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30 June, 2008

Blank Noise


Someone asked me today, " What were you thinking". And I said, " Nothing". Because actually I was blank. My friend said, " How is it possible you were not thinking ANYTHING ? The mind always processes something always". But I argued that it is possible to make your mind still, think of nothing, go blank, even a a big crowd, or a party, just go thoughtless. Have you ever experienced that ever? I have and I can- Anytime, Anywhere. Is it not what Yogis call meditation? Of course it comes with practice but also not too much effort has to be involved. And this thinking machine-mind needs to rest too.

There is so much information available nowadays that mind is working overtime. Give it some rest, some peace. Learn to meditate.

There are many things that can help you achieve this. One of them is also Sattvic living, eating and thinking. In my next blog I will be talking about that.

Cholesterol


Cholesterol is a waxy, fat like substance that is found in all tissues. It is also found in animals. Plant foods do not contain cholesterol. Cholesterol is found in all meats and dairy products. After all the bad things that you've heard about cholesterol you will probably be surprised to find out that you need a certain amount of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is essential for your cell membranes, nerves, and certain hormones. It also helps your liver to make bile acids which help to digest your food. The bad side is that if cholesterol builds up in your arteries it can cause plaque to form. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Good Cholesterol- HDL: A high level of HDL seems to protect against heart attack. A lower level seems to indicate a greater risk. The causes for low HDL are being overweight, smoking, and not getting enough exercise.

Bad Cholesterol- LDL : LDL- cholesterol can build up in the walls of the arteries that feed the brain and heart. A high LDL-cholesterol increases your risk of heart attack. 130- 160 is borderline risk.

Most people can lower their cholesterol by eating a diet low in fats. They can also be lowered by not smoking losing weight and exercise. Try to stay away from fatty foods. Read labels when you go shopping for food. If you buy meat , buy the less fatty meats. Most grocery stores have the meats labeled as to how much fat is in the meat.

Buy two percent milk. Try to eat no more than two eggs a week. If you like eggs a lot save your two eggs for Sunday breakfast. Instead of butter use a vegetable margarine.

Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Have a salad everyday and use a lowfat salad dressing. There are many varieties and they are very tasty. Throw away the frying pan. Broil your meats instead of frying. If you must use cooking oil buy Canola oil or olive oil. Try to take a walk everyday. This will lower your cholesterol and you'll lose weight, too.

Red meat in any form is to be TOTALLY avoided as it is very high in cholesterol. Chicken and fish (especially those rich in Omega 3, such as mackeral and salmon) are very good, especially if they are steamed or grilled.

Shellfish (such as prawns, crabs etc) are also to be avoided as they are high in cholesterol.

Smoking and alcohol are to be TOTALLY avoided. These are literally poisoning your system. Though there is some research that suggests that moderate consumption of red wine is ok.

• For those who are veg, flax seeds make a good addition to the diet. They can be roasted and powdered. About 2 tbsps are to taken daily. This powder can be incorporated in roti dough, mixed with skimmed milk, or eaten directly. The roasted seeds can also be had directly.

The key is to eliminate saturated fats, which are of animal origin (therefore anything that is solid at room temp), hydrogenated veg oils (found in most processed food - so pls read labels before purchase), any kind of refined foods (Refined flour, refined sugar, refined oils etc). OIls that are from seed sources are the best - olive, sesame, etc, but again in minimal quantities.

Food should be sattvik, ie fresh, seasonal. Plently of fruits and veggies, therefore increasing fibre. Whole grains are ok. No rajma, chole or such heavy beans (at least keep them to a minimum). Less oil, less spice, even less salt. Try to keep all processed food to a minimum. No butter, ghee etc. ONly skimmed milk and its products.

Nuts can be had in moderation - NOT more than 3-4 nuts, individually or combined per day. Brisk walking is fine BEFORE meals, but definitely not after. After meals, a light stroll is advisable.

Soak Garlic in honey for 21 days, and start consuming one everyday from the 22nd day in empty stomach. You can do this in bulk and store it for up to a month or more. Again repeat by soaking for another 21 days. Little bit of planning is required for this. This drastically brings down the cholesterol level and is a good healthy medication for your heart.

The extract, called guglipid, comes from the guggal tree and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional Hindu medicine, for nearly 3,000 years. These medicines available in the form of powders and tablets in Ayurvedic.

Cut down foods rich in saturated fats such as butter, cheese, coconut oil, and cream. Use oils such as olive, corn, safflower, and Soya. Green vegetables, fruits, cereals, skimmed milk, skim milk yoghurt should be the main items of your diet. Eating oat bran, Soya beans and grapefruit in diet reduces high blood cholesterol. Fish and chicken with out skin is not harmful. Chocolates should be avoided. Do exercise for half an hour every day. It is good to include fresh salad of tomato, cucumber, carrot, radish, and cabbage along with your both meals. In addition cooked vegetables also should be included. Among fruits try to avoid avocado, pear, banana, mango, chickoo, and custard apple. Onion, garlic, fenugreek seeds are some of the food items which help to reduce the cholesterol level. High fat content foods, organ meats, prawns, oysters, saturated fat etc will increase the cholesterol.

The Negative Calorie Diet


The Negative Calorie Diet is based on the idea that some foods cause you to burn more calories digesting these foods than the actual calorie content of the food itself.

It's true that some foods raise your metabolic rate more than others do. Carbohydrate and protein, for example, contain about four calories per gram. But, the thermic effect of protein is far greater than that of carbohydrate.

In other words, some of the energy in each gram of protein is wasted as heat during the process of digestion and metabolism. The thermic effect of nutrients is approximately 2-3 % for fat, 6-8 % for carbohydrates, and 25-30% for proteins.

The foods you eat on The Negative Calorie Diet are mainly fruit and vegetables. For breakfast, you might have a bowl of strawberries or an orange. A snack might consist of apples or celery. You can have soup for lunch and dinner, though foods like chicken or fish are allowed after the first few days.

The reason that fruit and vegetables help you lose weight is not because they're "negative calorie foods."

Rather, fruit and vegetables have a very low energy density. Energy density refers to the number of calories in a gram of food. If you check the nutrition label on the top of a food label, you should find the standard serving size of the food, and the number of calories in that serving.

To calculate the energy density, divide the calories by the weight. A food that contains 200 calories and weighs 100 grams, for example, has an energy density of 2.0.

Let's use grapes and raisins (which are nothing more than dried grapes) as an example. If you wanted to eat 150 calories of raisins, you'd be able to eat approximately 50 grams. Yet the same number of calories would give you almost 220 grams of grapes- more than four times as much.

Because the grapes are higher in volume, they'll keep you feeling fuller for longer, and you'll eat less over the course of the day.

In one eating study at Pennsylvania State University, a group of women hardly noticed when they ate fewer calories each day as long as their meals contained lots of fruits and vegetables to bulk up the servings and lower the energy density.

You will lose weight on the Negative Calorie Diet. You might - as the book promises - lose 14 pounds in 7 days. But 14 pounds of what? A lot of it will be muscle and water, and not fat.

As soon as people hear the word "diet," they think of restriction, and pain. However, the word comes from the Latin term diatea, which means "a way of living."

Follow any diet to the letter, and you'll probably lose weight. But, if it isn't a way of eating you can live with for more than two weeks, you'll have to come off it again.

Don't be deceived by false promises. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually isn't.

