When is the Best Time to Exercise?

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

People who exercise want to utilize their time efficiently and get the most out of their exercise sessions. Knowing the best time to work out for weight loss can help you get faster results in less time. This is not just for athletes but for the average person who wants to use exercise to lose pounds or get in better shape.

Time is just one of the factors that affect your workout performance

As you will read below, there are studies that show when is the best time of the day to exercise for better fat burning results and for muscle building but time is just one of the factors that can affect your workout performance. Many other factors like the intensity and duration of the exercise play a very important role and these should not be neglected.

Best time to work out for fat burning is the morning

When you exercise in the morning your body tends to burn more fat.

The main reasons why this is happening are:

1. Low blood sugar levels force the body to look for other energy sources so it starts converting fat from the reserves to fuel.

2. Some hormones that accelerate fad burning (like cortisol) are at high levels in the morning.

Benefits of exercising in the morning

? People who participated in a study about the effects of morning exercise were more likely to stick to a workout after doing their morning exercise. In other words people who can exercise in the morning are more likely to build a routine and follow that for a long time.

? For some people it is easier to exercise in the morning since in the afternoon they get tired and lose their desire to workout.

? It can be a stressful task for the body. This does not apply to everyone but depending on your hormone levels you may find it very stressful to exercise in the morning.

? Intense morning exercise may lead to muscle loss instead of fat loss. If you exercise on an empty stomach and do a very intense workout your body may end up utilizing muscle mass for energy. That’s why it is important to have a good protein breakfast especially if you plan to exercise hard in the morning.

? If you exercise before breakfast, you may not be able to keep the intensity high since your energy levels are low.

Disadvantages of morning exercise

? It can be a stressful task for the body. This does not apply to everyone but depending on your hormone levels you may find it very stressful to exercise in the morning.

? Intense morning exercise may lead to muscle loss instead of fat loss. If you exercise on an empty stomach and do a very intense workout your body may end up utilizing muscle mass for energy. That’s why it is important to have a good protein breakfast especially if you plan to exercise hard in the morning.

? If you exercise before breakfast, you may not be able to keep the intensity high since your energy levels are low.

Best time to workout for performance is the afternoon

Exercising in the afternoon can give you better performance than exercising in the morning. Several studies analyzed the performance of a group of people exercising in the morning and in the afternoon. The afternoon sessions produced better results in terms of performance, strength and power. Participants reported that their bodies’ response was better and that they were able to push more and achieve more repetitions than in the morning.

What is the best time to workout for weight loss for you?

The different studies and theories are useful and can be used for educating yourself about best practices but when it comes to when is the best time to workout it’s up to you to decide. Some tips to help you out:

1. Try to do some cardio exercises in the morning (e.g. walking for about 10 minutes) and see how it feels. If you think this is something you can do for a long time try to add jogging as well (for 3-5 minutes) in your schedule.

2. If you exercise on an empty stomach and feel tired or weak try to eat breakfast first and then do your workout. Learn more about GI and how to control your blood sugar levels through food.

3. You can always combine your morning and afternoon workouts for better results. For example you can do a quick 10 minute cardio session in the morning and then a 20 minute intense session in the afternoon. This will also have a positive effect in EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption) that will help you burn more calories after exercise.

4 Don’t do very intense exercise in the morning without having a good breakfast, this may lead to muscle loss which is not recommended.

5 Have in mind that too intense exercise late in the afternoon may negatively affect your sleep. It is better to exercise at least 4 hours before going to bed.

Exercise is important for health and weight loss and you should allocate some of your time per day to exercise either in the morning or afternoon.

Bottom line, just do it!!

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

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Sweat Equity

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

More than fifty million Americans are affected by hypertension.  It can lead to a laundry list of dangerous health conditions, including heart disease and stroke! The good news is that you can usually take care of the problem with the right diet and just a little bit of exercise.  Cut down on simple carbs and be sure to reduce your sodium intake. Plus, exercising as little as sixty to ninety minutes a week can do a lot more than you may think! A recent eight-week study shows that patients working out as little as an hour to an hour and a half per week cut their systolic blood pressure by as much as 12 points.  Diastolic blood pressure dropped by as much as 8 points. It’s important to note that test subjects getting less than sixty minutes a week of exercise showed no reduction in blood pressure. That’s a big health payoff for a little bit of effort.

