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.

Demystifying Common Aerobic Myths

There are countless number of myths, personal bias and misinformation that is being circulated as truth for decades in gyms, fitness centers, and aerobic classes about what aerobics is and what it does. Don't believe these tales. Here we tell you the true story and set the record straight on aerobic myths:

MYTH: You cannot overtrain from performing cardiovascular exercise.

FACT: Although cardiovascular activities are endurance-oriented and their level of intensity is low, it doesn't mean that there is no limit on these exercises. Your body can, no doubt, tolerate more aerobic activity than anaerobic activity however an excess of anything is not advisable. Therefore, moderation is the key to success be it in exercise or any other activity.

MYTH: Low intensity aerobic activities are better as compared to high intensity exercise for fat burning.

FACT: The truth is that high-intensity exercise burns more fat and calories on an absolute basis as compared to lower intensity activities. And the most important aspect of training intensity is the total amount of calories burnt which is definitely more in high intensity exercise. Further, low intensity exercise is more time consuming. You can get the same results from high intensity exercise in less time.

MYTH: Sweating indicates a good workout.

FACT: The amount you sweat has nothing to do with how successful your workout is. Sweating is a natural cooling mechanism and indicates that your body temperature is rising. This is no yardstick to judge your workout. Instead you should judge the intensity of your workout based on your maximum heart rate and maximum oxygen consumed.

MYTH: Aerobics is the best cardiovascular exercise.

FACT: Usually aerobics is a group activity and though it can be fun and a great place to meet people, remember any group-oriented fitness activity is generally inferior to a program that is specifically designed for an individual. A group activity may not be able to optimally target your own heart rate or reach your optimal fat burning potential. Secondly, there is more risk of injuries in these group activities since you have to keep pace with the group. However, these group activities can be of great value if you are not able to motivate yourself to workout individually.

MYTH: Aerobics is better for lowering body fat than resistance training.

FACT: People initially lose fat with aerobics but after sometime the process slows down, while resistance training can help speed up metabolism and transform your body into a better fat burning machine. Resistance training is essential for better overall fitness and firmer muscles.

MYTH: Warm up is not necessary.

FACT: This is a misconception because you always need a gentle stretching and warm up before any workout. This shields you from many sports and exercise related injuries. Aerobic training is a good way to achieve your fitness goal but keep these myths away from your workout and stay on track.

Weightloss: Help Your Child Lose Weight

Is your child overweight? A high calorie diet and lack of physical activity is often the main reason behind obesity in children. Add to this genetics, and unhealthy eating patterns and you would have hit the nail on the head. However in rare cases, a medical problem such as an endocrine disorder may also be a cause of overweight. Although you have no control over hereditary factors, as parents what you can control are your child's eating patterns and activity level. If you ensure that your child maintains a healthy lifestyle from the very beginning, chances are that he or she will not be a prey to obesity.

Do you believe that growing kids can eat anything and stay healthy because they naturally enjoy being active? Unfortunately this is nothing more than a misconception. Children actually need a good fitness and diet plan since lack of physical activity, easily available junk food, watching TV and playing on the computer instead of outdoor games can make them susceptible to weight gain. As parents, however, you can help your child stay fit. Here's how:

Support your child

Criticizing or blaming the child for his overweight is of no use. Instead, talk with your children about your concerns over weight and health; encourage them to accept the reality no matter how difficult it is. Teach them to accept and feel good about themselves whatever their body image.

Make exercise a family affair

Incorporate exercise into your family's routine. Plan outings with your family, play with your child and introduce more planned physical activities as part of the normal routine so that your child does not feel as if the exercise is being imposed on him alone.

Practice healthy eating.

Provide nutritious snacks and teach your children about making healthy food choices on their own.

Take serious things seriously

If your child is overweight and you are not able to help him reduce, take professional advice. May be you need to consult a doctor? And always remember practise what you preach.

Psychological warfare is not right

A trip to the fast food restaurant, bingeing on chocolates or an off from morning exercise are no rewards for good behaviour. It can do more harm than good to your child. You have to make them realize that excess weight is unhealthy. However, don't harp on the issue since being overweight is often an emotional issue.

Choose the right exercise

This is an important consideration as the exercise should be enjoyable, suitable and doable for your child so that they can stick to it. Try to include more than one kind of exercise. And always encourage them to participate in household chores that will help them become active.

