Tag Archives: exercise

Health News: Exercising in 1-Minute Intervals

If you’re like me, you struggle to find the time in your day for just the basics like feeding the people in your house and keeping them reasonably clean and clothed. Finding an hour to exercise sounds daunting (also, I’m lazy and out of shape, so there’s more than just time constraints coming into play).

A study at McMaster University in Ontario says you might be able to see the same results in a much shorter period of time. This is just one study, so it’s nothing definite, and you should definitely get medical clearance before trying this. The researchers are not yet saying everyone should try this, so use caution if you’re going to even think about trying something like this.

Moving on. The study found that working out in 1-minute intervals at very high intensity (90% of maximum heart rate) and then taking it easy for a minute, then repeating 9 times, for a total of 20 minutes, led to results similar to people working out for much longer period of time at a lower heart rate.

Additional perks for diabetics: A small follow-up study showed that people with type 2 diabetes saw blood sugar regulation improvement after just ONE 20-minute session.

To learn more, read THIS ARTICLE on the New York Times health blog. The article’s written by Gretchen Reynolds and provides links to articles with more specific information on the studies.


*News* Want to Beat Stress?

A VERY interesting article from the NY Times..

July 6, 2011, 12:01 am <!– — Updated: 12:01 am –>

Why Exercise Makes Us Feel Good



Why does exercise make us happy and calm? Almost everyone agrees that it generally does, a conclusion supported by research. A survey by Norwegian researchers published this month, for instance, found that those who engaged in any exercise, even a small amount, reported improved mental health compared with Norwegians who, despite the tempting nearness of mountains and fjords, never got out and exercised. A separate study, presented last month at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, showed that six weeks of bicycle riding or weight training eased symptoms in women who’d received a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. The weight training was especially effective at reducing feelings of irritability, perhaps (and this is my own interpretation) because the women felt capable now of pounding whomever or whatever was irritating them.

But just how, at a deep, cellular level, exercise affects anxiety and other moods has been difficult to pin down. The brain is physically inaccessible and dauntingly complex. But a recent animal study from researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health provides some intriguing new clues into how exercise intertwines with emotions, along with the soothing message that it may not require much physical activity to provide lasting emotional resilience.

For the experiment, researchers at the institute gathered two types of male mice. Some were strong and aggressive; the others were less so. The alpha mice got private cages. Male mice in the wild are territorial loners. So when then the punier mice were later slipped into the same cages as the aggressive rodents, separated only by a clear partition, the big mice acted like thugs. They employed every animal intimidation technique and, during daily, five-minute periods when the partition was removed, had to be restrained from harming the smaller mice, which, in the face of such treatment, became predictably twitchy and submissive.

After two weeks of cohabitation, many of these weaker mice were nervous wrecks. When the researchers tested them in a series of stressful situations away from the cages, the mice responded with, as the scientists call it, “anxiety-like behavior.” They froze or ran for dark corners. Everything upset them. “We don’t use words like ‘depressed’ to describe the animals’ condition,” said Michael L. Lehmann, a postdoctoral fellow at the institute and lead author of the study. But in effect, those mice had responded to the repeated stress by becoming depressed.

But that was not true for a subgroup of mice that had been allowed access to running wheels and nifty, explorable tubes in their cages for several weeks before they were housed with the aggressive mice. These mice, although wisely submissive when confronted by the bullies, rallied nicely when away from them. They didn’t freeze or cling to dark spaces in unfamiliar situations. They explored. They appeared to be, Dr. Lehmann said, “stress-resistant.”

“In people, we know that repeated applications of stress can lead to anxiety disorders and depression,” Dr. Lehmann said. “But one of the mysteries” of mental illness “is why some people respond pathologically to stress and some seem to be stress-resistant.”

To discern what was different, physiologically, about the stress-resistant mice, the scientists looked at brain cells using stains and other techniques. They determined that neurons in part of the rodents’ medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain involved in emotional processing in animals and people, had been firing often and rapidly in recent weeks, as had neurons in other, linked parts of the brain, including the amygdala, which is known to handle feelings of fear and anxiety.

