Is Aerobic or Anaerobic Training Best For Getting Rid of Belly Fat?
by Charles Poliquin
Lose belly fat fast and improve your health by doing strength training and high-intensity intervals. Compelling research shows that the BEST way to get rid of the belly fat is to train with hard but short bursts of exercise, a style that taps into the anaerobic energy system more than the aerobic.
There is overwhelming evidence that belly fat loss is best achieved when exercise is with a high, but varied intensity, and a relatively large volume. However, this does not mean you have to spend hours and hours a day killing yourself in the gym. Less than an hour a few days a week can produce dramatic fat loss if you do it right.
This article will tell you why you burn more fat when you favor anaerobic-style training and give you eight reasons to favor this style of training by lifting weights and doing sprints rather than spending hours on aerobic exercise.
#1: Burn More Belly Fat with Sprint Intervals
A large number of convincing studies show that high-intensity interval training is the best conditioning strategy for losing belly fat. In contrast, one research group that has conducted a number of experiments comparing aerobic and anaerobic training for belly fat loss write, “Disappointingly, aerobic exercise protocols have led to negligible fat loss.”
The reason anaerobic interval training works so much better is that it requires the body to adapt metabolically—your body is forced to burn fat to sustain the level of intensity being asked of it. It also elevates energy use for more than 24 hours post-workout, which has a dramatic effect on belly fat loss.
For example, a 2008 showed that a 6-week program increased the amount of fat burned during exercise by 12 percent and decreased the oxidation of carbohydrates—obviously, a favorable result for losing fat. More impressive, a 2007 study showed that in as little as 2 weeks, active women who performed interval training experienced a 36 percent increase in the use of fat for fuel during exercise.
Interval training is so effective for fat loss because it taps into different energy pathways than aerobic exercise. Simply, aerobic exercise tends to burn carbohydrates first and activate pathways that are degrading to muscle, whereas high-intensity exercise such as weight lifting and sprinting will burn a greater percentage of fat, enhance the body’s production of enzymes involved in fat breakdown, and activate pathways that lead to muscle development.
The other reason anaerobic intervals are superior for belly fat loss is that they increase excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) a huge amount. A 2006 review showed that protocols that are more anaerobic in nature produce higher EPOC values than steady-state aerobic training because the trained muscle cells must rest restore physiological factors in the cells, which translates to a lot of energy expenditure.
#2: Lose Belly Fat With Sprint Intervals: The Proof
The following are examples of the superiority of anaerobic interval training for belly fat loss from the research:
• A 12-week high-intensity interval training program produced a 17 percent decrease in belly fat in overweight young men. Subjects lost 1.5 kg of belly fat and 2 kg of total fat, while building 1 kg of muscle. Fat burning was increased by 13 percent due to the 3-day a week program of 20-minutes of cycling in which the subjects sprinted for 8 seconds and then did 12 seconds of recovery, repeating these intervals for a total of 60 sprints.
• The same 20-minute cycling interval program produced 2.5 kg of fat loss in young women in 15 weeks, and the majority of the fat loss come from the legs and abdominal area. The sprint intervals were compared to a steady-state aerobic program that produced no fat loss.
• A 16-week study had trained athletes perform either a sprint interval protocol or steady-state running four days a week. The sprint interval protocol varied each day, but an example of one of the workouts used was 10 intervals of 30-sec sprints with 90 seconds rest. The sprint interval group lost 16 percent or 1 kg of visceral fat as well as 2 kg of total fat, compared to the endurance group that lost no belly fat, but did lose 1.4 kg of lean mass. The belly fat loss appears to be small, but be aware that subjects were lean, trained athletes to begin with and had less belly fat to lose than overweight subjects.
• An 8-week interval program using both high- and moderate-intensity intervals decreased belly fat by 44 percent in middle-aged men with type 2 diabetes. Subjects increased quad muscle size by 24 percent and improved insulin sensitivity by 58 percent—a dramatic improvement that highlights the other mechanisms involved in belly fat loss (muscle building, insulin health & blood sugar management).
#3: Sprints Take Less Time than Aerobic Exercise
Not only do sprints help you lose MORE belly fat, they help you lose it FASTER and with LESS training time. Repeatedly, studies show that more fat loss is achieved in high-intensity programs that use 20 to 25 minutes of training time than those that use 45 or 50 minutes of aerobic training time.
Scientists write that anaerobic intervals are overwhelmingly preferable to aerobics for producing belly fat loss, and that the estimated optimal dose of aerobic exercise necessary to lose belly fat appears to be 3,780 calories expended per week. This is an enormous volume of exercise that would require 1 hour of moderate intensity aerobic cycling 7 days a week to burn 550 calories a day so that you could lose even a pound a week!