Go slow

Keep the exercise schedule dynamic but don't rush. Increase the amount of exercise gradually, e.g. increase the walking/running distance each time. Keep proper records of each exercise, e.g. the distance walked, time taken, the level of discomfort and energy consumed. This can help a lot in future planning and progress checking.

Active support and encouragement from parents may help a child more than any exercise or workout. So support your child, praise him and you will be amazed at their cooperation and energy levels.

Fitness Basics: Taking a Break from Exercise?

You are a fitness freak who works out regularly without fail. So what do you do when you are forced by injury or some unforeseen circumstance to put a break in your routine? Do you worry that all the hard-earned muscle mass, strength and endurance will be lost? Frankly some amount of loss is inevitable but there are ways and means of minimizing this loss.

Impact on cardiovascular fitness

Detraining or taking a break from your normal workout does not have the same effect on everybody. It depends a lot on your fitness level. If you are a well-trained athlete then a break from exercise will not have the same effect on you as compared to someone who is moderately fit or someone who has a sedentary life. For cardiovascular fitness, individuals who are extremely fit, such as highly trained athletes experience a quick drop in fitness level during the first three weeks of detraining. Later this graph stabilizes with a less downward curve. Interestingly if you have low-to-moderate fitness levels then you will experience little change in cardiovascular fitness levels within the first few weeks, but it is sure to fall rapidly in the later weeks.

A blow on sports

It is a proven fact that any activity or sport that you pursue needs continuity. Abandon it for sometime and you will clearly see the plunge in your ability to perform. Studies have shown that marathon runners experience a 25 per cent decrease in endurance after just 15 days of inactivity. Swimmers would do well to remember that keeping away from regular training would result in a loss of at least 13 per cent strength within four weeks. However, it is not easy to ascertain an exact analysis of this cause and effect relationship for all sports and activities as various variables come into play when analyzing the ability to perform a particular sport-specific skill. So, it becomes difficult to know the exact impact of detraining. However, what is certain is that all activities show a dipping graph if you take a break.

A break from routine exercise has an adverse effect on muscles. Again, individuals with high fitness levels will be better off than lesser-trained individuals leading a sedentary life.

Resist the detraining impulses

Although there can be circumstances which might force you to break or discontinue your training, always think about all the hard work that you have done to achieve the present level of fitness. Don't let any momentary impulse wreck the benefits of fitness that you have already earned. If you are bored with running try walking or swimming, change your workout routine and make it more dynamic and lively.

Remember cross training is the best solution at times because it can keep you motivated. If you are suffering from injuries go to the pool. Swimming is one of the best rehabilitation exercises. Remember it can make a huge difference if you do at least something instead of doing nothing at all. Do it less, do it low but if you slip into a totally sedentary life you may find it difficult if not impossible to start again.

Always keep these points in mind before you think of taking a sabbatical from exercising.

Swimming Technique for Arm Action(Breast Stroke)

Your arms play a multiple role in producing a smooth breaststroke. Firstly they contribute in maintaining a balanced and streamlined position of your body in water and then assist with forward propulsion and finally enable you to obtain a convenient breathing position within a stroke cycle. Obviously the amount of extra propulsion produced by the arms largely depends on your individual strength.

The Breaststroke arm action is a vigorous movement of the whole arm. It is not just a smooth parting of the water, performed with the palms of the hands. The arm action consists of two phases, which are:


A common fault with beginners is to kick the legs and pull with the arms simultaneously. But the correct arm action is performed after the legs have done their kick and are in the straight and streamlined position. The palms of the hands are turned outwards from the streamlined position, with the fingers slightly apart. The hands pull sideways and slightly downwards to propel the body forwards through the water. For this your arms should follow a narrow, semicircular path in front of the body, extending to a point outside the line of the shoulders on each side. If the arms move too far out to the sides, the pull won't be effective. As a rough guide, keep your eyes fixed on a point directly in front of you above the water during the pull, and as soon as you lose sight of your hands out of the corner of your eye, begin the recovery.


Recovery is the second phase. This part of the arm action is performed while your legs are beginning their kick. At the end of the pull the hands are quickly drawn up together under the chin by rotating wrists and forearms inwards. Remember, the elbows should not be tucked in too close to the sides during this movement and your body should be streamlined. From this position, your arms reach forward just below the surface to the streamlined position with fingers close together to avoid unnecessary water resistance.

