Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday Eating Tips

Do you have trouble sticking to your diet around the holidays? With one irresistible temptation after another your good intentions can easily turn into, "I'll get back on my diet after the New Year, " giving you an excuse to indulge in holiday feasts full-boar and binge all season long.

Rather than expecting to regain your freshman-15 this holiday season, try a new approach. You can now enjoy delicious holiday foods without overindulging and becoming uncomfortably full!

Follow these easy steps to get you through the holidays.
  • Make a decision beforehand to eat in moderation. -Limit portion sizes and stop eating when you are full. Try not to partake in seconds unless it’s a freshly steamed vegetable (will fill you up without the added calories).
  • Set a personal goal and stick to it! (ex: allowing yourself only one serving of each food item, or not having to unbutton your pants halfway through the meal from being overstuffed)
  • Limit your appetizer feast! If appetizers are served, keep in mind that the main meal is yet to come. Limit yourself to just a few, or skip them all together.
  • Beware of the Nut Bowl! Watch out for sneaky calories in the form of bowls of nuts and candy. Move away from the temptation if you have to as these are very easy to grab handfuls of without realizing how many you’ve eaten.
  • Consider plate size: Choose a smaller plate or imagine a food boundary line. We typically eat with our eyes, so eating from a larger plate gives us the green light to eat more food. However, eating from (or imagining) a smaller plate physically limits the amount of food and you'll be just as satisfied without becoming overstuffed.
  • Beware the Buffet! Avoid it if possible, as buffets guarantee overeating. If you can’t avoid it, survey the buffet beforehand to decide which foods you will eat and stick to the plan. Avoid overload by following the rule of “S“ (Savor Small Samples)*Take a sample of each item instead of a heaping portion.
  • Dismiss the “clean plate rule.” Enact the "lean plate" rule - taking less food or leaving more on the plate ensures that you will take in fewer calories.
  • Save Room for Dessert! If you plan on eating dessert, eat less of your meal. It's ok to indulge, just make sure you are counting those calories. Try splitting desserts with a family member or friend. You will both eat less and still be satisfied. You can also take a sliver of each dessert you want to eat instead of a whole slice or piece. Keep in mind 10 small slices to add up so only take 2 or 3 at most. Sometimes only a bite is all you need.
  • Drink in moderation. Alcohol calories can really add up. Click here for our guide to alcohol. Choose a smaller glass and savor the drink. You may want to avoid shots in favor of enjoying a drink you can sip over a period of time. Alternate one glass of alcohol or other caloric beverage with one glass of water. This will get you fuller and drinking less.

Enjoying the holidays doesn’t mean you have to give up on your diet. Just follow a few of these tips and you’ll enjoy the holidays without packing on the pounds.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Indoor Bicycling: The Wind Trainer or the Rollers?

Winter has arrived. The days are short, you want to exercise, but the thought of heading outdoors into the cold night to ride your bike does not appeal, not to mention that it might be dangerous, even with a light. What to do? Well, you can join a gym for $50 a month, drive to a gym, and then pay another sum of money to take spinning classes, or you could simply ride your own bike in the comfort of your own home.

There are many ways to ride your bike in your own home. The two most popular are wind trainers and rollers. If you are a serious bicyclist who wishes to improve your racing performance, the rollers might serve as your better choice. If you are a beginner who rides for mere fitness purposes, the wind trainer might be the better alternative.

The Rollers:

Rollers are excellent for developing a better "spin" and increased bike handling skills. You actually ride with both of the bike's wheels mounted and spinning against the rollers, this forces you to develop your balance as the bike is not supported by any stationary fixture. The workout with rollers can be more intense as your whole body must go into it as if you were on a bicycle, that is to say, you must concentrate on your upper body for balance as well as your lower body for force. Getting started with rollers can be tricky, but if you mount yourself between a doorway and some furniture, you will be able to balance yourself in case you start to sway one way or another. The cyclist who trains with the rollers will ride smoothly and perfectly straight once the springtime training rides arrive.

Rollers tend to be about the same price as other trainers. They come with plastic or aluminum drums (the actual rolling devices) with the aluminum tending to be of higher quality. Yet, rollers tend to have less resistance than other trainers. It is possible to alleviate this problem by adding an additional resistance unit or purchasing a roller with smaller drums for greater resistance.

The costs of rollers vary. Performance Bike carries its own brand of "Technique Pro Rollers" that range from $139.99 to $219.99. Another popular brand is CycleOPS Rollers that cost approximately $199.99. The quality, durability, and versatility of these rollers vary by price and brand.

The Wind Trainer or Turbo Trainer:

This type of trainer is more stable than the rollers. Usually, either the front or rear wheel is fixed to the wind trainer and a resistance device is used to provide tension. With this sort of trainer, it is easier to stand out of the saddle, do single leg drills, and even just watch TV. Yet, since balance isn't much of an issue here, it is easy to get lazy and lose your riding form. If you wish to keep your neck and back muscles in proper form for road riding, be sure to focus on keeping the proper form.

A wind trainer workout provides an excellent controlled environment for cycling drills and allows you to focus on your pedal technique, as you need not worry about balance or running into moving vehicles. The wind trainer is also especially useful since it allows you to adjust the resistance, whereas the rollers do not.

There are a few different types of wind or turbo trainers. Some are hydraulic and others are magnetic. Ask you local bike dealer for more information or check out Bike Nashbar or Performance bike for a full catalog of bicycling accessories. Minoura and Blackburn are popular manufacturers. On the lower price end is Minoura's Ergo-10 Mag Trainer, which tends to be quieter, has a stiffer frame, and a wide range of resistance. This model costs approximately $99.00. A newer and more expensive model by Minoura goes for about $149.00 and is purported to be smaller, smoother, and absolutely silent. Blackburn's low end trainer goes for about $149.00 and has a 3-level magnetic resistance unit. Blackburn's $229.00 model has five levels of resistance and a flywheel that mimics the true feel of the road.

Have fun this winter!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Body Fat Measurement:The Facts on Why, How and How Much

If you're exercising regularly, chances are that your body composition is changing. Muscle weighs more than fat, so your body fat can be dropping and you won't see a change on the scale. One thing that could be happening is that you are losing bodyfat and replacing it with muscle. How then can you know if this is happening to you? And if you lose weight, how do you know if you're losing the fat you want to lose, or muscle tone instead?

Body Fat Measurement - Not Just For Athletes Anymore!
A body fat measurement is the best way to track your lean muscle mass versus fat mass over time. Even very slim people can have dangerously high body fat levels, which are correlated to certain health risks. Having too little body fat can be dangerous as well (although most of us will never run that risk!).

There are several ways of measuring body fat. These include hydrostatic weighing, calipers, and bioelectrical impedance. Hydrostatic Weighing is considered the "gold standard" of bodyfat measurement. This is where you get submerged in a tank of water, expelling all the oxygen from your lungs. Unfortunately, it's very expensive - about $200 or more per "dunking" from what I've seen.

Some gyms offer bodyfat measurements for free or a nominal fee by their personal trainers; unfortunately, these are almost always done with calipers. Calipers are small plastic devices that are actually clipped to your side (and arm, and thigh) to measure the thickness of the fatfolds there. The accuracy of this type of measurement is also dependent upon the quality of the calipers and the skill of the technician. These skinfold measurements are then compared to a chart that calculates your bodyfat based upon your age. Unfortunately, there is no accounting for your height, weight or bone structure in these charts. So the same percentage would be given to a 5'2" small boned woman weighing 100 pounds as to a 5'9' large boned woman weighing 155, as long as they were both the same age. Maybe it's just me, but the logic behind using a fixed number to calculate a percentage of bodyfat, without taking the other factors into account just doesn't make sense to me.

There are also some new devices on the market that measure your bodyfat in the privacy of your own home using Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). BIA is a measurement of the electrical resistance in your body. A tiny electrical current is passed through your body, either from hand to hand or foot to foot. These units measure the resistance they encounter, and calculate that into how much of your body mass is fat versus muscle. They use your height, weight and exercise frequency to calculate your bodyfat. These used to cost up to $300; however, you can now get a personal BIA bodyfat analyzer for under $50! Let's look at two different types of bioelectrical impedance bodyfat analyzers specifically.

Bioimpedance Analyzers:
Two examples of bioimpedance bodyfat analyzers are the Tanita Bodyfat monitor/scale and the Omron Body Logic Body Fat Analyzer. These both use bioelectrical resistance to calculate bodyfat, but are slightly different devices. If you're interested in tracking your bodyfat, you might want to consider one of these devices. Let's look at how these two work specifically.

The Tanita Bodyfat Monitor/Scale looks like a regular scale, somewhat. It sits on the floor, and has a little digital readout at the top. There are two small metal plates on each side, though, for your feet. You first program in your age, height, and athletic background (whether you workout 4 times a week or more) and set that. You only have to do this once, then the unit stores it. You then stand on the scale in your bare feet, and it gives you your accurate weight as well as a percentage of bodyfat. This takes about 8-10 seconds total, and is extremely accurate.

Tanita sells scales that are for one, two or four users; for adults only or for adults/teens; and for everyday users or everyday/athletes. The list prices on these $74.99 - $254.99; however, I have seen these on sale online for as low as $59.95!

