What Is The Best Time To Exercise For The Maximium Results

“What is the best time to exercise?” is a frequently asked question. There are advantages and disadvantages to morning, afternoon, and evening exercise regimes. However, all experts agree that ultimately the best time to exercise is when you can regularly and reliably fit it in. For those of you with the luxury of being able to select your own workout time read on to see what workout hour is best for getting rid of you belly fat.

The Morning Workout

Advantages:
* over and done with before the constraints and distractions of the day get in the way.
* gets the endorphins, or feel good hormones, running, ensuring that you are starting the day on a natural high.
* mornings are generally cooler and a less polluted time of day for those exercising outdoors.
* mental alertness and concentration during the rest of the day will all be sharper.
* boosts the metabolism for the longest interval.
* burns more fat as fat stores need to be burned to produce the glycogen, or energy, required for the workout.
* morning exercisers are the group most likely to continue with their routine in the long term.

Disadvantages:

* probably have to get out of bed earlier.
* possible increased risk of injury if insufficient warm up.

The Afternoon or After Work Workout

Advantages:
* some research has shown that the body’s endurance, strength and performance are all marginally improved in the late afternoon making workouts slightly more effective. This can also give the perception to many of a less difficult workout.
* a great way to burn off the stress of the day.
* possible chance of eating less afternoon snacks and a big evening meal.
* decreased chance of sustaining injuries as the body is nicely warmed up.

Disadvantages:
* very easy for work and social activities to interfere.
* may just feel too exhausted or overwhelmed to workout.
* peak time of day at most gyms is straight after work, increasing wait times for equipment, and possible time constraints on equipment usage.

The Late Evening Workout

Advantages:
* may help with sleep disorders.
* can workout while the rest of the house is sleeping.
* reduce the stress of the day.
* gyms less crowded.
* great way to relax your mind.
* may reduce the size of your dinner and after dinner snacks.
* less distractions.

Disadvantages:
* gym may be closed.
* you may just be too exhausted too bother.
* outdoor workouts are less safe at nighttime.
* you may not receive the full benefits of the raise in metabolism for the same length of time after the workout because once you go to sleep, your metabolism automatically slows down.

Conclusion.

While research has shown that most people are best suited physiologically to exercising in the late afternoon or early evening daily distractions can make this time of day inconvenient and unreliable for many. Research shows that those who workout in the morning are more consistent in the long term. Basically, you should select a time of day that is going to work best for you. After all, exercise at any time is better than no exercise at all.

Being Accountable For Successful Weight Loss And Fitness

One of the most successful strategies for losing weight, gaining fitness, or just getting into shape, is to be accountable to someone else. Justifying what you have and haven’t eaten, and whether or not you have worked out can be just the impetus that many of us need. It can be easy to tell yourself skipping the workouts for a week was okay, or even having those hot chips, the beer, and the pizzas, were all just special one off occasions. However, when you have to explain your poor selections to a third party, it can be more difficult to sound convincing. Read on for simple tips on how to make yourself accountable when saying to yourself “I want six pack abs“.

* Journals.
Food and exercise diaries can be a simple and inexpensive way to keep tabs on yourself. Documenting your food intake and your daily exercise activities will allow you to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. It can be very easy to forget about the second serving, or the bowl of ice cream, but once written down, it is there for you to see and review at the end of the day and the week.

Journals can also be a great place to document your weight loss weekly and your measurements. Had a slow week? Check to see what went wrong. Had a great week with the bathroom scales or tape measure? Look back for the secret of your success. Journals also allow you to mark in your goals and see if you are keeping on track.

Of course, journals will only work if you are going to be honest with yourself, but the real beauty of a journal is no one reads it except you.

* Buddies are another great way to stay accountable. Be sure to team up with someone with similar goals to yourself. It is a lot harder to skip a workout at the gym when you are letting down your buddy. When you are feeling tempted to do the wrong thing your buddy will be able to remind you of all the reasons why you shouldn’t.

* Online blogs and social media. Weight loss blogs, notice boards, and social networking websites can all be great places to list what you are eating and how much you are exercising. Knowing that others will be tracking your progress can be great incentive to select the salad for lunch over the deep fried take away. Many people find the anonymity of social media comforting as well. You can tell the world that you started off at 280 pounds and that you have lost 40 without any embarrassment at all.

* Personal trainers, weight loss centers, fitness clubs and gyms.
These are all compelling ways to keep yourself on the straight and narrow. Knowing that someone is going to look at your weight on the scales or come at you with a tape measure is great motivation for anyone. These options are all proven to work as no one wants to fail in front of others, particularly when they have paid out money.

Conclusion.

Being accountable to others can be a great way to ensure successful weight loss and ongoing fitness. Journals, buddies, and online social websites can be excellent and inexpensive options for motivational support. Personal trainers and weight loss centers are other excellent avenues for those with the extra cash. It is a great idea to ensure that whoever or whatever you are accounting to will offer positive encouragement.

How To Change Your General Health From Ordinary To Fabulous

Do you honestly feel in fantastic health, or would you describe your general health as ordinary? Do you look and feel trim, taut and terrific? Or do you wake up in the morning not liking what you see and how you feel? While many of us blame stress, fast paced living, and getting older for not feeling so flash, there are many simple ways you can put some zing back into your step.

Eat Right.

To maintain, or regain good health, it is important to eat a well balanced and nutritious diet. Pizzas, alternated with Chinese takeout, and a Starbucks run in the morning, do not count. Overly refined fatty and salty foods are clogging your arteries, increasing your blood pressure, and playing havoc with your weight.

