Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fun in the Sun: How to Keep Cool

Outdoor exercise can be challenging when the temperature soars. Stay safe during hot-weather exercise by drinking enough fluids, wearing proper clothing and timing your workout to avoid extreme heat.

In the excitement of a pickup basketball game or the relaxation of a friendly round of golf, you might not notice the temperature rising - but your body will. If you exercise outdoors in the heat, use caution and common sense to prevent heat-related illnesses.

How hot weather affects your body

Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your heart and lungs. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature increase your body temperature. To dissipate heat, more blood circulates through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which increases your heart rate. If the humidity is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn't readily evaporate from your skin - which only pushes your body temperature higher.Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you're exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long. The result may be a heat-related illness, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

How to avoid heat-related illnesses

To keep it cool during hot-weather exercise, keep these basic precautions in mind:

Take it slow. If you're used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first. As your body adapts to the heat, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts. If you have a chronic medical condition or take medication, ask your doctor if you need to take additional precautions.

Drink plenty of fluids. Your body's ability to sweat and cool down depends on adequate
cooling by letting more air pass over your body. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb the heat. A light-colored hat can limit your exposure to the sun.rehydration. Drink plenty of water while you're working out - even if you don't feel thirsty. If you're planning to exercise intensely or for longer than one hour,consider sports drinks instead. These drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol, which actually promote fluid loss.

Dress appropriately. Lightweight, loosefitting clothing promotes sweat evaporation and cooling by letting more air pass over your body.Avoid dark colors, which can absorb the heat. A light-colored hat can limit your exposure to the sun.

Avoid midday sun. Exercise in the morning or evening - when it's likely to be cooler outdoors - rather than the middle of the day. If possible, exercise in the shade or in a pool.

Wear sunscreen. A sunburn decreases your body's ability to cool itself.

Know when to call it quits

During hot-weather exercise, be on the lookout for heat-related illness. Signs and symptoms may include: Weakness, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, or rapid heartbeat.

If you suspect a heat-related illness, stop exercising and get out of the heat. Drink water, and wet and fan your skin. If you don't feel better within 60 minutes, contact your doctor. If you develop a fever higher than 102 F (38.9 C) or become faint or confused, seek immediate medical help.

Regular physical activity is important - but don't let hot-weather workouts put your health at risk.

Muscle of the Week:
3 moves that target your CHEST


1.Lie back on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand atop your thighs. The palms of your hands will be facing each other.

2. Then, using your thighs to help push the dumbbells up, lift the dumbbells one at a time so that you can hold them at shoulder width.

3. Once you have the dumbbells raised to shoulderwidth, rotate your wrists forward so that the palms of your hands are facing away from you. This will be your starting position.

4. Be sure to keep full control of the dumbbells at all times. Then breathe out and push the
dumbbells up with your chest.

5. Lock your arms at the top, hold for a second, and then start slowly lowering the weight. Tip Ideally, lowering the weights should take about twice as long as raising them.

Repeat the movement for the prescribed amount of repetitions.

When you are done, place the dumbbells back on your thighs and then on the floor. This is the safest manner to release the dumbbells.


1. Lay down on a flat bench holding a dumbbell in each hand with the palms of the hands facing towards the ceiling.Tip: Your arms should be parallel to the floor and next to your thighs. To avoid injury, make sure that you keep your elbows slightly bent. This will be your starting position.

2. Now move the dumbbells by creating a semi-circle as you displace them from the initial position to over the head. All of the movement should happen with the arms parallel to the floor at all times. Breathe in as you perform this portion of the movement.

3. Reverse the movement to return the weight to the starting position as you exhale.


1. Lie back on a decline bench with the feet securely locked at the front of the bench. Using a wide, pronated (palms forward) grip that is around 3 inches away from shoulder width (for each hand), lift the bar from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms locked. The bar will be perpendicular to the torso and the floor. This will be your starting position.

As you breathe in, come down slowly until you feel the bar on your lower chest.

