Tag Archive | healthy-living

Fitness and Health

There are so many factors to take into consideration here when you are wanting to feel better and look better.  In the last 10 years I have to admit I lost control of it. It is so hot here and humid along with other factors that were beyond my control that it made it impossible for me to maintain my fitness level. Even inside the home, cause you really need it a certain temperature to exercise with out it getting to uncomfortable.

English: An audio cassette tape.

English: An audio cassette tape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All my tapes were tied up in cassettes and with out a good player and speakers it was also hard to play the music. This added factor helps you to stay with in a certain pace so that you are not over doing it. Beats per minute are taken into consideration here when programming a good recording. I did 30 some tapes back in the 80’s and used them often. All from beginner to advanced work outs.

I did my training back then and found out what it was like to rip calf muscles not fun at

Simon Fraser University plaque

Simon Fraser University plaque (Photo credit: BlueAndWhiteArmy)

all. I taught 3 morning programs(beginners), 3 before lunch(seniors) then onto the hospital to do 3 more for the nurses and doctors(inter-mediate) I got my YWCA certificate along with my BCFLC (British Columbia Fitness Leadership certificate. I was also doing correspondence classes through Simon Fraser for my certificate in Health and Fitness. Then I had 2 evening classes on the off days at the school gym (beginner – inter-mediate) Well if that wasn’t enough I added an advanced class right after that. After 6 weeks I had reached the burnout stage and

Cross-Country Skiing in Aspen, Colorado

Cross-Country Skiing in Aspen, Colorado (Photo credit: richpalpine)

dropped the advanced and the 3 at the hospital and stuck with beginners and intermediate. In the winter I finally went back down to only 3 in the morning and the 2 at night and was cross-country skiing 5-10 miles after my morning classes and sometimes on weekends but that was my fun time .. I also taught 8-13 year old kids to cross-country. We even participated in some tournaments which were a lot of fun too. The kids had a great time and we always had hot chocolate and a bon fire to warm up.

When I moved from there I still did my cross country and was involved in every kind of dance as well as teaching fitness classes for a studio. I was granted the AFLCA (Alberta Fitness Leadership Certificate Association ) in recognition of being certified in another Province. When my teaching ended there I continued to go and keep up my aerobics inside, outside and at friends homes. Did a lot of swimming. If you have a pool or are able to go to a public pool there are many exercises you can do in the pool as the water acts as a resistance making you use your muscles.  Dancing is another good way of keeping fit, if you pace yourself. Did this also on a regular basis up till mid 40’s when it all seemed to come to a gradual halt.

So now I am in very hot climate, Bike riding in the spring and fall, walking and doing all kinds of gardening chores. My knowledge in the area of fitness and health has helped me greatly in more ways then any one can imagine that has never done anything except sit on their duff watching TV and eating junk food. I’ve lost some of my strength due to not working those muscles I used to on a regular basis, but, I have never lost my flexibility, co-ordination and the sense of well being.

So with that said, I got a new toy on Friday and am very excited about it. A USB cassette tape converter to MP3 so over the weekend I was busy listening to all my old tapes and converting them to MP3’s so that I can listen to them and start exercising again. I did a workout this morning for 45 minutes and I feel marvelous.  I will keep you all updated in the coming weeks so this is the start of week 1.

The next thing I would like to do is make up an instructional video with the music attached so that others can join me as beginners. I am just starting out again so I am a beginner and I look at it that way. Stay tuned…

