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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

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051217 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 2

051217 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 2

Breakfast
Not long ago I was asked to review the science on the benefits of breakfast for a cereal company. Although it is a common truism that “breakfast is good for you” I wanted to know if it remains good advice. So I plunged into 30+ research papers to see what was agreed about the first meal of the day. Here is what I learned.

A large Australian study from last year showed that breakfast was critical for school performance, boosting both literacy and numeracy skills, independent of the socio-economic group. This backed up a review of the previous 50 years of studies in school children. There is no doubt that breakfast is necessary to help you to learn new stuff. Usually not difficult with primary school kids because they wake up hungry. It is the upper high school kids we need to convince.

Breakfast habits changing
Twenty years ago just about every young kid ate breakfast, with only some older teenagers giving it a miss, rising to 15% of 19-24 year olds being breakfast skippers. Now we have nearly 1 in 4 of upper high school students missing breakfast, in Australia at least.

Two decades ago, over three quarters of adults ate breakfast. Now barely 6 out of 10 adults regularly eat breakfast, women being better than the menfolk. Why the decline? The most common excuse is “not enough time”, in other words not enough time to pour out cereal into a bowl, add milk and consume (Gee, that’s gotta take 6 whole minutes) or plonk two slices of bread into the toaster, shave/brush hair/pack lunch while you wait, then add peanut butter. Let’s see, that’s 7.5 minutes.

But then my concept of time and food differs to most people, a fact I accept and have resigned myself to, especially since the day I saw a line of cars outside the drive-thru section of a famous takeaway at 8 am on a school day.

What if you don’t fancy breakfast?
Don’t know how you can do it, frankly. Me? I can’t do without breakfast. No breakfast and I can’t do up shirt buttons, I squeeze Heel Balm onto my toothbrush and drive into oncoming traffic. I have a court order to eat breakfast by 7.30 am or face serving jail time.

You, of course, may be able to get away with it. Can I suggest that you at least have a banana, a yogurt or one of those breakfast drinks as you leave the house? With some glucose racing through your arteries you will make better decisions. Then, when you do feel hungry, eat smart, like choose a sandwich, fruit or a smoothie and not scarf some eye-level, salty, extruded snack from the vending machine. Just the term “extruded snack” should put you off.

What does it all mean?
It means what it has always meaned. Clever people eat breakfast and breakfast eating makes you clever. The evidence is pretty over-whelming.

There are plenty of choices to kick-start the day – breakfast cereals or muesli with milk, topped with nuts or a banana (my choice), wholegrain toast with peanut butter, poached eggs and mushrooms on toast, yogurt and canned fruit and you can think of more. If you buy your breakfast look beyond the cappuccino and croissant because you are worth a lot more than that. A lot more.

Selected references:

  • O’Dea JA, Mugridge AC. Nutritional quality of breakfast and physical activity independently predict the literacy and numeracy scores of children after adjusting for socioeconomic status. Health Education Research 2012; 27 (6): 975-985
    • Hoyland A, Dye L, Lawton CL. A systematic review of the effect of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents. Nutrition Research Reviews 2009; 22: 220-243
    • Astbury NM, Taylor MA, Macdonald IA. Breakfast consumption affects appetite, energy intake, and the metabolic and endocrine responses to foods consumed later in the day in male habitual breakfast eaters. The Journal of Nutrition 2011; 141: 1381-1389

220817 Movement and heart health

220817 Movement and heart health

Your heart’s abilities to function start diminishing with age. We all know this but the vast majority of our population still refuses to do anything about it. Aging adversely affects the communication capability of the regulatory nerves in the heart telling it how fast to beat. Gradually, as we age, our maximum heart rate (MHR) declines.

However, with regular exercise this typical transformation in max heart rate is less noticeable.

Not only does the MHR decline with age but the ability of the heart to relax and fill up again decreases as well. This is especially true for those with hypertension.

In addition, as we get older, the major blood vessels of our body lose some of their natural elasticity. This in turn makes it more difficult for the blood to pass through them, thereby increasing the load on the heart and making it harder to transfer oxygen throughout the body.