In less than half the time you can get better results with anaerobic training. A 1994 study is indicative of this: Participants did either 20 weeks of aerobic training or 15 weeks of intervals (15 sprints for 30 seconds each) and lost nine times more body fat and 12 percent more visceral belly fat than the aerobic group.
What is so interesting about this study is that the energy cost of the aerobic program over the whole study period was 28,661 calories, whereas for intervals it was less than half, at 13,614 calories. In less time, the interval group lost much more weight—nine times more weight. How do researchers explain it?
Aside from greater fat oxidation and higher EPOC, hormone response plays a major role…
#4: Sprints Improve Hormone Response for More Belly Fat Loss
Sprint intervals and anaerobic exercise in general improve your entire endocrine system. Both training modes enhance the cells’ sensitivity to insulin, making anaerobic training a successful treatment for diabetes.
Perhaps most important, anaerobic exercise also elevates growth hormone (GH) —a powerful fat burning hormone that helps restore tissue and build muscle—much more than aerobic training. GH is released by the body in greater quantities in response to physical stress above the lactate threshold, which is the reason heavy, sprints are so effective.
Another hormone called adiponectin that is released from fat tissue during exercise also helps burn fat. Emerging scientific evidence shows that any time you perform forceful muscle contractions, adiponectin is released, and then your body produces a substance called PGC1 that is like a “master switch” that enhances muscle and metabolic functions, thereby burning belly fat. Naturally, anaerobic training is most effective for increasing adiponectin and PGC1 to burn fat since sprints and especially weight lifting require extremely forceful muscle contractions.
#5: Strength Train to Lose Belly Fat
To get a lean, trim your midsection and lose belly fat, you need to strength train with a high volume, using large muscle groups, and short rest periods. This metabolically intense type of training is fantastic for increasing GH and aiding belly fat loss. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours and hours a day killing yourself in the gym!
You will get results from a resistance training program that includes the following components:
• Multi-joint lifts such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, split squats, step-ups, chin-ups, and chest presses in every training session. Add isolation exercises only if you have extra time.
• Train with a higher volume—work up to more than 4 sets per exercise. Shoot for 24 to 32 total sets per training session.
• Train with a higher intensity—include some training in the 70 to 85 percent of the 1RM range.
• Include short rest periods (30 to 60 seconds) and always train a “finisher” that requires near maximal effort for more GH response (25 reps of squats or 2 minutes of leg presses, for example).
• Count tempo for every lift so that you apply a specific amount of tension to the muscles. In general, opt for longer (4 second) eccentric tempos and short or explosive concentric tempos.
• Shoot for 3 to 4 hours of total training time per week, which includes resistance training and a few short sprint sessions.
#6: Anaerobic Training Produces Less Cortisol For More Belly Fat Loss
Cortisol is the stress hormone that is elevated when you are under both physical and psychological stress. Research shows cortisol is chronically higher in endurance athletes—one study found that aerobic athletes had significantly higher evidence of cumulative cortisol secretion in their hair than controls.
In addition, cortisol is generally elevated more following aerobic training than anaerobic training. Part of this has to do with the fact that strength training and intervals do elevate cortisol, but they also elevate anabolic hormones such as GH and testosterone that counter the negative effects of cortisol.
If GH and testosterone are not elevated, cortisol overwhelms tissue, having a catabolic effect that leads to gradual muscle loss and fat gain. By doing aerobic training without strength training, you will lose muscle, lower your metabolic, rate, and gain fat. Worst of all, high cortisol causes chronic inflammation, which lead to belly fat gain over time—all-around bad news!
#7: Anaerobic Training Is More Fun & Less Boring than Aerobic Exercise
Intervals and strength training take less time and provide much more variety than aerobic training. Not only are you doing many different exercises in a strength training session, but you are pushing yourself to reach new personal bests. When you see how it can transform a fat belly into a lean, cut midsection, you will be that much more motivated to continue!
In addition, although sprint interval training can be mentally challenging, it only requires a short workout and many trainees find intervals less boring than endurance exercise. Plus, most people enjoy feeling powerful and fast from going all out. Get a training partner to help push you through the hard parts and know that by working hard but smart, you will reach your fat loss goal.
#8: Mix It Up with Modified Strongman, Varied Strength Protocols & Sprints
A few more anaerobic training suggestions include the following:
• Try modified strongman training: Do sled training, tire flips, and a heavy farmer’s walk to lose belly fat fast.
• Mix up strength training protocols with circuit training and supersets that use very short rest periods. For example, do supersets with 10 seconds rest when switching from the agonist to the antagonist exercise and 60 seconds between sets. Or, do a “death circuit” of heavy, high volume deadlifts followed by split squats followed by lighter high volume squats with 10 seconds rest between exercises.