The Omron Body Logic Analyzer differs from the Tanita scale in several significant ways. It still uses bioelectrical impedance to measure bodyfat; however, it does so through the hands not the feet. This is a smaller device, about the size of a video cassette case, that you hold in your hands. You enter your personal information (height, age, athlete level - if appropriate - and age) into the unit. It can store up to four users in the memory, so you only have to program it once. Then you hit start and in seconds the analyzer tells you your bodyfat in both percentage and pounds.

There are two models of the Body Logic device. The HBF 300BL is the "Pro" version and has a keypad to enter your data with. This is the more expensive model, probably more appropriate for high volume users who need to enter a lot of different people's data quickly (like schools or personal trainers, etc). The HBF 301BL is the home user model, where you have to scroll through the options to enter your data but you can still store it in the memory, and this sells for far less (retails for $99 but it's on sale at for under $33. With either unit you have to enter your weight into the equation, which makes it good for people who already have a scale or aren't trying to lose weight, just body fat.

So What's Right for Me?
When you look at a body fat scale, you have to decide if you really are concerned about your bodyfat, or just your weight. If you are exercising and want to feel like you are accomplishing something (even when you hit those plateaus) and/or you are concerned about your overall health and want to focus on more than just your pure weight, bodyfat measurement can be a useful tool for you. For example, if you lose four pounds, don't you want to know that you lost four pounds of fat, not of muscle?

If you already have a good scale, especially if your weight is not changing (or not changing rapidly) the Omron device may work well for you. It's handheld, a little less expensive, and tells you your bodyfat in both pounds and percentage. It's also small enough to tuck in your gym bag or backpack, and you don't have to have bare feet to use it.

If you are trying to lose weight and like a very accurate scale, the Tanita body fat monitor/scale may be a better match for you. You do need bare feet to use it; however, it gives you your weight and body fat percentage in only a few seconds. It sits on your floor like a regular scale, and can be used as a regular scale (no bodyfat measurement) if you prefer.

Some tips for bodyfat measurement:

  • Always try to measure your bodyfat at the same time of day (once a week should be sufficient to monitor changes)
  • Try to measure your bodyfat when you have not had anything to eat or drink within two hours, especially no alcohol or caffeine
  • Try not to measure your bodyfat immediately after exercising, as you will probably be dehydrated and get a less accurate measurement
  • Measure with an empty bladder
  • First thing in the morning you are usually not well hydrated, so this is not the best time to measure
  • Be sure to research your body fat scale well, to choose the right one for you, and shop around online using a search engine for a good price before buying!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

’Tis the Season to Exercise, Avoid Stress and Eat Healthy

As the holiday season emerges, heralding celebration and excitement, it also brings stress and conflict. Trips to the mall, family gatherings, office functions and community events take priority over exercise and healthy eating. Consider making this holiday different by planning to eat moderately, setting aside time to exercise and keeping your stress level low.

The holidays may be just the time you need to exercise the most. For exercise, devise a sensible plan on how you'll fit it in. Now would be a perfect time to recruit a friend to exercise with you. This could provide you with the motivation you need during this busy time of the year. If you usually attend an exercise class but now need that time to shop, consider having your instructor recommend a video similar to your class that you can use at home at your own convenience. Exercise also enhances sleep quality and reduces feelings of depression, which are often present during the holidays. The extra boost you get from a good workout can give you the energy and stamina you need to get you through your busy days and nights.

Stress increases your heart rate and blood pressure; muscles tighten and you may experience headaches. Emotional tensions such as irritability, anger and depression often follow. Responses to exercise are exactly the opposite of some of the common stress responses: reduced heart rate, blood pressure andincreased flexibility, strength and endurance. Exercise also burns up hormones produced by your body when you're under stress. It's easy to miss out on sleep during the holiday season. Adequate sleep restores energy and is essential for stress management. If loneliness is a source of your stress look for an opportunity to volunteer for those who are less fortunate. Consider a yoga videotape or going for walks. Be organized by making a list of things to do. Plan ahead. Waiting "until the last minute" only creates more stress. Do not over-commit yourself. Chose carefully what you really want to do and say "no" to the rest, giving yourself a realistic schedule. Do less; enjoy more!

Remember to eat moderately when you are indulging in those goodies. Focus on making smart choices. Too much alcohol, caffeine and fatty foods can make you tired and more irritable. Too much caffeine acts in the same way as too much stress, so caffeine can make stress symptoms worse. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate and some sodas. Alcohol is a depressant and can aggravate stress and will stimulate your appetite. It is also high in calories when mixed with sweetened beverages like soda and juices. Try to eat healthy when you're not at gatherings and avoid going out to lunch this time of the year.

However you choose to spend your holidays, make them safe and have a happy healthy holiday season!

Diet and Exercise Go Hand In Hand

Gradual changes in diet and exercise are the keys to developing a healthy lifestyle. Many diets offer quick fixes and rapid weight loss that over the long haul prove not to be effective. Losing weight and body fat is a life-long goal to maintaining a strong, healthy body. Gradual changes in your eating habits and incorporating exercise into your daily routine will guarantee success. It is important to not only assess what you're eating but also the intensity, frequency and duration of your exercise. Food and exercise logs are handy in keeping track of the types of foods and how much you're eating as well as how long and how many times a week you are exercising. The facts are more realistic once down on paper. Exercise is essential to a healthier body. Aerobic activity, defined as using the large muscles of the body repetitively and rhythmically over an extended period of time, should be combined with strength training for optimal results.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Meat vs. the Alternative

Just a few short days ago, I sat down to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house and discovered that she was serving a dish known as "Tofurkey." It looked and smelled like turkey, but as you may have guessed, it tasted nothing like the traditional Thanksgiving bird. Not that it tasted bad, mind you, just different.

The popularity of what are commonly referred to as "meat alternatives" (such as Tofurkey) is on the rise. Alternatives to meat include such products as tofu (made from soybean curd) eggs, seeds, nuts, legumes and complementary vegetables and grains. According to one source, sales of meat alternatives have increased by almost 89 percent during the past four years. It's estimated that over 12 million people in the U.S. are vegetarians and greater than 77 million are working to decrease their intake of red meat. Different reasons for this trend include growing concerns about the ethical treatment of animals, global ecology, and health and wellness. The health benefits of choosing meat alternatives over meat may be related to dietary fat intake and phytonutrients present in foods of plant origin. Many animal products tend to be high in saturated fat. Epidemiological studies suggest that those who consume large amounts of animal products high in this type of fat are at a much greater risk for developing certain types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.

Even so, meat is considered an important part of a well-balanced diet because it is a good source of protein and is needed for growth and maintenance of a healthy body. Proteins are comprised of amino acids, nine of which are essential to human beings. The body either cannot make or cannot synthesize enough of these particular amino acids and must be obtained in the diet. The importance of a complete array of essential amino acids cannot be stressed enough. They are the "building blocks" of proteins within the body, the functions of which include fluid balance, immune function, muscle growth and maintenance, and structure. In addition to protein, meat is a valuable source of nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12. The downside is that certain types of meat are also high in saturated fats.

If you are thinking about incorporating meat alternatives into your diet, one factor to consider when choosing a product is protein quality, a term which encompasses completeness, complementarity and digestibility. Food choices that are low or deficient in certain amino acids are considered poor quality. In general, most animal-derived products are complete proteins. Eggs contain high-quality proteins and are considered references for measuring other types of protein. Similarly, yogurt, milk and cheese are also good alternatives to meat. Proteins of plant origin tend to be lacking one or more amino acid, which brings us to the idea of complementarity. It is usually necessary to combine certain plant foods in order to obtain a complete array of amino acids. Such combinations include beans and rice, or tortillas and refried beans. Digestibility refers to a protein's ability to be broken down into component amino acids and absorbed by the body. This characteristic is dependent mainly upon configuration and other factors in foods eaten with it. Because meat contains a substance known as intrinsic factor, it is more easily absorbed and digested than plant sources. It is very important to consider all aspects of protein quality when planning meat-free diets.

Can foods of plant origin provide us with enough protein to make it worth our while? Yes. The recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for adults, or approximately 15 percent of the daily caloric intake. That's roughly 75 grams of protein per day for someone consuming 2,000 calories. In terms of protein content, one 50-100 gram serving of meat is equivalent to one or two eggs, two tablespoons of peanut butter or 1/3 cup of tofu. Beans in particular are great alternatives because they contain no cholesterol, are high in soluble fiber and vitamin A, and are good sources of protein. In fact, tofu contains more protein than steak on a per-weight basis. However, the protein in meat has a higher bio-availability than that in plants. But with over 70 different varieties of tofu to choose from, many different tastes can be accommodated. Many commercially available products are now available, many of which are soy-based and include items such as texturized vegetable protein and tofu.

Plant-based foods also contain phytonutrients, substances that have generated quite a lot of interest in the nutrition field in recent years. Things like bioflavonoids, carotenoids, isoflavones and others are considered phytonutrients. Some, such as carotenoids have been studied extensively and are known to act as antioxidants. Others include genistein and lycopene, and are under further investigation. The isoflavone genistein is derived from soy and is believed to help lower cholesterol, prevent certain types of cancer and decrease bone loss after menopause. Lycopene is found in tomatoes and may help prevent prostate cancer. These are just a few examples of the potentially beneficial phytonutrients found in foods of plant origin. So even if you enjoy meat too much to ever become a vegetarian, consider trying a meat alternative on occasion. Who knows, you may find that products like Tofurkey are pretty tasty.

Tips For Winter workouts

It's just round the corner, the air is getting crisper and sharper, and the nip just isn't in the bud! Winter is in the air and whether you like the cold or not, here are a few tips to help you modify your exercise routine to your advantage.

