Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Long Distance Running Tips for Novice Runners

Your heartbeat pounds in your ears, your eyes focus straight ahead and you only feel the thumping of your feet striding the path as the wind rushes by.

Yes, the experience of running can indeed be described as spiritual or poetic, but unfortunately many new runners find the experience to be boring, painful or even the cause of a serious injury which turns them off running altogether.

If you are interested in running for health, recreation or to train for a marathon supporting your cause, it is wise to take time to develop a healthy routine that will protect your body and create an enjoyable running experience.


It is crucial for a runner to invest in a proper pair of running shoes. Not doing so will put you at an increased risk of pain and serious injury. You will also quickly notice that a proper pair of running shoes gives you more cushion and support which will make running easier than using regular street shoes or those developed for another sport.

Hydration is also important for running. Staying hydrated will help you endure the run and keep your body in prime condition.

If you are training for a long distance race you will want to keep a log of your distance and/or time. You may also wish to log your style of training, any discomfort or feelings about the run if it suits your needs.


Concrete sidewalks are NOT the place to run. Harder than asphalt and full of cracks you should make the effort to find a more suitable running surface.

Tracks are usually safe, but can be boring. If tracks are the only option try taking a friend to encourage you to stick to your routine.

Smooth dirt paths are the best option. Grass can work as well but watch for obstructions or uneven surfaces. You can ask local runners or a running store for recommendations for places to run.


There are various training methods for long distance runners, including interval training and speed training. However, for beginners there are a few basic suggestions to get you started.

Begin every run with a warm up walk. This gets your muscles ready to move. Take a walk break every ten minutes to rehydrate and extend your endurance.

Don't forget to breathe. You should be able to talk while running unless you are going for a fast run which is not usually suitable for a beginner. If you are gasping for breath you need to slow down. You will build endurance with time. It is better to start out easy and build up than wear yourself out.


You should always walk for a minute or more after a run to cool down. Stretch your muscles for 10-15 minutes within about 15 minutes of completing your run to keep them from contracting and causing discomfort.

Ice packs or cool water on your legs will also reduce inflammation and help keep your body in good condition for the next run. Not taking these steps can lead to severe injury.

Enjoy your run and take care of your body and you may find that you enjoy the mental benefits of running as much as the physical!

Safe Workouts Begin with a Good Warm-Up

It is starting to become warmer, and many people will be returning to their fitness routines. Most sports injuries that happen when a person works out are caused due to a lack of proper warm up and stretching of the muscles before a workout.

It has been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is definitely the case when you start to workout or do your fitness routine. Sore muscles, sprains, and even broken bones can result from not warming up your body prior to conditioning.

The best medicine for saving yourself the agony of 'the morning after syndrome' is to properly stretch out before your workout and then to warm up by doing some light jogging. You can use an ipod and listen to music, or take a friend with you for company.

Start by doing a simple stretching exercise. First, stand with your feet shoulder length apart. Reach down as far as you can with both hands and try to touch the floor. Don't jerk, but simply extend your arms to the floor slowly and hold that position until you feel slight pressure on your leg and back muscles. Repeat this 5 times.

Next, sit on a mat or semi-soft surface. Put both of your feet directly in front of you and together. Extend your hands slowly and touch the tips of your shoes if you can. If you can't quite reach that far don't worry, this is the reason you are doing the stretching exercises in the first place. Your body needs to expand the ligaments and muscles to allow for the pressure of the upcoming workout. Repeat this stretching exercise up to 10 times.

These two stretching exercises will get you ready for moving around and working out as well as start the process of blood flow in your body.

If you plan to run for your workout it is suggested that you stretch your legs and hamstrings ( back of the upper leg ). To do this you extend one foot in front of the other far enough so most of your weight is on the front foot. Then slowly shift the rest of your weight forward while placing both hands on your knee. Hold this position for about 5 seconds after you feel a tightening pressure on your back and legs. Do this 10 times slowly for each leg.

It is wise to take your time when stretching out. The better job you do of loosening up when you stretch, the less likelihood of any sports injury occurring.

Another easy way to stretch your whole body is to do about 30 'jumping jacks'. This is merely jumping and spreading your feet apart at the same time you raise your hands just like you were going to clap your hands above your head. This is an enjoyable exercise, and one that lends itself easily to music. This is a standard exercise that is good in itself as it increases your blood flow and heartbeat. You may find that you want to do more that 30 jumping jacks at a time. Just remember to start slow if you are a beginner.

Now that you have stretched out your legs and loosened up a bit, take a slow jog for about 3 or 4 minutes. Then you will be ready to do a nice workout without fear of pulling any muscles.

