Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stay Fit While Pregnant With These Top 5 Exercise Routines

Staying in shape while you’re pregnant is great for you and for your baby. It’s important to enhance your endurance and muscle tone to make labor and delivery much easier. This will also help you recover faster after the baby is born. Staying fit will also help you get back to your original weight after pregnancy. Remember to always ask your physician before starting any type of exercise program.

Here are the top five favorites of pregnant women:

1.Walking tops the list of exercise favorites of pregnant women. Not only is it beneficial for your body (and your baby), it's the kind of exercise that can be done anytime, anywhere. And, it's much easier on your knees – not to mention your breasts – than running. Before you begin, be sure to invest in a good pair of walking shoes that are supportive and comfortable. If you are just starting out, take it slow and set realistic goals. It's a good idea to warm up for at least 10 minutes prior to walking. A few simple leg stretches, arm swings, and neck rolls should suffice. While walking, keep your posture straight and swing your arms in unison with your legs. During the last 10 minutes, start cooling down by slowing your pace and relaxing your arms. Once stopped, perform a few stretches to prevent muscle cramps.

2.Swimming is a great option for pregnant women. This low-impact form of exercise works the large muscle groups while improving your circulation, helping you build endurance, and increasing muscle tone. As with all exercise, you'll burn calories, feel more energized, and sleep better after a workout. As for the best type of stroke? The breaststroke is probably best suited to pregnant women as it doesn't require any rotation of the torso, and you'll exert less energy than, let's say, the crawl or the butterfly. Swimming poses a very low risk of injury, so you'll be able to swim throughout your entire pregnancy. Best of all, as your belly gets bigger, you'll appreciate the feeling of weightlessness in the water.

3.Yoga soothes the mind and body – and who better to reap the benefits of a calming workout than a pregnant woman? It's important to find a program (DVD or class) that's specifically designed for pregnancy as these routines focus on strengthening and stretching the muscles that will be used during pregnancy and labor. Yoga calms both body and mind, providing a much-needed physical and emotional outlet. Breathing exercises will teach you how to cope with the pain of contractions, as rhythmic breathing during labor maximizes the amount of oxygen available to you and your baby. If you opt to take a class, you'll have the opportunity to meet other pregnant women who can offer support and advice.

4.Stationary Cycling is the perfect choice for those who enjoyed biking before pregnancy because you can continue doing what you loved without having to worry about falling and harming your baby. Your breasts and belly will thank you, too, as stationary cycling will prevent your body from bouncing around as you won't be traversing any tough terrain. Even better, you can read or watch television while exercising, something you may not have time to do once the baby arrives! To avoid back strain, opt for a stationary cycle that allows you to sit upright or reclined.

5.Light Weight Training is very beneficial during pregnancy. Not only will it strengthen your muscles (which will help tremendously during labor and delivery) it will also speed weight loss after pregnancy. You'll feel more energized and sleep better, too. Keep in mind that if you've never used weights before pregnancy, it's probably not a good idea to start now. And, machine weights are definitely safer than using free weights. It's a good idea to check with a trainer about the types of exercises best suited for pregnant women. You should increase your caloric intake by 300-500 calories (yeah! ) to keep up with the additional demands of weight training and your pregnancy. Be sure to give your muscles a rest by training no more than 3 times a week, and perform all exercises in a sitting position to prevent your blood from pooling.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Big FAT Lie

Over two thirds of Americans are over weight, and half of them are considered obese. Most of the remaining third of Americans are concerned about becoming overweight! While we are obsessed with avoiding food that is high in fat, America has the dubious distinction of its population having the highest percentage of overweight people of any nation in the world! England is number two!

One of the most common and harmful misunderstandings is the misinformation (lie) that we are fat because we eat too much fat. Though eating excess fat can contribute, the primary culprit for excess body fat and many degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes is NOT eating foods high in fat, but eating too much carbohydrates and sugar, and especially in combination with fat, such as French Fries and corn or potato chips. People on a high carbohydrate and low fat diet tend to be more unhealthy, carry more excess body fat and don’t live as long.

Putting the Brakes to Your Metabolism! 

What creates excess body fat, more than anything else, is a high RATIO of the carbohydrates to protein and fat, and especially certain types of carbohydrates that have a high conversion rate to fat. When the percentage of a meal (not just for the day) is higher in sugar or carbohydrates (a long chain of sugar molecules), much more of that food will be converted to fat instead of being burned as energy (calories). The effect of this is putting the brakes on your metabolism, which results in lower energy and greater storage of fat. Obviously, this is NOT what you want!

