Archive for March, 2013

Safety Tips when Working Out in the Gym

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Going regularly to the gym is a great way for getting a toned, trim body.  But gym workouts should match with your specific fitness goals. Exercise can prevent diseases, reduce weight, lower blood pressure, lower high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, increase energy levels, improve endurance and make us live longer. However, exercising may also make us prone to injuries.

Injury increases with a lot of factors. Some of these factors include unqualified staff, equipment malfunction, improper exercise, falls, sprains and strains, and infections. We can avoid these risks for injury if we take certain precautions, as said in the tips that follow:

Train with a Professional

If you are new to the gym, walk around and familiarize yourself with the equipment. It is a good idea to meet with your trainer to discuss your personal goals and exercise programs, and the usage of specific pieces of equipment. With proper safety procedures for using gym equipment in mind, you can prevent injuries to your body and work on the correct set of muscles. Do not let go off machines too quickly as this may cause accidents.

Warm Up Before and Cool Down After

These are the important steps of any exercise the regimen. Warm-ups and stretching increases blood flow, loosens your muscles, and prepares your body for a workout. If you do not warm up, you will end up putting a strain on your muscles, resulting in injuries. Similarly, once you have done a rigorous workout, you need to cool your body for 3 to 5 minutes so that your heart rate normalizes and your muscles relax.

Gradually Move to a Higher Gear

Do not let the drive for toning your body put you in a position of carrying on high intensity workouts when you are not used to it. You will merely end up hurting yourself and eventually falling back on your exercise schedule. Rather than burning up quickly, you should ease into your workout schedule gradually and listen to your body.

For strength training, you can start with lighter weights and increase the reps and sets before increasing the weights which shouldn’t be more than 10% of what your body can handle. Cardio exercises require you to increase the work and time on your body before increasing your exertion level and speed.

Maintain a Straight Posture

When you are at gym, see if you can workout in front of a mirror. Doing so will help in maintain a good posture while you exercise. Straighten out your shoulder blades and do not hunch while exercising. Your knees and elbows should be soft through the workout so that they are not hyper-extended.

While Lifting Weights

Strength training exercises require certain safety tips including:

  • Do not hold your breath while lifting weights
  • Do not lock your joints as this would put them under strain
  • Keep both hands at an equal distance from the center of the bar when using free weights
  • Have a spotter tell you how well you are doing the exercise
  • Avoid putting pressure on your teeth
  • Pay attention to your breathing
  • When pick up the weight from the ground, you should squat down, bend at the knees and bring your butt down. When you lift up the weight, push it up with your legs. This will prevent you from any back injuries.

Before you can concentrate on exercising at the gym, get a check-up from your doctor to see which exercises would suit your health.

Choose Your Gym

Make sure that the gym that you go into has properly trained personnel. Some gym staff members who call themselves fitness trainers or instructors actually have no training. You should ask if their certificates and degrees are current. The staff should also have training on CPR and first aid.

Check Your Equipment

Injuries sometimes stem from improper equipment. Remember that there are a lot of people who use equipment aside from you so that these cannot escape every day wear and tear. Wear and tear may later on lead to malfunction, and you could be at risk for injuries. To avoid the risk for injury, ask gym staff if damaged equipment is repaired as soon as possible and whether they do quality checks on their equipment every now and then. You can also play a role by reporting to staff when you see damaged equipment.

Do Proper Exercise

Choosing improper exercise can also lead to injuries. Ask the help of a personal trainer in choosing what exercises are best for you and your goal. You should also warm up before exercise and cool down after exercising. Warming up should be done for 30 minutes and may consist of light exercises such as walking, jogging or stretching. Cooling down also takes up 30 minutes after exercising and also consists of light exercise. Also, talk to your doctor whether the exercises you plan to do are right for you and your health condition.

Be Prepared

You should wear proper apparel while exercising. Also, wear shoes which will prevent you from tripping over and getting sprains or strains. You should also bring a water bottle with you and hydrate before, during and after exercise. Be careful when you go around showers, pools and hot tubs. Keep keys or other objects away from you while you exercise.

Prevent Infections

The risk of infection may increase in crowded places. This is because disease-causing fungi or bacteria may breed in wet areas such as showers and swimming pools. Towels, locker room floors, cardio machines and benches may also serve as breeding grounds for these microorganisms.

