Archive for May, 2010

Exercising While on Vacation: A break from work doesn’t mean taking a break from fitness

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Everyone looks forward to that one or two weeks out of the year when they get to take a break from their daily work or at-home duties and go on vacation. Vacation is the perfect time to relax, unwind and have a great time with friends and family.

The lure of rich meals, fruity drinks and endless hours of lying by the pool are hard temptations to resist while on vacation. And after all, you are on vacation so you owe it to yourself….in moderation. Your vacation is your time and it’s fine to indulge a bit but it’s also important to get up and moving so that you don’t pay the price once you get home.

While vacation is a time to unwind and relax, it is not necessarily a time to take a break from your daily fitness routines. Just because you are away from your gym, doesn’t mean that you can’t get your exercise elsewhere.

Being on vacation is a great time to try something different with your cardio workout. Remembering to keep your routine different each day will help you to enjoy your vacation and exercise even more.

Here are a couple guidelines for staying fit and active while on vacation found on MSNBC.

• Change your vacation brain- Consider your hiatus from work as an opportunity to be more active and try new things. Oftentimes you’ll have more time for exercise when traveling because there’s no housework, laundry or long meetings to attend. Try to do something active every day on vacation, even if it’s only dancing in the disco. Include one calorie-burning (and fun) activity in your itinerary each day, such as snorkeling, kayaking or even hula classes, and aim for a manageable 30 minutes.

• Be active early- Allow yourself a couple days to sleep in then try to get out of bed early and do an activity that’s related to where you are, such as taking a walk on a beach, riding a bike around town or hiking in the hills. If I don’t go first thing, it’s easy to get too busy. Find a local activity you love and do it early in the day. Or pack running shoes, shorts and a sports bra to turn any vacation spot into a beautiful scenic workout trail.

You can also try these great cardio workouts while on vacation:


• Surfing, swimming or snorkeling:
While you may not be the “hang ten” type, even attempting surfing can be an excellent form of exercise. Snorkeling is more laid back and still provides a great workout and we all know that swimming is an excellent form of exercise for all of your major muscle groups.

• Walking or running on the beach: Experts have said that walking or running on the beach burns more calories than running or walking on a flat surface, thereby making this an excellent vacation workout for anyone.

• Biking: Biking trails and biking in general is a great form of exercise and it a great way to get around on vacation. You won’t be burning up gas in a car to get around and you’ll be giving your body a pretty intense workout.

• Hiking: Many families choose the outdoors instead of the beach for their vacation, which allows for another great workout by hiking trails and through the mountains. Adding elevation and a backpack to your hike helps you to burn additional calories.

• Beach volleyball:
You don’t have to be a professional volleyball player in order to get a great workout by playing beach volleyball. Besides burning more than 150 calories per hour, playing beach volleyball is a great way to meet some new people while on vacation.

• Play golf:
Many of you are probably saying, “Play golf? Now that’s up my alley.” You may not realize this, but playing golf is an excellent form or exercise and is also a great way to relax the day away while you are on vacation. By carrying your clubs and walking the course, you can burn 200 to 300 calories per hour and you’ll be exercising even though you might not realize it.

• Shopping: Yes, men, believe it or not, when your lady decides to take a day out of vacation and get some shopping in, she is actually getting in a pretty decent work out. While this workout is a leisurely one it can still be a good form of exercise with all of the walking and heavy lifting/carrying that could ensue.

So whether you decide to hit up the beach volleyball court and try your hand at surfing, or if you just go shopping and take a walk on the beach, there are plenty of ways that you can get a good workout while you are on vacation.

This way, when you return home you will not only be well rested, but you won’t be out any fitness time and can jump right back into your normal routine without starting fresh.

Diabetes Diet: Eat the Mediterranean Way

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Studies are constantly being conducted to aid those living with type 2 diabetes, as it is becoming a rapidly increasing disease that many overweight people are being diagnosed with.

In a recent study it has been reported that eating a Mediterranean-style diet may help people with type 2 diabetes keep their disease under control without the help of drugs better than following a typical low-fat diet. In the past, people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes often turn to a classic, low-fat regimen, while others have opted for a higher-fat, Mediterranean-style diet filled with lots of olive oil, as well as vegetables, whole grains and fish and poultry.