The animals that had not run before moving in with the mean mice showed much less neuronal activity in these portions of the brain.

Dr. Lehmann said that he believed that the running was key to the exercised animals’ ability to bounce back from their unpleasant housing conditions.

Of course, as we all know, mice are not people. But the scientists believe that this particular experiment is a fair representation of human interpersonal relations, Dr. Lehmann said. Hierarchies, marked by bullying and resulting stress,  are found among people all the time. Think of your own most dysfunctional office job. (Interestingly, the same experiment cannot be conducted on female mice, who like being housed together, Dr. Lehmann said, so he and his colleagues are testing a female-centric version, in which “cage mates are swapped out continuously,” to the consternation and grief of the female mice left behind.)

Perhaps best of all, Dr. Lehmann does not believe that hours of daily exercise are needed or desirable to achieve emotional resilience. The mice in his lab ran only when and for as long as they wished, over the course of several weeks. Other animal experiments have intimated that too much exercise could contribute to anxiety, and Dr. Lehmann agrees that that outcome is possible. Moderate levels of exercise seem to provide the most stress-relieving benefits, he said. Dr. Lehmann does not have a car and walks everywhere, and although he lives in Washington, a cauldron of stress induction, he describes himself as a “pretty calm guy.”


*Exercise* The Absolute Beginner’s Guide

We all know exercise is good for you, right? And many of us have been good about exercising. Several people in this contest have made exercise a regular part of the day. But maybe you haven’t. Maybe it’s never been your thing. Maybe you’ve always preferred a book, a comfy couch, and a mug of coffee to the whir of the treadmill… (What? You think I’m talking from personal experience? Whatever. You’re nuts. I’m SO an athlete! Duh.)

Anyway, for anyone who might fit into the above description, WebMD wants to help! They have kindly posted a guide for absolute beginners… Click HERE for the full post (and links to more handy information!).

Fitness 101: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Exercise

How to get started with an exercise program.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MDYou’ve decided it’s time to start exercising. Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step on your way to a new and improved body and mind

“Exercise is the magic pill,” says Michael R. Bracko, EdD, FACSM, chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Consumer Information Committee. “Exercise can literally cure diseases like some forms of heart disease. Exercise has been implicated in helping people prevent or recover from some forms of cancer. Exercise helps people with arthritis. Exercise helps people prevent and reversedepression.”

And there’s no arguing that exercise can help most people lose weight, as well as look more toned and trim.

Of course, there’s a catch. You need to get — and keep — moving if you want to cash in on the benefits. This doesn’t necessarily mean following a strict, time-consuming regimen at the gym — although that can certainly reap benefits. The truth is you can get rewards from many different types and levels of exercise.

“Any little increment of physical activity is going to be a great boost to weight loss and feeling better,” says Rita Redberg, MSc, chairwoman of the American Heart Association’s Scientific Advisory Board for the Choose to Move program.

Your exercise options are numerous, includingwalking, dancing, gardening, biking — even doing household chores, says Redberg. The important thing is to choose activities you enjoy, she says. That will increase your chances of making it a habit.

And how much exercise should you do? For heart health, the AHA recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, on most days of the week.

Yet “if you’re getting less than that, you’re still going to see benefits,” says Redberg. “It’s not like if you can’t do 30 minutes, you shouldn’t do anything, because you’re definitely going to see benefits even at 5 or 10 minutes of moving around.”

Ready to get started? Health and fitness experts helped WebMD compile this beginner’s guide to exercise, including definitions of some common exercise terms, sample workouts, and recommendations on home exercise equipment.

A way to measure the intensity of your exercise is to check you heart rate or pulse during physical activity. These should be within a target range during different levels of intensity.

For example, according to the CDC, for moderate-intensity physical activity, a person’s target heart rate should be 50% to 70% of his or her maximum heart rate.

