Tag Archives: exercise

Body & Soul - Side-to-side lateral movements matter

Side-to-side lateral movements matter

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Side-to-side lateral movements matter

Photography, bigstockphoto.com

Most workout moves have us moving forward and backward, and up and down. Rarely do we move from side-to-side, or in a diagonal direction. Abby Johnson-Bertan, from GoodLife Fitness, says that we tend to focus our eyes in front of us when we exercise, especially with running and walking. Lateral moves can help us to adapt to unexpected movements, which could possibly save us from falling when walking the dog or hiking on uneven ground.

By adding lateral movements to your exercise routine, you can correct muscle imbalances, improve stability, strengthen smaller muscle groups, stabilize your pelvis and hips, and reduce injuries. Lateral movements include side lunges, side shuffles, lateral bear crawls and jumping jacks.

Body imbalances

Not only do lateral movements help to reduce injuries, but they also help to improve mobility and even out imbalances as we age. “Forward movements, like running and biking, use the same dominant muscles – stressing your hamstrings, calves and quads,” says Tara Laferrara, founder of the TL Method and co-owner of Compass Fitness. “You stress the dominant muscle groups, causing them to become increasingly stronger as your smaller muscles stay the same. Working the muscles on the inside and outside of your legs, for example, helps to keep you injury-free.”

LATERAL EXERCISES

Include in your regular workout a couple of times per week.

  • SIDE LUNGES 12 repetitions per leg x three sets
  • SIDE SHUFFLES 20 yards per leg x three sets
  • LATERAL BEAR CRAWLS 20 yards in each direction x three sets
  • JUMPING JACKS OR STAR JUMPS 30 seconds x three sets
  • SPEED SKATER 10 repetitions per leg x three sets

Step aside

Laferrara says that she includes lateral exercises in all parts of her workout, including the warm-up, workout, and cool-down, but she finds them especially important when warming up. “You are preparing your body for any movement that will occur in the workout. Even as a trail runner, which is primarily a forward movement, at some point you’ll most likely have to jump to the side to avoid tripping. You have to get your body ready for that.”

There are two ways to perform a lateral movement. When you move a limb away from your body, it’s called abduction. And when you bring it back in, it’s referred to as adduction. “These movements stabilize your joints and your dominant muscles,” says Laferrara.


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Top 5 tips to survive flu season

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Top 5 tips to survive flu season

(NC) With winter right around the corner, many of us are already anticipating the dreaded cold and flu season. But this time of year doesn’t have to mean a household full of runny noses, sore throats, achy muscles and fevers. Abbey Sharp, a registered dietician, shares her top tips to combat and survive this year’s flu season.

Find ways to minimize stress: Chronic stress wears you down, both emotionally and physically, leaving your body more susceptible to infection and disease. Make an effort to find some activities that help you unwind. Listening to a meditation app, doing yoga, laughing with friends or even just taking a bath may help clear your mind and lower those harmful stress hormone levels.

Exercise daily: You don’t need to be an athlete to reap the benefits of daily exercise. Exercise may help slow down the release of stress hormones, which in turn helps boost immune function over time. In fact, research has found that moderate exercise even helps to prevent the onset of the common cold. Aim to spend at least 30 minutes each day doing something active.

Increase zinc levels: Zinc is a mineral that helps your body stay healthy, not only strengthening your immune system but also promoting normal growth and development at all ages. For a delicious way to get your zinc, try Tetley Super Herbal Tea-Immune, which has lemon, echinacea and zinc. This tasty tea is high in zinc, containing 20 per cent of an adult’s recommended daily intake of zinc per cup. Get enough sleep: When deprived of quality shut-eye, your body experiences an increase in stress hormones, which starts to wear down your ability to fight off disease and infection. Skip the caffeine after noon, shut off all electronics before bed, keep your room as dark as possible and create a relaxing pre-bed routine to help you get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Keep good hygiene habits: Unless you plan to barricade indoors yourself this winter, it’s impossible to steer completely clear of germs. Your best defence is to wash your hands thoroughly and often using soap and hot water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. And don’t forget to be courteous — practice the “sleeve sneeze” to avoid transferring pathogenic germs onto your hands.

