Wednesday, 15 January 2014 01:07

February is American Heart Month

Tip of the Week

February: National Heart MonthFebruary is American Heart Month. While heart problems have always been associated with men’s health, cardiovascular disease is actually the number #1 killer of women age 18 and above. Women have a responsibility to take care of their heart health and make lifestyle decisions that can help them reduce their risk for heart disease. Many initiatives have blossomed throughout the month of February to raise awareness and provide information to improve women’s heart health. To learn more about such initiatives just visit:  HeartTruth.gov

Fitness funIf you are not already physically active starting a new exercise program can be intimidating. In truth you don’t have to become an ironman competitor or an ultra-runner to keep your ticker in shape.  Walking your 10,000 steps daily can help you save your life. Choose what you love to do, challenge yourself gradually and try one new exercise, class or fitness DVD once a month. Mix it up and have fun with it.

Fitness fun  2With a busy work schedule, family obligations, and intense weekend activities, it can be challenging to get the recommended amount of physical activity. Every woman should reach the daily goal of 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, combining both cardiovascular and strength training exercises. With a renewed sense of commitment, a few adjustments to your schedule and a little bit of creativity, let’s see how it can be possible to reach such healthy goals:

Do not try to do it all at once: short bouts work just as well. Scientific research shows that moderate-intensity physical activity can be accumulated throughout the day in 10-minute intervals, and it can be just as effective as exercising for 30 minutes uninterrupted. 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch and ten minutes in the evening will get the job done. You can also increase the segments to 15-20 minutes, whenever your busy schedule will allow it, and reach a new goal. Small exercise segments are ALWAYS better than no exercise at all!

Be creative! Alternate moderate- and high-intensity physical activity to meet your daily fitness goals. For instance, you can speed-walk for 30 minutes twice per week and jog or run at a faster pace on two other days, one day you can bike, one day you can jump-rope, and one day you can enjoy a relaxing swim. You can also have a mixed session of 5 minutes walk, 5 minutes jog, and a 100 yard sprint at a higher intensity, add 10 push-ups and 20 sit-ups, then repeat each segment again 3 times. Time will go by faster, it will feel like you are playing a game, and it will do wonders to your body!

Daily fitness-time. Set aside specific days and times for exercise, and just make it as much a regular part of your daily schedule as everything else you do. Whether it is easier for you to work-out early in the morning before everyone else wakes up, or right after the kids go to bed, or during your lunch break, just carve out your own special time to take care of your heart: think of it as of the most important thing you do for yourself during the day!

Fitness fun  3You do not need a gym membership! In order to get your daily dose of side-effect-free, mood-enhancing, overall-just-good-for-you physical activity you do not need to join an expensive gym, wear sophisticated sport attire, or waste time and gas commuting to an indoor facility. A pair of athletic shoes, comfortable clothes, a little motivation, a park, a quiet road, a set of stairs, or your living room is all you need to be more active. Keep it simple!   Check out our articles on great routines you can do at home or at the park.

The power of walkingGood for the heartThe family that works out together... Recruit friends, family, and children in your mission to health. Think of it as showing them how much you love them by motivating them to be active and healthy. It will be a great group activity and a lot of fun too!!! Volleyball games, backyard baseball, tackle football, strolling down the beach, family tug-of-war, bike rides, hopscotch tournament…your imagination is the limit. Recruit, recruit, recruit!  It is a great way to encourage your kids to be physically active and get them committed early to a healthy lifestyle.

Remember also to cultivate healthy, loving, genuine, supportive and inspiring human relationships…they are so good for your heart!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011 00:13

The Power of Walking

The Power of WalkingTip of the Week

For many people, a new year means new health and fitness goals.

While our fitness goals often start strong, many people find that keeping up with an exercise routine becomes a challenge. It gets harder and harder to get to the gym on time for our favorite fitness class, we begin to make up excuses and we begin feeling guilty…and finally we give up!

Suddenly, we begin believing in all of those myths about fitness and exercising, such as: If you are not going to work out hard and regularly, then exercise is a waste of your time…home-workouts are all right, but going to a gym is the best way to get and stay fit…and…overweight people are unlikely to benefit from exercise… This kind of thinking keeps a lot of people from maintaining or even starting an exercise program.

