Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why Are We So Overweight?

I suppose an exercise blog - even one about fun - can't go too long without mentioning obesity, especially with the current state of the health of our nation.

The “weigh” he was Camp America commandant los...Image via WikipediaSo why are we so overweight? Of course, the easiest answer is fast food, but the problem extends much further. Yes, the prevalence of fast food restaurants certainly doesn’t help. As Morgan Spurlock showed us with painful reality in his movie, “Super Size Me”, fast food menus offer us a heaping helping of fat, cholesterol, and calories. I highly recommend watching this movie if you find yourself addicted to McDonald’s – you could very well change your mind after you see it!

At any rate, many of these restaurants are now offering health-conscious choices including salads, potatoes instead of French fries, yogurt, and grilled meats instead of fried meats. So with these items now included on their menu, why aren’t we losing weight? The answer lies within our choices. And those choices extend to home life as well.

Many people live horridly busy lifestyles, and they more often than not opt for pre-packaged foods that contain high amounts of salt, fat, and other unhealthy components that contribute toward weight gain. We tend to maintain a mostly sedentary lifestyle, choosing to watch a favorite television program after dinner rather than going out for a walk like they used to do decades ago.

This type of lifestyle unfortunately is being learned by our children as well. When I was young, we couldn’t wait to get through dinner so we could go outside and run around, climbing trees and rocks, and playing with the animals until the sun went down. We rode our bikes everywhere, and didn't even own a TV until I was in college!

Today, you’re more likely to find kids on the computer or in front of the TV with a video game controller in their hands. Kids know more about the story line on Desperate Housewives than many of their housewife mothers. They can tell you about all of the new products being offered through commercials they see in between their programs. In fact, the average child these days will watch more than 15 hours of television each and every week.

Now, we’re not saying television is BAD. In fact, some programs can be beneficial and even helpful in making kids smarter. What we’re saying is that kids need to get outside more instead of sitting in front of the TV eating Cheetos and drinking sugar rich soda.

The statistics are showing this to be true. Fifteen percent of all children and teens are overweight - a number that has tripled since a previous study done in 1980.

Some people blame their excessive weight gain on slow metabolisms. In some cases, this might actually be true. However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed what no one really wants to face: we’re overweight because we simply eat too much of the wrong foods.

Jogging on a bright November morningImage by Ed Yourdon via FlickrLosing weight is actually quite simple – eat less, exercise more. But we’re resistant to that message. Mainly, it’s because we’re looking for a quick fix – an easy, painless way to drop pounds without sacrifice. After all, losing weight just CAN’T be that easy, now can it?

No, it isn’t. You have to consider portion control, food choice, exercise, how much exercise, what kind of exercise, etc. But worrying about all of the specifics will do you little good. You need to get the big picture in mind first before worrying about the specifics.

What you want to do is lose those extra pounds. And there are many, many ways to go about that. But the first thing to do is have a goal in mind of what you want to accomplish, and the second step is to find forms of exercise you actually enjoy, and look forward to doing!

For a variety of fun exercise ideas, visit http://www.newholisticliving.com/exercise.html.
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Video - Basic Yoga Workout for Beginners

Here is an excellent (and FREE) yoga workout for beginners I found online. The workout is broken up into about 10 minute segments, and I will post each piece of the workout over the next few weeks, so be sure to check back for the next one!

For those who think yoga is too hard, this is a great way to introduce yourself to the practice in a simple way. The instructor is very professional and offers good yoga technique, while still offering tips and modifications for those of different fitness levels. These are high-quality videos, very professional, and gentle - these basic exercises should be suitable for all fitness levels, but I must give the disclaimer to of course consult your own healthcare practitioner before starting any new workout.

Check out Part 1 of the series below, and be sure to come back next week for Part 2!

01 Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies Part 1
Part 1

Be sure to come back next week for Part 2, or subscribe to our free weekly newsletter (see box to the right), to be notified when the next video is available!
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Basic Yoga Trainer Course - Review

There is a whole list of reasons why yoga is good for your health and your overall well being (we've covered many here on this blog). It's been practiced for thousands of years and still, to this day, finds lots of followers. Yoga is about becoming more energetic and fitter, but also calming your mind and allowing you to relax and de-stress. Given the busy lifestyles we lead these days with jobs and families, I find this is especially of great importance.