FLU RECOVERY TIPS
Flu season is upon us, and if you’re one of the one billion influenza cases that happen each year, you’re looking at a rough road to recovery. While most cases last seven to 10 days, the flu can last up to two full weeks for some.

Cindy Beckedam, a registered dietician at Loblaws, and Hans Epp, a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart, share their tips for recovering from the flu.

Drink plenty of fluids: Fluids fuel your immune system by helping move important proteins around your body. We’re also losing a lot of them in the form of mucous or sweat when we have the flu. “While there are no hard and fast rules, do your best to get plenty of fluids whether they come in the form of tea, soup or plain old water,” says Beckedam.

Cancel your caffeine and alcohol consumption: Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics that may work against your efforts to stay hydrated. “Skipping a glass of beer or wine with dinner may make the job of staying hydrated a bit easier,” advises Epp.

Consume foods with the right vitamins and minerals: It takes a lot of work for our bodies to fight the flu, so getting the vitamins and minerals we need is a big part of recovery. Vitamin C, zinc and vitamin A help contribute to a good immune system and overall health, so foods that contain them are a good place to start.

Stay well rested: The flu takes a lot out of us, so getting plenty of rest will help with recovery. “Tired and sore muscles are your body’s way of telling you it’s a good idea to stay at home,” explains Epp. “Staying home and resting have the added benefit of curbing the spread of illness.”

Avoid the flu altogether: The flu shot is still your best way to help avoid the illness, so stop in at your closest Shoppers Drug Mart and get vaccinated today.

http://www.newscanada.com/home

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BODY & SOUL: Low Intensity - Steady State

BODY & SOUL: Low Intensity – Steady State

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BODY & SOUL: Low Intensity – Steady State

by Agnes Ramsay

Low intensity steady state (LISS) exercises are very effective for those who can’t do high intensity bouts of exercise. It’s low impact, so it’s easy on your joints and it can be done anywhere, at any time. In a previous article, I talked about HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which has been trending the last few years. With this form of exercise, you combine periods of high intensity exercises, interspersed with low intensity breaks. While HIIT is extremely effective, it’s not for everyone.

You’re probably quite familiar with the LISS type of work out – walking at a steady cadence, light jogging or swimming. Basically, you can do any type of activity that increases your heart rate by approximately 60 to 80 per cent, for a maximum of 35 to 45 minutes.

Photo, bigstockphoto.com
Photo, bigstockphoto.com

WHO’S IT FOR?

Everyone can use LISS training. For those who are new to fitness, LISS can provide a gateway to getting stronger, and is less intimidating. Someone with no restrictions can do a HIIT training one day, then three days of LISS, and then back to HIIT.

However, if you have restrictions, such as back problems, arthritis, and/ or joint issues, stick to LISS. Your body will eventually adapt, and you won’t reap the benefits, if you do the same exercises over and over. Therefore, ensure that you vary your LISS training with different workouts.

Before you head out, do some dynamic stretching and finish off with some static stretching. For the most effective caloric burn, do it first thing in the morning before you eat. To ensure that you stay on track, schedule it into your day, ask a friend to join you, and switch up your exercises to keep it fun. If timing is an issue, break it up into 15 minute increments – two or three times per day.

TYPES OF LISS TRAINING

  • Fast walk
  • Slow jog
  • Moderate swim
  • Bicycle riding on a flat surface
  • Elliptical/rower at a steady state

WHY DOES IT WORK?

  • LISS can be done on a daily basis, as opposed to HIIT, which requires three to four days of recovery.
  • LISS takes less energy, therefore if you’re on a calorie reduced diet you won’t be starving after a workout.
  • It helps to increase your aerobic health.
  • It’s easier on the joints, which equals fewer injuries.
  • For some, LISS is more agreeable than HIIT, which helps with compliance.

KNOW YOUR TARGET

With LISS, the pace is steady, but constant. You can use a heart-rate monitor to stay in the moderate range or use the talk test. If you can carry on a conversation at the pace you are exercising, then you are in the moderate range.

