Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

 

Aerobic conditioning, also called cardiorespiratory or cardiovascular fitness, is a good measure of the heart’s ability to pump oxygenated blood throughout the muscles. Oxygenated blood carries the nutrients the body needs to function effectively. A healthy heart can pump great volumes of oxygenated blood with each beat and will have a high level of cardiovascular fitness.

Heart disease is directly associated with the cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular systems. One of the primary signs of heart and lung diseases include becoming winded with mild exertion. Individuals with heart or lung disease often become fatigued when performing day to day tasks that most of us take for granted. Aerobic exercise can help increase the body’s utilization of oxygenated blood pumping throughout the body, thus making our bodies stronger and more efficient performing everyday activities.

Aerobic exercise can be as simple as walking or taking the stairs up to your office, or can be as strenuous as running a marathon or participating in a triathlon. The key point is to be healthy enough to do the activities you want to do.

Cardiovascular exercise should be done at least 3 days per week for minimal positive aerobic enhancement and reduction of body fat stores. For maximum results, intermediate and advanced trainees should be doing 5-6 days of cardiovascular conditioning per week, for a minimum of 30 minutes and not more than 60 minutes. Exercise modes include any activity (walking, jogging, inline skating, swimming, biking, etc.) that will get your heart rate up into your target heart rate zone.

Benefits Of Aerobic Conditioning:

  1. Improves blood pressure
  2. Decreases risk of developing colon cancer
  3. Reduced insulin needs
  4. Decreases risk of cardiovascular disease
  5. Lower mortality rates at all ages from all diseases
  6. Decreases serum triglycerides
  7. Helps to reduce body fat
  8. Increases HDLs (the good cholesterol)
  9. Improved glucose tolerance
  10. Decreases LDLs (the bad cholesterol)
  11. Enhances performance of work and recreational activities
  12. Relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety

Push-Ups Increase Strength and Endurance

The Push-Up. It is such a basic movement for the human body to do, however, one of the best exercises to perform in order to increase muscular strength and endurance, 2 of the 11 components of physical fitness. A basic push-up involves several muscle groups: upper and lower pectorals (chest), all 3 heads of the deltoids (shoulders), triceps (the back of the upper arm), rhomboids and teres major and minor (smaller muscles in the upper back), and the core. When done properly, the push-up can increase muscle mass, improve one’s posture, and increase stamina during daily activities and recreational sports.

The basic push-up is great for beginner and intermediate fitness enthusiasts. However, for those of you that can pump out 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions with ease, it is time to progress by making the basic push-up more challenging. More advanced push-ups can be done by incorporating the use of medicine balls, fit-balls, BOSU, aerobics step, or leg movements. Utilizing equipment not traditionally used in a standard push-up will not only make your upper body stronger, it will increase muscular strength and endurance throughout your entire body, especially the core.

Our latest YouTube video will give you examples of the most basic push-up and gradually progress you to more advanced push-ups using a fit-ball and BOSU. If you can master a fit-ball push-up on your toes with a pike for 3 sets of 15 repetitions, then you are certainly advanced in your training and ready to move on to even more challenging exercises. These I will save for another video.

So if you want a challenge, check out the “Push-Up” video on my YouTube channel. Choose three of the push-ups presented. Try to do 3 sets of 15 reps for each push-up you choose. Give about 45-60 seconds rest between each set. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t reach this goal. It takes time and a lot of determination to master these advanced push-ups. Just keep trying every week and your strength and endurance will improve. Stay motivated, GOOD LUCK!

11 Components of Physical Fitness in Action

 

Ladies, being physically fit is not just about looking good in a bikini or having a tight backside or not having fat dangling from your arms when waving. Gentlemen, being physically fit is not about how much weight you can bench press, how big your biceps are or weather you have a four pack or a six pack for abs. Believe me, this is all good stuff.  However, everyone should consider all aspects of physical fitness in order to be defined as a physically fit individual.