According to WebMD.com, a new study from Italy shows that people with type 2 diabetes who ate a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables and whole grains with at least 30% of daily calories from fat (mostly olive oil) were better able to manage their disease without diabetes medications than those who ate a low-fat diet with no more than 30% of calories from fat (with less than 10% coming from saturated fat choices).

The researchers studied groups of people who were following both of these types of diets and they found that after four years both groups had lost similar amounts of weight. But, only 44% of the Mediterranean dieters needed to take diabetes medication, as compared to 70% of the low-fat dieters.

The Mediterranean diet group achieved better glycemic (blood sugar) control and was less likely to require diabetes medications to bring their blood sugar to healthier levels. Those who followed the Mediterranean diet also experienced improvement in other heard disease risk factors.

One of the major benefits of the Mediterranean diet is that it is full of healthy foods and it doesn’t recommend fat-reduced foods that are chock full of refined carbohydrates. The Mediterranean diet is also rich in vegetables and whole grains and low in red meat, which should be replaced with fish or poultry. Overall, the Mediterranean diet should consist of no more than 50% of daily calories from carbohydrates and no less than 30% of calories from fat.

To switch up your diet to be more Mediterranean add: fish, poultry, beans, walnuts and other nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, fresh fruit, roasted vegetables, whole eggs, and olives.

Heal Your Sunburn the Natural Way

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Now that spring is in full bloom and summer is just around the corner, it’s time again for some fun and sun. And while sunshine can be quite enjoyable, it can also wreak havoc on your skin and can potentially cause a pretty nasty sunburn.

Not only do sunburns hurt but they cause a great deal of damage to your skin that can be potentially long lasting and dangerous. According to Mothernature.com the redness of a sunburn is caused by clogged and swollen capillaries that supply blood to the skin. Severe sunburns are caused by ultraviolet rays in sunlight which can destroy elastic fibers in the skin causing sagging, wrinkling and can also lead to skin cancer.

Prevention is always best. In order to prevent sunburns, try heading outdoors before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m. when the ultraviolet rays are less intense. And always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

If it’s too late and the damage has already been done, you may also want to try some of these ways to heal your sunburn naturally:

• Use Vitamin E-
While there are plenty of sunburn remedies that you can buy over-the-counter, just look in your cabinet for any lotion that contains vitamin E and aloe vera. The vitamin E and aloe vera add nutrients back into the skin that the UV rays have left unbalanced. The aloe vera also gives the cooling effect that is much needed for that sunburn.

• An Oatmeal Bath- Found on MSNBC.com take a lukewarm bath with 1 cup added ground oatmeal (grind it with a mortar and pestle; instant oatmeal works fine), 1 cup whole milk, 2 tablespoons honey, and 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel. Oatmeal is anti-inflammatory, honey is antiseptic, milk’s proteins and fats soothe skin, and aloe numbs pain. Afterward, moisturize with a cream containing hydrating shea butter and aloe.

• Soothing Foods- Check the kitchen cupboard and the refrigerator. Items like vinegar, mustard, yogurt, tomatoes and avocados all contain extra vitamin E and will help to relieve the burn just as any cream or lotion would.

• Oils- Try Lavender Essential Oil. When used in conjunction with aloe vera, the oil helps to promote new skin growth and heals first degree burns.

•Opt for Green Tea- Green tea is perfect for reducing the swelling of the skin associated with sunburns, as well as taking out the sting of the burn. To make the green tea compress, bring a pot of tea to boil then pour it over 1 teaspoon of loose green tea. Cover and let it sit for 5 minutes and then mix with an equal amount of cold water. Once the mixture is cooled, soak a clean cloth in it and put it on the sunburned skin for five to ten minutes. This can be applied several times a day.

• Milk- Found on Mothernature.com the fat content of milk is soothing, so milk makes a great compress for sunburn pain, says John F. Romano, M.D. clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Cornell Medical Center in New York City. His instructions: Dip some gauze in whole milk and apply it to sunburned areas for about 20 minutes, repeating this process every two to four hours. Be sure to wash off the milk to avoid having your skin smell sour.