• Try a sprint training workout in which you do 20 second all-out sprints with 10 seconds rest in 4 sets of 4 intervals. Rest 3 to 4 minutes between sets.
• Try hill or stair running in which you sprint up as fast as possible and jog down—repeat immediately. Do 8 to 16 reps.
• Try a sprint-endurance workout with six to eight 200-meter sprints (about 30 seconds each) with a 3 to 4 minute recovery.
Here are some simple ways to practice mental fitness:
Daydream – Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a dream location. Breathe slowly and deeply. Whether it’s a beach, a mountaintop, a hushed forest or a favourite room from your past, let the comforting environment wrap you in a sensation of peace and tranquility.
“Collect” positive emotional moments – Make it a point to recall times when you have experienced pleasure, comfort, tenderness, confidence, or other positive emotions.
Learn ways to cope with negative thoughts – Negative thoughts can be insistent and loud. Learn to interrupt them. Don’t try to block them (that never works), but don’t let them take over. Try distracting yourself or comforting yourself, if you can’t solve the problem right away.
Do one thing at a time – For example, when you are out for a walk or spending time with friends, turn off your cell phone and stop making that mental “to do” list. Take in all the sights, sounds and smells you encounter.
Exercise – Regular physical activity improves psychological well-being and can reduce depression and anxiety. Joining an exercise group or a gym can also reduce loneliness, since it connects you with a new set of people sharing a common goal.
Enjoy hobbies – Taking up a hobby brings balance to your life by allowing you to do something you enjoy because you want to do it, free of the pressure of everyday tasks. It also keeps your brain active.
Set personal goals – Goals don’t have to be ambitious. You might decide to finish that book you started three years ago; to take a walk around the block every day; to learn to knit or play bridge; to call your friends instead of waiting for the phone to ring. Whatever goal you set, reaching it will build confidence and a sense of satisfaction.
Keep a journal (or even talk to the wall!) – Expressing yourself after a stressful day can help you gain perspective, release tension and even boost your body’s resistance to illness.
Share humour – Life often gets too serious, so when you hear or see something that makes you smile or laugh, share it with someone you know. A little humour can go a long way to keeping us mentally fit!
Volunteer – Volunteering is called the “win-win” activity because helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. At the same time, it widens our social network, provides us with new learning experiences and can bring balance to our lives.
Treat yourself well – Cook yourself a good meal. Have a bubble bath. See a movie. Call a friend or relative you haven’t talked to in ages. Sit on a park bench and breathe in the fragrance of flowers and grass. Whatever it is, do it just for you.
What is Tabata Training?
Tabata is the name of a type of workout program that provides similar health benefits to that of cardio workouts, but it has a bit more zip. As opposed to hours upon hours of exercise, Tabata can be completed in 4 minutes. It is considered “High Intensity Interval Training”.
Origins of Tabata
Tabata was created by a Japanese scientist namesIzumi Tabata along with his fellow colleagues at a department of physiology in Japan. Izumi and his associates conducted a study to compare “moderate intensity training” with “high intensity training”.
He tested one groups of athletes using moderate intensity interval training (eg long distance running, biking, etc) and the other using high intensity interval training.
Group one athletes were training at 70% intensity for five days per week for a total of six weeks with each training session lasting one hour.
Group two trained for 4 days per weeks for a total of 6 weeks with each session lasting 4 minutes, at 20 seconds of intense training (170% intensity) and 10 seconds of rest, for 8 intervals.
Group one had a significant increase in their aerobic system (cardiovascular system), however, their anaerobic system gained little or no results at all.
Group two showed a greater improvement in their aerobic systems over group one, and their anaerobic system increased by 28%.
Pros of Tabata Training
- increased aerobic AND anaerobic systems
- excellent fat burning exercise
- increases metabolism during and after the workout
- improves mental toughness
Cons of Tabata Training
- Not recommended for individuals who are prone to strokes and/or heart attacks
- Not recommended for individuals who have high blood pressure.
- Not recommended for people with injuries (because of the high intensity of the exercise and the potential for high repetitions, it could aggravate injuries)
(adapted from Tabata Training.org – What is Tabata Training
Pros and Cons of Using the Tabata Training Method)
SuperSetting is an advanced training method in which you do two exercises, one after the other, with no rest in between. The exercises can be for the same muscle group or two different muscle groups, depending on your goals. They can even be completely different activities (e.g., a strength exercise followed by a cardio exercise). The idea is to do one exercise and, instead of resting and doing another set, doing a different exercise and alternating those exercises for your desired number of sets.
The Benefits of Supersets
It's a good idea to change your strength workout every 4-6 weeks to avoid plateaus, and supersets offer a great way to completely change what you're doing. Supersets help you:
- Save time. Going from one exercise to another without rest will make your workouts shorter and more efficient.