There are 11 components of physical fitness. If you are not incorporating all components of physical fitness into your daily exercise program, then you are not doing enough to improve your fitness level and overall health.

The 11 Components of Physical  Fitness include:

  1. Agility
  2. Balance
  3. Body Composition
  4. Cardiovascular Endurance
  5. Coordination
  6. Flexibility
  7. Muscular Endurance
  8. Muscular Strength
  9. Power
  10. Reaction Time
  11. Speed

All 11 components of fitness are present in everyone’s daily lives. You just may not realize it. For instance, you use agility when walking quickly through a crowd during Christmas shopping at the mall. Muscular strength and endurance is being used when unloading a carload of groceries from Costco. Your reaction time is being challenged every day you drive your car to work or drive the kids to school. Your body composition is stagnating every time you choose not to go for a long walk outside and instead sit on the couch watching Real Housewives or your favorite sports team.

Trying to incorporate 10 of the 11 components into one workout may seem impossible.  (I say 10 because while body composition is impacted by exercise it is not an actionable part of a work-out). But, take some time and consider a training session that utilizes an exercise step or BOSU, some dumbbells, a medicine ball, and your body.  You will find you can incorporate the 10 components into one workout.

I’m not going to bore you with written details as how to set up a circuit of exercises that mix in all the components of physical fitness. The best way to do this is by showing you. My YouTube videos demonstrate some of the best, most efficient ways to include a number of exercises that will challenge you in all areas of physical fitness. These videos are just demonstrations that may educate you and hopefully make you sweat a bit.

Knowing all 11 components of physical fitness will help you to be stronger, leaner, and will increase your fitness level at any age. These components should not be forgotten when heading off to the gym or when heading out for an evening walk. You may find yourself doing an extra push-up or picking up your pace and starting into a light jog. Enjoy your training and have fun!

Risk Factors of Heart Disease and Stroke

 

Heart Disease and stroke are directly related to certain factors in life. The following risk factors can be changed through diet and exercise and lifestyle changes. heart

Common risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke that can be controlled or treated include high LDL cholesterol levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, smoking, type II diabetes, physical inactivity, and being overweight or obese.

Cholesterol

High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol contribute to the development of atherosclerosis as the cholesterol is deposited in artery walls, increasing the buildup of plaque. Low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol raise stroke risk because HDL cholesterol carries cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver where it is removed from the body. Cholesterol levels should be checked annually.

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, 140/90 mm Hg or higher, causes the heart to work harder than normal. Both the heart and arteries are then more prone to injury. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, CHF (coronary heart failure), atherosclerosis and kidney failure. High blood pressure damages the inner lining of the blood vessels, which promotes the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Over time the arteries become narrowed, hardened and less elastic, contributing even more to the high blood pressure.

African Americans are more likely to suffer from hypertension; for instance, 80 percent of African Americans over 65 have high blood pressure. As a result, they have a greater rate of nonfatal stroke, fatal stroke, heart disease death and endstage kidney disease.

High blood pressure also increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke by weakening blood vessels. Also increasing hemorrhagic risk are arteriovenous malformations (AVM) and aneurysms, which are both vascular diseases that can be affected by high blood pressure.

Smoking

For smokers, the risk of developing coronary heart disease is two to four times higher than for nonsmokers. Smoking is also a significant risk factor for stroke. Exposure to other people’s smoke increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, even for nonsmokers. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system in many ways.

Nicotine causes a short-term increase in blood pressure, heart rate and the flow of blood from the heart. It also causes the arteries to narrow. Carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry. This, combined with the nicotine effects, creates an imbalance between the demand for oxygen by the cells and the amount of oxygen the blood can supply. Toxic products in cigarette smoke can damage the arterial wall, contributing to atherosclerosis. Smoking can make blood platelets stickier, which means clots are more likely to form.

