Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category



Getting Started With An Exercise Routine

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Taking the first step is always the hardest. The hardest part about starting a fitness and exercise program is just getting started. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

  1. Consult your physician. Always speak with your family physician before undertaking an exercise program, just to make sure that you’re health enough to exercise. They can also provide you with other valuable information to help you get started.
  2. Decide whether or not to join a gym. This is probably the biggest decision to make. If you can afford a gym and can work it into your schedule then it’s definitely the way to go. If you can afford a personal trainer then you’ll see even better results. Working out at home can be effective, but the lack of equipment might possibly slow your progress.
  3. Plan your program. Any program should include cardiovascular training, strength training, and even flexibility conditioning. Whether at home or at the gym you need to include all three phases into your workouts. Always start and finish your workouts by stretching. Warmup with cardio training and then move on to strength training.

About.com also has a great directory of information for beginning your training program.

Body Composition – Lean Mass and Fat

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

You know your weight, but do you know what that weight is comprised of? Body composition tells you how much of your weight is made up of lean mass (muscles, bones, organs) and how much is fat. To truly understand your level of health it’s important to know how much fat you have.

Body compsitionJust knowing your body weight can be a deceptive measurement of your overall health. For example, an athlete may way 225 pounds but have 15% body fat. An average person may weigh 225 pounds but have 25% body fat. Clearly there is a difference in the physical fitness and health of the two. Just having them stand on a scale wouldn’t reveal the difference though.

Taking part in a fitness program that involves both diet and exercise will help reduce your body fat percentage. Losing weight typically involves losing both lean mass and fat mass, so be sure to add strength training to your regimen to build back the muscle mass.

The Importance of Core Training

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Core training has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. Training your core muscle group is more involved than training just your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are comprised of just a couple of muscles that have somewhat limited functions. The core muscle group is larger and has more important function.

The core muscle group surrounds your torso and is responsible for helping to stabilize your pelvis and spine. Together, these muscles are what allow you to stand upright and walk on two feet. Improving the conditioning of your core will give you a greater range of motion in your torso and, more importantly, give you more stability and strength around your spine. Poor core conditioning will result in poor mobility and stability.

Any fitness program should focus heavily on core training, rather than just abdominal exercises. About.com has a great article on some of the more common and effective core training exercises.

Fitness Trends For 2011

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Popular fitness programs and methods are constantly changing. Each year new programs become popular and others fall out of favor. The American College of Sports Medicine publishes a list of trends each year. Here are some highlights from the 2011 list.

  • Personal training will continue to grow in popularity. Licensing programs for trainers will help improve the quality of training, which will in turn reduce injuries and encourage more people to hire the services of a personal trainer.
  • Employer sponsored training program and on-site health programs for business will continue to increase in popularity. Businesses are increasingly taking notice of the benefits of having a healthier workforce.
  • Exercise, weight-loss, and childhood obesity prevention continue to be important trends.
  • Pilates is not on the list for the first time in years, perhaps indicating that it was just a fad.

You can find the full list of fitness trends for 2011 at WebMD.

How Metabolism Affects Your Weight

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Metabolism is the rate at which your body consumes calories. Someone with a high metabolic rate is able to burn calories more efficiently than someone with a slower metabolic rate. Assuming these two people eat roughly the same amount of calories, the individual with a faster metabolic rate “burns up” more of the calories she eats; the person who has the slower metabolism doesn’t burn all the calories taken in, so the extra calories are “saved” and then converted to fat.

Since many factors can affect your metabolism (e.g. age, overall health), it can actually slow down without you making any lifestyle changes. The good news is that aerobic exercise is an ideal way to increase your metabolism and combat weight gain.

Aging in particular has a noticeable impact on your metabolism, due to changes in hormone balance. That doesn’t mean aging makes weight gain inevitable. A 2001 study by the USDA Agricultural Research Service showed that older people can significantly improve their metabolism and fend of weight gain by participating in strength training (using weights or other resistance) exercise. The reason both exercise and strength training can improve your metabolism? Muscle burns calories more efficiently than fat; the more muscle you have in relation to your body fat, the higher your metabolism will be.

Metabolism is an important part of the weight-loss formula. It’s important to burn as many calories as possible when trying to lose weight, and metabolism plays right into that.

The Shrinking Team
Weight-Loss is Hard, We’re Here to Make it Easier

The Benefits of Keeping an Fitness Journal

Friday, February 5th, 2010

A lack of motivation is why many people quit their fitness routine and do not have success with losing weight.  Keeping an exercise journal and a food diary will help you see where you are at and where you are going. It will also help keep you accountable for the exercise you do and the food that you eat. Having this knowledge of your progress and visibility of your goals is a great motivator.

An exercise journal can help you to increase your overall fitness. Say you start out being able to walk a mile but your goal is to be able to walk 5 miles. A journal is a great aid to help you plan your workouts so that you are slowing increasing the duration or intensity, and this helps your stay on track with your fitness improvement plans. Next, be sure you keep a record of what kind of exercise you do each day, how long you do it and the intensity. It’s important to have a balanced plan where you spend some time on strength training, some on cardiovascular fitness and on flexibility.  Keeping a daily record of this will help you keep track of where you are at and what you need to work on. It’s a great way to help you improve your workouts and reap the benefits of increasingly difficult exercise. You should review your notebook each month and see just how far you’ve come.

It is also a good idea to keep a food diary.  Keep track of what and how much you eat at each meal, as well as any snacks.  It can be very motivational to look back over the last few months and see how your eating habits have changed… hopefully for the better! Also knowing that you are keeping track of everything you eat and drink makes you think twice about your eating choices. It makes you accountable and helps to boost your self control.