Get Ready

The first step to any workout routine is to evaluate how fit you are for your chosen physical activity. Whenever you begin an exercise program, it’s wise to consult a doctor. Anyone with major health risks, males aged 45 and older, and women aged 55 and older should get medical clearance, says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise.

But no matter what your medical condition, you can usually work out in some way.

“I can’t think of any medical issue that would get worse from the right kind of exercise,” says Stephanie Siegrist, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in private practice in Rochester, N.Y.

After assessing your fitness, it helps to set workout goals. For example, do you want to prepare to run a 5K? Hit the gym five times a week? Or just walk around the block without getting winded?

“Make sure the goals are clear, realistic, and concise,” says Sal Fichera, an exercise physiologist and owner of New York-based Forza Fitness.

Whatever your goals and medical condition, approach any new exercise regimen with caution.

“Start low and go slow,” advises Bryant. Many beginners make the mistake of starting out too aggressively, only to give up when they end up tired, sore, or injured, he says. Some get discouraged because they think an aggressive workout will produce instant results.

“Generally speaking, when people go about it too aggressively early in the program, they tend not to stick with it over the long haul,” says Bryant. “What you really want to do is to develop some new habits that you can stick with for a lifetime.”

Fitness Definitions

Even long-term exercisers may have misconceptions about exactly what some fitness terms mean. Here are some definition of words and phrases you’re likely to encounter:

  • Aerobic/cardiovascular activity. These are exercises that are strenuous enough to temporarily speed up your breathing and heart rate. Running, cycling, walking, swimming, and dancing fall in this category.
  • Maximum Heart Rate is based on the person’s age. An estimate of a person’s maximum age-related heart rate can be obtained by subtracting the person’s age from 220.
  • Flexibility training or stretching. This type of workout enhances the range of motion of joints. Age and inactivity tend to cause muscles, tendons, and ligaments to shorten over time. Contrary to popular belief, however, stretching and warming up are not synonymous. In fact, stretching cold muscles and joints can make them prone to injury.
  • Strength, weight, or resistance training. This type of exercise is aimed at improving the strength and function of muscles. Specific exercises are done to strengthen each muscle group. Weight lifting and exercising with stretchy resistance bands are examples of resistance training activities, as are exercises like pushups in which you work against the weight of your own body.
  • Set. Usually used in discussing strength training exercises, this term refers to repeating the same exercise a certain number of times. For instance, a weight lifter may do 10 biceps curls, rest for a few moments, then perform another “set” of 10 more biceps curls.
  • Repetition or “rep.” This refers to the number of times you perform an exercise during a set. For example, the weight lifter mentioned above performed 10 reps of the bicep curl exercise in each set.
  • Warm up. This is the act of preparing your body for the stress of exercise. The body can be warmed up with light intensity aerobic movements like walking slowly. These movements increase blood flow, which in turn heats up muscles and joints. “Think of it as a lube job for the body,” Bryant explains. At the end of your warm-up, it’s a good idea to do a little light stretching.
  • Cooldown. This is the less-strenuous exercise you do to cool your body down after the more intense part of your workout. For example, after a walk on a treadmill, you might walk at a reduced speed and incline for several minutes until your breathing and heart rate slow down. Stretching is often part of a cooldown.

Sample Workouts for Beginners

Before beginning any fitness routine, it’s important to warm up, then do some light stretching. Save the bulk of the stretching for after the workout.

Once you’re warmed up, experts recommend three different types of exercise for overall physical fitness: cardiovascular activity, strength conditioning, and flexibility training. These don’t all have to be done at once, but doing each on a regular basis will result in balanced fitness.

  • Cardiovascular activity. Start by doing an aerobic activity, like walking or running, for a sustained 20-30 minutes, four to five times a week, says Bryant. To ensure you’re working at an optimum level, try the “talk test”: Make sure you can carry on a basic level of conversation without being too winded. But if you can easily sing a song, you’re not working hard enough.
  • Strength conditioning. Start by doing one set of exercises targeting each of the major muscle groups. Bryant suggests using a weight at which you can comfortably perform the exercise eight to 12 times in a set. When you think you can handle more, gradually increase either the weight, the number of repetitions, or number of sets. To maximize the benefits, do strength training at least twice a week. Never work the same body part two days in a row.
  • Flexibility training. The American College on Exercise recommends doing slow, sustained static stretches three to seven days per week. Each stretch should last 10-30 seconds.

