Friday, April 25, 2014

Exercises to Increase Bone Density

In general, activities that involve impacts with the earth, such as running and jumping, are the most effective way to improve bone health. They create ground-reaction forces that move through your bones and stimulate them to "remodel" themselves and add density. They also entail strong muscular contractions that tug at and slightly bend attached bones, redoubling the stimulating effects of the exercise. Weight training does contribute to higher bone density but impact activities show better results.

How much force is needed to stimulate bone growth? One study found that women between 25 and 50 who hopped at least 10 times twice a day significantly increased their hip bone density after 4 months. For active aging exercisers, walking may be sufficient if it is speedy. One study found that post-menopausal women who walked briskly at least four times a week had a much lower risk of hip fractures than women who walked less often, more slowly or not at all.

Researchers found that odd impacts, created when you move in a direction other than straight ahead, can initiate remodeling throughout the hip bone and spine. Side to side and backwards motion can benefit bone density. Tennis, soccer and playing tag with your kids all involve directional change that can stimulate your bones with odd impacts.

Strive to include weight-bearing activities that subject your bones to stress in your workout week. Plyometric movements in boot camp, basketball in the driveway or jogging with your dog all contribute to bone density. If you exclusively cycle or swim, both non-impact sports, add a couple of days of impact exercise or weight training to your program.

Enjoy moving and keep your bones healthy!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Advantages of Urban Rebounding

Urban rebounding is a unique way of jumping on a mini-trampoline. It is a fabulous workout that can add high intensity to your exercise program without high impact. In addition, this form of exercise can stimulate the lymph system and challenge your core strength as you balance on the trampoline.

One major advantage of rebounding is the apparent low level of trauma to the musculoskeletal system. Even so, a study performed by NASA has shown the magnitude of the biomechanical stimuli is greater with jumping on a rebounder trampoline than with running. Urban rebounding can burn more calories than jogging for a comparable time. You can get the heart-rate boosting benefits of a jog without all the pounding.

Another advantage is that the lymph system is stimulated. The vertical motion experienced when rebounding allows the opening and closing of the one-way valves through which lymph flows upward toward the neck. The lymphatic vessels run up and down the body, and the fluid flows toward the neck, so this up and down motion is ideal. As we bounce up, gravity is eliminated for a fraction of a second. As we land, the G-force is doubled and internal organs are put under pressure. Rebounding increases gravitational load, so every cell in the body is stressed in a good way. Research indicates that bouncing just 5 minutes on the trampoline circulates the lymph system one full cycle. The lymph helps detoxify the body, allowing for recovery and healing. Rebounding can also enhance digestion.

Urban rebounding can improve coordination and balance. Working the lower body and upper body on opposite planes stimulates neuroplasticity in the brain and results in improved coordination. The core must be engaged while bouncing, resulting in stronger muscle tone and better posture. The unstable surface of the mat challenges balance for the entire workout.

Always rebound safely. If you have an unstable knee or hip joint, use caution when rebounding. Landing on the flexible surface of the mat may cause unintended rotation and exacerbate the injury. Choose a high quality mini-trampoline with covered springs or bands. Make sure to keep the feet on the mat and not step on the springs or bands.

I teach an Urban Rebounding group exercise class at the Burbank YMCA the first Friday of every month. I hope you can join us sometime. It is an amazing workout and loads of fun.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Maximize the Elliptical Trainer

Sometimes your schedule causes you to miss your favorite class at the gym and you find yourself in the cardio machine room, dismayed by the thought of a boring workout. Or you are nursing an injury and want a workout with less impact on knees or other joints. Or you just want to mix up your regular workout plan. These tips can make your time on the elliptical trainer interesting & effective and make the time fly by while you burn calories and strengthen muscle.

Bun Burner: When striding forward for the entire exercise time, the quads are often more developed than the back of your lower body. To activate the glute muscle and maintain muscle balance, reverse your stride. Drop the hips and steady the body in a lower position. Pedal backward, pressing the heel through the rotation.

Up Tempo: For beginners, aim to get the heart rate to 75% of its maximum. Experienced exercisers should aim for 80- 85% of their max. Try increasing the resistance on the machine in short, 5 minute segments with 1 minute recovery periods.

Mix It Up: Change resistance and speed throughout the exercise to keep the mind and body guessing. Try to shift focus every 2 - 3 minutes.

*Try striding forward then shift to striding backward.
*First push with your right arm only, then the left.
*Sprint for 45 seconds with hands on hips.
*Pull with the arms instead of pushing.
*Squat throughout the stride.
*Do hill sprints - Stride as fast as you can for 30 seconds, starting with medium resistance.Recover for 30 seconds. Each minute, increase resistance until you reach maximum.

While using the elliptical trainer, keep a tall posture and always maintain a bend in your knees and elbows to prevent injury. You can burn up to 512 calories an hour and challenge your body with a great workout anytime with an elliptical trainer.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Help! My kids want to go to In N Out......

When we are trying to eat clean and maintain a healthy lifestyle we are often put in situations that challenge our eating habits. What options do we have?

If you know you will be stopping at a fast food restaurant with family or friends, one option is to plan ahead. I see two ways to approach this:

1. Carry your food with you. You will stay on your plan and not be tempted to make bad food choices. If you can't carry your whole meal with you, snack on healthy items like almonds or baby carrots at the restaurant and then eat well at home.

2. Plan your food intake for the whole day, eating low-fat, high fiber foods at your other meals and make healthy choices at the restaurant.

Sometimes the fast food stop is not anticipated. We can still make better choices. Healthy choices can look different for each person. For example, a vegetarian would look for meatless menu items. A gluten-free person would choose to avoid a hamburger bun. All diners should focus on items that are broiled not breaded or fried. Dressings can be served on the side and used sparingly. Sometimes there are salad offerings. I think everyone knows that french fries are not a healthy side dish!

One easy choice to make is at the beverage bar. Choose water or iced tea. When a person eats a high cholesterol meal, tea actually helps counteract some of the unhealthy effects of the food. The liquid sugar choices offered at the beverage bar can cause dangerous insulin spikes and create havoc in your body. Artificial sugar in the diet drinks can cause your body to crave even sweeter foods leading to a vicious cycle. Avoid them.

About a month ago, I went to In N Out with out-of-town family. It's one of the highlights of their trip and I was happy to share it with them. Right now, I am trying to eat gluten-free so I chose the lettuce-wrapped burger (protein style). I got my iced tea to drink and I chose to have the french fries. I made a rule for myself a couple of years ago that I would only eat In N Out fries. Since I only go there a couple times a year, that works well as a special treat. I will admit that I have strayed from my rule recently so I need to get back on track. The day that I have fries, I try to eat well for the rest of my meals.
Sometimes our lives get crazy and fast food is the best option for the moment. Be realistic as you journey through the seasons of your life. And remember... 
Enjoy your food!