Keeping warm while exercising

The most important concern with exercising in the cold is hypothermia, or too much heat loss. Therefore, the primary factor to consider should be: preventing heat loss during exercise. Heat loss is affected by insulation within the body (the amount of fat), clothing and environmental factors such as temperature, wind, whether you're exercising in the air or in water. Each of these factors plays a role in the body's ability to maintain a comfortable temperature during exercise.

Although many people aspire to have a lean figure, people with a little more body fat are better insulated and will lose less heat. Clothing adds to the insulation barrier and is clearly the most important element in performance and comfort while exercising in the cold. One study showed that heat loss from the head alone was about 50 per cent at the freezing mark, and by simply wearing a helmet, subjects were able to stay outside indefinitely.

Clothing is generally a good insulator because it has the ability to trap air, a poor conductor of heat. If the air trapped by the clothing cannot conduct the heat away from the body, temperature will be maintained. Unlike air, water is a rapid conductor of heat. Even in the coldest of temperatures, people will sweat and risk significant heat loss. With this in mind you should choose clothing that can trap air but allow sweat to pass through. By wearing clothing in layers, you have the ability to change the amount of insulation that is needed. Many new products can provide such a layered barrier; however, it is important to avoid heavy cotton sweats or tightly woven material that will absorb and maintain water. These materials cannot provide a layer of dry air near the skin.

Keeping the hands and feet warm is a common concern when exercising in the cold. Lower temperatures cause blood to be shunted away from the hands and feet to the center of the body to keep the internal organs warm and protected. Superficial warming of the hands will return blood flow to prevent tissue damage. Blood flow will not return to the feet unless the temperature of the torso is normal or slightly higher (.5-1.0° F above normal). So, to keep your feet warm you must also keep the rest of your body warm at all times.


While exercising during winter, you need to pay attention to what you wear.

Wear a cap to prevent dissipation of heat, most of which escapes through the headThe closest layer in the body should be cotton to absorb the sweat.
Wearing socks will also absorb sweat and prevent sores from occurring.

Warm up adequately to avoid muscle cramps, strains and sprains, and gasping for oxygen. Warm-ups in the winter take slightly longer than usual.
Moisturize your body adequately to keep it from getting scaly
If you are fair-skinned, applying sun block will help the skin from getting burnt even in the winter sun.
Make sure you hydrate yourself well. The cooler air may not make you feel thirsty and that can be dangerous. Drinking 6-10 glasses of water ensures easy flow of oxygenated blood to the working muscles. And if you're thinking that a no-sweat workout is of no use, banish the thought immediately. Sweating is not connected to how many calories you burn. It will indicate that the fluids in your body need replenishing. Adding a pinch of salt to the water will replace the lost salts.

Winters also brings with it smog and pollution and thus those with breathing problems need to stay away from the early morning and late evening smog and pollution. Because the air is heavier, the pollutants stay in the air, making it difficult to reach very high exercise intensities for this population.

If you are a die-hard swimmer, there is no need for you to be in low spirits. There is hope in the form of alternate aerobic workouts that may not be as refreshing but serve the purpose, nonetheless. Joining an aerobic class or run in an indoor stadium may help get your adrenaline fix. Then splash yourself in a hot shower to get that wet feeling that can be quite invigorating!

If getting up early to exercise is not your cup of tea, change your schedule to an alternate time. Use the morning to catch up on the reading that has been piling up. If you are exercising indoors, make sure the room is ventilated and airy. This will save you from feeling giddy. An occasional fan may be wise to leave on to help circulating the air.

Summer or winter, don't allow the weather to get in the way of your exercise or else you will be the only loser. Keep the above-mentioned guidelines in mind and sprint away.

Monday, November 5, 2007

7 Holiday Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit

"This is not the time of year to start a diet nor a time to deprive yourself especially when there are so many tempting treats. Instead, challenge yourself to make better choices, and maintain your weight. "

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukah are all very special holidays. They are times to be thankful, times to remember, and times to celebrate our religious beliefs. These special occasions also seem to be a convenient time to overlook all the hard work, dedication and sacrifices that have been made to keep our bodies healthy and fit throughout the year.

Although the holidays can be a bit stressful and consuming of our time, we don’t have to succumb to skipping workouts or over indulging in all the holiday treats. With these simple strategies you can avoid adding those extra pounds to your waistline this holiday season.

Be sensible.

This is not the time of year to start a diet nor a time to deprive yourself especially when there are so many tempting treats. Instead, challenge yourself to make better choices, and maintain your weight.

Manage your time wisely.

With all the extra curricular responsibilities we have during the holiday season exercise is the first item eliminated from a hectic schedule. That’s a mistake. Exercise is a great stress reliever and a great way to keep your body and mind energized, as well as your metabolism revved up. Choose two days and a specific time that you will exercise and work your schedule around your exercise time. By strategizing and planning head you can fit your workouts in, even if you have to modify for current regime.

Add little variety.

Try circuit training. When you are really pressed for time, circuiting training is a savior. By combining your weight training exercises with aerobic movements you will keep your heart rate elevated and get through your workout in about half the time.

Give these two 30-minute circuit gym workouts a try.

Warm-up time 5 minutes

Four exercise per circuit / One minute intervals or 15 reps – three sets

Circuit One: (Circuit three times before you fast walk, jog or run on the treadmill)
Lat Pull Down
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
Seated Row
Incline Flys
Treadmill 3 minutes
Total time =15 minutes

(Circuit three times before you sprint)
Cable Curls
Rope Push Downs
DB Curls
Reverse Grip Push-Downs – EZ curl bar
30 Second Bike Sprints (5) sprints total - 30-second sprint - high intensity and 30 seconds at 50% of your high intensity level.
Total time = 16 minutes

Circuit Two: (Circuit three times before you fast walk, jog or run on the treadmill)
Leg Press
Leg Extension
Leg Curl
Lunge Walk
Treadmill 3 minutes, best speed
Total time = 15 minutes

(Circuit three times before you sprint)
Reverse Lunges
Calf Raise
30 Second Bike Sprints (5) sprints total - 30-second sprint - high intensity and 30 seconds at 50% of your high intensity level.
Total time = 16 minutes

Take on a new challenge.

Sign up for cardio kickboxing; body sculpting, or a spinning class. This will commit you to a least one day of exercise a week, at a specific time. A new challenge might be just what you need to kick your metabolism up a notch or two.

No equipment necessary.
If you just can’t get away, working out at home will do the trick. Try this time saving workout.

Execute each upper body movement three times for 12 to 15 reps (or until you are challenged). Lower body movements for 20 reps; perform your *aerobic movements in one to two minute intervals. I suggest circuiting this workout.

*Jumping Jacks
Reverse dips (triceps)
Lunges or squats
Crunches (bicycles)

Yoga is a great way to relieve tension and relax. Focus on your breathing. You might just be surprised at how challenging yoga really is.

Family matters.
Spending quality time with the family is important, especially with the children. Why not choose something out of the ordinary? Bundle up and build a snow family or a snow fort and have a snowball fight. If you live in a warm climate, go for a walk on the beach or get your family together for a game of volleyball or touch football.

The holidays create many happy, life long memories. Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends and most of all, and enjoy yourself.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Baby Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

Ten years ago, I couldn't even imagine that today I would be an aerobics instructor or a runner. Up until 1992, I had never been an athlete of any kind. In fact, my one-month stint as a track runner in high school was as close as I had ever gotten to be an athletic person. All it took was one official race for me to say, 'I quit!'

I started smoking when I was only 12 and continued to do so until the age of 22. Also, by the time I was 18, I was a regular "binge drinker" and well on my way to leading a very dangerous and unhealthy lifestyle.

So how is it a person with so many unhealthy habits could now be leading a life promoting good health and fitness? How does one get "off the couch" and on the fitness wagon?

For me and hundreds of others, the answer is "baby steps." Setting a goal to eliminate one bad habit or start one good habit at a time can increase one's success rate and help create a sense of achievement on a regular basis. Although one's intentions are good when making life changes, trying to change everything at the same time is often just too overwhelming or difficult to achieve.

The first baby step for me was a conscious choice to take control of my drinking. I got married, landed a good job and decided that the picture I had of me did not include late- night parties and binge drinking. Being responsible and having a successful career became a priority.

The second baby step was quitting smoking. Being pregnant helped me with this process because I was concerned about my baby's health, and smoking made me feel nauseous.

I took the third baby step when my second child was about six months old. Overweight and heading into a size 16, I was unhappy with myself and suffering from a low self-image. I knew I needed to do something but wasn't quite sure what. I had been hearing a lot about aerobics at that time so I decided to try joining a health club I could afford and since money was tight, this was no easy task. However, I was able to find an affordable program and was anxious to start.

I will never forget my first day in aerobics class. I had the reddest face of anybody there and literally felt like a "fish out of water." The moves were unfamiliar to me and I thought I was going to pass out from exhaustion. I kept looking at the door and came very close to leaving. Looking at myself in the mirror however made me even more determined. I thought to myself, "If they can do it, I could do it!"

After finishing the class, I felt an incredible sense of accomplishment knowing I had actually stuck to it and completed the class. I became friends with the instructor and she helped me set some realistic weight-loss goals.

After getting into a regular exercise routine, the next baby step was paying closer attention to my eating habits. I had been working with clientele who were following 1,500-calorie diets coordinated by registered dieticians and included eating appropriate portions from the food pyramid. Keeping this in mind, I began a food journal and kept daily records of my food and caloric intake. It was amazing to me how much food and calories I had become accustomed to eating.

