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150218 An introduction to Tai Chi part 2 of 2

150218 An introduction to Tai Chi part 2 of 2 

There are different styles of Tai-Chi, some are more aggressive than others and involve faster paced movements. Those most commonly practiced utilize gentle slower motions that are suitable for everyone.

As with anything in life there are positives and negatives in the practice of Tai-Chi. The pros seem to outweigh the cons though in these respects:

  • The movements are self-paced and non competitive, which to a competitive person may be a negative attribute.
  • The physical space requirements are negligible as well as the attire. You don’t need a lot of space or fancy gear to take part in Tai-Chi. It’s easy to do; you can do it anyplace and anytime either alone or with others. Once you become accustomed to the activity and more proficient in the art then you can add in your own to make it even more individualized and specific to your needs.

The negatives are almost non existent but do include the usual warnings of possible soreness if the first few sessions are overdone beyond your current physical fitness levels.

Beginning a new activity starts with learning how to do it correctly. In the case of Tai-Chi this will mean seeking out a competent instructor who will guide you in the technical aspects of posture and movement. Pay strict attention to your breathing and body position throughout the training session. Develop the ability to perform the motions effortlessly and without conscious thought. Doing so helps avert muscle strains and damaged joints.

Tai-Chi classes are taught throughout the world. In the United States contact your local senior center, the YWCA or YMCA or check with the gyms in your area. You can even look it up on the internet; there are scores of sites listed.

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080218 An introduction to Tai-Chi part 1 of 2

080218 An introduction to Tai-Chi part 1 of 2

Tai-Chi is an ancient art that uses a series of gentle continuous movements which place an emphasis on joint leverage based on coordination and relaxation instead of muscular tension. Practioners of the art have discovered increased balance control, flexibility and cardiovascular benefits. The elderly have reduced their risk of falling after learning and applying Tai-Chi training practices.

Healthy individuals also have reported reduced pain while using Tai-Chi as an alternative exercise method along with lowered blood pressure readings, decreased pain from arthritis and the effects of multiple sclerosis.

Progressively self paced, Tai-Chi is a noncompetitive gentle exercise that is performed in a very specific defined series of movements and postures. Each of which flows gracefully and slowly from one to another without a pause.

A major benefit to older people is the reductions in falls that accompany the art of Tai-Chi due to the increased enhancement of their balance and coordination skills. Since these movements are low impact they place minimal stress on the joints and muscles which is ideal in some situations for those with advanced arthritis or osteoporosis.

Anecdotally the relationship of Tai-Chi to reduced stress, increased flexibility, improved muscle strength and definition along with the development of greater energy, stamina and agility are well documented. These benefits all contribute to a greater sense of well being. However the art has not been scientifically studied until recently. The findings, thus far, are supportive of the anecdotal reports.

The scientific research into Tai-Chi have indicated reduced anxiety and depression, improved balance and coordination which helps to reduce falls in those prone to falling and improved sleep patterns. The time spent in sleeping was found to be longer and with greater alertness reported during the following day.

Practicing Tai-Chi was shown to slow bone loss in post menopausal women an especially important issue to those with osteopenia or osteoporosis. It also reduced high blood pressure and improved cardiovascular fitness along with providing relief from chronic pain. All of these healthy benefits made for better daily living functioning.

121217 Balance out your exercise program

121217 Balance out your exercise program

It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.

During spring time the runners start hitting the road, especially those who are getting ready to run Bloomsday here in Spokane, Washington. While running is an admirable endeavor, it is not enough to keep your body in top physical condition. Our body needs physical and mental stimulation which is only achievable through the use of a variety of methods.

Cyclic exercise, similar to running, stresses the cardiovascular abilities thereby increasing the capacity to engage in lengthy activities through enhanced oxygen transfer to the working muscles. However, exercising in this manner will not increase the lean muscle mass composition of our body. In order to do that resistance training is necessary.

Weight training helps build strong bones.

Bone density responds directly to increases in intensities of load and site specifically to the greater pressures required to move the load. Adaptations take place within the structures of the bone that make it more resistant to the imposed loads and thus stronger.

Women in particular need this load bearing weight on their long bones, the spine and hips to stave off and help prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis from occurring. Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that progressively decreases the bone density which in time leaves them weakened and vulnerable to fracture.

 

It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.

Flexibility

Getting stronger helps in other ways too. The strength to recover from a slip may prevent a bone damaging fall. Postural muscles that are strengthened through weight training inevitably lead to improved posture and a reduced potential of lower back problems. Even though strength training is high on the list of maintaining a strong fit body other pieces of the equation are important too. For instance being flexible enough to tie your shoes or even scratch your back is an important part of living a full and healthy lifestyle.