- Increase intensity. If you choose supersets that work the same muscle, but with different exercises, you're adding to the intensity of your workout.
- Overload your muscles. By working the same muscle with one exercise right after another, you can overload your muscles without using heavy weights. This is great if you don't have a spotter or don't want to lift very heavy weights.
- Make things interesting. If you've been doing straight sets forever, supersetting can make weight training more interesting and more challenging.
- Easily set up a workout. All you do is pick two exercises, either for the same muscle or by using some of the other ideas listed below, do them one after the other. Rest and repeat!
- Incorporate more variety into your workouts. You don't have to do exercises for the same muscle group. You can do opposing muscle groups or even two complete different parts of the body.
Bottom line? Supersets are an excellent choice when you are ready for a change.
From About.com Exercise
Sumitted by Gurv Bassi, Personal Trainer
Set up an appointment with a traienr for a new program today! Included with your membership for summer 2012.
How Does Exercise Improve Mental Health?
From Leonard Holmes, former About.com Guide
Updated March 18, 2010
About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board
We know that exercise has positive effects on the brain. Researchers at Duke University demonstrated several years ago that exercise has antidepressant properties. Other research has shown that exercise can improve the brain functioning of the elderly and may even protect against dementia. How does exercise improve mental health?
One theory for some of the benefits of exercise include the fact that exercise triggers the production of endorphins. These natural opiates are chemically similar to morphine. They may be produced as natural pain relievers in response to the shock that the body receives during exercise. However, researchers are beginning to question whether endorphins improve mood. Studies are showing that the body's metabolism of endorphins is complex, and there are likely additional mechanisms involved in the mental health effects of exercise.
Some studies have found that exercise boosts activity in the brain's frontal lobes and the hippocampus. We don't really know how or why this occurs. Animal studies have found that exercise increases levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters have been associated with elevated mood, and it is thought that antidepressant medications also work by boosting these chemicals.
Exercise has also been found to increase levels of "brain-derived neurotrophic factor" (BDNF). This substance is thought to improve mood, and it may play a role in the beneficial effects of exercise. BDNF's primary role seems to be to help brain cells survive longer, so this may also explain some of the beneficial effects of exercise on dementia.
The bottom line is that most of us feel good after exercise. Physical exercise is good for our mental health and for our brains. Someday we will understand it all better -- but we can start exercising today.
Healthy Easter Eating Tips
Share Love chocolate but want to prevent the extra kilos creeping on at this time of the year? Follow a few tips on how to have a healthy Easter and you and your family can indulge without doing yourself too much damage this year...
1. Size does not matter
Instead of opting for the biggest egg try a buying just a few individually wrapped little ones. To give you an idea a large Easter egg can contain at least 500calories or 2000KJ which is a third of your daily intake if you are trying to lose weight. Having to unwrap each little one also makes it a more time consuming process and more aware of the number you will eat-so put aside a few and just draw the line.
2. Quality not quantity
Let’s face it the majority of eggs are really poor quality milk chocolate and not that yummy at all. So this year why not choose to by a few small quality dark chocolate eggs or even just opt for a few pieces of your favourite dark chocolate (70-85% cocoa content) that you will really enjoy and also provide the added benefit of some heart healthy antioxidants? Studies also show that most people actually eat less of dark chocolate as the taste is stronger and more satisfying.
Spicy Foods: How Pepper Can Help Curb Hunger
Kari Hartel, RD, LD
Hot peppers not only add delicious heat to your favorite dishes, they can also provide an array of health benefits. Hot peppers contain a component called capsaicin, which has been shown to kill off cancer cells, illicit anti-inflammatory effects, slash your risk for cardiovascular disease and help relieve pain.
Capsaicin is the portion of the pepper responsible for its burning effect. It doesn't have any flavor or odor, but it does pack a punch of heat. The hottest parts of the pepper, the portions that contain the most capsaicin, are its seeds and ribs, but there is some capsaicin throughout the flesh of the pepper as well. The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains.
Many Hispanic dishes include hot peppers, which could be poblano, jalapeño, chile, cayenne, serrano or habanero peppers. These fiery vegetables provide unique flavor for very few calories, and they are good for you too.
Some early research suggests that sprinkling dried cayenne pepper on your food may cause a slight increase in calories burned after your meal. Researchers believe this is due to capsaicin's ability to generate heat when consumed. The scientists behind this study, conducted at UCLA's Center for Human Nutrition, said the increased calorie burn observed in their study was equivalent to about 100 extra calories burned per day for a woman weighing 110 pounds, 200 extra calories burned per day for a man weighing 200 pounds. However, further research is needed in this area.