The last step was actually becoming an aerobics instructor. I was motivated to do this for several reasons. First of all, getting paid to do something I had grown to love was appealing to me. Second, by scheduling classes that I myself needed to teach, I did not have the option of saying, "I don't feel like going today." Third, I wanted to be able to help others who like me, needed to make changes in their lifestyles to become healthier and more physically fit.

Through this process of baby steps, I was able to lose 25 pounds and I now wear a size 8. I have maintained this size and weight for several years with the exception of having one more child two years ago. It took a little bit more time for me to get back into shape after the birth of my third child, but I'm back into my old jeans and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

In addition, I started running this past year and ran in my very first 5K just last week. I did not win the race, but I did not come in last either. Running 3.1 miles in 26 minutes still seems unreal to me but crossing that finish line gave me another great surge and sense of accomplishment.

The baby steps I started many years ago have literally taught me to run in ways I never thought possible.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Aerobic, Interval and Resistance Training for Endurance

In aerobic and anaerobic training, intensity is measured by the percentage of maximum heart rate achieved or the speed in relation to the distance. Volume is measured by distance traveled times the number of reps if multiple repetitions are performed. Frequency is how often the exercise is performed.

Interval training is a method used to increase the anaerobic threshold, which is the point at which the muscles switch over to anaerobic glycolysis to produce energy. It is also the point at which the amount of carbon dioxide produced equals the amount of oxygen consumed. If the anaerobic threshold is raised, the speed at which one can function aerobically is increased and time of aerobic events is reduced. That can be the difference between a respectable marathon time of 3 hour and an Olympic medal finish under 2 hours and 10 minutes. It is generally stated that aerobic exercise should generally be done at 70-85% of age adjusted maximum heart rate. Maximum Heart rate is often calculated at 220-age for women or 205-1/2 age for men. The Karvonen formula uses a percentage of the difference between the age-adjusted maximum heart rate and the resting heart rate to determine the level of intensity. That percentage is added to the resting heart rate to determine the target heart rate. This is fine for 98 percent of the population. However, there are elite athletes who have a higher maximum heart rate because they are genetically able to generate higher maximum heart rates. That may be part of the reason they become elite. A treadmill or stationary cycle ergometer test where respiration gases are measured is the most accurate method of determining both maximum heart rate, which doesn't change from training and the anaerobic threshold, which does. The anaerobic threshold will increase with the proper type of training. The extent to which it can improve is genetically pre-determined.

The factors that go into producing the ability to run, swim or ride a bicycle farther and faster are both fixed due to genetics and changeable due to performance factors. Aerobic capacity is only part of the equation. Genetic factors that cannot be changed include: lengths of limbs, muscle insertion points on the bones, percentage of slow-twitch versus fast twitch muscle fibers, total number of muscle fibers, body build (somatype) and height.

Genetic factors that can be influenced by training and lifestyle include; lung capacity, size of the heart, size of left ventricle, size of arteries; quantity of red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood, total blood volume, ability to dissipate heat, quantity of fat-burning enzymes in the muscles, balance of strength and flexibility between muscle groups, glycogen storage capacity of muscles and liver, strength of Type I muscle fibers, efficiency of muscle fiber recruitment, and an efficient gait. Training can more easily influence other factors that are not genetically based and knowledge including: mental attitude of perseverance, use of strategy, proper attire, previous injuries, proper conditioning and shoes for weather and road conditions.

Interval training, which varies between short periods of high intensity training with longer periods of low to medium intensity, is a very efficient way to increase anaerobic threshold. An example would be a marathon runner who alternates bouts of running at a 400 meter race pace for one minute with four minutes of marathon pace speeds. This will increase the marathoner's overall speed and allow for the ability to "kick" at the end of a close race. Interval training should be performed on one or two days per week. Off days should be scheduled as needed. Some days should be purely long, slow distances; other days can include intervals. Some days could be intermediate distances at intermediate. One day per week could use another form of aerobic training, especially in the off-season.

Besides increasing aerobic capacity and anaerobic threshold one can increase performance with development of strength endurance in the muscles used in running. That is achieved by performing strength training for the slow-twitch muscle fibers. Start with loads in the neighborhood of 40-60% of one repetition maximum or 12-40 reps. Increase the amount of weight performed with this number of reps. Some strength work (up to 80% of 1 rep max) should be performed as part of the program. That type of resistance training should be performed for one or two mesocycles per macrocycle.

Monday, September 10, 2007

25 Tips for Eating Out Healthfully

1. Plan ahead.

Think about your intent before you eat a meal. Is this a special event or simply a regular meal eaten away from home? Decide how much you want to eat before you look at the menu to avoid "impulse eating." Better yet, if possible, find out what is offered on the menu before you arrive.

2. Balance your meal.

If the meal you’re planning to order is going to be high in fat, such as a fish fry or burger and malt, compensate with low-fat meals before and afterwards. Choose vegetable soup and whole grain bread as a buffer meal, a pasta primavera (vegetables and noodles), or a crunchy lettuce salad. If you select a large portion of meat at a restaurant, balance your diet by choosing primarily grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables at subsequent meals. If you know the restaurant is famous for its desserts, and you plan to have some, then select a lean meal to average it out, such as a broth-based soup and small dinner salad.

3. Take your time ordering.

Look at all the options on the menu. If you’re at a buffet – walk the entire line before making your selections.

4. Read between the lines.

Look closely at the ingredients in menu items. Are they high in fat? Are they served with higher fat side dishes? Is the cream soup made with cream or milk? Is the baked rigatoni smothered in cheese? Can you slim your selections? Ask that sauces be served on the side, that cheese be limited, that mayonnaise be omitted or butter be stricken. Change the menu to suit your needs.

5. Look for menu items flagged as healthful choices.

Some menu items may have a heart or other symbol by them designating them as low-fat or light choices. "Spa" cuisine may also be a tip-off that foods are prepared with good health in mind. Verify with your server that these foods are what they say they are.

6. Peruse the side dishes available.

An entire meal can be made from them and some very healthful, interesting combinations can result if the kitchen is willing to be flexible.

7. Learn menu lingo.

Steamed; grilled; roasted; barbecued; stewed; broiled and baked – are words that indicate a food is probably prepared using low-fat cooking methods. Fried; Alfredo; creamy; with cheese sauce; breaded; battered – are red flags that foods may be high in fat.

8. Ask lots of questions.

Never assume you know how foods are going to be prepared. Verify with your server that the items you order are prepared the way you want.

9. Keep sauces on the side.

If you ask for your sauce on the side, you can control how much is added to foods. Ask that dressings, gravies and other sauces (including dessert toppings) be served separately.

10. Try some new sauce or topping ideas.

Instead of butter for your rolls, ask for marinara sauce; instead of sour cream on your potato, use au jus or a broth; avoid the guacamole – pick salsa instead; skip the syrup on pancakes or waffles or the fudge on your sundae – apply fresh fruit freely.

11. Ask that foods be cooked in broth instead of oil or butter.

Broths have a fraction of the fat found in oil, margarine or butter. Foods prepared with broth can be quite flavorful.

12. Get a bead on portion size.

Ask your server how large the portions are. Visualize a serving size. One serving of meat, poultry or fish is the size of a deck of cards (3 ounces of cooked meat); one serving of a side dish such as potatoes, rice or even broccoli is one-half cup or the size of a tennis ball. Anything greater is considered two or more servings.

13. Eat a reasonable amount.

If portions are excessive, ask your server to box up half your meal before it is served or bring you a container to place the overflow in. Consider splitting an entrée with a friend and ordering a salad or soup accompaniment.

14. Order a kid’s meal.

If eating at a fast food restaurant, ordering a kid’s meal will ensure that portion sizes stay in line. Make your drink selection one with more than just calories – try juice, low-fat milk or water.

15. Avoid the "get-my-money’s worth" trap.

Everyone loves a good deal, but when it comes to food, be careful – it’s a temptation to overeat.

16. Make several trips to the salad bar.

Avoid a pile-on. Make a few trips instead. Start with a lettuce and fresh vegetable course, relax for a few minutes, go back for the pasta and grain salads then try the dessert bar if you still have room.

17. Be light-handed on the salad toppings.

Bacon bits, shredded cheese, croutons, nuts and seeds are high-fat choices. Use them sparingly.

18. Eat slowly.

It takes 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that your stomach is full. Take your time eating to avoid overeating.

19. If you drink alcohol, be moderate.

It contains a significant amount of calories and may actually stimulate your appetite thereby encouraging you to eat more.

20. Eat a little bit at home before you go out.

Grab a handful of carrots, ready-to-eat cereal or pieces of fruit shortly before you leave. This will help take the edge off your hunger and ensure you don’t over-order or overindulge in dinner rolls before your meal.

21. Watch out for the bread or chip basket.

Grab a roll, bread stick or handful of chips then pass the basket to the other side of the table or ask that it be removed. Out of sight, out of mind.

22. Leave food on your plate.

It’s fine. If the amount is significant, bring it home. If not, let it go.

23. Give yourself a signal that you are done eating.

Put your napkin over your plate and push it to the side. It removes the temptation to nibble additional bites of food.

24. Consider an espresso or a sweetened coffee drink for dessert.

It beats a cheesecake in terms of fat and calories – hands down.