Work the joints normal range of motion each day by following a stretching program. But be cautioned that static stretching performed before a strength training session has been found to lower the power output by as much as 8%. If you are a sprinter, thrower or recreational handball or tennis player stay away from these at the start of your activity. The proper place for a static stretch is at the end of the workout when the muscles are warm and receptive to change. Doing so before hand, is an invitation to injury.

Find a good stretching book; read up on the proper way to stretch and start applying these to your exercise program. Brad Walker’s Stretching Handbook or Bob Andersons Stretching are two of the premier ones on the market and each one has stood the test of time. Even though flexibility is important it is not the end of the line. Maintaining your balance becomes harder as we age.

Balance

Prevention begins with daily practice. Standing on one foot or with heel to toe for multiple seconds at a time (60-120) will help stave off this decline in balance. Leaning toward the floor on one leg with arms to the side or rear will change the center of gravity and will change the feel of the exercise. In each instance it is important to have the ability to catch yourself on something solid to prevent a dangerous fall from happening in the event you do lose your balance while doing these.

Of course there are many other ways to practice balance training but this article is not being written to list them all. Suffice it to say balance is a critical part of living a healthy life.

Bodily balance. A physical state or sense of being able to maintain bodily equilibrium

190917 Special strength and the athlete

190917 Special strength and the athlete

We all know that not everyone is born with the same capabilities to display awesome strength. It’s a fact of life that some of us just don’t have the right combinations of fast twitch to slow twitch fibers. However, each of us can make a difference in our strength levels through proper training schedules. How we go about setting up these training regimens is the topic of this article.

There are minute differences in each muscle fiber type, and these differences make up the ability to run long distances or to lift heavy weights. Some are nearly all fast twitch with nary a hint of a slow twitch characteristic in them. At the other end of the spectrum are the slow twitch fibers with an amazing ability to keep on keeping on. Somewhere in the middle lay the in-between fibers the type two ‘a’ and ‘b’. Not quite all out fast twitch and not fully slow twitch either.

Determining the precise ratio of fast to slow twitch fibers is in the realm of the scientists but a few easy to follow tests may give an astute coach a clue as to the direction the training program would realistically follow. Dr. Fred Hatfield, also known as Dr. Squat, came up with a useful gauge for program planning based on the individuals’ fiber makeup. Here’s the test.

Determine the one repetition maximum, without equipment, in the lifts of your choice. Now take eighty percent of that one rep max. Do as many repetitions as possible with this weight. If you are able to do four to six repetitions, and no more with good form, then you are more than likely genetically gifted with a larger amount of type two fibers-the fibers that produce high force but wear out quickly due to their lack of endurance. These fibers operate within the rapidly consumed ATP/CP energy sphere. They fatigue easily, have fewer mitochondria and few capillaries supplying them with fuel.

If on the other hand you are able to do more than fifteen then you probably, have an abundance of type one fibers. These contain a greater percentage of mitochondria, a higher aerobic enzyme capacity and much more dense capillary concentrations. They allow you to go longer but the force output possibilities are lower.

In the middle of these two extreme rep ranges, we have the seven to fourteen ranges. These individuals will have predominance of in-between fibers. Not that many fast twitch and not that many slow twitch fibers.

So what do you do with this information once you’ve found it out? If you know your trainee is a fast twitch sort of person then design the program around this aspect. Keep the reps low and the sets higher. Two to six reps for ten to four sets respectively. Keep in mind that performing four sets of six reps will be physiologically harder on the system than doing twelve sets of two reps.

If they lean more toward the slow twitch end of the continuum then have them doing higher repetitions and fewer sets.

Now that you have a brief idea of the direction you will be going with your training plans, don’t forget to add in a few higher and intermediate reps and sets schedules for those who have the majority of fast twitch fibers. Take advantage of your trainees’ strong points but don’t overly neglect the rest of the points either.

050917 More benefits of exercise

050917 More benefits of exercise

Exercise has been cited as being beneficial for avoiding, lessening, and mitigating a vast array of diseases in the past. Now, new research is confirming even more of these exercise related benefits for those who choose to follow this path to better health.

According to a recent report from Duke University, working out directly affects your heart. You may reduce your risk of developing heart disease up to 25% by doing 750 minutes of high intense minutes each week. By doing 300 minutes of intense exercise you lower your risk of heart disease by 20% and exercising 150 minutes per week lowers the risk by 14%.

