Tag Archives: exercise

Find The Right Exercises For Your Mind and Body

17 Aug

This post features guest blogger, Jim Rollince, sharing some tips and information on finding the right exercise for you mind and body.

For ages, experts have reported that exercise is great for your health, but it’s not just excellent for physical health such a losing weight and toning muscle, but exercise can aid in improving your mental health as well. Exercise is wonderful for those looking to stay in shape as well as improve their quality of life, and there are countless exercises that people can do. However, not everyone is able to exercise in the same manner, so it’s important that people find exercises that work for them. The following list outlines exercises that may be right for different people with different goals.

Among one of the most popular exercises is running, which is one of the best all-around exercises for your body. This type of exercise is ideal for those who want to lose weight, stay in shape, and improve their stamina. It can be challenging for those with knee problems, but it can help those with breathing difficulties. Plus, running can easily be done indoors with treadmills or along the street or walking path. Exercises like this, when done regularly, have been known to have many benefits, such as improving mood, energy, and sex drive, because exercise releases endorphins that help with these things.

There are countless types of exercises out there that can help people strengthen their muscles. Lunges and squats are among some of the most beneficial strengthening exercises for your legs, and home gym equipment such as ellipticals can help with this, too. Push-ups and pull-ups are great for your arms, and for those people, who want a strong core, try sit-ups and other variations of the exercise. These exercises are wonderful for maintaining healthy bone and muscle while aiding in posture and balance, preventing injury, and relieving pressure on joints.

Some people may not feel physically ready to begin running right away or may not enjoy vigorous exercise. In this case, there are many other relaxing exercises that are still great for the body and are sometimes even better for relieving stress and improving mood. Exercises such as tai chi and yoga are remarkable for improving flexibility, and they can greatly help with breathing. In addition, these flexibility exercises can help those people who want to reduce stress levels and to relax.

Sometimes exercise doesn’t have to be a structured activity at the gym or in a class, but getting outside and doing physical activity can do wonders for the body and for mental health. Many outside exercises are great for those wanting to explore the outdoors, stay entertained while exercising, or do something more exciting. Among some outdoor activities include rock climbing, which is a wonderful strengthening activity for both the legs and the arms, canoeing or kayaking, which help exercise arms, and hiking, among many other sports. Many outdoor sports can also be done inside, so those who are interested can do them all year-long such as running, swimming, and biking, which all can be either vigorous or relaxing.

Some people may not find any joy in independent exercises, but there are plenty of ways to get involved in team sports, which often combine several exercises into one game, such as flexibility, running, and strengthening exercises. High schools and colleges offer plenty of opportunity for students to participate in team sports, and those outside of school may be able to find local teams to play with. Volleyball, basketball, and other team sports are excellent for improving coordination and strength. Plus, they can teach you plenty of skills to aid in your personal development.

Types of physical exercise vary so greatly, and there is always something for someone, no matter their physical goals and abilities. However, it doesn’t matter what type of exercise you’re doing, from walking to yoga or running and more, any type of physical exercise is good for the body, and they all release endorphins that aid in a happier mood, more energy, and better well-being.


Top Four Ways People Sabotage Their Fitness Efforts

25 Jul

Image copyright Doug Berry available on istock.com

1)      Starting Too Big: Dreaming big is good.  I want to lose 50 pounds, I want run 10 miles, I want to hold a plank position for 2 minutes.  Achieving, however, is attainable by making small steps towards your goals.  Health and fitness should be a lifelong pursuit, not one that lasts a month.  Just like weight loss, if you want it to last, you need to take one-step at a time.  Begin with a reasonable goal. If you are not a runner and desire to develop your skills, set a goal that you will run/walk one mile three times a week.  That’s it.  Don’t go out and try and run three miles on your first attempt.  You’ll disappoint and loss motivation to continue.  Bottom line: Like building a house, develop a strong foundation.  Start one brick at a time and move up from there.2)      Failing to Develop a Support Network:  People are much more likely to stick to a goal and succeed in achieving it when they are surrounded by like-minded people who offer support.  There are many ways to develop a support network.  Commit to fitness goals with your partner.  Create challenges for each other and register for a class you can do together.  Become part of an online accountability group.  These areas are often good places to share ideas, ask questions and gain support.  Find a smaller gym where you are more likely to get to know the individuals or join a running group or hire a trainer to help keep you on track.  Bottom line: People never succeed in isolation, they succeed in groups.