• Baking Soda- A baking soda bath is great for soothing a sunburn. Add one cup of baking soda to a tub filled with lukewarm (94° to 98°F) water and soak for 30 minutes to an hour, using a cup to pour the water over any part of the body that isn’t submerged in the bath. Pat dry.

•Cool down-
Take a cool bath with 1 cup of black tea and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to the bath water. The black tea helps to reduce the swelling and the apple cider vinegar helps to soothe the pain.

Whatever natural method you decide to go with to treat your next sunburn, be sure to treat the burn right away. Prolonging the treatment of the burn will only prolong the agony of the pain, so take care of your burn on day one.

Straight From the Headlines … Just Five Minutes A Day Outdoors Can Boost Mood

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Research conducted by the University of Essex and  highlighted on MSNBC.com shows that just five minutes a day spent outdoors can improve mental health as well as increase self confidence and contribute to a sense of overall well-being.

Researchers found that as little as five minutes of a “green activity” such as walking, gardening, cycling or farming can boost mood and self esteem. Prior to the study, experts were unsure of how much time was required to make these changes in individuals.  But the study revealed that just five minutes is plenty of time to have an impact on a person’s mood.

Jules Pretty and Jo Barton, researchers at the University of Essex who led this study, looked at data from 1,252 people of different ages, genders and mental health status taken from ten existing studies in Britain. They analyzed activities such as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse riding and farming.

They found that the greatest health changes occurred in the young and the mentally ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. The largest positive effect on self-esteem came from a five-minute dose of “green exercise.”

“We believe that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with green exercise,” Barton said in a statement about the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

All natural environments were beneficial, including parks in towns or cities, they said, but green areas with water appeared to have a more positive effect.

Weight Loss around the World

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

travel destinationsEven though we constantly hear about the obesity rate in the United States, people all over the world are struggling with weight loss. Every country seems to have some custom that many are following to help drop the pounds and slim the waistline. Here are a few weight loss tips from around the globe.

Germany: A whopping 75% of Germans eat breakfast every morning compared to only 44% of Americans. British researchers have found that if you haven’t eaten breakfast, your brain’s reward center will light up more vividly when you see a high-calorie food making you more likely to indulge.

Japan: Take a page out of the Japanese residents’ book and take time for a nap each day. Even just a 20- or 30-minute nap per day makes a huge difference when trying to lose weight. Studies show that sleep deprivation raises the risk of weight gain due to two hormones, leptin and ghrellin, that lead us to believe we are full and triggers hunger, respectively. The less sleep you get the lower your leptin levels and the higher your ghrellin levels. This causes people to think they are hungry when they are really just sleepy. According to lifemojo.com fish is also a very important part of the Japanese diet. Fish is a very good source of essential fatty acid like Omega 3 which help you get rid of cholesterol and raises your metabolism. Always steam or stir fry rather than fry in heavy oil.

Brazil: Brazilians stay slim by eating red beans and rice basically with every meal. Studies show that a diet consisting of these two items lowers the risk of becoming overweight by 14% when compared to typical Western meals.

Hungary: Pickle fan? Well maybe you should be! Hungarians have found that eating pickles help to keep them thin, primarily because of the acetic acid, the main component of vinegar. The acid is known to reduce blood pressure, blood sugar levels and the formation of fat.

Stock PhotoMexico: Eat like the Mexicans for your midday meal. Mexicans traditionally eat their largest meal between the hours of 2 and 4 p.m. If you eat less at night, you will wake up hungrier and you will eat a bigger breakfast, thereby maintaining the best weight control. A general rule of thumb reminds us to get the bulk of your calories for breakfast and lunch.

China: Start your meals with soup. The Chinese philosophy of having a soup before a meal actually helps them to reduce their calorie intake. Soups are usually broth based and low in calories. As they are enjoyed before a meal, they reduce your hunger and help you eat less.

Poland: Poles spend typically only 5% of their family budget by eating out compared to approximately 37% of American families who spend their budget eating out. Most people who don’t cook at home tend to eat less healthy food and make the wrong choices at the wrong times.