Exercising indoors is not a guarantee that you will be safe from sprains, falls and other injuries. There are also some factors which increase injury even when you are working out inside the gym.  Following these simple tips however, ensures that you are able to

Heart Awareness: Do You Need a Cardiac Stress Test?

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

You may have heard of your friends, family or coworkers having a cardiac stress test done, but do you know what that means or measures?  A cardiac stress test measures how well your heart is able to perform when it is under physical stress and it is used to help diagnose heart problems.

While February was Heart Awareness Month, every month is important to take care of your heart.  That’s why the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute list some of the following reasons why you may need a cardiac stress test:

  • You have experienced symptoms of reduced blood flow to the heart, including shortness of breath and chest pains.
  • You have arrhythmia symptoms during exercise, including a fluttering sensation in the chest, irregular heartbeat or feeling faint.
  • You have shortness of breath without chest pain following exercise.

Eating Healthy for a Shapely Body

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

How many times have you heard your teacher or health professionals in your entire life telling you to eat a balanced diet?  What is a balanced diet anyway when we do not have the same built?  How much should you eat?  What should you eat in order to get that perfectly toned body?

Until recently, I had never been into a fast food restaurant to eat those fast food meals they offer.  Fast foods are something that I have avoided not because I am not a food fanatic.  If I want a perfect body, I must eat only the good stuff.  Fast foods are filled with sodium, high in sugar, rich in fat, and abundant with chemical additives.  Everything that is in it is just not for a perfect body.

First of all if you are planning to have that perfect body, it is important that you take note of your calorie level.  Will the diet you are considering is nutritionally balanced?  Will it be easy to follow?

When taking a look at the calorie level, your intake should just be at the right amount.  If you are trying to lose weight, eat foods that are low in calorie level and if you are trying to gain, then eat those that are high in calorie.

Also, consider that your diet is getting all the essential nutrients.  The food guide pyramid and that box on processed foods containing the nutrition facts can help you achieve a healthy diet.  Your diet should have the following.

  • Vitamins and minerals.  It should be adequate enough in order to have properly nourished body parts such as the muscles, skin, blood, and bones.  Also, it aids in the metabolic processes which is very important fat burning.
  • Right protein.  Consume the right amount of protein to prevent muscle tissue from breaking down and also it aids in the repair of body tissues.  55 grams per day is recommended for men and 45 grams is ideal for women.
  • Carbohydrates.   100 grams of carbohydrates is needed to maintain fluid balance and prevent fatigue.
  • High fibre foods.  This will allow proper elimination.  Toxins that are left in the intestines are gets eliminated along with the fibre making absorption of needed nutrients highly efficient.
  • Water.  It is very important to include water in your diet.  An average of 8 to 10 glasses of water per day is enough to sustain fluids lost during the day.  Of course you will need more during an exercise.

The key here is to eat a variety of foods to maximize the nutrient you can gain from them.  Avoid the unhealthy stuff and you can get the perfect toned body you want.

Researching about protein myths has given me a more enlightened view.  While others might say that too much protein intake is not good for the kidneys, I say that there is no need to worry about kidney failures as long as you do not have any kidney dysfunctions in the first place.  Also, it does not cause weight gain if you are not increasing your calorie intake.  To the vegetarians, there are plenty of protein sources that can give you the same quality as to those who consume meat as a source of protein.  But my advice is that you must vary your sources to maximize the amino acids and here are some of the best and well-known protein sources that has been a part of my diet for years.

  • Red Meat.  This is the most common source of protein.  Ground beef, extra lean, broiled, sirloin steak, choice cut, trimmed, lamb, or pork. Red meats should be eaten in limited amounts because of the saturated fat that it contains which is the culprit for many cardiovascular diseases.
  • Poultry.  Chicken and turkey are the best poultry protein sources.
  • Fish.  Salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, or tuna.  These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a good amino acid for protection against cardiovascular diseases.
  • Dairy. Milk, cheese, low fat yogurt, whey.
  • Eggs.  Boiled, whole, scrambled.  It contains all the eight essential amino acids making eggs as the best source of protein.  If you will only consume eggs to get the protein you need, you should at least eat eight eggs per day.
  • Nuts.  Almonds, cashew, walnuts, pistachio.

