Friday, June 16, 2017

Enjoy the Outdoors this Summer

Summertime is here. I love to sit out on the deck in the balmy evenings. I don't like mosquitoes, though. Here are a few ways to keep the little critters at bay:

1. Hunt for breeding grounds
Mosquitoes can breed in something as small as a soda bottle cap. Look for kids' toys, rain gutters, and flowerpots filled with a bit of stagnant water. Ask neighbors to check, too. The insects might be breeding next door and visiting your yard.

2. Blow them away
Mosquitoes are weak fliers. Any breeze stronger than 1 mile per hour is enough to deter them. Bring a plug-in fan out to the deck to create air movement around your legs and feet. Mosquitoes fly low to avoid the wind, so a fan on your face won't protect your feet.

3. Wear the atheleisure look
Reduce your risk of getting bitten by covering exposed skin. Avoid loose-weave fabrics and choose synthetic and athletic fabrics that are tougher for mosquitoes to bite through.

4. Wear repellent
During the dawn and dusk hours, when mosquitoes tend to be more active, spray yourself even if you're just going out for a minute. For a backyard evening, try Picaridin at 15 to 20%. It is safe for kids under 3 and has a light feel that is comfortable to be worn daily.

Enjoy outdoor evenings this summer and avoid the itches!

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, June 9, 2017

Powerful Pushups #3

So far, I have discussed hand and arm position and pelvic position for pushups. This week I will share a technique to progress your pushup practice to a full range pushup. Many of us struggle to fully lower the body to the floor while maintaining the "toes on the floor" plank position. We cut the movement short and settle for the half-rep pushup.

The negative pushup might be just what you need to move from knee plank pushups to full toe pushups.

 

   Give it a try during your next workout session.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Powerful Pushup Position #2

Previously, I discussed hand and arm position for pushups. This week I will focus on the pelvis.

The push-up naturally encourages anterior pelvic tilt (APT) and an arched back due to forces on the body induced by gravity. Contraction of the abs is required to prevent an arched back and keep the hip region in neutral, but further contraction of the glutes and abs will take you into posterior pelvic tilt (PPT), or tucking your hip under. Whether you should enter into PPT is up for debate.

Most trainers would agree that doing push-ups in APT is unwise. As long as you can keep a neutral posture, then all is well. However, some coaches believe that the push-up should be performed with a maximal glute and lower ab contraction to facilitate a strong PPT.

The PPT push-ups have three distinct advantages over the traditional push-up.
  • Since it requires a strong butt and lower ab contraction to create the tilt, it serves as a static glute activation exercise. This allows you to kill two birds with one stone by improving the neural drive to the glutes while working the upper body.
  • By shifting the pelvis forward with your glutes, you're no longer hanging the front of your hips down to the floor. This requires a stronger abdominal contraction as now you're using active muscles to keep you stable rather than passive muscles and ligaments.
  • The extra muscle force from the abs and glutes makes it a more effective core exercise and makes the push-up a "total body exercise."
  • Third, it "locks you in" so there's really no chance of losing core stability. In other words, you maintain a straight line from your shoulders to ankles while you perform push-ups. 



Power out those pushups during your next workout with the mind engaged
 and the body working as a unit.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Powerful Pushup Position #1

I recently read a short article in Shape magazine explaining pushup form that was quite helpful to me. I want to share it with all of you.

Does it matter where my elbows point during pushups?

You basically have three options for where to send your elbows during a standard pushup: wide, tight to your ribs or about 45 degrees back.

"Bowing your arms out wide may cause you to hike up your shoulders, which fires up the trapezoid muscles and can limit your mobility." says Kelvin Gary, trainer at Body Space Fitness. This puts a lot of stress on your shoulders and neck, and it puts you at risk for injury.

When you bend your arms straight back so that your elbows are tight to your sides, your triceps and anterior shoulders take on almost all the work - fine, but you're asking some of your smallest muscles to move your entire body up and down "You'll lose stamina, your form will go out the window, and ultimately you'll likely shortchange results." says Gary.

Direct your elbows about halfway between your shoulders and torso to let your chest muscles kick in. Gary says, "This locks everything into place. The more muscles that contribute to your pushup the more reps you'll be able to do with better form, getting you stronger."

Power out those pushups during your next workout with the mind engaged
 and the body working as a unit.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food 


Friday, May 12, 2017

Cutting Edge Strategies to Improve Willpower

We all wish we had more will power, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. The good news is you can train your brain to get better at controlling your behavior. Here are a few tips from The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal.