Aim to consume some fresh and colorful fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Select low fat, high quality proteins such as fish, poultry, tofu, eggs, etc. Cut any visible fat off meats that you eat. Ensure the carbohydrates that you are consuming in breads, pastas, and grains, are whole and not overly processed to ensure the maximum nutritional content.

Avoid sugary foods and drinks as that instant sugar high is quickly replaced by the dreaded sugar slump. The refined sugars in the cakes, cookies, and sweets, are just increasing your chances of gaining pounds and type 2 diabetes.

Workout.

Incorporating some aerobic exercise into your daily activity will have you losing inches and feeling better. Even a 30 minute brisk walk around the block each day will provide good cardiovascular fitness, lower your blood pressure, and decrease your chances of diabetes type 2. The extra exercise will increase the oxygen traveling around your body, and you will instantly have more energy.

Sleep.

Your body needs good quality sleep on a regular basis to recover and heal. Recent studies have shown that those people who make a habit of sleeping less than 5 hours a night have a much higher incidence of weight gain and mood disorders. So an easy way to reduce belly fat is to make sure you are getting enough sleep.

Hydration.

Water contains no calories, carbs, or fat grams. Drinking water speeds up the process of eliminating nasties out of your body. Being in a perpetual state of dehydration is bad for your kidneys and shows in your skin. One of the first signs of needing to top up the water tank is feeling tired and lethargic. So when the afternoon fatigue kicks in, reach for a glass of water before you reach for yet another coffee. Caffeine, tea, and alcohol are all diuretics, which means that they are actually drying you out. Most experts recommend drinking at least 4 good sized glasses of water daily. For those who exercise, the fluid requirements are much higher.

Conclusion.

Eat better, sleep better, workout, and drink plenty of water. 4 simple and inexpensive steps to improve your general health. You too can reinvent yourself from grumpy and ordinary to cheerful and feeling fantastic.

Why Measure Your Heart Rate – The Benefits Of Being In The Zone

Why measure your heart rate? Tracking your heart rate while working out is a great and reliable way to ensure that you are getting the maximum benefits out of your activity. The other bonus to heart rate training is that you quickly see the health rewards from your workouts.

Aerobic exercise is supposed to be giving your heart and lungs (cardio vascular system) a good workout. Once you get fitter a couple of things will happen. Firstly, your resting heart rate will start to drop. This means that your heart is becoming more efficient with pumping the blood around your body. The fitter you are, the lower your resting pulse. Secondly, once you become fitter you will have to work at a harder intensity to keep your heart rate up. This explains why many people who never increase the intensity of their workouts tend to hit plateaus with their fitness and weight loss.

Figuring out your heart rate.

The easiest, and cheapest way, to determine the heart rate zone that you should be working in will give you a pretty good idea of what you should be aiming for. Simply subtract your age in years from the number 220. So if you are 40 your maximum heart rate at 100% would be 180. You then multiply this number by 0.75 and then again by 0.85 to calculate your heart rate training zone. So for the 40 year old, the target heart rate zone would be 135- 153 beats per minute.

Resting heart rate.

This is your pulse rate when you wake up first thing in the morning before you start moving around. Before you embark on your fitness program it can be a great idea to keep a record of your resting pulse initially and then you can watch it steadily drop as your heart and lungs become fitter.

Heart rate monitors.

These can be an easy way to ensure that you are in the correct training zone without having to stop and take your pulse all the time. Some of the better quality ones will beep at you if you go outside your ideal zone, and many will record the amount of time you were training in your correct zone. These can take all the guess work out.

Ideal heart rate zones.

For a great aerobic workout the recommended target heart rate zone is 75-85% of your maximum heart rate, as calculated from above. Generally most people need to train in this zone for at least 30 minutes to gain the benefits. If you can’t manage that initially, start slow and build up. At 75-85% you will be achieving maximum daily heart health from your workout.

Once you go over the 85% you will lose the benefits of the aerobic workout, and you will move into anaerobic. Working under 75% means you should be pushing yourself a bit harder.

As we already said, once you start getting fitter, you will notice that you have to work harder to keep your heart rate in the training zone. So eventually you will be walking, running, swimming, or cycling faster to work your heart out at the same rate.

Conclusion.

Measuring your heart rate while working out is a simple and effective way to ensure that you are exercising most efficiently. Your heart rate is a very accurate guide to determining your overall health and fitness. Sticking in your heart rate training zone will ensure that you are neither training too hard or not hard enough, both of which are counter productive.

Advantages of Hoodia Gordonii

In this world where thousands of weight-loss containing substances that are known to be effective have scattered almost in every part of the world, there is now a question on what is the best and most convenient product to use. Others have already tried slimming pills, while others have tried diet programs.

Doctors have been recommending many diet programs such as South Beach, Medifast, and others, which list down the foods to eat or not to eat. These programs prohibit one from eating certain foods that contain bad cholesterol. These programs work for others, while others dislike the fact that they must not eat some types of foods. That is why many people tend to buy products which contain substances that prevent one from eating too much, even without one’s consciousness.

One example of these substances is the molecule now known as P57, which can be found in products containing Hoodia Gordonii. Hoodia Gordonii products come in tablets, capsules, syrups, in diet fruit bars, among others. What is the edge of these products over other products and programs promoting weight loss?

First, this is more effective in such a way that the dieters do not have to force themselves to follow strict diet programs. They do not have to take note of what they have to eat. With Hoodia Gordonii, it automatically moves inside as not to let one’s brain think that one is feeling hungry. In that way, it automatically sets “eating” aside, so as to give way to only a minimal intake of foods.