France: A leisurely family meal is the biggest secret of the French. An outrageous 92% of French families eat together on a nightly basis. American families rank at about 28%. Studies show that lengthy meals actually encourage less eating because conversation interrupts the eating process. In addition, the French philosophy, according to lifemojo.com is ‘eat petite, be petite’ (literally meaning eat small, be small) plays a crucial role in their diet. They regularly eat small portions but they eat very frequently (sometimes 4-5 meals a day). This keeps their metabolism active throughout the day helping them burn more calories.

Finland:
The Finns suggest taking up Nordic Walking to help lose the weight. All you need to get started are two inexpensive, lightweight walking poles. Because you are using so many muscles to use them (shoulders, arms, torso, legs) you get a total body workout that burns 20% more calories than typical walking.

It’s Pool Time: Ways to Make the Most of This Seasonal Exercise

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

mother daughter swimmingWith the warm weather comes the opening up of public pools, home pools and breaking out the bathing suit for another season of swimming. For many people, swimming is a good way to wind down after a long day. But others are using swimming as another means of exercise and they are finding that this form of exercise can be both effective and fun!

Exercise experts recommend swimming as a form of exercise because of the great cardiovascular workout you get from swimming. It is considered a great aerobic exercise because by definition it is an action that maintains an elevated heartbeat for a minimum of 20 minutes.

According to Webmd.com swimming recruits all the major muscle groups, including the shoulders, back, abdominals, legs, hips, and glutes. Water also affords 12 times the resistance as air in every direction making it very effective for building strength.

In addition, swimming is a good fitness choice for just about everyone, especially those who have arthritis, musculoskeletal or weight limitations or those who find other forms of exercise painful. Water’s buoyancy accommodates the unfit as well as the fit. Water cushions stiff joints or fragile bones that might be injured by the impact of land exercises. When immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50% of its weight; immersed to the chest, its 25%-35%; and to the neck, 10%.

You can simply add swimming to your pre-existing aerobic workout to help switch things up and keep your workouts fresh. Alternate days that you decide to use swimming as your cardio for that day, so you don’t get bored with any one workout. Instead of staying indoors and using the treadmill or elliptical for a day, get outdoors and swim laps in the pool for the cardio portion of your workout and you will find that exercising comes much easier when you aren’t sticking to the same routine day in and day out.

Like any exercise, you should also start any swimming workout routine by stretching first. You may not realize the affect swimming has on your entire body until it is too late, so be sure to stretch appropriately before you begin. If you’re a beginner, start slowly. Try to swim for 10 minutes. Build up to a 30-minute workout, three to five times a week. Include a warm-up and a cool-down, and, in the middle, challenge yourself by working on endurance, stroke efficiency, or speed.

Experts suggest starting out swimming laps for approximately 20 minutes for women and 30 minutes for men. You can begin to increase your time as necessary and as you continue your workout over the course of weeks or months. Again, this will prevent you from getting too tired, too sore, wore out or disappointed in your swimming workout.

For weight loss, Webmd.com recommends interval training, in which you push yourself hard for short spurts, and then drop back to a less-intense level of exercise.

Try out different strokes when you are swimming. Do some laps using the breaststroke, then switch up and do the backstroke, or even the doggy paddle. Each swimming stroke using a different variety of muscles and therefore will give you the best overall workout.

Playing games in the pool is also a good way to get some exercise in the spring and summer. You can play water polo, water basketball, chicken fights, diving games, or even just do some aerobics in the water. You will get your workout in without even realizing it!

Be sure to wear your sun block (preferably a waterproof kind to avoid unnecessary reapplications) to fight the harmful UV rays of the sun while you are in the pool.

And lastly, keep it safe and have fun. Before you know it, the warm seasons will be over and we’ll be looking for ways to exercise indoors again. Enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts!

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Fruits and veggies in heart tapeAccording to a recent study done by the American Heart Association, one in three adults suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure. While many people are prescribed medication to help reduce their blood pressure, nutritionalists say that by simply eating your fruits and vegetables you can help reduce your blood pressure naturally.