2. After a second pause, bring the bar back to thestarting position as you breathe out and push the bar using your chest muscles. Lock your arms and squeeze your chest in the contracted position, hold for a second and then start coming down slowly again.Tip: It should take at least twice as long to go down than to come up.

3. Repeat the movement for the prescribed amount of repetitions.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How Muscle Reacts to Injury and Rehabilitation

Muscles atrophy (get smaller) following broken bones, surgery, or serious illness. British researchers summarized the way in which muscle react to disuse rehabilitation. Following injury or illness, muscles are resistant to normally anabolic stimuli such as myostatin, which normally retards growth, and stimulates biochemical pathways to promote muscle protein synthesis and growth.

Rehabilitation exercises cause mild inflammation, which triggers the growth of satellite cells and muscle cross-sectional areas.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which slows down muscle rehabilitation. Intensely training athletes should minimize the use of these drugs when recovering from an injury.

(Journal of Applied Physiology, 110: 555-560, 2011)

Shape Up Your Digestive System

It is not always pretty, but your digestive system plays an important role in keeping you healthy. By processing the foods you eat and providing your body with the nutrients it needs to remove waste, it can help you avoid problems such as constipation and heartburn. Here's what to do:

1.) Eat at regular intervals throughout the day

2.) Don't hold it in when you "gotta go" to the bathroom

3.) Avoid fatty, fried foods that upset your stomach

4.) Exercise on a regular basis

Question of the Week:

Q: I like to work out solo, but what are the benefits of a spotter?

A: A spotter can play two roles during your workout: He can observe that you lift with proper technique to avoid injury, and he can prevent heavier weights from falling from your hands.

Your spotter also serves to compliment your final lift by lightly helping you raise the weight when it seems you just cannot go any further.

Very often, this gentle aid will allow you to perform that last rep, which is critical for building muscle strength. Generally, spotters are necessary for upper-extremity workouts such as the bench press or arm work with barbells.

-Carly M.


"It is remarkable how ones wits are sharpened by physical exercise"

liny the Younger

-Pliny the Younger

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Workout Music: Keep Boredom Away While Exercising

It has been proven scientifically the listening to music while working out you will get better results. First you will notice that you will be able to do more exercises at a higher intensity. Second you won't feel as tired after a workout. You feel energized and powerful if you listen to the right kind of workout music. The world is yours.

Getting motivated through music is a pleasure for many people.

Some cannot exercise without listening to some good workout music. The kind that makes your blood flow faster. Of course there are people that could care less about music while working out. But still they should exercise listening to music to increase the effectiveness of the workout. If you go to the gym I hope they playgood workout music. If not an mp3-player full of energetic and rhythmic music would be really helpful and recommended.

You cannot listen to the same workout music regardless of what type of exercises you are doing. For yoga or Pilates exercises, you should choose more calm meditative music that helps youachieve inner-peace. For jogging you need some energizing dance or pop songs. Create a playlist of songs you like that make you feel a rush of energy and start jogging.

A doctor form the English Brunel University has studied for 20 years the effects of music on the athletic performances of athletes. All the testing lead him to the conclusion that the best beat for working out is found in the range of 120-140 beats per minute. You need to listen to such a song while working out to get motivated. Maybe there is a correlation to the fact that your heart beats 120-140 times per minute while you workout,reaching even 160 beats per minute. Usually the rock and dance songs have between 120-140 beats per minute. The name of the doctor is Costas Karageorghis. Also keep in mind that the options are always up to YOU!

A workout music top made by Fitness Magazine includes some of the most enduring and famous songs out there used by people while working out. Here are just some starter ideas for you own personalized workout music list:

  • "TNT" by AC/DC"
  • Walk This Way" by Aerosmith
  • "So What'cha Want" - Beastie Boys
  • "Crazy in Love" by Beyonce
  • "No More Drama" by Mary J Blige
  • "Under Pressure" by David Bowie
  • "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow
  • "Gonna Make You Sweat" by C&C Music Factory
  • "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson
  • "Loser" by Beck
  • "Feelin' Alright" by Joe Cocker

Muscle of the Week:

3 moves that target your HAMSTRINGS


1. Begin with a bar on a rack at shoulder height. Rack the bar across the rear of your shoulders
as you would a power squat, not on top of your shoulders. Keep
your back tight, shoulder blades pinched together, and your knees slightly bent. Step back from the rack.

