Posts Tagged ‘Physical exercise’

You don’t have to run marathons to get healthy, experts say.

If you don’t exercise because you think you don’t have the time or energy, here’s a news flash: Those excuses no longer work.

That’s because “any movement helps,” according to Gregory Florez, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise and CEO of fitadvisor.com.

In fact, exercising at a moderate intensity, even in short bursts of 10 minutes several times a day, or doing daily activities such as running errands, can improve your health and probably lengthen your life, recent research suggests.

“Small bouts of activity, even 10 minutes at a time, will have the same impact as 30 minutes or so of continuous exercise,” Florez said, if those small bouts are repeated three times a day.

Two recent studies prove you don’t have to be a marathoner in training to reap the health benefits of exercise or even to get a little fitter.

In one study, published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, relatively modest amounts of activity by older people, ages 70 to 82, paid off in longevity.

The research team, led by Todd Manini of the U.S. National Institute on Aging, followed 302 older adults for six years. The researchers found that death rates went down as daily energy output — sometimes doing things as simple as vacuuming or running errands — went up.

Those people in the highest one-third of daily energy output had a 69 percent lower risk of dying during the follow-up than those in the lowest third, the researchers found. Those in the highest third also burned about 600 more calories a day than those in the lowest third. Even short bursts of physical activity made a difference in the calorie-burning group — they were more likely to walk up two flights of stairs a day, for instance.

The extra reduction in 600 calories per day translates, the study authors said, to about two hours of activity. But it could be any activity — traditional exercise, washing dishes, vacuuming, running errands.

In a study published in the May 16, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that as little as 72 minutes of moderate exercise per week can improve aerobic fitness. The investigators looked at 464 sedentary, overweight women, on average 57 years old.

One group worked out on a stationary bike or treadmill at moderate intensity for an average of 72 minutes a week; another group did the workout for 136 minutes a week, on average, and a third group worked out for 192 minutes a week. A fourth group did no exercise and served as the control group.

A fitness test at the end of the six-month study found women who exercised for 72 minutes improved fitness by 4 percent. The 136-minute group improved fitness by 6 percent while the 192-minute group improved by 8 percent.

No one is saying you’ll get super-fit working out for 72 minutes a week or running errands nonstop. “But unless you have a lofty goal such as running a marathon, it’s OK to break up the exercise into small segments,” Florez said. It will pay dividends in longevity, overall health, including cardiovascular health, and bone density, he said.

“Any activity is good activity,” agreed Tyson Bain, an exercise physiologist and gerontologist at the Cooper Institute, Dallas.

He urges people to find an activity they enjoy doing. That way they’ll be more likely to stick with it.

When he helps people get into an activity program, especially older people, he starts with an assessment of how well they can move and perform, and asks which times of day they prefer to be active and what types of activity interest them. He also asks them to consider what activities or sports they are good at.

Depending on a person’s health, Bain recommends people aim for at least 30 minutes of activity most days, even though the recent research suggests less can still yield benefits. “Split it up — 15, 15,” he advises those who balk. “You’ll get the same benefits.”

Fit your activity around your lifestyle, Florez tells people. “Strength train with resistance bands or dumbbells while you watch Desperate Housewives,” he said. “Take a walk with a friend.”

You will combine social interaction with activity, and both have been shown to lengthen your life, he said.

Visit Gold’s Gym in Newburgh to start your path to fitness and health today!

Written by Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay ReporterOriginally published by HealthDay NewsSOURCES: Tyson Bain, exercise physiologist and gerontologist, Cooper Institute, Dallas; Gregory Florez, spokesman, American Council on Exercise, San Diego; May 16, 2007, and July 12, 2006, Journal of the American Medical AssociationGO BACKfunction goBack(){window.history.back()}

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Five Tips to Help You Power Through the Day

Have diet sodas, energy drinks and endless cups of coffee become a regular part of your work day? Next time you go to reach for another caffeine-packed beverage for a quick pick-me-up, remember the five tips below from Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute Member and Sports Medicine Expert, Evan Ekman, to help increase your energy level and power through your day.

