Monday, March 19, 2012

Reasons To Stick To Your Fitness Program

Most people are aware of the obvious benefits of exercise. If you are already in a fitness routine, you are a rare exception. The majorities of adults don’t exercise or talks themselves out of exercise on a regular basis. Here are some less talked about reasons that may help get you motivated.

A good fitness routine will raise your metabolism and help you lose fat. You will not only become smaller in all the right places but you will need to eat more to support your new muscle growth. Who doesn’t want to eat more? The average person between the ages of  20 and 80 loses 35-40 % of their muscles mass. We have less energy and feel softer than we did when we were in high school.

As we get stronger we gain confidence and maintain independence. One of the main reasons we put off activities is a fear of getting hurt. With greater strength we do more and ask for help less. I train a lady in her 70’s who wouldn’t think of asking for help with  a large bag of dog food.

The biggest motivator for calling a personal trainer is definitely aesthetics/vanity. We all want to look better. One of the most important side benefits however is a decreased risk of heart disease. The beer belly on men or apple shape on women is the worst place we can store fat. It promotes fat circulation throughout the blood stream.

If you want to prevent injuries or help stabilizes injuries you have, strength training is a proven remedy. Most of the mid to late life injuries come to us in the form of joint, tendon, or ligaments issues. When we strengthen the muscle correctly we not only fortify the joints and muscles but also the tendon and ligaments that often go first.

A fitness program can also improve our flexibility and balance. Many people don’t realize that when you improve your flexibility you also do wonders for your balance. Better balance and flexibility leads to better posture which makes you look younger and taller.

So in conclusion, here are a few reasons to stick to your exercise routine: You’ll raise your metabolism, lose fat in all the right places, you’ll be able to eat more,  have increased energy, decrease the risk of heart disease, look better, younger and taller, live longer, prevent or help injuries, improve flexibility, balance and feel more confident and independent.  

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Get Rid Of Low Back Pain

20 years ago I took a low back and abdominal conditioning seminar. The class was taught by Paul Check, an expert with credentials like I have never seen before. He told us that the two major causes of back pain were poor posture and tight hamstrings.

The first thing to do is easy; stretch the hamstrings a few times a week. Lie on your back and put one leg up straight up in the air. Pull from behind the knee with both hands or use a strap. You want to hold each stretch for at least 15-20 seconds. As it beings to give you can pull a little harder. Breathe while you stretch and don’t pull so hard that it becomes uncomfortable. Repeat and do the other leg.

The issue of less than perfect posture is not as easy to remedy. The first thing to do is to stand with your back to a wall and see if you can touch your heels, butt and head while your shoulders are also straight back. This is perfect posture but lets face it nothing is perfect. You would actually get a lot of funny comments if you walked around like that. You probably want a compromise between the way you stand now and the back to wall posture that look so unnatural.

Improving your posture takes three things: 1) be aware of how you stand, walk and sit, 2) stretch the shoulder and arm muscles and 3) strengthen the upper back, shoulders and lower neck muscles.

Today I’ll give some suggestions on how to mentally become aware of improving the way you sit, walk and stand. Sitting is the easiest. You want a slight arch in your lower back when you sit. I use a small rectangular pillow (about 6 x 10 inches). You may be more comfortable on a soft couch but just add a little low back pillow and you’ll be fine.

The way we stand can be easily corrected by crossing your arms behind your back. The men may think of this as the military term “at ease”. Don’t put your hands in your pockets or cross you arm in front of you.

The way we walk is a habit that takes real determination if we want to make a change. I tell my clients to use some mental imagery to facilitate the process. Think of a helium balloon that is attached to your breastbone. Imagine it pulling up your torso as you walk. If you have the normal head forward posture the string will hit you in the nose. Say to yourself, chest out shoulders back. Check out your posture when you pass store windows. You may want to enlist the help of friend or family. Have them give you feedback but be careful who you ask. The wrong tone or delivery may turn good intentions into something that sounds too much like a nag.

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