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Why You Need To Train Legs

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Leg day is the easiest session to skip in the gym. Leg training is tough — no doubt about it — and it can be tempting to forget your leg workouts in favor of easier training sessions or missing the gym altogether. Many guys and girls prefer to focus on the showier muscles — arms, abs, shoulders and chest — but leg training has many benefits that go beyond aesthetics. No matter how big your upper body is, Not training your legs will stunt your potential for your overall body. Having small legs will make your physique look odd at the least, if not ridiculous too. I was called chicken legs by a man who was like a second dad to me, my Brooklyn manager Dr Julie Levine who owned R & J Health studio. Those words were rocket fuel for me, it motivated me to prove him wrong, which thank God I did. In bodybuilding contests, judges don’t look at muscle mass in one area — they look at your whole package. This includes proportion and symmetry criteria, so if your legs are lacking, you won’t get far in the bodybuilding game. Even if you’re not looking to compete, small legs don’t look good when you’re at the beach or strutting your stuff in shorts.As you get older your legs become your best friend, helping you get out of a chair or car or bath tub.
 
For sport and athletic performance, working out your legs is vital, according to a 2013 study. A bigger squat, dead lift and power clean will translate to running faster on the sports field and jumping higher on the basketball court. Even endurance athletes can benefit from stronger legs. You’ll also build strong knee, hip and ankle joints leg training, reducing your risk of injury. Think you need cardio workouts to burn fat? Think again. Training your legs, particularly with multi-joint compound exercises, burns a higher number of calories than easier upper-body moves such as biceps curls or lateral raises. This leads to increased fat loss, which is also partly caused by the release of hormones you get when training legs. Your leg muscles are so large that this hormonal response can even help you build upper-body muscle mass. Weight-bearing exercises and resistance training are crucial components in the prevention and management of osteoporosis and arthritis. If you’re using weight training purely to keep bones and joints healthy later in life, do front squats, stiff-legged dead lifts, calf raises, leg presses and any other challenging leg moves that take your fancy. If you’ve been diagnosed with a bone or joint condition, however, and are looking to training to manage your condition, consult with your doctor and a fully qualified trainer before starting a routine.
 
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Core Strength

Pilates builds strength, flexibility and endurance.
 
Want to flatten your tummy, strengthen those shoulder blades, and build better posture? Pilates might just be the thing for you. Pioneered by the late Joseph Pilates in the mid-1920s, pilates builds strength, flexibility and endurance without adding bulk to muscles or increasing risk of injury. Pilates has outlasted just about every exercise fad and attracts all types of people, from exercise enthusiasts and Hollywood celebrities to rehabilitation patients and reformed couch potatoes.
 
There are a variety of methods that are modifications of the original, among them STOTT PILATES®. The original “classic” pilates program promotes movements on a flat back, while STOTT focuses on the spine’s natural curves and rebalancing body muscles.
 
We are featuring STOTT pilates as part of our Let’s Get Physical series. STOTT offers hundreds of specifically designed exercises that blend body awareness and breathing with fluid, controlled movements to tighten your core, stabilize your spine, and improve the way you move, feel and look. The body’s core is the heart of this exercise program.
 
“The core is like a box, with your abs on your front, side and back, spine on the back, diaphragm on the top and pelvic floor on the bottom,” explains instructor Liz Smythe, who teaches at one of the nation’s top STOTT teacher training studios, Equilibrium, in Bloomfield Hills, MI. “Pilates strengthens all of this and improves everything I do.”
 
It will take at least two pilates sessions (class, private or at home) per week to reap maximum benefits. It’s ideal when combined with cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, aerobics, swimming) and a great complement to weight training. Smythe demonstrates some of her favorite pilates poses.
 
THE HUNDRED (For abdominals and endurance)
 
To start, lie flat on your mat with your arms by your side and legs in the air with knees bent so that your shins are parallel to the floor.
 
Inhale, slightly nod your chin, exhale and curl up off the floor with your hands reaching toward your toes. Focus eyes toward your knees. Legs can stay where they are, or for more challenge, reach them out on a diagonal.
 
Begin inhaling through your nose for 5 counts and exhaling through a pursed lip for 5 counts until you reach 100 (10 sets). Gently pump your arms up and down, like you are pressing an imaginary nail toward the mat with your hands.
 
SPINE TWIST (Increases upper body range of motion)
 
Sit tall, engage abs and flex your feet. Move arms to the sides, relax shoulders.
 
Rotate from your abs to the right 3 times, going as far as you can the first time and attempting to go slightly further the next two times. Imagine you are getting taller with each rotation.
 