25. Enjoy your meal.

Eating out, whether it’s a splurge or not, should be a relaxing and enjoyable event –not an exercise in frustration. Simply remember your healthy intentions and let common sense and balance guide your choices.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Get Fit Basics: Aerobics

We all know that aerobics is good for overall health and fitness. A calorie burning activity? A slimming schedule? An activity that makes your heart strong and increases your stamina? All true but do you know what exactly happens when you do aerobics. The word "aerobic" means "with oxygen" and oxygen is something that you need for almost everything.

Your energy store

Let's start from the beginning: whatever your lifestyle and daily schedule, from a simple housewife to a busy executive you eat food. When you eat, energy comes into your body and gets stored in a chemical form. Much of this energy is stored in the fat cells of your body and remains there until you (your body) need it.

How much oxygen you need

Although the energy reserve that you have is real but just because this energy source is present in your body doesn't mean it can be used involuntarily. Remember this energy cannot be consumed automatically when your body needs it. You actually need one more thing to release this energy? You need oxygen. The more energy your body uses, more the oxygen it needs. During energetic physical activities such as running or rowing your body may need 15-20 times more oxygen than the rest. That's the reason why your aerobic fitness is so vital. It is basically improving your ability to process and deliver as much oxygen as you can. In other words, the more fit you are the more oxygen your body can take in.

Your working systems

Any aerobic activity actually activates your cardiovascular and respiratory system (heart, lungs and blood vessels). These systems are responsible for processing and delivery of oxygen and are benefited more than any other system of the body. You can feel that these systems are actually working during and after an aerobic activity.

Improve the systems

To get the best out of your cardiovascular and respiratory systems you have to make them strong and efficient. Your heart and lungs, the key players of these systems, improve if you put them to hard work. However, you have to keep them working at the higher rate for at least 20 minutes. To deliver more oxygen and make the system strong you can do various activities like cross-country skiing, running, skating, cycling, rowing, brisk walking and swimming. Your heart, lungs and blood vessels all get involved to meet the demands of greater oxygen and in the process all of them become strong. The greatest benefit of aerobics is in the improvement of your heart muscle. It becomes stronger and pumps more blood with each heart beat.

In a nutshell then, it is very important to increase your aerobic capacity (the amount of oxygen your body can deliver to your active / working muscle) as this has a direct impact on your total energy activities and fitness.

Weight loss: Getting Motivated

Losing weight is all about setting goals and sticking to them. After all, you wouldn’t start a business or a project without a clear-cut idea of what you want to achieve, and how you plan to do that. Your weight loss plan deserves the same kind of attention. You need to set goals that are realistic, track your progress regularly and stay committed to your plan.

Setting goals

Setting goals is easy; setting goals that can be implemented is difficult. When you start a weight loss programme, you need to set both short-term as well as long-term goals. This is necessary as long-term goals may seem initially virtually impossible and may lead you to abandon your diet plan. For instance, trying to lose 20 kgs in four months may seem too distant, and you may get discouraged by the slow pace. Nutrition and Weight Control experts at ActiveKarma recommend that you set goals for a period of two months. Setting these is goals is as easy as clicking on MyDietMate.

To stay motivated, you need to feel a sense of success along the way. So start by choosing small and easily unattainable goals, such as restricting eating out to once a week or trying a new exercise. Whatever goals you set, don’t be a slave to them. If your fitness schedule isn’t going according to plan, don’t fret. Take a break and try something different. Keep your goals specific, measurable, achievable and realistic and see how quickly you get to them.

Behavioural Modification

To achieve healthy eating habits, you need to revamp your behavioural patterns. Make a list of your dietary intake and identify the problem areas. It could be that you are eating too much, or are eating the wrong kind of food. Setting and reaching short-term goals, such as eating slowly or putting your spoon down in between bites, would help you achieve your long-term goals. Other behaviour modification techniques which could help you follow healthy eating habits include:

  • Try not to do anything while you eat. Turn off the TV or shut that magazine before you start to eat
  • Eat at the same place everyday, preferably your dining table.
  • Serve yourself small portions and go back if you need more
  • Learn to say no to foods that you know you should avoid.
  • Stock your fridge with healthy stuff so that you eat only that
  • Drink water before you start eating. This will make you full, without adding any calories. .
  • Chew slowly, relax and enjoy your food. Make mealtimes a pleasurable and relaxing activity rather than a rushed affair.
Planning well ahead is one of the key factors in staying motivated. If you did not get time to cook your lunch or you forgot your lunch at home, don’t take the easy way out and order a pizza. Buy some fruit instead. By determining what you should eat will save you a whole lot of calories and fat. Also distract yourself away from unhealthy foods. Do you really need that pizza? Does it fit in with your weight loss plan? Think of other healthy options.

And always focus on small positive changes and concentrate on goals that are achievable and will keep you motivated to adhere to your diet plan.

Breaking Through the Diet Plateau

Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows about the plateau. It's the roadblock that comes after you've lost the initial weight, and you just can't seem to shed another ounce. According to a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association in Atlanta, when you get into a new diet and exercise routine, your body responds to it and you see results. Ultimately, however, your body becomes accustomed to your new routine, and you reach a point when you have trouble taking off those last 5-10 pounds. This can be a discouraging time for a dieter, and what's worse, it can last from a few days to a few months. Here are some tips for hanging in through this frustrating period:

  • Evaluate how you feel: First and most important, you should evaluate how you feel. Don't just focus on how much you have lost. Think if you are feeling healthier, more energetic and have you got that extra zing in your life. Are you sleeping better? Then you are probably continuing to benefit from your workout and diet even if you are not seeing results in your weight. Rather than cutting down your already low-fat diet, may be you need to increase the duration or intensity of your workout.

  • Don't become scale-obsessed: You have normal weight fluctuations, which will be reflected on the scale every day. Seeing these natural fluctuations can be frustrating and sabotage your goal. Nutritionists recommend weighing yourself once a week under consistent conditions. Rather than a scale, use a tape and literally measure your success. Measure your waist, thighs and arms. If the inches are changing even though your weight is the same, you are on the right track. Another way to keep your spirits up during a plateau and throughout the weight-loss process is to have a buddy. No matter how motivated you are when you start a new regimen, you should have someone there to keep you from becoming discouraged, because when we get down, we tend to return to our bad eating and training habits.

  • Keeping a journal is also a good strategy: You should write down what you're eating at every meal and what you did during your workout. A journal is also a good place to express your frustrations to yourself, and also to give yourself some positive reinforcement. You can look back and follow your own accomplishments and refer to it if another plateau comes along.

  • Remain motivated: It’s always easy to give up, but shedding those sticky pounds is what separates the winners from the losers. Find a partner or friend who will support you and boost your morale when the going gets tough, set doable targets and always stick by them.

Fitness Basics: Muscle Relaxation

You’ve probably exercised to lose weight, increase your stamina, keep your cholesterol under control -- but have you ever thought of exercising as a way to relax. Yes, after a hard day’s work there’s nothing like some muscle relaxation. Research shows that complete muscle relaxation requires you to reduce your concentration and mental imagery. The three basic ways to achieve low-level muscle activity are to:

  • Reduce mental imagery. Focus your thoughts away from the problems that are causing your muscles to be tense. Another way to reduce mental imagery is to focus your thoughts on a meaningless word thus reducing mental images of stressful things.
  • Reduce respiration. To help achieve low-level muscle activity, try to slow down your breathing rate. Simply count the number of times you normally breathe per minute. Concentrate on decreasing that number by several breaths.
  • Recognize tension. If you can recognize it, you can learn to reduce it. Contracting and releasing of muscles reduces tension. This feeling of "letting go" helps you recognize the difference between tension and relaxation.
Here are some exercises and activities that can contribute to your good health by reducing muscle tension and induce relaxation. Try to set aside a special time each day to do them.

Elephant Swing

1. Stand with your feet wider apart than your shoulders.
2. Bend forward at the waist, allowing your arms and head to hang down loosely.
3. Gently sway your upper body from side to side, allowing your arms to swing.
4. You may allow your heels to alternately lift off the floor as your weight shifts from side to side.
5. Keep your neck loose.
6. After several swings to each side, let your upper body bob slowly up and down. Repeat several times.

Pen Drop

1. Sit in a comfortable chair, preferably one with arms.
2. Slouch slightly, allowing your legs to rest in a comfortable position.
3. Hold a pen or pencil in your hand as you would hold it to write.
4. Close your eyes and allow your head to hang forward.
5. Tighten the muscles of your legs. Then let the muscles relax
6. Next, slowly try to decrease your breathing rate.
7. Continue until you hear the pen or pencil hit the floor as it fails out of your hand.


1. Lie on your back on the floor, on a couch or on a bed.
2. Spread your arms and legs to your sides, and spread your feet apart.
3. Get comfortable and close your eyes.
4. Contract your leg muscles. Then let them relax.
5. Next contract your arm muscles and let them relax.
6. Slowly roll your head from side to side several times. Then simply lie still for a few seconds.

Practice these techniques and see how they relax both your body and mind.

Sleep Well to Stay Fit

If you think that sleeping for just four hours everyday is enough, you are dead wrong. Many executives and workaholics in particular work through the night surviving on very little shut eye. However, they are only harming themselves and there is evidence to prove this. According to a recent study conducted by American sleep researcher and psychologist James Mass, sleep deprivation makes people stupid, reduces productivity, causes illness, accidents and could even reduce your lifespan.

If that isn't enough to grab your attention, read on for some startling new sleep facts.