Second, other products that claim that they are scientifically proven to burn fats are inconvenient for many. It is because some of these products have side effects such as vomiting, frequent need to go to the comfort room, and headaches. However, Hoodia Gordonnii products have claimed not to have any side effects. Thought it is an appetite suppressant, it does not prevent one from eating when one is really feeling a loss of appetite. When one really needs food to take for nutrients and energy, it does not prevent one from eating. What this substance prevents is the excessive amount of eating.

The third advantage of these products containing Hoodia Gordonii is that it comes in different forms. As mentioned above, others come in capsules, teas, fruit bars and other forms which are tempting to those who want to lose weight but do not want to suffer distasteful eating.

With these advantages, people are sure to flock into the stores to look for Hodonii-contained products.

Recent Survey Shows Americans Smarter About Nutrition

Are Americans smarter about nutrition? The answer is “Yes”. It would appear that in spite of obesity rates still rising more and more Americans are becoming better educated about their diets and nutrition. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) has just released its annual report on the eating and exercise habits of Americans. This study has been performed yearly since 1991. Read on to see where you fall in the survey.

ADA Survey Findings.

* The 2008 findings revealed that those people who did not want to know about diet or exercise at all, known as the “Don’t bother me” group, had fallen significantly from 1 in 3, or 32%, in 2002 to 1 in 5, or 19%, in 2008.
* 43% of Americans surveyed revealed that they are “Already doing it”, meaning that they consider themselves to be following a nutritious diet and exercising on a regular basis. This figure has jumped from 38% in 2002.
* 38% of Americans “Know they should” but haven’t quite gotten into better patterns yet. This has also raised from 30% in 2002.
* Overall, 67% of those surveyed considered nutrition and diet to be very important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
* 61% considered exercise to be extremely important as well.
* More women then men thought that both exercise and diet were important to remain healthy.
* Americans of all ages thought that some form of physical activity was important for maintaining health.
* Interestingly enough, younger Americans considered nutrition to be far less important then the older age groups.
* Americans with a higher education of college or more considered nutrition to be more valuable than those who finished at high school.
* The surveyed Americans also revealed that many of them have altered their diets over the last 5 years. An impressive 50% were now eating more vegies, 48% more fruits, and 56% were eating more whole grains. Meat consumption was on a decrease with 41% eating less beef and 33% consuming less pork.
* The number of Americans seeking information on correct nutrition has more than doubled in the past 8 years jumping from 19% in 2000 to 40% of the population in 2008.

What is Smart Nutrition?

* Consume less refined sugars such as pastries, white breads and pastas, cookies, sweets, candies, sodas, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Deep fried and salty foods should also be kept to a minimum. Consult your doctor about individual appropriate alcohol consumption.
* Smart nutrition also involves understanding the need for regular workouts. Regular exercise ensures less heath problems such as heart disease and diabetes type 2, and aids in weight control.

The average adult should aim for:

* Fiber. Fiber can be found in whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Males should aim for 30 grams daily and women for 20 grams daily.
* Vegetables especially leafy greens, and the more colorful varieties will provide a rich and varied source of vitamins and minerals. Aim for 3-5 servings daily.
* Fruits provide many essential nutrients along with fiber. Fresh is best. Aim for 2-4 servings daily.
* Dairy products such as milk and yogurt are best consumed as calcium enriched and low fat for adults. Aim for 2-3 servings daily. One serve is 1 glass of milk.
* Protein such as fish, eggs, cheeses, meat, chicken and beef. Try to select low fat options such as fish, and cut off any visible fat. Aim for 4-6 ounces of protein daily. One egg, 1/2 cup tofu, or 1/4 cup cottage cheese are all equivalent to 1 ounce of protein.

Conclusion.

Americans are becoming smarter about their nutrition. Many Americans know what they should be consuming, and many more are keen to further their education about healthy nutrition choices. Are you eating smart?

Why Exercise Is So Important For Your Mind, Mood And Body

Most of us know by now that we should be exercising on a regular basis. But do you really know why exercise is so important? Not only does working out help you shed a few pounds, there are many other compelling reasons to start including some regular activity in your routine. Read on to get motivated for exercise.

Benefits of exercise:

* reduces depression and instantly lifts mood due to the production of endorphins, the feel good hormones. No matter how down you are feeling before you exercise you will definitely feel a lot more upbeat by the end of your session.
* sleep better. The actual physical activity will ensure that your body and mind are ready for a great night’s sleep.
* decrease stress levels. Worries tend to diminish in size while you are concentrating on working out. Combined with the production of endorphins, the stress and anxiety will decrease.
* improves focus and mental clarity. Research has shown that those who participate in regular exercise have less chance of suffering from Alzheimer’s and senility.
* better energy levels. It may sound unlikely, but the more you exercise the more energy you will have. Feeling lethargic? Go for a brisk walk
* improved strength and stamina. Those bothersome chores will feel much easier, and you will be able to do more for longer.
* increases muscle tone, leaving you looking more defined. The extra muscle mass will also help to increase your resting metabolism.
* improved self esteem and self confidence. Once you start toning up you will look better and feel better. The extra energy, stamina, and endorphins will spill over into other areas of your life. You will feel more in control of yourself and your life.
* improved cardiovascular fitness, helping reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. Aerobic activity will improve both the health and efficiency of your heart and lungs.
* improved balance and coordination.
* improved circulation results in a glowing complexion, and improved transportation of oxygen around the body.
* decreased risk of diabetes type 2.
* increased bone strength helps to alleviate the painful condition known as osteoporosis (loss of calcium in bones).
* the immune system is strengthened with regular exercise.

How often?

30 minutes every day is ideal. If 30 minutes is too big a call, try and break it up into smaller intervals. Go for a walk at lunchtime, or use the stairs at the office instead of the lift. Use your car less and make an effort to ride a bike or walk. It all adds up.