Let your body do its thing. A consistent exercise routine can have an extraordinary impact on your energy level. “When you are physically active, your blood flow increases to critical organs, such as the brain, helping them perform at their best,” says Ekman. “When you exercise, your body naturally releases catecholamine’s, which are safe “uppers” that improve alertness, energy, and concentration.”

Do what you want! When exercising to increase your energy level, develop an enjoyable routine of cardiovascular fitness.  If it’s an activity you enjoy, you are more likely to stay with it. Ekman suggests doing this routine for 30 minutes, three to five times per week.

Energy essentials. It is important to fuel your body with healthy foods and the appropriate nutrients to function properly. Ekman’s advice is to go back to the days of the food pyramid and make sure you are getting the appropriate servings of dairy, fruits and vegetables, protein, and whole grains. Furthermore, Ekman does not recommend consuming energy drinks when you are feeling tired because they will ultimately result in an energy crash.

Exercise equals Energy. Ekman recommends hitting the gym at the point in the day just prior to when your energy level is the lowest.  This will not be the same time for everyone, but your program should be tapered to fit your needs.  Try not to exercise just before bed as this can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Learn more by visiting Gold’s Gym in Newburgh NY today!

Dream Away. Just as your body needs its nutrients, it also needs its rest.  “Exercise places physical stress on the body, which sparks the brain to increase the amount of time we spend in deep sleep, the phase in which our body repairs itself,” comments Ekman. Without enough sleep, your body will not be fully rested for the next day.  Ekman suggests trying to obtain around eight hours of sleep each night to give your body proper rest.

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When it comes to exercise, a little may go a long way.

A new study finds that even low amounts of weekly physical activity can reduce blood pressure and improve overall fitness in adults, a new study finds.

The 12-week study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, included 106 healthy, but sedentary, people ages 40 to 60.

Researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, had 44 of the participants do 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week, while 42 others did 30 minutes of brisk walking three days a week. The rest of the participants maintained their normal lifestyle.

By the end of the study, there was a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure and waist and hip girth in both groups of walkers, along with an increase in overall fitness. The non-walkers had no changes in any of these areas.

The authors noted that even slimming a few centimeters off hip and waist circumference and gaining a slight reduction in blood pressure is enough to reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Currently, it’s recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of moderately strenuous exercise at least five days a week. But many people find it difficult to meet that goal. This study shows that people can still gain health benefits even if they can only manage three sessions of moderate intensity exercise a week, the authors said. Let our personal trainers at Gold’s Gym in Newburgh NY show you the way to fitness!

Originally published by HealthDay News.

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Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute orthopedist Evan Ekman decodes common workout pains so you can tell the difference between “Ow!” and “Out for a month.”

We’ve all heard the saying “No pain, no gain,” but not all pain is created equal. Many motivated gym goers have been put out of commission because they couldn’t tell the difference between post-training soreness and a serious injury.

“Many people don’t pay attention to their body, and as a result the pain can last the rest of their life,” says Evan Ekman, a South Carolina-based orthopedic surgeon and Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute member. He believes much of the problem stems from not being in tune to the location of the discomfort. “Part of an effective workout is making yourself sore, but that soreness should be in the muscle belly — the big bulky part of the muscle,” he says, whereas pain in the joints or tendons might be an indication of a problem.

Here we look at six examples of gym pain gone too far and what to do about them. As always, consult your physician before starting an exercise regimen.

Your legs can easily tire after a hard workout, but how do you know when you’ve pushed your hamstrings too far? According to Ekman, you may be dealing with a more serious injury if you experience pain when pressure is put on the ischium bone in the pelvis, often felt when you sit down or if you have difficulty running.

What to do: First, control inflammation by applying ice to the area and wrapping the leg. Then gently perform a hamstring stretch: Sit on the floor, with legs spread. Keep your left knee straight as you reach toward the toes and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the right side. If you recognize the pain early, a hamstring injury might keep you out of the gym for a few weeks or less.