29 June, 2008

Yoga Postures to strengthen the back

video

Sample menu- Vegetarian



Sample Menu 1

Breakfast -

3 oatmeal pancakes with applesauce topping
Calcium fortified orange juice
Fresh fruit

Lunch-

Cous Cous Salad with cucumber, peanuts, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts.
or
baby spinach with croutons, lettuce, baby carrots with a dash of lemon dressing

Dinner-

Chinese stir fry over brown rice: tofu chunks, brocolli, pea pods, water chestnuts and chinese cabbage (bok choy)
Cantaloupe chunks drizzled with fresh lime juice

Snack-

Dried figs

Sample Menu 2

Breakfast-

1 cup oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins and
1/2 cup fortified soy milk
1 slice toast with 1 tablespoon almond butter
1/2 grapefruit

Lunch-

Whole wheat pasta or whole wheat pita stuffed with hummus, sliced tomatoes and lettuce
carrot sticks

Dinner
Baked potato/ baked apple
Fresh homemade soup of fresh vegetables sprinkled with herbs of your choice

Snack

Banana soy milk shake

28 June, 2008

Marichiasana

video

Tips for turning Vegetarian


Here are some tips that can help you and your family members turn vegetarian.

1. Order your next Pizza without cheese but with loads of vegetable toppings.

2. Find Vegetarian cookbooks at your local library or bookstore and churn out interesting recipes.

3. International restaurants offer amazing vegetarian cuisine- Italian, Mexican, Lebanese, Indian, Chinese. Do experiment.

4. Look in natural food stores for textured vegetable protein. It is fat free and has a texture like ground beef. It tastes good in tacos etc.

5. Summer barbecues are healthy and fun with vegetables. Marinate thick cubes of zucchini, bell peppers, corn, mushrooms, carrots. These will be colorful, crunchy, tasty and lot more healthy.

6. Add lot of variety in your diet. Vegetarian food does not have to be boring. Try cooking rice with water and apple juice. Add peanuts and cranberries to cous cous salad.

7. When traveling, pack a variety of vegetarian snacks like instant soups, fresh fruits, granola bars, homemade oatmeal cookies. Fill a cooler with sandwiches, juice, soy milk.

8. Try organic vegetables and fruits. They taste good, are very juicy and crunchy.

9. The simplest dishes are often most satisfying. Brown rice, gently seasoned with herbs and lemon. Pulses, which are simply cooked with few Indian spices are very healthy. Sprinkle few seeds and nuts on top of sprouts to make healthy salad.

10. Try ethnic groceries for speciality vegetarian foods. Italian markets sell wonderful sun dried tomatoes, fresh pastas and homemade breads. Indian and Asian markets also have a wide array to offer to satisfy your palate. Same is true of Middle- Eastern delis that offer grape leaves, falafel, eggplant spread.

11. Don't be shy to ask for vegetarian entrees in a restaurant. Most of the restaurants would be happy to accommodate you. They would whip a meatless pasta or vegetable plate or fresh cut fruits if you ask. Similarly in airlines, if you ask in advance while booking your ticket, you would surely be served pure vegetarian meal. You can even ask for low calorie meal.

12. Convenience foods even cut cooking time . There are instant soups available. Vegetables which are precut are also an option available.

So next time you should not have an excuse for not choosing a healthier vegetarian option.

27 June, 2008

Turn Vegetarian



If you want to achieve good health, turning vegetarian is one great option. Vegetarian foods are satisfying, delicious and healthy.
Lets look at few definitions
Vegetarian: Avoids meat, fish and poultry.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Include dairy products and eggs in their diet.
Vegans: They are pure vegetarians and eat no meat, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy products.

Advantages of turning vegetarian

Lower Cholesterol Vegetarian meal is typically low in saturated fat. Since Cholestrol is found only in animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs, vegans consume a cholesterol free diet. Also replacing animal protein with plant protein lowers blood cholesterol levels. Low fat, vegetarian diet has a clear advantage over other diets.

Low Blood Pressure:When patients with High blood pressure eliminate meat from their diet, the results are very favorable.

Controls Diabetes:Best dietary prescription for controlling diabetes is a diet high in complex carbohydrates which are found in plant foods and low in fat. Avoiding fat, reduces the high risk of heart disease too. Plant based diets can also help to reduce insulin needs.

Cancer Prevention: Breast cancer rates are dramatically lower in countries where diets are typically plant based. Vegetarians also have significantly less colon cancer than meat-eaters. This is so because vegetarian diet is lower in fat and higher in fiber than meat based diet. Also vegetarians consume more of plant pigment beta-carotene. This explains why they have less lung cancer also. Natural sugars in dairy products may raise the risk of ovarian cancer in women. Researchers have still not been able to explain why vegetarians have more of certain white blood cells, called natural killer cells, which are able to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

Less Kidney stones and gallstones:Vegetarians reduce their risk of having kidney stones and gallstones. They also lower the risk of osteoporosis. High intake of animal protein leads to loss of calcium from bones.

In my next article I will give you some very interesting Tips for switching to a vegetarian diet.

High BP; Burn Calorie

High blood pressure is also called hypertension. Because the symptoms may not show up for years, hypertension earned the name the "silent killer. High blood pressure is defined as the pressure of blood against the walls of the blood vessels and arteries. When the heart contracts it pushes blood through your arteries with varying force. There is a difference between high blood pressure (hypertension) and elevated blood pressure caused by working out, stress and tension. When you do different activities your blood pressure may go up, but it returns to normal. If you have hypertension your blood pressure is always above normal.

The prevalence of high blood pressure increases with age and is often related to lifestyle habits. If you're overweight and inactive and you smoke, your risk increases. Persistently elevated blood pressure can lead to so many health hazards — an enlarged heart, stroke and kidney damage among them — bringing the pressure down is crucial.

Prevention

Limit salt intake
Reduce stress
Increase potassium
Increase calcium
Life style changes
Lose weight by exercising under doctor’s orders
Don't smoke
Be active
Limit sodium
Eat more fruit, whole grains, vegetables
Limit alcohol

When you exercise regularly, your entire cardiovascular system benefits. This is because exercise:

Prevents the onset of high blood pressure if you're at increased risk of developing it
Lowers your blood pressure if you already have high blood pressure.

Managing your high blood pressure involves making healthier food and exercise choices, and possibly some decisions about medications.

Your exercise

Start exercising at your own pace

It is possible to see results with every bit of exercise that you do, if you do it regularly. You can begin exercising at a pace that's comfortable for you. Getting exercise at least three times a week is a good way to help manage your high blood pressure.

The benefits of regular exercise, in addition to lower blood pressure, include reduced stress, weight loss, increased stamina, and an improved cardiovascular system. Chances are also good that you'll feel more energetic.

Consider your needs and interests

Your health care professional will work with you and make suggestions about how you can incorporate exercise into your life. After giving you a thorough physical examination and talking with you about your interests, he or she will help you determine which activities are best for your level of fitness.

If you have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, in addition to high blood pressure, your health care professional will consider this information when recommending particular kinds of exercise for you. It is also important for him or her to know what types of medication you are taking.

Exercise in ways you'll enjoy

You can make exercising easier by finding your own ways to include it in your life. In fact, many of your daily activities probably qualify as exercise-you may just need to do them more often.

One way to lower your blood pressure is to take a brisk walk for 30 to 45 minutes several times a week. Walking is a good example of an activity that you can work into your daily routine. For example, you can take your dog for longer walks, park your car farther from the grocery store, or even get off the bus a few blocks before your stop. If you find ways to exercise that suit your needs and interests, you'll be likely to work out more often and to enjoy the benefits of keeping in shape.

How do I get started?

Which type of exercise is right for you? Exercise can be divided into three basic types: stretching, cardiovascular (or aerobic), and strengthening. Each type of activity meets different needs and treatment goals. Be sure to discuss your plan with your health care professional-he or she can help you determine how you can exercise safely and get the most out of it.

Stretching before and after exercising
Helps prepare the muscles for activity
Reduces the likelihood of injuring or straining muscles
Can also increase your flexibility

Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise (includes walking, jogging, bicycling, cross-country skiing, or low-impact aerobics)
Strengthens the heart and improves the body's ability to use oxygen
Reduces your resting heart rate and blood pressure and improves your breathing so your heart will not have to work as hard during exercise

Strengthening exercises
Repeatedly tighten muscles to make them stronger
Many strengthening exercises are not recommended for patients with heart conditions, so it is important to consult your health care professional before performing this type of activity

Make exercise work for you

In general, every workout should include three phases: warm-up, conditioning, and cool down. It is important to perform each one in order to properly prepare your body for exercise and achieve the most from it.