Types of beneficial exercise:

* brisk walking, jogging, running.
* swimming and aqua-aerobics.
* tennis.
* skating and rollerblading.
* skiing.
* yard work.
* walking the dog.
* dancing.
* resistance work.
* fitness classes.
* sports such as soccer, hockey, netball, baseball,and basketball.
* cycling.
* skipping rope.
* running around and playing with the kids.

Try to find activities that you are good at or enjoy. If you have fun while you are working out, you will want to keep going and your sense of well being will be heightened. If you don’t enjoy your workout swap to something else.

Conclusion.

Once you have incorporated a regular workout into you daily routine you will quickly notice the difference when you skip a session. Less energy, and feeling more stressed and anxious are some of the most obvious symptoms that quickly revisit. Once you have started exercising regularly you will wonder how you ever managed without it. Your body and health will reward you as well.

Do Joint Care Supplements Really Work For Osteoarthritis?

22% of all adults over the age of 18 have some form of osteoarthritis. This equates to roughly 27 million people in the US and 8 million sufferers in the UK. By the age of 65 about 1 in 2 will be afflicted with this painful condition. With figures like these, there is a huge industry for providing natural joint care supplements. Of course the big question is “Do they really work?”

Osteoarthritis can be extremely painful, disfiguring, and lead to decreased joint flexibility and mobility. Extreme cases can require joint replacements. Commonly affected joints include the knees, hips, spine, shoulders, fingers, and toes. Osteoarthritis can be caused by repetitive sporting strains and injuries, genetics, aging, and being overweight. In fact, just losing 11 pounds can decrease your chances of getting osteoarthritis in the knees by 50%.

Doctor prescribed medications for arthritis can include non steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s) and other arthritis specific drugs. Some of these NSAID’s have received press due to the unpleasant side effects that can occur for some sufferers.

Types of joint care supplements.

There are several types of medically recognized daily vitamin supplements that can be used to alleviate osteoarthritis. These are:

* Glucosamine is a natural substance (an amino sugar) already found in the cartilage cells of our body. Glucosamine helps lubricates the joints, allowing more freedom of movement, and also helps build up the depleted cartilage. Glucosamine is usually made from shellfish.

* Chondroitin is again a natural substance (a protein) found in cartilage and is already in our bodies. Most chondroitin supplements are manufactured from the cartilage of sharks. Chondroitin improves the elasticity of the cartilage in the diseased joints, allowing for more insulation of the painful joint.

* Omega 3 oils such as cod liver oil will help some arthritis sufferers with their joint mobility. These types of oils can have strong anti-inflammatory properties for many.

Careful.

All of the above supplements can take from 6 weeks to 3 months for results to be felt. If at the end of 3 months your condition has not improved you may need to see your medical practitioner for further treatment.

People suffering from shellfish allergies are advised against glucosamine as it is often derived from crushed shellfish.

These joint supplements generally work well in conjunction with prescription arthritis medicines. You should never abandon your prescribed medications without first consulting your doctor. Those taking warfarin (a blood thinner) especially need to consult their doctor before starting any arthritis supplements.

When purchasing a joint care supplement it is important to compare ingredients. Less expensive products may well be a false economy if you need to take more of the formula to obtain the same result.

Conclusion.

Joint care supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, especially when used in conjunction together, are highly effective treatments for osteoarthritis. Many sufferers find their pain is reduced, and their mobility increased. Some arthritis patients can actually experience an improvement in their arthritis after long term continued use of joint nutrition. Often these supplements can mean a decrease in pain relief and anti-inflammatories. Glucosamine and chondroitin are especially beneficial for osteoarthritis of the knees. Joint supplements can be a safe and natural treatment that will provide some form of relief for most arthritis sufferers.

Healthy Eating Habits For Improved Health And Weight Control

Healthy eating habits are important for maintaining not only good health, but better weight control. We have all heard the saying “you are what you eat”, and research is continuing to show us that this is probably even more true then we realized. As developed nations battle obesity pandemics, the statistics for diseases caused by weight related issues such as diabetes type 2, heart disease, strokes, and many forms of cancer are also on the rise.

Eating right to lose weight.

For many of us, the main goal for eating more correctly is to try and shed a few pounds. Basically, the formula is fairly simple. The more energy (or food) that you eat, the more activity you will have to perform to prevent the energy converting into another love handle. For many, this is a lot easier said then done. More sedentary jobs, computers, TV’s and a slowing metabolism caused by the aging process, are all hurdles that most of us have to overcome. We humans are no longer out there chasing down our dinner before we eat it.

Weight loss at its most basic comes down to eat a little less, and exercise more. Eating smart can be a simple yet effective way to reduce your calorie, fat, or carbohydrate intake. Reading the nutritional labels on foods is a must. Once you start you will be astonished at the varying fat and sugar levels in foods that appear to be the same. It goes without saying you should be consuming the product lower in fats and refined sugars.

Another simple way to keep you metabolism running faster is to eat smaller portions more often. The longer you leave it between meals the more your body will want to hang on to that next meal. Eating every 2-3 hours sends your body the message that it is not in starvation mode. When your body goes into starvation mode it will hang onto every last little calorie that you consume.

The important message from this is small meals. If you should start to eat 5 giant meals per day you will end up heavier than before you started. Take a look at what you would normally consume in a day, and split it into 5 smaller serves. If you should start to eat less than you used to, and are eating 5 times a day, your metabolism will definitely speed up. The faster your metabolism, the more fuel, or calories, it is burning.

Healthy eating pyramid.