When applied topically, creams containing capsaicin have been shown to temporarily reduce the pain brought on by chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, backaches and arthritis. New research also shows promising results of topical creams containing capsaicin in treating nerve pain associated with diabetic neuropathy or neuralgia. Other studies have revealed that topical capsaicin-containing creams may help those suffering from psoriasis because it may decrease the itching caused by this disease.
A great thing about adding hot peppers to your diet is that there aren't any negative side effects from consuming them, other than some possible short-term mouth burning you could experience if you go
overboard. There's a common misconception that spicy foods can cause stomach ulcers, but this is not true. They could increase some pain associated with an already-existing ulcer, but they don't cause ulcers if you don't already have one.
Ways to incorporate these spicy little suckers into an already healthy diet include:
Add some chopped spicy peppers to your morning eggs.
Toss some sautéed peppers into your pasta sauce.
Layer some sliced peppers into your sandwiches or wraps to give them an extra kick of flavor.
The Bottom Line
While hot peppers can cause a small spike in your metabolism and may help you consume less because you wind up taking in more fluids to cool off, it's no "easy fix" for an otherwise unhealthy diet. Try to stick to an overall healthy eating plan that focuses on variety, moderation, portion control and nutrient-dense foods.
YOGA FOR EVERYONE
For those who think 'yoga' is what Jon Belushi yells over and over in "Animal House," I have some disappointing news: it's not. For those who have a desire to be more in-touch with their bodies while building a strong mental foundation, please read on, for Webb the Fitness Guy has come to speak on the benefits of yoga.
An ancient Indian discipline for the mind, body and spirit, yoga has been practiced for millennia, dating back to the early Indus Valley civilizations. It began as a way to experience a higher state of consciousness, and that goal holds true to this day for practicing yogis (people who practice...wait for it...yoga!). There are books devoted to this ancient practice, and what I'll provide here is only the most rudimentary of overviews.
While yoga is heavily practiced in meditative practices such as Hinduism and Buddhism, fitness enthusiasts such as myself practice yoga to relieve stress, breathe deeply, and just to take a break from the busy city streets known as life. The basics of yoga involve meditating, stretching and breathing. Controlling how your mind perceives things, or mental strength, combined with controlling how your body contorts, or physical strength, mixed with controlling your inhalations and exhalations, or mental/physical strength, form the baseboards of yoga. On those baseboards, you can increase mental toughness, create new body positions and take deeper breaths.
The goals of yogis vary, from relieving stress, to keeping limber, to utilizing it as a main form of exercise, to achieving a higher mental state. Asanas, or body postures involving the way a yogi is sitting, are what practicing yogi seek to master, with asana positions ranging from the Downward Dog to the Prayer Pose. Sometimes asanas are even used as an alternate form of medicine, with the belief that all pain can be linked to the mind, and strengthening the mind and the body through yoga will heal your ailments.
The reception of yoga in our Western culture has been exceptional. If you decide to undertake it, however, I would recommend talking with your physician to see if you are healthy enough for what some have called the hardest thing they've ever put their body through. Making sure your instructor is established and/or professionally licensed is also recommended; while many do practice yoga, it is easy to get hurt if you are not properly trained.
Enjoy and be safe, yogis!
Team Up for Better Nutrition
(Submitted by: Sian Flanagan - Personal Trainer)
Eating healthy can be time consuming. Enlisting the help of a friend can be a smart solution to the time crunch. Working together, you can come up with healthy snack recipes, divide the labor and shopping and keep each other on track. Here are some great ideas you can use to work together:
-Discuss your likes and dislikes when it comes to food so that you know what you have in common.
-Do your menu planning together. Come up with creative recipes and plan to split meals so that there is more variety for both of you. This can help keep costs down while providing a larger selection of foods.
-Mix and match snacks. After you go to the grocery store, divide up the healthy snacks with your friend so that you have more to choose from during the week.
-Try cooking together. This can be a fun way to make healthy meals. You can always freeze extra portions if you make a lot of food.
-Take turns doing the grocery shopping. This can help cut down on the overall time you spend on meals.
-Make a master list of things you would like to find healthy recipes for and keep an eye out for them when flipping through magazines.
When it comes to menu planning, teaming up can be a great way to save on time and money. It can also be a smart way to cook nutritious meals while providing a good selection of dishes for two households.
How Common Is Back Pain? (Submitted by Stephanie Swaisland - Personal Trainer)
(From NIAMS – National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease)
In a 3-month period, about one-fourth of U.S. adults experience at least 1 day of back pain. It is one of our society’s most common medical problems.
What Are the Risk Factors for Back Pain?
Although anyone can have back pain, a number of factors increase your risk. They include:
Age: The first attack of low back pain typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 40. Back pain becomes more common with age.
Fitness level: Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit. Weak back and abdominal muscles may not properly support the spine.