Some body creaks we all seem to have (like the back cracks your eccentric uncle shows off at parties). Others may be your body’s way of sounding an alarm. Ekman says there are two ways to tell if it’s something to get worried about: if you experience pain when it makes that noise, or if your body didn’t make that noise before you worked out and now it does.

What to do: Because the noise could be anything, get to a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

It’s normal for the biceps to engorge with blood and, as a result, appear bigger during and immediately after a workout, but if the swelling lasts more than a few hours, you may have suffered a bicep strain or rupture of the tendon biceps. Another telltale sign of injury is discoloration or bruising. If you can’t tell for sure, don’t do another rep until you get checked out.

What to do: A rupture may require surgery — get to a doctor ASAP. If it’s just a strain, you’ll need some time off from the gym to rest the muscle, taking anti-inflammatories in the meantime. The next step is light exercises that develop your range of motion. Begin with gentle stretching at the elbow, work your way up to bicep curls with band resistance, then finally light dumbbells.

Bench press is a popular lift at the gym, but using too much weight or trying for a maximum one-rep lift before being properly warmed up can lead to pectoral tears. “Most of the time it’s easy to tell when you have a pec tear because the pain is intense,” Ekman says. But you can also tell by a deformity — often a divot on the side of the pec near the armpit — or extreme tenderness that doesn’t go away between workouts.

What to do: Immediately see an orthopedic doctor — this could mean a long haul to recovery.

If you’re having trouble reaching during your workout, it may not be time to work through the pain; it may be a rotator cuff injury. Other signs are tenderness during a military press or when lifting weight away from your body.

What to do: Avoid lifts that involve raising your hands above your head and shoulders, and work to strengthen the four muscles of the rotator cuff — the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, teres minor and the subscapularis. Often this is done through external and internal rotation exercise. For the first, let your arm hang at your side with your elbow bent 90 degrees, then bring the hand across your body, as if you were shutting a door. For the latter, bring the hand in the opposite direction, away from the middle of your body.

Though it’s great to feel the burn on the squat machine, persistent aches — such as shooting pain, a slight burn or anything that limits daily movement or makes it painful to walk — may be a sign of a stress fracture to the femur, a rupture or even a contusion in the quads. Another warning sign of injury: deformity, or any change in shape and texture to the muscle so that one leg is noticeably different from the other.

What to do: If it’s a strain, you may be out for four to six weeks while taking anti-inflammatories, icing and performing basic stretching and strengthening exercises. If it’s a rupture, surgery is likely to be needed.

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Some days making time to exercise isn’t that simple. Whether you are trying to fit in your cardio workout during a short lunch break, or just want to get your heart rate up before the sun goes down, celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza has some ideas for you. Make sure to do a quick warm-up like a one or two minute power walk or jog before you get started.

If you have five minutes, hit the treadmill for some interval sprinting. Make sure to choose a machine that has side shoulders wide enough to rest your feet.

Begin by standing on the treadmill shoulders. Set the treadmill speed 1.5 levels above the setting at which you normally run. So if you normally set the treadmill at 7.5 for a good run, kick it up to 9 for your sprints. Hop onto the treadmill and sprint for 10 seconds. Hop off, placing your feet on either side of the tread, for 20 seconds and completely rest.

10 sets

If you have a bit more time, add a three-minute warm up (one minute walk, plus a two-minute jog) before the sprint/rest sets and finish up with a four-minute jog.

There is a big difference between running and sprinting–a difference you can feel. “The work time should be hard enough that you need the recovery,” says Braganza. If you aren’t ready to rest after each sprint, increase the speed on the treadmill.

If you want to kick your sprinting up a notch, increase the incline of the treadmill after each sprint.

If you are bored of the treadmill, then try Braganza’s four-part, 10-minute “kick-butt kickbox.”

Jump rope or jumping jacks:
1 minute Heavy bag, alternating between hitting the bag with jab crosses and kicks:
1 minute Squats: 1 minuteCrunches: 1 minute

Cycle through the moves until your time runs out.

