Heart Healthy Exercise Tips

Heart disease is a serious risk for many adults. In fact this risk has become so prevalent that over the last decade, society, the fitness industry, has become more conscious of “heart health”. You can go into just about any grocery store and see a wide variety of food items that market directly to those individuals who are trying to improve their heart health. Additionally, many health and fitness organizations have targeted programs and equipment just for improving one’s heart health.

healthy heart cholesterol

If you are looking to improve your overall heart health, then check out the following heart healthy exercise tips:

Start Exercising

There are many reasons or excuses for not exercising or going to thy gym. However, if you are looking to improve your heart’s health, whether it’s for treatment of prevention, then you must eliminate the excuses because your life literally depends on it. Doing something as simple as walking around your neighbourhood can help to lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the good cholesterol (HDL). The goal is to start out walking for at least 10 minutes per day and work your way up to at least 30 minutes per day.

 

Gym Membership

Joining a gym can provide numerous options for your new lifestyle of fitness and heart health. Most gyms offer a wide range of cardio machines, free weights, classes and more. Additionally, finding a workout partner can help you stay motivated to exercise.

 

Aerobic Exercise

In addition to walking, at a brisk pace, there are other aerobic (cardio) exercises that can help improve your heart’s health. Running, stairs, cycling, elliptical machine and others can help to get your heart rate up and improve your overall cardiovascular health. Aim to do at least 30 minutes per day of cardio. Taking a dance class like Zumba is a fun way to improve your cardio while learning how to dance. If you like cycling, a spin class is a perfect option for doing cardio.

 

Bodyweight Exercises

Performing bodyweight exercises like yoga, pilates, pushups, swimming and others, can help to improve your health. It helps to improve muscular conditioning and can even increase the heart rate, which improves the heart’s conditioning level. These are perfect exercises for those who can’t join a gym.

 

Weightlifting

Weightlifting, or strength training, can improve your overall muscular health by improving stamina. An improved muscular stamina and strength, would translate into making daily tasks easier like carrying groceries, walking up an incline and it would also help to prevent age related diseases like osteoporosis. A stronger muscular system means your body won’t have to work as hard to perform daily tasks, which means your heart won’t have to work as hard.

 

Balance

Working on balancing exercises will help prevent potential falls and injuries. Yoga, bosu balls and swiss balls are common methods of balance training.

 

Stretching

Stretching helps improve your flexibility, which is very important for your joints and range of motion. As you get older, you start losing flexibility and range of motion. It’s vital to stretch at least 2 days per week for a minimum of 10 minutes to maintain good flexibility as you get older. Some stretching techniques can even get the heart rate up and improve your heart health.

 

5 Great Fitness Motivation Quotes to Help You Accomplish Your Goals This Week

1. “If you are persistent, you will get it. If you are consistent, you will keep it.”

 

Persistency only gets you so far. Even the most persistent among us can hit walls. The key to reaching your fitness success is consistency. You need to consistently exercise & eat healthy each day, each week, each month, & each year to get the results you deserve. The most successful among us combine both persistency & consistency into a single package of awesomeness.

2. “Giving up on your goal because of one setback if like slashing your other three tires because you got one flat.”

 

Setbacks happen to the best of us. Even our heroes. Even those that seem the most successful. The key is to not let setbacks cause you to quit. Never give up on your goals. A setback is minor in the scheme of things, even when it feels major. Keep chugging along & you will get there.

3. “If you want to get fit, you have to give away only one thing: your excuses.”

 

Excuses don’t help anything. Yet it is very hard to let them go. It is a natural human reaction to make excuses for things that we find difficult. If you hope to get fit, then you have to give away your excuses. Hold yourself accountable. Only you can earn the body that you deserve.

4. “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

 

Doubt can cause you to not even attempt something. When you don’t even attempt to accomplish a goal, there is no way you can ever achieve it. On the other hand, working towards a goal does not always guarantee success. But it does far more often than not ever trying. If you are going to fail, at least give it your very best shot.