Exercising can help you improve your arm action during the breaststroke. Here's what you can do:

  • Practice the arm action in front of a large mirror until you think it looks right. Try to turn your palms outwards at the beginning of the pull.
  • Crouch down in the shallow end of the pool, so that your shoulders are just breaking the surface. Bend forward and practice the arm action. Try working your arms together and at the same depth.
  • Hook your feet over the rail and lie on your front in the water. Perform the arm action while keeping your face out of the water. Try to keep your elbows tucked into your sides during the recovery of your arms.
  • Take a float and hold it firmly between your thighs. Push off on your front and swim across the pool, just using your arms.
  • Now try the whole stroke, swimming several widths reaching forward after each pull.
  • Try next with a pull-buoy. Swim with smooth arm movements, holding a Pull-buoy between the thighs. Make sure that your head is in the water; being raised briefly every 10 to 15 m to inhale.
  • Feet first with pull-buoy is another method. For this propel yourself feet-first, using breaststroke arm movements. See that your body is stretched out holding the upper arm against the body; execute lateral paddling movements against the hips.

Try these exercises for improving your arm action during the breaststroke and watch your performance bring delight not just to you but the onlookers as well.

Aerobics for the Diabetic

While exercising, do you experience sudden drops in energy levels, feel giddy, weak, disoriented, and suffer from excessive sweating? Also, do you have frequent hunger pangs, headaches, and trembling sensations? If yes, then you should get your blood sugar checked. You may be having diabetes. In diabetes, insulin malfunctioning leads to either low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia) or high blood sugar level (hyperglycemia). If you are a diabetic, your main concern should be to normalize your blood sugar level. This is where aerobics could be of great help to you.

Aerobics can counter some of the factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, ageing or even stress, which are instrumental in causing diabetes. In addition, aerobics is also helpful for diabetics because it :

  • Lowers your blood sugar levels. This decreases your chances of medical complications.
  • Decreases insulin requirements.
  • Prevents adult-obesity . Aerobics suppresses the appetite and increases the metabolic rate.
  • Enhances your capacity for physical work . This is achieved by developing lean muscle and helps in the control of diabetes.
  • Regulates blood lipids and lowers your cholesterol levels.
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease through the above benefits.
  • Increases your endurance , strength and thus improves your self-esteem.
If you are diabetic and plan to begin an aerobics program, you must take the following precautions:

  • Have the disorder under control . And get your blood sugar tested. It would also be advisable to get your oral glucose test, insulin secretion test and also a stress test done for cardiovascular fitness levels.
  • Begin with low-intensity alternative aerobics. Try a few weeks of walking or bicycling to see how your body responds to physical activity.
  • Exercise at the same time everyday. This will prevent hypoglycemia if done at the prescribed intensity & duration. Do not exercise when your insulin is at its peak. Have a snack half an hour before exercising.
  • Choose the site of insulin injection. Do not inject insulin close to the muscles being exercised since muscle contraction during exercise will push it directly into the bloodstream. This will cause premature hypoglycemia.
  • Keep some candies or fruit juices within reach to counteract hypoglycemia.
  • Do not perform aerobics more than three to five times in a week. Always take a day off to replenish your body's carbohydrate reserves.
  • Stick to low-impact movements. Your insulin requirements will drop as much as 20 per cent during initial adaptation to aerobics. It may take you two weeks to respond to new levels.
  • Keep checking the intensity of your workout.
  • Ensure a suitable floor surface, shoes, and socks. This is to minimize your chances of injury.
  • Take time off during cold and flu season. Diabetics take longer to recuperate so be careful not to contact communicable diseases.
  • Know about first aid procedures . And do not leave your class alone, looking for sugar during a hypoglycemic stage.
So in case you are guilty of not exercising because of diabetes, here's your chance to make amends and start exercising in the right spirit.

Walk, Jog & Run: Active Jog Program

Are you fed up of brisk walks and want something more challenging? Try jogging. Remember about all the precautions regarding attire, footwear, surface etc. before you start off.

This program is for those who can do brisk walk for 30-45 minutes without any discomfort. You must complete the 4 Week Active Walk Program before starting this program.

This plan is designed for those who want to be able to jog for 20 min - 30 min at a stretch.

In this program you shall gradually reduce the duration of the initial brisk walk while simultaneously increasing the duration of jogging.


