The Benefits Of Aerobic Exercise

[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!

As always, check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine!

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Changing with the Season

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
The cooler temperatures of late summer bring new opportunities and new challenges for expanding our fitness programs. The 5 to 10 mile bike ride that seemed so easy suddenly becomes an endurance trek when riding into the wind. Meanwhile, cooler weather energizes your runs, pushing you further. Soon children and many young adults will be returning to school and our professional lives shift into high gear. This period of changing seasons is a good time to let that excitement extend into our personal lives and workout regimens.
 
Exercise and nutrition, of course, are the keys to positive health outcomes. Try these tips to get started.
 
• Expand your aerobic regimen. Aerobic exercise reduces health risks, helps you lose or maintain weight and is great for the heart. Engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity per week — 11 or 22 minutes a day. Aerobic exercises include walking, running, cycling, swimming, aerobic classes, hiking, and stair climbing, among other things. Work up a sweat and get your heart pumping!
 
• Don’t forget weight training! Regular resistance training will maximize fat loss while boosting bone density. It improves posture, develops muscle tone, and even slows down the aging process!
 
• Stay active throughout the day. Walk a few extra blocks, take the stairs instead of the elevator, try dancing through your household chores! The calories you burn will really make a difference!
 
• Add some interval training to your aerobic routines! Start small. Warm up by walking at a moderately brisk rate for five minutes. After warming up, alternate walking briskly for four blocks with a block of power walking; repeat 6 times. You can apply the same method to biking or running. It’s a great way to challenge yourself, and you’ll see the results quickly!
 
• Drink at least eight glasses of water every day! The weather may be cooler, but your body still needs to be hydrated!
 
• Eat small meals throughout the day. Your appetite increases in cooler weather; eating smaller meals or snacks every two to three hours during the day will help suppress hunger and will help control your appetite and maintain a balanced blood sugar level throughout the day. Think a hand full of nuts, a piece of fruit or a salad!
 
• Eat healthy! Consume five helpings of vegetables and three fruit servings every day. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient rich with high water content and low fat and calories overhead. Fill up with fruits and vegetables and you won’t have room for the junk food! Choose healthy proteins and concentrate on using only healthy monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
 
• Keep a daily fitness journal. Taking note of the food you eat and your daily fitness regimen will help you make better fitness and nutrition choices.
 
Break your personal goals down into daily goals. Your long-term goal may be to lose 20 pounds, or run a marathon. Your daily goals could be to exercise for 20 minutes, drink 8 glasses of water and eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables or add a block onto your running regimen. If you don’t meet all the goals one day, pick it up again the next … daily goals give your results you can measure and will help you achieve your long term goals!
 
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For a Healthy Heart

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We don’t need to be convinced about the importance of a healthy heart. Every year approximately one of every four deaths — 600,000 people — in the United States are the result of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and a major cause of disability around the world. We are all at risk, therefore it is absolutely vital that we understand that foods we eat and the amount of activity we take part in dramatically affects the overall health of our heart. You can prevent and may even reverse heart disease!
 
Research has shown that regular training can help fend off the major heart attacks by improving triglyceride counts, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, glucose metabolism, and reducing body fat. Strength training, aerobic exercise, and flexibility training work together to build a healthy, strong heart.
 
Strength training. Researchers from Harvard studied 44,000 men and found that those who lifted weights for 30 minutes or more a week reduced their risk of heart disease by 23 per cent. Strength training conditions your heart to work better when you have to lift and carry heavy objects, so your blood pressure and heart rate are lower during everyday chores.
 
Aerobic exercise. Aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise is an activity that increases breath rates and spurs deep breathing. It includes walking, running, swimming, and dancing. Aerobic machines in gyms include rowing machines, treadmills, stepper and elliptical trainers. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart muscle by improving the body’s ability to extract oxygen from the blood for the body’s use while improving metabolism of fats and carbohydrates to energy.
 
Flexibility training. Stretching helps relax and lengthen your muscles, encourages improved blood flow, and helps to keep you supple so you can move more easily. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology, found that while regular exercisers generally have been found to have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, participants who could not reach to or beyond their toes in the sit-and-stretch test were more likely than their flexible peers to have higher systolic blood pressure! Another recent study found that middle-age and older adults who undertook a stretching exercise regimen significantly improved the flexibility of their carotid artery, which carries oxygen-rich blood to the brain!
 
Small changes to your diet is another important and effective way to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
 
• Reduce fat consumption, especially saturated and trans-fats.
• Eat more fruit and vegetables, wholegrain food and soluble fiber.
• Reduce salt to maintain lower blood pressure.
• Grill, bake or steam food rather than frying.
• Limit intake of trans-fats from processed food.
• Eat at least two portions of omega-3 rich fish, such as salmon, each week.
 
If you are overweight, you may increase the risk of heart disease as much as eighty percent! Eat a healthy diet and , take regular exercise, and you’ll live healthy, strong and long!
 
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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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Fall Fitness

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
As summer turns to fall changes naturally occur to your diet and activities. Take control of those changes and make some positive additions to your lifestyle. Autumn is also a season of practicality and structure after the freedom of summer so take advantage of this period to create regimen that you can stick to!
 
Exercise and nutrition, of course, are the keys to positive health outcomes. Try these tips to get started.
 
• Start — or restart — an aerobic regimen. Aerobic exercise reduces health risks, helps you lose or maintain weight and is great for the heart. Healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity per week, that averages out to between 11 and 22 minutes a day, depending on intensity. Aerobic exercises include walking, running, cycling, swimming, aerobic classes, hiking, and stair climbing, among other things. Work up a sweat and get your heart pumping!
 
• Add some resistance training to your fitness program! Regular resistance training maximizes fat loss, boosts bone density, improves posture, develops muscle tone, and even slows down the aging process.
 
• Be more active throughout the day. Walk a few extra blocks, take the stairs, try dancing while you vacuum! The calories you burn will really make a difference!
 
• Drink at least eight glasses of water every day! The weather may be cooler, but your body still needs to be hydrated! Your body doesn’t function at its optimal level when dehydrated.
 
• Eat small meals throughout the day. Your appetite increases in cooler weather; eating smaller meals or snacks every two to three hours during the day will help suppress hunger and will help control your appetite and maintain a balanced blood sugar level throughout the day.
 
• Eat healthy! Consume five helpings of vegetables and three fruit servings every day. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient rich with high water content and low fat and calories overhead. Fill up with fruits and vegetables and you won’t have room for the junk food!
 
• Keep a daily fitness journal. Taking note of the food you eat and your workouts will help you make better fitness and nutrition choices.
 
Finally, commit yourself to completing daily tasks that will help reach your long-term personal goal. Your long term goal may be to lose 20 pounds, your daily goals could be to exercise for 20 minutes, drink 8 glasses of water and eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables. If you don’t meet all the goals one day, don’t give up … those daily goals go a long way towards achieving your final goal!
 
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