Warm-up: preparing for exercise
Activities include stretching, flexibility exercises, and beginning your workout at a low-intensity level
Helps your body make a slow transition from rest to exercise while improving your flexibility and reducing muscle soreness
During this phase, your breathing, heart rate, and body temperature will slowly increase

Conditioning: the period of exercise
Calories are burned and your body experiences the benefits of exercise
It's important to be aware of the intensity of your exercise by checking your heart rate. Talk to your health care professional for more information on how to do this

Cool down: gradual recovery from exercise
Brings your heart rate and blood pressure back down to pre-exercise levels
Decreases the intensity of your activity. You can even do some of the same stretching activities that you did during your warm-up
Sitting, standing still or lying down during this phase is not the proper ways to achieve the benefits of cooling down. Doing so may cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded

Your Medication

Your medication matters, too

Changing your nutrition and fitness habits for the better is an important step in managing your high blood pressure. Making healthy changes in your life is something you can take pride in doing for yourself. However, for some people it may not be enough. That's why it's just as important to take your medication on a regular basis, as directed by your health care professional. All 3 parts of your treatment-healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and taking your medication-are needed to control your blood pressure properly.

Simple, safe steps for improving your heart's health

Regular aerobic exercise can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 10 points. But because exercise makes your heart work harder, you need to be careful, especially if you're just starting or your blood pressure is very high (greater than 159/99. Follow these tips:

Help your heart adjust to activity. Always warm up and cool down.
Be moderate. Avoid competitive exercises that include bursts of intense exertion. Easy aerobic exercise such as walking is good for people of all blood pressure levels.
Use weights carefully. Resistance training can lower blood pressure by 2 to 4 percent, but if you have uncontrolled hypertension (greater than or equal to 160/100), you should not lift weights. If you have your doctor's okay, do one set of 10 to 15 reps using a moderate, not heavy, weight. Never hold your breath while lifting, and always exhale when lifting or exerting effort.
Stand slowly. After stretching or exercising on the floor, get up slowly. Some blood pressure medications can cause "orthostatic hypotension," a condition that makes you dizzy when you stand quickly.
Do it daily. Consistent exercise lowers blood pressure best. Try to work out at least 4 days a week, daily if possible. For best results, try doing at least 20 minutes each time.
Skip caffeine. A pre workout cup of coffee may cause a spike in blood pressure. Avoid caffeine 3 to 4 hours before exercising.
Get an accurate measure of intensity. Blood pressure medications can interfere with heart rate, so monitor your intensity with a 1-to-10 perceived exertion scale. With 1 being resting and 10 being sprinting, stay at 4 to 6, where you're breathing a little heavy, but not out of breath.

This article written by Kiran Sawhney is also published on the following web site:

http://www.healthlibrary.com/reading/fitnessmantra/article3.html

101 Benefits of Exercise


Everyday we find an excuse for not exercising. But is any excuse a valid excuse, if it compromises your health and can lead to a debilitating sickness in the long run? So we challenged our editor to come up with a 101 reasons to exercise, to counter every conceivable excuse in the book for skipping your daily dose of exercise. Here are a hundred and one reasons why you must exercise, and how they affect every aspect of your health, and your life.

There is a definite link between high premature death rates and chronic inactivity. Exercise promotes longevity by reducing the risk of premature mortality.

Exercise retards the process of aging, thus preserving vitality and youth.

Exercise reduces the risk of developing hypo-kinetic diseases (those associated with lack of movement). It prevents the incidence of and/or helps control such disease processes.

Exercise helps prevent or control coronary artery disease and most cardiovascular diseases, as lack of exercise is the number 1 risk factor for developing these diseases.

Exercise helps prevent cerebro-vascular disease (Strokes).

Exercise helps control Tri-glycerides in blood. Tri-glycerides are as harmful as cholesterol and lead to heart disease.

Regular aerobic exercise helps control/prevent hypertension.

Exercise prevents clotting of blood, thus reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Exercise increases the elasticity of blood vessels, which reduces the resistance to blood flow. This in turn helps prevent hypertension and heart disease.

Blood viscosity is decreased as a result of regular exercise. This reduces the stress on the heart, as thinner blood is easier to pump, and also prevents clotting.

Exercise increases HDL (Good Cholesterol) levels in the body, which prevents plaque build-up on the inner walls of arteries. This in turn prevents heart attacks and strokes.

Exercise strengthens the heart muscle, and cause left ventricular enlargement, thus improving cardiac output, and endurance.

Exercise improves overall glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, thus reducing the risk for type II diabetes mellitus.

Exercise increases muscle mass, which is linked to various vital physiological functions. Increased muscle mass helps optimize these functions thus promoting good health and vitality.

Exercise increases muscular strength and endurance, which improves your ability to perform work and function optimally in day-to-day life.

Exercise improves the body’s ability to control its internal temperature, thus making it better suited to cope with heat stress.

Exercise improves the body’s hydration status. This helps prevent dehydration for strenuous exertion, or heat stress.

Exercise helps improve/maintain bone density, reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis (hollowing of bones).

Exercise boosts immunity, helping the body to combat infectious disease.

Regular light to moderate exercise helps reduce the symptomatic pain caused by arthritis.

Exercise helps reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Regular endurance exercise helps reduce the risk for testicular and prostate cancer in men.

Regular endurance exercise helps reduce the risk for breast, cervix, ovarian, and uterine cancers in women.

Regular endurance exercise helps reduce the risk for various cancers affecting the digestive system.

Exercise helps alleviate chronic muscular pain caused by inflammation of the connective tissue.

Chronic muscular spasms and stiffness can also be prevented by regular exercise.

Strength training increases Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). An increased RMR means you burn more calories at rest, thus improving your body composition.

Endurance training helps burn, large amounts of fat calories, thus promoting efficient weight loss and improved body composition.

Regular exercise helps lose excess fat-weight, which is a risk factor for several chronic degenerative disease especially heart disease.

Regular exercise helps relieve constipation, regularize bowel movements and prevent flatulence.

Exercise enhances digestion and enhances optimal absorption of nutrients.

Exercise helps increase pain threshold, thus helping cope better with pain, and increasing maximal work capacity.

Exercise improves endocrine function, which promotes optimal functioning of various physiological systems, thus improving health and fitness levels.

Exercise improves sexual health and performance.

Exercise can improve fertility in both men and women.

Exercise can help rectify erectile dysfunction by increasing circulation and reducing mental stress.

Regular endurance exercise helps improve total lung capacity, and improves endurance.

Regular endurances exercise helps prevent and alleviate chronic obstructive and restrictive lung disease.

Overall respiratory tract and lung health can be enhanced by regular exercise.

Oxygen carrying capacity of the blood can be improved by regular endurance training.

Mental function and memory can be significantly improved by regular exercise.

Regular exercise may help combat serious neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Mental stress can be greatly reduces by regular exercise.

Endurance exercise is known to release certain feel-good hormones such as endorphins, seratonin, and norepinephrine, which bring about a general feeling of euphoria and wellness. This condition commonly known as "Runner's High" is a great psychological and emotional stress buster, and a promoter of good health.

Exercise can boost self-confidence, and self-esteem by improving one's body image, through weight loss, and enhanced muscle tone.

Regular exercise improves nerve health and neuro-transmission.

Mental awareness and concentration can be greatly improved through regular exercise.

Lymphatic drainage can be improved through regular exercise, and lymphatic health can be maintained.

Exercise strengthens bones and ligaments,

Resistance training strengthens muscles, improves contractile ability, and increases muscle size.

Tendons and connective tissue are strengthened by regular resistance exercise.

Joint flexibility is facilitated by regular exercise.

The sinovial fluid in joint is increased and its viscosity is decreased, thus promoting joint health.