If you want to really focus on strengthening your lower-body, this sweat-inducing combo of lunges and jump squats will do it.

Squat jumps (when squatting, make sure not to let your knees go in front of your toes): 10 repsStep side to side touching opposite foot in front of the other while you raise and lower your arms: 30 seconds

Cycle through these moves until your time runs out.

Don’t read on the treadmill. That magazine could be lulling you into a less-strenuous workout.If there is a choice between a sitting move and a standing move, choose the upright one; instead of a recumbent bike, choose an upright bike or, even better, the elliptical or treadmill. When weightlifting, instead of performing seated shoulder press or lateral raises, try them standing.Keep tabs on your heart rate. This will help you gauge if your training is too easy, too hard or just right. An easy way to determine your heart rate while doing your cardio is to get a heart rate monitor. Don’t forget: To determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. To find out what your heart rate range should be, multiply your maximum heart rate by .85 to get your high-intensity target number and .60 for your low-intensity target number.Swap out a gym day for a romp outside. Not only do your feet have to work harder to keep you balanced with all of the terrain changes when exercising in the natural world, but working out outside is a great cure for boredom. “You have to pay attention when you run outside,” says Braganza. Look for stairs and inclines like hills to tackle on your next hike.

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Did you know that having a workout partner not only makes you healthier, it can help you find a job, get more motivated and create stronger family bonds? Below, you can read up on new studies that show the benefits of partnering up, and Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute trainer Nikki Kimbrough shares a few true-life tales from her boot camp classes.

Perk: As Kimbrough explains, a fitness class is the perfect place to network, because you’re not trying to schmooze.

True story: “People just start talking about work and one thing leads to another,” she says. “Take Vickie, a public relations manager, and Ben, a marketing exec. Vickie’s company needed an outside vendor to do some market research and she mentioned it during a water break. Ben explained how his company had handled a similar situation and she asked if he’d send over a proposal. Boom! New business.”

Perk: Having a fitness partner who is in better shape than yourself can inspire you to boost your own performance.

Study: Researchers at Union College conducted a series of experiments that included younger and older participants riding reality-enhanced “cybercycles” alongside virtual and real partners who were quicker and had more endurance. The conclusions were consistent: Whether it was a virtual partner or a real one, most participants stepped up their game and pushed a bit harder to keep up.

Perk: Larger workout groups can be even better for morale. Find your healthy circle in a fitness class or a personal training group.

Study: In a recent study at Michigan State University, 58 physically active women were divided into three groups. In the first group, each woman worked out alone. In the second, each had a virtual exercise partner. The third group worked out as a team along with a virtual partner. The group that worked out as a team exercised 11 minutes longer than the group that exercised alone, and two minutes longer than the group that exercised only with a virtual partner.

Perk: Longtime couples and new lovers can keep each other on track and in shape.

Study: Couples who start a fitness program together are more likely to stick with it, according to a study out of Indiana University Bloomington. The study’s final results showed that only 8% of the participants who worked out with their spouses quit, compared with half of those who exercised independently.

Perk: Exercising with a family member gives you a healthy way to spend time together—versus just shopping, eating or getting drinks.

Study: “One of my clients, Melissa, had really started losing weight and her mom noticed—and joined the class,” Kimbrough recalls. “I know she and her mom had had problems in the past, but boot camp gave them something healthy to bond over. And now you can just see how close they are.”

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Leave the chocolate shaped hearts on the shelf and spend quality time working out with your loved one this Valentine’s Day.  Dr. Belisa Vranich, sports psychologist and Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute member, provides you with five tips on how to strengthen your relationship, while increasing your natural libido, through exercising together.

1.  Learn to be a good partner.  “Be flexible about what your partner likes to do, it’s simply a matter of taste,” advises Vranich.  If you push your partner to do an exercise they don’t enjoy, chances are they won’t feel inclined to hit the gym with you again!