The Importance of Sleep

Research has proven that your brain works the maximum while sleeping. It regulates immunity and protects against viral infection. This is how it happens: within the first hour of deep sleep, the growth hormone gets secreted which are essential for bodily growth, cognition, memory, performance and productivity. Mass says that those who sleep for less than 6 hours have disturbed sleep and thus lose out on all these benefits. In fact, he reiterates that cell growth is at its most productive in the seventh to eighth hour of sleep and those who sleep less than this again miss out on this important function.

What you lose

Sleep is of two types: REM or rapid eye movement sleep and delta or deep sleep. Both kinds of sleep have specific benefits for you. While you are in REM sleep your neurotransmitters that are responsible for stimulating and recognizing cells get replenished. This boosts learning and mental performance. REM sleep is maximum in the seventh and eighth hour of sleep and by missing that last one-hour of sleep you miss the biggest REM period and your brain suffers the loss.

Delta sleep, on the other hand, helps to combat middle age fat, loss of muscle tissue and lowered capacity to exercise that arise because of age. The growth hormone that is secreted during delta sleep helps you become smarter and thinner!

Lastly Mass hits the nail on the head by saying that a well-rested person takes about 15-20 minutes to fall asleep while those who fall asleep the minute their head touches the pillow are severely sleep deprived. If you fall in the latter category, it's time you shut your computer now and get some sleep.

If you still can't, here are some tips to help even the most harassed insomniac:
  • Use the bedroom only for sleep
  • Get up around the same time every day
  • Go to bed only when you are sleepy
  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals such as a warm bath (the body has to be of a certain temperature to ensure a good sleep), or brushing your teeth
  • Light reading of about 10 minutes can help fall asleep
  • Keep a regular schedule of eating, taking medications, performing chores so that your body clock runs smoothly. In fact, eat your last meal at least 1 Ѕ hours before going to bed.
  • Try to take a short nap in the afternoon
  • Do not smoke or drink heavily before sleeping.

Here's wishing you a Good Night and Sleep Tight!

Patterns of Weight Gain

Your weight is the key factor in your health. All of us have a certain predetermined weight as disposed to us by our genes but environmental factors also play a very important role. What is most important is your own role in managing your weight.

Weight is gained without much effort and even before you can realize it, it is much above the normal. And then starts the tedious process of weight loss that can sometimes create havoc in your life. Why does this happen even after your best efforts? The reason is that apart from your diet, a number of factors contribute to your weight. So, the best thing is to first understand the pattern of weight and only then decide further.

Factors of weight gain

Lifestyle factors: Sedentary work, little or no physical activity and indulgence all combine to increase your weight. In addition, eating out with an emphasis on high fat and high sugar meals and snacks, alcohol and rich cream based desserts also contribute to your weight. Forcing a child to eat too much food results in childhood obesity and such children tend to be obese adults.

Metabolic factors: Your basic metabolism is the energy required by the body to perform its various involuntary functions. Your activities decide your metabolism. If the metabolism is high, it means you are burning more calories and hence you do not gain weight. But if due to your activity pattern, your metabolism slows down but your intake remains the same then you tend to put on weight. Metabolism is also affected by the hormonal effect such as in pregnancy. Low thyroid hormone levels can result in weight gain but these factors are beyond your control and require medical supervision.

Emotional factors: Your weight is also affected by your emotions. You tend to overeat or under eat when you are emotionally affected. You eat more when you are happy or if you are under depression or vice versa. Both the situations, however, affect your weight. If you overeat, you tend to gain weight and if you under eat you tend to lose weight.

Age factors: As you age, your metabolism slows down. So if you do not reduce your diet slightly, you tend to put on weight. Also as you age your muscle mass decreases and fat increases. Since the muscle decreases we burn less calories. As a result of these two factors you tend to gain weight as you approach the age of 40. Menopausal changes in women are also responsible for weight gain due to hormonal changes.

Problems of excess weight gain

Gaining excess weight makes you overweight and obese. It's as if your body is burdened under the weight of a grocery bag that it has to carry all the time. Don't you get tired after holding a heavy bag for long? The minute you put it down, you feel fine but what about your body? It can't put down the excess weight that it is carrying all the time. So it starts wearing out over a period of time.

Excess weight puts a pressure on your heart and fat in your body tends to clot the blood vessels. This makes you prone to heart diseases. Your joints carry your weight but they are not designed to carry your excess weight. So slowly your joints can also give up and you suffer from joint pains. Apart from these, overweight makes you susceptible to many diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, kidney problems and gallstones.

So it is advisable to control your weight even if you are genetically predisposed to excess weight gain.

Swimming for Fitness

You have to get fit for swimming, true, but the reverse is true as well.

Swimming is a great way to get in shape. You might have experimented with a variety of workout schedules to mould your body into the desired shape and size and yet have seen yourself far away from satisfaction. Well, have you tried swimming? Just try, and try it positively may be it will give you long desired satisfaction at last. The equation is simple; your whole body gets involved in swimming, and that too without any undue straining of muscles. Clearly there are less chances of injury as it is low impact but full body exercise. Apart from this swimming is a fun in itself you love it while doing it, giving a psychological advantage as well.

Have you any doubts? Well, your thoughts may be gliding over those serious competitive scenes of swimming meet, which you see on TV. Well, here is good news; you don't have to be a great swimmer for this enjoyable benefit. You don't have to compete so no fuss and worries, it's all up to you and your strength. Though it is simple and more or less safe but don't forget water needs precautions, the basic ones, and you should always follow them, besides you should follow a good schedule and stick to it for best results.

Intermediate Workout:

Lets take an intermediate workout to fulfil your needs. Though this intermediate workout has enough variety to keep you going for a few weeks. But still, if you are inspired to experiment with different variations on this workout, or you want to modify the distances to fit your skill level-go for it. For example, if this workout seems too difficult at first, try cutting the distances in half. Each week, add 100 yards four lengths to the workout. Remember, for best results; swim at least three times a week.

You should try to avoid choppy, inefficient strokes during your workout and for this remember to reach and follow through with each stroke. Also, try not to breathe every stroke do it for every three or four strokes instead.


Start with a good warm-up. Swim the following routine at an easy pace. 400-yard freestyle, 100-yard kick, 100-yard individual medlay. An individual medley is equal distances of each stroke done successively in this order - butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle. Remember here you have to do one length of each stroke. Are you comfortable with the butterfly? Well, if you are not then replace it with freestyle.

200-yard mostly freestyle.
This is the second step; you have to repeat it three times. Take rest for 45 to 60 seconds between each 200-yard swim. For the first two lengths, do the stroke of your choice instead of freestyle. Take care of your speed; you must concentrate on keeping a steady pace.

25-yard flutter kick.
This is the next step you have to do it at least eight times. Try it using a kickboard, flutter kick at sprint speed for one length. Remember to finish the last ten yards hard and take rest for about 30 seconds between the lengths.

Freestyle ladder
It is the next choice. You have to swim the following distances (indicated in yards) with a rest of 30-second in between each: 50, 100, 200, 200, 100, and 50.

You have to end it properly, for cooling down just swim 200 yards of your choice. Take a note, you must swim easy this time and try to stretch it out.

So, you don't have to painfully pump the iron for fitness every time. Be cool and comfortable. Swim.

Swimming: Warm Up and Cool Down

A warm up and cool down are the two cardinal principles of any sport. The same is true of swimming. If you think that swimming is a slow and low impact exercise and doesn't require warm up, then you are dead wrong. When you start swimming, without a warm up, your blood circulation, heart rate and your body as a whole are in a state of rest. If you start swimming suddenly your body has to change from a passive to an active state in a very short time. This can cause injuries and loss in efficiency. For a safe and healthy swim you need a good warm up and cool down. Even muscle stiffness would reduce considerably because of this.

Warm up for 100%

To get 100% from your swimming your body has to invest a few minutes in warming up. This investment will certainly pay you back in the pool. A warm up makes your body ready for swimming and you actually swim faster and better because of it. It enables your body for a full range of motion in all the strokes. Your muscle fibers get elongated and connective tissues that attach the muscles to the bones get ready for more vigorous activity. Although there is no hard and fast rule for warm up but generally the equation says that, more the muscle mass or age more the time you need for warm up and obviously, cool down. You not only swim better with warm up but you also reduce the chances of injuries and illness considerably.

Cool down

Like warm up you also need a proper cool down. Remember your body changes its phase from active to passive and again this should not be sudden. No doubt your swim may leave you feeling exhausted but don't just stop dead. Remember a cool down with moderate activity is better than one with very little activity. Give your body some breathing space and bring it back to normal with a gradual decrease in activity.

Stretch a little

Simple stretching: While remaining at the edge of the pool put your legs on the wall and than one by one bend both knees while stretching and straightening the other knee. Hold this position for about half a minute and than repeat it with other leg.

Stretch your hamstring: is a very important part of the warm up. To do this, put one foot on the wall and the other at the bottom and straighten both knees. Hold the position again for about 30 seconds before you change the position of legs.

Quadriceps stretching: Hold the ankle of your foot with the same hand and pull it up to your butt. Remember to do it gently and hold the position for about 30 seconds before you do the same with the other ankle.

Back stretch: Your upper body is also an important area, which needs some specific stretching. Do some simple back stretching along with shoulder and arms stretching.
Remember that warm up and cool down is essential and should be done to ensure that you max your swim and fitness levels.