Despite scientific research and the medical expert’s advising exercise to manage the pain of arthritis, up to 90% of those with arthritis fail to meet even the standards of 150 minutes of exercise per week. Of this 90%, nearly half get no exercise at all. They are inactive.

Boost your memory with movement.

Aerobic exercise pushes the rate of circulation up and this helps to increase the flow of oxygen rich blood into your brain. A study of almost 300 older people found that of those who walked at least 72 blocks, about 4 miles and 880.0 yards, each week had more gray matter in their brain than those who did not walk or exercise each week. Those who were walking each day cut their risk in half of developing memory problems.

Achieve a calmer state of mind with exercise

Regular aerobic exercise tends to reduce an individual’s level of stress hormones, and decreases the amount of fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure when under duress. Some of the recommended ways of aerobically exercising are walking, running, swimming, biking, or any other activity that keeps your heart rate up and within the target range for up to 20-30 minutes a day.

Equally effective is resistance circuit training. This method involves doing a series of exercises without stopping for 3-6 times around a circuit-thus the name circuit training. It is most effective with the large muscle groups such as legs, chest, and back. As an example, when doing an intense lower body circuit, the series could look like this: do each exercise for 1 minute. Do this 3-6 times, if you are able.

  • Skip rope
    • Squats
    • Skip rope
    • Calve raises
    • Skip rope
    • Dead lifts
    • Skip rope

Obviously, before beginning any of these exercise suggestions consult with your doctor.

110717 Building your own limited space workout room

110717 Building your own limited space workout room

The primary advantage of owning your own gym is you can exercise anytime you want to and you don’t have to wait for equipment to free up from the knotheads jawboning to their partner.

If you are looking to maintain your physical fitness or improve a little bit, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on equipment. Furthermore, you don’t need a lot of space to have a nice gym set up.

You can even have equipment set up outside for use when you are working in the yard or feel like working out outside. A chin up bar between two trees, a selection of rocks in various weights and sizes, and inner tubes filled with traction sand all hold up very well for outside use.

The first thing to do is to decide exactly what you want to be doing. Do you want to focus on your cardiovascular capabilities, flexibility, balance, strength or on all four? Each one is going to have equipment that is particular to attaining the goal you choose.

For example, if working on balance you would want to have a stability ball that fits your height, several different types of balance pads, and a good instructional manual to follow. In the case of cardio, a good stationary bike or skip rope is a good purchase. Neither of these takes up much room and provides a good cardiovascular workout.

For flexibility purposes a set of the large stretching bands, a length of rope with loops at various distances and perhaps a pulley set up. For resistance training, you will need a solid bench, a barbell and dumbbell set and if space allows a squat rack.

All of the equipment listed above can fit into an area as small as 10 x 10.

I have recommended craigslist to many of my trainees. It is an excellent spot to find used exercise equipment. This is especially true in the spring because by this time many people have been walking around the non-used equipment that they bought in a frenzy at the beginning of the year. The prices are good and in most cases negotiable.

All in all, there are really no good excuses for not exercising since the cost is minimal and the location to exercise is where you live.

200617 Bone Health Exercise Recommendations

200617 Bone Health Exercise Recommendations

The mode of exercise should be a combination of weight bearing and endurance activities such as stair climbing, tennis, jogging and jumping. Add in regular sessions of resistance training to round out the weeks program.

The intensity level of all these exertions has to be in the moderate to high ranges in order to engage the bone loading force mechanisms leading to high quality rebuilding of these tissues.

The resistance training level of intensity will be in the 80-85% areas for the majority of the selected movements. The selected exercises are those that involve the major muscle groups that focus on the shoulders, chest, upper back and the legs front and rear. Repetitions will be in the 6-8 range for two to four sets with two to three minutes rest between sets.

These exercise sessions need to be at least as frequent as 3-5 times per week for the weight bearing endurance activities and 2-3 times per week for the resistance ones in order to elicit a positive effect on the skeletal structure.

Once these regimes are in place the desired time spent on each one per session is 30-80 minutes per day. This will be a combination of both types of exercise and not just one of the two recommended modes.

130617 Exercise suggestions for increasing bone mineral density

130617 Exercise suggestions for increasing bone mineral density

Before engaging in any new exercise program consult with your primary health care provider.

To increase your lean body mass, add strength and power, follow these guidelines for the suggested group of exercises:

1. Full body resistance training program on a schedule of at least two times per week, with three times to optimize the results.
2. Utilize correct exercise technique at all times
3. Three sets of ten to twelve repetitions each exercise unless otherwise noted.
4. Work to rest ratio is 1:2, meaning if you work out for ten seconds you then rest for twenty seconds.
5. If you are able to add weight after completing the series three times, then do so the next session.
6. If you have added weight then do only ten repetitions and work up to twelve.

