When you are physically active, your body will become more fit and will look fantastic. Exercise is extremely important to keep your body healthy. It becomes even more important as we get older. Physical activity promotes health and helps reduce your risk of disease. It lowers your risk of heart disease and obesity; helps your bones stay healthy and strengthens muscles and joints. Exercise is also important for your mental health by improving memory and concentration.Physical activity reduces the risk of diabetes and colon cancer, and helps to lower high blood pressure. It helps to improve mood swings and instills confidence. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Already, you can see how important it is to keep your body moving.

More and more people are becoming more active. This lifestyle choice is keeping mortality rates at a lower level. Estimates show that 40% of women in the United States are now engaged in some type of regular exercise. If you’re one of them, keep up the good work! If not…get moving!

How much exercise is needed?

You don’t have to be an all-star athlete to get healthy benefits from exercise. It takes a smaller amount of activity that you’d think to keep your body healthy. So, if you’re not exercising because you don’t have enough time for long workouts, find another excuse! You only need to exercise for 30 minutes three times a week. And, it doesn’t have to be all at one time. You can break it down to 10 minute workouts several times a day.

You also don’t need to go to a gym or have fancy equipment for exercise to be effective. Go for a walk or ride your bicycle. Play tag with the kids. Just start moving. I don’t believe a “formal” exercise program is necessary as long as you’re active. Gardening, walking, climbing stairs, swimming and jogging can all improve your health. For beginners, 5 to 10 minutes of exercise a few times a week is a good place to start.

There are three types of exercise.

A complete fitness program includes three different types of exercise according to the American Council of Exercise.

1. Aerobic exercise uses large muscle groups in a continuous, rhythmic fashion for sustained periods of time. The exercise has to be for a long enough period to get the heart and lungs pumping blood and oxygen throughout the body. Dancing, swimming and running are all aerobic activities.

2. Muscular strength and endurance conditioning includes the use of weights or weight lifting. All major muscle groups (arms, chest, back, stomach, hips and legs) are used. These types of weight-bearing exercises are especially important for strengthening bones and preventing the development of osteoporosis. Walking is considered a weight-bearing exercise as well as an aerobic exercise, so you get “two for one” just by taking a walk!

3. Flexibility means stretching that involves all major muscle groups. You should stretch your muscles before and after each aerobic activity to warm up (and cool down) your muscles. This helps prevent painful cramping.

If you haven’t been physically active for a while, start out slow and work your way up to more vigorous exercises. You can prevent injuries by taking this precaution. But, DO start moving! The sooner you start, the sooner you will see results.

: article by Jude Wright

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Copyright (c) 2008 Ed ScowAbs, abs, abs. Everybody wants a nice set of six pack abs. Or if you’re not after the six-pack abs, you at least want a nice firm and toned stomach.

Something that looks good with your shirt off or in a bikini.

But how do you get it?

Do you need to follow some weird diet? Do you need to take a magic fat burning supplement? Do you need to buy the latest abs gadget off a television infomercial?

No, no, no. You don’t need to follow a weird diet, you don’t need to buy a fat burning supplement (that doesn’t work anyway) and you especially don’t need to buy the latest abs gadget off an infomercial.

Nutritionally speaking, you just need to make some minor tweaks and changes in order to get your body to start burning more of your stubborn stomach fat.

Start by eating more fiber. Stick with lots of fruits and vegetables and keep the grains to a minimum.

You also need to make sure you get enough protein and fat. Yes I said fat. Your body needs a certain amount of fat in order to function properly and there have been studies that show that people who consume more foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and other cold water fish, and nuts, like almonds, lose more stomach fat than those who didn’t.

So stock up on your Omega-3 rich foods and get more protein.

When it comes to exercise, you don’t need to live in the gym. Nor do you need to do nothing but cardio. Quite the opposite, actually. You need to stick to more resistance training and interval training if you really want to lose stomach fat and get a firm, toned stomach or six-pack abs.

Your workouts should consist of lots of movements that work your entire body, and shouldn’t be split into “parts”. Meaning stick with exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, mountain climbers, dumbbell swings, etc. and stay away from movements that don’t work much muscle and don’t burn too many calories like bicep curls and triceps kickbacks or those silly leg machines that move like the old “Thigh Master” home workout gadgets.

Your workouts should also take less than 30 minutes. By sticking to that timeframe, you’ll ensure you keep the intensity level up, meaning you’ll burn a lot of fat in as short a period as possible.