The Power of WalkingIn truth, plenty of scientific research actually shows that, any kind, and any amount of exercise is better than none at all. Also, overweight individuals who engage in consistent, even low-impact, fitness activities have a lower risk of all-cause mortality than sedentary individuals, regardless of their body weight.  Finally, according to research, in spite of all the hype on trendy exercise programs, celebrity endorsements, and upscale facilities with all sorts of bells and whistles, for many individuals it is easier to stick to a home-based fitness program.

Even better, regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, while it has also shown to be a powerful tool in both weight reduction and weight management. We are not just talking about power-walking in the park with weights in your hands, track shoes and a slick outfit…we are simply talking about making a conscious effort to use your legs and feet to move around all day long while you go about your activities of daily living.

Counting StepsAccording to an article published on ScienceDaily, a joint study based on findings from the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, and Sweden has outlined useful preliminary guidelines for how many steps per day women should accumulate for both weight control and overall improved health.

The table below shows the steps-per-day recommendations for health benefits and weight control for women ages 18-60+ based on such findings:

  • Age: 18-40    12 000 steps per day
  • Age: 40-50    11 000 steps per day
  • Age: 50-60    10 000 steps per day
  • Age: 60 +         8 000 steps per day

While a sedentary person may only average 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day, there are many ways to increase your daily steps to reach the number-of-steps goal for each day.  To simplify, it takes just a little over 2,000 steps to walk one mile, and 10,000 steps is close to 5 miles.

A reasonable goal for many is to increase the average daily steps, for each week, by 500 per day until you can easily average 10,000 per day. At that point, you can set new goals for further increasing the number of your daily steps. For example, if you currently average 3000 steps each day, your goal for week one is 3500 each day. Your week 2 goal is 4000 each day. Continue to increase each week and you should be averaging 10,000 steps by the end of 14 weeks.

Here, we are providing you with a list of ideas, but you should use your imagination and come up with your own personal list:

  • Take a walk with your spouse, child, or friend
  • Walk the dog
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Park farther from the store
  • Better yet, walk to the store
  • Get up to change the channel
  • Window shop
  • Plan a walking meeting
  • Create a walking club with your friends and neighbors
  • Walk for a cause
  • Walk over to visit a neighbor
  • Get outside to walk around the garden or do a little weeding

PedometersAn easy way to track your steps each day is to wear a pedometer.

PedometersStart by wearing the pedometer every day for one week. Put it on when you get up in the morning and wear it until bedtime. Record your daily steps in a log or notebook. By the end of the week you will know your average daily steps. You might be surprised by how many (or how few) steps you get in each day.

Continue to track your daily steps and mileage, keep notes on how you feel, how your body is improving, or other changes you are making to improve your health…and be proud of your accomplishments, one step at a time.

Saturday, 11 December 2010 02:17

The Holiday Races

The Holiday RacesTip of the Week

The Holiday season – oh the turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the ham, the cookies, and the apple pie.

Maybe the tamales, pozole y pan dulce too!   Along with all the delicious treats come a lot of local communities’ Holiday races: 1K, 5K or 10K…everyone can become the town’s favorite athlete.

Usually, such races are a lot of fun, and they are a great opportunity to promote healthy choices and overall wellness to all the members of the community. These events are rarely intimidating and you can often spot Grandmas and grandkids, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, moms and dads pushing a stroller, and even the usually moody family teenagers all striving to cross the finish line…yes, the family that runs together stays together.

Holiday RacesHowever, in order to get the full benefit from such friendly competitions, a little bit of preparation is necessary. Do not attempt to run a distance that you are not familiar with, “cold turkey.”  We have put together an easy to follow running training plan to help you compete in your first 5K. Compare notes with your training regimen so far, adjust your last week of workouts, and keep it in mind for your next race.