HOW TO CALCULATE HEART RATE:

For example; if you are 60 years of age, your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age (60), which equals 180.

Therefore, your LISS heart rate should be 60 to 80 per cent of that – around 108 to 144.

Don’t underestimate the power of getting outside. With LISS, you can do it anywhere, so take the time to smell the roses.

Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach specializing in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.

agnes.ramsay@xbodyworld.com


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Body & Soul: Muscle Mass

Body & Soul: Muscle Mass

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Body & Soul: Muscle Mass

by Agnes Ramsay

Age-appropriate strengthening exercises for vulnerable areas

As we age, downsizing (on all levels) is something that most of us look at quite seriously. We find that we don’t need as much space, or all the stuff that we’ve accumulated. In our decision to downsize, we may factor in the preference for single-level living, as opposed to a two-storey residence. While none of us can predict what our requirements might be in the latter part of our lives, having stairs might not be a bad thing. You might be missing an ideal, stay-fit option by going up and down them everyday. Even in her early 90s, my mother would comment on the fact that running up and down the stairs was great exercise.

EXERCISING WITH LIMITATIONS

Arthritic hips, sore knees and bad backs are definitely deterrents when it comes to exercising, and these conditions limit our ability to do certain types of activities. Still, it’s important that we work our muscles at any given opportunity and keep active. Staying fit requires a positive attitude, along with an understanding of how to make adjustments in order to accommodate life’s changes.

Check with your healthcare provider before doing certain exercises, and never exercise through pain.

BACK TO BACK

Resting isn’t always the answer to back problems. To strengthen the back, the muscles need to be activated.

Photo, bigstockphoto.com
Photo, bigstockphoto.com

PARTIAL CRUNCHES: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head. Gently lift your head and your shoulders towards the ceiling. This is a small move that won’t put excess strain on your lower back or neck. Never do standard sit ups.

BIRD DOGS: To gently work the other side of your core, go on your hands and knees. Tighten the core by lifting one leg straight up behind you, and the opposite arm in front of you. Stabilize. Don’t let your back sag or sway. Hold each side for five seconds, and work up to five rounds.

WALL SITTING: This is a great way to exercise your legs, without stressing the spine. It’s also a suitable pose for those with arthritis. Stand 10 to 12 inches away from the wall, and lean back until your back is flat against it. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold for a 10 count. Start with five repetitions and work up to 12.

ARTHRITIS-FRIENDLY OPTIONS

  • Walk on a flat surface, preferably in the shallow end of a pool. No running.
  • Ride a stationary bike on the easiest setting, and vary the intensity – slightly.
  • Many yoga poses are helpful when doing strength training for your upper body.
  • If you have arthritis in your hips, do not do exercises that cause you to move your leg away from your body.
  • If you have arthritis in your knees, avoid exercises that require quick, lateral movements, such as jumping and racquet sports.
  • You’ll experience more resistance when you exercise in a pool, as water’s buoyancy virtually eliminates the effects of gravity – supporting 90 per cent of the body’s weight for reduced impact and greater flexibility.
Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach specializing in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.

agnes.ramsay@xbodyworld.com


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Body & Soul: Dynamic Duo

Body & Soul: Dynamic Duo

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Body & Soul: Dynamic Duo

by Agnes Ramsay

Exercise + Nutrition = Active Immune Booster

Staying healthy throughout the winter months can be a challenge. Even if you take care to wash your hands, use an antibacterial sanitizer and get the flu shot, your immune system can always use an extra boost.

Source: bigstockphoto.com
Source: bigstockphoto.com

Keeping your body strong with proper nutrition and exercise helps to avoid illness at anytime of the year, but it is especially important during the fluctuation of weather patterns over the next few months when we’re most vulnerable to colds and flus.

EXERCISE WITH CAUTION

Exercise increases the number of white blood cells in your body, which are the body’s natural defence in fighting illness. I’m by no means suggesting strenuous exercises or that you become a marathon runner, but simply by taking a brisk 20- to 30-minute walk each day, can dramatically cut down your risk of catching a cold.