Stretching and warming up will prevent sore muscles the day after your workout when you do it regularly. And it will reduce the incidence of sports injuries such as torn muscles. Just remember a great workout always begins with a solid warm up routine every time.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Combining Exercise and Diet to Lose Weight

Everyone knows that to lose weight you need to eat less and exercise more. Exercise is essential whether you choose to lose weight or maintain your present weight. Someone that increases the amount they exercise, but maintains the same diet and calorie intake, will almost certainly lose weight. Forget all of the fad diets, the fastest (and easiest) way to lose weight is with a combination of diet and exercise. Remember, don't exercise to lose weight - exercise because you want to have a healthy body!

People diet for two primary reasons, to lose weight, or to improve health or both. Many people who diet fail to lose weight or, if they do lose, fail to maintain the lower weight over the long term. How many times have you heard that the only way to lose weight through diet is to eat less? There is one type of diet that lets you eat well and still lose weight. Learn how to lose weight through a sensible diet and exercise plan.

The only way to lose weight and keep it off is by eating properly and exercising on a regular basis. By taking full control of your eating habits you will begin to lose weight the best way possible - slowly and steadily. You will lose weight by eating, by being more active or preferably by doing both. Don't skip any meals. Lose weight by eating. To lose weight safely, effectively, and for the long term - you need to truly commit to eating and exercising consistently. Eating more often, not less is the way to lose weight.

You may not need to lose as much weight for your health as you think. Talk with a health care professional to get some ideas on how to lose weight and keep it off. Studies show that people who lose only 10 to 20 pounds halve their risk of developing diabetes. Regular activity helps you lose weight and keep it off and improves the health of you heart and lungs.

Many people have tried everything to lose weight. Everyone who's ever tried to lose weight has found it challenging. Getting motivated to lose weight can be hard, especially if you have tried to lose weight in the past.

The best way to lose weight should not involve a battle of willpower - you cannot fight yourself every single day!

So what is the best way to lose weight ? Get started. You can't wish it away.

Diabetes and Exercise

There are two main types of diabetes, type I and type II. Type I diabetes is characterized by the pancreas making too little or no insulin. An individual with diabetes type I will have to inject insulin throughout the day in order to control glucose levels. Type II diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes, is characterized by the pancreas not producing enough insulin to control glucose levels or the cells not responding to insulin. When a cell does not respond to insulin, it is known as insulin resistance. When a subject is diagnosed with type II diabetes, exercise and weight control are prescribed as measures to help with insulin resistance. If this does not control glucose levels, then medication is prescribed. The risk factors for type II diabetes include: inactivity, high cholesterol, obesity, and hypertension. Inactivity alone is a very strong risk factor that has been proven to lead to diabetes type II. Exercise will have a positive effect on diabetes type II while improving insulin sensitivity while type I cannot be controlled be an exercise program. Over 90% of individuals with diabetes have type II.

Exercise causes the body to process glucose faster, which lowers blood sugar. The more intense the exercise, the faster the body will utilize glucose. Therefore it is important to understand the differences in training with type I and type II diabetes. It is important for an individual who has diabetes to check with a physician before beginning an exercise program. When training with a diabetic, it is important to understand the dangers of injecting insulin immediately prior to exercise. An individual with type I diabetes injecting their normal amount of insulin for a sedentary situation can pose the risk of hypoglycemia or insulin shock during exercise. General exercise guidelines for type I are as follows: allow adequate rest during exercise sessions to prevent high blood pressure, use low impact exercises and avoid heavy weight lifting, and always have a supply of carbohydrates nearby. If blood sugar levels get too low, the individual may feel shaky, disoriented, hungry, anxious, become irritable or experience trembling. Consuming a carbohydrate snack or beverage will alleviate these symptoms in a matter of minutes.

Before engaging in exercise, it is important for blood sugar levels to be tested to make sure that they are not below 80 to 100 mg/dl range and not above 250 mg/dl. Glucose levels should also be tested before, during, after and three to five hours after exercise. During this recovery period (3-5 hours after exercise), it is important for diabetics to consume ample carbohydrates in order to prevent hypoglycemia.

Exercise will greatly benefit an individual with type II diabetes because of its positive effects on insulin sensitivity. Proper exercise and nutrition are the best forms of prevention for type II diabetics. It is important for training protocols to be repeated almost daily to help with sustaining insulin sensitivity. To prevent hypoglycemia, progressively work up to strenuous activity.

As with individuals with type I diabetes, carbohydrates should also be present during training to assist in raising blood sugar levels if the individual becomes low.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dumbbells for Smart Weight Training

Lifting weights to develop muscle and strength is at an all time high in popularity.