5k Training Schedule

Week 1

Day 1 — Begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 5 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 5 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 2 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 5 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 5 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 3 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 5 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 6 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 4 — 30 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 30 alternating lunges and 3 sets of 20 squats

Day 5 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 7 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 6 rest

Day 7 45 minute walk

Week 2

Day 1 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 7 intervals of  5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 2 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 7 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 3 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 8 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 4 — 45 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 30 alternating lunges and 3 sets of 30 squats

Day 5 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 7 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 6 — Rest

Day 7 — 45 minute walk

Week 3

Day 1 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 9 intervals of  4 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 2 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 10 intervals of 4 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk 

Day 3 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 11 intervals of 4 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 4 — 45 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 40 alternating lunges and 3 sets of 30 squats

Day 5 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 11 intervals of 3 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 6 — Rest

Day 7 — 45 minute walk

Week 4

Day 1 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 12 intervals of  3 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 2 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 13 intervals of 3 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk 

Day 3 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 14 intervals of 2 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 4 — 45 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 40 alternating lunges, 3 sets of 40 squats, and 20 push-ups

Day 5 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 15 intervals of 2 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 6 — Rest

Day 7 — 45 minute walk

Week 5

Day 1 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 16 intervals of  2 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk  , followed by a 10 minutes run-only

Day 2 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 18 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 10 minutes run-only

Day 3 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 20 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 12 minutes run-only

Day 4 — 45 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 50 alternating lunges, 3 sets of 50 squats, and 20 push-ups

Day 5 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 20 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 12 minutes run-only

Day 6 — Rest

Day 7 — 45 minute walk

Week 6

Day 1 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 22 intervals of  1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk  , followed by a 10 minutes run-only

Day 2 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 23 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 10 minutes run-only

Day 3 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 24 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 12 minutes run-only

Day 445 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 50 alternating lunges, 3 sets of 50 squats, and 20 push-ups

Day 5begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 25 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 5 minutes run-only

Day 6 Rest

Day 7 45 minute walk

Week 7

Day 1warm-up for 10 minutes lightly jogging then run for 26 minutes

Day 2warm-up for 10 minutes lightly jogging then run for 28 minutes

Day 3warm-up for 10 minutes lightly jogging then run for 30 minutes

Day 445 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 50 alternating lunges, 3 sets of 50 squats, and 20 push-ups

Day 5warm-up for 10 minutes lightly jogging then run for 30 minutes

Day 6 — Rest

Day 745 minute walk

Week 8

Since your first 5K is going to be this week your training will be a slightly lighter not to over-fatigue your body. It is important that you eat a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, drink plenty of water, get 7/8 hrs of sleep per night and get to your race well rested and properly nourished.

The Holiday RacesDay 1 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up run-only for 25 minutes

Day 2 40 minutes of biking, swimming, or fast walking

Day 3begin by warming up, lightly jogging for about 10 minutes, then continue running for 30 minutes

Day 4 — day before the race… Rest

Day 5 — Race Day…compete and Have Fun!

Thursday, 25 November 2010 02:11

Budget Conscious Exercise

Budget Conscious ExerciseTip of the Week

We have all been dealing with added financial stress over the past year, so it's not surprising that some of us have been watching our expenses more carefully even when it comes to exercising.

Gym memberships are declining because fitness related expenses are often perceived as a luxury. While we should always incorporate healthy fitness activities in our daily lives to help improve our quality of life, we don’t need to join a gym to accomplish just that. In-home workouts using more affordable fitness equipment, or just our own body weight,  are indeed time-effective, they can fit in everyone’s busy schedule and can help us reach our healthy goals. Remember, where there is a will there is a way…

On the positive side, it is very easy to get a great workout at home with minimal fitness gear. Here are some ideas for your inexpensive at home workouts:

1. The Step Aerobic Step

A step can be used for more than one activity. It can be used for cardio activities, such as step aerobics, but also as a weight bench. Just get enough risers and you can change your step to become an incline, decline or flat bench, to vary your weight training.

Step-ups with DumbbellsStep-ups with dumbbells:

Butt/Hips, Legs – Thigh muscles

Start by standing with your feet parallel to each other, at about hip width apart while holding dumbbells in your hands with palms facing inwards. Pull your shoulders down and back. Do not shrug your shoulders upwards.  Slowly step up to place your right foot on the Step placing your foot firmly on top of it while keeping your torso upright and aligning your knee over your second toe. Push off with the left leg to raise your body onto the Step placing that foot alongside your right foot. During this transition, try to avoid excessive forward movement. Slowly load the weight of your body into your right foot, step backwards to place the left foot on the floor in its starting position. Allow your body to lean slightly forward during the step-down movement. Load your weight into your left foot and step off the Step with your right foot, returning to your starting position. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.  Perform 20 steps on each leg before switching to the other side. Repeat 3 times. Initially hold 2lbs dumbbells and successively increase the weight as you become stronger.