3)      Doing What Others Say You Should:  A lot of people will offer advice when you become vocal about wanting to get in shape.  They might tell you the only way to do it is to lift weights, or to do cardio an hour a day.  The reality is that you will not stick with it if you don’t enjoy it.  Keep in mind that it will be difficult at first.  You can’t say “I don’t enjoy any exercise at all”.  Pick something that seems to suit you.  Maybe you love tennis, or you like walking your dog.  Try a yoga class and start with gentle yoga as to not overexert yourself.  If you like the outdoors consider hiking.  Create obstacle course for your kids in the park and participate with them.  Bottom line: In some form or fashion start moving.

4)      Exercising Purely for Weight Loss:  Many people decide to exercise to lose weight and when the weight doesn’t come off quickly they become disappointed.  Your body takes time to adjust to new patterns.  It has a strong desire to hold on to fat and pounds, especially for women.  Choose exercise for health.  Years ago a friend of mine told me about her commitment to start runing.  Day in and day out she ran, everyday seeing the same image in the mirror.  Not a lot was changing physically for her but fortunately the main reason she chose to start running was for her health.  She felt better physically and mentally regardless of what the scale said.  This motivated her to stick with it.  She still exercises daily and now has an incredible physique.  It didn’t happen overnight though.  It built over a series of years.  Bottom line: Exercise for sanity, not vanity.

Running Tips: Creating Your Own Beginner’s Luck

22 May
Photo Copyright Drew McKenzie

Photo copyright Drew McKenzie http://drewmckenzie.com/

Ask any runner and chances are if they haven’t been running from a young age they will respond “I didn’t like doing this when I started”. Beginning to run can be challenging but it can provide great benefits over time. When you get started don’t think of running as winning races. Think of it as moving your body just a little faster than you usually walk around the mall. Anyone has the potential to do that. Decide today that you are going to incorporate it into your routine.

To Get Started:

1) Commit – just decide this is something you are going to do. Don’t think too much about it or you will talk yourself out of it. Put on your tennis shoes and just head out.

2) Pace Yourself – When you begin run as far as your body will allow. When you reach a point where you can’t go anymore stop and walk for a bit. Pay careful attention to how your body reacts. Don’t try to overdo your training the first month. If you start slowly you are more apt to continue.

3) Improve – Each day you run go just a bit farther than you did before. Maintain this pattern until you are running greater distances with ease. Don’t think about the entire run as you get started; just convince yourself to go for one more minute.

To Keep Going:

1) Schedule – Figure out what the best time of day for you to run is and stick with that. For many it’s early morning. Getting it done early ensures that you make time.

2) Fuel Positive Energy. The “I think I Can” attitude is always what allows us to accomplish our goals. Make a point to put quotes on your bulletin board, read success stories of runners, and subscribe to blogs. These things will keep running fresh in your mind and help you stay focused.

Overcoming Challenging Days:

1) There will be days when you struggle to get going. Just commit to five minutes and allow yourself to stop if you can’t make it. Generally once you get started you will keep going until you get to the end.

2) Enlist a support group. Join a running club, find a partner or become part of an online accountability group. These will foster support and motivation.

3) Reward Yourself. Set goals and when you achieve them do something nice for yourself. You might decide to treat yourself to a new running accessory every time you reach a certain distance. 4) Use mantras. Positive self-talk while you are running is critical. You CAN do this! Use phrases such as this:

Every day I get a little stronger and a little faster.

 I will not see results immediately but that doesn’t mean I am not making progress.

 I am worth it. I can do this.

I am improving with every step.

Want to read runner’s tips? Check Runner’s World Magazine at http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-267–14131-0,00.html  for more info. Good luck in your journey. Remember, once you get started, you’ll never look back!

Is Trimethylxanthine Your Drug of Choice? The Benefits of Caffeine for Body Builders

9 Apr

Every day, 90% of Americans ingest trimethylxanthine.  It’s become our society’s drug of choice and it’s completely legal!  It’s even considered good for you by many?  How do you get it?  Run down to your local convenience store and buy yourself a cup of coffee.