“Weekend warriors”—people who go out and exercise a lot after being inactive all week—are more likely to suffer painful back injuries than people who make moderate physical activity a daily habit. Studies show that low-impact aerobic exercise is good for the disks that cushion the vertebrae, the individual bones that make up the spine.
Diet: A diet high in calories and fat, combined with an inactive lifestyle, can lead to obesity, which can put stress on the back.
Heredity: Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that affects the spine, have a genetic component.
Race: Race can be a factor in back problems. African American women, for example, are two to three times more likely than white women to develop spondylolisthesis, a condition in which a vertebra of the lower spine—also called the lumbar spine—slips out of place.
The presence of other diseases: Many diseases can cause or contribute to back pain. These include various forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and cancers elsewhere in the body that may spread to the spine.
Occupational risk factors: Having a job that requires heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling, particularly when this involves twisting or vibrating the spine, can lead to injury and back pain. An inactive job or a desk job may also lead to or contribute to pain, especially if you have poor posture or sit all day in an uncomfortable chair.
Cigarette smoking: Although smoking may not directly cause back pain, it increases your risk of developing low back pain and low back pain with sciatica. (Sciatica is back pain that radiates to the hip and/or leg due to pressure on a nerve.) For example, smoking may lead to pain by blocking your body’s ability to deliver nutrients to the disks of the lower back. Or repeated coughing due to heavy smoking may cause back pain. It is also possible that smokers are just less physically fit or less healthy than nonsmokers, which increases the likelihood that they will develop back pain. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis, a condition that causes weak, porous bones, which can lead to painful fractures of the vertebrae. Furthermore, smoking can slow healing, prolonging pain for people who have had back injuries, back surgery, or broken bones.
5 Ideas for Better Sleep
(Submitted by Sian Flanagan - Personal Trainer)
Most teens need about 8½ to more than 9 hours of sleep each night. But about 1 in 4 teens has trouble sleeping. Lack of sleep can affect everything from our emotions to how well we focus on tasks like driving. It can affect sports performance, increase our chances of getting sick, and may be linked to weight gain in some people.
How can we get the sleep we need? Here are some ideas:
- Be active during the day.You've probably noticed how much running around little kids do — and how soundly they sleep. Take a tip from a toddler and get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. Physical activity can decrease stress and help people feel more relaxed. Just don't work out too close to bedtime because exercise can wake you up before it slows you down.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.Lots of people think that alcohol or drugs will make them relaxed and drowsy, but that's not the case. Drugs and alcohol disrupt sleep, increasing a person's chance of waking up in the middle of the night.
- Say goodnight to electronics.Experts recommend using the bedroom for sleep only. If you can't make your bedroom a tech-free zone, at least shut everything down an hour or more before lights out. Nothing says, "Wake up, something's going on!" like the buzz of a text or the ping of an IM.
- Keep a sleep routine.Going to bed at the same time every night helps the body expect sleep. Creating a set bedtime routine can enhance this relaxation effect. So unwind every night by reading, listening to music, spending time with a pet, writing in a journal, playing Sudoku, or doing anything else that relaxes you.
- Expect a good night's sleep.Stress can trigger insomnia, so the more you agonize about not sleeping, the greater the risk you'll lie awake staring at the ceiling. Instead of worrying that you won't sleep, remind yourself that you can. Say, "Tonight, I will sleep well" several times during the day. It can also help to practice breathing exercises or gentle yoga poses before bed.
Everyone has a sleepless night once in a while. But if you regularly have trouble sleeping and you think it's affecting your mood or performance, talk to your doctor.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD Date reviewed: May 2009
10 Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challenges
By: Mayo Clinic Staff (Submitted by: Leslie Park - Global Fitness Trainer and Kinesiologist)
Sticking to a regular exercise schedule isn't easy. After all, there are plenty of potential hindrances — time, boredom, injuries, self-confidence. But these issues don't need to stand in your way. Consider practical strategies for overcoming common barriers to fitness.
Barrier No. 1: I don't have enough time to exercise
Setting aside time to exercise can be a challenge. Use a little creativity to get the most out of your time.
Squeeze in short walks throughout the day. If you don't have time for a full workout, don't sweat it. Shorter spurts of exercise, such as 10 minutes of walking spaced throughout the day, offer benefits too.
Get up earlier. If your days are packed and the evening hours are just as hectic, get up 30 minutes earlier twice a week to exercise. Once you've adjusted to early-morning workouts, add another day or two to the routine.
Drive less, walk more. Park in the back row of the parking lot or even a few blocks away and walk to your destination.
Revamp your rituals. Your weekly Saturday matinee with the kids or your best friend could be reborn as your weekly Saturday bike ride, rock-climbing lesson or trip to the pool.
Barrier No. 2: I think exercise is boring
It's natural to grow weary of a repetitive workout day after day, especially when you're going it alone. But exercise doesn't have to be boring.