To get the right amount, health professionals say that men should consume at least 55 grams of protein and 45 g for women per day.  Eating them in the right amount can give you all the protein your body needs.  It is wise that you choose the sources that are called low-fat protein foods to keep your heart healthy, have low bad cholesterol level, and to avoid cardiovascular disease.

Proteins are the building blocks of our body.  Almost every part of our body from the hair, skin, up to the muscles are all made up of protein.  For the muscle, eating enough protein will ensure that your body has a back up when it needs a new one.  It will maintain your muscles in terms of recovery and prevent breakdown from exercise.  Also, it aids in fat loss due to its high thermic effect as the body tends to burn more calories digesting proteins than carbohydrates and fats.

You are what you eat as they say.  If you eat junk, then you are garbage.  There are so many articles written about food and diet but still many are still confused as to what the right diet means.  There have been many kinds of diet from Atkins to South Beach diet.  How will you know that right diet and how will it give you a perfect body?

Cancer Fighting Diets

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

The causes of cancer still remains unknown, however, it is believed that certain factors can increase a person’s risk of getting cancer. Majority of all cases of cancer are believed to be a direct result of a person’s lifestyle. Those who maintain an unhealthy lifestyle such as those who smoke, eat less than healthy diets, drink or live a sedentary lifestyle increase their risk of getting cancer. Immediately stopping this unhealthy habits and living a healthier lifestyle could greatly decrease your risk of cancer.

A cancer fighting diet is one which is mainly composed of eating a lot of vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Cooking destroys a lot of the cancer fighting nutrients contained in these types of food. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables preserves these nutrients and insures that you get their full benefit.

5 Top Cancer Fighting Vegetables

Many vegetables have been found to contain great amounts of cancer fighting ingredients which help to keep the disease at bay. However, some vegetables are better in fighting cancer than others.

Cabbage

Cabbage is certainly making waves as one of the top cancer preventing vegetables. This green leafy vegetable contains indole-3-carbinol a naturally occurring anti-oxidant. Great amounts of these compounds are found in many green leafy vegetables especially in cabbage. Research has shown that indole-3-carbinol increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy in killing cancer cells.

This vegetable also contains a lot of other nutrients such as folic acid, potassium, vitamin C and fibers. Eating cabbage also decreases the risks of acquiring common cancers such as breast, prostate and colon cancers.

Garlic

This vegetable has long been used as an effective way of fighting heart disease. Recently, studies have shown its effectiveness in fighting cancer as well. The two main chemicals contained in garlic believed to be beneficial in fighting cancer are allicin and allyl surfur. These compounds have been found to have a significant effect in reducing the incidence of cancer in populations studied.

Garlic has been found to be effective in reducing the risk of prostate and stomach cancer.  Another study also showed that middle-aged women who took garlic reduced their risks of developing colon cancer. Allyl surfur which is contained in garlic greatly reduces the risk of cancer by mainly preventing the growth of cancer cells.

Ginger

Ginger has long been used as a popular way of spicing and adding flavor to our food. This vegetable has been found to contain natural compounds which are effective in fighting cancer. Gingerol a naturally occurring compound found in ginger reduces the growth of cancer cells in the body. Studies have shown that ginger reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.

Soy produce

A lot of studies have shown the effectiveness of Soy in reducing the risk of developing breast cancer. Soy contains isoflavone genistien which has shown cancer fighting abilities. This compound has shown promise in fighting breast, cancer and prostate cancers. Among the studies Soy has been most effective in fighting prostate cancer.

Umbeliferous Vegetables

A group of vegetables known to have excellent cancer fighting compounds are Umbeliferous vegetables. These groups of vegetables include carrots, celery and parsnips. Carrots are the most popular among the group as a type of vegetable known to contain cancer fighting compounds. Like all vegetables these contain phytonutrients which decrease the risk of developing cancer.

“We are what we eat”, this age old adage still holds true today. Living an active lifestyle and exercising daily is useless unless we also maintain a healthy diet. Maintaining a balanced diet complements our efforts of living a healthier and fuller lifestyle. Studies have shown that certain types of food increase or lower our chances of getting cancer. For those with a family history of cancer, eating a cancer fighting diet could be the best chance of avoiding the disease.