Diabetes

Type II diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, up to 75 percent of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease, and their heart disease death rates are about two to four times higher than for adults without diabetes. Even when glucose levels are under control, diabetes increases your risk. If blood sugar is not well controlled, the risks are even greater. In addition, diabetes causes nerve damage that can make the pain of heart attacks harder to diagnose.

Physical Activity

A physically inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke. Physical activity can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes and weight, as well as help lower blood pressure in some people.

People who have excess body fat, especially if a lot of it is in the waist area, are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Excess weight increases the heart’s work. It also raises blood pressure and blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lowers “good” cholesterol levels. It can also make type II diabetes more likely to develop.

If you or a loved one has one or more of the mentioned risk factors, action should be taken. It is never too late to change your lifestyle and improve upon your health.

Your Metabolism Is Not Making You Fat

 

Your metabolism is not making you fat, you are making you fat. Yes, I said it. Don’t blame being overweight on your metabolism, blame it on your dietary habits and your lack of exercise. I’m not trying to offend anyone, so don’t take this personally. I’ve been a personal trainer for over 15 years and I can honestly say that maybe 5% of my clients that are overweight or obese can blame it on their metabolism due to serious illnesses and/or medications. If you research this subject, most health/fitness professionals agree that it is the lack of discipline and consistency individuals have when it comes to proper eating and daily exercise.

Metabolism is defined as the chemical processes the body needs to sustain life. You may have even heard someone you know say, “I can’t lose weight because I have a slow metabolism”. There may be a little truth to this excuse that many people use, however, other factors such as how many calories you consume and how much exercise is performed greatly out-weighs having a “slow metabolism”.

Your metabolism is influenced by a few factors: age, sex, proportion of lean body mass, and heredity. After the age of 40 your metabolism starts to slow down by approximately 5%; men tend to burn more calories at rest than women do; having a higher amount of lean body mass can lead to a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR); lastly, some lucky people are just born with a high metabolism.

It is a fact that people that carry more weight on their body also have higher metabolisms because the body has to work harder to sustain itself. That’s why it is much easier to lose weight and reach short terms goals at the beginning of a new diet/exercise program and harder later on in the program. When an individual is overweight, the metabolism is running so high that cutting back on calories will result in very rapid weight loss. Then, when you lose body fat and muscle, your body needs fewer calories to sustain itself. That helps explain why it’s so easy to put the weight back on after you lose it. Most people go back to old habits of eating the same amount of calories they ate while being overweight.

In order to keep your metabolism high you must exercise and eat properly.

Cardiovascular training must be done in order to burn body fat and strength training must be done in order to build and maintain muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat.

Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day also keeps your metabolism high. Six smaller meals spread out about every three hours throughout the day is the best way to do it. Larger meals are more difficult for the body to digest efficiently. Eating smaller meals more often will help to burn more calories throughout the day.

Lastly, I want to discuss factors that can’t significantly affect your metabolism. Weight-loss supplements, regardless of their claims, will not increase your metabolism. Supplements can be dangerous, are not researched enough, not backed by the FDA, and not recommended by this personal trainer. Also we’ve all heard on television about certain foods such as green tea, chili peppers, and other spicy foods that can increase our metabolism. However, most real research shows that these foods cause only a small, very short term boost. These foods are healthy and have other benefits for our bodies, but please don’t consume these thinking you are going to drastically increase your metabolism for the rest of your life.

Metabolism is a tricky subject when it comes to weight loss. People need to make informed decisions when it comes to dietary behaviors. I hope we’ve cleared up some misconceptions about eating and exercise and the role they play on your metabolism. When it comes to weight loss, we must exercise consistently, eat smaller meals, and be patient. You must make these factors a part of your life, for the rest of your life. Following these guidelines will help you to reach the goals you’ve set and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Core Strengthening Improves Balance and Posture

 

Core strengthening should be an integral part of everyone’s training regimen. Your core consists of several muscles coming together to support your spine and midsection. Those muscle groups include the rectus abdominis (abs), erector spinae (low back), internal and external obliques (on your sides), and transverse abdominis (the deepest muscle layer of the abdominals). Some experts also include the gluteus maximus/minimus (your rear end) pelvic floor muscles, and subscapcular stabilizers in the group of core muscles. All of the mentioned muscles come together to help you to do trunk rotations, lean forward and backward, and to maintain good posture. Your core is hard at work all day long, every day. Therefore, it is important to do weekly strengthening and stretching of these muscle groups.