 

2. Dumbbell sets

2lbs, 3lbs and 5lbs they can be used alone or in combination with the equipment listed below.

Chest press on the StepChest press on the Step:

Upper Chest muscles

Lie down on your inclined step and begin by holding your weights (initially use 2lbs dumbbells and successively increase the weight when comfortable) in each hand straight up over your chest, with your palms facing out. Bend your elbows and lower your arms down until your elbows are just below your chest (elbows bent at 90 degrees). Press the weights back up without locking your elbows and bring them close together. Repeat for 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions. Keep your abs contracted throughout the movement to protect your back. Move slowly and in a controlled way without using momentum.

3.  Resistance Bands and Tubes

By using bands you can get a full body workout, no matter where you go. They are small enough to fit in your suitcase and versatile enough to use in any room. They also provide an increased negative resistance so that your muscles get a more engaging and more challenging workout.

Resistance Bands and TubesWalking side squats with Bands:

Strengthens all lower body muscles; spine extensors and abs stabilizers.

Resistance Bands and TubesLoop a medium resistance band around your ankles or around your thighs, then stand with hands in front of your chest, feet wider than shoulder width apart, torso and chest up, feet parallel to each other. Legs are bent at the knee at 90 degrees. Step to your right with your right foot, toes forward and feet wider than hip-width apart. Bend your knees into a squat position, keep your body weight towards your heels while pressing out against the band. Keep your legs in a squat position, bringing your left foot in towards the right. Continue stepping to the right with your right foot for 25 times. Perform 3 sets of 25 steps on the right side.  Repeat the sequence, stepping to the left. Take a wide enough step to ensure that both your outer and inner thighs muscles control the tension of the band.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010 21:16

Beautiful, Strong, Toned Outer Thighs

Beautiful, Stron, Toned Outer ThigsTip of the Week

The functions of the muscles of the outer thigh are for knee extension and hip flexion. While toned and strong legs with nice side dimples at the glutes are desirable, spot reduction by exercising alone is not realistically achievable. Outer Thigh MusclesSpot reduction is the idea that you can lose fat from a specific area of your body by performing exercises targeting that particular area. Unfortunately, you cannot spot reduce (with the exception of liposuction!), but you can: follow a healthy nutrition, incorporate regular cardiovascular exercise such as running, swimming, bicycling and kickboxing, and complete a circuit strength training program 4-5 days a week to reduce your overall body fat and eventually reduce the adipose layer deposited on top of  your Outer Thigh Muscles.

You can also incorporate the following strength building and sculpting exercises in your daily routine...and always remember to stretch after a workout for increased flexibility.

Build your strong outer thigh muscles

Plyometric Squat Jump            Plyometric Squat Jump

Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down, bending your knees to 90 degree, keep your chest up by looking straight ahead of you and keep your back in a neutral position. Do not curve your spine. Engage your core muscles and contract your abdominals. Now jump up and land softly again in the squat position. Use the strength in your legs and butt to jump up explosively and use your core muscles for balance and stability. Remember to land as softly as you can with your knees bent; keep your weight back, over your heels. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.

(Photo courtesy of mybodybeats.com)

The Single-Leg Circle

The Lingle-Leg CircleBegin by lying back on the mat with your arms by your sides and your palms facing down. Point with your left foot, as if reaching out with your toes toward the ceiling, and rotate your leg slightly outward. Inhale, and trace a circle on the ceiling with your left leg, moving your whole leg, but keeping your hips still. Don't lift your left hip off the floor. Trace the circle on the ceiling 10 times in a clockwise direction. Repeat in a counter-clockwise direction. Switch legs and repeat 5 times.