2. Begin by bending at the hips, moving them back as you bend over to near parallel. Keep your back arched and your cervical spine in proper alignment.

3. Reverse the motion by extending through the hips with your glutes and hamstrings. Continue until you have returned to the starting position.


1. Put a barbell in front of you on the ground and grab it with palms facing down, grip that a little wider than shoulder width.
Tip: Depending on the weight used, you may need wrist wraps to perform the exercise and also a raised platform in order to allow for better range of motion.

2. Bend the knees slightly and keep the shins vertical, hips back and back straight. This will be
straight up, lower the bar by pushing the hips back, only slightly bending the knees, unlike when squatting.
Tip: Take a deep breath at the start your starting position.

3. Keeping your back and arms completely straight at all times, use your hips to lift the bar as you exhale.
Tip: The movement should not be fast but steady and under control.

4. Once you are standing completelyof the movement and keep your chest up. Hold your breath as you lower and exhale as you complete the movement.

5. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.


1. Adjust the machine lever to fit your height and lie face down on the leg curl machine with the pad of the lever on the back of your legs (just a few inches under the calves).
Tip: Preferably use a leg curl machine that is angled as opposed to flat since an angled position is more favorable for hamstrings recruitment.

2. Keeping the torso flat on the bench, ensure your legs are fully
stretched and grab the side handles of the machine. Position your toes straight (or you can also use any of the other two stances described on the foot positioning section). This will be your starting position.

3. As you exhale, curl your legs up as far as possible without lifting the upper legs from the pad. Once you hit the fully contracted position, hold it for a second.

4. As you inhale, bring the legs back to the initial position. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Shorter People More Prone to Heart Attatcks

Body size has a lot to do with longevity and the risk ofheart attack.

A study from the University of Tampre Finland found that men shorter than 5'6" and women shorter than 5 feet were 1.5 times more likely to develop coronary artery disease than taller people and had a 52 percent higher chance of dying prematurely from all causes.

The researchers speculate that smaller people have smaller arteries that are more easily clogged with plague. Their conclusion was based on a meta analysis of 52 studies. Shorter people should pay extra attention to modifiable risk factors of heart disease such as lack of exercise, obesity, smoking and high-fat diets.

(European Heart Journal, 31:1802-1809, 2010)

Watermelon Lemonade

Serving: 6 ounces

6 cups 1-inchcubes seedless watermelon (from about a 5lbs melon)
1 bottle (10oz) 365 Everyday Value®
Organic Lemon Juice
6 cups water
¾ cup cane sugar
Crushed ice
Mint sprigs, for garnish

Working in batches as necessary, puree watermelon and lemon j
uice in blender until smooth; transfer to a large container. Add water and sugar; stir until dissolved. Pour over ice in tall glasses, garnish with mint and thin slices of watermelon, if desired and serve.

Nutrition per serving:
60 Calories (0g from fat)
0g total fat
0g saturated fat
0mg cholesterol
0mg sodium
15mg total carbohydrate (0g dietary fiber, 13g sugar)
0g protein

Question of the Week:

Q: What is the difference between chin-ups and pulldowns?

A: Of course, there's the obvious: With chin-ups you pull your body weight upward and with pull-downs you pull a weight downwards. However, there is no immediate difference between the muscles worked; both moves hit your latisimus dorsi as well as your rhomboids, teres major and minor, biceps and core. There is a big difference in difficulty though, with pull-ups being more challenging. Since a pulldown station allows you to change the weight, you can adjust it to suit your ability level, which makes it ideal it ideal for beginners. With chin-ups, however, you're moving the weight of your own body, which requires a ton of body and grip strength to perform. To develop adequate pull-up strength, try using an assited pull-up machine at your local gym or utilize a Superband to alleviate some of your body weight.


