Ann Blanton Let's talk health, fitness, nutrition and everything in between

Posts Tagged ‘medical

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How to Begin a Safe Exercise Program

by Ann Blanton

There are hundreds of reasons why people refuse to workout. They’re too busy, too tired, don’t have time, don’t feel like it, can’t make the commitment or they just plain old hate to exercise.

Some people want to start an exercise regime, but don’t know where to begin. How many times have you made a resolution to get in shape? How many times have you actually kept that promise? You might have even convinced yourself that exercise programs don’t work anyway, so why bother.

Current studies show that individuals are living well into their eighties and nineties. Thus, maybe getting in shape so you can make the best of your golden years isn’t such a bad idea after all.

As you probably already know, getting fit has many health benefits. It gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, makes you look and feel better, boosts your self-esteem and even improves your sex drive. When you feel confident about yourself, you naturally feel more attractive. Plus, exercise also helps to fight the signs of aging and most diseases such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some types of cancer.

If you want to start a regime, but don’t know how or where to begin, this article will help you learn the fundamentals and get on the right track to fitness. Even if you’re busy, you’ll be able to fit this plan into your lifestyle. There’s no time like the present, to put those goals into action; so let’s get started.

Consult a Physician 

If you’re new to fitness or have a medical condition that might worsen during physical activity, it’s a good idea to seek the advice from a physician you can trust.

Make a Commitment

Making a commitment might sound simple to some, but dedicating yourself to stick to an exercise routine on a daily basis is entirely different. First, it’s important for you to decide what time of day works best for you and then stick with it. For many, mornings can be effective because that’s when most people have their highest level of energy. Morning exercisers find that working out early helps them to get their day off on the right track. If mornings don’t work for you, then schedule a time that does and commit to that time every day.

Set Realistic Goals

If you set expectations that are too high, you’ll only sabotage yourself before putting your plan into action. Remember, changing bad habits doesn’t come easy. It’s always best to make small changes weekly, but most importantly, be reasonable.

Be Optimistic

A positive attitude is usually contagious. If you have a negative attitude, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure even before you begin. Furthermore, a good attitude will change your entire outlook on life.

Motivation

Staying motivated is probably one of the biggest challenges you’ll face when beginning an exercise program. The same routine is bound to get boring over time. To prevent exercise “burnout”, try to plan an activity that you enjoy, something exciting and fun, so you can keep your workouts fresh and enjoyable. Approximately one-third of all exercisers quit within the first year because of boredom.

Exercise with a friend

If you exercise with a friend or family member, you’re more likely to be consistent. Plus, it’s also a good way to stay accountable.

Start a Journal

Keeping an exercise log is a good way to keep track of all your accomplishments. If you become discouraged or frustrated, rereading all your victories is a good way to keep you motivated.

Toss out the scale

How many times have you stepped on that little contraption, only to have it ruin your day? If you’re answer is “many”, then you might want to hide it, toss it and forget all about it. As you become leaner and  start to build muscle, the numbers on the scale will probably go up. Don’t get discouraged. It’s more important to focus on your well-being and less on what the numbers say.

Begin Slowly

If you try and do too much too quickly, you’re only setting yourself up for sore muscles, fatigue and possibly even injury. Some exercise programs can be intimidating, so it’s best to take things at your own pace. As your body becomes stronger, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity.

Include Variety

Diversity can be just as important as the exercise itself. Over time, your body adapts to the same routine; so if your goal is to lose weight, you might want to “shake” things up, so it doesn’t slow down the process.

Rest and Recover

Some people might dive full force into working out and then feel guilty taking a day off. It’s important to always listen to your body. You might want to allow yourself a day off in between workouts so you can come back and feel stronger than ever.

Reward yourself

Some people like to reward themselves for their accomplishments by splurging on sweet treats. Instead, and only if you can afford it, why not treat yourself to small inexpensive gifts such as a manicure, pedicure or maybe a new exercise outfit.

Never give up

Like many people, there will always be days that will be discouraging or maybe you won’t be satisfied with your progress. Don’t use this as an excuse to throw in the towel.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a healthy body.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/

 

 

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Positive vs Negative Stress – What’s the Difference?

by Ann Blanton

In a stressful society, life can throw a curve ball when you least expect it. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, stress will  play a major role in your life. How you handle those situations is entirely up to you. It’s about taking control and not letting stressful circumstances get the upper hand. There are ways to manage those upsetting incidents, but first you have to learn to accept the things you cannot change. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? But, it’s not as complicated as you may think.