Your core is directly related to your balance, strength, and power. So, you should be performing exercises that challenge these 3 components of physical fitness.  Strengthening your core will lead to better balance, posture, and stability. Having a strong core can lower your risk of injury and may help to reduce low back pain. Strong core muscles can help to improve athletic performance such as swinging a golf club, getting up on water skis, or keeping good balance while in-line skating. Core strengthening also helps to improve daily activities such as picking up your child, carrying groceries, or doing yard work.

In order to strengthen your core, you must do exercises that use the trunk of your body without support. Perform exercises seated on a fitness ball, standing or kneeling on a BOSU, standing on a balance disk, and standing on one leg. Performing a variety of planks and bridges will also help to improve your overall core strength.

I recommend two days a week of core strengthening exercises. You should also try to do your resistance training using a fitness ball and BOSU. For example, instead of using a bench for chest presses, lay down on a fitness ball and do dumbbell chest presses. Laying down on a bench does not engage your core. However, laying down on a ball makes you off balance which then requires your body to automatically engage your core in order to maintain balance. Another example is standing on one leg or standing on a balance disk while performing a basic biceps curl. You are required to maintain balance and strengthen your core while strengthening your biceps. Any exercise performed off balance will help to directly strengthen your core.

Do yourself a favor and work your core. Over time, with consistent training, you will see improvements in posture, balance, power, and overall strength. Remember, the core is the center of all you do so be sure not to neglect these muscles when you hit the gym.

Short on Time? Cardio or Weights?

 

Every week I hear from a client, “I don’t have enough time to get in my cardio and weight training this week, which one should I skip, which one is most important?” My response, “Don’t skip either, both are important and need to be done with consistency.”

If you are on a mission to lose weight, the cardio is going to help you burn off that stored energy, otherwise known as body fat. The strength training can’t be skipped either, your muscles need to be stimulated weekly in order to promote proper growth and development so your muscles become stronger and shapelier.

When you are short on time, the best way to get in your cardio and strength training is through what I call High Intensity Circuit Training (HICT). This type of circuit training involves high intensity cardio bouts mixed in with weight training. What makes this type of training great for people with little time, which is most of us, is that you combine your cardiovascular conditioning with resistance training. This will give you a total body workout. You’re not only burning calories and body fat, but you are also strengthening your heart and improving your muscular strength and endurance. High Intensity Circuit Training can be accomplished many ways with no equipment, minimal equipment, or with a fully loaded gym.

My favorite way to train clients is by incorporating basic calesthetics with strength training. You must first get your heart rate up high, at the upper end of your target heart rate zone, in a short period of time, usually 45-60 seconds. Once the heart rate is up, continue on to a 3 to 4 exercise strength training circuit. For example, do 60 seconds of jumping jacks, then, with no rest, move on to 15 push-ups, then on to 20 jump squats, then on to 15 ball push-ups, then do 20 lunges. Repeat the circuit 2 more times. Now this is just a very basic example of HICT, but nevertheless you are accomplishing your cardio and strength training in a short, very intense period of time. I have several of my advanced clients doing up to 16 different exercises in one circuit and burning over 700 calories in 60 minutes (I typically have clients do three sets for each circuit).

When choosing high intensity cardio bouts, you can’t go wrong with calesthetics such as jumping jacks, scissor jumps with jabs, squat thrusts, or mountain climbers. All of these will get your heart rate up very high in a very short period of time. The cardio bouts don’t have to be calesthetics. You can also incorporate cardio equipment such as the treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike. However, I find that a high intensity cardio bout on a piece of equipment takes a little more time to get the heart rate up. So you might want to increase the time to 2-3 minutes rather than 45-60 seconds. You must be going as fast and as hard as you can on the piece of equipment you choose at the time.