* The healthy eating pyramid is basically a triangle representing safe eating guidelines recognized globally. The pointy bit at the top (or apex) represents the smallest amounts of food that you should consume in a day. The wide base at the bottom represents the largest amounts of food that should be consumed. See diagram below:

food_pyramid_image

* Unhealthy items high in fats and sugars, such as sweets and potato crisps, along with most butters, fats, sour cream, mayonnaise, and desserts are firmly in the group at the top. Cakes, biscuits, pastries, chocolate, jams, and sodas are also included in this group. These items should be eaten sparingly, if at all. The more intent you are on weight loss, the less you should be consuming from this group. However, it is important to remember that your body does require some good quality oils in the form of olive oil, avocado, fish (omega-3), or nuts. These types of oils are considered heart healthy. The fats and oils that should be avoided are those that are supplied by dairy and animals. Of course, deep fried anything should always be avoided, whether you are looking to lose weight or not. Aim for as few servings as possible, ideally less than 3.

* Milk, yogurts and cheeses are good quality sources of calcium and protein. Those looking to lose weight should aim to select the lower fat varieties. Aim for 2-3 servings daily. One serving equals 1 cup milk or yogurt, or 2 ounces of most cheeses.

* Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and nuts are an important component of the daily diet. These quality sources of proteins should be consumed in their leanest (lowest fat) form possible. Kidney beans and tofu also fall into this category. Aim for 2-3 servings daily. One serving equals 1 egg; 2 Tablespoons seeds or nuts; 2-3 ounces of cooked fish, meat or poultry.

* Fruits are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and many also in antioxidants. Fruits can make for great snacks. If you are on a strict weight control regime opt for those lower in sugar fruits. Fruits are best off eaten fresh, rather than tinned, for both the nutritional value, and also the lower sugar levels in fresh, as opposed to tinned which has a much higher sugar content. Aim for a minimum of 2 servings of fresh fruit daily. One serving equals 1 medium sized apple, orange or banana; or three quarters of a cup of fruit juice.

* Vegetables are filling, high in fiber, low in sugar, and jam packed full of vitamins and minerals. Try and select from a variety of colored vegetables daily. The brighter the color, the more nutrition. One serving is considered to be three quarters of a cup of vegetable juice; or half a cup of chopped fresh vegetables. Please note that technically potatoes fall into the following category of complex carbohydrates.

* Breads, cereals, rice, grains, potatoes, and pasta contain complex carbohydrates and essential sources of Vitamin B. Choosing the whole wheat versions of these products will also ensure that they are higher in fiber. Refined, sugary versions of these foods should be avoided as they are higher in glycemix index and will cause your blood sugar levels to spike. The less processed these foods, the longer they will fuel you and the longer you will feel full. Anyone who has been on a low carb diet will no doubt cringe that experts recommend 6-11 servings daily. (No this doesn’t mean that you should have 11 slices of bread or toast in one day.) Servings are considered to be one half cup cooked rice or pasta; one slice of bread; half a bread roll or bagel; one half cup cooked grains or cereals; one ounce muesli or breakfast cereal.

* The food pyramid is an easy guide to follow. Generally, women should be consuming the smaller suggested servings and the active guy the larger serving.

* Many food pyramids also include 8 glasses of water at the bottom as well.

Healthy eating tips.

There are many simple strategies that you can employ to improve your eating habits:

* Grocery shopping should only be done with a shopping list. Don’t visit the grocery shop when you are hungry, depressed or tired. Your resolve is much lower at those times. Stay away from the middle of the grocery shop, as most supermarkets are designed with the healthy items, including the fruits and veggies, around the outer perimeters of the store. It goes without saying, you should stick to the list. If it isn’t in your pantry you won’t be able to eat it.

* Organic foods may cost a little more, but have the advantages of tasting better, and potentially being less toxic. Do you really want to eat the pesticides and herbicides with your salad? Growth hormones in your meat?

* Recipes. Select a variety of recipes from your magazines and books. Low fat, diabetic, vegetarian, whatever you fancy. New recipes inspire the whole family to become more interested in their dinner.

* Cooking your food from scratch is always the more healthy, and cost effective option. This allows you to ensure that your ingredients are healthy and as unrefined as you prefer. If you are cooking for one, make a batch and freeze the rest for later.

* Plan your meals in advance. This prevents the “empty fridge” syndrome where you are forced into getting take out as there is nothing else to eat.

* High fiber foods fill you up, tend to contain complex carbohydrates, and have been linked to decreasing such things as bowel cancer.

* Smaller portions are essential if you are wanting to lose weight. Measure and weigh your portions for a few days. You will probably be amazed to see what one serve actually is, as opposed to what you are eating.

* Eat quality foods for improved health. Fresh is always best, as the longer handling and more storage involved, the less nutrition is left in the food.

* Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Antioxidants are vital in fighting off the free radicals in our bodies that are responsible for aging, cell destruction, and many cancers.

* No mindless eating. Eating in front of the computer, television, or while reading or working, is mindless eating. You are not concentrating on the foods you are consuming, and in these situations tend to eat far more than you would normally.

* Self-education is vital for a successful eating campaign. Libraries, magazines, and the Internet are great resources for educating yourself about correct food choices.

* Nothing happens overnight. Yes, we all want to lose weight tomorrow when we start a diet today, but that is unrealistic, and unhealthy. You didn’t gain your excess pounds overnight, and they will not vanish overnight either. ( Sad but true.) Set yourself realistic goals, otherwise you will become disappointed, depressed, unmotivated, and throw in the towel before you have even started.

* New eating plans can feel odd initially, but after a few days to a week, your body and mind will have adjusted and you will have yourself a great new set of eating habits.