Circulation to joint cartilaginous tissue is also facilitated, thus improving cartilage health.

Regular exercise improves balance.

Proprioception (body awareness) can also be significantly improved through exercise alone.

Exercise increases agility, co-ordination, and reflexes.

Muscular imbalances can be rectified through proper strength training.

Body alignment can be corrected, through specific exercises.

Posture can be significantly improved through regular corrective exercise thus enhancing positive body image.

Body mechanics can be improved through regular strength and flexibility exercises.

The above 13 points (47 to 59) play a very vital role in injury prevention, optimization of energy, and improving overall physical efficiency.

Regular exercise plays a significant role in correcting post-menopausal disorders, and issues related to women’s health, 15 of which are listed below.

Regular exercise facilitates normal deliveries, and reduces pain experienced during parturation.

Exercise can play a significant role in maintaining the psychological health of pregnant women.

Exercise helps reduce post-natal weight gain.

Loss of fitness post-natal levels, due to lack of activity can also be regained through exercise.

Hormonal imbalances in post-menopausal women can be stabilized by exercising, thus prevent severe mood swings.

“Hot Flashes” and inability to efficiently regulate body temperature in post-menopausal women can be corrected through regular exercise.

Loss of bone density and onset of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women can be prevented through regular resistance exercise.

Estrogen acts as a natural antioxidant in women. After menopause the risk for heart disease is greatly increased due to lack of estrogen. Regular endurance exercise helps prevent heart disease in post-menopausal women.

Exercise helps alleviate mental stress in post-menopausal women.

Regular strength and endurance exercise increases libido, and enhances sexual performance in post-menopausal women.

Exercise helps prevent rapid weight gain, a side effect of menopause.

Menstrual cycles can be regularized in those women who experience irregularities through regular exercise.

Menstrual cramps and other related symptoms could also be alleviated through exercise.

Pre Menstrual stress can be prevented through regular exercise.

Valgus stress on the knees in women, due to a broad pelvic girdle, can be prevented by proper corrective exercise, from an early age.

Regular exercise coupled with good nutrition, is the only way to facilitate weight loss.

Regular exercise will reduce appetite, thus promoting weight loss.

Regular aerobic activity makes the body more efficient at mobilizing fatty acids during exercise, thus facilitating faster weight loss.

Plentiful physical activity since very early childhood through early 30’s may prevent the body from developing extra adipose (tissue that stores fat), thus prevent weight gain and obesity later on in life.

Exercise causes sweating, which opens up pores in the skin, by clearing waste such as dead cells and dust that might block them. Sweat also helps eliminate harmful toxins through the skin, thus improving skin health.

Exercise facilitates contraction and relaxation of the smooth muscles of the skin, thus improving skin tone.

Regular exercise (especially abdomen/low-back exercise) is a sure shot way to prevent backaches, and the best form of lower back-pain management.

Exercise helps regulate the body’s waste system, helping your body get rid of harmful toxins.

Exercise promotes a younger and healthier body, hence prolonged independence, and a dignified life for the elderly.

Exercise helps you sleep well by releasing a hormone called seratonin, which induces sleep.

Exercise releases muscular tension; help you be more relaxed at all times.

For those who travel a lot by air, regular exercise can prevent a serious disorder known as deep-vein-thrombosis, which can be caused due to spending long hours in a pressurized compartment.

Exercise improves performance in recreational and competitive sport.

Exercise serves as an excellent medium of meditation. Concentrating on what you do in your exercise session helps you take your mind off all other thoughts.

A regular exercise habit will help develop discipline, dedication, and determination.

An exercise habit will also help develop compliance and adherence, which have importance in every aspect of life.

Regular exercise can in the long run help reduce the symptoms of asthma.

Exercise is known to delay the progression of AIDS in affected individuals.

Exercise is an excellent form of therapy for fighting various kinds of substance abuse.

Exercise helps combat anxiety and depression.

Exercise helps reduce the incidence and intensity of migraines.

Regular vigorous exercise can help increase height to it optimal genetic potential in growing children.

Regular exercise energizes you and makes you more active, promotes overall Good Health, and Well-being. It helps cut down the number of visits to the doctor, and hence cuts down on medical bills.

This article written by Kiran Sawhney is also published on the following web site

http://www.helpforhealth.org/reading_room.php?action=view&id=14&cid=420

26 June, 2008

Fitness Trends 2008

+ Pilates will continue to grow as one of the nation's most popular fitness trends. Based on the century-old teachings of Joseph Pilates, this artful discipline was originally designed to give dancers muscle strength without added bulk. This form of exercise is ideal for individuals seeking to improve strength, posture, flexibility and body awareness. Every Pilates exercise movement requires control of the entire body and focuses on the quality of movement, correct alignment and proper breathing.

+ More and more fitness classes will focus on core strength workouts. To achieve balance, strength and stability of the core (i.e., the body's center of power), exercise classes that utilize stability balls, medicine balls, core boards, etc., will continue to gain popularity. Having a strong core is essential because the body's core muscles serve as the foundation for all other movement. The muscles of the hips and torso help stabilize the spine and pelvis, and provide the foundation for safe and efficient movement in the extremities. Training the muscles of the core may also help correct postural imbalances that can lead to injuries.

+ "Active relaxation" is on the rise. Gentler forms of exercise that promote better sleep, longevity, reduced stress, increased energy and an overall sense of well being will continue to compete with traditional strength, weight loss and other forms of exercise programs. The aging population has realized that fitness is more than vanity, and that flexibility, meditation/breathing, yoga and other holistic exercise routines will provide long-lasting and meaningful benefits.

+ Sport-specific training will continue to guide athletes and the general public into fitness facilities. As the number of marathon runners, tennis players and other athletes increases, so does the importance of sport-specific training. On today's playing fields, the athletes are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before. A sport-specific training program involves focusing on the specific skills associated with an activity (e.g., tennis players strengthening the rotator cuff muscles to improve their serve), while improving cardio respiratory endurance, muscle strength and flexibility.

+ Seniors' awareness of the importance of strength training will increase. Osteoporosis weakens bones to the point where they break easily, especially bones in the hip, spine and wrist. Approximately 25 million Americans have osteoporosis - 80 percent are women. Weight bearing exercises, done on a regular basis, are best for preventing it. Research also reveals that strength training can help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels, manage arthritis pain and reduce the risk of disabling falls.

+ On-line personal training will continue to gain popularity. Training online saves money and time, overcomes barriers to facility access and helps encourage individuals to stay active. Many of these programs offer practical tips on exercise, one-on-one fitness consultations with certified fitness professionals, coaching and training tools, and portable exercise tools that help individuals incorporate fitness into their busy schedules. On-line person training is valuable, but it typically is not as effective as having one-on-one contact with a certified fitness professional.

+ The need for personal training will increase. It appears, unfortunately, that most Americans lack the commitment, motivation, and/or knowledge of fitness to stick with their exercise routines. In fact, it is estimated that 50 percent of individuals who start an exercise program quit within the first 6 months. Many individuals have found that just a few sessions with a well-trained, certified fitness professional helps them refine and recommit to their workout programs. The net effect is that they are more likely to safely achieve the results they desire.

+ Circuit-training classes, which combine cardio with strength training, will become more popular. The focus of these classes is to combine cardio and strength training into one workout to meet the needs of so many Americans who are "time starved" and want to get the greatest training effect in the shortest amount of time. Combo classes also should help to improve exercise adherence because they enable individuals to achieve more in less time.

+ Exercises will increasingly become a family affair. Given the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, there is a tremendous need to identify ways to encourage kids to become more physically active. Fortunately, many parents are not only telling their children about the benefits of being physically active, but are also serving as fitness role models. The name of the game is to choose activities that each member of the family can enjoy, regardless of age, fitness level or athletic ability.

