“People who think they are going to buy an ‘ab machine’ and suddenly have a ‘washboard’ stomach are misinformed. If you want your abdominal (ab) muscles to appear, you will need to lose total body fat. Studies have shown that doing hundreds…thousands of sit-ups a day has no effect on body fat,” says fitnes trainer.
Sit-ups can increase the size and power of your abdominal muscles but unless you lose excess body fat, you won’t see your abdominal muscles…. there is no such thing as spot reduction!
Most of the models who promote the benefits of abdominal exercise on TV have between 6 and 10 percent body fat — which is a result of heredity, light eating and/or serious aerobic exercise.
Men want to maintain an average of 12 – 20 percent body fat; women, 15 – 25 percent.
You might not consider Jeffrey an exercise guru; in fact, you probably don’t even know him. But he believes he has a fitness program for the times. Gardening. Jeffrey believes that people hoping to lose weight, gain strength or improve overall health should just get out and garden.
The value of exercise has been touted for a long time. The promise of improved health, decreased weight and increased stamina, however, have not tempted the majority of Americans to participate in regular exercise. Jeffrey, a nationally recognized author and lecturer about gardening and exercise, believes more people would exercise if they could include it easily in their daily routines.
He says that if people spent just 30 minutes a day hoeing, weeding, planting and mowing, their health would be better for it. If you doubt that gardening is a viable exercise, look at these comparisons by the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service. Trimming shrubs is comparable to walking 3 miles per hour (mph). Raking and sacking leaves or grass compares to bicycling at 10 mph, and mowing with a push mower expends almost as much energy as playing softball.
Restuccio’s idea seems to concur with a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study indicated that 30 minutes of “lifestyle exercise” (read that as gardening) offers significant improvements to blood pressure and cholesterol ratios, lowers stress levels and helps control weight. With a few modifications, Restuccio says, gardening can also help build strength, increase cardiovascular capacity and improve endurance.
If you garden for more than 30 minutes a day, at least three times a week, both you and your garden will reap substantial rewards. Restuccio, who has written the book on aerobic gardening, offers these tips to turn yard work into yard exercise.
Restuccio also suggests to work at a constant pace, use manual tools instead of power tools, move loads in smaller quantities and make extra trips to burn more calories.
Once you begin to enjoy the benefits of being more active, you may want to take up other exercise,* such as walking, biking, aerobics or weight-training.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, gardening can give you a lift that goes beyond flourishing flowers or verdant vegetables.
Many people do need a little encouragement to stay motivated to exercise and oftentimes get it from a friend, spouse or neighbor who is their exercise “partner.”
Working out with a friend has many advantages, including adding conversation, variety and diversion to exercise. It keeps your mind off being tired or bored with the exercise. It challenges you to do your best–to run a little harder or walk a little farther.
It also helps keep you committed to your exercise routine, especially if you are just beginning. The adherence level goes up when someone at a health club has someone to work out with. They are much less likely to drop out in those first few months.
Here are some rules to follow when exercising with a buddy:
A Fitness Conditioning Program That Will Help You Get Ready For This Season’s Sports
A four-part series of fitness articles to condition your body for this season’s activities
Developing the Cardiovascular Endurance Component
(First 8-12 Weeks)
Developing the Stretching Component
Whether you ski, swim, play basketball or bike, a good overall conditioning program will enable you to have a safer, stronger and more enjoyable sports season.
A sound conditioning program should include cardiovascular endurance training, strength training, interval training (anaerobic), agility activities and of course stretching. When developing your conditioning program however, remember to adapt it to your fitness level. Therefore, it is important for sedentary, unconditioned individuals to consult their primary care physician prior to engaging in any exercise program and to start with cardiovascular conditioning and stretching for the first 8-12 weeks of training. Participation in strength training, interval training, and agility activities that follow – without a proper cardiovascular endurance base – could lead to an individual injuring him or herself.
It is important to make a realistic assessment of your own fitness level first when considering the following training activities. If you feel that your existing cardiovascular conditioning is moderate or above, then weight training will probably be a safe and effective addition to your program. Only after a strength conditioning program of 6-8 weeks is achieved should you consider starting the anaerobic interval training and agility activities (these are sport specific to skiers).
Despite the fact that some of our activities do not require high levels of aerobic endurance, it is important to develop this energy system for many reasons:
The keys to a cardiovascular conditioning program are noted in the FITT principle:
Aerobic exercise (with oxygen): An activity is considered aerobic if it:
- Uses the large muscle groups (i.e. legs )
- Is rhythmic in nature
- Is sustained for a prolonged period of time
A minimum of 20-60 minutes
Popular activities that will develop this component include walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, rowing, Stairmaster, cross-country skiing and aerobic classes. No one activity is better or worse than another, so choose the one(s) you enjoy the best.
A regular stretching program incorporated into your already existing workout, may help reduce the risk of injury, relieve muscle tension, maintain or improve range of motion in the joints and improve overall body awareness.
Tips to remember when performing your stretches:
Less than half of Americans habitually accumulate 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity or exercise most every day or perform 20 minutes of vigorous exercise, three days per week and 25 percent are not active at all.
Using the exercise time lines stated above provides many key health-related benefits. Exercise will:
Remember how excited you were when you first learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels or someone holding the bike? Once you got the hang of it, did you hop on the bike any chance you could and speed off to anywhere you wanted? Even though you may have lost some of your enthusiasm for cycling now that you’re an adult, it’s an activity you may not want to abandon.