Trimethylxanthine, better referred to as caffeine, is known to improve many things, including our ability to sustain a workout.  It’s obvious that caffeine benefits cardio related sports such as running and cycling.  It produces energy because it elevates the number of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream, allowing athletes to perform at high endurance levels for longer amounts of time.  In studies done on elite athletes, researchers found that two out of three athletes had caffeine in their system prior to or during completion (Del Coso et. al, 2011).  Less research exists on how caffeine affects athletes in other sports, such as bodybuilding.  Clearly there are experts on both sides of the fence that have differing opinions as to whether caffeine is beneficial for bodybuilders, but recent research seems to greatly support the use of caffeine in moderation.

The key benefits of caffeine:

Longer workouts:

Caffeine not only allows you to work out harder, it can also aid in allowing you to work out longer.  This is primarily due to the fact that, “During exercise, the body uses a form of starch called glycogen for energy. But once these stores are depleted— perhaps toward the end of a long workout— the body starts to feel like it’s running on empty. Caffeine slows glycogen depletion by encouraging the body to use more fat as fuel.” (Tarnopolsky, 1994).  Longer workouts burn more calories and build more muscle allowing for quicker gains in performance.

 Reduced pain:

No pain, more gain.  When the body begins to feel pain its natural reaction is to reduce it.  Many athletes utilize over the counter medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen to alleviate pain.  Caffeine has been shown to have an even greater effect on reducing pain.  Scientists from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) presented studies at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2007 meeting that  showed when subjects were give caffeine as opposed to aspirin and or a placebo on different occasions, they were able to do more bicep curls and leg extensions with less pain (Journal of Pain, 2003).

Recovery assistance:

When the body is working to recover it needs to refill glycogen stores in muscle cells.

Having full glycogen stores allows your body to send a signal to the muscles that the stores are adequate; thus, providing energy for recovery and growth.  This allows you to be fully prepared for your next workout.

There are number of ways individuals consume caffeine.  Caffeine pills have become popular among many people because unlike drinking Starbucks or Redbull, you only consume caffeine when ingesting them.  If you are using caffeine, make sure you are not also adding ingredients such as sweeteners and syrups, that take away from your efforts to lean down and build muscle.  One potential negative side-effect to consider is that over time the body can become immune to the effects of caffeine.  In addition, some people experience sensitivities.  It’s been known to cause jitteriness, anxiety, stomachaches and headaches.  Those individuals who have this reaction to caffeine should avoid it all together.  Timing your caffeine consumption properly will help you utilize it effectively.  For best results, consume on days you exercise, immediately before and after your workout for best results.  Remember, more does not always mean better.  For optimum performance consume a moderate amount, which equates to approximately 0.45–1.36 mg caffeine per lb. body weight.

Del Coso, et al. (2011).  “Prevalence of caffeine use in elite athletes following its removal from the World Anti-Doping Agency list of banned substances,” US National Library of Medicine, Camilo Jose Cela University, Madrid, Spain,” 2011 Aug;36(4):555-61. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21854160

Tarnopolsky, M.A. (1994). “Caffeine and endurance performance,”   Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Henderson General Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Sports Medicine.  Aug;18(2):109-25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21854160

Gliottoni, R. Motl, R. “Effect of Caffeine on Leg-Muscle Pain During Intense Cycling Exercise: Possible Role of Anxiety Sensitivity” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2008, 18, 103-115. http://web.clas.ufl.edu/users/msscha/PreMed/caffeine_musclepain.pdf

Sleep Your Way to a Better Body

16 Jan

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about motivation and about what it takes to get in shape. I’ve read articles, talked with experts, conducted research, tried out tricks of the trade, and have found some common themes. I find great value in all the tips I read and as such, I try to implement many of them myself. However, I keep feeling like something is missing. I just put down an article, one of those “do it now” articles on getting fit. I’ve read several lately, and to be honest, I’ve slacked a bit this week. I’m partially blaming this on the fact that I am running a half marathon this weekend. However, to be honest, I just haven’t had made the time, and haven’t felt motivated to do it. Why is this? The why for me is actually pretty simple. I’m too tired!

The reality is that if you are not rested, nothing goes as planned. Your body simply lacks the ability to push yourself. With this in mind, I’ve decided from now on when people talk to me about their fitness goals, one of the first things I am going to ask is whether they are rested? In many ways, this is more important than what you eat or how and when you exercise. Why? Because good sleep lays the foundation for those items.