The first response you imagine when you think about stress, is usually  a negative reaction. What you don’t know, not all stress is considered bad or harmful.

Take a good long look at your life and get in touch with your feelings and emotions. The goal is to manage your time wisely and make time for what’s important. It’s significant to come to terms with your stress levels and learn how to deal with it head on. Like it or not, it’s a part of life.

When you feel agitated, consciously choose how you’re going to react. You can either freak out or shrug it off. If you don’t learn to control stressful situations and allow your worries to bottle up, it can become destructive  to your body. Take several deep breathes and train your mind to stay calm and relaxed. Speak up. Never be afraid to let others know how or what you’re feeling. It might sound difficult, but with practice, it’s not impossible.

Categories of stress – Characteristics of stress can be divided into four groups. Each type can either be positive or negative. Let’s take a look at how each stage works.

Eustress – This is known as positive stress. You might feel like this after a roller coaster ride or watching a scary movie.

Positive stress produces chemicals known as endorphins and serotonin which provides contentment, satisfaction and exhilaration. Maybe you’ve felt a rush of excitement after a promotion or winning a marathon. As a result of satisfaction, your body physically creates positive stress.

Distress – This is identified as a negative aspect of stress. This type of stress can make you feel angry, discouraged or frightened. Being overwhelmed with distress, can often cause you to feel worried or experience psychological anguish.

The majority of people consider negative stress when they’re in pain, anxious or afraid because an excessive amount of adrenaline is being released into the body. Once the problem has been resolved, the bad stress is replaced with positive stress.

Chronic– This is the most serious type of stress. It’s also known as long term, which can lead to significant health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Some causes can be financial, sickness or death.

Sufferers feel as if they have no control over certain situations. The best way to manage chronic stress is to seek medical attention immediately and find out the source of the problem.

Acute – If you feel threatened or afraid, it triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response and kicks your adrenaline into overdrive. It  prepares your body for emergencies. Acute stress is also known as a short term stressor that can be caused by trauma such as car accidents, being chased by a dog, robbery or rape.

There are many sides of stress; we just need to learn how to cope with different stages as they happen.

So how do you cope in stressful situations?

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/

I’ve also just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”.

Gym Equipment

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NEW BODY, NEW MIND, NEW YOU-TIPS FOR JOINING A GYM

Have you made a resolution to join a gym, but your busy lifestyle has kept you from achieving your goal. Maybe you’re running around with the kids and by the end of the day you’re too exhausted to work out. Reality finally sets in when you step on the scale and watch as the numbers go up. Sound familiar? Just because you put the kids first, doesn’t mean your health should come last.

Eventually you begin to consider the alternatives and start to put things into perspective. Perhaps you’ve never joined a gym, you’re afraid to commit and don’t know what to expect or where to begin. If that’s the case, here are a few tips to help get your started.

Check with your physician – If you’ve never exercised before, it’s probably a good idea to check with your health care professional before beginning any type of activity. Once you’ve been given a clean bill of health, you’re all set and ready to begin.

Do your research – It’s usually  good idea to ask around. If you have family and friends who belong to a gym, ask them for recommendations for facilities that would best fit your needs.

You might also look in your local phone directory for gyms that are close by make a few calls and visit the locations. When checking out nearby fitness centers, make sure they meet up to your standards. You might even decide to talk to an expert and let them walk through the motions. Find out what they offer; what classes are best for beginners and if they provide childcare. Some places have day care services available if you sign up for a membership. If you’re not ready to become a member, a small fee might be included.

What to wear– Most experts will advise you to wear lose fitting garments like shorts and t-shirts, sweats or leotards.

Proper footwear – There are many different types of athletic shoes for most sporting activities, so depending on what you sign up for will determine your needs. If you’re not certain what activities you’ll take part in, cross trainers will most likely be your best option. Always try them on, walk around and make sure they don’t lip up and down. The last thing you need are blisters on your feet. Selecting a good pair of shoes will help your overall performance and prevent injury.