This week your target is to perform sustained exercising for 30 minutes. Your target jogging time at the end of the week is 7 minutes.

In this week you alternate brisk walking with short bouts of jogging. Start small with just a 2 mins jog & slowly take it upto a 7 minutes jog by the end of the week.

If you do not find this challenging and do not feel excessively drained then push yourself a little harder so as to do the WEEK 2 program by the end of WEEK 1 only.

If you get knee / ankle pain then prolong the brisk walk and reduce the jog period. Slowly increase the duration of jogging when you don't feel any more pains in spite of jogging longer.

Your day wise schedule shall be as follows:

Brisk walk for 10 min, jog for 2 min. Repeat twice.
Brisk walk for 10 min, jog for 2 min. Repeat twice
Brisk walk for 10 min, jog for 5 min. Repeat twice
Brisk walk for 10 min, jog for 5 min. Repeat twice.
Brisk walk for 8 min, jog for 7 min. Repeat twice.
Brisk walk for 8 min, jog for 7 min. Repeat twice.


This week you shall increase the jogging time to 17 minutes at a stretch.

Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 10 min. Repeat twice
Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 10 min. Repeat twice
Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 15 min. Slow walk 5min.
Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 15 min. Slow walk 5min.
Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 17 min. Slow walk 5min.
Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 17 min. Slow walk 5min.


By this week end you should be able to jog 25 minutes at a stretch.

Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 20 min. Slow walk 5min.
Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 20 min. Slow walk 5min.
Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 22 min. Slow walk 5min.
Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 22 min. Slow walk 5min.
Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 22 min. Slow walk 5min.
Brisk walk for 6 min, jog for 25 min. slow walk 2 min.


Before you start your daily program mentally program yourself to push yourself just a little more than the previous day.

At the end of the stretch of jogging do a brisk walk of upto 2- 5 mins. This shall help you to cool down and also help reduce the soreness the next day.


If you are gasping or breathless and cannot talk comfortably while jogging then you need to slow down and/or reduce the duration of jogging.

If you feel your heart beating hard and fast and can feel the blood flow in the neck & head and are feeling sapped, slow down immediately to a walk and then proceed to a brisk walk once you catch your breath.

Before starting on any day, do some Joint Mobility exercises and some stretching exercises after the jog. For details see the Warm-up regimen and the cool-down regimen.

Nutritional Needs For School Going Children

Every individual has specific nutritional requirements and these, if unfulfilled can result in deficiencies. This holds especially true for children between the ages of 3-11 as they are in the growing phase of their life. Though the genetic pattern is prefixed, the environment plays a major role in modifying the physical, mental and emotional characteristic of the child. The nutritional needs depend on the rate of growth and the activity level of the child rather than the chronological age of the child.

Nutritional needs

The nutritional requirements of a school going child depend on his or her growth and development, as these do not occur at a uniform rate throughout life. Growth is very rapid throughout infancy but gradually slows down during childhood and stays that way till the period of adolescence. Since childhood is a time of considerable physical activity, the energy requirements are higher. Since the body is developing, protein requirements are the maximum since they are considered to be the building blocks of the body. The protein requirements of a child are higher than that of an adult's protein requirement. On the other hand, fat should provide 30 per cent of the total calories. Apart from these the requirements of all the mineral and vitamin should be taken in appropriate amounts to prevent any nutritional deficiency.

Food acceptance

Due to peer pressure, the child prefers to eat certain foods while avoiding all others. The child should be taught the importance of each food but never be forced to eat.
Due to group influence, the child learns to try new foods that are not commonly cooked at home and demands for the same at home.
A school going child has a good appetite and usually has a few dislikes. But still if the child does not eat well, it is due to the fault of the parents as they are unduly concerned with the eating habits of the child and force things on the child.
The appetite is reduced due to illnesses. The child needs emotional as well as moral support during this phase, since the needs are high and the intake is low.

Food habits

Good food habits develop in childhood. What a child learns during this phase of life is followed throughout life. So it is the responsibility of the parents to inculcate healthy eating habits in their children. Here are some tips:

  • Food should be served at a fixed time and preferably on the table.
  • The new food should be introduced in a group. It has been observed that the child learns to eat the new food, in the company of peers.
  • The child should be explained the importance of every food and why it is necessary to eat that. This not only increases the awareness of the child but also motivates him to eat the food.
  • Never use food as a bribe as then the child will start demanding his favourite at the pretext of doing some work.
  • Do not emphasize on one particular type of food or favorite food too often.
  • Ask the child to sit and eat with the rest of the family and not alone. This will teach the child table discipline and also ensure that he learns to eat with everybody in the family.