According to Fruitsvegetablesthatlowerbloodpressure.blogspot.com, a diet high in vegetables not only helps to regulate blood pressure, but also lowers high blood pressure. Daily four to five servings of raw, leafy and cooked vegetables is essential to maintain normal blood pressure. To get the best out of vegetables, they should be preferably consumed raw as salads, or steamed, grilled or boiled. Vegetables that can help lower blood pressure include:

• bitter melon
• carrots
• tomatoes
• broccoli
• cauliflower
• cabbage
• spinach
• lettuce
• kale

In addition to vegetables, incorporating fresh fruits into your diet will also help lower blood pressure. Fruits have many essential nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. A daily serving of four to five different fruits is recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to maintain a healthy diet. Fruits are so versatile in taste and flavor, that they can be easily consumed in forms of salads, soups, juices, or even eaten in its natural raw state. Some fruits that help lower blood pressure include:

• prunes
• watermelon
• bananas
• grapefruits
• lemons
• limes
• oranges
• tangerines

While all fruits and vegetables are good for you, the above contain the appropriate amounts of the right vitamins and nutrients that when added to your regular diet will equal out to a heart-supportive diet.

By simply making some small changes to your every day eating and making sure to get the appropriate number of foods and vegetables in your daily diet, you will see your blood pressure numbers gradually decrease.

Put on the Weight by Adding to Your Resistance Training

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

weight lifting helpAdding weight can be a good thing – if you are adding to your resistance training!

In an article on Medicinenet.com Richard Weil, an exercise physiologist and the director of the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program provided a thorough question and answer guide to those interested in or beginning a weight training regimen.

In the article, Weil explains what resistance exercise consists of as well as the benefits of an effective weight resistance program.

Resistance exercise is defined as any exercise where muscles contract against an external resistance with the objective of increasing strength, tone, mass, and/or muscular endurance. The resistance can come from dumbbells, weight machines, elastic tubing or bands, cinder blocks, cans of soup, your own body weight (for example, pushups), or any other object that forces your muscles to contract. Results occur when you train consistently over time.

The benefits of adding weights to your exercise routine includes improvement of muscular strength, endurance, functional capacity and ability, blood pressure, osteoporosis, low back pain, insulin resistance and glucose metabolism, resting metabolic rate and psychological well being.

Senior Workout - PowerAnd it’s never too late to start a resistance program either. In a classic study in a Boston nursing home, 100 residents ranging from 72 to 98 years of age performed resistance exercise three times a week for 10 weeks. Muscle strength increased 113%, walking speed increased by almost 12%, and thigh-muscle area increased 2.7%!

Although it may be intimidating to start, Weil provides some basic rules for properly lifting weights:

• Take your time and lift mindfully.
• Feel it in the belly of the muscle you’re trying to work and not in the joints.
• Select weights that your body can handle without having to cheat or force the weight up (leaning way back, using momentum, etc.).

Here are a couple starter weight lifting programs that Weil suggests. They are broken up by muscle group and are three days per week. You can experiment with splits, exercises, and the number of days per week. He suggests 12-15 repetitions and one to three sets per exercise for beginners (remember, you can gain significant strength with just one set). He’s included more than one exercise for each muscle group. You can stick with one exercise if you like, or experiment with more than one. Increase the weight when you can perform 15 reps easily. If you’re using elastic tubing, start with the tube that you can lift 12-15 times to fatigue, and then increase when you get stronger.

Day 1: Chest (bench press with bar or dumbbell press, flies, pushups), triceps (bench dips, kickbacks)

Day 2: Back (bent-over rows), biceps (curls, standing or seated)

Day 3: Shoulders (lateral raises, front raises), legs (squats, lunges)

Here’s a different split.

Day 1: Chest (bench press with bar or dumbbell press, flies, pushups), back (bent-over rows, pull-downs)

Day 2:
Biceps (curls, standing or seated), triceps (bench dips, kickbacks)

Day 3: Shoulders (lateral raises, front raises), legs (squats, lunges)

Resistance exercise is worth it. You’ll gain strength, endurance, and confidence. It’s feels great to feel strong, so give it a try! For more information and examples of resistance exercises that will help you to “put on the weight,” visit Medicinenet.com.