Warm up for 5-8 minutes
Squats
Calf raises
Dead lifts
Military presses
Shoulder shrugs
Abdominal work-15-20 reps for two sets
Bench presses
Bar bell rows
Barbell curls
Triceps extensions
Abdominal work again to end the session-15-20 reps for two sets

 

300517 The stimulus for new bone formations.

300517 The stimulus for new bone formations.

Minimal essential strain (MES) refers to the threshold amount of stress applied to the structure which is necessary to elicit growth of new bone material. A force exceeding MES is required to signal the osteoblasts to move toward the periosteum and begin this transformation. MES is thought to be 1/10 of the breaking force needed to fracture the bone. Training effects have a positive relationship to bone density just as sedentary living habits play a role in the loss of bone density.

Training to increase bone formation

Programs designed to stimulate bone growth, also known as bone mineral density (BMS), will incorporate the following characteristics:

  1. Specificity of loading
    2. Proper exercise selection
    3. Progressive overload
    4. Variation

Specificity of loading will see the exercise patterns emphasizing specific areas in need of assistance. New or unusual forces in varying angles of stress will enable your bones to adapt to the greater intensities. Military presses, bench presses, upright shoulder shrugs, push ups, chin ups, plus other similar exercises would help develop stronger upper body bones. Lower body exercises selections would be along the lines of these types of movement patterns: squats, calf raises, dead lifts, and straight leg dead lifts.

Exercise selection promotes osteogenic stimuli (factors that stimulate new bone formation) and will exhibit these characteristics: Compound exercise muscle movements consisting of multi joint, structural loading and varying force vectors. Such exercises are the squat, dead lift, military press and the bench press along with the Olympic style moves.

Progressive overload

Greater than normal loads force the body to adapt in a positive manner regarding new bone formation. This response is greater if the load changes are dramatic and repetitive in nature. Younger bones may be more receptive to osteogenic changes in the load variance than older bones.

Variations of exercise selections

The body adapts quickly to imposed loads per the SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Loads) principle. In order to prevent accommodation the exercises need to be varied on a periodic basis. There are many individual differences in the same exercise. As an example the squat has at least seventy variations! And these variations do not include any machine versions.

080417 Spare tire risks associated with carrying fat around your stomach. (2/2)

080417 Spare tire risks associated with carrying fat around your stomach. (2/2)

Continued from 030417

The study by doctors in Seattle also noted that insulin resistant people with excess abdominal fat also appeared to show higher concentrations of a substance known as apolipoprotein B (apoB) and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, a “good” form of cholesterol. Previous studies have suggested that high levels of apoB may encourage the development of arteriosclerosis.

Study author Dr. Steven E. Kahn of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, Washington, states that he and his colleagues suspect that a potbelly likely precedes insulin resistance. Once both conditions have set in, he noted, people’s bodies are more likely to be primed to develop arteriosclerosis.”We think that the deposition of fat in the inside of the abdomen is the critical determinant of insulin resistance in the general population,” Kahn said. “We think that the fat begets the insulin resistance, which helps produce” risk factors for arteriosclerosis, he added.

Kahn’s is not the first study to identify health hazards of potbellies. Although body fat tends to relocate to the abdomen with age, past research has shown that excess belly fat, compared to fat elsewhere on the body, can increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as up the chances of stroke in middle age.

In the current study, Kahn and his colleagues measured body fat distribution and screened for insulin resistance in 196 people. The authors also determined how much choesterol, fat, and apoB was present in each participant’s blood.

The average age of study participants was 53. They were all seemingly healthy, with no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Reporting in the January issue of Diabetes, Kahn and his colleagues discovered that people with bigger potbellies who were more resistant to insulin also had lower levels of HDL cholesterol and higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol–the “bad” form of cholesterol.

Risk factors for arteriosclerosis appeared to be linked more strongly to tummy size than to whether a person had insulin resistance, Kahn and his team note.

The current study findings suggest that even people who are not obese can be at risk of arteriosclerosis, the authors note. Seemingly slim people can carry excess tummy fat and be resistant to insulin, they write, and can therefore be at risk for the blood vessel disease.

In an interview, Kahn noted that abdominal fat could play an essential role in people’s risk of future disease. Specifically, he said having a pot belly “is a critical component of metabolic syndrome,” a condition marked by insulin resistance and high blood pressure, and which often precedes diabetes and cardiovascular disease. SOURCE: Diabetes 2003;52:172-179.

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