Monthly Archives: February 2017

The exercise for lowering stress

The key to stress management is finding a way to relieve your stress so you can cope with any situation that unfolds.  Luckily there are many proven strategies to help someone handle and decrease stress.  Fortunately exercise falls among the many tools that can help you to get a handle on the stress in your life.

Stress not only affects your brain, but with so many connections to your nerves, it can be felt throughout your body.  For many, stress can manifest in sadness, anger, exhaustion, mood swings, insomnia, poor eating, panic attacks and many other ways.  The key to helping to reduce or manage stress is linked with learning coping skills and raising the endorphins in your brain to counteract these feelings.  While exercise has been found to be a great outlet for stress, others turn to meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, conventional therapy and music as other ways to manage stress.

 Studies show that it is exercise that can play a very significant role in helping stress reduction and management.  As you engage in physical activity, your body reacts by releasing endorphins.  These endorphins are actually hormones that work to fight stress.   As the endorphins are increased your brain can start to feel more clear, energized and alert.  These will all play a role in allowing you to manage stress and find new ways to prioritize and cope with emotions.

Strength Training – Strength training can have a profound impact on stress levels and mood. Just like any form of exercise, strength training provides feel good hormones, but lifting is one of our favorites because of the satisfaction you can get from really pushing yourself, and subsequently, feeling and seeing yourself get stronger. Try this free workout: Squats and Deadlifts Workout – At Home Lower Body Workout or this: Upper Body Workout for Great Arms, Back, Chest, and Shoulders

Aerobic Exercise –  Participating in aerobic activities such as running, spinning, cardio or dance also offer the benefit of an increased heart rate. When your heart rate goes up, your body will release an increased amount of endorphins, which are natural opiates that allow you to “feel good”.  These activities help you to feel better both physically and mentally. HIIT workouts may be a good way to keep the workout quick and maximally effective for healthy, weight management, and time efficiency. Try this abs & HIIT cardio workout

Yoga ,This type of exercise is considered a mind-body exercise, which in itself can strengthen your bodies internal response to stress.  Yoga often involves various poses with deep breathing, which allows you to learn to relax while strengthening your body and improving your posture. Check out Fitness Blender’s 3 Day Flexibility Challenge

Martial Arts ,For many people martial arts is the perfect way to get in shape, release energy and let off tension.  Learning the techniques is helpful in keeping your mind occupied and away from stressors. The many forms of martial arts allow you to learn self-discipline and self-defense while keeping you in shape.

Kickboxing ,For many people under stress, there is a strong feeling of tension and anger.  Taking up kickboxing is a great way to reduce your stress through a series of punching and kicking movements.  Improving your balance, burning calories, and becoming more flexible are among the many benefits of this form of exercise. Cardio Kickboxing and Bodyweight Cardio or this Cardio Kickboxing & Abs – Kickboxing for Stress & Cardio Benefits

Pilates ,Despite the fact that Pilates is considered an anaerobic exercise, it is also a stress relieving exercise to consider learning.  Pilates focuses on mat exercises with a series of controlled movements.  This workout was created to improve strength, endurance and flexibility.  Here’s a free Pilates workout: Lower Body Pilates Workout – Butt and Thigh Workout

Fixing a damaged metabolism

How does your metabolism get damaged in the first place?  Quite often after long periods of excessive caloric restriction and over exercising, your metabolism can be negatively affected.  You start out thinking that dieting is all about calories in and calories out. Slowly but surely you start to take in less and less calories, and increase the time spent working out.  As you jump on the scale, it is baffling why your body doesn’t seem to want to lose the weight you calculated should have happened.  Week after week you start to decrease your intake hoping to see bigger numbers but that never happens.

What actually is happening is related to your metabolism regulating hormones.  As you take in less and less, your body’s hormones, such as thyroid and leptin, begin to drop in an effort to create homeostasis in the body.  At the same time the muscle tissue begins to break down and be used for energy (which will lead to an even slower, more depressed metabolism).

At the same time, as your body gets used to eating less calories, it also adapts to the increase in exercise.  And over time it will expend fewer calories to do the same amount of physical activity.  More time exercising will eventually be needed to get the same results.

As you can imagine, this slowing of your metabolism can turn into a vicious cycle.  What happens is you wind up eating fewer and fewer calories, while increasing the hours spent exercising as a way to lose weight and maintain that lower number.  This cycle is one that eventually peters out as you get tired, run down or give up as it becomes to obsessive or difficult. Read: Can starvation diets lead to weight gain?

So now that you understand what caused your metabolism to plummet, what can you do to repair it and speed it back up? Luckily with the right plan of action you can help to restore your metabolism, so that you can lose weight more healthfully and be able to maintain it.   This process relies on the same two things:  caloric intake and exercise.

Fixing a damaged metabolism: Exercise
Lets start with exercise and how much time you should be designating to your work out regimen.  Take a look at the time you are spending working out and taper it to about 3-5 days a week, maximum, with an hour at a time – as a maximum. Really, 30-45 minute workouts are more than enough. Keep in mind that resistance and weight training is the best way to enhance metabolism, as muscle burns more than fat – building muscle this way may be a good way to help repair your metabolism, as muscle content requires more calories than fat.  Cardio workouts should be considered secondary and can be added in as part of the 3-4 day regimen, but a combination is best.