Final Thoughts

Fiber could be found in vegetables, whole grains and fruits. The fresher and less cooked they are the higher the fiber contained in food. Another great way of knowing fiber contained is that the more colorful the fruit or vegetable, the higher the fiber contained inside.

Eating fruits and vegetables increase fiber intake. Fruits and vegetables are mainly composed of fibers which are excellent in maintaining normal digestive functions. They increase the speed and facilitate the passage of stools through the digestive tract and help eliminates cancer causing agents before they can do harm.

The Perfectly Picked Plum

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

If you are looking for a delicious fruit that is chock full of nutritional value and taste absolutely divine, then plums are just what you need!

Plums, and their dried version known as prunes, are very high in phytonutrients, which function as an antioxidant and provide much benefit to the body.

Eating plums, which come from the same fruit family as cherries and peaches, helps in the production and absorption of iron in the body, thereby leading to better blood circulation leading further to the growth of healthy tissues.

Consuming plums on a regular basis will help prevent macular degeneration and other eye infections. Researchers have also found that plums contain anti-cancer agents that prevent the growth of cancerous cells and tumors.

Because plums contain blood cleansing agents that help keep the blood pure, plums can help you reduce the risk of contracting heart disease.

Plums are also high in vitamin C, meaning they help to protect the body against conditions like asthma, colon cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Finally…The No-Equipment Workout!

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

With the cost of gym memberships and work out equipment constantly on the rise, many people simply cannot afford to get some much needed exercise.  That is until now.

Fitness gurus have put together one of the best no-equipment workouts that require only a wall – yes, one wall – to firm and tone your entire body!

So what are you waiting for? Get started today! For free!

Do these exercises three times a week on alternate days.

Workout #1 – Sit and Squat

Squat with back to wall, right thigh parallel to floor, left ankle on right knee, arms against wall like a goalpost. Keeping arms pressed against wall, slide arms up until slightly bent (as shown). Lower arms for 1 rep. Do 12 reps. Switch crossed legs; repeat.

Workout #2 – Side Slimmer

Start on left side, left forearm on floor, right arm extended to ceiling, left foot pressing into bottom of wall. Lift hips off floor into side plank and raise right leg as high as you can until it is barely touching wall (as shown). Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Workout #3 – Climb the Wall

Start in plank, hands under shoulders, feet in line with hips and pressing into wall. Pull right knee toward chest (as shown), then return foot to wall. Repeat immediately on left side. Continue, quickly alternating legs, for 1 minute.

Workout #4 – Arm Fat Fighter

Stand facing wall about a foot away, arms extended and hands on wall, left knee raised to hip level. Keep elbows in line with shoulders and lean forward until forearms rest on wall as you extend left leg back (as shown). Reverse for 1 rep. Do 10 reps. Switch legs; repeat.

Workout #5 – Pike Position

Start in plank, hands under shoulders, feet in line with hips and pressing into wall. Engage abs as you lift hips until body forms a wide inverted V (as shown). Return to start for 1 rep. Do 15 reps.

Workout #6 – Booty Bridge

Lie face up with head away from wall, right knee bent and foot on floor, left knee bent 90 degrees with foot pressing into wall. Extend right leg toward ceiling and lift hips until body forms a straight line from left knee to shoulders (as shown). Pause, then lower hips for 1 rep. Do 15 reps. Switch legs; repeat.

Workout #7 – Pumped Up Plank

Start in plank, hands under shoulders, feet in line with hips and pressing into wall (as shown). Hold for 1 minute. Make it easier: Lower legs, place toes on floor with feet pressed against wall.

Workout #8 – Torch Some Serious Calories

Face wall and squat deeply. We’re talkin’ thighs-parallel-to-floor deep! Then spring up. As you jump, look up and lightly touch the wall as high as you can with both hands. No rest between reps!

As mentioned, try to do these exercises at least three times a week, alternating days so as to let your body rest in between workouts.  Soon you will see that you will be toning your entire body and burning calories like never before – and all without spending a dime on gym memberships or clunky home workout equipment!

Vegetarian Lifestyle – Things you should know before turning Green

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Before you consider jumping into the vegetarian bandwagon, there are several things you should first consider. Turning a new leaf entails some sacrifices but can be very rewarding once these changes become second nature. Going cold turkey and switching to a vegan lifestyle may not be for everybody. Becoming a vegetarian is a life changing decision. But before you make that all important decision.