In general, adequate nutrition should be achieved by consuming a wide variety of commonly available foods. Fats should be given in moderation as heart disease starts developing in childhood only. Overeating and excess weight should be avoided in childhood as this results in an obese adult. By following healthy habits of food and nutrition for your school going kids, you will ensure that as adults they stay fit and healthy.

Reducing Weight Through Diets

It's the age of instant gratification. Anything that you want is available readily enough. If you want to eat a patty or a pizza or any other food, you don't have to prepare the dough from scratch and so on. All you need to do is call up the nearest pizza outlet and order a pizza of your choice. Or just open your refrigerator, as most processed foods are available, ready to be opened and eaten. But have you ever thought what this increase of consumption in processed foods mean? It is this trend that is the main reason for increase in obesity now as compared to the 1980's. More than being a cosmetic concern, obesity is the major health concern of the day. Being obese, you are at an increased risk for diabetes, heart troubles and exposed to certain kinds of cancer.

So what do you do to reduce your weight? Go in for dieting. But do you know that these diets help you in reducing weight but only till you strictly follow the diet. Once you get back to the normal dietary habits, the lost weight returns. So how can you lsoe weight permanently? Permanent weight loss takes time and involves a change in eating and exercise habits.


Before starting on any diet issue, you need to understand the term calorie. In scientific terms, one calorie is the amount of heat necessary to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. You often hear the term calorie associated with foods. In food terms, calorie is the amount of food required by the body to produce one unit of energy. All foods are not equal in terms of calories. Fat gives about nine calories per gram whereas for carbohydrates and proteins the figure is four calories. When you eat food, your body burns it down and in the process some heat is generated. This heat is the calories that this food gives.


What you eat daily is your diet. Reducing your daily intake and hence the number of calories, with a limited selection of food comprises a reducing diet. A reducing diet is a diet that is limited in quantity but includes all the food groups and not limited to one kind of food.


Whatever goes into your mouth is processed to give out energy and the method, which produces this energy, is known as metabolism. The calories that your body requires to maintain its basic function are known as basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is 10 times your current weight in pounds, if you are a woman and 11 times, if you are a man. To maintain your weight you need 30-50 per cent more calories in your diet, above the BMR.

Is exercise necessary to lose weight?

No diet is successful without following an exercise schedule. Exercise helps you in keeping your body fat down and improves the ability of your heart, lungs and blood vessels to utilise oxygen. It also promotes the burning of fat efficiently for energy. This helps in preventing fat deposition in the body and you do not gain weight, rather lose it more efficiently. At the same time, exercises build your muscle strength, thus improving your skeletal structure.

How should you lose weight?

The simple answer to this question is to take in fewer calories and exercise regularly. This can be done either by eating less or by increasing your physical activity. But always remember, not to cut down your calories drastically. Your intake should be sufficient to meet your target weight and maintain the basic functions of the body. If this is not done, the body shifts to a state of starvation and reduces the metabolic rate and instead of burning fat, starts burning muscle. The only way to prevent this is to avoid drastic cut down in your food and to increase your physical activity substantially. The most important thing is not to set unrealistic goals. Set goals that can be achieved.

These recommendations do not promise any quick weight loss but will help you understand the importance of certain key elements that are necessary in maintaining your weight.

Choosing a Personal Trainer: What to look for

It's the age of the personal trainer. Someone who can give you undivided time and attention, help you set and achieve your fitness goals and that too within your means. Everyone from movie stars to industrialists are going in for their very own fitness trainers to achieve that well-toned sculpted look.

However, on what basis should you choose your trainer? Find out more.

What to look for

Go for a certified and well-educated trainer:

Your personal trainer should be certified by some reputable fitness organization such as the American Council of Exercise (ACE), a widely known and respected certification body. The certification will give you the assurance that he/she is competent and will be able to give you a safe and effective workout. Apart from the degree and certificate see that he/she is well informed about fitness and stays in tune with new and upcoming trends in fitness. This will add greatly to your fitness schedule also.