To learn how to perform certain exercises, consider hiring a personal trainer for a session or two, or take advantage of free sessions offered when you join a gym.

Home Exercise Equipment

Exercise doesn’t have to be done at the gym. You can work out in the comfort of your own home. And with calesthenic-type exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups, and sit-ups, you can use the resistance of your own weight to condition your body. To boost your strength and aerobic capacity, you may also want to invest in some home exercise equipment.

Experts offer their thoughts on some popular home exercise items:

  • Treadmill. This best-selling piece of equipment is great for cardiovascular exercise, says Bracko. He recommends starting out walking at a low intensity for 30 minutes and applying the talk test. Depending on how you do, adjust the intensity, incline, and/or time accordingly.
  • Free weights. Barbells and dumbbells make up this category of strength-training equipment. Dumbbells are recommended for beginners. Fichera suggests purchasing an 18 pound adjustable dumbbell set, which can be adjusted in 3 pound increments.
  • Other strength training equipment. This includes weight stacks (plates with cables and pulleys), flexible bands, and flexible rods. Fichera says flexible bands are good for beginners, especially since they come with instructions. But he doesn’t recommend them for long-term use; your muscles will likely adapt to the resistance and need more of a challenge.
  • Exercise ball. Although instructions and/or a companion video can accompany this gadget, Bracko worries that beginners may use exercise balls improperly. “Some people fall off or can’t keep the ball still,” he says. But if you enjoy working out with an exercise ball, it can provide a good workout.
  • Exercise videos and DVDs. Before working out with a home exercise video or DVD, Siegrist recommends watching through it at least once to observe the structure and proper form of the workout. To further improve form, she suggests working out in front of a mirror, if possible, or having someone else watch you do the exercise.

*Exercise* Torch More Calories!

Women’s Health says you can burn more calories with their simple moves… Click HERE for the full post! The full post has a picture of each step for each of the exercises. It’s definitely worth checking out!

15-Minute Workout: Torch More Calories

This high-octane routine will rev your metabolism, melt fat, and be over in no time!
By Jen Ator womenshealth

  • Fire It Up
  • Don’t think you can get a solid cardio workout in less than 15 minutes? Happy news: If you have a packed schedule (or tend to lose your focus), high-intensity intervals will give you the results you want in the time you have. In fact, according to fitness experts, short bursts of intense activity burn more calories than steady-state cardio slogs.

    This rapid-fire workout—based on a popular new class called Torch at Equinox fitness clubs—will get your heart pumping and your metabolism firing. Plus, thanks to the lean muscle mass you’ll build, you’ll keep burning calories throughout the day (Search: How to increase calorie afterburn). Two or three times a week, complete as many reps of each move as you can in 60 seconds, going from one exercise to the next without resting. Take a one-minute break, then repeat for a total of three sets. Challenge yourself by upping it to 90 seconds for each move.

  • 1. Cross-Crawl Jump …
  • 2. Lateral Shuffle …
  • 3. Giant Jump

*Exercise* Flabby Arms Exercises

So this article on Squidoo has tips, info, and even a video! You’ll have to click HERE for the full post.

This is for every woman who looks at their arms in the mirror and just sees flabby, jiggly, and saggy arms. Just a few minutes out of your day doing flabby arms exercises will make a huge difference.

There are many flabby arm exercises that you can do, but I am going to concentrate on one in particular which I am finding effective to creating beautifully toned and defined arms – the BICEP CURL. You don’t need to go to an expensive gym to do this exercise. The beauty of it is that you can do it in your home or back yard.

There are many ways to do the bicep curl and the one given below is the one that I do personally. However, I have given some variations that you can also try.

What Is The Bicep Muscle?