5. “Anyone can work out for an hour, but to control what goes on your plate the other 23 hours…now, that’s hard work!”

 

I like this quote because it shows just how important nutrition is. Exercise can only get you so far. You need to control what you eat, for each & every meal, if you ever hope to achieve fitness success. Sure, it’s a mental game. Sure, you will slip up & cave in at some point. But look at the big picture, do your best, & focus on eating better every single day.

Train at Home: Gym & Workout ideas for the home.

Most savvy individuals & certainly anybody who takes care of their health know that regular exercise has many benefits. Cardiovascular health, stamina, mood & mental health can all improve with exercise, while the risk of a number of cancers, as well as diabetes & other serious medical conditions, are reduced in those who keep themselves physically fit.

 

The Exercise Dilemma 

While many fitness fans work out a few times a week in a professional gym, there may come a time when that is no longer enough. Some people grow bored with gym routines & look to add something else; such as a dance or a martial arts discipline to their weekly routine, but these are not always available at the gym. Some people might like to exercise more often but have a busy schedule that prevents them getting to the gym, while other individuals, such as shift workers or those with unpredictable or changeable schedules. People need the flexibility to exercise at odd times of the day or night, when most gyms aren’t open.

 

The Solution

 

Fortunately, it is reasonably easy to install a quality exercise space in most homes. To begin with, of course, you need a spare or unused room; in many cases, a garage or basement area will provide the perfect space. If there is no spare room available, building a small extension or addition onto your existing home for this purpose can be a great investment. However, in all cases, the primary consideration when it comes to having an exercise area in the home is that you have sufficient room to move around comfortably & safely.

The second consideration is the internal environment & in particular the heating & lighting arrangements in the exercise room. Additionally, make certain that you do not forget ventilation; excessive heat & condensation can not only damage your home, they can be dangerous to your health if you really work up a sweat in your home gym.

You will also want to think about the flooring in the exercise room. If the room is for light exercise use a normal flooring material should be fine, but for anything more strenuous, such as heavy cardio exercises or weight training, you might want to think about installing a sprung or other sport-optimised floor.

The equipment that you choose to install will depend on your own fitness interests. Many people & in particular dance & aerobics fans will want a generous amount of mirrored surface on at least one wall. A wall clock is another must-have for timing routines accurately & giving you that extra motivation to work faster, harder &  better. You will also need to remain hydrated, so a bottled water dispenser, or even just a tap, should be readily available.

 

A Great Investment

While building a home gym may seem excessive or indulgent to some, it is important to view it as an investment. If exercise is a big part of your life, it is something that you will be doing for many years to come. You need to ask yourself whether you would rather pay for that exercise with private gym fees, or with an investment in your own home which should increase its value.

Exercise is hugely beneficial to your health and, if you have a family, sharing that interest can be equally beneficial for them, too. Although a home gym may involve some initial financial outlay, the long term rewards may just make it one of the best investments you ever make.

Is Swimming for Fitness Effective?

One of the questions that I hear the most often from my Personal Training clients is “is swimming for fitness effective?” Many people with the goal of losing weight & gaining muscle want to know whether swimming works to accomplish both goals.

So should you jump into the pool & start swimming laps? Well, it depends. It depends on what your personal needs, preferences, & goals are. Keep on reading below for more about the connection between swimming & fitness.

The Benefits of Swimming

 

There can be no denying that swimming has many benefits. However, how much of these benefits you unlock depends greatly on how you go about swimming.

For instance, swimming on your back doesn’t take a whole lot of energy. On the other hand, a stroke such as the breaststroke or front crawl uses far more muscle & expends more energy.

Another thing to take into consideration is effort. Swimming is much more beneficial for fitness if you are giving it your all. If you are trying to beat a personal best time, the cardio workout will be much greater.

The best reason to use swimming, in my opinion, is as a way to stay in shape while recovering from injury. Those that have knee problems will find swimming much more agreeable than running, bicycling, & other forms of cardio training.