(Photo courtesy of athleta.net)

Lying-down leg lift

Lying-down leg liftBegin by lying on your left side, flat against the floor. Rest your head on your left upper arm. Rest your right arm on your right hip. Keep your legs straight. Using outer thigh muscle (abductor), lift right leg 6 inches off floor. Keep right toe in flexed position (not a pointed position). Exhale (breathe out) as you lift your leg. Using resistance with the outer thigh muscle (not gravity), slowly lower your leg. Inhale (breathe in) as you lower your leg. Repeat exercise for 3 sets of 25 repetitions. Then, switch leg and repeat the entire sequence on your right side. Remember to breathe regularly throughout the exercise keep your body straight and your hips aligned (one on top of the other).

(Photo courtesy of womenshealthmag.com)

Stretch your outer thigh muscles

Crossover sit leg stretch

Crossover Sit Leg StretchSit on the floor with legs stretched out forward and together. Feet should be flexed. Bending at the knee, cross the right leg over the flat left leg. Slip your left arm across your chest and touch your left elbow to your right knee. Fingers should be touching the floor with a straight arm. Use the resistance created by your elbow pressing against your knee to stretch your outer thigh muscle. Hold this stretch for a 15 count. Perform 5 reps on each side.

(Photo courtesy of westvalley.edu)
Friday, 23 July 2010 03:38

Be Strong at the Core

Be Strong at the CoreTip of the Week

In the past few years the terms Core Conditioning and Abdominal Conditioning have been used interchangeably, but referring to the abdominal muscles alone in terms of real core strengthening is both incorrect and misleading.

In truth, your "core" actually consists of several different muscles that stabilize your spine, pelvis and shoulders and run the entire length of your torso. These muscles also provide a solid foundation for movement in your arms and legs. Core strengthening exercise programs must target all these muscle groups in order to be truly effective. Your core muscles allow you to stand upright and move on two feet, they help control movement, transfer energy from the center of your body to your arms and legs, shift body weight and move in any direction. Strong and conditioned core muscles distribute the stress of weight-bearing and protect your back. Often, a weak and unbalanced core is linked to low back pain, poor athletic performance and injuries. Strong and balanced core muscles help maintain appropriate posture and reduce strain on the spine.

Your Core muscles are:

  • Rectus Abdominis - the most well-known abdominal muscle and is often referred to as the "six-pack."
  • Erector Spinae - these muscles run from your neck to your lower back.
  • Multifidus – it is under the Erector Spinae along your spine.  These muscles extend and rotate your spine.
  • External Obliques - on the side of your Rectus Abdominis.
  • Internal Obliques - under the External Obliques, running in the opposite direction.
  • Transversus Abdominis (TVA) - located under the Obliques, it is the deepest of the abdominal muscles (muscles of your waist) and wraps around your spine for protection and stability.
  • Hip Flexors - located in front of the pelvis and upper thigh.
  • Gluteus maximus, Gluteus medius and minimus – your buttocks
  • Hamstrings and, piriformis - located in the back of the hip and upper thigh leg.
  • Hip adductors –your inner thighs.

Core strengthening exercises are most effective when the torso works as a solid unit and both front and back muscles contract at the same time, multi joint movements are performed and stabilization of the spine is achieved. While there are many different forms of equipment available for core conditioning both for home use and at your health club (bands, wobble boards, Bosu ® etc…), no-equipment-body weight exercises are also very effective for developing core strength and they are utilized by both coaches and trainers with excellent results. You can try a combination of the following exercises:

Abdominal Bracing: More than a traditional exercise this is the correct and more appropriate postural way to control your own core both while exercising and during your activities of daily living. It is also the main technique used during core exercise training. It is the deep contraction of your abdominal muscles. While standing up, feet shoulder width apart, you should focus on the area of your body situated between just below your chest and your hip line, both front and back. Think of it as a natural girdle that runs around your body and holds you upright. Pull your navel back in toward your spine and hold. This action recruits your Transversus Abdominis (TVA). Do not hold your breath while bracing—you should continue to breathe naturally and deeply. Initially, practice holding the bracing position for 30 seconds, rest and repeat 5 times. Progressively increase the length of the exercise and focus on holding such position while exercising, running and during your regular, non-fitness daily activities.

Basic Back BridgeThe Back Bridge: To isolate and strengthen the gluteus (butt) muscles and hamstrings (back of the upper leg). It is a good core exercise that strengthens both the abdominal muscles as well as the lower back muscles.

