Sunday, October 30, 2011


Starting with Stretches

Want to start your day off right? A stretch routine first thing in the morning is a great way to wake up your muscles and get your blood flowing.

While you may want to hit that snooze button over and over, a better way to start your day is with a few early morning stretches. Besides feeling good physically, stretching is mentally and physiologically beneficial as well. It improves your flexibility, circulation, coordination and balance, posture, and your mood.

With just 10 minutes of stretching added into your morning routine, you'll be prepared to face the day. Here are a few easy stretches to get you going.

Breathe Deeply

The simplest stretch to get started with is deep breathing. Sit up straight in a chair or even on the side of your bed. Rest your hands on your stomach and breathe in deeply. Exhale normally and notice the movement of your stomach. Repeat this exercise a few times, all the while breathing evenly, and progress slowly up to 12 repetitions.

Loosen Your Neck

Still sitting (or standing if you'd rather), keep your neck straight and move your head slowly forward as far as you can. Then slowly lean your head backward as far as you can. Repeat this movement a few times. Then smoothly and slowly roll your head in a circular motion. This will loosen up your neck muscles.

Relax Your Shoulders

Moving down your body, it's time to stretch your shoulders. After sleeping on your side, they may be especially tense. While sitting or standing in a balanced position, slowly and steadily lift your shoulders upward toward your ears, and lower them smoothly. Repeat several times. For another shoulder stretch, place your hands on your shoulders, move your elbows close together, and rotate your arms in a circle.

Stretch Your Sides

To stretch your side muscles, stand straight with your arms by your sides. Place your right hand behind your head and point your elbow out to your side. Bend your waist to the left, keeping your left arm straight, and reach down toward the floor. Hold this position for a couple seconds then stand up straight again. Repeat this stretch a few times and switch sides.

Loosen that Lower Back

This stretch will loosen your lower back and buttocks muscle. Lie on your back and bend your knees. Rest the ankle of your left leg on your right knee. Hold your right thigh and pull your leg toward your chest. You will feel a definite stretch. Hold this for a few seconds then relax. Repeat and hold for another 15–20 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

Stretch Your Hamstring

Another important muscle to stretch is your hamstring, which runs from your buttocks down to below your knee. While lying on the floor, take hold of the back of one thigh and pull your leg to a 90-degree position, keeping your leg as straight as possible. Hold for 20 seconds, slowly lower your leg back to the floor, switch legs, and repeat.

Help Your Hips

One last helpful stretch to get you going in the morning is the seated knee raise, also known as seated marching. When done right, it improves your hip stability and your range of motion. Sit up straight in a chair and lift and lower one knee at a time as if you are marching. Lift both legs at least 10 times.

One Size Does Not Fit All.

Not only are stretches important before you exercise, they are also beneficial to start your day off right. However, you shouldn't expect your stretch to look identical to someone else performing the same stretch. Adjust your stretches to meet your needs according to your age and level of fitness. If you've had injuries in the past, take precaution and check with your doctor before beginning any new routines.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Healthy Weight Loss

Experts agree that a diet containing very few calories can slow your metabolism. As a result, your body starts to burn fewer calories each day than might be expected, making weight loss harder and weight gain easier. Healthy weight loss is about making lifelong lifestyle changes by gradually altering your eating habits and getting more exercise. Not only will this approach help you lose weight safely, it is also easier to maintain simple lifestyle changes with better long-term results.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Not Enough Time To Exercise?

Is your schedule so full that it's hard to find time to work out? Here are six times to squeeze in some exercise.

You know exercise is vital to your health and well-being, and you've tried to fit it in. So why is it so difficult to make regular exercise a priority in your schedule? It probably has something to do with life. From work to kids to meals to errands to chores to sleep, fitting in anything else is virtually impossible.

But no matter how busy your life may be, you can find time to add more activity - if you're willing. Though a minimum of 30-minute increments of exercise are recommended, as little as 10 minutes can still make a difference. Squeeze in 10 minutes a day every day, and you'll rack up 300 minutes or five hours a month. How do you do it?

Fitting in Fitness at Home

Vacuuming, mopping, and scrubbing the bathroom. Like it or not, you probably spend time each week doing household chores. What great ways to be active! Instead of getting it over with as soon as possible, turn on your favorite dance tunes and work at a pace fast enough to get your heart rate up. Even while folding the laundry or making dinner you can stand on your tiptoes or do squats. And don't forget outdoor chores such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and gardening. These are excellent ways to burn extra calories all while doing normal activities around the house.

Lunch Break = Exercise Break

Tired of staring at the computer screen all day or dealing with cranky clients? Take a quick walk outside during lunch or other break times. If you'd like company, find a coworker to join you. Even better, if there is a gym near your workplace, use lunchtime to get in a quick workout. You'll return to work feeling energized to finish the day, unlike your coworkers who are ready to go to sleep.

Parking Lots and Elevators

Do you find yourself circling the parking lot to find the closest spot or standing in line waiting for a slow elevator? Turn these moments into exercise opportunities. Why not take the farthest parking spot and walking the distance to the door? You may actually end up saving time by walking instead of searching for a closer space. It's also a good idea to skip the elevator and use the stairs. You'll burn a few calories and don't have to worry about someone sneezing on you on the way up.

Get off the Couch

After a long day at work, relaxing on the couch and watching television or talking on the phone catching up with a friend is rather appealing. While it's fine to rest after a busy day, don't forget to take advantage of these exercise opportunities. Grab a couple canned goods out of the cabinet to use as hand weights. Sit on a stationary bike and pedal away while you watch your favorite sitcom or talk on the phone. Get on the floor and do some leg lifts, push-ups, sit- ups, stretches, or yoga positions. Also, get rid of the remote control. It'll force you to get off the couch to change the channel or better yet - it will make you want to turn off the television and get active.

Include the Kids

If you have children, you may find your time divided between taking care of kids and taking care of yourself. Why not do both at the same time? Involve your whole family in exercise. Get out and take a walk or ride bikes together after dinner. Instead of a family movie night, plan a trip to the zoo or go hiking in the mountains. Play a game of kickball or soccer together at a park. If possible, walk with your kids to school in the morning. Another fun activity is to take a fitness class along with your children. You may even want to join in their karate or tennis classes. Many gyms now offer "mommy and me" swim or exercise classes for mothers with new babies, so take advantage of them.

Be Social

The final way to add activity into your busy schedule is to include exercise in your social life. Join a dance club with a friend sign up for a softball team through the local recreation department. Not only is being part of a team a great way to stay committed and motivated to exercise, it is also a great way to have fun with friends.

Start Slow.

These five exercises are the most popular workouts for developing your lat muscles. As usual, if you've had previous back injuries or pain, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. And to prevent injury and strain, start slowly and work your way up.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Are Calorie Counts On Menus Accurate?

Shocked by the staggeringly high calorie counts on the menu at your favorite restaurant? Then you’ll like this news even less: 20 percent of the menu items tested in a recent study contained significantly more calories than what was listed. On average, those foods — all of which fell into the low-calorie category — averaged 100 calories more than what the restaurants claimed, with one hiding an extra 1,000 calories in its dish. Researchers collected samples of 269 food items from national fast-food and sit-down chain restaurants, then compared their laboratory measurements with the restaurants’ stated calorie counts. Sit-down restaurants tended to be less accurate in their estimates, because the food is prepared and portioned out by workers, whereas fast-food joints measure their dishes mechanically at a factory. While 100 extra calories may not sound like much, that can add up to 10 pounds of weight gain over the course of a year. Since the average American eats 34 percent of their calories outside of the home, those unaccounted-for calories can add up quickly.