Swimming is also a soothing & relaxing activity. I know a lot of people that swim not necessarily because it is the best exercise out there but because they love how it allows them to relax & empty their minds.

The Drawbacks of Swimming

 

While swimming is a whole lot better than not exercising at all, there can be no denying that is had its drawbacks. Chief among these is that it is primarily cardiovascular & doesn’t really build strength or larger muscles. If this is part of your fitness goal, then you would do well to combine your swimming routine with weight training.

Swimming definitely does burn off calories but it does so in a slightly different way than other activities. Unlike other forms of exercise, you stop swimming calories shortly after you get out of the water. Other forms of exercise, like my Cardio Conditioning, allow you to burn calories long after stopping the exercise for the day. You might have heard of me refer to this as the Afterburn Effect.

Final Thoughts on Swimming for Exercise

At the end of the day, swimming can be a great workout for your body. It is a fun fitness activity that works your entire body. Best of all, you can do it by yourself or with others. Unfortunately, swimming is not the best exercise for losing weight or gaining muscle. So if you decide to swim, you should base that decision off of what your personal fitness goals are.

Top 5 Tips for a Better Deadlift

The deadlift is one exercise that I believe everyone needs to have in their fitness repertoire. It is very simple & basically just involves picking a barbell up from the ground & setting it back down (although it is slightly more involved than that). Indeed, we have even talked about deadlifting before on FitnessPlus in a long ago post that covers the difference between conventional, sumo, & Romanian lifts (I strongly urge you to go check it out).

The reason why the deadlift is such a great exercise is because it is simple & effective. It only requires a barbell & it works your entire body from your arms to your core to your legs (especially your legs). Better yet, it is a natural exercise – what is more natural than a human picking something heavy up off the ground?

Unfortunately, the deadlift is one of the exercises that is performed incorrectly the most often. Your best bet if you are learning to deadlift is to hire a Personal Trainer to show you how. In addition to improving your safety, having a little one-on-one time with a Personal Trainer will help you get the very most fitness benefits from all of your training.

Keep the five tips below in mind while learning to deadlift as well. These tips will all help you deadlift better.

1. It’s Not a “Dead Squat”

 

Many people – even professionals – think of the deadlift as a squat with a barbell in your hands. This is not true at all. There are significant differences in the technique & body positioning behind the lifts. Using standard squat technique during a deadlift is dangerous & could lead to injury. You need to learn proper deadlift technique, stick with it during your deadlifts, & reserve a different technique for squats.

2. Focus on the Hips

 

The movement of the hips, sometimes known as the hip hinge, during the deadlift is crucial to an effective deadlift. This is basically the part of the exercise where you push your hips back. A lot of people that use squat-like technique & movement for the deadlift don’t perform the hip movement properly. Ask your Personal Trainer to point out exactly how you can improve this part of your technique. It will make your deadlift much more powerful.

3. Keep a Solid Back

 

It really kills me when I see people deadlifting with rounded backs. In addition to bad technique, having a rounded back during the deadlift is a huge no-no for your spine. If you keep lifting this way, your spine will eventually get hurt. Make sure to attain upper back stiffness whenever you are deadlifting by keeping your chest tall & engaging your lats. This is another area that a Fitness Coach should be able to help you. Practice, with the right technique & low weight, is much better than practice with poor technique & high weight.

4. Remove Your Shoes

 

I see plenty of awesome deadlifters wearing their training shoes while performing the exercise. It doesn’t hinder them. However, I firmly believe that most of us can benefit by taking our shoes off. Deadlifting without shoes is a great way to improve your technique (shoes make you slightly taller & barefoot allows you to sit back on your heels more). Minimalist shoes like Chuck Taylors are a great alternative to actually slipping the shoes off.

5. Singles, Singles, Singles

 

Form is God when it comes to deadlifting. There is no point in doing high reps if you sacrifice form. You are best with sticking at around 5 reps at a time. In fact, even experienced deadlifters tend to stick with only around 1 to 5 reps at a time. Working in this range, even just doing singles, allows you to hone in on your technique. You can also move to heavier loads & do each rep as close to perfect as you possible can.