Lay on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, feet are under your knees. Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles. Raise your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders. Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine. If your hips sag or drop, lower yourself back on the floor, then reposition yourself correctly. The goal is to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your knees and hold for 30 seconds. You may need to begin by holding the bridge position for a few seconds as you build your strength. It's better to hold the corOne-leg-bridgerect position for a shorter time than to go longer in the incorrect position. Repeat 3 sets of 30 seconds each. Progressively increase the length of the exercise and repeat 5 times.

Once the basic Back Bridge exercise becomes too easy you can move on to the One-leg Bridge.


Side Plank ExerciseThe Side Plank Exercise: Weak hips may be one of the causes of knee pain and lower leg injuries. The side plank exercise is aimed to increase hip strength and stability. Begin by lying on your side on the floor. Position your elbow on the floor just under your shoulder. Lift up on that elbow and keep your body stiff from head to toe. Hold this position for a count of 15 seconds and lower your hip to the floor. Rest and repeat 3 times. Switch sides and repeat the exercise on the other hip. Increase the duration of the exercise over time up to 1 minute.

Other exercises that develop core strength include exercises on a stability ball, work with medicine balls, wobble boards, Pilates, and Yoga.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010 17:03

Be Like the Sunshine

Be Like the SunshineTip of the Week

While excessive sun exposure can be harmful to our skin, a few minutes per day, may be helpful to our body in the production of this precious vitamin.

Let’s then work on our posture, flexibility, body alignment, and peace of mind by starting every day with a few yoga sun salutations. Open up your bedroom door and step outside in your backyard, go to a nearby park or step onto the soothing sand of your favorite beach and open up your mind and body to the benefits of the sun.

Basic Sun Salutation

Practice each individual pose and then perform them in a smooth flow in the basic sun salutation. Begin with 3–5 repetitions of the sun salutation and work up to a 20- to 30-minute session. You can also use this exercise as a functional mind-body warm-up for other fitness activities. At the beginning of a yoga practice, three repetitions of the basic sun salutation will prepare your body for more intense poses in your favorite yoga style.

Equipment needed: yoga mat or any anti-slip soft surface to prevent pain and slight bruising of knees, hips and feet.

Mountain PoseMountain Pose

  • Relax shoulders down.
  • Arms resting alongside your body.
  • Lift breastbone.
  • Align hip bones over ankles.
  • Lift arches, keeping equal weight distribution through whole foot.

Tall Mountain PoseTall Mountain

  • Look upward and lift breastbone.
  • Inhale and keep head in alignment with your spine as it extends.
  • Draw shoulders down as arms lift out to sides and overhead.
  • Keep chest lifted, pelvis neutral and tailbone down.
  • Maintain equal weight distribution on both feet.

Forward FoldForward Fold

  • Exhaling, hinge from your hips keeping your back neutral.
  • Keep tailbone lifted.
  • Reach down with your hands, releasing into flexion during the last third of the movement, and try to place your hands on the floor.
  • Relax your head down.
  • Lift kneecaps.

Standing Half Forward BendStanding Half Forward Bend

  • Inhale and extend your spine, lifting breastbone and drawing shoulder blades down.
  • Keep tailbone lifted.
  • Distribute your weight evenly over your feet, with knees straight and hands on the floor.
  • Lift kneecaps.

Planks Pose

  • Planks Pose Align ears with shoulders.
  • Exhale and step back into lower push-up position, hands under your shoulders, front of shoulders open and square.
  • Contract your abdominals to support your spine.
  • Distribute weight through whole hand, not just wrist.
  • Draw shoulder blades down.
  • Keep elbows close to rib cage.
  • Maintain neutral alignment of your head, neck and spine.
  • Press heels away.

Upward Facing DogUpward Facing Dog

  • Look upward. Inhale, flatten top of feet and lift torso upward and back, rolling your shoulders.
  • Keep hips on your mat, legs stretched away from your torso.
  • Keep hands aligned with shoulders.
  • Rotate shoulders out, with no compression.
  • Point toes.