When it comes to abs specific workouts, you don’t need to spend lots and lots of time devoted to crunches, sit-ups, leg lifts, etc.

In fact, you can get an awesome abs workout done from the comfort of your own home in as little as 4 minutes.

The next time you’re working out, try this circuit after your regular workout.

1A) Mt. Climbers – 30 seconds
1B) Squat Jump with Knee Tuck – 10 jumps
1C) DB Swing – 10 reps

Rest 20-30 seconds after the DB Swings and perform the circuit as many times as possible in 4 minutes.

Here’s a quick run-through of the exercises:

Mt. Climbers – Lie on the floor in the top push-up position so only your hands and feet are on the floor. Brace your abs and begin the exercise by flexing one knee and bringing that knee toward your chest, return to the starting position and bring the opposite knee toward your chest. Repeat in a swift tempo, alternating back and forth like you’re running, (or climbing a mountain, surprise surprise) for 30 seconds.

Squat Jump with Knee Tuck – Stand up straight and tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Progress into a normal bodyweight squat and as you reach the bottom, explosively stand back up so you jump off the floor as high as you can. As you jump into the air, bring your knees toward your chest by flexing your abs. Land lightly on your toes, steady yourself and repeat.

DB Swing – Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width holding a dumbbell with both hands. Squat down while letting the dumbbell go between your legs, but not behind you. Explosively flex your glutes and stand up as you swing the dumbbell straight out in front of you until it’s at chest height. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Perform that mini-circuit a few times a week after your regular workout and I guarantee you’ll notice our stomach shrinking and a nice set of abs appearing within a matter of weeks.

: article by Ed Scow

There are so many fad diets on the market today. Many have you eliminate carbohydrates from your diet all together. However carbohydrates play an important role in weight loss. Your muscles need carbohydrates for energy and to rebuild. As your muscles rebuild and grow in size, in other words gain more volume, you lose more weight by having those larger muscles burn your body’s fat stores.Sure the Atkins diet and every other fad, no carb diet out there will help you lose weight. You will lose weight not only in the decrease of amount of bodyfat but also in muscle volume and size. Although part one of this equation, losing the fat, is good, part two is terrible. The last thing you want is to lose muscle volume. As your muscle volume decreases so does their need for more energy which in turn reduces the amount of body fat they need to burn.

Forget all the fads and depriving your body of the much needed carbohydrate energy source. I am going to show you why eating carbohydrates is important, how much you should eat and that eating them will help you lose weight, not gain.

There are two types of carbohydrates you need to concern yourself with. They are called simple and complex carbohydrates.

Let’s start with the simple carbohydrates also known as monosaccharide. These are your sugary carbohydrates. Examples would be glucose(dextrose), fructose, xylose, and ribose. These have also been labeled in the past as the “bad” carbohydrate. Yes they can be bad in large quantities and from the wrong source.

For example, apples contain fructose which is a simple carbohydrate; however an apple is a good source of many nutrients, so it is ok to eat an apple as a source of your carbohydrates with one of your meals. Soda on the other hand contains sugar and a lot of it. Soda also contains no nutritional value. If you drink a lot of soda you are taking in way too many simple carbohydrates and that will lead to weight gain. Cutting out soda in your diet alone will help you reduce 5 to 10 pounds by itself.

Complex carbohydrates also known as polysaccharides are your “good” carbohydrates. They consist of food items such as oatmeal, brown rice, yams and other potatoes, wholegrain cereals and breads, corn, bread and lentils.

These are the carbohydrate sources that are essential to assisting your muscle growth. As we stated before muscle is very important because the more volume of muscle that you have the more fat you will burn.

As you already know you should be eating six meals a day spread out every two and a half to three hours. Each meal should consist of equal portions of protein, carbohydrates and green vegetables. Each portion size, to make it easier for measuring purposes, should be about the size of your clenched fist.

Now that you know what the carbohydrate sources are, and how much to have of them, there should be no reason for you to follow one of those fad diets. Eat the amount of carbs you are supposed to have along with your protein and veggies, combine that with a good workout routine and you will soon see your body fat melting away.

: article by Bruce Tucker

There is some debate in the fitness industry about how to work the lower abdominal muscles. The truth is that the 6 pack (rectus abdominus) is one muscle that has distinct sections. And although you cannot only contract the lower portion of the rectus abdominus, you can emphasize it a little more than the upper abs if you follow the 7 Lower Abdominal Workout tips below.Now before we get to the 7 tips, I have to tell you that working your lower abs will not magically get rid of stomach fat. This is referred to as spot reduction and spot reduction is the biggest myth in fitness. You should work your lower abs to stabilize your pelvis, support good posture, improve function and performance, and exercise your spine in different directions.