DOUBLE LEG STRETCH (Works the abdominals)
 
Lie flat on the mat with your legs in the air, knees bent, and shins parallel to the floor (tabletop position). Hands are on the outside of the knees and upper body is flexed off the mat, eyes on the knees.
 
Exhale, simultaneously reaching your legs to a diagonal position and your arms up past your ears like you are taking off an imaginary top hat.
 
Simultaneously sweep your arms out to the side and back where they started, touching your knees as you also return your legs to tabletop position.
 
PUSH UP (Works triceps, pectorals and abdominals)
 
Stand straight, keep shoulders down and bring arms straight above your head.
 
Nod head, roll down toward the mat. Pull in abs and curve spine until your hands reach the mat.
 
Arms can go out to the side or straight back. Inhale. Lower your arms for 3 counts. Exhale as you push up, keeping the shoulders stable. Do six reps.
 
SWIMMING PREP MODIFICATION (Great for lower back pain)
 
Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and hips over knees, keeping the knees hip-distance apart. Spine is in neutral position following the back’s natural curve. Engage your abs as you lift your opposite arm and leg in the air.
 
Simultaneously move the arm and leg out to the side and back, keeping the rest of your body still.
 
Lower and repeat on other side. Kneel or sit on heels, extend arms overhead toward ceiling, then alternate arms in a swimming motion.
 
REFORMER: REVERSE EXPANSION (For balance and spine stability)
 
When visiting a pilates studio, you may find yourself utilizing some of the STOTT PILATES® specific equipment. Kneel on the carriage with your feet against the shoulder rests, ankles flexed, in an upright position. Spine is in neutral. Hold the straps with your palms facing forward and arms by the side of your body. Exhale. Reach the arms forward and upward as high as possible up to eye level, flexing the shoulders. Do not move torso, hips or legs. Return arms to starting position without falling.
 
 
 
NOTE: Before starting any exercise program, you should first consult with your doctor. Exercise is a physical activity that has potential physical risk. Dunham’s Sports and all their affiliates are not responsible for an injury that could occur from exercise.
 
-Fitness Fanatic
 
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Five Spring Stars

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Some of the great joys of spring line the produce aisles of you local produce store or farmers market. Along with the delicious spring harvest comes some great opportunities to up the nutrition content of your diet, while enjoying it more! Fresh, seasonal produce reaps the most nutritional value. We’ve picked five of our favorites to share with you!
 
• Apricots‘ long growing season last from May to August. Fresh apricots are an excellent source of Vitamins C, E, potassium, and iron, as well as being a great source of beta-carotene. Additionally, two to three apricots offer nearly 50% of your daily value of Vitamin A. Did I mention they’re a great source of fiber with the low-overhead of three for 50 calories!
 
• Artichokes are available year-round, but the best time for truly fresh artichokes is from March through May. A study done by the USDA found that artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable. Some of the powerful antioxidants in artichokes are quercertin, rutin, anthocyanins, cynarin, luteolin, and silymarin. They are also a good source of iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin C. A 2-ounce serving has about 3 grams of fiber… all that for just 25 calories!
 
• Asparagus is one of the first foods to signal the beginning of spring. Fresh asparagus are at their peak from March through June. They are a good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K; and are also a very good source of chromium, which heightens the ability of insulin to move glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Additionally, asparagus is rich in of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. Finally, each one of those green spears is brimming with antioxidants that neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. Preliminary research shows it may even help slow the aging process!
 
• Sweet cherries have a short harvest season, from late spring to early summer. They’re not only a highly sought-after summer favorite, they’re a true super fruit! Chock full of antioxidants, they help replace free radicals in your body before they can cause any damage. They are rich in the flavanoid queritrin, one of the most potent anticancer agents and contain ellagic acid, a naturally occurring plant phenolic known as an anti-carcinogenic/anti-mutagenic compound, which some researchers say acid may be the most effective way to prevent cancer. It’s hard to find a treat that offers so much goodness along with great taste!
 
• Fava beans are a nutrient-dense food that provide a high amount of nutrients packed in a low amount of calories. You can get 10 to 19 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin B1 or thiamin, iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium in just 1/4 cup of fava beans.They’re also an excellent source of folate, and manganese, supporting the immune system function and cardiovascular health while enabling metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and cholesterol. Fava beans also have 9 grams of fiber in that 1/4 cup and are particularly rich in soluble fiber which may help improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
 
Leap into spring with a with these high-nutrient and anti-oxidant rich foods for a great, fresh start!
 
