indoors to the gym. Can’t make it to the gym? Develop a workout regimen you can do at home, take the stairs at work or speed walk through the mall!
• Finally, consider some traditional warming foods. Ancient Chinese medicine advised adding fresh ginger, garlic and cayenne to your food as a way to boost the immune system! Eucalyptus and juniper also stimulate the circulation and help protect the immune system.
It may seem more difficult to exercise when the weather gets cold and days seem shorter, but it’s important to work against the natural increase in fat storage that occurs during the winter months!
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