Start Deadlifting Today!

 

Deadlifting can be intimidating. It seems like an exercise only reserved for the super inshape. Those muscled up guys grunting over there in the corner. But, in reality, it is a great exercise for everyone to learn.

If you need help, then remember to ask for help! Find a Personal Trainer or ask your gym’s trainer for help getting you started. Then start small with low weight & focus on technique first. Watch others at the gym who deadlift with the proper technique & mimic them.

Before long, you will be deadlifting your way to fitness success! The deadlift is one of the best ways to get stronger – the right way.

Squats, Squats, Squats: Everything You Need to Know & Why They Are So Important

 

Say what you want, but there are few, if any, exercises that are better for your body than squats.

Sure, they target the lower body, but they require that a multitude of muscles work together to complete the movement, making squats a compound exercise. Plus, when it comes to the lower body, you really can’t argue with the benefits of making squats a regular part of your workout routine.

That’s why I decided to make today’s blog post all about squats. I’ll start with a few of the best benefits of the exercise & then give a brief explanation of how to do them the right way (to maximize their effectiveness & reduce the risk of injury).

Why Squats Are Important

 

If squats are not a part of your regular workout, then you need to make them a part of your regular workout. They simply have just so many benefits.

Here are a few reasons that squats are such a fantastic exercise:

  • Full Body Exercise: Squats are great because they help build muscle in your entire body. Naturally, they build up your legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, etc), but they also release testosterone & human growth hormone to improve muscle growth & muscle mass throughout your entire body. So, at the end of the day, they help promote lower & upper muscle growth.
  • Functional: Squats are one of the best functional exercises. These help make real-life activities easier instead of simply making you better at operating gym equipment.
  • Burn Fat: If you have done squats before, then you know that they are intense. In fact, they are one of the most time-effective ways to burn more calories & fat!
  • Mobility & Balance: Squatting is about more than just gaining muscle. The exercise also focuses on building/maintaining mobility & balance. In addition to increasing balance in your legs, they promote core strength & improve coordination between your brain & different muscle groups.

Proper Form for Squats

 

Using the proper form is essential when performing squats. If not done correctly, they can place undue stress on certain parts of your body (such as your knees). I’ve given you a few tips below that will help you perform squats right. However, there is no substitute to getting tips & advice from a Personal Trainer in person.

My best tips for the proper squat include:

  • Warm up before you start.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Keep your back in a neutral position.
  • Keep your knees centered over your feet.
  • Bend your knees, hips, & ankles slowly until you reach a 90-degree angle.
  • Slowly return to your starting position.
  • Repeat.
  • Breathe in as you lower your body & out as you return to your starting position.

Start Doing Squats!

Now that you know the benefits of doing squats & how to do them what is stopping you from adding them to your workout routine? Nothing should be!

Aging & Exercise: How the Body Builds Strength When You Grow Older

Regular exercise becomes even more important as you grow older. Yet many people replace strength training & working out in the gym with other kinds of exercise. A lot of us question whether there is actually a point of working out beyond a certain age.

Recently, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research did a study that compared the results of younger & older people that completed the same exercise program after a number of weeks. This study as well as a little more information on aging & exercise is discussed in greater detail below.

How the Study Was Set Up

 

This particular study lasted for ten weeks. Twenty-six seniors participated with an average age of about 65 years old. Twenty-three younger people participated with an average age of about 29 years old.

The workout plans they were instructed to do were fairly simple. They consisted of two to four sets of eight to fourteen reps. Various exercises were used. The amount of resistance varied throughout the course of the ten weeks. Exercises that were used included leg press, bench press, & a variety of isolation exercises.

Fitness levels of each participant were tested before the study to compare with the fitness levels after the ten week study.

Results from the Study

 

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study on aging & exercise was interesting. We’ve broken down the results of the study below:

Strength: The workout program increased the strength in both younger & older participants. Most exercises resulted in roughly equal gain between the two groups.