Cool Down After a Workout

Do you experience a tingling sensation in your palms and feet even hours after your exercise session is over? Do you feel bushed after a workout? Or demotivated to exercise again? Chances are that you have not cooled down sufficiently. The cool down is a series of exercises performed to bring the body temperature and functions back to their normal level.

This is an important phase for the body as it gives you time to recover from the demands of exercising and allows you to return to the resting state. During the cool down, your heart is still pumping large amounts of blood in order that the muscles are continuously replenished with energy. You should monitor your heart rate before, during and after the cool down to have definite proof of the body’s cooling down.

A cool down is essential as it :

  • Prevents heart complications.
  • Prevents muscle soreness , spasm and tissue damage
  • Checks dizziness
  • Prevents joint stiffness or instability . This could result from overexertion or damage to connective tissues like tendons and ligaments
  • Increases the flexibility of those areas which you don’t want to stretch during warm-up, such as hamstrings and lower backs.
After a workout the body tries to get back to the resting state. It normally takes about one to two hours for this to happen. Your recovery time is dependent on the intensity and duration of your regimen, your fitness and the environmental conditions in which the exercise was done. The cool-down cycle involves the most rapid changes in the body. Thus, it’s important that you know the right way to cool down. You know you've overdone it when even after many hours and days of the session if you :

  • Are always tense and can't relax.
  • Suffer from anxiety and nervousness.
  • Feel a trembling sensation in your extremities (arms and legs) .
  • Lose your appetite .
  • Have a raised heart rate and your body constantly dissipates heat.
  • Suffer from muscle soreness and joints pain.
  • Don’t feel motivated to exercise.
  • Feel exhausted in the mornings.
  • Sluggishly perform future exercises.
  • Suffer from injuries due to overuse of body parts.
  • Can’t sleep at night.

Thus the cool-down cycle involves the most rapid changes in your body. So it’s important that you know the right way to cool down.

Aerobics: Getting Ready to Exercise

Do you feel that your limbs are locked when you start exercising, you can't seem to stretch as much as you normally should, and there's too much pressure on your muscles? Well, you obviously haven’t warmed up properly. Warm ups are certain light exercises done to prepare the body for more rigorous activity.

Your body needs a warm up :

  • To increase the amount of oxygen for the muscles. This is done by raising body temperature.
  • To increase the tendency of muscles to use this oxygen. This is done by raising the temperature of the muscles.
  • To enable the muscles to contract more, so that they get more power and endurance.
  • To prepare the body for increased cardiovascular activity.
  • It decreases the chances of muscular injury and soreness.
  • It protects the heart from sudden strain.
  • It enables deep & thick muscular groups to raise their temperature without much fatigue.
  • It helps in body coordination by familiarizing the body to certain future exercise patterns.
  • It decreases pulmonary resistance between the cardiovascular and muscular network.
Besides your body, even your mind needs to get used to the idea of exercising . This will help

You become comfortable with the time, space, and motion elements.
You become aware of the limits to which you can push yourself.
You realize the value of progressing gradually in an exercise programme.
You realize the parameters on which you’ll judge your progress.
You begin to regard the warm-up phase as just one part of the exercise programme.
Warming up gets your body ready for the physical demands which exercise will make.

But remember to observe certain precautions.

  • Make sure you drink plenty of fluids. If you feel any pain or pressure in the centre of the chest, left arm, fingers or throat, stop exercising immediately.
  • Stop immediately if, at anytime, during your exercise you feel any pain or pressure in the centre of the chest, left arm, fingers, or throat; or feel dizzy, faint or nauseated..
  • Start by warming up your feet, even before the formal warm up.
  • Avoid jerky or excessively bouncy movements. Stretch slowly and with controlled movements.
  • Try to include those exercises which isolate the lower back and hamstrings, but only if you are able to do them progressively and smoothly. Avoid exercises that cause joint pain.

Protecting Your Heart With Whole Grains

The thought of heart disease prompts you to control the fat content of your diet. Once you know that your heart is under stress, the first step is to cut down the total fat intake. Most of us are aware that fat affects the health of the heart but do you know that the same stands true for whole cereals as well? Whole cereals if incorporated properly in the diet provide protection to your heart.

What are whole cereals?

In simple terms, whole grain is the edible part of any grain. The edible part may be the inner layer (the germ), the middle layer (endosperm) and the outer layer (bran) intact. Wheat, corn, rice, oats are some of the examples of whole grains. Increased intake of bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals can result in increased intake of whole grains. The cereals from which the outer layer or the bran and most of the germ is removed are the refined cereals. Maida or white flour is a refined cereal produced from whole wheat after removing most of the germ and the bran.

Advantages of whole cereals

There are certain great reasons to have a good intake of whole cereals.
  • Whole cereals are very low in fat.
  • They are a very good source of dietary fibre, proteins, vitamins, minerals and provide most of the energy required by the body.
  • Whole cereals need not be eaten as supplements; they can be incorporated easily into a variety of daily eaten foods such as salads.

Whole cereals are heart health

Whole grains are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals and these are the key to a heart healthy diet. Fibre has been shown to have a cholesterol lowering effect. The fibre forms a gel in the intestine, which results in the binding of bile acids, an important ingredient among the juices in the body. When an insufficient amount of bile acids reach the liver, the liver converts the cholesterol present into bile acids, there by reducing the cholesterol levels. Minerals such as magnesium present in the cereals play an important role in reducing the incidence of heart disease. A low intake of magnesium has been linked to high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Increasing the intake of whole grains

As per the dietary recommendations at least 10 servings of cereals should be taken every day. A majority of these should be the whole grain variety. The following tips can help you to incorporate whole grain cereals in your daily diet.

  • In the ingredients list of any food, check for the whole grain. The ingredients are listed in the order of their importance in the production of food. So if the first ingredient is a whole cereal you are taking in a good serving.
  • Do not confuse whole cereals with brown colour. The brown colour of a food is due to the caramel and not the whole grain, unless specified.
  • Substitute half of the white flour with wheat flour in recipes that call for the use of white flour.
  • Start the day with a good serving of whole grain cereal such as oats or cracked wheat.
  • Go in for whole wheat bread instead of white bread.

Whole grain cereals can help you in protecting your heart. A slight modification of your diet can help you to improve your intake and stay healthy.

Top 5 Meat Myths

You are an avid meat eater whose meals are incomplete without the addition of meat. You firmly believe that eating meat is necessary for a healthy life as it is the richest source of proteins and good quality amino acid. No other food can provide you with the same quality nutrition. Vegetarians are losing out on vital nutrients because they don't eat meat.

    1. If you believe in any of the above, then it's time for you to do a reality check. It's true that meat is an excellent source of protein, but it's not the only food rich in proteins. In fact, vegetarian foods compare very well with meats. Many of us continue to eat meat out of ignorance because we don't know any better. This article aims at dispelling certain myths regarding meats.

    2. You need to eat meat to be healthy. This is totally baseless. You think you need meat because of its proteins but many other non-meat foods like cheese, beans and groundnuts have more proteins per ounce than a burger stuffed with ham. Do you believe that you need to consume a lot of proteins? That is a misconception. The truth is that the pulses, cereals, milk, vegetables and nuts that you eat provide you with sufficient proteins to meet your body's requirements. Moreover, these proteins are easier for your body to assimilate as well as free of any micro- organisms that can invade your health and that are found in meat. At the same time vegetarian foods are cholesterol free and hence healthy for heart as compared to meats.

    3. Your meal is incomplete without meats. How does meat get its typical taste? It is because of the seasonings and condiments that you add to the meat while cooking. Substitute the meat with some vegetarian products using the same flavourings and you will get the same meat-like taste. Try veggie burgers with the same seasoning as meat or cook soy nuggets the same way and you will find your meal as tasty, if not more than if you had included meat.

    4. It is okay to consume fish and eggs. Most of us believe that red meat can be harmful, but it is perfectly fine to consume fish and eggs. But all fish do not have the same properties. Do you know which fish is rich in fat and cholesterol and which is not? For all you know, you may be just loading yourself with cholesterol out of ignorance. Egg yolk is also a very rich source of cholesterol. Hence it can also be equally unhealthy.

    5. It is difficult to start a vegetarian diet. Turning vegetarian is not difficult, but the only thing is to avoid the temptation of giving in to eating meat. Think about the health benefits of eating a vegetarian diet and you'll never want to eat meat again. They not only have a longer shelf life but are also easier to prepare requiring relatively little oil and spices. The health benefits of a vegetarian diet far outnumber that of a non-vegetarian diet.

    6. Vegetarians are weaker than non-vegetarians. This is a complete myth. There is absolutely no evidence to support this. Vegetarian food gives you sufficient calories, proteins and other vitamins and minerals that are able to meet the requirements of your body. At the same time, a vegetarian diet provides you with various nutrients and non-nutrients that protect you from diseases. This is lacking in non-vegetarian foods, thus making you more prone to heart diseases. Hence it is a fallacy that vegetarians are weaker.

So the next time you eat meat, remember that all the nutrients that you need come from plants and cereals and not meat. Thus meat is not a necessary food for life. This does not imply that you stop consuming it, but do get rid of all the myths that you believed in. Vegetarian food is equally healthy. So if you have been chomping on that juicy red steak because of health compulsions, it's time to bite into something else.

Arthritis and Exercise

Should people with arthritis exercise? Is exercise beneficial or harmful for those who suffer from this painful disease that causes stiffness and swelling of joints and other connective tissues?