For many, being a working parent makes it difficult to find time to go to regular yoga classes. The Basic Yoga Trainer online is - in my opinion - a great alternative to joining a class. With the help of the online Basic Yoga Trainer course, you will be able to learn the basics of yoga from the comfort of your home. The course is divided into 21 lessons, ideally over 21 days, but you can take as long as you want. It is very detailed and covers a lot of ground in those 21 lessons. A great addition is the streaming video which demonstrates the individual moves. Every lesson starts with a bit of information on Yoga, such as Yoga Diet, History of Yoga and then specific yoga moves and techniques. Once you sign up online, you will have instant access to the course material, downloadable instruction guides and everything else you might need to make this course as convenient and worthwhile as possible.

Overall, if you are interested in Yoga and want to start learning how to incorporate it into your daily lifestyle, the Basic Online Trainer Yoga Course is a fantastic resource. It is easy to use and will give you the benefits of a healthy body and mind. I think that this course would benefit a variety of people, from complete yoga beginners to people already enjoying the benefits of yoga.

You can find more info at: www.theyogatutor.com, or click here for a free trial!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How Yoga Can Help You Cope With Fear

We usually talk about yoga as a fun way to exercise, and generally in the Western world, yoga is thought of as a fitness program. It’s true that yoga helps improve strength, flexibility and endurance. However, yoga also helps with many other mental, emotional and spiritual elements in a person’s life.

Hatha Yoga Seated PoseImage by myyogaonline via FlickrIn fact, yoga can be very effective to help you cope with fear and anxiety, thereby reducing stress. Here’s how:

#1: Yoga teaches focus and awareness.

One of the reasons fear is so destructive is that it can overwhelm logic. It takes over other senses too. One small fearful thought can snowball until it encompasses every thought and action. With yoga you learn how to focus on the present moment. You also learn to become aware of your thoughts.

When you’re aware of your thoughts they begin to lose power over you. You can change your thoughts. You can find a positive thought and focus on that. You can find gratitude and focus on that. Yoga teaches very powerful principles that can be embraced in simple ways.

#2: Teaches you to push your limits.

As you progress with yoga you’re going to try new poses. Some of these poses can be very challenging. You’ll be moving out of your mental and physical comfort zone. This is great practice. You can apply the same boundary stretching lessons to your daily life. When you push your own emotional boundaries fear can become less of an issue for you.

#3: Fear management.

One of the core elements of any yoga practice is breathing control. Controlling your breathing helps you control your body and quiet your mind. This can be applied when fear is overtaking you. You can remember to control your breathing and quiet your mind. Thus, you’ll be able to manage your fear.

#4: Yoga Poses for Fear

There are actually a few poses you can embrace in your yoga practice or when you’re experiencing fear that can help.

yoga posture forward bend I took this picture ...Image via WikipediaEasy Pose (see photo above) – To perform easy pose simply sit cross legged on the floor or your yoga matt. Palms up, rest your hands on your knees. Keep your entire body relaxed. Keep your back straight. Breathe deeply and slowly for a count of seven. Inhale for four and exhale for a count of three. Stay in this position until you feel more calm and focused.

Standing Forward Bend (see photo at right) – Stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart. No wider than shoulder distance. Slowly roll down until you’re hanging from the waist. Your head and shoulders, hips and legs should stay relaxed. Breathe through your nose. If your hands reach the floor, great. Let them relax there. If not, consider using a pillow or a bolster to rest them on. You want to be comfortable. Allow your face, neck and back to relax. Continue to hold the pose as you breathe deeply for a minute or two. When ready, slowly roll back up. Take care to not move too quickly after this pose. You may feel a touch lightheaded.

Yoga can help you find your center. It can help you manage fear. It can also help you push past your fears. If you struggle with fear consider starting a yoga practice. You will be amazed at the many benefits yoga provides.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Belly Dancing as Exercise

If Thursday's video inspired you, here is some more info on belly dancing for exercise. It is hard to think of a more fun way to exercise than dancing, and belly dancing is no exception. Fun, fast, challenging, and sexy, this is a great one to try. From body shaping, to cardio and core strength, belly dancing offers a range of great fitness benefits. And don't be intimidated - there are many belly dance classes springing up everywhere, and videos geared for beginners as well, so people of many different fitness levels can enjoy this fun and exciting form of exercise.

Here are a few articles to check out, and below are some examples of belly dance workout videos to get you started right in your living room.