The reason? It works!

However, there are some factors you should keep in mind. When using a barbell with weights, you should workout with a partner. When you are lying down on a weight bench pushing hard to get that last repetition and you hit a sticking point, you could be in serious trouble.

When the weights get stuck in this position, even lifting it above your neck, past your head and dropping it to the floor can become an impossible task.

In addition, when cheating to get some extra repetitions in doing a bicep curl using a barbell, for example, you need to swing your body to get momentum to lift the weights. This can cause a strain or result in a pulled muscle.

That doesn't mean you should abandon weights. If you have a training partner, great. If not, consider going to a gym. There are generally plenty of people around who can come to your rescue.

A better alternative for you just might be a set of dumbbells.

Using the example just given, do the bench press with dumbbells. You get a better stretch at the bottom of the repetition and, if you do get stuck and can't get that last repetition in, drop them to your side and allow them to hit the floor.

When doing that bicep curl, do one arm at a time. When you have done all the repetitions you can do correctly, use your free hand to apply enough pressure to help do another repetition, and then slowly lower the dumbbell. Do a couple more if you like.

This will definitely pump your arms like nothing you've done before, and is much safer than using a barbell. You also get a full range of motion, getting a full stretch and giving your muscles a more beneficial workout.

If you want more of a challenge, use dumbbells on an exercise ball. The ball creates instability which causes your body's core muscles to work hard to keep you on the ball. If you do lose balance, it is much easier to toss aside the dumbbells than it is to toss aside the barbell.

There are numerous exercises you can do using dumbbells and you can do them at home; with or without a training partner.

Dumbbells are not very expensive and may just be one of the best pieces of exercise equipment you own.

Power Walk Yourself to Health & Fitness

Do you have a spring in your step? Does life feel so good that you cannot wait to get out of bed in the morning?

With the sedentary lifestyle so many of us lead nowadays, the chances of feeling like this are a little on the minus side. Hours of sitting at computers, driving to work and then watching TV at home, all lead to being overweight, having posture-related aches and pains and a general feeling of sluggishness.

These physical symptoms lead to mental sluggishness too. So we are trapped in this cycle of lethargy, draining us of our vital energy.

In order to lignite that vital spark, we need to break this cycle and the way to do it is...exercise. Exercise should not an optional extra that we fit into our lives when we feel like it, it needs to be an essential part.

Body and spirit are inextricably linked, so to achieve a healthy mind, you must firstly have a healthy body.

In order to make exercise an ingredient of our everyday lives, something that we will stick at, it needs to be fun. It needs to be enjoyable, challenging, motivational, have variety, achieve the desired results and suit your body and lifestyle.

One of the most natural forms of exercise is walking. Walking is an aerobic exercise that will not only increase your cardiovascular strength, but improve your posture as well.

Whereas any form of walking is beneficial, the most powerful is...Power Walking.

There are numerous benefits to be gained from power walking and some of them are:

Cardiovascular fitness is improved and thus the risk of coronary disease and strokes is reduced.

Mental well-being is improved resulting in a reduction in anxiety, stress and tension.

Muscles are toned and strengthened.

Helps to reduce body fat and manage your body weight.

Boosts energy and improves your self esteem.

The above are just a few of the physical and mental benefits to be gained from power walking. One benefit that deserves special mention and is often overlooked, is that if you walk with friends, it is socially enjoyable. This ensures that your power walking exercise is fun and not an activity that has to be endured.

Power walking is a low cost form of exercise. No special clothes or equipment are necessary to be able to participate.

However, there is one item that I would strongly recommend and that is a good pair of walking shoes. Each time your foot hits the ground, it is subjected to two and a quarter times your body weight, so the purchase of walking shoes is a wise investment.

So, muster your friends, grab your walking shoes and power walk yourself to new levels of physical and mental well-being.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

7 Safety Tips for Joggers

Jogging is a popular form of exercise during the warmer months of the year. However, the news often runs stories about joggers being mugged, assaulted, or worse. Here are some precautions you can take to prevent you from becoming another statistic :

1. Take or Tell a Friend

A group of 2-3 people increases the likelihood of identification, so thugs prefer victims who are alone. If you own a dog, take him along for your run. He'll enjoy the exercise, and it's one more complication for any attacker. If you aren't able to go jogging with anyone else, at least tell someone (preferably someone who lives with you) when you are leaving, what route you are taking and when you expect to return.

2. Travel Light

To make yourself a less-profitable target, leave your wallet, cellular phone, watch, jewelry, and even your wedding ring at home. Likewise, if you do like to jog to music, don't carry a super-expensive radio or media player with you. If you aren't carrying anything of value, thieves will have one less reason to accost you.