+ Corporations will continue to urge employees to participate in wellness exercise programs. The "bottom line" is the bottom line for companies. With the state of the economy and the increased pace of technology, there is a growing epidemic of stress-related diseases among Americans in the workforce costing companies billions each year. Corporate wellness programs provide exercise equipment and "health advisers" to their staff. Employers who offer such programs may benefit from reduced healthcare costs, absenteeism, injury rates and turnover and improved job performance, productivity and morale.

This article written by Kiran Sawhney will also be found on the following web site:
http://www.healthlibrary.com/reading/fitnessmantra/article5.html

Ardhmatsyendra Asana

Osteoporosis

Bone is constantly being demolished and rebuilt. If reconstruction lags behind demolition, then bone is lost. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones thin and become more porous. The disease generally progresses without pain until a bone fractures. Risk factors for osteoporosis include a small body frame, excessive alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, loss of estrogen, family history of osteoporosis, low dietary calcium intake, and use of some medications such as prednisone and other steroids.

Exercise for Osteoporosis

For patients who have osteoporosis, exercise is an essential part of treatment. Just as regular workouts build muscle, they also maintain and may even increase bone strength. By strengthening your muscles and bones and improving your balance, exercise can reduce the risk of falls and resulting fractures. Exercise works well with estrogen or other medications that increase bone density and strength. Exercise, medication, and proper diet combat osteoporosis more effectively together than any one treatment alone could do. Remember that you're never too old to exercise.

Here are some tips on how to start a program of weight-bearing exercise and resistance training that will benefit your bones and muscles and also help your general health. Two types of exercises are important for building and maintaining bone mass and density: weight-bearing and resistance exercises. Weight-bearing exercises are those in which your bones and muscles work against gravity. This is any exercise in which your feet and legs are bearing your weight. Jogging, walking, stair climbing, dancing and soccer are examples of weight-bearing exercise with different degrees of impact. Swimming and bicycling are not weight-bearing.

Weight-Bearing Exercise

For most people who have osteoporosis, brisk walking is ideal. It can be done anywhere, requires no special equipment, and carries minimal risk of injury. If walking is too difficult or painful for you, workouts on a stationary exercise cycle are a good alternative.

The full benefits of walking come from a regular schedule--at least 15 to 20 minutes 3 to 4 days per week. But if you haven't been active for years, you may need to start modestly. Start at whatever level is comfortable for you. Five-minute walks are fine at first, but try increasing their length by 1 minute every other time until you reach the optimal exercise level.

Walk briskly enough to become slightly short of breath. A little puffing shows that you're working your body hard enough to improve your fitness. If you have certain lung, heart, or other medical conditions, you should consult your doctor about a safe level of activity.

Resistance Training

The second type of exercises is resistance exercises or activities that use muscular strength to improve muscle mass and strengthen bone. These activities include weight lifting, such as using free weights and weight machines found at gyms and health clubs. Lifting weights or using strength-training machines strengthens bones all over your body, especially if you exercise all of the major muscle groups in your legs, arms, and trunk. Following a program designed by your doctor or a physical therapist is important. Joining a gym or fitness facility is a good way to begin because there you may have access to trainers who can advise you on proper technique.

Strength training is a slow process, so start at a low level and builds up gradually over several months. For each exercise, select weights or set the machine so the muscle being trained becomes fatigued after 10 to 15 repetitions. As muscles strengthen, gradually add more weight. But don't increase the weight more than 10% per week, since larger increases can raise your risk of injury. Remember to lift with good form, and don't sacrifice good form to lift more weight.

Most weight-bearing and resistance exercises place health demands on bone. Daily activities and most sports involve a combination of these two types of exercises. Thus, an active lifestyle filled with varied physical activities strengthens muscles and improves bone strength.

CAUTION: If you are frail, have had a fracture, fall frequently or have osteoporosis you should take extra caution. Certain movements like twisting of the spine, high impact aerobics or bending from the waist can be harmful.

Tips for Trouble-Free Exercise

• Lift and lower weights slowly to maximize muscle strength and minimize the risk of injury.
• It's best to perform your resistance workout every third day. This gives your body a chance to recover.
• Avoid exercise that puts excessive stress on your bones, such as running or high-impact aerobics. Avoid rowing machines--they require deep forward bending that may lead to a vertebral fracture.
• Stiffness the morning after exercise is normal. But if you're in pain most of the following day, your joints are swollen, or you're limping, stop the program until you are again comfortable, and cut your weights and repetitions by 25% to 50%. If bone, joint, or muscle pain is severe, call your doctor.
• If a particular area of your body feels sore right after exercise, apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap ice in a towel or baggie, or just hold a cold can of soda to the spot.
• Vary your routine to make it more interesting. For example, if your strength-building program involves 12 separate exercises, do six in one session and the other six in the next.

Bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger.


Just as a muscle gets stronger and bigger the more you use it, a bone becomes stronger and denser when you place demands on it.

If your bones are not called upon to work, such as during physical activity, they do not receive any messages that they need to be strong. Thus, a lack of exercise, particularly as you get older, may contribute to lower bone mass or density.

You cannot see your bones respond to exercise, but when you strike a tennis ball or land on your feet after jumping, chemical messengers tell your arm and leg bones to be ready to handle that weight and impact again. In fact, if you x-ray the arms of a tennis player, you would see that the bones in the playing arm are bigger and denser than the bones in the other arm.

Building strong bones, especially before the age of 30, can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis, and a healthy lifestyle can be critically important for keeping bones strong.

There are several steps you can take to prevent osteoporosis:

Osteoporosis is largely preventable for most people. Prevention of this disease is very important because, while there are treatments for osteoporosis, there is currently no cure. There are four steps to prevent osteoporosis. No one step alone is enough to prevent osteoporosis but all four may. They are:

• A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
• Weight-bearing exercise
• A healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol use
• And bone density testing and medications when appropriate

Calcium

People of all ages require calcium as part of a good diet: children to build strong bones, adults to keep them strong. Dairy products are good sources of calcium. People who avoid dairy products can obtain calcium from other foods and from calcium supplements Calcium is needed for the heart, muscles and nerves to function properly and for blood to clot. Inadequate calcium is thought to contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Depending on your age, an appropriate calcium intake falls between 1000 and 1300 mg a day.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D, you will be unable to absorb calcium from the foods you eat, and your body will have to take calcium from your bones. Vitamin D comes from two sources: through the skin following direct exposure to sunlight and from the diet. Experts recommend a daily intake between 400 and 800 IU per day, which also can be obtained from fortified dairy products, egg yolks, saltwater fish and liver.

Exercise

Exercise is also important to good bone health. If you exercise regularly in childhood and adolescence, you are more likely to reach your peak bone density than those who are inactive. If you have been sedentary most of your adult life, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program.

Medications for Prevention and Treatment

Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, currently bisphosphonates (alendronate and risedronate), calcitonin, estrogens, parathyroid hormone and raloxifene are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention and/or treatment of osteoporosis.

Bone Mineral Density Tests

A Bone Mineral Density test (BMD) is the only way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine your risk for future fracture. Since osteoporosis can develop undetected for decades until a fracture occurs, early diagnosis is important.

A BMD measures the density of your bones (bone mass) and is necessary to determine whether you need medication to help maintain your bone mass, prevent further bone loss and reduce fracture risk. A bone mineral density (BMD) test is a special type of test that is accurate, painless and noninvasive.

The Consequences of Osteoporosis

Two-thirds of those who break a bone due to osteoporosis will never fully recover and regain their previous level of functioning. People have to be careful not to fracture their spine.

Often people tend to think of osteoporosis as an issue of women's health; however, it is not an exclusively female condition. Although the condition is more frequent among women, with 1 in 3 women over the age of fifty developing osteoporosis, up to 1 in 12 men will also be affected. Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men because women have smaller skeletons, their bone loss begins earlier, and menopause brings on a period of rapid bone loss. There are also factors that place men at a greater risk.