The weight training circuit following the cardio bout can be set up in a variety of ways. This is where you have to be creative and piece together a total body circuit, or just lower or upper body combinations or super sets. If you want to view some great examples of this, go to my YouTube Channel. There are currently 4 circuits posted that will guide you through a variety of High Intensity Circuit Training.

High Intensity Circuit Training may not be for everyone. This is an option for more intermediate to advanced trainees that are short on time. However, beginners can go slow and at a lower intensity to accomplish such training. Remember to always check with a doctor or fitness professional to be sure this type of training is right for you.

Your options are endless when it comes to High Intensity Circuit Training. The combinations of exercises for your entire body will continue to grow if you are thoughtful in setting up your circuits. So, don’t skip weights or cardio when you have a busy schedule. Take advantage of what little time you have to exercise and maximize every minute of your workout by doing High Intensity Circuit Training.

 

Rest and Recovery After Exercise

 

I find that many of my clients tend to overtrain and not give their bodies the well deserved rest it needs. Rest and recovery are key in helping to keep your body strong and fit. Resting also helps to prevent overtraining injuries from occurring. Believe it or not, rest and recovery is just as important as exercising.

In order to increase your fitness level, make improvements in your favorite sport, or just to be healthy, your body must be exposed to stresses such as strength training and cardio conditioning. Once stress is applied, your body then needs time to adapt to the stresses. This is when recovery time takes place to help your body grow and develop properly, without injury.

If you are just beginning an exercise program, it’s very important to start off slow. Your body needs to adapt to the exercise you have started and the stress overload on your body. Taking a day off from training every other day will help keep your energy levels high and body feeling strong. Without rest, your body will begin to fatigue easily, motivation may slip, increased risk of injury may occur, which leads to the possibility of dropping out of your program.

Muscle soreness and stiffness is very common when exercising, for beginners and more advanced fitness enthusiasts. When muscles are sore, it is most important to rest that muscle group until the pain is gone without an anti-inflammatory. Don’t let muscle soreness get you down. Your body will need time to recover, thus making you stronger with proper rest. I always tell my clients that if the body hurts, then you should not train. Training sore muscles does nothing good for you. It only slows down your body’s growing process and increases risk of injuries.

I’m providing to you the most important rules of rest and recovery. The following recommendations will help you to cope with your sore muscles and may help expedite your recovery process.

You must get adequate sleep.

Sleep is most important in your rest and recovery period. Your body goes through a healing and growing process during this time. Eight hours of sleep is what is recommended for good quality rest.  For the best sleeping conditions, make sure the room is dark, cool, and quiet. To ensure you are getting the best sleep you can, do not exercise, drink alcohol, watch television, or eat right before going to bed.

Proper nutrition and hydration are keys to recovery after training.

In order to stay hydrated, you must replenish lost fluids and electrolytes after training. So drink water and consume the proper foods to replenish diminished energy stores. It is most important to consume the proper carbohydrates and proteins, the macronutrients, and vitamins and minerals, the micronutrients, within 30 minutes of finishing your training session. This will ensure proper growth and development of the muscle tissue you’ve broken down.

Stretching will help to keep muscles loose but will not prevent muscle soreness.

Stretching immediately after exercise, such as resistance training and cardiovascular conditioning, is very important. Stretching will keep tight muscles loose and flexible which may help to prevent injuries. However, stretching will not prevent muscle soreness. Muscle soreness primarily comes from the break down of muscle fibers or micro-tears in the muscle itself.

Massages are a favorite of many of my clients.