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Beginners Part 3

I don’t want to get into terms that are not understood; unless you have studied the biology of the human structure and function it will all seem to you a technical mumbo jumbo. I want to keep it easy to understand. I discussed the aerobic/ anaerobic benefits and disadvantages in my last post.
Both the health benefits and the performance benefits, or “training effect”, require a minimum duration and frequency of exercise. Enhancing the speed at which muscles recover from high intensity exercise. Most authorities suggest at least twenty minutes performed at least three times per week.
As a result, aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of death due to cardiovascular problems. In addition, high-impact aerobic activities (such as jogging or using a skipping rope) can stimulate bone growth, as well as reduce the risk of osteoporosis for both men and women.
Aerobic exercise and fitness can be contrasted with anaerobic exercise, of which strength training and short-distance running are the most good examples. The two types of exercise differ by the duration and intensity of muscular contractions involved, as well as by how energy is generated within the muscle.
In most conditions, anaerobic exercise is accompanied by aerobic exercises because the less efficient anaerobic metabolism must supplement the aerobic system due to energy demands that exceed the aerobic system’s capacity. What is generally called aerobic exercise might be better termed “solely aerobic”, because it is designed to be low-intensity enough not to generate lactate, so that all carbohydrate is aerobically turned into energy.
If there is a shortage of oxygen (anaerobic exercise, explosive movements), carbohydrate is consumed more rapidly and lactate is formed. If the intensity of the exercise exceeds the rate with which the cardiovascular system can supply muscles with oxygen, it results in buildup of lactate and quickly; then you feel tired, drained or exhausted. Unpleasant effects of lactate buildup initially include the burning sensation in the muscles.
This is why I express in later posts to “Do what feels good comfortably and to not over do it.” If at any time you are out of breath in any kind of exercise “Do not stop!” just slow down, keep moving. This helps to get rid of the nasties in the blood stream and prevents stiffness in the muscles. Some will eventually add soft weights to ankles and wrists as the exercise becomes easier to do and your strength and endurance level have increased. I would not advise this until you have been walking, speed walking for at least 2 months or more. You should be feeling the benefits by 6 weeks if you are consistent.
I’m going to go into Aerobic dance, repetitions should be kept to 4 when you are beginning and then doubling it to 8 as you feel comfortable. What ever you do to one side, you want to do to the other side of the body or else you will be building muscle unequally. Keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent.(woman, we need to do a pelvic tilt forward) Arm exercises above your waist will increase your heart rate, while arms below the waist will decrease it. So you can use this method as a reminder to slow yourself down.
I used to teach low-impact and high impact. Low impact is good for people who are getting up in age with muscle, knee, bone, and back problems. With low impact you would keep your legs moving but use your arms more. You can offset this with low weight as well (soft weights ie 1-2lbs or cans of soup in your hands). While high impact involves jumping and some running. Raising the legs and the arms. Low impact you keep your feet on the floor and use the major muscle groups in the thighs and calves. Warm up first 5- 10 minutes, stretch, increase the pace into cardio section for at least 10 minutes max 15, then the cool down and stretching afterwards.
You can add endurance exercises like leg lifts, sit-ups, push-ups etc. (I call these floor exercises) Proper technique is important, while some of these can be performed in a chair, wall and counter top. Abdominal exercise for beginners can produce problems for those that have neck problems ie (sit-ups) there are other methods to working the abdominal’s and if I can find the right figure to show you this I will try my best to do so in a description. (below)

s-ABDOMINAL-EXERCISES-largeIn this figure she has her arms bent behind her and you can do the bicycle, working the abdominal’s. For beginners it is advisable to always keep at least one leg bent. I’m sure you have seen diagrams where they have straight legs. This adds pressure on the back. You can go to one side and do the bicycle to one side and then the other side. Take note we have 3 different sets of abdominal muscles, straight up and down and criss cross. Now you can also use this exercise below to do a reverse sit-up by putting your hands under the small of your back and try to lift your butt up off the floor.

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This next figure will show you how you can work the back of the thigh and abdominal’s come into play when you put that leg in a 90 degree angle (right to the side of your body) always keep your back straight. It is hard to describe all of the exercises you can do here but you can also do a tuck and extend the leg out. Always do 4-8 reps and then go to the other leg. If you are feeling a burn it is time to switch. Many say that you have to feel the burn, but, in actuality you are over doing it. When you become more fit you will know your limits and when to extend the number of reps.

images (8)

By keeping your knee bent and out to the side you will then work several muscles at the same time. Do what feels comfortable. pumping that leg, lift slightly and return, up down,  controlled extension’s out and back to 90 degree angle. Do not do these on a bare floor. Get yourself a piece of rug, foam to protect your knees. In any exercise you do, you want to always have control over every movement, not just winging it cause it could pull on your joints and ligaments and you want to work the muscle. Again you need to stretch after doing each exercise. I will try to find some pictures for these major muscle groups.