* Before and after measurement and photos can be a great way to keep yourself motivated. Even if you are not planning on losing any weight you will probably find that your belly is less bloated when eating more healthy foods.

* No emotional eating. Eating when bored, depressed, stressed, anxious, or even as a reward, is emotional eating. We should all eat when we are hungry, and not use food as an emotional crutch. Emotional eaters tend to end up with weight problems. Food will not make you feel better, and in many instances you will actually feel worse than before you started. If you feel that you eat with your emotions, perhaps try replacing the food with a brisk walk, or phone or text a friend. Anyone who feels that their emotional eating is out of their control should seek support.

* Eating disorders affect more than 36 million people in the US alone, with 11 million suffering from anorexia or bulimia, and another 25 million suffering from binge eating, or compulsive over eating. Underlying psychological problems can cause eating disorders, including low self esteem, and respond extremely well to professional assistance. Symptoms of eating disorders include obsession with weight and food, depression, anxiety, weight fluctuations, and an inaccurate self-assessment of body image. More than 80% of those suffering from an eating disorder can be successfully treated, or cured, with professional help.

The benefits of eating healthy include:

* improved metabolism.

* glowing skin.

* can reverse aging process.

* reduces risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

* fights free radicals.

* stabilizes blood sugar levels.

* improves moods.

* reduces food cravings, and mid-afternoon slumps.

* increased energy.

A healthy eating plan

A healthy eating plan incorporates servings from all food categories contained on the food pyramid. Fresh foods are always going to be more tasty and more healthy. Eating a variety of colorful foods will ensure that you are receiving plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Eating disorders are becoming more prevalent in developed nations, along with rising obesity rates. A well balanced diet combined with regular exercise will not only keep your weight within healthy guidelines, but will also help prevent some avoidable health issues such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The Importance Of Weight Training Programs

When you hear the words “weight training” do you instantly think of body builders? Are you one of those people who believes weights are only for those who want bulging biceps? Do you associate weight workouts with Olympic dumbbell lifters? Or that weight training is only for men? Wrong on all counts. There are many compelling reasons as to why you should include some weight training programs in your weekly workouts.

Read on for handy hints on getting started, preventing injuries, getting the most out of your program, and the equipment you really need for strength training.

Health Benefits.

The health benefits of weight training have been shown to be impressive:

* Decreased risk of osteoporosis. Working out with weights has been shown to be important in maintaining bone strength. This is even more important for women over the age of forty, and any men who may be suffering from calcium depletion. The older the female, the more significant the weight training becomes. Older females who lift weights weekly have much less incidence of spinal fractures (Dowager’s hump), and fractured hips.

* Pre-diabetics and those with type 2 diabetes can actually dramatically improve their blood sugar readings by including strength training in their weekly workouts, along with a sensible eating pattern. Research in the US has shown that pre-diabetics who join a weight training program and modify their eating habits will often do better in the long term than those who just start medications and do nothing about their exercise routine or diet. (If you are pre-diabetic, or diabetic do not change your medications without consulting your doctor first.)

* Seniors have been shown to have markedly better balance and coordination when lifting even light weights weekly. This can be important for minimizing falls, and maintaining day to day independence.

* Increased strength. Resistance work will ensure that those pesky lids and heavy loads will become easier to manage over time. Your strength will increase, making day to day activities much easier and more pleasant.

Starting an exercise program.

* It is important to get a medical clearance from your doctor before beginning on those machines or free weights. This is particularly important for the elderly, pregnant ladies, anyone out of condition or overweight, and those with any pre-existing conditions, illnesses or injuries.

* Measurements and skin pinches. Before embarking on your new workout it is important to not only weigh yourself, but also take measurements of all appropriate body parts. As you become fitter, your flabby bits will tighten and tone up. The resulting extra muscle mass that your fat is converting to will actually weigh more on the bathroom scales then the love handles. So you may end up in a position where you look better and wear smaller clothes but are actually starting to weigh more. This is nothing to worry about.

* A personal trainer can be a wise investment when starting out. If you are in a health club or gym, then often there are personal trainers available to show you how to use all the equipments and weights without injuring yourself. If you are starting out at home then a personal trainer can be invaluable to set your program up for you. Once you feel confident you can continue on your own. Obviously there are some folk out there who need the personal trainer to keep them motivated and working hard. If this is you then by all means keep the trainer.

* Start off slow. It is much safer and smarter for the beginners to slowly build up their programs. There is absolutely no point going hard once and then injuring yourself so badly you can’t exercise or move for a month. Very counterproductive. If you have enthusiasm to burn, do something aerobic such as a brisk walk, or put some of that new found energy into researching the best diets and what you should be eating.

* Not just for the boys. More and more women are discovering the benefits of incorporating regular weights into their fitness routines. No, you won’t turn into a man. What will happen is that you will lose those jiggly bits on your arms and legs. You will tone up and you will find it much easier to maintain your dress size. You will start to both look and feel better. There is a reason why the world wide women’s only fitness centers include circuit and weight equipment. The reason? It has been proven to work, and quite effectively and quickly.

* Shoes. It is important that you have a basic pair of good quality runners, or cross trainers. Your shoes need to be able to support your feet adequately, be comfortable, and provide a good grip with the floor.

* Set goals. Before you start out, think about your goals. Weight loss? Fat Loss? Muscle gain? To be more healthy? To look fantastic in your swimmers? To regain your six pack? Ensure your goals are realistic and accept that these changes will not happen overnight. Take some before and after snaps in your swimmers. This way you will have physical evidence of just how far you have improved.

* Chart your progress with an exercise journal. It can be easy to forget what weights you are up to, or what routine you did last. Stick the before photos in there to inspire you when you are demotivated. Keep your measurements in this journal as well so you can keep a close eye on how many inches you are losing, or gaining, as the goal may be.