Pause and Plan
The fight-or-flight instinct destroys our willpower because it triggers impulsive reactions. Choose the "pause and plan" response. "Your brain needs to bring the body on board to put the brakes on your impulses." Pause and Plan slows down your heart rate and blood pressure stays normal. You take a deep breath and relax your muscles a little. Here's how to do it:

Take a Deep Breath
Slowing down your breathing boosts your sense of self-control and allows you to respond more effectively to difficult situations. Deep breath shifts the brain and body from a state of stress to self-control mode, capable of handling cravings and challenges. Aim to make your exhale longer than your inhale.

Meditate
Daily meditation can increase neural connections to help you to stay focused, ignore distractions and control impulses. Incredibly, increased blood flow can reshape your brain quickly resulting in increased self-awareness and improved self-control.

Get Moving
Exercise can increase your willpower. Brains of new exercisers show increases in both gray matter - brain cells - and white matter, the insulation on brain cells that helps them communicate effectively. Exercise to feel energized and in control throughout the day. 

Use these three effective strategies; slow breathing, meditation and exercise; to keep will power saboteurs like depression, anxiety and chronic pain at bay. Reap the rewards of improved health and happiness.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, May 5, 2017

Magnesium for Health

Magnesium is important to maintain good health. It is a catalyst in many processes throughout the body. Yet hardly anyone gets enough. Ty Vincent, an integrative physician, says, "(Magnesium) is in lots of different foods, but because the soil they're grown in is often nutritionally depleted, it's difficult to consume an adequate amount." He suggests supplementing with 600 mg per day and notes that there are certain circumstances where 1000 mg may be beneficial. Magnesium regulates your blood pressure and helps to maintain strong bones. You might choose to supplement if...

You lead an active lifestyle
Magnesium is important for muscle functioning.  When you workout a lot, your reserves are used up quickly.

Your morning coffee extends to the afternoon
Drinking lots of coffee (or other diuretics) causes your kidneys to excrete large amounts of magnesium into your urine.

You suffer from frequent back pain, tension headaches or migraines
The mineral relieves muscles spasms, including those in your back and head.

You have chronic sleep problems
In addition to unkinking muscles, magnesium helps your body produce the sleep hormone melatonin.

You're often constipated
Magnesium helps by pulling water into your colon and improving muscle function. Look for magnesium glycinate which is easiest on the stomach.

Dr. Vincent recommends pairing the supplement with 50 to 100mg of vitamin B6, as these nutrients often work in tandem. Check with your doctor to see if magnesium supplements are right for you.


Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, April 28, 2017

Backpacking!

I'm backpacking for the first time this weekend! There’s something inherently satisfying and refreshing in traversing a span nature for a period of time with nothing but what you can carry on your back. From the invigorating sights to the quiet moments of self-reflection, backpacking the outdoors provides a number of health benefits ranging from physical to mental to spiritual.

Cardiovascular strength – Because backpacking requires covering large distances, usually by walking  up and down hills and mountains, the heart has to pump harder to keep up with the oxygen demand. Though trekking is not necessarily a highly intense sport, the heart rate does maintain a steady, increased rate, increasing blood flow to the muscles and the brain.

Toned Muscles
Straight-up walking can get your butt in better shape, but taking on sharp inclines, using trekking poles to propel you forward and clambering over rocks gives your body an all-over workout.
Physiologically, you're going to work your whole body, and especially the lower body — namely the quads, glutes and hamstrings. If you're carrying a pack, then you're going to challenge the strength and endurance of your upper body as well.

Builds strong bones – Trekking requires optimum effort from the human body, as it requires stretching, jumping, climbing and dodging at several intervals.  Such small burst of exercises at regular intervals during a trek help make bones stronger. Backpackers also have the added beneficial burden of carrying supplies which means added weight on the shoulders and spine. If carried properly, this weight training can help add on bone density thereby achieving overall fitness. Hiking regularly will decrease your chances of developing osteoporosis and arthritis. If you have arthritis, studies have shown that 150 minutes of hiking per week will maintain flexibility in your joints and decrease joint stiffness. 

Camaraderie with your cardio.
A study published in Biology Letters found that group exercise heightened pain threshold, indicating a surge of an athlete's best friend: endorphins. Social group dynamics and working with like-minded hikers is something that makes people feel better. Hiking can help build long-term friendships that keep you accountable to your fitness. A regular weekend meet-up or a planned long-distance trek can help you forge bonds while you shape up.

Mental benefits – Stress can disrupt your everyday life, causing health problems and depression. Taking in the fresh air and nature around you while hiking is a great way to help improve your mental health, and it is believed to also improve memory and functionality of the brain. Breathing in the fresh air, as well as seeing plants and animals can also give you a better appreciation of the world and a sense of calmness and joy.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food