Friday, December 7, 2012


"Flexibility falls under the 'use it or lose it' rule. You have to practice consistently, and the one thing people tend to forget is that strength and flexibility go hand in hand."

Practice a Variety of Stretches

Exercise books and videos offer differing advice on what stretch to do, how long to hold a stretch, how often you need to stretch, and so on. The answer to all of these questions is different from person to person and every expert will give different advice. What is important is that you make sure to take the time to lengthen your muscles in some way. It helps to know the four types of stretches :

  1. Active : This type of stretching is usually used within the warm-up of a training session. You can take almost any stretch and make it active by moving in and out of the stretch using your breath.
  2. Dynamic : This is another efficient technique within the warm-up. It involves momentum and muscular effort in order to move primary joints that are going to be used during activity. Big shoulder circles, leg swings, hip circles, and standing spinal rotations are all considered dynamic stretches.
  3. Passive : A passive stretch is considered a relaxing, cooling and calming type of stretch. Passive stretches do not require you to hold your body weight while lengthening a muscle. These are mostly done in the seated or lying down position, and exhaling is emphasized to recruit the relaxation response.
  4. Static : A static stretch is one that has no movement involved but muscles are recruited to hold the position. These exercises are usually, but not always, weight bearing in nature. Holding a High Lunge with your arms over your head, a Downward Facing Dog pose, and a Kneeling Hamstring Stretch are all considered static stretches.



"My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength"

Understand the Difference Between Strength and Endurance

Muscular strength and endurance are equally important, and they are closely related in that it requires a certain amount of strength to develop endurance. For example, in order to develop upper body muscular endurance through pushups, you must have the strength to do at least one pushup. The inability to do a pushup is a lack of strength, not a lack of endurance.

For the most part, the same exercises are used to increase muscular strength and endurance. The only difference is the amount of resistance and the number of repetitions one completes in a set. In general, muscular strength is best developed by high resistance (heavy weight) and low repetition (short time period) exercises, while muscular endurance is improved by using less resistance (low weight) and higher repetitions (or a longer time period).

You can have strength without endurance. However, it is nearly impossible to develop muscular endurance without also developing strength. There are weightlifters who can bench press over 500 lbs, as long as they only have to push it up one time. However, some of these lifters are unable to do twenty pushups. So endurance training supplemented with a weight program is beneficial.


Mental Agility

"Exercise doesn't make you smarter, but what it does do is optimize the brain for learning"

Exercise for Thirty Minutes a Day

Regular exercise is essential if you're looking to preserve your mental acuity. Aerobic exercise helps get the blood coursing through your system, carrying oxygen and glucose to your brain - two substances the brain needs in order to function. Regular exercise can also prod the brain into producing more molecules that help protect and produce the brain's neurons. Though studies are still underway to establish the link between exercise and increased brain neurons, many researchers - including those involved with Alzheimer's disease research - are studying the protective effects of regular physical exercise on the brain's neural paths for transmitting signals.

The US federal guidelines for exercise say that getting at least thirty minutes a day most days a week will help prevent heart disease, osteoporosis  diabetes, obesity, and now, perhaps, Alzheimer's. If you do nothing else, a brisk thirty minute walk every day will do wonders for your brain health.

It Also Keeps your Brain Young !

As you get older, exercise becomes even better for your overall brain health. Neuroscientists have shown that in aging populations (usually those over age 65) sustained, moderate exercise participation enhances learning and memory, improves the function of the neocortex, counteracts age-related atrophy in brain areas crucial for thinking and learning. Exercise has been cited by several researchers as being the number one factor in sustaining brain health and the ability to make new neurons in an aging brain.



When you first start weight training, don't be surprised if you actually gain weight. This is a normal reaction for many people. The average person starting an exercise program may gain 3-5 lbs. If you're among these people, you've successfully gained lean body mass or muscles. Congratulate yourself. You deserve a pat on the back for all your hard work!

Check Your Body Composition

Your body composition refers to the percentage of fat and percentage of fat-free body mass that makes up your total body weight. Fat-free mass, also known as lean body mass, consists primarily of muscles tissue, bones, and blood, essentially all the rest of your body that is not fat.

Research suggests that the ideal percentage of body fat for men is 15-18 %. For women, the ideal range of body fat is 22-25 %. It's important to remember that these are suggested ranges. Some individuals with a higher percentage of body fat who are regularly active may still be considered at a healthy weight.

When you begin your improvement program, you might want to measure your body composition. This way, you'll have a baseline against which to measure the effectiveness of your program over time. You can see how much muscles mass you have when you get started. Every six weeks or so, you can check to see how much more muscles mass you have developed. If you're a person who is motivated by numbers, this is a concrete way to stay excited about your progress.


Diet & Nutrition

Eighty percent (80%) of weight loss comes as a result of wise food choices.

Keep a Food Diary for at Least a Week

Do you even know how much and when you eat during a typical day? Most people don't. The best way to learn is to keep a food journal for at least a week. Using a notebook, your iPad, your smart phone, your running log, or a calendar (something you can keep a record in), write down everything you eat and when you eat it. Don't cheat! List even the breath mints you chew on during meetings. It's also helpful to note where your eating has taken place - at your desk? in the cafeteria? in front of the TV? - and how you were feeling at the time - super stressed? depressed? tipsy? This will help you identify your eating triggers and whatever bad habits you may have formed regarding eating.

After a full week you'll have a good idea of the what, when, where, and why of your eating patterns. From the brief discussion here, you should be able to see from your food diary where you're making your nutritional no-noes. How often have you skipped breakfast? How often have you eaten high fat foods like junk food, desserts, and fried foods? What are your snacking habits? How many fruits and vegetables do you eat in a typical week? How often do you eat because you're feeling blue or stressed, rather than hungry? Which foods do you gravitate toward to elevate your moods?