"Pain is temporary, quiting last forever."

-Lance Armstrong

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Low Back Pain - Numerous Causes

Iliotibial Band Tightness

Illiotibial band tightness creates an increased risk of lateral knee injury during knee extension activities. Iliotibial band friction syndrome (ITBFS) is a cause of diffuse tenderness over the lateral knee. While weight bearing during knee flexion, the Tensor Fascia Latae contracts to assist the other hip abductors stabilize the pelvis from lateral movement and the Gluteus Maximus extends the hip for forward locomotion. Both the Tensor Fascia Latae and the Gluteus Maximus can place tension on the Iliotibial tract which produces repetitive friction on the lateral epicondyle. Furthermore, hip abductors weakness can exasperate this pull on the Iliotibial tract by allowing the hip to sag slightly when standing on a single leg, or during locomotion (Fredericson, et. al. 2000).

Ankle Dorsiflexion Inflexibility

Dorsiflexion flexibility is required during the lower phases of the squat and leg press, so Ankle Dorsiflexion inflexibility can make it difficult to perform squat and leg press exercises in full range of motion. If the range of motion of the ankle is limited, hip flexion may be exaggerated and knee flexion is often inhibited. To maintain normal range of motion in both the hip and knee, the heel may have a tendency to leave the floor or platform.

Hip Flexor Inflexibility

Increased risk of lower back injury during hip flexion and extension and overhead standing activities. During extension activities, the lower back can hyperextend more than usual if the hip cannot fully extend. During hip flexion activities, the Iliopsoas can hyperextend spine during hip flexor activities. Risk is compounded when hip flexor inflexibility is combined with abdominal weakness.

Abdominal Weakness

Increased risk of lower back injury can occur during hip flexion, extension, stabilization and back extension activities. Erector Spinae muscles can hyperextend lower back more than usual if abdominal muscles are weak. The abdominal muscles tilt the pelvis forward, improving the mechanical positioning of the Erector Spinae, specifically when the lumbar spine becomes straight. When abdominal strength/endurance is not adequate to counter the pull of the antagonist Erector Spinae under load, these low back muscles are put at a mechanical disadvantage (active insufficiency) further placing additional stresses on these very same lower back muscles. Iliopsoas can pull on the spine during hip flexor activities if the abdominal muscles are weak. Risk is compounded when abdominal weakness is combined with hip flexor inflexibility.

Erector Spinae Weakness

Increased risk of lower back injury occurs during lumbar spine extension or stabilization activities. Back extension exercises involving complete lumbar spine range of motion have demonstrated primarily excellent or good results for those with chronic lower back pain. Excellent or good results by diagnosis: 76% Mechanical / Strain, 72% Degenerative, 78% Disc Syndrome, 75% Spondylo. In contrast, McGill condemns the use of isolated lumbar spine exercise apparatuses and argues erector spinae endurance is more important than strength.

Low Back Debate

McGill condemns the use of isolated lumbar spine machines claiming the compressive forces of these devices can cause disc herniation based on a pig spine model. Nelson recommends the use of these devices and has successfully used these devices to treat chronic low back pain. See Erector Spinae Weakness. McGill suggests certain exercises and movements that flex the spine through the full range of motion be should be eliminated although he admits several thousands of cycles under a load to full range of motion are required to produce disk herniations. It can be argued that potential injury would be prevalent in this situation not due to full range of motion, but rather due to overtraining or lack of progressive adaptation. Nelson explains the avoidance of full range of motion during exercise is a short term solution which promotes deconditioning and consequently deterioration of the joint structures. Eric Serrano, MD, ( medical advisor) suggests these machines can be useful in the early stages of rehabilitation. Dr. Serrano prescribes more functional movements as the patient progresses, introducing transverse / multiple plane exercises in the later stages, particularly with athletes. Also see adaptation criteria and Dr. Nelson's audio interview.