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Children and Cardiovascular Health

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We have watched with dismay in the last 30 years as the rates of childhood obesity more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents. Now we find there is more to this story. Recently published studies have found that kids are about fifteen percent less aerobically fit than their parents were at the same age! The findings of this research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013 in Dallas, TX.
 
For this large study, researchers analyzed 50 separate studies that concentrated on running and fitness between 1964 and the present that included more than 25 million children who ranged in ages from 9 to 17 years-old in 28 different countries. Timed runs, which were either a set amount of time or set distance, were used as the measure of cardiovascular strength and endurance.
 
The findings? Over the 46 years during which these studies were conducted, children’s cardiovascular endurance has decreased approximately five percent in every decade. This decrease in cardiovascular strength is accompanied by higher obesity rates. Along with sedentary lifestyles, researchers concluded that between 30 and 60 percent of the decline is directly the result of rising obesity. This decline is made evident by the finding that it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile now than it did in the 1980s!
 
How did this happen? Inactivity is the main culprit. Children no longer walk to school. Communities are designed without sidewalks, which discourages walking. Schools no longer offer daily physical education. Finally, our kids are sitting in front of the television or computer screens rather than becoming involved in physical activities.
 
This is a very serious situation, and the lack of a robust cardiovascular system can follow a child throughout his or her entire life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer some important guidelines.
 
• Kids should exercise for at least 60 minutes a day, most of which should be aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, swimming, gymnastic or bicycling. A minimum of 3 days per week should include vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
 
• Include muscle strengthening exercises, such as gymnastics, pull-ups or push-ups, at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s 60 or more minutes of fitness activity.
 
• Don’t forget bone-strengthening activities! Try jumping rope, gymnastics, running or hiking, also at least 3 days per week.
 
• Stretching offers more flexibility and help protect your child against injuries. Include side-stretches or toe-touching bends or go for martial arts, dance or gymnastics.
 
Give your children the gifts of a lifetime … help them pursue active and healthy lifestyles!
 
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Memory Walks

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Do your brain a favor … make walking a part of your regular routine! Evidence that regular walking benefits brain health continues to pile up. If you’re not a walker, this should convince you to start!
 
A recent study from The Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois involving 120 sedentary people aged 55-80 found that walking increased the size of the hippocampus, a critical area of the brain for new learning and creating long-term memories. Participants of the study had not engaged in more than 30 minutes of daily exercise in the six months before of the study; they then took part in exercise groups for a year. Half of the participants walked three days a week, starting out 10 minutes per day and increasing to 40 minutes per day as their fitness levels improved. The other half did stretching and toning exercises for the same amount of time.
 
Participants were assessed at the start of the study, at six months into the study, and at the end of the year for spatial memory, fitness levels, and levels of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an essential fuel for the growth of new neurons in the brain. They were also given brain scans to track physical changes.
 
The assessments showed that fitness levels for the walking group improved more than in the stretching and toning group. The walking group also had an increase in the size of the hippocampus. Spatial memory and levels of BDNF increased in both groups, but only the walking group was found to have increased the size of the hippocampus. Studies have shown that had the participants continued to be inactive for the year, their hippocampus would have shrunk by one to two per cent, while walking just three times a week boosted their memory and increased the size of their hippocampus.
 
While this study concentrated on walking, it is believed that any aerobic activity could offer the same benefits. If you can’t get out for a walk due to weather conditions try walking on a treadmill.
 
If a knee injuries get in the way of your walking routine, try weight-lifting. A study conducted by scientists at the University of British Columbia focused on women ages 70 to 80 with mild cognitive impairment. They found that after six months of exercise, either walking or weight training, the women performed better performance on cognitive tests than they had before. It is interesting that while both exercise groups improved almost equally on tests of spatial memory, the women who had walked showed greater gains in verbal memory than the women who had lifted weights.
 
So get out there and walk … you’ll build strength and memories!
 
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Walk Against Back Pain

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
At some point in their lives, 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and is a leading contributor to missed work, costing Americans at least $50 billion each year in health care costs. Often, lower back pain goes away within a few days, but not all of us are that lucky! Now there’s good news if you or a loved one suffers from back pain!
 
New research shows that adopting a simple aerobic walking program that includes walking two to three times a week for a period of 20 to 40 minutes can be as effective to reduce lower back pain as strengthening rehabilitation programs that depend on specialized equipment in clinics. A walking regimen fits easily into a daily routine and offers people with back pain more control and more responsibility for their own health.
 