2. Communication is key! Try to focus on doing exercises that require spotting. Spotting each other requires you to build excellent communication and trust, two vital things for a strong relationship.  “Couples who workout together, and especially those that spot each other, have better communication because they know how the other thinks and are more astute to body language,” comments Vranich.

3.  Don’t be afraid to get close. Doing exercises side by side makes couples feel like they are doing something physically productive together.  Exercises such as squats require you to pay very close attention to your partner while keeping minimal distance from one another.

4.  Encouragement is essential.  Praise your partner for going to the gym every single time.  “Always applaud them for a body part that looks good, and remember that it is better when criticism comes from within than without,” adds Vranich.

5. Let nature do its thing. Attraction is affected by arousal, plus endorphins from working out improves your mood and enhances the connection between you and your partner. “Sweat produces pheromones and has its highest performance level right after working out,” comments Vranich. The fact that you are sweating together will naturally increase your libido.

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For millions of overweight, couch-bound Americans, the word “exercise” conjures up visions of hectic aerobics classes, marathon running or hours-long workouts at the gym.

It’s all a bit daunting.

But new research is beginning to change that view. Study after study is showing that small amounts of physical activity — even walking the dog — can boost health in unexpected ways.

“For some people, it’s as simple as parking their car on the far side of the parking lot and walking, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. But the more you do, the better,” said Dr. Gerald Fletcher, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and a spokesman for the American Heart Association.

More and more, fitness experts and physicians are discovering that exercise, like medicine, works on a dose-response basis — even a little is good, moderate amounts are better, and vigorous exercise provides even more rewards.

Some evidence from the recent literature:

A Duke University study of 133 overweight people found that a moderate fitness regimen involving a brisk one- to two-mile walk, four or five days a week, offered big improvements in cardiovascular health;A similar study, this time from the University of Florida, Gainesville, found that walking just a half-hour a day for five or more days a week greatly boosted the heart health of middle-aged “couch potatoes”;In a Seattle study, an hour per week spent gardening cut cardiac arrest risk by 66 percent; an hour per week spent walking slashed that risk by 73 percent;People suffering from the painful condition peripheral arterial disease (PAD) also reaped real benefits from walking just three times a week, a Northwestern University study found;And a University of Missouri-Columbia study found that even our four-legged friends can help: Researchers found that overweight individuals who walked their dogs each day dropped an average of 14 pounds over the course of a year — beating the results of most weight-loss plans.

Fletcher said it’s important to get into a good exercise routine, preferably engaging in physical activity at the same time of day, each day. “Also, if you try and exercise two or three times a week, but then take a few days off, that’s not as good as doing something most days,” he said.

If walking a mile or two seems tough to visualize, he recommends driving it first in your car — watching the odometer to see just how far a distance it is from your home. “Then, walk to that point each day,” he said. Often, a little bit of exercise feels so good it gradually turns into a little bit more, he said.

“You can get more vigorous as you go,” Fletcher added. “We consider (walking) a 20-minute mile ‘moderate’ exercise. Walking or running that mile in 15 minutes gets into the area of ‘vigorous exercise.’”

Besides helping to shed pounds and bring a healthy elasticity to your step (and arteries), exercise can help clear the mind, too.

“What the studies are showing is that exercise, at least when performed in a group setting, seems to be at least as effective as standard antidepressants in reducing symptoms in patients with major depression,” researcher James Blumenthal, a professor of medical psychology at Duke University in Durham, N.C., toldHealthDay.

Right now, just sitting on the sofa for long stretches is probably giving millions of Americans the blues, Fletcher pointed out. “Only about 25 percent of us exercise properly, and about 20 percent do absolutely nothing. The rest are in the middle — sometimes they do it, sometimes they don’t.”

Before beginning any exercise routine, it’s important to check with your doctor, particularly if you have a history of health problems. Then, once you get clearance, get moving.

The key, Fletcher said, is to start your physical-activity routine with small steps — literally.

“Walk a little, bike,” he said. “Remember, anything you do is better than nothing at all.”Originally published on HealthDay

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