To mix it up (or if the weather isn’t conducive), alternate with going to the gym – but don’t overdo it. If you exercise to the point of exhaustion, without letting your body recover, then it becomes a negative stressor, which can compromise your health.

NUTRITION FACTS

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, is actually quite fitting. Proper nutrition helps to keep your immune system strong. If you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, you are fuelling your body with disease-fighting vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, B6, D, Folate Acid, Iron, Selenium and Zinc – all of which are widely considered to help lower the risk of a host of ailments. When you eat a variety of foods throughout the day, you have more energy to engage in physical activity, plus it keeps you in that immune boosting zone.

SOLUBLE FIBRE
oat bran
barley
nuts
seeds
lentils
citrus fruits
apples
strawberries
carrots

Source: bigstockphoto.com
Source: bigstockphoto.com

The down side of using supplements, is that you’re not getting the added benefit of fibre. The fibre content found in whole foods not only helps to keep you ‘regular’, but it also strengthens your immune system.

Insoluble fibres tend to have more-bulky traits (for staying regular), like those found in whole grains and flax, as well as vegetables like celery and tomatoes.

Soluble fibres are found in many fruits, nuts, beans and oats. They not only help to control your blood sugar and serum cholesterol, but they also help to reduce inflammation throughout your body, which helps to support your immune system.

Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach specializing in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.

agnes.ramsay@xbodyworld.com



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Body & Soul: Nordic Pole Walking

Body & Soul: Nordic Pole Walking

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Body & Soul: Nordic Pole Walking

by Agnes Ramsay

Reduce stress and stay fit

Walking improves your attention span and your outlook on life. According to researchers, walking outdoors can boost virus and tumour-fighting white blood cells. It’s free, and you can walk almost anywhere. It’s a great activity to do alone or with others. What’s not to love?

My husband teases me for being a tree hugger, but I don’t need any specialist to tell me how great I feel after a brisk walk. However, some of us have limitations due to bad knees, hips or lower back problems.

Nordic Poles to the rescue

A couple of years ago, my husband and I hiked through several State and National parks. Our first hike was six hours on the East Rim Trail in Zion National Park. Although we were fit 53-year-olds, the wear and tear of my husband’s professional hockey playing days had caused knee and hip problems. Hiking upwards wasn’t so bad, but heading back down became difficult. We found a sturdy stick that helped, and then I had a lightbulb moment – Nordic Poles.

After my husband iced his knees, we headed off to an outfitting store and chose a pair of collapsible, lightweight, aluminum, anti-shock poles. That night I researched pole walking techniques and the following day we hit the trails for a four-hour ridge climb. I was nervous, but my husband was determined. He barely struggled getting down the steep pathway, using the poles as though he’d been doing it all of his life.

At one point I borrowed his poles and couldn’t believe the zip it gave to my hiking, as well as the additional workout I felt in my upper body. I have since purchased a set of my own.

Nordic Pole benefits

  • Upper body assistance with overall strength, improving endurance and speed
  • Balance and stability are enhanced on uneven terrain
  • Shock absorption – reduces impact on hips, knees, ankles and feet
  • Helps to establish, and maintain, a consistent pace
  • Burns more calories than walking

Buying Tips

  • When looking for the right size, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle
  • Ensure that they are collapsible for traveling
  • Check the comfort level of the hand grips and wrist straps
  • Anti-shock poles reduce strain on hands and wrists
  • Lightweight, carbon poles are more expensive, but aluminum poles are more flexible and better for running

USING YOUR POLES

  • Grip poles (firmly), with your elbows at 90 degrees.
  • Let your arms swing naturally – opposite arm to leg
  • Reach slightly forward with the pole, and push down on the ground and back
  • Upright posture when going forward
  • Lean slightly forward when going uphill
  • Don’t overdo it on the first day
  • Establish a rhythm and stretch afterwards
  • Poles assist with stability in the winter, but in icy conditions, wear appropriate footwear (i.e. boot traction slip ons) and use trails that are well-maintained.
Agnes Ramsay specializes in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.

agnes.ramsay@xbodyworld.com.


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