The attitude and personality of your trainer is important as he/she will play an instrumental role in motivating you. For this, your trainer should possess excellent communication skills and both of you should vibe well. Above all, your trainer should be able to convey the technical information in common parlance to help you understand and stay motivated.

Check track record:

There is no harm in talking to former clients of your trainer. Ask them how they benefited and if they had any complaints. This will boost your confidence in your trainer and training.

Check the rates:

Make sure that your trainer is charging competitive fees for service. It would be a good idea to compare rates with other trainers to be sure. Also figure out the timings and place of workout - your home or a health club.

What the trainer should do

Consider your health history

A good trainer should ask for your complete health history and your current health status before developing a fitness program for you. He / she may ask for previous illness or injuries or seek a go ahead from your doctor if you are taking any medication. You should always provide this information correctly for your own benefit.

Assess your fitness level

Before starting with the fitness routine, your trainer should find out your present physical fitness levels. This can be ascertained by asking about details like how much and how often you walk, jog, stretch, strength train etc.

Help you in setting goals

Your trainer should help you in setting your goals (both long term and short term). Discuss your fitness goals and aspirations with him/her and in consultation with him chart out a course that is realistic, practical and easily achievable. A good trainer will help you make a balanced plan for you keeping all aspects in view and will keep revising your goals from time to time considering your progress.

Finally, whether you go for a personal trainer or prefer to workout on your own is a decision that you alone can make depending on your fitness needs. However, if you do choose to have one make sure that your trainer develops a training program that includes cardio-respiratory training, strength training and flexibility training.

Swimming: Leg Action for Back Crawl

To be a powerful swimmer you need to practice your leg action. This applies to all the strokes, even to the back crawl.Take a look at the correct technique of leg action during the back crawl.

Broadly, the back crawl kick is not too different from front crawl but there is a continuous and rhythmic leg action in this stroke, which preserves the streamlined position. There is also a tendency of the hips rolling slightly because of the arm action but a strong kick absorbs this natural sway and keeps the body balanced. So remember to keep your kick strong.

The leg action is an alternating up and down kicking movement in the water, starting from the hip. The downward movement starts with a slight bending of the knee and finishes with a whip-like upward action of the toes and ankles. Remember that in the upward movement, the knee is straightened and toes come close to the surface, making a slight splash. Also make sure that they are always pointed and turned slightly inwards for maximum feel of water. You can vary the depth of the kick, but it should not be far below the surface, and the feet should pass close together. The knees should not break the surface; if they do you are bending them too much, and this will cause you to kick backwards on the water in a cycling motion, which is tiring and won't help you move.

To help you better your leg action, you can do the following exercises:
If you find that your knees are breaking the surface, hold a float over them while you are kicking. This will help you to avoid the cycling action. Try to drive your legs up and down in the water with only a slight bending of the knees.
Push off on your back without a float and practice the leg kick across the width. Remember, start the movement at the hip.

Push off with your arms fully extended behind your head. Clasp them together or cross your wrists, if this feels more comfortable. Now start to kick, aiming to keep your body as streamlined as possible. This will really test both your leg kick and your body position. Try to get your chest out of the water, kick just below the surface.
Keep your arms beside the body. Kick with back of head in water and paddle with the arms alongside the hips. Alternatively, you could hold the arms with the palms resting on the thighs.

Now try to kick, with arms folded on chest. Or else, clasp the hands under your buttocks or interlock the arms behind the back.

Extend arms over your head, flutter kick with arms extended side-by-side on the water with the thumbs interlocked. A variation: hold the extended forearms just above the surface of the water.

Flutter kick with one arm held back just above the surface of the water, the other resting against the hip. See that the arms change roles every half-length.

Roll your body through 45 degrees towards the side of the arm held back, stretch back this arm just below the surface. As the arm position changes, the upper arm pulls powerfully through the water and the body rolls through 90 degrees to the opposite side.

Flutter kick with flippers, stretch back both your arms just above the surface. The palms rest one on the other with interlocked fingers, or the back of one hand rests in the palm of the other.

Kick with the legs which are well past each other at the front and the rear, the lower arm being extended in the swimming direction and the upper arm resting on the thigh. Change the sides after half-length.

Flutter kick with one arm held vertical out of the water, the other arm resting on the hip. Arm positions are interchanged after half a length. Alternatively, the other arm lies in the swimming direction just under the surface.

As you practice these exercises, you'll notice that your back crawl is becoming smoother and speedier.