Preventing osteoporosis: diet, exercise, and good medical care

Many cases of osteoporosis can be prevented. Other cases can be controlled, to reduce the risk of fracture and disability. Osteoporosis prevention has been described as a "three legged stool," because it is based on diet, exercise, and good medical care.

25 June, 2008

Why should you Hire Personal Trainer


Remember, the most important step in achieving a better you is knowing the right way to do it.

Specifically, a personal trainer will:
• Take your blood pressure
• Take your pulse rate
• Teach you to exercise at the proper heart rate
• Counsel with you regarding nutrition
• Measure your percentage of body fat
• Set up your exercise program.
• Motivate you to stay with your program.

What is your training/exercise philosophy?
A credible trainer should be able to explain a philosophy of exercise training. You don’t need a doctoral dissertation here, only a description of how they help clients reach their goals. How do they train clients? How do they motivate them? Is there an assessment process? Find out as much as you can about how they work with clients to achieve goals.

Be an intelligent consumer. Ask for specifics and clarification if you don’t understand something. This person is going to tell you how to exercise, give you lifestyle information and hold very heavy weights over your head.

Why should I hire a Personal Trainer?

Why should I hire a Personal Trainer instead of going to a local gym and using one of their trainers?
Personal Training is much like a lot of other products in that you get what you pay for. There are many personal trainers out there who are qualified, can show you how to exercise, and can hold your clipboard and count your reps. If you want to spend hard-earned money on that type of service, then by all means, check out a personal training package offered by a gym.

Look for a trainer who is able to assist you with your special needs

A personal trainer should always have you fill out a health history questionnaire to determine your needs or limitations. If you have a medical condition or a past injury, a personal trainer should design a session that takes these into account. If you're under a doctor's care, a personal trainer should discuss any exercise concerns with your doctor, and should ask for a health screening or release from your doctor. .

Decide if this is someone you can work with
Some people like to exercise in the morning, some in the evening. Will the personal trainer you're talking to accommodate your schedule? What about the trainer's gender? Some people do better working with a trainer of the same sex; others prefer the opposite sex.

Personal Trainer

1. Improve Your Overall Fitness. Surveys show the primary reason people hire personal trainers is to get professional assistance to improve cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility, endurance, posture, balance and coordination. A trainer will monitor your progress and fine-tune your program as you go, helping you work your way off plateaus.

2. Reach or Maintain a Healthy Weight. Body fat reduction, weight reduction or management, body shaping and toning can all be achieved with the aid of a qualified trainer, who can help you set realistic goals and determine safe strategies, all while providing the encouragement you need.

3.Learn to Stick to It. Sticking with well-intentioned plans is one of the biggest challenges exercisers face. Qualified personal trainers can provide motivation for developing a lifestyle that places a high priority on health and activity. A trainer can help you brainstorm ways to overcome your biggest obstacles to exercise.

4. Focus on Your Unique Health Concerns. Surveys show that 50 percent of personal trainers clients have special medical needs, such as arthritis, diabetes or obesity. A personal trainer can help you with these or other issues, including low-back pain, rehabilitation from injury and pre/postnatal training. Your trainer can work with your physician, physical therapist or other health care provider to plan a safe, efficient program that will speed your recovery or enable you to reach your health goals.

5. Find the Right Way to Work Out. You will learn the correct way to use equipment, and appropriate form and technique for cardiovascular work and free-weight training.

6. Stop Wasting Time. Get maximum results in minimum time with a program designed specifically for you. Workouts that use your strengths and improve on your weaknesses are efficient and effective.

7. Learn New Skills. Want to improve your tennis game, learn to ski, become an in-line skater, golf like a pro, better your weekend basketball game or get ready for a wilderness adventure vacation? An individualized program can improve your overall conditioning and develop the specific skills you need.

8. Enhance Your Mind, Body and Spirit. A personal trainer can act as a doorway to new personal growth experiences. Many trainers provide mind-body activities, such as yoga or tai chi sessions. Your trainer may help you uncover new insights about yourself or find potential you didn’t realize you had.

9. Benefit From the Buddy System. What could be better than making a commitment to regularly meet with someone who will provide you with individualized attention and support?

10. Take Charge of Your Program, and Do It Your Way. With the right trainer, you can find the exercise program that works best for you. Are you more comfortable with a demanding program or a gentler approach? Would you like to train at home or at work, at a club or in a trainer’s facility? How many times per week or month do you want to meet your trainer, and for how long? Carefully choosing a personal trainer enables you to select the type of guidance that will benefit you. You can get fit and healthy your way and take ultimate responsibility for your own health.

• Many medical conditions and/or past injuries can affect the way you exercise. Does the trainer require you to have a health screening or release from your doctor?
• Can the trainer provide you with references from other clients?
• A trainer should help you establish realistic short-term and long-term goals and motivate you by assessing your progress. Does the trainer keep a record of your workouts with a tracking system and update your medical history periodically?
• Is the trainer willing to put the workout methods in writing and explain the reasoning behind exercise program decisions?
• Is the trainer interested in helping you maintain a balanced, healthy lifestyle in addition to exercise?

Questions you should ask your would be trainer.

1. Why did you choose a career in personal fitness training?

All legitimate personal trainers ought to have a passion for health and fitness and enjoy helping other individuals reach their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

2. Do you need me to get a physical, health screening or some type of release from my doctor?

All of the personal trainers you're interviewing must be made aware of any medical conditions or current and past injuries that you may have. Certain conditions can affect your ability to perform particular exercises.

The personal trainers should be told all relevant details of your past medical history, including any medication you may be on.

If you are under a doctor's care for whatever reason your personal trainer will discuss any exercise concerns with your physician.

Personal trainers are hired for numerous different reasons so it's very important to find someone who has experience in the type of training and help you are looking for.

Top Ten Reasons To Hire a Personal Trainer

1. Motivation
Personal trainers wear many hats, serving not only as coach, but also as an educator, confidant, role model and a major source of motivation and encouragement.

2. Consistency
Do you find it difficult to stick to your program? Scheduling regular appointments with a personal trainer helps eliminate any excuses you may come up with for not exercising.

3. Safety
A personal trainer will show you how to exercise safely (including which exercises to avoid), and instruct you on the proper and safe use of exercise equipment.

4. Individualized instruction
An exercise program that works for one person may not work for another. A personal trainer will develop the most effective program for you based on your fitness evaluation results and personal goals.

5. Effective workouts
Today's hectic lifestyles mean you don't have time to waste on ineffective exercise routines. Personal trainers help maximize your time by providing workouts designed to meet your goals quickly and efficiently.

6. Supervision
Need someone to spot you while you do pull-ups? Looking for feedback on your running form? That's what your personal trainer is for: to observe, assist and, if necessary, correct as needed.

7. Sports-specific training
Whether you want to shave some strokes off your golf score or beat your brother-in-law at tennis, a personal trainer can tailor your program to your sport of choice.

8. Injury rehabilitation
An experienced personal trainer can make the road to recovery a smooth one by recommending exercises that emphasize overall muscular balance to prevent future injuries.

9. Special-needs training
Research confirms that individuals with health challenges such as diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis or heart disease benefit greatly from regular physical activity. These conditions, however, can make exercising safely a challenge. Many personal trainers are experienced in designing programs that address the special needs of these and other conditions.

10. Ego boost
It's a fact--feeling good makes you look good, and vice versa. Not only can personal trainers help you achieve your health and fitness goals; they provide you with positive feedback on your performance and bolster your confidence to take on new challenges.

Fitness for Healthy Heart

Exercise lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, cuts bad cholesterol and blood sugar. Read Prevention’s guide to know the safest way.

If there is one way (other than the right diet) to make your heart stronger, it’s exercise. If you have a family history, a mild cardiac condition or simply the desire to protect your heart and make it healthier, upload this.

There is scientific evidence to prove that exercise is good for patients with heart failure. It not only reduces the symptoms, allowing patients to live more active lives, but also reverses some of the harmful hormonal changes that take place as the body attempts to compensate for a weakened heart.