Sleep dictates nearly everything in our lives. First, it affects the nutritional choices we make. Lack of sleep makes us more likely to reach for foods high in fat and carbohydrates. It also promotes hunger. I think we have all experienced that at some point. Second, it prevents us from exercising because we do not have the energy to do so. Third, insufficient sleep affects mood, and can prompt depression. Depression can be a barrier to exercise. Thus; when we experience this we are less apt to move our body enough to get physically fit.

I had my own personal experience with lack of sleep recently. I am pretty disciplined, and despite being tired, managed to make it to the gym. Unfortunately during yoga I must have dozed off and ended up in child’s pose for five minutes. I did catch up on a few zzz’s in yoga, but I certainly didn’t get a good work-out. The bottom line… get some rest. Make whatever accommodations you need in your life to insure that you get quality sleep. Here’s some suggestions to help.

  • Set a firm bed time and stick to it
  • Aim to get the same number of hours of sleep each night
  • Shut off electronics an hour before bed
  • Invest in a quality pillow and mattress
  • Keep your room dark at night
  • Consider meditating before bed
  • Eliminate caffeine from your diet, or at least limit it to morning consumption
  • Incorporate quick naps, no more than 15 minutes a day to refresh yourself

If you get your rest, then your fitness goals will fall into place more easily. You’ll find you are more energetic, have improved exercise patterns, and that your mood will likely be elevated.

Now… if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a nap!

For additional information about getting quality sleep, visit one of my favorite websites at http://www.youbeauty.com/sleep

Finding Balance: Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

10 Nov

What qualifies me to discuss the ins and outs of fitness, diet, and nutrition?  I’m not a dietician, nor a nutritionist.  I’ve done a lot of research and reading on many aspects of diet, but no agency has certified me as an expert.  What I am is a real-life test case.  A wise mentor of mine said recently that sometimes living through something gives you the best perspective.  It’s much like parenting, once you live it, you feel like you have some helpful advice to offer on the subject.  Your thoughts don’t apply to everyone, but they might help someone.  With that, I’ll share my thoughts on health as it pertains to body competitions.

I wholeheartedly endorse the concept of pushing yourself.  Putting yourself in a situation where you are challenged, both physically and mentally; it is where you find growth.  It teaches you about who you are and for what you stand.  I put myself in that situation when I decided to participate in bikini competitions, and here is the most important thing I am taking away from it.

 The mind is as much a temple as the body.

I’ve come to believe that each person has an “optimal” health point.  This is the place where you push yourself hard and you hit a point where you mind, body, and soul feel complete.  Physically you have eaten right, appreciated food, and come to understand what your body needs to work most efficiently.  Your excellent health reflects in your attitude.  Your mind is in a good place, thriving off positive energy and peace.  The food and exercise that fuels the body allows you to handle what the world throws at you .  Your soul understands the depth of how these pieces are intertwined.  You feel invincible.  This is a place where people strive to be. 

This road should be carefully navigated though since excess in either direction can interfere with achieving your goals.  Much like a person carrying a lot of internal baggage and struggling to lose weight, being too thin and/or exceeding your physical limitations can be equally detrimental.  You may get a lot of positive feedback as your success is judged on looking good physically, but what if someone were to look internally and grade your mind?  Do you feel good inside, or are you empty?  Are both your mind and body in a healthy place, or are they unbalanced. 

Food fuels the body.  Eating right for your specific needs allows you to find the optimal spot where you thrive mentally and physically.  Paying attention to your mind and body as a guide to fitness and nutrition is paramount.  Much like the universe is balanced, so are we.  Think carefully as to how you navigate your health and fitness goals.  Push yourself hard physically but be vigilant about protecting your mind and spirit.

I recently asked a friend about her experiences running marathons and what she has learned over the years.  “I always remember going in that my body starts the race but my mind finishes it”, she said.  ” True grit is the perseverance and passion for long-term goals and the motivation to achieve them”.  This personality trait is what allows us to push our bodies far beyond normal levels.  It’s important to rely on our minds to help us realistically determine how much of that is healthy.  We should pay careful attention to how our fitness and nutrition goals allow us to achieve balance. While we rely on experts and coaches to help us, we should learn to trust and rely equally on our own intuition to make decisions based on what our minds and bodies tell us is right.  Push the limits, but don’t push so far that you lose yourself as a result.