Choose activities you enjoy. You'll be more likely to stay interested. Remember, anything that gets you moving counts.
Vary the routine. Rotate among several activities — such as walking, swimming and cycling — to keep you on your toes while conditioning different muscle groups.
Join forces. Exercise with friends, relatives, neighbors or co-workers. You'll enjoy the camaraderie and the encouragement of the group.
Explore new options. Learn new skills while getting in a workout. Check out exercise classes or sports leagues at a recreation center or health club.
Barrier No. 3: I'm self-conscious about how I look
Don't get down on yourself! Remind yourself what a great favor you're doing for your cardiovascular health, or focus on how much stronger you feel after a workout.
Avoid the crowd. If you're uncomfortable exercising around others, go solo at first. Try an exercise video or an activity-oriented video game. Or consider investing in a stationary bicycle, treadmill, stair-climbing machine or other piece of home exercise equipment.
Focus on the future. Praise yourself for making a commitment to your health. And remember that as you become fitter and more comfortable exercising, your self-confidence is likely to improve as well.
Barrier No. 4: I'm too tired to exercise after work
No energy to exercise? Without exercise, you'll have no energy. It's a vicious cycle. But breaking the cycle with physical activity is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
Try a morning dose of exercise. Remember the suggestion to get up 30 minutes earlier to exercise? Hop on the treadmill or stationary bicycle while you listen to the radio or watch the morning news. Or step outside for a brisk walk.
Make lunchtime count. Keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk, and take a brisk walk during your lunch break.
Be prepared. Put workout clothes on top of your dresser, socks and all. Keep a full water bottle in the fridge. Have an exercise video queued up and ready to go when you get home at night.
Hit the hay earlier. Running on empty is no way to face a full day. Go to bed earlier to make sure you're getting enough sleep.
Barrier No. 5: I'm too lazy to exercise
If the mere thought of a morning jog makes you tired, try these thoughts on for size:
Set realistic expectations. If your mental bar is too high, you might give up without even trying. Start with a walk around the block. Don't give up if you feel worn out. Take another walk around the block tomorrow. Keep it up, and eventually you'll no longer feel worn out.
Work with your nature, not against it. Plan physical activity for times of the day when you tend to feel more energetic — or at least not quite so lazy.
Schedule exercise as you would schedule an important appointment. Block off times for physical activity, and make sure your friends and family are aware of your commitment. Ask for their encouragement and support.
Barrier No. 6: I'm not athletic
Natural athletic ability isn't a prerequisite to physical activity.
Keep it simple. Try something basic, such as a daily walk.
Start a team. Join up with friends who are in the same boat. And have fun while helping each other work out.
Forget the competition. Don't worry about becoming a superstar athlete or joining the hard-bodied athletes at the fitness club. Simply focus on the positive changes you're making to your body and mind.
Barrier No. 7: I've tried to exercise in the past and failed
Don't throw in the towel. You can't see it when you lower your cholesterol or reduce your risk of diabetes, but that doesn't mean you aren't doing yourself a great favor. Re-evaluate what went wrong, and learn from your mistakes.
Pace yourself. Start small and build up to more-intense workouts later, when your body is ready.
Set realistic goals. Don't promise yourself you're going to work out for an hour every day, and then get down on yourself when you fall short. Stick with goals you can more easily achieve, such as exercising 20 minutes a day, three days a week for the first month.
Remember why you're exercising. Use your personal fitness goals as motivation — and reward yourself as you meet your goals.
Barrier No. 8: I can't afford health club fees
You don't need a membership at an elite gym to get a great workout. Consider common-sense alternatives.
Do strengthening exercises at home. Use inexpensive resistance bands — lengths of elastic tubing that come in varying strengths — in place of weights. Lift plastic milk jugs partially filled with water or sand. Do push-ups or squats using your body weight.
Watch an exercise video. Try videos on dance aerobics, cardio-kickboxing, yoga or tai chi. For variety, trade exercise videos with a friend.
Start a walking group. Round up friends, neighbors or co-workers for regular group walks. Plan routes through your neighborhood or near your workplace, along local parks and trails, or in a nearby shopping mall.
Take the stairs. Skip the elevator when you can. Better yet, make climbing stairs a workout in itself.
Try your community center. Exercise classes offered through a local recreation department or community education group might fit your budget better than an annual gym membership.
Barrier No. 9: I'm afraid I'll hurt myself if I exercise
If you're nervous about injuring yourself, start off on the right foot.
Take it slow. Start with a simple walking program. As you become more confident in your abilities, add new activities to your routine.
Try an exercise class for beginners. You'll learn the basics by starting from scratch.