Here are 7 lower ab workout tips.

#1 Move you pelvis. The rectus abdominus attaches to the ribs and also to the pelvis. When the ribs move like in a crunch the upper abs are emphasized. However, when the pelvis moves like in a reverse crunch or a posterior pelvic tilt, the lower abs are emphasized. Reverse crunches are a great place to start when you want to workout the lower abdominal muscles.

#2 Move your legs. When you move your legs during ab exercises, your lower abdominal muscles must work really hard to stabilize the pelvis. For example, doing leg raises emphasizes the lower abs a little more than doing crunches. Leg raises can be done from many different positions, such as lying on the floor, hanging from a bar, or using a captain’s chair.

#3 Add resistance when you get stronger. If you get so strong that reverse crunches or leg raises become easy, you should add resistance to the exercises to breakthrough your strength plateaus. Ankle weights are a great way to add resistance to your legs to increase the challenge on your lower abdominal muscles.

#4 Use an incline. Using an incline is another great way to emphasize and increase the challenge in the lower abdominal area. If you do reverse crunches or leg raises on an incline board, your lower ab muscles work much harder against gravity.

#5 Use something contoured. This is a hidden secret to get more muscle work in your lower abs. Since your lower back has a slight natural curve, using a contoured surface like a Bosu Ball or a Pilates Barrel allows you to get more range of motion and more muscle work. Since the floor is flat it may decrease your range of motion during certain exercises, but with a contoured surface you get more motion.

#6 Stretch your lower back and hips. Inflexibility in the hips and back will decrease your range of motion and put additional pressure on your lower back. Because most people have sedentary jobs, most people have stiff lower back. If you have a stiff lower back, you will have difficulty emphasize your entire abdominal region, especially the lower abs. You should warm up and stretch your hips and lower back before doing lower ab exercises.

#7 Workout your abs 2-3 times a week. No need to workout your lower abdominal muscles every day. 2-3 times a week is all you need. You do not have to slave away doing a thousand repetitions. 2-6 total sets of 12-20 repetitions are all you really need. Now, if you want to lose weight, you should take a comprehensive approach to fitness and also perform aerobic exercise, weight training, and eat a healthy diet.

: article by Charles A. Inniss, Jr. DPT

Sometimes the desire to lose weight is just not enough. It’s nice to think about having toned muscles and flat abs but when you get home from a long hard day’s work, exercise and preparing a healthy meal may be the last thing on your mind. All you really want to do is rest. When this kind of mood sets in, let the motivation tips below help you change your frame of mind.Exercise motivation tips:

* Have a friend or family member exercise with you to help encourage you to stay on track.

* Think of exercise as a way to reduce some of the stress that life throws at you every day. Think of it as a gift that you give to yourself — a time to get away from the noise and pressures of daily life.

* Keep in mind that the more you exercise, the more energy you will have. Remind yourself that you will actually feel better after you exercise than you would if you sit down and put it off.

* Exercising helps to improve your immune system. If you are dreading cold and flu season because you tend to always be the first to get sick, you can help prevent it from happening next season by exercising and getting in shape.

* Think about your health. Maintaining a healthy weight with proper diet and exercise can help to reduce your risks of stroke and heart attack, what better motivation do you need?

Sometimes it is even harder to stick to a diet plan than it is to exercise. One reason for this is because you have to plan out your meals in advance and this can be difficult. The tips below can help you stay on track.

Tips for Staying Motivated on Your Diet Program:

* Choose a diet plan that is reasonable and realistic. Remember, you need a certain amount of nutrition and vitamins to stay healthy.

* Start out with a simple diet that you can easily implement into your lifestyle. You can always make gradual changes as needed.

* Plan smaller portions of food for each meal. This will take less time to prepare and you won’t feel like you are cheating on your diet when you grab that snack later.

* Use the buddy system to help you stay motivated but do not compare yourself to others. Everyone is different and will reach their goals at different times even when using identical methods.

A healthy diet and exercise program will improve the quality of your health and well-being. You will feel and look better than you ever thought possible. Stay positive and use these weight loss motivation tips to help you lose the extra weight so you can enjoy life to its fullest.