Fixing a damaged metabolism: Eating habits
The next step is to look at your caloric intake, and be prepared to increase this slowly.  It is important to take this slow as to not gain weight back too rapidly, which will discourage you and may lead to another cycle of restricting your intake.  Try to calculate how many calories you are taking in and add about 50-100 calories a week.  The goal will be to have added about 500 calories after the course of a few weeks.  As your body starts to be fed correctly, your body will be able to slowly lose weight once again.  Keep it mind this takes some time and patience, but resist the temptation to over exercise and decrease your calories. The goal is to feed your body enough to allow your hormones to start to work efficiently once again.  The thyroid hormones will increase, leptin levels will no longer think you are in starvation mode and muscle tissue will increase.

It is also important to keep mixing things up.  For your body to continue to work efficiently it is important to “keep it guessing”.  This can be achieved by changing up your exercise routine every so often and varying the foods you are opting to eat.  These both will ensure that your body’s metabolism is fed, working hard and restored.  Lastly, it is important to recognize that losing weight should not be a race, take your time and understand that weight that is lost more slowly is more likely to stay off for good.

Physical exercise

Numerous studies have shown that physical exercise seems beneficial in the prevention of cognitive impairment and dementia in old age. Now researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt have explored in one of the first studies worldwide how exercise affects brain metabolism.

In order to further advance current state of knowledge on the positive influence of physical activity on the brain, gerontologists and sports physicians at Goethe University Frankfurt have examined the effects of regular exercise on brain metabolism and memory of 60 participants aged between 65 and 85 in a randomised controlled trial. Their conclusion: regular physical exercise not only enhances fitness but also has a positive impact on brain metabolism.

As the researchers report in the current issue of the medical journal Translational Psychiatry, they thoroughly examined all the participants in the SMART study (Sport and Metabolism in Older Persons, an MRT Study) by assessing movement-related parameters, cardiopulmonary fitness and cognitive performance. In addition, magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) were used to measure brain metabolism and brain structure. Following this examination, the participants mounted an exercise bike three times a week over a period of 12 weeks. The 30-minute training sessions were individually adapted to each participant’s performance level. The participants were examined again after the end of the programme in order to document the effects of this physical activity on brain metabolism, cognitive performance and brain structure. The researchers also investigated to what extent exercise had led to an improvement in the participants’ physical fitness. The study was conducted by the Gerontology Department of the Institute of General Medicine (headed by Professor Johannes Pantel) and the Department of Sports Medicine (led by Professor Winfried Banzer).

As expected, physical activity had influenced brain metabolism: it prevented an increase in choline. The concentration of this metabolite often rises as a result of the increased loss of nerve cells, which typically occurs in the case of Alzheimer’s disease. Physical exercise led to stable cerebral choline concentrations in the training group, whereas choline levels increased in the control group. The participants’ physical fitness also improved: they showed increased cardiac efficiency after the training period. Overall, these findings suggest that physical exercise not only improves physical fitness but also protects cells.

Physical Fitness

Benefits of Physical Fitness

Staying active means keeping your body functioning at a high level. Regular exercise will maintain the performance of your lungs and heart to most efficiently burn off excess calories and keep your weight under control. Exercise will also improve muscle strength, increase joint flexibility and improve endurance.

Another main benefit of physical activity is that it decreases the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in America. Additionally, it can decrease your risk of stroke, colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. Regular exercise has been long associated with a fewer visits to the doctor, hospitalization and medication.

Exercising does not have to be something boring and dreaded. It can be something that you enjoy that helps to increase the overall happiness in your life, as well as relieve symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. Try to find some activities that give you pleasure, or even a buddy to do them with so that exercise is a fun and enjoyable activity (and one that you continue on a regular basis because it adds something good to your life).

What Activities Are Beneficial?

It is not what you are doing, as much as it is whether or not you are doing something. Any type of moderate activity like walking, swimming, biking or organized sports can contribute to your physical fitness. Explore your fitness options at your local gym, community center or community college for courses and organized activities that may suit your lifestyle and interests.

To get the most benefit, you should begin by warming up for 5 to 10 minutes to increase your blood flow and prepare your body for activity. Follow the warm up with several minutes of stretches to increase your flexibility and lower your risk for injury. Complete your selected exercise or activity for 20 to 30 minutes and conclude the workout with 5 to 10 minutes of cool down and stretching.

Who Needs Physical Fitness?

Everyone! It is important for all people to stay active throughout their lives. Because of busy work and home lives, more than 60% of Americans do not get the recommended amount of physical fitness daily and these numbers generally increase with age.

Throughout adulthood is one of the most important times to maintain an exercise regimen. This is the ideal time to maintain your weight, build strong bones and prevent many chronic health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

Many adults do too much exercise at once. After a long work-week, many people try to fit lots of activity into the weekend and push their bodies excessively. This sudden increase in activity can raise the risk of injury which would then stop activity for weeks. Experts recommend working out several times over the course of a week with varying exercises for the most benefit to your health.