Vegetarians and Vegans

A pure vegetarian also termed as a vegan, is a person who only consumes fruits and vegetables. They have made a conscious decision to exclude meat, fish and poultry from their diet. Becoming a vegetarian started to become popular in the 90’s and has shed its image as a fad diet for the rich and famous to one of the healthiest diet being used today.

Upsides

Eating vegetables drastically lowers a person’s risk for cancer. Compared to the preparation and cooking of meat, vegetables require less or no cancerous elements during its preparation. Simple grilling and smoking – two of the most common ways of preparing and cooking meat produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines which are said to be carcinogenic.

Vegetarians are also less likely to be overweight compared to their meat-loving counterparts and are more likely to be energetic during the day. A higher intake of dietary fiber is also observed with vegetarians while people who shun from vegetables have greater chances of suffering from micronutrient deficiencies.

Downsides

The advantages of being a vegan and having a vegetarian diet are well-documented. However, the disadvantages of vegetarianism should not be taken for granted either.

  • Protein deficiency

Meats are our body’s primary sources for protein, essential building materials for our body. If you’re shunning out meat entirely from your diet, include legumes, poultry, soya beans, nuts and seeds. Rich sources of protein include dairy products such as milk, egg, yogurt and cheese.

Vegetable based meat alternative don’t only look the part but also contain good amounts of proteins. Tofu for example is rich in proteins making them a healthy option for vegetarians.

  • Mineral deficiency

There is a chance that a vegan might suffer from mineral deficiencies so it’s important that you consult with your doctor or a dietician to keep your diets truly healthy. Restrictive diets run the risk of shunning out limited sources of important nutrients and minerals needed by the body. Taking in natural food supplements is a simple way of supplying yourself with much needed minerals and vitamins.

  • Food Preparation

Many restaurants would label themselves as Vegan-friendly but are unaware on how to properly prepare vegan dishes. Take for example restaurant that cook using meat based oils in preparing their dishes. Dining out could be a challenge as Vegan restaurants are hard to come by.

Three Simple Steps to Becoming a Vegetarian

Discipline and sacrifice are two of the most important attributes for those planning to switch to a vegetarian lifestyle. Lifelong eating habits could not be changed overnight. Going cold turkey is highly discouraged. People who suffer from the unpleasant psychological side effects of the experience might not continue

It takes a lot of discipline and sacrifice to embark on this vegetarian journey and avoiding the stress of completely overhauling your diet overnight can be really helpful. Allow your body to be acclimated with a plant-rich diet for at least a month or two before shifting full gear into a vegetarian lifestyle. Here is PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) guide to becoming a vegetarian.

  1. For the first two weeks, be vegetarian three times a week
  2. For the next two weeks, try being a vegetarian five times a week
  3. You’ve been nearly vegetarian for almost a month – congratulations!

Meat Alternatives

Tofu

First used in ancient China around 200 B.C., tofu or sometimes called us bean curd has long been used in Chinese cuisines. Tofu is made up from soy milk and has a subtle flavor, making it a perfect partner for dishes that require strong meat flavors.

Tempeh

Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans and other grains. Unlike tofu which is made from soybean milk, tempeh contains whole soybeans, making it a lot denser. Because of its density, tempeh should be braised in a flavorful liquid for at least an hour prior to cooking or preparation. Doing so softens the tempeh and makes its flavor a lot milder.

Seitan

Seitan or wheat gluten is derived from wheat and is a great source of protein. Seitan can be used as a chicken substitute in all-time favorite chicken-based meals like curry, chicken soup or the Spain’s paella and picadillo.

Some other vegetables that can be used to substitute or totally remove meat from your diet include nuts, wheat and bread – all of which are great sources of protein and calories. Similarly, fresh fruits and their juices can also be incorporated into a healthy vegetarian diet.

Vegetables versus Meat

Declaring vegetables better than meat or vice versa outright is arguable. Labeling certain food group as being unhealthy is unjustified. Even your average burger with all its fat and cholesterol plays a vital role in supplying our bodies with much needed energy.

However, this doesn’t mean that we should ignore the benefits of eating vegetables over meat. Research reveals time and time again that being a vegetarian or consuming a plant-rich diet can help you in more ways than you can imagine.