McGill Stuart (2002), Low Back Disorders, pg 55.
Nelson, B.W., O'Reilly, E., Miller, M., Hogan, M. Wegner, J.A., Kelly, C., (1995). The clinical effects of intensive, specific exercise on chronic low back pain: a controlled study of 895 consecutive patients with 1-year follow up. Orthopedics, 18(10), 971-981.
Nelson, B.W. (1993). A rational approach to the treatment of low back pain. J Musculoskel Med, 10(5), 67-82.

Walking & Low Back Health

Walking may benefit low back health by imposing a rotational torque on the spine at an estimated 8° of rotation. The vertebral disk undergoes this torque along with a slight degree of compressive force from the upper body weight and contraction of the trunk muscles. The torque is impressed on the annular fibers of the intervertebral disks enhancing their rigidity.
Cailliet M (1996). Low back Pain. Soft Tissue Pain and Disability, FA Davis Company Philadelphia. 3; 153-155.

Super Smoothies!

Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie
Natural peanut butter lends texture to this hearty breakfast drink.
· 1/2 cup fat-free milk
· 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
· 2 tbsp creamy natural unsalted peanut butter
· 1/4 very ripe banana
· 1 tbsp honey
· 4 ice cubes
Combine the milk, yogurt, peanut butter, banana, honey, and ice cubes in a blender.
Process until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve.

Nutritional Facts Per Serving:
Calories 410
Total Fat 16 grams
Saturated Fat 2 grams
Cholesterol 5 milligrams
Sodium 289 milligrams
Total Carbohydrate 50 grams
Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Protein 19 grams

Banana Berry Protein Shake
· 1 cup of berries (any mix)
· 1/2 banana
· 1/2 soy milk (or any kind of milk)
· 1 scoop any kind of protein powder (or if you don't have protein power add 1 egg white)
· 3/4 cup yogurt (your choice what kind)
· 1 cup ice

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth.

Nutritional Facts Per Serving:
Calories 274
Total Fat 0 grams
Saturated Fat 0 grams
Cholesterol 4 milligrams
Sodium 170 milligrams
Total Carbohydrate 58 grams
Dietary Fiber 7 grams
Sugars 18 grams
Protein 11 grams

Heart Healthy Snack Ideas

Deeply Colored "5-9 A Day" Snacks

It's hard to get in the recommended 5-9 servings of heart healthy fruits and vegetables a day

unless you eat snacks. Here are some ideas...

  • Small box of raisins + low fat string cheese
  • Grapes, dried apricots or dates + toasted almonds
  • Apple or orange + low fat string cheese
  • Pear or banana + whole grain snack bar (look for 3 or more grams fiber)
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Applesauce + toasted almonds
  • Red, Orange, Yellow Bell Pepper plain or with light dip
  • Mixed Green Salad with light dressing
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Coleslaw with green and red cabbage
  • Mango (fresh or frozen)
  • Pineapple (fresh, canned in juice or frozen)
  • Baby (or big) carrots
  • Celery stuffed with peanut butter or light cream cheese and raisins
  • Figs
  • Cubed watermelon, cantaloupe or other orange melon
  • Sugar free raspberry jello with canned pineapple or pears added
  • Low-sodium V-8 juice


"Success is about having, excellence is about being. Success is about having money and fame, but excellence is being the best you can be."

~Mike Ditka~

"Every game is an opportunity to measure yourself against your own potential."

~Bud Wilkinson~

"There are only two options regarding commitment; you're either in or you're out. There's no such thing as life in-between."

~Pat Riley~

"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will."

~Vincent T. Lombardi~

"Pain is nothing compared to what it feels like to quit."

~Author Unknown~

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

To Eat or Not to Eat Before Exercise

Although exercising on an empty stomach can give you a higher amount of fat burn, it also can cause your body to rely on your muscles for fuel. This in turn means you are losing muscle mass.