3. Use Different Routes

Don't jog the exact same route, especially if you jog around the same time every day. Many criminals prefer to plot an assault in advance, and if they know they can expect to see you on a specific street at a specific time each day, it will be much easier for them to plan an attack.

4. Stay Out In the Open

Wooded areas or urban settings with a lot of dumpsters, mailboxes, alleys, and other obstructions are the perfect hiding places for all kinds of thieves and muggers. When you're in an open space you can see everyone around you and have time to react appropriately if someone is approaching you in a suspicious manner.

5. Stay in Well-Lit, Busy Areas

If your schedule only permits you to jog after sunset, be sure to stick to streets with streetlamps. In addition, streets with lots of traffic, automobile or human, increase the chance of a criminal being identified or apprehended and are often avoided.

6. Jog against Traffic

Whether on the side of the road or a sidewalk, you should be running so that you are facing the cars coming up the street. This will allow you to assess any car approaching you for potential danger.

7. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Scan every approaching person or vehicle with your eyes, being on the lookout for any suspicious behavior. Listen for cars slowing down or accelerating for no discernable reason. It's better not to wear headphones at all, but if you do, keep the volume low enough to hear what's going on around you.

As you can see, just taking few simple precautions beforehand can make a big difference as to whether or not a criminal chooses you as a target for his crime.

Preventing Cancer with Diet, Exercise and Weight Management

About one third of all cancer deaths are related to diet. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) dietary choices, together with exercise and a healthy weight, could prevent 3 to 4 million cancer cases worldwide each year. The top 3 causes of cancer are genetics, diet and environment. If individuals work to minimize the factors linked with the risks, as high as 60-70 percent of cancers can be prevented.

Following a Plant Based Diet
The best type of diet to prevent cancer is one that is based mostly on a variety of plant foods. Scientific evidence shows that vegetables and fruits protect against many different types of cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends 5 to 10 fruits and vegetables a day, which can reduce incidences of cancer by as much as 40 percent.

Diets that focus on vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes (dried beans and peas) fight cancer in several ways. The vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals and other beneficial substances that are found in these foods are associated with lowering the risk of cancer. Phytochemicals are a natural substance found in vegetables and fruit that can interfere with cancer cell development. A plant-based diet is proven to protect against cancers of the colon, rectum, stomach, lung, mouth, pharynx, and esophagus. Increased intake of fruits and vegetables has also been shown to lower rates of cancer of the breast, bladder, pancreas and larynx.

Research suggests that lycopene, found in tomatoes and tomato-based products, can reduce the risk of prostate cancer and cancers of the lung, bladder, cervix and skin. Spinach, avocado and other yellow or leafy green vegetables contain lutein, which can reduce the risk of eye problems like cataracts and macular degeneration. When lutein is combined with lycopene it has additional preventive effects on prostate cancer cell growth.

Leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits should be eaten year round, not just when they are in season, for the greatest benefit. Eating a variety of these fruits and vegetables increase the cancer fighting benefit.

A high fiber diet helps move waste out of the body more quickly and can prevent colon and rectal cancers. A diet comprised largely of red meat slows waste elimination and increases the incidence of colorectal cancer.

Maintain a Healthy Weight and Be Physically Active
A diet rich in plant-based foods is generally lower in calories and may promote weight management. Obesity is linked to breast, colon, gall bladder and uterine cancers. The AICR recommends that adults avoid being underweight or overweight and limit weight gain to less than 11 pounds over medically appropriate weight.

Finding low fat alternatives to favorite foods and cutting back on portion sizes are 2 ways to begin eating healthier. Also, incorporating poultry and seafood into the diet and choosing lean cuts of meat helps in this effort. Switch to low fat and fat free versions of high fat products like mayonnaise, margarine, sour cream and cheese. Avoid fried foods and meats that contain nitrates such as cured lunch meats, smoked fish and bacon. Substitute fruits for fatty desserts. Reduce sodium intake by cutting back on salted foods and use of cooking and table salt. Try using herbs and spices to season foods instead.

Physical activity at any age can reduce the risk of being overweight. People who are sedentary at work can reach the recommended level of physical activity by incorporating an hour of vigorous activity and an hour of brisk walking into their week. This can be broken into smaller increments if a full hour time block isn't possible. The best way to incorporate physical activity into a daily routine is to choose activities one enjoys and schedule those activities as an appointment to be kept. (Before beginning any exercise program be sure to discuss it with a health care provider.)