Weight management.

A weight training routine will be far more effective for weight management than aerobics exercise on its own. Gone are the days of groups down at the health club doing some form of aerobic, step, or jazzercise class every day of the week. Aerobic exercise is important for good health as well, but the inclusion of resistance training will make it far easier for weight loss and/or management. Here’s why:

* Increased metabolism. The more effective the weight program, the longer you will raise your metabolism. A great workout can have your metabolism working that much harder for up to 48 hours.

* Fat burning. An effective resistance workout can burn fat fast. Try high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) for the fastest results.

* More muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the faster your resting metabolism will run. Muscle requires far more energy than its fatty cousin.

Weight training equipment.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to have an effective routine. Basically, strength training can involve machines, free weights (dumbbells, bar bells, and hand weights) and resistance bands.

* Cost effective weight training equipment can include such basics as resistance bands, a set of hand weights, and free weights. Add a yoga mat, fitness ball, instructional DVD’s or videos, and away you go. This basic set up is going to cost you minimal bucks but will still do the job. Never forget that the most cost effective, and heaviest, weight that you can utilise is your own body.

* Intermediate equipment. For more impressive results you may want to add a weight bench and a squat rack. Once you are lifting heavier weights you may also want to get yourself a pair of gloves to minimize slipping.

* Multi-gyms are basically work stations that allow you to do all of your strength training on the one unit. These are generally designed to fit perfectly into the garage, basement, or spare room. Often these can be picked up at good prices pre-loved but barely used. A good mid-priced multi gym should be equipped with:

a bench that adjusts for both sitting and reclining.

pulldown bars allowing lat pulldown exercises.

leg curl system to allow working out the hamstrings.

stacked metal weights.

press bars allowing for both pulling and pushing.

seated cable row system.

leg extension provision.

Many home gym owners prefer a multi-unit as there tends to be less opportunity for equipment to spread and make a mess. Ensure your unit comes with a good instruction system for both working out and correct usage.

* Money is no object. For those with dollars to burn, there are so many choices out there for home gyms, that the sky really is the limit. It may be a great idea to test run some of the equipment at your local gym before taking the plunge, just so you end up with equipment that you are comfortable with. There are plenty of home gym companies out there who will happily advise you on how to spend your cash. Multi-gyms now also come in “family” models ensuring there is no squabbling over whose turn it is. (The family who plays together, stays together.) These are much more costly but could be worthwhile to cut down on arguments, and are also effective for the time challenged family.

Weight Training Exercises.

Balanced strength training will involve all the major muscle groups. Try these strength exercises for an all round workout.

* Push-ups are an underrated exercise. Push-ups are ideal for working out the triceps muscles located in the back of your upper arms, and also the pectoral muscles in the front of your chest. Push-ups use your own body weight as resistance.

The perfect push-up. Face the floor with hands flat on the floor and slightly further apart than your shoulders. Your feet should be apart at a comfortable distance. Lower your chest while slowly bending your elbows. Do not let your back arch or sag. Keep going until your chin almost touches the ground. Return to the original position and repeat. It is important to keep control of the movement.

* Biceps curls will tighten and tone the biceps muscle in your upper arm. This exercise is performed standing up straight with feet slightly apart. Holding weights or dumbbells, your palms should be facing out. Keeping your elbow close to your body, bend your elbow up slowly. Slowly return to starting position and repeat. Keep the movements controlled and do not swing your arm.

* Triceps extensions will tone up the muscle in the back of your arm. Lying on your back, either on the floor or on a bench, place a dumbbell or hand weight in one hand. Your elbow should be bent at 90 degrees with your upper arm facing the ceiling. Slowly move the weight up towards the ceiling, straightening out your elbow. Bring the weight back down slowly. Repeat.

* Bent-over row. This exercise is for working out the muscle at the back of your shoulder. This can either be done using a weight bench or standing up. When using a bench, have one knee resting on the bench and bend forward, supporting yourself with one hand. Holding your weight in the other hand, have you arm hang straight down from your shoulder. Lift the weight slowly until your elbow comes up almost to your shoulder. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat. If you don’t have a bench you can bend your knees with your feet slightly apart, leaning forward with your hips.

* Chest press. This exercise is great for strengthening your pectoral muscles which you have already used in the push-ups. Lying on a weight bench with your back flat and your knees bent, you will need a weight in each hand. Start with your arms out flat and at 90 degrees to your shoulders. Then bend your elbows so that your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. From this starting position slowly raise the weights until your elbows are not quite straight. Slowly return to starting position, being careful to not let your elbows go lower than your body. Repeat.

* Squats work your thighs, both the hamstrings in the back and the quadriceps (or quads) in the front.

The perfect squat. Start with toes facing straight ahead and feet apart to slightly more than shoulder width. With your back straight, start descending, bending the hips, knees, and ankles. Your knees and ankles should stay facing straight ahead. Ideally you should be able to bend until your knees are at 90 degrees. However, if your knees aren’t that flexible, just go as far as you can. Straighten up and repeat.

* Calf raises work the muscles in the backs of your lower legs. Stand with your back straight, tummy tucked in, and feet slightly apart. Slowly go up onto your toes, pause, then go back down to initial position. Repeat.

* Knee extension is an exercise that will strengthen your quadriceps by using a weight on your ankle. Sitting on a weight bench or chair, attach a weight to your ankle. Start with your foot hanging naturally. Slowly raise your lower leg until your knee is straight, pause, and return to start. Repeat.