Muscle Mass: Leg mass increased in both groups. However, only the younger men had a significant increase in muscle mass in their legs. The older group only had growth in leg mass with muscle mass remaining nearly the same.

Muscle Activation: While flexing hard against resistance, the older group of men achieved a greater increase in EMG activity than younger men. Basically, the older men received more muscle activation during most exercises than the younger men.

Simply put, the study shows that working out into your sixties (& possibly beyond) has its benefits. There is no reason to stop strength training at this mark. You still have the potential to improve your strength.

A few great blog posts on our website to check out on our website related to strength training include:

 

Final Thoughts

What is stopping you from exercising when you get older? If you’re above the age of sixty, we’d love to hear from you about your current fitness routine!

Fitness Fact Fridays – 1st November 2013

FitnessPlus Fact:

‘For every pound of muscle that you gain, 50 more calories are burned each day.’

It is amazing how much more effective gaining muscle is than just losing weight. A lot of people in the gym are still more focused on dropping their weight than gaining muscle. But gaining muscle has many more long-term benefits. In fact, focusing your workout on building muscle will burn more calories in the process. Rather than focus on a cardio activity for your entire workout, you should include weight training too. Or better yet, throw the two together into a single exercise program like my Cardio Conditioning. With this, you will get the very best results. As is stated above, each pound of muscle that you gain, will burn 50 more calories on its own. You might gain a little weight as you gain muscle, but you will become thinner & leaner anyways. It will be healthy, lean muscle. You’ll still be burning fat.

How to train to be a fighter?

Martial arts training is a popular & fun way to exercise & look after your inner & outer self. Before commencing any kind of fight education, it is important to consider what kind of fighting or program you want to partake in. There are many kinds of fighting styles that come under the martial arts banner & it is worth investigating what each involves before you get started. This will help you to understand what level of commitment is involved, what you will be aiming to get out of the training & what kind of fighter you will be.

Perhaps most obviously, training to be a martial arts fighter involves building on your physical fitness on various levels including stamina, strength, coordination and flexibility. This kind of training also aims to sharpen & improve your mental health, sense of self & spirituality. Your martial arts training is a whole body & mind work out, it will provide you with the tools to deal with situations of a violent or aggressive nature as well as boosting your self confidence & wellbeing.

Fundamental fight training will involve learning how to both attack & defend yourself, whether that is how to throw a punch or learning how to take a punch. Once the basics are down pat, combinations or fight sequences will be taught. Learning how to collaborate & coordinate your moves is a crucial element of fight training, as is mastering techniques to defend & neutralise fight sequences.

 

Appreciating the role of your coach or  teacher  will also be a part of your fight training. He or she is there to motivate & push you, helping you to reach your full potential as a fighter. Your Coach is a trained professional & knows how to get the best out of you and will challenge you to reach & even exceed your believed abilities. Learning to listen & trust your teacher will help with your training & ultimately your ability as a fighter.

Your diet also plays a large part in reaching your peak psychical fitness & potential as a fighter. Eating foods that are high in protein will help to build muscle & bulk. It is important to observe your intake of essential vitamins & minerals, depending on your circumstance supplements may be an option. It is recommended that you speak with your teacher or medical professional before taking supplements or changing your diet. Another key item to a healthy diet & strong physical being is keeping hydrated. Monitor your water intake through the day drinking a minimum of 2 litres of water per day. When training, you will need to replace any liquid or electrolytes lost through sweat & exertion. Drinking more water or even a sports drink after exercising will help with this.

Perhaps most importantly, fight training requires dedication & commitment to building on & developing your body & your mind. Continuous training will not only improve your physical condition, it will also help you perfect fighting techniques. In order to reach your full potential, you must commit to a training schedule & practice each technique continuously until it becomes an acquired behaviour. This also requires developing the right mind set when fighting. Martial arts is as much about the mind as it is about the body & you will need to train your mind to stay clear & calm during training & during a fight.