Get professional help. Get a fitness tutorial from a certified expert, who can monitor your movements and point you in the right direction. If you've had a previous injury, you may want to first see a sports medicine physician, who can evaluate you and recommend specific treatment, such as physical therapy.
Barrier No. 10: My family doesn't support my efforts
Remind those close to you of the benefits of regular exercise — and then bring them along for the ride.
Get your kicks with your kids. Sign up for a parent-child exercise class. Pack a picnic lunch and take your family to the park for a game of tag or kickball. Splash with the kids in the pool instead of watching from your chair.
Propose a new adventure. Instead of suggesting a workout at the gym, invite a friend to go to an indoor climbing wall or rent a tandem bicycle for the weekend.
Do double duty. Volunteer to drive your teens to the mall, and then walk laps inside while you wait for the shoppers. Try the same trick at your child's school during lessons, practices or rehearsals.
If necessary, have a heart-to-heart with your loved ones. If they don't share your fitness ambitions, ask them to at least respect your desire to get fit.
Dehydration and Connective Tissue by Greg Klein
(Submitted by: Sian Flanagan - Global Fitness Centre Personal Trainer)
Dehydration and Connective Tissue. Only yesterday, I completed a very powerful weekend workshop, given by a brilliant young researcher, which expanding my knowledge about fascia or connective tissue. I came away with a much greater background on this new emerging science. Given the limitations of space here and not wishing to overwhelm Healthy Times readers, I will focus on two of the three intrinsic aspects of the connective tissue system that we must understand further in order to more fully appreciate and assess its dynamic function in a living body.
The connective tissue matrix is a renewable tissue that is made of 70-80% water. Combined with collagen and elastin, it creates the bubbly fluids that flow in and around all definable structures within the body. This is a very new discovery in human science. When fascia is hydrated, it is flexible, glide-able, and resilient.
When our connective tissue is dehydrated, it gets inflexible and stiff like a dried out sponge. Its bubbles lose their buoyancy, inhibiting the tissues’ gliding ability. As a result, the body has less supportive integrity, responsiveness, and connection.
When the connective tissue is dehydrated, the joints become compressed, muscles are less able to integrate proper timing, and flexibility and ease of basic movement is compromised. In other words, chronic pain arises. The lymphatic system, liver, and large intestines become overworked and stressed, causing common symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, bloating, sugar cravings and binge eating. Connective tissue dehydration also causes wrinkles, sagging skin, and cellulite.
To some degree, dehydration is a part of aging and is intrinsic to the human condition. It is caused by a variety of things that fall under the category of daily living. The are many things that accelerate dehydration, such as inadequate water intake, habitual patterns, physical and emotional trauma, and poor diet. Whatever the cause, when the water content within our body decreases and there is no intervention, the body will slowly degrade, deform, and lose space.
Fortunately, anything that improves the water level in the body will positively affect the aging process. To achieve and maintain a healthy, hydrated body, both adequate water intake and connective tissue treatment are vital. The key is maintenance. The tissue needs regular maintenance using the Rossiter System or other bodywork and the body needs ongoing, consistent water intake — two to three liters a day, depending on our size and activity level. Connective tissue dehydration doesn’t have to be a permanent state or condition. This tissue is a remarkable, renewable resource.
Another intrinsic aspect of fascia is extensibility, or the ability to adapt to spatial length. Connective tissue extensibility gives our body the ability to subtly adapt at any given moment and remain stable. This is required for stability and for ideal movement to occur without added compression or compensation.
Extensibility allows this tissue to act like a shock absorber. Incoming vibrational forces are first transmitted through the connective tissue, from which appropriate responses are relayed to the rest of the body. Connective tissue reacts to our movements. When connective tissue extends beyond its potential, it tears. It is like driving a car on a bumpy road with worn-out shocks. If the shocks don’t do their job, the weight of the car against the force of the ground will cause the axle to crack.
Connective tissue extensibility is similar to the extensibility of skin. If we gain weight, our skin doesn’t tear or rip open. Instead, the deep fibers extend to allow for the added fat deposits in our superficial fascia. If we gain too much weight, the collagen and elastin fibers separate, creating stretch marks. The same thing occurs deep within the superficial fascial layers and beyond. Excess weight does more than alter connective tissue extensibility and damage joints. It creates constant tension to the point where the entire connective tissue matrix becomes unable to support the joints overall, which causes compress and postural deformity.
It is essential that our connective tissue stays hydrated to maintain its extensibility and adaptability. If it is dehydrated, tension becomes concentrated in a specific area, and if this occurs repetitively, the entire system is affected. Over time, this alters the body’s postural position from the ground up.
Greg Klein is a certified Rossiter coach and massage therapist. If you are interested in evaluating these stretches for yourself, contact Greg at 760-318-5278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Greg is available to travel to your home or office.