Regular exercise also lowers the risk of coronary heart disease. “People who maintain an active lifestyle have a 45% lower risk of developing heart disease compared to those who lead sedentary lives,” says Dr S C Manchanda, senior consultant cardiologist, Sir Gangaram Hospital, Delhi and Prevention advisor.

He reminds us that exercise lowers bad cholesterol or LDL and triglycerides, and increases good cholesterol or HDL. Blood pressure, sugar and obesity are slashed by regular exercise. “Combining it with yoga will help reduce stress,’’ he adds.

If you have a heart history, talk to your doctor about the following before starting an exercise programme:

Medication changes New medication can greatly affect your response to exercise; your doctor can tell you if your normal exercise routine is still safe.

Lifting heavy objects Make sure that lifting or pushing heavy objects and chores such as, mowing the lawn, and sweeping the floor aren’t off limits. Chores around the house can be tiring; ensure that you only do what you are able to do without getting tired.

Safe exercises Learn how to find the right intensity of exercise. It is best if you could chalk out your exercise regimen with your doctor. Get the doctor’s approval before you lift weights, use a weight machine, jog, or swim. Visit a library or bookstore for information on exercise programmes.

To improve your aerobic power, you do not need to submit yourself to strenuous and hectic exercise. In fact, an intensity of exercise called conversational exercise (where you can comfortably have a conversation while you are exercising) can be very beneficial.

Here are some exercises that improve heart health.

The stretches

Stretching the arms and legs before and after exercising helps prepare muscles for activity and prevents injury and muscle strain. Regular stretching also increases your range of motion and flexibility. While performing these exercises, make sure your movements are controlled and slow. Stretch until a gentle pull is felt in your muscle. Hold each stretch without wobbling or feeling pain for 20 to 30 seconds. Do not hold your breath during these exercises. Various types of stretches you can try:

Hamstring stretch While standing, place one foot on a stool or chair, your leg and knee stretched out and hold onto a wall for balance.


Slowly lean forward, keeping your back straight and reach one hand down your shin until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Relax and then repeat with the other leg.

Quadriceps stretch Stand facing a wall, placing one hand against it for support. Bend one knee, grasping your ankle with the other hand and pulling your leg behind you. Try to touch your heel to your buttock. Relax and then repeat with your other leg.

Calf stretch Stand facing the wall with your hands against it for support. Put one foot about 12 inches in front of the other. Bend your front knee and keep your other leg straight. (Keep both heels on the floor). To prevent an injury, do not let your bent knee extend forward past your toes. Slowly lean forward until you feel a mild stretch in the calf of your straight leg. Relax and then repeat with the other leg.

Knee Pull Lie on your back and flatten the small of your back onto the floor. Bend one knee and pull your bent leg towards your chest, until you feel a pull in your lower back. Try to keep your head on the floor, but do not strain yourself. Gently lower your leg, and then repeat with the other leg.

Overhead arm pull Lock your fingers together, with your palms facing out (or hold onto a towel so your hands are shoulder-width apart). Extend your arms out in front of you with your elbows straight. Lift your arms to shoulder height. Raise your arms overhead until you feel a gentle pull in your chest or shoulders.

Behind back arm raise At waist level, put your hands behind your back, locking your fingers together (or hold onto a towel so your hands are shoulder-width apart). Straighten your elbows and raise your arms upward until you feel a gentle pull in your chest or shoulders.

Side bend Stand straight with your legs about shoulder-width apart. Reach over your head with one arm, elbow bent, sliding the opposite arm and hand down your thigh, towards your knee. Hold the stretch until you feel a gentle pull at your side. Repeat with other side.

Double shoulder circles Bend your elbows so that your fingertips rest on your shoulders. Rotate your shoulders and elbows clockwise, then anti-clockwise, as if drawing large circles. Repeat in each direction.

Leg circles Hold onto a chair or a table for balance.

Lift one leg straight behind you, keeping both knees straight. Rotate your leg clockwise, then anti-clockwise, as if drawing small circles with your foot. (You should feel the movement at your hip joint). Repeat each direction, with each leg.

Cardio Workouts

Cardiovascular or dynamic exercise involves steady, physical activity using large muscle groups. This type of exercise strengthens the heart and lungs and improves the body’s ability to use oxygen. Over a period of time, cardio exercises can help decrease your heart rate, blood pressure and improve your breathing. Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, jumping the rope, bicycling (stationary or outdoors), skating, rowing and low-impact water aerobics.

Cycling Bicycle rides improve the heart’s size and pumping ability in patients with stable heart failure (who have had a history of heart failure).

Countless exercise programmes claim to trim the thighs, abs and buttocks, but how many offer to re-shape a flabby heart? According to new research, aerobic exercises do just that for patients with stable heart failure, literally turning an enlarged heart into a trimmer, more efficient organ.

Walking The New England Journal of Medicine has reported that walking three hours a week can reduce women’s risk of a heart attack by 40% and walking more than five hours a week can slash their risk by 50%. It is a moderate form of physical exercise which also helps reduce the amount of bad cholesterol. Walking the treadmill will also reap similar health benefits. Take care to walk at a speed and intensity, suggested by your doctor.

Swimming It is an excellent aerobic activity that uses almost all muscle groups. “It makes the heart stronger, making it pump more blood per beat. But take care, a higher intensity may prove harmful,’’ says Dr Mahesh Jukar, sports medicine consultant, L H Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai. In addition, the buoyancy factor makes this activity almost injury-proof. Swimming for three hours a week amounts to moderate physical exercise which— studies done at the National Public Health Institute, Finland show—can cut the risk of death by heart failure in people suffering from type 2 diabetes.


What kind of exercise is good?

Studies show that when patients with heart failure did aerobic exercises several times a week, the oversized heart became significantly smaller and pumped blood more efficiently. Researchers were surprised to find that those who added weight lifting to the exercise routine to enhance muscle strength did not enjoy a similar improvement in the heart’s size or function.

Work out on elliptical exercise machines

Elliptical trainers have great features which are not easily found in other types of home-exercise equipment. You are sure to get a low-impact, cardio-friendly, total-body workout.

Their low-impact design also prevents injuries. Some people compare the workout they get on elliptical exercise machines to pedalling on a stationary bike while standing up. Since you can adjust the incline, speed and other factors, you can maximise the cardio impact of the exercise, making elliptical trainers more effective than weight lifting and leg presses.

The DOs of a safe workout

See your doc

+Get a thorough medical check-up before starting an exercise programme.
+Check your pulse frequently or wear a heart rate monitor and keep your pulse within the parameters your doctor sets.

Be careful while working out

+Wear comfortable clothes and flat shoes with laces, or sneakers.
+Start slowly. Gradually build up to at least 30 minutes of activity, five or more times per week (or whatever y our doctor recommends). If you don’t have a full 30 minutes, try two 15-minute sessions or three 10-minute sessions.
+Exercise at the same time of the day so that it becomes a habit.
+Ask family and friends to join you. That way you’ll stick to your routine.
+Go for variety. Walk one day, swim the next, bike on the weekend to stay motivated and loyal to your regimen.

At home

Drink a cup of water before, during and after exercising (but check with the doctor, because some people need to limit their fluid intake).

Maintain an exercise journal. Write down how much you worked out, how you felt after each session.

Be active through the day. Walk the mall before shopping; choose stairs over an escalator; or take 10-15 minute walking breaks while watching TV.

...And the DON’Ts

Avoid exercising outdoors in extreme conditions such as high temperatures, humidity and poor air quality.

Avoid isometric exercises that require holding your breath, such as push-ups.

Don’t take hot or cold showers or sauna baths after exercising.

Avoid heavy weight lifting. If you develop palpitations, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, or dizziness stop exercising and rest. Call your doctor if symptoms don’t go away in some time.

Keep a gap of three to four hours between your meals and workout.