Plus this sets up a vicious cycle of over eating. Once the carbohydrates are converted to fat, you get a blood sugar drop, which makes you hungry for more carbohydrates. So you eat more to raise your blood sugar, and the whole vicious cycle repeats! Soon, you’ve gained weight, and feel even more like a failure.

According to the Glycemic Research Institute, many of the “fat-free” foods are much more fattening than they were before the fat was removed, because sugar has been added (and often disguised) to compensate for the low fat!

This is because carbohydrates and sugar, and especially certain carbohydrates, stimulate insulin production. Insulin directs your body to convert the food to fat and store it as fat instead of just burning it as energy. To measure this fat conversion and storage effect, foods are rated by what is called the glycemic index. The higher the index, the higher percentage of that food and the other foods eaten with it, will be converted to fat, regardless of the fat content of the food.

So for an example, eating high glycemic foods like baked potato, rice cakes, corn flakes or cooked oatmeal which are low in fat, is more fattening than eating a juicy beef steak or a bowl of ice cream!

High Fat Conversion Foods 

These are some common foods with their glycemic index numbers, that are especially high on this index, and thus stimulate fat storage:
Common sugar (sucrose)—92
Macaroni and cheese—92
Potatoes (mashed—100; French fries—107; baked—121; potato chips—high)
Corn—78; pop corn—79; corn chips—105; corn flakes—119
White rice—83; brown rice—79
White and wheat bread—101
Cold cereals (most). E. g. Life—94; Grape nuts—96; Cheerios—106; Total—109
Cooked cereals (e. g. Cream of Wheat—100, oatmeal—87 (steel cut is less)
Most juices and all drink mixes and soft drinks (97)
Desserts (ice cream—87); donuts—108
Fat-free bottled “lite” dressings (due to added corn syrup and maltodextrins).
High fructose corn syrup—89
Maltodextrins—150 (added to many foods, but deceptively not counted as sugar! )

Did you notice that some of these foods are worse than pure sugar? It is wise to eat these foods sparingly. And when you do eat these foods, balance the glycemic index for the whole meal by eating low index foods with them.

Fat Burning Foods 

Here are some of the foods that are rated as having a low glycemic index:
Trutina Dulcem (a fruit sugar fifteen times sweeter than regular sugar)
“Super sugars” (glyconutrients)
Stevia—though not “approved” by the FDA as a sweetener, it is often used as such
High protein foods (e. g. fish, meat and eggs)
Most vegetables including sweet potatoes and yams
Stone ground bread and sprouted grain—low
Most pastas—varies; spaghetti—59 (but very low nutritional value)
Dairy products; whole milk—39 (there are other concerns mentioned previously)
Soy milk—43
Seeds and nuts—as low as 21 (peanuts)
Butter (in moderation—far superior to margarine)
Olive oil
Soy beans—25
Celery—very very low

There is one other huge advantage to using low glycemic foods besides weight control: longevity! According a study by T. Par entitled "Insulin Exposure and Aging Theory" in the Journal of Gerontology - 1997; 43: 182-200, high insulin levels, which result from consuming high glycemic foods, promotes accelerated aging. Both calorie restriction and a low glycemic index diet appear to be important for longevity, BUT a diet of low glycemic foods is even more effective than calorie restriction for longevity.

Click here for more information

Total Body Warmup

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fitness And Kids - FIT-4-Kids, An Exercise Program Just For Kids

Introducing kids to a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge in our fast food, video game laden society. Thirty minutes once a week in P. E. class isn't nearly enough to maintain the cardiovascular system, much less keep an overall healthy bodyweight. One thing that P. E. class has right though is that classes are fun and they allow kids to socialize. The Fit Express' FIT-4-Kids exercise program along with their specially-made kids exercise equipment gives kids what they need and want.

So little Johnny's not thrilled about running 30 minutes on a treadmill? It's already hard enough for adults, who understand the importance, to exercise on a consistent basis. I've trained children, I can tell you from experience they get distracted and bored even easier. Introducing health and wellness at an early age is important and it's up to us to give them a fun option.