: article by Jamie Jefferson

Many of us know that losing weight can be hard. Unfortunately losing weight can be even more difficult around the holiday time. This is not limited to the traditional “Christmas season” that everyone knows packs on an average of fifteen pounds on the typical person. Just about any holiday is a true danger zone for the dedicated dieter.How can someone on a diet succeed through a holiday? Can a dieter actually manage to stay on their diet through a holiday season? The answer is “yes” and then sometimes “no.” A great deal of the answer is determined by the dieter’s own determination.

Many holidays revolve around family and other social get-to-gethers. Most of us know that these social events have food as a central “occupation.” Many women spend hours in the kitchen preparing traditional family recipes or new recipes they are looking forward to trying. Those that are on diets need to plan ahead when they attend a family event. Sometimes the best game plan should be to actually consider bringing some of your own food. You can often ask the hostess what she will be serving and this can help you make your decision if you can easily stick to your diet.

Another option is to offer to bring something that is both delicious and healthy for everyone to share. Quite often, when you do this, everyone “digs in” and is thrilled to see a healthy choice offered at a social event. Sometimes it is even a bit funny to see one’s healthy dish to be the one that is chosen repeatedly over the fattening goodies that most hostesses take great time and care preparing. One great benefit to bringing healthy food to your social events is this gently encourages those in your life to consider healthy eating if they aren’t doing so. They may be quite impressed with your progress and could easily ask you for more recipes.

When attending a holiday function, do your best to focus on the social aspects of the event instead of the food. Those that are on diets often find dealing with yummy fattening foods to be quite stressful, as they are worried that they will “cheat.” Focusing your attention on having engaging conversations reminds you of the true point of this social event and will help to keep you away from the food.

Sometimes a true challenge dieters face at holiday occasions is the “food pushers.” Food pushers can come in many forms: the grandmother, mother, mother-in-law or just about anyone. The food pusher has one objective: to get you to eat something you don’t want to eat. Often it is unclear exactly why they want you to eat it. They often use guilt, sometimes saying things like “Why, I made this especially for you.” They have also used compliments such as, “You look so skinny! Eat something!” Any dieter needs to be on the true alert for the food pusher. Smile, be polite but do not give in. Eventually they will give up.

The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with family, friends and other loved ones. These times should be treasured and remembered. Your diet is a temporary situation. Focus on sticking to your diet now so this regime can soon be over.

: article by Daniel Millions

Exercise has become a way of life for many people, and at the same time others are looking to get started with an exercise program. It is important for everyone, regardless of the stage their at, to include the best exercises for overall health and fitness in their routines.Time has proven that there are some exercises that are generally better than others, and there are a few that are considered the best. We all owe it to ourselves, family, and friends to take care of the only body we have been given. Instead of feeling defeated, you can get stated today using the best exercises to make a permanent and positive change in your life.

Walking

Walking is free, it can be done anywhere, and it gets results. Long understood as one of the best exercises around, walking is effective for every one. Walking works in many ways by burning calories, boosting the body’s metabolism, and toning/strengthening muscles. Considered one of the best aerobic exercises, you should not ignore this exercise.

Pushups

Whether doing pushups with a straight leg of bended knee, numerous muscles are used to include the triceps, pectoral muscles, abdominal muscles, back, and legs. Lying face down on the floor with the palms flat down about shoulder width apart, the entire body is lowered down and raised. To make it easier, bend the knees as well as raise and lower the body. This is one of the best exercises because it also increases stamina.

Sit Ups

Another of the best exercises you can do is the old-fashioned sit up. For this, the arm, back, and abdominal muscles are used. This starts by lying down on your back keeping the knees bent and feet placed flat on the floor. Crossing your arms across the chest, you would then raise the body up so the chest touches the knees, followed by lowering the body back down to the starting position.

Jump Rope

Jumping rope is listed as one of the best exercises for cardiovascular health this is free and easy to do. With this exercise, choose the right length of rope for your height. Then, literally start jumping, starting with two minutes and working your way up to 30 minutes. This exercise utilizes the calf and thigh muscles.

Squats

The last of our best exercises is squats, which can be done by beginner or advanced workout enthusiasts. Standing upright, you want to bend the knees while keeping the arms stretched out parallel to the floor. Slowly, bend the knees until the thighs become parallel to the floor. For the more advanced person, a weight bar or actual weights can be used. In this case, the weights are placed across the shoulders and behind the neck.

: article by Brooks Donner