If you have a genetic history of cancer, you may want to follow the suggestions given in this article to reduce your risks. By changing your diet to a mainly plant based diet, becoming physically active on a regular basis and managing your weight you may reduce your risk of cancer by as much as 40 percent.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Get Motivated to Exercise !

Why exercise ? Most of us do it because we want to reap the benefits that tag along such as weight management, muscle tone, fat-loss, strength gain, etc. Nothing compares to exercise and everyone should be doing it. This is where a motive must come in. It may be health related or it may include a big event such as a wedding, reunion, or even a friendly competition. Whatever your motive is, think about it long and hard, and think about the feeling you will have once you achieve whatever it is you want to accomplish.

Set Goals

It is hard to hit a goal when you do not know where the target is! That is why goal setting is crucial in achieving victory. You want to set short term and long term goals. Setting a long term goal by itself is not smart. This is like driving to a foreign destination with no map or guidelines to help you along the way. Try setting a short term goal to be reached every three to six weeks. By doing so, you are allowing necessary adjustments to be made if needed. This will keep you on the track to success. The long term goal is your motive that you have already visualized, it is your climax, it is not however the end. Once you have achieved it you will re-evaluate and set new goals.

How Do We Get There ?

Which way is fast and most efficient ? This is the most important question we ask ourselves in the beginning, however this question should be asked each time a short term goal is reached to prepare for the next. We all have different goals, physical capabilities and lifestyles. There is no "one size fits all" workout program!

Once we manage to begin an exercise program, we must then keep in mind that our bodies will adapt to that program within four to six weeks time. When this happens our bodies will then become stagnant in producing results. It is extremely important that we cover many avenues in fitness so that hitting plateaus can be prevented. This includes changing the number of sets, repetitions, the amount of intensity (resistance), the amount of rest time among sets and workouts. Changing the types of exercises performed must also be done over time.

This is not only the most productive way of exercising but, it also helps to keep things fresh so that boredom is not a problem. Remember, workout time is supposed to be fun, which can make reaching goals very exciting!

Fitness Exercises

Fitness Exercises that can be Performed in 10 Minutes or Less

Most people understand that exercise is important for their overall health and well-being. However, many complain that they just don't have enough time in their schedule for exercise. With the fast paced lives that most of us lead, it's understandable that most of us are time starved and without the proper time for exercise.

However, exercise is essential to our health, so it is important to understand that even a brief amount of exercise performed on a regular basis can go a long way to improve your life.

10-15 minutes of exercise performed 3-4 times a week will do a lot to improve every aspect of your physical health. No special equipment or props are needed. In fact, a number of exercises can be done in the morning while you are still in your pajamas. Some routines may be so easy that you may be tempted to think that they are not doing much good as all. However, if performed properly on a consistent basis, 10 minutes of exercise can get you in shape.

Here are a few exercises that you can do in just 10 minutes to improve your total fitness health.

1 Minute Back Stretch

  • Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and your back straight.

  • Place your right palm flat on the floor behind you as you twist your head and shoulders so that you are looking over your right shoulder.

  • Make sure that you keep both buttocks flat on the floor.

  • Hold for 15 then do the other side.

Repeat twice.

1 Minute Back Scratcher

  • Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you and your back straight.

  • Stretch your right arm and bend it at the elbow as if you are going to scratch your back between your shoulder blades.

  • Reach your left arm behind your back to touch or hold the fingers of your right hand.

  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.

  • Repeat on the other side.

2 Minutes of Sit Ups

  • Lie flat on the floor on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Place your palms on your hips and run them up to your knees, pulling yourself up by your stomach muscles.

  • Do as many of these sit ups as you can in 2 minutes.

5 Minutes of Step Ups

  • Find a step of about 6-8 inches of height. Step up with your left foot.

  • Raise your right foot to join it.

  • Take your left foot off of the step and then your right foot to join it.

Repeat For 5 Minutes

1 Minute of Press Ups

  • Lie on your stomach.

  • Bend your arms at the elbows and place both hands flat on the floor with your thumbs at shoulder level.

  • Keep your toes flexed and on the floor.

  • Push on your palms to raise your upper body.

  • Your back and shoulders should be flat and your buttocks should not be sticking up.

  • Fully extend your arms but do not lock them.

  • Now slowly lower your body back on to the ground and repeat as many times as your can in 1 minute.

Congratulations! You have just completed 10 minutes of exercise that did a lot to increase your cardio-fitness, helped to maintain the strength in your arms, shoulders and legs, and increased the flexibility in your joints. If you don't have a lot of time to work out, try performing these exercises for 10 minutes 3-4 times per week, and you will see and feel a great difference.

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