Cover of "Bellydance"Cover of BellydanceThe Goddess Workout with Dolphina – Introduction to Bellydance ...
Bellydancing has been around for 25000 years, but Americans are suddenly getting hip to it. The credit goes to a Los Angeles bellydancer named Dolphina, who.
Publish Date: 08/18/2011 14:09

Dancing with the Scarfs
As more and more people are putting emphasis on staying in shape and on physical fitness, they are also accessorizing with Jinglies; the hottest dance hip scarf in the fitness industry for belly dancing and zumba workout ...
Publish Date: 08/08/2011 3:00

Dance Workouts for Women
Why do so many women choose a belly dance workout over other workouts for women? Because belly dancing makes them feel feminine and sexy and targets the areas women complain about the most: the abdominals, arms, hips, and thighs. ...
Publish Date: 01/21/2011 3:00

Luscious – The Bellydance Workout for Beginners
Luscious: The Bellydance Workout features gorgeous music and a beautiful flow undiluted by conventional exercises. Systematically addressing each group of muscles to deliver a total body workout, it creates an entertaining and ...
Publish Date: 04/13/2008 3:00

Some Fun Belly Dance Workout Videos:
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Video - Fun Dance Workout Idea

Here is a great fun workout idea - sexy, fun, energizing, and challenging, this may be a new idea for you but it's one that's worth checking out!  Classes are available at many fitness clubs these days, or you can always just dance at home - it is easier than ever to find new fun ways to exercise online (see below for some resources).

Check it out, and get shaking!

Belly Dance Workout by Mihaela Coman
www.WatchMojo.com shows you how belly dancing can be fun and a great way to stay in shape! WATCH THIS VIDEO IN HIGH QUALITY HERE: www.watchmojo.com

Some Fun Belly Dance Workouts You Can Do At Home:

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Exercising with Asthma

If you suffer from asthma, you probably think that you can't exercise properly or safely.  Contrary to what many think of this subject, there are ways that you can get in shape and exercise, even if you suffer from asthma.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that is marked by characteristics such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.  Asthma tends to occur with people who are genetically or environmentally predisposed to the condition. 

During an asthma episode, inflamed airways rea...Image via WikipediaSome of the triggers that may start or make an attack worse include exposure to allergens, viral respiratory infections, airway irritants, exercise, and exposure to things such as dust mites or cockroaches.

You can prevent asthma attacks by doing the following:
    1.  Bathe your pets weekly.
    2.  Don't smoke or permit smoking in your home.   
    3.  When mold or pollen counts are high, you should stay inside with air conditioning.
    4.  Wash your bedding and any stuffed toys at least once per week in hot water.
    5.  Wash your hands every chance you get.
    6.  Get a flu shot (or at least take plenty of vitamin D, which is often just as effective, and less expensive).
   7.  Wear a scarf over your mouth and nose in the winter months.
    8.  Be proactive and know your triggers and how you should avoid them.

Now that you know what you know about asthma, you may be wondering where exercise fits in.  As most doctors will tell you, you shouldn't give up on sports or exercise at all.  You just have to be smart about how you play and take special precautions to avoid attacks.

Almost all doctors agree that the best way to prevent attacks during exercise is to keep your inhaler and medication close by.  You should never use the inhaler more than 3 times during a game or exercise session.  If you are up the previous night with coughing and wheezing, it's always best to go light with your exercise the next day.

suspension exerciseImage via WikipediaFor something known as IEA (Exercise Induced Asthma), the symptoms are somewhat different, in the fact that they appear after 6 - 10 minutes of exercise and will often be worse in cold or dry air.

If you have IEA, there are several activities that you can enjoy such as swimming, walking, biking, downhill skiing, yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, and even some team based sports.  There are many activities for you to choose from, to ensure you get the exercise you need as well.

Keep in mind that the condition of asthma isn't "all in your head", it is a real physiological medical treatment that will require treatment to prevent and keep at bay.  However, even though your doctor can offer solutions in treating your asthma, you are the one who can prevent your symptoms. 

Always be smart, take your medication, and be proactive.  By doing so, you'll find you can enjoy exercise just like everyone else.

Note: Always be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning any new exercise routine, especially if you have asthma or a related condition.
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Video - Quick Summer Ab Workout

Here is a short video with a few great Pilates (and other) ab exercises to help keep that tummy flat all the way through bathing suit season. It's only a couple of minutes long, so check this out, and keep those abs working!

Fitness: Endless Summer Abs Workout - The Sarah Fit Show
Even though summer is ending, get bikini ready abs all year long with this abs workout! SarahFit.com - click for workout details. Try this ab workout 3 days a week on nonconsecutive days before your cardio to get a flat stomach. This ab workout is si...

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fun Ways to Exercise - More Ideas

Here are some new articles on fun ways to exercise that I found recently. And if you're still stuck, why not revisit an old favorite? This weekend I pulled out a yoga DVD I hadn't done for several months, as I had gotten a bit tired of it, and moved on to other things. I enjoyed it a lot, and got a great workout - I even felt like I made a lot of progress, despite not doing it for a while! Try a workout you used to enjoy, but haven't done in a while, and see if you can recapture the magic.