A good massage has several benefits. Massages help to increase blood to your muscles which enhances oxygen and nutrient delivery for faster recovery. Massages also help to rid the muscle of lactic acid, a chemical biproduct that forms in the muscle during exercise. Lactic acid is what causes the burning sensation you may feel when training with weights or doing isolation abdominal movements. Additionally, the warming and stretching of muscles during a massage may increase flexibility and can remove knots and help adhesions to feel better. Research shows that massages also improve one’s mood, reduce fatigue, and increase relaxation. Overall, massages are great for your physical and mental well-being.  Locally, we recommend Spa Mariana for Sports Massage and a variety of other treatments.

So take time and get your rest. Your body will feel stronger and perform better!

Busting 4 Workout Myths

 

Over these 15 years of personal training I have experienced several workout myths that people truly believe. Myths that sound very true however are the furthest from the truth. The following 4 myths are the ones I hear the most.

Myth #1: Working out for less than an hour doesn’t do you any good.

Fact:

All physical activity is good for your body, even if it is 10 minutes. The American Heart Association recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of the two. Research has shown that 30 minutes of physical activity, even if broken up into 3 ten minute segments throughout the day, has tremendous health benefits such as reducing blood pressure, decreased risk of diabetes, lower cholesterol levels, stronger immunity, and decreased stress.

Myth #2: Spot reduction is possible.

Fact:

Reducing body fat in one particular area of your body by doing certain exercises CANNOT burn body fat in that area. For example, I have clients that still insist on doing hundreds of crunches to burn abdominal fat. Granted, these crunches may be strengthening the abdominal muscles, however the fat around the midsection is not being burned from the crunches. In order to burn body fat, one must perform cardiovascular exercises and do strength training to increase muscle mass. Individuals’ bodies are different and body fat will be burned according to each person’s genetic make-up. Some of you may hold on to fat at the hips, while others tend to carry fat in the midsection. The key is to be consistent with aerobic conditioning and strength training in order to decrease reduction of one’s total body fat percentage.

Myth #3: I need to be sweating to have a good workout.

Fact:

Everyone sweats differently. This is part of your body’s thermostat and it’s way of cooling you off. So sweating is not a good way to determine if you are getting in a good workout. Keeping track of your target heart rate and also administering the “talk test” are good ways to make sure your workout is strenuous enough for you. Find out what the “talk test” is and determine your target heart rate zone by visiting the Aerobic Conditioning Page.

Myth #4: Aerobic exercise is the only exercise you need in order to loose weight and be healthy.

Fact:

Aerobic exercise helps to keep your heart strong and burn calories, however, strength training helps to keep your entire body strong. Having muscle mass is important for all daily activities and for keeping your metabolism high. Strength training has several other benefits including reducing blood pressure, preventing osteoporosis, and decreasing cholesterol levels. Everyone should participate in a weekly strength training program in addition to daily aerobic exercise.

 

 

 

Got Andropause?

 

I have a couple male clients in their 50’s that can’t seem to loose any weight no matter how hard they try. Counting calories, high intensity training, daily cardio, weights, and so on and so on. Nothing’s been working as of late. It’s been discouraging for them as well as for me. Well, I’ve suggested to these gentlemen to see their doctors and discuss the possibility of andropause setting in. “What’s andropause?” they ask.

Just as women go through menopause, men can suffer through years of andropause, which involves the decrease of testosterone. Testosterone levels can begin to drop 10% each decade in males over the age of 40. At the same time, sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) increases and makes it more difficult for the body to utilize testosterone. These changes are normal and can lead to andropause. It is estimated that 20-30% of men will experience it by the age of 50.

Some of the signs and symptoms of andropause can include:

  • Weight gain
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

If you suspect your body is going through changes, you may want to consult your doctor and have your testosterone levels checked. If you are diagnosed with andropause your doctor may recommend testosterone replacement therapy.

You can also help yourself by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and healthy eating may help to decrease some symptoms associated with andropause. Some supplements may also help. However, consult with a doctor before taking any supplements.

So guys, start feeling and looking better. If you are diagnosed with low testosterone or andropause, don’t let it get you down. Hit the gym, eat a healthy diet, and stay motivated!