In your fitness journal be sure you to keep track of any erratic sleep patterns or when you are feeling frustrated, or if you are sore after a particular workout. Basically, the more you record the better. By reviewing you journal you will see patterns of how your lifestyle is affected by each workout and be able to make necessary changes.

One of the best ways to keep a fitness journal is online.

The Shrinking Team
Weight-Loss is Hard, We’re Here to Make it Easier

Fitness Roadblocks

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

There are many things that can get in the way of your fitness goals. Here are a few things to watch out for and avoid.

  1. I Don’t Have Enough Time to Exercise: Have you ever caught yourself using not having enough time as an excuse not exercise? We’ve all been guilty of it. If it is something that is truly important to us (and let’s face it, our health should be high up there on the priority list) then we can find time to squeeze it in. You may need to rearrange your schedule a little bit. Try getting up 30 minutes earlier in the morning. Just think how good you will feel all day knowing that you have already completed your workout!  If you know that you are not going to have a chance to do a full workout that day try going for a few 10 minute walks throughout the day. You will be amazed at how refreshed  you feel after this. Give it a try when you start to feel that afternoon slump.
  2. I’m Not Athletic: Being athletic is not a prerequisite to physical activity. Try something simple to get started; go for a brisk daily walk or better yet start a walking group with your peers that are in the same boat as you. Before you know it will have gained the confidence to branch out and try other things.
  3. Exercise Is Not Fun: Then you must be doing the wrong kind of exercise. You should not dread your workout each day, it should be something that you look forward to doing. Try different things until you find something that excites you. Get some friends, family, or neighbors involved; you don’t have to do it alone.
  4. I’m Too Tired After Working All Day: For some of us if we waited until the evening to workout it would just never happen. For me working out in the morning or at least during the first part of the day is the best way to ensure that I workout each day. So if you find that putting off your workout until the evening really means that it’s not going to happen then you might want to consider getting up a little earlier and doing it in the morning. Also, make the most of your lunch hour. Get out and go for a walk. Or if your workplace has a gym then by all means use it!  Midday exercise will also give you a burst of energy that can help you get through the rest of the afternoon a little easier.  Make sure you are getting enough rest at night. It will be harder to get up and exercise if you have stayed up too late the night before, and NO you cannot use that as an excuse!

The Shrinking Team
Weight-Loss is Hard, We’re Here to Make it Easier

Workout Tips for Stay at Home Parents

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

It is so easy to get stuck in our daily routines, we stay busy doing things for the kids, the never ending cycle of keeping the house clean (not to mention laundry), that it can be easy to let exercise fall through the crack. Regular workouts are important because they help you to improve your fitness and set a great example for your children to follow. If they see you taking care of your body then they will be a lot more likely to follow suit.

  1. Make exercise a priority – this may mean getting up an hour before anyone else in the house is up for some “me time.”  Go for a run, or hop on the treadmill or exercise bike.  Having that time to yourself in the morning will make you a happier more peaceful parent.
  2. Exercise with your kids – Make exercise something the entire family will enjoy.  Play ball, start a game of Simon Says where you do jumping jacks, touch your toes, and lunges, or set up a badminton net in the backyard. If your kids are old enough go for a bike ride together. There are countless fun things you can do together as a family.
  3. Invest in a jogging stroller or bike trailer - Trust me when you are pushing or pulling one of these you will really be maximizing your workout, and, bonus, the kids will love it!
  4. Join a gym that has daycare -  This is especially helpful if you have small children or if you just do not like to exercise outdoors.  It’s convenient and you have the peace of mind knowing that your children are just a page away.
  5. Buy a workout video -  These are great to have around. Especially on those days you aren’t able to go outside or are not able to make it to the gym. Plus they can be aalot of fun and a nice change from your normal exercise routine.

Remember that doing something is better than nothing.  So don’t be discouraged if something comes up and you are not able to do your full workout.  If you only have a few minutes use them.  Do jumping jacks or jump rope, do sit-ups.  Just get moving and take advantage of the time that you have!

The Shrinking Team
Weight-Loss is Hard, We’re Here to Make it Easier

Is It OK to Exercise When You’re Sick?

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I know a lot of us have probably had this question, especially in cold and flu season. If you have little ones you may spend much of your winter with a cold or the sniffles. So, is it alright to still workout or should you take it easy? Here a link to an informative article that will help you with the answer or disappoint you if you if you were looking to use your next cold as an excuse to stay in bed!

The Shrinking Team
Weight-Loss is Hard, We’re Here to Make it Easier

The Benefits of Regular Exercise

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Everyone knows that exercise is good for you, but regular exercise is even better. There are numerous ways that a regular exercise program will benefit you and make you feel better, we’ll touch on just a few of them here.

  1. Your Body Will be in Better Overall Condition – Stronger bones, better skin, more brain power, muscle strength and definition all improve with consistent exercise
  2. It Will Improve Your Mood – Give it a try after a particularly stressful day at home or work.  After you workout you should feel happier and more relaxed than before.
  3. You Will Get Sick Less – Regular exercise jump starts your immune system and helps reduce the number and colds and viruses you get.  It will also help prevent or manage high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  4. Will Boost Your Energy Level – If you notice you are feeling tired and sluggish all the time it might mean that you need to get more exercise on  a daily basis.  Exercise helps your blood circulate through your body more efficiently which in turn will leave you feeling more energized.
  5. Better Sleep – Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime or it may leave you too energized to fall asleep.

The Shrinking Team
Weight-Loss is Hard, We’re Here to Make it Easier