Or check these out, try the ones that appeal to you, and of course feel free to add your own suggestions below!

Jogging on a bright November morningImage by Ed Yourdon via FlickrFun Ways To Get Exercise
Learning martial arts can be an interesting way to get exercise. Another way I keep myself interested in exercising is experimentation. I try to keep improving my exercise performance, find new exercises to try and do mind/body ...
Publish Date: 08/07/2011 8:43

8 Fun Ways to Exercise this Summer …
During winter, I have no problem getting motivated to get to the gym, but in the summer, I hate being stuck inside to exercise! That's why I try my best to.
Publish Date: 07/24/2011 11:20

5 Fun Ways to Exercise and Stay in Shape | Fitness Breakout
Does your workout routine feel like a drag? Try one or more of these 5 fun ways to exercise and discover some enjoyable ways to stay in great shape!
Publish Date: 07/21/2011 22:32

Easy Ways To Lose Weight – 7 Simple Tips
You'll be very happy to know that you can get plenty of good exercise and never have to work out at the gym! Here's seven easy ways to lose weight whilst having some fun: 1. Have a brisk walk with some friends. A good way to exercise ...
Publish Date: 08/07/2011 17:36
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Beauty Tip: Exercise And Your Complexion

As we all know and hear all the time, exercise can do a body good.  It can help you to stay trim, tone muscles, and help to boost energy as well.  What you probably don't know is that exercise can actually help you achieve the complexion that you've always wanted.

Drops of sweatImage via WikipediaIt's true that regular exercise will nourish the skin all over the body with fresh blood, oxygen, and nutrients.  As well, the increased blood flow and circulation that come with working out will help to draw toxins out of the body and improve the condition of all your vital organs, including the epidermis.

A lot of people think that sweat can trigger acne flare ups.  The fact is, sweating is great for any type of congested skin, as it helps promote the flushing of impurities from the epidermal layer and will clean out the pores. (After sweating, brush your skin gently with a loofah or skin brush, then take a warm shower, followed by a cold rinse, to remove dead skin cells and oils and cleanse and clear your skin, after working out.)  As well, vigorous exercise can actually correct the hormonal imbalances that can trigger blemishes, therefore reducing the likelihood of outbreaks.

Any physical routine that you like to do, such as yoga, running, biking, spinning, Pilates, boxing, and such, will help to lessen the stress that you encounter on a daily basis and help to prevent stress related acne.

Keep in mind that exercise may not be a miracle cure for everything, as you may still experience breakouts from time to time although your acne will certainly be less severe and last for a much shorter time frame.

Merkel cell - Diagram of human skin. In humans...Image via WikipediaExercise is also great for other skin conditions that may or may not have to do with the presence of acne. Your skin losing its elasticity or becoming thin and less resilient is something that we all encounter.  This is a common problem for many of us as we get older.

As we all get older, we start to lose collagen, which will make us look tired.  As many of us don't know, physical activity can actually help to promote the growth of collagen in your skin cells, which will plump up your facial skin and make you look younger and more vibrant.

If you are worried about wrinkles, you should consider the relaxation that comes after you exercise. This has the effect of making your muscles, facial muscles included, soften up.  What this means, is that your lines will appear less pronounced, helping to contribute to the youthful look that you are trying to achieve.

With exercise you can achieve a smaller waist, better muscle tone, softer skin, fewer blemishes, and an overall younger, more fresher look.  If you've wanted to add or change to your complexion, you shouldn't hesitate to exercise.  Exercise will help you feel more alive as well as improve your body.  All you need to do is take a little bit of time out of your schedule to exercise - it's as simple as that.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Video - Yoga With the Kids

We usually think of yoga as an adult form of exercise, but yoga can actually be very helpful for kids for focusing, centering, and calming down at the end of the day, or whenever they are trapped inside on a rainy day and need something fun to do. Not only does it give them some exercise, but you can make a fun game out of it - kids love all the animal names of the yoga postures, so loosen up and have some fun with it!  Check out this cool video for some great ideas, and see below for more yoga videos that both you and your children can enjoy together.

Kids Yoga, Raising Healthy Children, kids exercise
juliehammerstein.com Julie Hammerstein is one of the country's leading health experts. As a Certified Nutritionist, she works with families, companies, and individuals helping them breakthrough the myths around diet and exercise and create a whole ne...

More Fun Yoga Videos for Kids: 
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

How to Get Kids to Exercise More

As we discussed on Tuesday, the childhood obesity epidemic has some very frightening implications. Most parents are aware that we need to take steps to solve this problem. However, it can seem like a hopeless task sometimes to get your kids away from the TV or computer and out exercising. It's not necessarily impossible, though! Here are some ideas on how to get kids of various ages moving.