The study, published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation, found that when people actively walk, the abdominal and back muscles work in basically the same way as when doing exercises that target those areas. Unlike muscle strengthening programs, which often call for specific equipment and can involve exercises that require expert supervision, and it is a simple activity that can be done alone.
 
The study included 52 patients with lower back pain who participated in a randomized control trial. At the onset of the research, participants were assessed for pain levels, feelings of disability, limitations on daily activities, and walking endurance. Half of the group completed a typical clinic-based muscle strengthening program, with two to three exercise sessions a week for six weeks. The other half completed a six-week aerobic walking program, walking two to three times weekly, starting with 20 minutes of walking and progressing to 40 minutes as their endurance improved. Both groups improved significantly in all areas, and the walking program was found to be as effective as clinical treatment. The walking program has the additional advantage of encouraging patients to follow an overall healthier lifestyle.
 
Spring will be here soon, what better time to take up a new walking program! It’s a great low-impact activity that lowers blood pressure, boosts brain and immune system functioning, and reduces stress. It can also save your back!
 
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Strengthen Your Most Important Muscle

People usually exercise to improve what’s on the outside—slim waist, bulging biceps, six-pack abs. But don’t forget what’s on the inside.
 
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
 
Regular exercise leads to a healthier heart. The AHA states that 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day five times a week can counter conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and poor cholesterol levels—all of which contribute to heart attacks and strokes.
 
Happy New Year to a Healthier You
 
Elliptical machines, treadmills and stationary bikes are ideal for achieving a healthier lifestyle. They provide a low-impact option to running and are much easier on knees, hips and lower back. Having one of these machines at home makes it convenient to get your workout in before or after work or while watching TV.
 
Easily adjustable resistance and inclination makes these machines fully customizable to your fitness level.
 
Those who favor early-morning workouts will tell you they are more energized during the day, and their increased metabolism helps them burn more calories throughout the day. Those who prefer working out after dinner find that it helps relieve the day’s stress and can make it easier to fall asleep.
 
Bottom line; continue to work on the biceps and abs to look good. To feel good and be healthier, be sure to add aerobic exercises to your workouts. Your heart, lungs and family members will thank you for it.
 
-Fitness Fanatic
 
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Get Fit Simply

Join the exercise craze of the season.
 
Readers of this magazine know about my passion for golf. Whenever Michigan’s weather and personal commitments allow it, you’re likely to find me at my favorite course playing or practicing. During the offseason, I’m frequently found either at an indoor driving range or at the local gym, focusing on several exercises to improve my game. My goal this winter is to improve my core muscles and my legs, both critical to improving club speed, which results in added distance, and one of the tools I will employ in my quest is the Simply Fit Board® Exercise Board I picked up from Dunham’s Sports.
 
After a successful national television commercial launch this year, the Simply Fit Board® has gained a lot of popularity and promises to be the exercise craze of the season. Chances are you’ve seen commercials for it – men and women twisting their way to tighter abs and more toned legs.
 
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recognizes some of the benefits of balance training for rehabilitating certain injuries, strengthening muscles and improving postural alignment. Even the Mayo Clinic acknowledges that balance exercises can improve stability. For me, I like its lightweight and convenience. I can hop on the Simply Fit Board® any time and it easily stores out of the way.
 
When I first started using it, I felt the workout more in my legs than in the abs. To truly engage my core muscles, I added hand weights, making all the difference. I also like that the Simply Fit Board® further improves my balance, another critical component to the golf swing.
 
The Simply Fit Board® comes with a user guide and a workout DVD that includes instruction ranging from basic exercises to more advanced ones. If you don’t already have a set, I strongly recommend visiting your local Dunham’s Sports store to get yourself some hand weights; they will come in handy for nearly every exercise featured in the DVD. Be sure to start with something light, such as 3-lb. dumbbells, and work your way up.
 
As with any workout regimen, it’s important to talk to your doctor and follow instructions closely, keeping knees bent and the back straight while on the board. If you plan on using the Simply Fit Board® on hardwood floors, the manufacturer recommends placing a small, tight woven rug with rubber backing (on hardwood floors or other hard surfaces) to protect the board and your floors.
 
The Simply Fit Board® is available in orange, green, magenta or blue. I believe it will be a suitable supplement to my gym workouts and will replace some of my couch time with a more suitable, healthier alternative.
 
-Fitness Fanatic
 
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