Cycling, as exercise, has attractive benefits that may send you rushing to your bike again. It is a great low impact workout that can improve strength, endurance and heart health. Cycling can also improve your social health because it fosters group events.
For a ‘Wheel Good Time’
If you’ve chosen to add cycling to your exercise routine, there are certain things to remember to make riding safer and easier. Always drink plenty of water and wear a helmet. To avoid injury and get the most benefits from cycling, follow these basic guidelines.
As you increase your strength and endurance, other valuable aspects of regular exercise begin to kick in. Once you are able to sustain a moderate pace of 10 to 15 mph, a 20-mile bike ride can burn as many as 800 calories. Burning calories reduces fat and helps keep metabolism boosted for longer. Exercise also builds muscle mass, which burns more calories throughout the day than fat does.
In addition, there is evidence that exercise improves immune response and can protect against cancer and heart disease. Also, ongoing research shows that moderate endurance activities decrease apathy and depression and increase vigor. So go ahead and take yourself and your inner child out for a ride.
The right footwear can fulfill your sense of style and allow you to move comfortably. But an improper fit can lead to a variety of foot problems.
Beware These Foot And Toe Woes
Some minor foot problems can be alleviated by wearing appropriate shoes, resting, keeping your feet clean and/or using over-the counter antibiotics. If your ailments persist, however, consult your physician.
Finding The Right Shoes Is No Small Feat
Wearing the right shoes is the first step on the path to preventive health care for your feet. When you shop for shoes, consider the following tips to help keep your feet healthy:
If you’re one of those people who just can’t stand to exercise indoors no matter how low the mercury goes, make sure you protect yourself from the dangers of cold-weather exposure.
In addition to warming up your muscles before heading out into the cold, take care to ensure that your clothing is adequate to keep your muscles warm once you’re out in the frigid air.
Because loss of body heat is the main concern in cold-weather workouts, you should layer your clothing appropriately. Warm air is trapped between the layers of your clothing, which keeps you warmer than if you wore a bulky sweatshirt as your only layer. Here is some advice on what to wear.
Finally, protect your fingers, toes and face from frostbite if the temperature drops below freezing. Mittens will provide more warmth than a pair of gloves. Wear two pair of socks — one thin (next to your body) and one thick for the outer layer. Use earmuffs or a headband and a scarf to cover your ears and mouth. And, last but not least, to prevent chapping, protect the uncovered areas of the body with a petroleum-based product or vitamin-enriched moisturizer .
Autumn is a beautiful time to enjoy the outdoors. The combination of nature’s beauty and physical activity will give you a total mind/body workout. In addition to the physical benefits, exercise will help reduce your anxiety and boost your mood.
According to the American Council on Exercise, you will experience the most stress relief when you exercise outdoors or away from the workplace, and one exercise session can give you 90-120 minutes of increased relaxation. That means your muscles will be less tense and your outlook more positive. Other benefits include a better self image and more nutritious eating habits.
Here are some ideas to help you take advantage of what outdoor exercise has to offer:
What will you get from spending more time with nature? Mental refreshening. Spiritual awakening. Plus that occasional moment of quiet joy in an otherwise hectic life. (Psst…remember? That’s what life is supposed to be about!)
Tired of trying to lift weights or run on hard pavement? Well, you might want to consider this alternative — get wet!
Aquatic exercise is rapidly becoming the way for people to achieve their fitness goals — and here’s the good part — you don’t have to suffer with muscle or joint pain to reach those goals. Aquatic exercise decreases stress on joints, bones and muscles while increasing blood flow and lung function.
Who it’s for
Whether you’re already a conditioned athlete or someone who has an ailment or condition that prevents you from normal exercise, this aquatic alternative could be just the change you’ve been looking for.
“For those individuals with arthritis or other joint problems, pre/post natal women, sedentary people, those recovering from injury or anyone who wants an alternative fitness program, aquatics would be a perfect choice,” said researcher, BS, LPTA, CWT. Researcher is an aquatic specialist who is certified by the Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Industry. She teaches medically-based aquatic exercise classes at Baptist Rehab Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine located at Cordova Athletic Club.
Why it works
Regardless of your athletic history, aquatic therapy takes advantage of the natural buoyancy of water, which means you weigh less. That helps you focus on exercising your muscles and getting healthy instead of on the pain and stress associated with other forms of exercise. Water exercise also offers as much as 12 times the amount of resistance than activities on land. This extra resistance can increase endurance, strength and cardiopulmonary fitness, while also improving balance and flexibility.
One student’s success story
Nancy is a perfect example of the benefits of this alternative exercise. Nancy, who works in Germantown, used aquatic exercise at Baptist-Germantown after suffering injuries from a car accident. At 5-foot-1, her post-wreck weight went up to 220 pounds.
“I had to do something,” she said. “It was the first thing I tried. I just went over and checked it out and really liked the people. I fit right in.”
Five months and 75 pounds later, she’s gone from a size 22 to a size 8.
She had apprehensions at first about being in front of a group of people, but since that first visit, she says it’s the people in her class that keep her going back.
“I enjoy the exercise, but once I got past the idea of the bathing suit and the water, it’s been amazing,” she said. “It’s become a really nice community, and the support is very important.”
Aquatic exercise is a refreshing, low-to-no impact aerobic exercise that will have you feeling better than you have in years. This can be your chance to work off that weight, get fit and have fun doing it.