The body needs some amount of carbs in order to burn calories and fat more efficiently without looking to the muscles for the fuel it needs. How much you need to eat depends on the type of workout you have planned, the duration and the time of day. clock

For instance, if you are an early morning exerciser, then eating before working out can be a light meal (200 to 300 calories) of carbs and protein. Your foods for exercise do not have to be an elaborate meal. Just make it simple but be sure to include carbohydrates and protein.

Additionally, be sure to hydrate sufficiently as you have gone all night without water. Drink 2 glasses of water upon waking and then have your meal. Wait for about ½ to one hour before working out.

Another helpful tip to prevent stomach cramps is to make your meal liquid like a protein shake. Since you are only waiting less than hour for your workout this can help prevent stomach pains while exercising. Eating before exercise will provide your body with the needed fuel so you can workout longer and burn more calories.

If your workout is during the day or evening and after larger meals, you should wait longer before exercising. You should allow 3 to 4 hours after eating before exercise for big meals and 2 to 3 hours after smaller meals.

If you are planning a workout for less than an hour, you will want to choose carbs that can be easily digested like crackers, bagels and breads. Be sure to make these low fat choices.

However, if you are planning a workout for more thanbread an hour than you want to select carbohydrates that take longer to digest. Foods like bananas or yogurts are carbs that take longer to digest. Additionally, you want to be well hydrated before, during and after your workout, especially during for the longer exercise routines.

Muscle of the Week:

2 Moves that target your TRAPEZIUS


1. Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width as you hold a barbell with both hands in front of you using a pronated grip (palms facing the thighs).

shrugs2. Raise your shoulders up as far as you can go as you breathe out and hold the contraction for a second. Tip: Refrain from trying to lift the barbell by using your biceps.
3. Slowly return to the starting position as you breathe in.
4. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions


1. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand with a pronated (palms forward) grip that is slightly less than shoulder width. The dumbbells should be resting on top of your thighs. Your arms should be extended with a slight bend at the elbows and your back should be straight. This will be your starting position.
2. Use your side shoulders to lift the dumbbells as you exhale. The dumbbells should be close to the body as you move it up and the elbows should drive the motion. Continue to lift them until they nearly touch your chin. Tip: Your elbows should drive the motion.dumbbell shrugs As you lift the dumbbells, your elbows should always be higher than your forearms.
3. Lower the dumbbells back down slowly to the starting position. Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement.
4. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Short Sleep Duration Linked to Obesity in Children and Young Adults

Inadequate sleep in an important risk factor for obesity. Aliterature review of 71 studies by Danish researchers concluded that short sleep duration was linked to obesity in children and young adults, but the evidence was less clear in older adults. Several studies compared energy balance in subjects who slept normally with others deprived of sleep. The sleep-deprived groups gained weight.

Sleep loss causes an increased release of the hormone ghrelin, which boost appetite and slows metabolic rate. The resulting fatigue makes it more difficult to follow a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise. Poor sleep habits could be contributing to the obesity epidemic. Many factors cause sleep deprivation, so it is difficult to make generalizations based on large population studies.

(Obesity Reviews, 12: 78-92, 2010)
Red Juices:

You may be leery of getting too many calories from juice, but don't be with ruby juices like tart cherry and pomegranate. Science supports their health-promoting prowess: The anthocyanins from tart cherries help speed up muscle recovery after strenuous activity; and pomegranate juice's polyphenols help reduce oxidative stress in the body and hardening of the arteries.

No worries about these red juices creating a belly bulge- a four ounce serving is only about 80 calories.

Question of the Week:

Q: How much cardio should I be doing?

A: The amounts of cardio you should be do depends on
your goals. Are you trying to loose weight, maintain it or just improve cadio-respiratory health? These are the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) general recommended guidelines: For weight loss, do 250 to 300 cardio minutes per week; for cardiovascular health, do cardio between 3 and 5 times a week for 20 to 60 minutes. You accumulate these cardio in 10-minute workout bouts or more on most days of the week. In terms of intensity, ACSM recommends using a somewhat hard intensity.

Len Kravitz


" Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

- Will Rogers