This article written by Kiran Sawhney was published in Prevention magazine and can also be found at

http://prevention.digitaltoday.in/index.php?issueid=9&id=1286&option=com_content&task=view

24 June, 2008

Some of my favorite quotes



'If you want something you never had, do something you have never done'

'Don't go the way life takes you, take the life the way you go'

'You are born to live and not live because you are born'

'When I find myself fighting against the flow of life, I try to remember that you can have it all, not all at once'

Shin Split

Shin split is the lay-term used to describe symptomatic pain caused by an inflammation of the muscles or tendons of the front of the shin. They can become so bad that the muscles can be damaged, tendons torn, and even splinters of bone pulled free.
Shin split is a pain, which runs down the front of your leg and commonly occurs when people overdo it, Shin splints affect your two leg bones: the tibia and the fibula. Shin splints develop when the muscles attached to these bones become inflamed, causing intense pain. Shin splints are caused when the Tibialis anterior muscle, one of the muscles responsible for flexing your foot upwards, is overused during activity. Pain is experienced when this muscle is flexed too much. Here are some other causes of shin splints.

• Flat feet, or the turning of the foot outward – which puts strain on the leg muscles – can cause shin splints.
• Tight calf muscles, or calf muscles that aren’t ‘warmed up’ before exercising, may be responsible for shin splints.
• Ill-fitting exercise/walking shoes that don’t provide proper foot support could be the reason why you have shin splints.
The pain of shin splints typically occurs during the repetitive motion involved in exercises such as walking, aerobics, jogging, tennis, basketball or other weight-bearing activities. Shin splints most likely develop when:
• You engage in an activity requiring constant pounding on the legs and feet.
• You perform the same action repeatedly, such as walking on a treadmill or just excessive walking.
Initial treatment involves the RICE principle: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

In addition, be sure to follow these shin splint treatment tips to avoid against future shin splint occurrences:

• Warm up muscles before and after any physical fitness activity – including walking – taking special care to stretch the calf muscles. This is a great shin splint treatment plan.
• Wear walking and exercise shoes with proper support and a good fit. This is a good shin splint treatment option.
• Discard worn out shoes that have lost their support. This is an excellent shin splint treatment technique.
• Use insoles and other shoe inserts to reduce the stress placed on muscles and tendons on the front and sides of the legs. This is a great shin splint treatment tip.
• Strengthen the Tibialis anterior muscle by performing toe tapping or placing a weight on the top of the foot and pull the foot up repetitively. This is a fantastic shin splint treatment plan.

23 June, 2008

Exercises for Shoulder



Shoulders define our stature. They influence our appearance far more than any other body part. Just as broad, well defined but relaxed shoulders are a sign of strength, self-confidence and contribute to your appearance, tight shoulder muscles, on the other hand, will cause discomfort and pain. Because of this, it is very important to train this body part with equal doses of strengthening and stretching exercises. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. It is the most mobile joint in the body and therefore one of the most in danger of injury, especially dislocation. Because of this, it is important to secure its strength through specific exercises.

. Guidelines for exercising the shoulders.

• Do not work with momentum; that means, don’t swing. Stand firm & have control of your movement.
• Keep your shoulders down, pulled away from ears.
• When you contract, you exhale. When you release or relax, you inhale.
• Pay attention to how the hands are held during exercise. If you turn the hands outward or inward, you change the way the shoulder works. This can cause impingement, especially when the arms are brought overhead

Shoulder exercises-

Rear Shoulder Stretch
Stand in neutral position. Clasp your hands behind your back. Keep the arms extended and pull them down. Hold for 20-30 seconds and shake out the arms.


Ex 1-Overhead Press with Bar
Hold the bar with palms down at chest height. Raise the bar upwards, keeping your relaxed not tensed. Slowly lower the arms. This exercise trains the middle shoulder muscle. Don’t use your body to throw the weight up.


Ex 2- Side Lateral Raises with Tubing
Place the ball of the foot in the middle of the tubing. Pull your arms upward to the sides. Palms face down. Make sure that you do not lock your elbows but keep them soft. Stand steady and don’t lean back. This exercise trains the middle shoulder muscle.


Ex 3-Upright Row with Tubing
Hold the handles of the tubing & step in the center of the tubing. Keep neutral body alignment. Pull the tubing up, keeping your elbows out and your shoulders down. Lower it down slowly to the starting position. When pulling the tubing up, try to lead with your elbows. This exercise trains the middle shoulder muscles.


Ex-4-Shoulder Stretch against the wall

Place one arm against the wall on your shoulder level parallel to the floor. Rotate to the opposite side till you feel a good stretch in your shoulder blade. Repeat it on the other arm.


Ex 6- Shoulder Raise with Hand Weights

Position: Standing or lying down on flat surface or inclined surface or sitting on a Swiss ball.
Works on Anterior Deltoid.
Method: Start with arms slightly bent, lift the weights in front of you to shoulder level. Your elbows are slightly bent while you control the movement in both directions.
Make sure your body is steady & upright as you lift your arm forward.
Maintain tight abdominals with your chest and head lifted.
Keep your elbows slightly bent & shoulders down.
Lift using your deltoids with your arm following their upward pull.
Lead with your elbow, not the weight or your hand- your arm & hand will be on an even plane with your shoulders at the top of the movement.
Relax your grip on the dumbbells as you return to the starting position.
Control your movement in both the directions.
Exhale as you lift up; inhale as you return to starting position


Ex 7-Lateral Arm Raise

Position: Standing or in Squat position or sitting on a Swiss ball.
Works on Medial Deltoid.
Method: Stand with your legs shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, head and chest lifted and abdominals tight. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, lift your arms to the sides, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Leading with your elbow, not the dumbbell, lift your arms to shoulder level. It is usually more effective to alternate arms with lateral raises.
Squeeze your lower trapezius together to minimize use of your trapezius and hunching of your shoulders upward. Use deltoid muscle. This will allow your middle deltoids to work harder to lift your arms to the side.
Lift using your deltoids- your arm follows the upward pull of the deltoids.
Lead with your elbow, not the weight or your hand.
Relax your grip on the dumbbell from time to time to allow the blood to flow through your forearm more effectively.
Exhale as you lift up; inhale as you return to starting position.
To add variety you can rotate the thumb downwards as you reach the top of the movement. This adds more definition to your deltoid muscles.

Ex-8-Posterior Deltoid Squeeze

Position: Squat or sit on a step or Swiss ball.
Works on Posterior Deltoids, Rhomboids, Trapezius.
Sit on the step, holding a dumbbell in each hand, and lean forward from your hips. Maintain a straight back with abdominals tight, and your head in a neutral position as you lean forward. Place your hands under your legs and slightly behind your heels. Lift the weights out to your sides, keeping your elbows bent and pointing towards the ceiling. Imagine a string is attached to your elbows and the ceiling, and it is pulling your elbows upward. Keep your wrists strong and in neutral position. As you reach the end of your upward & outward movement, squeeze your shoulder blades together to increase the activity of your rhomboid muscles. Your rhomboids are very important muscles for maintaining correct, upright posture and are vital muscles to work. They help prevent rounding of the upper back and are the opposing muscle group for the pectorals. Exhale as you lift up; inhale as you return to the starting position.

Ex 9-Overhead Press

Position: Standing or sitting on a Swiss ball.
Works on Deltoids & Trapezius.
Method: Take weights in your hands on shoulder level. Palms face forward. Elbows are bent. From here extend the arms up. So the weights go overhead. Exhale on the way up & inhale on the way down. Make sure you do not lock the elbows on the way up. Keep them soft.


Ex 10Overhead Press with Tubing

Sit with straight back on bench or in a chair; leaning slightly forward. Pass the tubing under the bench or chair. Hold the tubing handles securely at shoulder height, with knuckles towards the ceiling. Extend the arms slightly forward and upwards. Exhale on the way up and inhale on the way down. Also concentrate when you lower the tubing down.


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