Belly Fat and Your Health

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Awareness of the health risks brought on by belly fat — visceral fat that expands in deep into the abdomen among vital organs — has increased significantly since 2005 when only forty percent of Americans knew of the increased dangers posed by growing waistlines. Belly fat is a primary symptom for metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors that increase the risks of heart disease and stroke. Research shows that visceral (belly) fat breaks down into fatty acids which then moves quickly into the liver and into muscle. It increases the risks of type 2 diabetes and heart disease and raises the production of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides.
 
There are, of course, steps you can take to reduce that extra belly fat and reverse the effects it has on your health!
 
• Aerobics. Visceral fat reacts strongly to aerobic exercise. Get your heartrate up! A study published in the American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism found that participants who did aerobic exercise lost 20 times as much visceral fat as those who only lifted weights! Don’t drop that strength training though! A number of studies have linked greater muscle strength and muscle mass to lower rates of metabolic syndrome, because it increase the body’s resting metabolic rate.
 
• Eat you protein. Protein builds and preserves lean muscle tissue and uses a higher number of calories for digestion, which helps burn off that fat! Protein also helps ward off hunger, helping the battle against extra snacking.
 
• Watch Your Fats. Research from Uppsala University demonstrated that saturated fat builds more fat and less muscle than polyunsaturated fat. The study, published in the journal Diabetes, found that the fat composition of food we eat determines where the fat will be stored in our bodies. Saturated fat also negatively effects cholesterol levels in the blood and raises the risk of cardiovascular disease! Add nuts, seeds, and fish to your daily nutritional regimen!
 
• Sleep! Try to sleep eight hours per day. According to a 2010 Wake Forest University study, sleeping five hours or less each day increases visceral fat levels.
 
• Green Tea. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010 found that the moderate exercisers who consumed green tea were more likely to lose abdominal fat while exercising than those who didn’t — thanks to the antioxidants found in green tea called catechins.
 
Take these five steps to heart … you’ll look better, and you’ll be A LOT HEALTHIER!
 
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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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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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