* Hamstring curl. This particular exercise requires a weight machine. Lying face down on a bench you will have the pad of the machine resting above and behind your ankles. You will then be bending your knees and bringing your feet up towards your butt. It is important to keep your back straight, do not arch it. Return to start slowly and repeat.

* Leg press. Leg presses need a weight machine and will work 3 muscles in your legs: the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, as well as the butt muscles (gluteal). Your feet should be about shoulder width apart on the platform. Keeping your back straight you will be straightening your knees. Return to beginning position and repeat.

Weight Training Routines.

There are several theories on how heavy your weights should be, and how many sets and repetitions (or reps) you should be doing of each exercise. This will ultimately depend on many factors such as fitness level and whether or not you are just beginning.

Just remember, a rep (or repetition) means how many times you do the particular motion in the one batch. A set is how many times you do the repetitions.

Here are 2 of the more popular options. See which one suits you best:

1. For those starting out and the time challenged, this may be a simpler and more achievable alternative.

*Select a weight that is heavy enough that your muscle group is tired after 12 repetitions. You will only be doing your exercises for the one set of 12 reps. Once you become stronger and the exercise becomes easier you increase the weight level appropriately. This option will not suit those looking for a challenge but will be sufficient for those wanting to tone up.

2. Basic and Effective Weight Lifting. This option will also suit the intermediate lifter, as you can just keep increasing the weights. By the end of 3 months you should be feeling strong enough to have increased your weights by approximately 5-10%.

* Chest press. 3 sets of 8 repetitions.

* Bent over row. 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

* Triceps. 3 sets of 12 repetitions.

* Biceps. 3 sets of 12 repetitions.

* Knee extensions. 3 sets of 12 repetitions.

* Calf raises. 3 sets of 25 repetitions.

* Push ups. 3 sets of 20 repetitions. (If you can do more in a repetition, then go for it.)

* Squats. 3 sets of 20 repetitions.

Weight Training Schedule.

* 3 times a week is enough when you are doing strength training. Your muscles need time to recover.

Weight Training for Teenagers.Strength training for teenagers can be a great thing. It has been shown that teens who do strength training can often focus and concentrate better on their studies. Strength training also increases the metabolism, reducing the possibility of “puppy fat”. Teens who are into particular sports will find a huge improvement in their endurance and performance once they have started strength training. However, there are some very important points to consider first:

 

* Firstly, strength training is defined as working out with free weights, resistance bands, and weight machines. It is not considered to be body building or power lifting as you would see in the Olympics. Body building and power lifting are definitely not recommended for teenagers who are still growing.

* Medical clearance is advised prior to starting to make sure there are no underlying spinal, hip, or joint problems.

* Seek guidance from a properly qualified trainer or coach.

* It is easy for teens to injure themselves when strength training due to the fact that their joints, bones, muscles and tendons have not finished growing. Any sudden pain, or popping feelings or sounds, should be immediately checked out by a doctor.

* Don’t forget that a well rounded fitness program will also include some aerobic activity like running, walking, skating, or swimming, to keep those lungs and heart fit and healthy as well.

Weight Training at Home.OK. You have decided to convert the garage, basement, or spare room into your home gym. For the sake of domestic harmony it is probably a great idea to get approval from any other parties before doing anything too dramatic.

 

It is also important that you think about your goals before splashing the cash. Are you looking to tone up? How often are you really going to use the equipment? Are you a social creature who would rather be lifting weights in front of others? How much floor space do you have? How big is your budget? These are all pretty important considerations if you don’t want your home gym to be in the next garage sale.

* For the beginner or modest budget:

The barest minimum, yet still highly effective and versatile, would be a home gym with the following:

floor mat, fitness ball, resistance bands, an adjustable bench, a step, and heavier and lighter dumbbells.

Another alternative for the beginner is an all-in-one unit where everything you need is on the one machine. A second hand basic all-in-one may only cost you a little more than buying everything separately new.

* For the intermediate user or budget:

The intermediate user really has 2 options:

either invest in a more heavy duty multi purpose machine, or have a lighter weight machine and invest in heavier dumbbells, better quality bar bells and plates.

* Bulging biceps or bulging wallets.

The seriously advanced strength trainer may well be a regular in a gym. To top up for the serious trainer a heavy duty multi unit could do the trick.

For those with plenty of dollars there are some great all in one units, including multi-stations allowing several people to train at once.

Safe Weight Training Tips.

* Stretches are vital in both warming up and cooling down. Stretches are also invaluable for loosening up stiff muscles from a day or two before.

* Warming up. To avoid injuries, strain, sprains and full on muscle tears, it is important to warm up properly before lifting those weights. A 5-10 minute warm up including a set of stretches and a brisk walk is plenty.

* Cooling down. 5-10 minutes of stretching out all those muscle groups at the end of your workout will both increase your flexibility and keep injuries to a minimum.

* Rest days. To avoid overdoing it and incurring over-use injuries, you should give your body one day’s rest between lifting weights. On alternate days, embark on an aerobic component like walking, jogging, bike riding, or swimming, to burn those calories and improve cardiac fitness.

* Sore muscles mean you need to take an extra day or two as a rest. Listen to your aching body.

* Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before and after a strength training session. is highly recommended when lifting heavy dumbbells. Firstly, to ensure that you movements are correct. Secondly, to avoid dangerous scenarios involving dropped weights and trapped bodies.

* Eat a sensible diet. Cut down on the saturated fats. Ensure your diet includes lean high quality protein such as chicken and fish, and plenty of complex carbohydrates.

Conclusion.

* A spotter

Strength training programs provide many health benefits to all age groups, from the senior to the teen. Stronger bones, increased metabolism, improved coordination, and better performance and endurance, are only a few of the advantages to be gained from strength training.