There are many ways kids can get physical exercise from after-school sports, jungle gyms, parks, recreational centers, kids gyms. However , most of these don't consist of a strict program (that doesn't feel strict) that makes them do at least 30 minutes of continuous cardiovascular exercise and also includes functional strength training using complete range of motion for all of the body's muscle groups. The FIT-4-Kids exercise program contains the key aspects of fitness and provides cardio and strength exercises in a safe, fun and sociable way.

Fluid interval training (i. e. FIT) works very similar to circuit training. exercise machines (each working different muscle groups) are placed in a circle or other arrangement. Every 2 minutes a central timer goes off and everybody switches to a different machine that they do continuously for the next 2 minutes. This allows multiple muscle groups to be worked simultaneously, the heart rate stays up, and it doesn't get boring. Two minute timer's just a suggestion; custom workouts can be easily created.

Worried about kids exercise equipment being dangerous? Don't be! FIT is extremely safe! What do sports, rec. centers, parks, and jungle gyms all have in common? They all allow kids to do uncontrolled movements, on their own, with minimal supervision. Running around, kicking, jumping, swinging-there's lots of potential for muscle and joint injuries! Kid's don't have the motor coordination to perform the unassisted exercises like squats, pull-ups, etc . with proper form and technique. Even when they could do these exercises, it's not fun for them and they don't have the patience or enjoy repetition sets. FIT is perfect, it's continuous and it doesn't require concentration or slow/boring movements.

Unlike most gym equipment you're familiar with, FIT-4-Kids doesn't use bulky machines with weight stacks, it uses Fit Express' kids hydraulic fitness equipment. By pushing or pulling oil through hydraulic cylinders to create resistance it provides an extremely smooth fluid movement that is much safer and kid-friendly. Never worry about dropping a weight stack, pushing or pulling too far, or hurting joints. You can pause at any point during the movement! And unlike most gym equipment with hard-to-understand seating levers and controls, the FIT4Kids machines are smaller (for children 4' to 5'9) with fixed seating and control arms. An easy-to-reach lever that controls if the exercise is harder (more strength) or easier/faster (more cardio) is the only option. So they can just get on and go!

Call your local kids gyms, recreational centers, schools, and ask them if they have a FIT-4-Kids circuit! Visit www.FitExpress.com for more information.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Great Way To Spice Up Your Workouts -- Interval Training

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about interval training. So , you may be wondering what it really is and, more importantly, why you should incorporate it in your fitness workouts. Well, if you want a workout that can help propel you to the next fitness level, burn more calories, increase your speed, improve your power and more, then it’s time to learn more about this effective technique.
A simple definition of interval training is: short, high-intensity exercise periods alternated with periods of rest. These higher and lower intensity periods are repeated several times to form a complete workout. Here’s a basic example: walk for 5 minutes at 3. 5 MPH, walk for 1 minute at 4. 2 MPH and then repeat this sequence several times.
Most people spend their workout time only performing continuous training exercises. These are exercises where the intensity level is basically constant throughout. An example of this is walking at 3. 5 MPH, at 0% incline for 30 minutes.
Continuous training is very effective and should not be eliminated from your weekly workouts. However , it’s recommended that you include both interval training and continuous training sessions as part of your fitness regimen.
Why should you include interval training? As previously mentioned, there are many benefits to this type of training and execution is relatively simple. interval training can help you improve cardiovascular fitness, increase speed, improve overall aerobic power, burn more calories, break-through a plateau, increase workout duration, reach new exercise levels, expand your workout options and increase your workout threshold – just to name a few.
Plus, this training method has useful applications for beginners, intermediate exercisers and even conditioned athletes. There are two basic types of interval training. For the majority of exercisers (novices and intermediate) Fitness interval training methods are recommended. Athletes can choose a more advanced technique known as Performance interval training.
The Fitness training method utilizes periodic increases in intensity. Typically the higher-intensity levels range from 2-5 minutes in duration and are followed by lower-intensity periods that also range from 2-5 minutes. And, a critical element in Fitness interval training is determining the appropriate level for the higher-intensity periods. This level should not exceed the anaerobic threshold (which is usually reached below 85% heart rate reserve).
On the flip side, the Performance training technique involves periods of near maximal or even maximal intensity (e. g. >85% heart rate reserve – even reaching 100%). The higher-intensity levels can range from 2-15 minutes in duration and are followed by lower-intensity periods that also can range from 2-15 minutes in duration.
Don’t let the two types of training and their ranges confuse you. Incorporating interval training methods into your exercise routine is actually quite easy. Since the majority of exercisers fall into either the beginner or intermediate category, we’ll focus on getting started with those techniques.
To begin, choose the type of exercise: walking, jogging, swimming, biking, etc . Next determine your lower-intensity level. This is usually somewhere between 50-65% target heart rate. This will be your baseline, lower-level intensity. Then simply increase the intensity-level up to where you feel like you are working hard to very hard, but avoid reaching a level over 85% target heart rate. If monitoring your heart is not feasible, instead use the RPE scale where 1 is basically at rest and 10 is working extremely hard. For example , if you find that when you are exercising at a comfortable level you rank a 5, then bump up to a 7 for the higher-intensity intervals.
You may choose to systematically raise and lower your intensity (e. g. 2 minutes lower intensity followed by 1 minute higher intensity and repeat) or you can alternate more randomly by raising and lowering the level at your discretion. To increase your intensity, you may choose to change the speed, incline, or some other variable.
interval training can be especially helpful in situations where you are trying a new form of exercise. For example , this can be very beneficial when first learning to jog. If you attempt to jog continuously without building up to it, you will probably fatigue quickly and even give up. However , if you begin with intervals of walking interspersed with jogging periods, the workout will be much more enjoyable and effective. Also, you will be more likely to stick with the program and achieve the end result – continuous jogging.
Now that you know the benefits of interval training and the basic techniques for it, why not give it a try for yourself. Not only will it provide health benefits and improved fitness levels but it is also a great way to avoid workout boredom. Plus, with interval training workouts often are more enjoyable, go by quicker, and improvement results come faster. So why not try spicing up a stale, run-of-the-mill workout with Interval options? You may even find yourself excelling in an activity you were skeptical of even trying.