The good news is age related changes such as these are less dramatic with daily exercise. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following activity levels for adults up to age sixty-four.

We all know that a little bit of activity is better than nothing, however, if you’ve been in active for any length of time be better for you to gradually increase the level of activity. This can mean that as little as 10 minutes a day of moderate exercise will garner health benefits. After you’ve been at it a while this this length of time is going to feel easy.

The benefits to your health increase with higher intensity activities. Again, 10 minutes of time exercising is the minimum amount necessary to push up your fitness levels. In the case of higher intensity vigorous exercise, you will need at least one hundred and fifty minutes a week at a level where you can only say a few words at a time without stopping for a breath.

Up to a point, higher amounts of activity will produce the most in health benefits. In fact, the literature states unequivocally that exercising 6 to 7 hours a week will result in the ideal level of health benefits for the majority of the population. At this level of activity per week, you are probably going to be doing six or seven hours of moderate to vigorous intensities of exercise.

030417 Spare tire risks associated with carrying fat around your stomach. (1/2)

030417 Spare tire risks associated with carrying fat around your stomach.

By Danny M. O’Dell, MA. CSCS*D

According to recent research, those who have a large potbelly appear to have a higher risk of arteriosclerosis. This is the medical term for the fatty buildup on the lining of arteries that researchers now believe increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. SOURCE: Diabetes 2003;52:172-179

People who carried this “spare tire” of fat around their waists are more likely to have increased fat and cholesterol in their blood.

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.

020913 Pharmacological interventions, depression and your heart health

Pharmacological interventions, depression and your heart health

Pharmacological intervention may be necessary to prevent a heart attack and one of the simplest may be taking a dose aspirin a day. Before you do this discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of aspirin therapy.

Current research finds that an aspirin a day is effective at reducing heart attacks for men under 65 and reducing strokes for women. For women over 65, particularly for those with coronary risk factors, a low-dose daily aspirin could potentially prevent heart attacks and reduce their risk for strokes. For women who are under 65, they should consider an aspirin a day only if they are already at high risk for cardiovascular disease. This recommendation brings with it the caveat of some potential side effects of aspirin, notably bleeding in the gastrointestinal areas.

Even if you have successfully managed to change your habits and included all of these suggestions above you still may have high cholesterol. In that case, you may have to consider using statin drugs. Since these are prescription drugs, you will have to talk with your doctor about them.

Alcohol, self-medicated usage excluded, used in moderation of no more than one drink a day for a woman, may actually reduce the risk of having a heart attack. The definition of one drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of 80 proof liquor. However, alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer in women along with other cancers and some additional serious health risks. This does not mean that you can drink your way to better heart health because you can reduce your risk without drinking alcohol.

In the past, hormones such as estrogen and progestin were used because it was thought they prevented heart attacks. We now know otherwise. A study in 2002 resulting from the Women’s Health initiative that found that this type of hormone therapy actually increased the risk of heart attacks, along with stroke, blood clots, breast cancer in older women. Hormone replacement therapy is still used for women with severe hot flashes and other problems resulting from menopause however, these are normally at the lowest possible dosages and for the shortest time.

Depression and stress both have adverse effects on your heart health. You must do what you have to do if you are chronically depressed.

See your doctor, talk with a counselor; do not let it continue because it is not normal to feel miserable most of the time. The treatment of depression can be a successful and you will benefit from the success of your treatment.

If it is your job is demanding more of your life than you want to give to it, it may be time to move on, especially if you have little control and are consistently unhappy in doing it. Life is too short to be doing something you do not want to do. Find that passion and live a happier life.

One final thing you need to know is your family history. Notably so if your father or brother before they turned fifty-five or your mother or sister before they turned sixty-five had a heart attack since this increases your risk of having one too. Obviously, you won’t be able to change your pre-existing genetics, but knowing this is a part of your family history gives you a heads up and should cause you to start paying closer attention to your heart health.

It all boils down to keeping your cholesterol and blood sugar levels in the medically recommended ranges, exercising daily and watching over your diet to make sure you are eating cleanly each day.

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