I will update this later …

Beginners part 2 – The advantages/disadvantages

Aerobic
1. Oxygen required for muscle function during cardio
2. Gets rid of lactate
3. Feeling of being refreshed after a work out
4. More energy- release of endorphin’s – natural high
5. Improving circulation efficiency and reducing blood pressure
6. Improved mental health, including reducing stress and lowering the incidence of depression
7. Reducing the risk for diabetes.
8. Increasing the total number of red blood cells in the body, facilitating transport of oxygen
There are many advantages of doing regular aerobic exercise which are:

 

  • Strengthening the muscles involved in respiration, to facilitate the flow of air in and out of the lungs
  • Strengthening and enlarging the heart muscle, to improve its pumping efficiency and reduce the resting heart rate, known as aerobic conditioning
  • aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of death due to cardiovascular problems.

In addition to the health benefits of aerobic exercise, there are numerous performance benefits:

 

  • Increased storage of energy molecules such as fats and carbohydrates within the muscles, allowing for increased endurance
  • Some downfalls of aerobic exercise include:
  • Overuse injuries because of repetitive, high-impact exercise such as distance running.
  • Is not an effective approach to building lean muscle.
  • Only effective for fat loss when used consistently.

Anaerobic
1. The absence of or not dependent on the presence of oxygen
2. Anaerobic activities not requiring oxygen can produce lactate in the muscles causing stiffness, and being tired such as after you have been at the office all day or specific labor that does not require a lot of oxygen. This is why you are exhausted.
3. Unpleasant effects of lactate buildup initially include the burning sensation in the muscles
4. May eventually include nausea and even vomiting if the exercise is continued without allowing lactate to clear from the bloodstream.
5. Buildup of lactate quickly makes it impossible to continue the exercise

A public demonstration of aerobic exercises

A public demonstration of aerobic exercises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So you see the advantages out weigh the disadvantages promoting good health. So long as you slowly build up your exercise every other day. Some like to rush right into it and then experience the pain and stiffness that goes along with it. Over worked muscles can rip. The muscle is like an elastic band it stretches and contracts during any exercise. This is why stretching is very important and correct positioning is equally important.
When doing any exercise you want to make sure you are not slumped but are in erect position keeping your back straight. Men differ from woman cause they don’t have the same structure in the pelvic cavity area that we do, so therefore when we stretch we have to stretch up with our arms pulling our upper body up and out of the pelvic cavity to get a more effective stretch.
Again loose clothing and good shoes are equally important. I used Nike or Reebok . depending on the activity you are engaged in you will have to decide what shoe is good.. Here are some tips .. if you are doing mostly forward movements then you need only shoes with good arch support with some on each side. Side to side movements like in Aerobic dance will require more support on the side areas of the shoe. One thing I never do and suggest, keep one set of shoes for outside and one set for inside. Outside shoes for exercise will wear out faster, but if you keep your indoor fitness shoes strictly for gym and floor areas. They will last quite a while. I found I only had to replace my shoes once a year. Another thing is in tying them up your want them to be comfortable… tight ties can cut off circulation and create a pump bump (not nice to have)
Above all remember to take your Heart rate periodically so you can stay with in your target zone stated in my last post. If you can’t talk, whistle, sing, because of breathing too hard(out of breath) then you are over doing it! Keep it simple and take your time. Walking is good for you and lets you enjoy nature. Take your pets out! Remember start by walking down the block and back and increase the distance, If you are a walker already then you can add a bit of speed walking in there.

Stationary bikes or bikes to ride on the road do not require a lot of pounding on the body like running does. Biking uses more leg power(building endurance) and you still get the cardio out of it. Do the same thing that you would do with walking if you haven’t ridden in some time. Pick a short distance and when that feels comfortable then extend it. Use the same principles for any kind of exercise. I will go into endurance exercises and beginner weight training in my next post.