Sleep

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Busy schedules, stress, family, and medical issues can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. Four common problems that arise from lack of needed sleep are depression, memory loss, weakened immune system, and a lower tolerance for pain. Now, recent research indicates that the health costs of sleep deprivation is greater than previously thought.
 
A recent study restricted a group of young men to four hours of sleep for six consecutive nights. After the sixth night, researchers found levels of glucose spiked for the study participants while production of insulin, the hormone that removes sugar from the blood was reduced. The effect was so strong that the participants’ blood sugar levels rose to between normal and diabetic! Fortunately, blood sugar levels returned to normal after the individuals’ customary sleep patterns were restored, but long-term results remain unknown.
 
How much sleep is enough sleep? Requirements vary between individuals, however general guidelines are:
 
• Infants need about 16 hours a day
• Teenagers need about 9 hours on average per day
• Adults need 7 to 8 hours per day, keep in mind that individual requirements for adults vary widely.
 
Easier said than done? Many of us lie in bed at night, our minds racing with chores, careers and family issues. There are steps you can take that will help ease you into sleep.
 
• Go to bed the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
• Sleep in a dark, quiet, comfortable environment.
• Exercise daily (but not right before bedtime).
• Turn off the electronics — yes, the computer and cell phone!
• Relax before bedtime. A warm bath or reading both help muscles relax.
• Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine late in the day.
 
Feel better … be better, get your sleep!
 
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Fitness During the Changing Seasons

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
The changing seasons can wreak havoc on your work out routine. The milder weather draws us outside for walks, biking, or running, but that can be interrupted by a rainy day. The heat can seem insurmountable, making it harder to get started, or surprisingly chilly — so try having some alternative options in mind.
 
Keep these basic ideas in mind when designing your fitness routine.
 
• Own Your Goals: Allow your goals to change as you progress. Break them down into smaller goalposts. Use the SMART method: Make them Specific (what and how), Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (set an achievable date!).
 
• Consider the Weather: Wear UV-protective sunglasses and a hat when it’s sunny. Dress in light colors to reflect the sun’ rays. Take a water bottle. If heat or stormy weather cancels your outdoor workout, try interval walking at the mall. On hot days, head to your local community pool and swim some laps! Remember, this time of year the weather changes daily, sometimes hourly! So be prepared!
 
• Try the Buddy System: It can be difficult to start a new routine by yourself, so consider elisting a friend to help you get into your workout routine.
 
• Make New Routines: No routine can block commitment and progress, but don’t be afraid to change once in a while if the one you have no longer works for you. Sometimes you may want to spice it up with new workouts or trade in one walk a week for an aerobics class at your local community center.
 
• Be Kind to Yourself: If you do miss a couple of days of exercise, just start up again as soon as possible.
 
• Track Your Progress: Journal your workouts. Make yourself accountable to yourself and your fitness schedule. Keeping track of the calories you burn gives you that sense immediate accomplishment that can spur you on.
 
A new rule here at Peter’s Principles, and one to pay serious attention to is: If your use a headset and are walking or running … keep the volume down! Be sure you can hear the traffic and remain aware of your surroundings.
 
Remember the saying, “Fitness is not a destination, it is a way of life!”
 
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A Season For Renewal

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Winter may try to hold on, but spring has finally arrived! We can put away our heavy winter clothes and embrace the lush, green growth of trees and gardens , and the warming air that greets us each morning. Neighbors we haven’t seen all winter will be out working in their yards, walking or jogging, and soon fresh spring produce will arrive at the grocer’s. It’s a great time of year to renew your health resolutions or make a new commitment to a healthy life!
 
After long months spent indoors, it can be a big challenge to adopt a major fitness program, especially if you have a busy schedule. Ease into it!
 
• Choose an activity you will enjoy!
 
• If your schedule makes it difficult to set aside a 30 minute block of time, try three 10-minute workouts or walks.
 
• Walk or bike to work or to the local store.
 
• Wear a pedometer to keep track of the number of steps you take and and set a goal to increase the amount you walk. A Harvard study found that taking six thousand steps a day is correlated with a lower death rate in men.
 
• Park your car a distance from your destination and walk.
 
• Use stairs instead of the elevator.
 
• Take a walk at lunch with coworkers.
 
• Join an office or community sports league.
 
If you’re hungry when you get home from your fitness outing, try a handful of nuts! A study from Loma Linda University found that participants eating a diet that has majority of fat coming from almonds resulted in significantly higher loss of body and abdominal fat in 24 weeks than participants who ate the same amount of calories with more carbs and less fat. Other nuts to add to your diet include Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts.
 
You’ll probably be thirsty too! Drink plenty of water; researchers in Germany found that drinking two cups of cold water can boost metabolic rate by 30 percent! If you have a taste for something different try green tea, its primary ingredient – epigallocatechin gallate – reduces the effect of the enzyme that normally breaks down norepinephrine. That keeps the metabolic rate up, and you burn more calories throughout the day. Black tea also aids fat loss. A study conducted by University College in London found that drinking black tea regularly can reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that encourages fat storage around the midsection.
 
Make physical activity a regular part of your day and you’ll begin to notice some positive changes, whether it’s weight loss, a smaller waist or a new, fuller sense of well-being.
 
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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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