1. Participate

It isn't very encouraging when Mom and Dad are sitting around watching TV while you, the kid, have been sent out to exercise. Make it a family program; everyone benefits from exercise.

A girl on a garden swing. Original caption: : ...Image via Wikipedia2. Designate a purpose

Make your exercise mean something. Take regular family walks or hikes with a goal in mind - a landmark, a certain shop, a scenic overlook, a playground, and so forth.

3. Get a swing set

If possible, put up a swing set or single swing in your yard. Kids of many ages like to swing, and this is a great way to get them outdoors and having fun.

4. Take up a sport

Try something like horseback riding that is challenging, different, fun, and can involve the whole family. Bike riding works well for families, too. If your kids like watching traditional sports like baseball on TV, find out how they can join a team.

5. Don't be afraid of the dirt

Don't let your fear of laundry get in the way of encouraging your kids to exercise. Let them get outside and dig and play in the dirt and worry about the laundry later.

Young Tibetan equestrian. Close to Tingri ShekarImage via Wikipedia6. Provide incentives

Get your kids up and moving by providing incentives - have them earn their TV time, computer time, and so forth by doing activities.

7. Help around the house

Even housework is exercise. Designate different chores for your kids to do, and provide rewards and incentives for getting it done. Set up rules so that the privileges can't be indulged until the chores are done.

8. Have an electronic-free day

Once a week (at least), turn off all TVs, computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices (yes, that means parents too!). During this time, have an activity scheduled and planned such as a nature hike, picnic, outdoor project, etc.

9. Make the time

Exercise can become a habit just like sitting around can. Designate a special, regular time during which you do physical activity with your kids and family. This will become so ingrained that it will be second nature after a while. This helps instill good exercise habits in your kids that will last a lifetime.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Dangers of Childhood Obesity

Today's article underscores the importance of instilling good (and fun) exercise habits from an early age. The average lifespan in the U.S. is already shortening - this problem should be addressed - not soon, but right now.

Crop of Children with various body composition...Image via WikipediaUnfortunately, childhood obesity is a significant problem, and it is not only a condition that affects the childhood of the obese individual. Being obese as a child increases your risk for heart conditions in adulthood. In fact, obesity in children has been called a warning sign of heart disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), 16 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 meet the criteria for obesity. And while new cases of obese children are not necessarily growing, the number of children with diabetes is growing. This may well be a result of the childhood obesity epidemic.

In one study, artery wall thickness in obese children and teens was found to be as thick as the artery walls of a 45-year-old adult. This means that childhood obesity could have a sort of acceleration effect on heart disease. While the study was not conclusive and the number of participants was small, it does raise a certain red flag of concern. Also, the arteries of obese children may be in the first stages of atherosclerosis, which is the artery-hardening process that leads to stroke and heart attack. A study in Austria found that some obese children have enlarged hearts.

Pediatricians and other experts are concerned about the fact that these obesity-specific problems are occurring in such young people, who are still undergoing growth and development. Their systems are still being "fine-tuned," and having heart and obesity problems at such a young age means there is more time for the fat to do its damaging work. In other words, heart disease gets an earlier start on its damaging effects in the body.

High blood pressure is another concern in obese children, especially those children who have a family history of high blood pressure.

McDonald's patron, 2006.Image via WikipediaAnother concern about childhood obesity is the number of fat cells in the body. Once you become an adult, the number of fat cells you have in your body does not change; they simply get bigger or smaller as you lose weight. The number of fat cells is still being determined in childhood, so an obese child is being set up to have weight problems for the rest of his or her life.

Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent and treat obesity in your child. First, lower the saturated fat your child eats. Hot dogs, processed lunch meats, transfats, and other artificial fats and processed oils should be sharply limited. Avoid empty calories such as those found in packaged cakes, cookies, and other sugar-rich and nutrient-deficient foods. Fast foods should be completely eliminated from the child's diet.

Encourage your child to eat a lot of whole foods - brown rice, whole grain bread (preferably homemade), and fresh produce of all sorts. Nuts, while high in fat, make healthy snacks that help your child feel full. Let your child have treats in the form of homemade sweets that do not have a lot of refined sugar or fat (such as natural fruit leather). (For some recipe ideas, visit our Cooking From Scratch blog.)

And last but certainly not least, don't forget exercise! Kids should run around in the fresh air as much as possible on a daily basis. Encourage outdoor play, sports, biking, hiking, or other activity. Get the family in on the program, too, and set a good example for your children - it will prove beneficial for both you and them!

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