Socks are important too – Choosing the proper fitness socks are just as important as your sneakers. Look for something in the lightweight category. This type of sock will keep your feet dry, prevent odor and free from blisters.

Lockers – Every new client is assigned to their own locker. Towels for shower use are also available. Although lockers are free, you might need to supply your own lock.

Now that you’ve done your research and have learned the basics, here are a few exercise ideas to help you get started.

Activities for beginners – Aerobics for beginners consist of basic, low impact cardio moves with a simple core routine and abdominal conditioning.

Pilates for beginners – This includes an introduction to Pilates, techniques in relaxation, core strength and posture.

Body blitz – This incorporates simple aerobic moves and body conditioning. When your body becomes strong and fit, you can add moderate to high intensity workouts and include strength training with weights.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. If you’re interested, here’s the link to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ Currently, I just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/victoriajz/6824964899/”>VictoriaJZ</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photo pin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Stretching for good health

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/robwallace/738543661/sizes/o/

On Your Mark, Get Set, Stretch!

Are you like most people when they first begin to exercise? The morning after, you’re muscles are so sore, you can hardly roll out of bed. You feel as if you’ve already been kicked to the curb and the day hasn’t even started. If you haven’t already figured out the solution, I’ll tell you. The answer is stretching before and after your workout.

Gentle stretching prior to activity is beneficial to warm up cold muscles and helps to prevent pulled or torn muscles. The post workout stretch aids in recovery and avoids injury. Neglecting to do so can make a world of difference between sore muscles and fatigue or increased energy and stronger muscles. Stretching shapes the muscles, making them long and lean and removes the lactic acid.

Now that you understand the importance of stretching, let’s talk about some of the benefits. 

Improves flexibility and range of motion

As you age, simple everyday tasks such as tying your shoes or picking something up from off the floor can often become challenging. Regular stretching can elongate your muscles and make daily chores much easier to achieve.

Enhances circulation

Stretching promotes circulation of blood to the muscles and joints, which in turn bring nutrients to the cells and helps to remove waste. 

Develops good posture

Stretching helps keep your muscles from becoming tight and sore, which in turn, allows for better posture and fewer aches and pains.

Relieves stress, anxiety and fatigue

Tense muscles are often accompanied by stress. Stretching relaxes those muscles and brings you a sense of well-being and relief.

Decreases risk from injury

When your muscles and joints are tight, stretching before and after a workout, loosens and protects them from becoming painful after exercise.

Now that you know the advantages of stretching, let’s practice a few techniques.

Calf

This is the muscle that runs along the back of the lower leg. Stand at arm’s length from a wall. Put one foot behind the other. The right knee should be straight and the right heel positioned on the floor as you slowly bend the left leg forward. Always hold your back straight and your hips forward. 

Hamstring

Your hamstring runs along the back of your upper leg. Lie on the floor, placing one leg against the wall. Relax your heel alongside the wall and bend your knee slightly. Gently straighten your leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh.

Quadriceps

The quads run along the front of your thigh. Standing next to a wall for support, gently grasp your ankle. Pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold your stomach in tight and keep your knees together.

Shoulders

Bring your left arm above or below your elbow and hold gently. Repeat with your right arm.

Neck

Bend your head forward and gently to the left. Do the same thing on the right. Hold to a comfortable position.

Warm-up

Always prepare your body for what is about to come. Remember to stretch cold muscles to prevent your risk of injury. Don’t rush stretching. Take things slow and easy. 

Breathe

Never hold your breath! Inhale slowly as you begin your stretch and exhale as you complete it.

Cool down

The cool down is just as important as stretching because it gradually brings your heart rate down without shocking your body. It also helps to relax your muscles before stretching takes place. 

Tips:

1. If it hurts, don’t do it! Hold each stretch for at least thirty to sixty seconds. If you feel pain or discomfort, back off.

2. Never bounce while you’re stretching because it can cause injury to your muscle tissue.

3. If you have a chronic medical condition or an injury, seek medical advice from a professional. Modify stretching is always advisable.

4. If you don’t exercise regularly, take a few minutes to stretch your body every morning and again before going to bed to maintain flexibility.

5. Make a habit to stretch daily and your body will thank you.

I would love to hear your feedback, so send me all your comments.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ Currently, I just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.