Doctors are unanimous in their opinion that people with arthritis can and should exercise. It is a well-known fact that exercise makes one healthy and fit and this holds true for arthritis-afflicted people. Exercise not only lessens joint pain and stiffness but also increases flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance. In fact, it is believed that being inactive may aggravate the arthritis condition. However, patients with arthritis cannot do all kinds of exercises. They need to follow an exercise program regimen that will help them reduce the pain and stiffness.

Recommended exercises for arthritis:

Broadly there are three major exercises that will help those suffering from arthritis:

  • Range-of-motion exercises - Basically these exercises are meant to maintain normal joint movement and reduce stiffness. This type of exercise helps maintain or increase flexibility. Do them daily if you can otherwise do them at least every other day.
  • Strengthening exercises - As the name suggests, these help to increase muscle strength that is very important in supporting and protecting joints affected by arthritis.
  • Aerobic exercises - These exercises are aimed at improving cardiovascular fitness, weight management and enhancing overall fitness. Weight is an important player in this pain game because excess weight increases the pressure on joints leading to more pain. However, aerobics can help in reducing joint inflammation. Walking, swimming and bicycling are good aerobic exercises. Even daily activities such as walking your dog are recommended.

Getting started

Always consult your doctor before starting out. It is a good idea to start with low impact aerobics and then gradually increase the pace depending upon your condition. Keep the following in mind before exercising:
  • Apply heat to sore joints to start an exercise program.
  • Always warm up by doing some light stretching.
  • Start strengthening exercises slowly with small weights and keep increasing with time.
  • Stop the exercise if joints become painful, inflamed, or red and check with your doctor to find the cause and eliminate it.
The best exercise program is the one that you enjoy and will be able to continue for a long time.
Caveat: Do not over train

Although exercise is an important part of curing arthritis it too has to done in limits. Stop immediately when you experience any of the following signs:
  • Unusual or persistent fatigue
  • Increased weakness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Increased joint swelling
  • Continuing pain
Exercise may appear to be painful in the beginning. However, it is an integral part of the arthritis treatment and with a bit of effort and persistence you will be able to do it. Remember slow and steady wins the race!

Building Your Home Gym

You are a fitness freak but don't have the time to go to a gym. The next best alternative is to build a gym inside your home. This will help you achieve your fitness goals right inside the comfort of your home and save you precious time that you would have normally spent in commuting.

Advantages of a home gym:

  • You can plan your schedule easily and keep it flexible.
  • You don't have to think twice before actually starting your workout everyday.
  • You feel more comfortable while working out at home. Other family members may also get motivated to achieve a better fitness level.
  • You workout with full privacy and ease.
  • You save time and money after setting your own home gym.
Before setting your own home gym think about a few things:

First of all you should have a clear idea about your fitness goal. What exactly do you want to achieve from your gym? Is it general fitness, better body shape, strengthening of muscles, cardiovascular fitness, weight loss or gain etc? To get the most of your home gyms, it is really important to set your specific long and short-term goals.

Secondly, you should have a clear idea about the amount of money you want to spend on this. Remember, setting up a gym is a cost-intensive exercise, so determine how much you want to spend and stick to that. Make optimum use of your money and get the best within your limits.

Thirdly, have a look at the space you have chosen for your gym. Although home gyms are not huge but still, you need some minimum space to call it a gym. Be it your old guest room, living room or your garage, make sure that it is roomy and comfortable.

What you need for a home gym

Here are some essentials that you need for your home gym. Again depending on your pocket, you can go in for branded and expensive stuff or settle for cheaper substitutes.

A padded stretch mat:
You need it for most stretching exercises, pushups and other free hand exercises.

Treadmill or a skipping rope: Cardiovascular workout is an integral part of fitness and hence you need a treadmill or stationary bike to achieve this target. However, if you don't have enough cash you can do the same with a skipping rope.

A mirror: You need a good big mirror for your gym to monitor yourself. Exercise is effective if done with a proper technique and you can check this yourself if you have a mirror.

Dumb bells: A useful gadget, good for many muscles and exercises. Buy a complete set if possible or have adjustable dumbbells, which allow you to increase or decrease weights.

Barbells: A long steel bar with free weights is one of the most important things you need for your gym. Though you can strengthen many muscles with dumbbells but effective strength training is possible with a barbell only.

A diary: Always maintain a diary and pen to keep a record of your own progress, schedule, workout details like number of repetitions, weight used. This will help you monitor your progress and also keep you focused and enthusiastic.

A home gym can be a good test of your seriousness and commitment towards fitness, as most of your excuses for not working out will vanish once your home gym becomes a reality.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

How to Correct Posture

Have you seen people with drooping shoulders? Sitting in front of a desk with poor posture makes the problem worse. The result is shorter and stronger muscles in the front of the shoulder and weaker muscles in the back of the shoulder and upper back. Spending long hours on the desk can also lead to incorrect postural habits. However, these can be corrected with some simple techniques:

I. Posture correction techniques for the upper body

Being able to maintain good posture in the upper body keeps the chest area open so the organs here can function better.

1. Intertwine the fingers, face them away from the body, and stretch the arms in front of the chest.
2. Bring the arms sideways, gradually.
3. Hold on to a wall or doorway for leverage and turn the body away from the wall until a light stretch is felt in the front of the shoulder.
4. Roll the shoulders gently backwards and forwards a couple of times.
5. Take both the shoulders up to the ears and gently drop them down to the original position. Then try and relax them.
6. Gently drop your head to one side such that the ear is right above the shoulders. Do not lift the shoulders to meet the ears. You will feel a stretch on the other side of the neck.
7. Slowly take both shoulders and push them backwards, in such a way that the shoulder blades appear to meet each other. Return to the original position but with the intention that the shoulders do not droop forward.

II. Posture correction techniques for the mid section and lower body

Lack of flexibility in the pelvic area and weak abdominal muscles contribute to poor posture. Try these tips to correct them.

A. Stand with your side to the mirror and try to maintain a straight line: shoulders, hip bone and knees almost in a straight line.

1. Now with a tilt of only the pelvis, bring the abdomen forward so that it is jutting out and there is an excessive arch in your back. Bring it back to original position with full awareness.
2. Do just the opposite so that your abs are in towards the body and there is almost no arch in the back. Feel the strain in the back. Try and rectify the chinks.
3. Slowly excessively bend and straighten your knees. See what happens. Try getting back to a position where your knees are neither tight nor excessively bent.

B. Get on to your hands and knees in a box position, with a mirror on the side so you can see what you are doing.

1. Excessively take your lower back towards the floor and then straighten it so that it is as straight as a table. Adjust your hands and knees to get comfortable. Do this a couple of times.
2. Look carefully down at the floor. Take the head upwards and feel the strain in the neck. Now look down excessively and feel the pressure in the neck. In the end to know what is the right position, place the head where it is least uncomfortable.


Always check with your doctor before trying new exercises and do them under his care.
Your doctor and your common sense should determine the number of repetitions.
Follow these exercises and always remember that it is never too late to be posture perfect!

Preventing Aerobics Injuries

Aerobics is fun and enjoyable and helps you stay fit. But aerobics can also result in injuries. Foot injuries are the most common aerobic injuries and you have to learn to take special care of your feet if you want to keep this routine painless and productive. Your feet, knee, ankle, lower leg, thigh and back are specially vulnerable and prone to injury if you fail to take the necessary precautions.

Taking care of your feet

The first step in taking care of your feet is by wearing proper shoes. Since aerobics involves quick lateral movements, jumping and leaping for extended periods of time, it is essential that you wear proper footwear that is shock absorbing and is well-cushioned to withstand the pressure of your feet. The impact forces from aerobics can be six times the force of gravity, which is transmitted to each of the 26 bones that are present in your foot. Keeping all contrasting motions in view your shoes need a sufficiently thick upper leather or strap support to provide forefoot stability and prevent slippage of the foot. In addition, your shoes should have a toe box that is high enough to prevent irritation of toes and nails. Well-fitted shoes will shield you from many foot injuries. However, it is better to be informed about the other kind of injuries that may occur because of doing aerobics:

Arch pain: Frequent stress on the bottom of the foot is a common cause of arch pain. Wearing proper shoes having proper support in the arch can take care of this kind of a pain.

Heel spurs: This is a result of a buildup of calcium deposit on the underside of your heel bone. It is a gradual process and may take months to happen. The best way to keep this injury away is by a proper warm up, especially stretching the band of tissues at the bottom of your foot.

Shin splints: Muscles attached to your shin bone are responsible for your feet movement and pain occurs due to stress. Clearly apart from ankle sprains, shin splint is the most common lower body injury. The treatment involves simple, cold compression immediately after the workout. However, proper stretching before the workout is the best way to avoid shin splints. Also, a gradual strengthening of the muscles helps reduce shin splints.

Achilles tendon and calf pain: While doing aerobics you frequently stand on your toes. This may cause pain and tightness in the larger muscle at the back of the leg, which can eventually lead to pain in the calf and tendon. Stretching the calf muscle before and after, and at the time of pain is the best treatment to alleviate the pain.

Stress fractures: Although not very common, stress fracture is a serious injury and needs treatment at the earliest. Improper shoe selection is one of the biggest causes of stress fracture. Hard surface and overuse are the other two important causes of this injury. However, proper treatment including x-ray analysis can prevent serious complications like disability.

Proper treatment can cure most of the injuries caused due to aerobics. Thus a little care will go a long way in keeping your workout enjoyable and injury free.