In human anatomy, the biceps brachii, or simply biceps in common parlance, is, as the name implies, a two-headed muscle located on the upper arm. Both heads arise on the scapula and join to form a single muscle belly which is attached to the upper forearm. While the biceps crosses both the shoulder and elbow joints, its main function is at the latter where it flexes the elbow and supinates the forearm. Both these movements are used when opening a bottle with a corkscrew: first biceps unscrews the cork (supination), then it pulls the cork out (flexion).

Bicep Curls

The Sitting Bicep Curl

Getting Ready

To get ready all you need is:

* a stool or chair

* a pair of dumbells or filled bottles of water

Getting Set to start

* Sit on the stool or chair with your back straight and feel placed on the floor approx a foot width apart.

* Take a dumbell or water bottle in each hand and let the weights hang down by your side.

* Tuck your elbows into your side and your palms facing forward.

* Make sure that your elbows stay tucked into your side at all times and not move away.

* Make sure that you do not slouch but keep your spine erect and upper body still.

* Do not lean backwards or forwards.

* The only thing that should move are your lower arms.

* Keep focused on the muscles of your upper arm and lower arm as they do the work.

* Breathe in a relaxed way throughout the exercise. Do not hold your breath.

Ready to Go

* Slowly start bending your elbows to life the dumbells towards your shoulders. You can do this on a slow count of three. Allow your wrists to curl inwards as if touching your shoulders.

* Pause in this position for a count of three, squeezing the muscles of your upper arm and forearms.

* Release and lower your arms on a slow count of three, uncurling your wrists and bringing your arms down to your sides.

* Pause for a breath or two and continue lifting.

* Continue the lifting and lowering of the dumbells until you cannot lift smoothly lift them any longer.

Bicep Curl Variation

Single-Arm Bicep Curl

These are some common variations of the bicep curl which all work in slightly different ways. It is good try different variations every few weeks or so, in order to challenge yourself and also not to get bored…Here is another one that I practice.

* Sit on the edge of a stool or chair with feet firmly on the floor

* Hold the dumbbell in your right hand, lean forward from your hips, keeping your spine straight.

* Rest your elbow on the inside of your right thigh with your arm hanging down between your thighs.

* Place your left hand on your left knee to stabilize yourself.

* Slowly lift the dumbbell by bending at your elbow.

* Then slowly lower your arm back down. Do not lock your elbow but keep slightly bent.

* Do equal amounts of repetitions on the other arm.

*Exercise* Work Those Abs!

From Fit Sugar, here’s something to try….

When you think ab work, the first move that comes to mind is often the classic crunch. This move might tone your middle but it’s not so good for your back. Repeatedly rounding the spine in a crunch sets the stage for a disk injury, and the crunch doesn’t help your posture either. Neither are crunches functional movements, meaning this movement will not help anywhere but the gym. Have I convinced you yet to try some new moves to tone your tummy?

When talking safety and effectiveness, the best way to work your abs is stabilize your torso against motions. Here are some of my fave ways to work my entire core — front, back and sides.

  • The elbow plank is the perfect beginner ab exercise, since it works the extensor muscles, which line and stabilize the spine, in combination with the abs. Adding leg lifts to your plank, while keeping the pelvis and ribs stable, will take the plank to the next level. Keeping your torso stable is all about the abs.
  • Free Weights: Working with free weights, moving from a squat into an overhead press, will work your abs too. Work one-armed to force your obliques to kick into action. Basically, anytime you’re working with free weights (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, etc.), you should pay attention to your abs and they will help keep your form solid.
  • Medicine Ball: Keeping your torso stable while moving the weighted medicine ball is great for building an integrated core. I like to “write” the alphabet with a four- or six-pound medicine ball while focusing on keep my rib cage centered over my pelvis.
  • Bridging: You might think of this exercise as strictly a lower body exercise, but once you add a leg lift with your pelvis in the air you start to challenge your abs and core. To keep the pelvis level while raising your knee in glute bridging with knee raise you must work your abs in tandem with your back.

How do you work your abs?