Downward Facing DogDownward Facing Dog

  • Exhale and reach upward with tailbone
  • Lower torso and tuck toes under.
  • Keep tailbone lifted
  • Position head between arms with neck relaxed.
  • Put weight on base of fingers and spread weight across your entire hand, not just your wrist.
  • Press ribs toward thighs, and lift kneecaps.
  • Bend knees, if necessary to maintain neutral spinal alignment, and press heels toward floor.

Complete Sun SalutationComplete Sun Salutation Cycle

Enjoy your mind, body and…vitamin D.

According to Ayleen Marganian, MS, RD, CN, CLE,

Vitamin D may be a key to healthier, more active aging. That’s what current studies are trying to determine. Vitamin D plays a role in musculoskeletal, immune, neurological, and cardiovascular health. One recent study in elderly subjects showed an association between higher circulating vitamin D levels and greater long-term health and physical function. Research also suggests that adequate vitamin D nutrition may help protect against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, certain autoimmune diseases, and other serious conditions. Nearly 3 out of 4 adults and teens may be deficient in the “sunshine” vitamin. Deficiency risk increases with age, skin pigment, and limited sunlight exposure, and is also associated with diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease or other gastrointestinal disorders—such as fat malabsorption. A good source of vitamin D may be hard to find. Our bodies manufacture vitamin D3 when skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet-B rays—which can be blocked by both windows and sunscreen, and vitamin D is found naturally only in a few foods (e.g., fish, eggs).”

Tuesday, 06 July 2010 23:03

It's Soccer TIme...

It's Soccer Time!Tip of the Week

From June 11 through July 11, the world's eyes have been fixed on the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the most important international soccer tournament, taking place in South Africa.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup is the final competitive tournament of a qualification process that began in August 2007 and involved 204 of the 208 FIFA national teams. As such, it matches the 2008 Summer Olympics as the sports event with the most competing nations.

Whether you are a soccer fan yourself, or whether you are married to one, or whether your kids are involved in youth soccer, chances are that between June 11 and July 11, 2010 you will be exposed to a whole lot of soccer!

Let’s just make your July workout more fun and in tune with the sport of soccer, and let’s celebrate one of the most exciting and most widely played sports in the world.

Soccer Conditioning Strength Circuit:

It covers all the important elements of fitness: strength, power, speed & agility, endurance, but designed specifically with soccer in mind.

Jumping JacksStart by warming up: 5minutes of jogging in place, high knees, heel-flicks back or jumping.  Then repeat the following circuit 3 times:

  • 20 Push ups
  • 30 Squats
  • 30 Lateral raises (using dumbbells/resistance bands)
  • 50 Abs Crunches
  • 30 Jumping jacks: is performed by jumping to a position with the legs spread wide and the hands touching overhead and then returning to a position with the feet together and the arms at the sides.
  • 30 Triceps Dips on a chair
  • 20 Burpees/up-downs: Begin in a squat position with hands on the floor in front of you. Kick your feet back to a pushup position. Immediately return your feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible from the squat position. Repeat, moving at a fast pace.Burpees

Note: Please refer to my previous articles (below) for exercise description for triceps-dips, push-ups, squats, lateral raises, and abs crunches.

Running

Rather than running at a continuous pace, let’s make it much more soccer specific. Soccer conditioning should involve running, jogging and sprinting in no specific order, like in the real game.

Run for 20-30 minutes at varying paces. The idea is to keep it as random as possible. For example start by jogging lightly for 5 minutes (to recover from the strength circuit you just completed).

Then sprint for 20yards--Then slow jog for 100yards--Cruise for 200yards--Run backwards for 20 yards--Turn and sprint for 30yards--Walk for 50yards--Jog for 300yards--And keep alternating your pace for 20-30 minutes.

Use your perceived level of exhaustion (fatigue) to determine when to sprint or when you need to jog or walk. So, on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being a walk in the park, 10 being an all-out, heart-pounding effort) try to keep your running session at about a level 7 throughout. However, if you need to jog most of the way that's absolutely fine as well. Build your endurance up over a period of weeks to more intense sessions as you become fitter.

Stretching

At the end of your training session, stretch your hamstrings, groins, quads, calves and lower back. Hold each stretch for about 20-30 seconds without bouncing.

After all this hard work…you may not be able to play in the FIFA World Cup in South Africa yet…but your arms, legs, butt and abs will definitely be world class…!