Craig Ballantyne Explains Fat Loss Interval Training

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top 5 Exercise Plateau Breakers

Plateau. That dreaded word that you do not want to hear, let alone experience. Especially if you have been diligently exercising in an attempt to get fit or lose weight. We have all experienced a plateau at some time - all of a sudden you stop losing weight or you just cant seem to run any faster. When you hit a plateau, don't panic. It doesn't necessarily mean you need to work harder or spend more days at the gym.
Here are five ideas that may help you break through in record time.
Take an Active Rest
If you have hit a plateau, it may be time for an active rest. Take a week off from structured exercise, and instead take leisurely walks, play ball with the kids, or take a yoga class. Active rest rejuvenates the mind and the body and allows for overworked muscles to rest and rebuild. You will return to exercise stronger and ready for new challenges.
Time to Eat
As you increase your fitness level, your body's metabolism may increase and so will your calorie needs. If you hit a plateau, evaluate how much you are eating. You may need to eat more than you have in the past for your body to continue to increase its fitness level. If you find you are often hungry, this is a clear sign you need to eat more to sustain your exercise program.
Mix it Up
If you do not vary your workout routine your body will eventually run on cruise control, and you will experience a plateau. Try new cardiovascular activities, or use free weights if you always use machines for strength training. Changes in your routine will surprise the body and force it to adapt, bringing you to new levels of fitness.
Different Day, Different Intensity
Varying your activities, or cross-training is important to avoid or break through a plateau. While cross-training the type of activity is often recommended, it is also important to cross-train the intensity of your workouts. Specify different days of the week as low, moderate or high-intensity days. Try interval training work at a low intensity for a couple of minutes and increase to a high intensity for a couple of minutes, and repeat. If you use a heart rate monitor, be sure your average heart rate for your exercise sessions vary from day to day.
Sleep It Off
Be sure you are getting enough sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep for your body will allow time for your muscles to recover from exercise. This will ensure that you can come to your next exercise session with enough energy and at full strength to take on a challenging workout.
If you are still frustrated, find inspiration in the story of Chris Witty, winner of the Gold Medal in 1000 meter speed skating in the 1998 Winter Olympics. A month before she was to compete in the Olympics, she was diagnosed with mononucleosis. Of course she had to cut back on training, and at the time that she should have been preparing to peak for competition. Not only did she win the Gold Medal, which nobody expected, she broke the world record! Imagine what a little rest might do for your workouts!
If you find you still cant break through that plateau, then make the decision to ride it out. Sometimes a plateau is necessary to allow the body to catch up with a new body weight or fitness level. Rest assured your body knows what is best and will break through the plateau at the right time!

Best Fat Burning Exercises and Interval Training