Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Avoid "Sitting Disease" with These Simple Tips

"Sitting disease" is the new catch phrase for a sedentary lifestyle. Scientists and doctors have learned that a sedentary lifestyle is much more dangerous than previously thought. In fact, we now know that it causes cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and shortens your life span.

The problem is that most people, perhaps yourself included, have a sedentary lifestyle by default. You sit at a desk all day. You sit in the car to get to and from work. Even children sit at a desk all day. Fortunately, the solution doesn't have to be complicated. You can escape sitting disease with a few simple tips.

1. Stretch

Spend time in the morning and throughout your day just getting up and moving your body. When you get out of bed, stretch your arms over your head. Bend over and touch your toes. Stretch from side to side too. This gets you immediately in touch with your body in the morning. Do the same thing throughout your day. Stand up, get away from your desk at least once an hour, and move your body.

2. The Whole Day Approach

Exercising during the day is a good thing. However, it doesn’t solve the “sitting disease” problem. If you still sit for more than seventy percent of your day then you’re probably sitting too much. Approach your day with a different ideology. Try to get up and walk every hour. Walk to the bathroom. Go get a drink of water. Go outside and get some fresh air.

English: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfe...Image via WikipediaWhen you run errands, park at the back of the lot and walk to the store. If you can stand at your desk and work, do that too. If you have something to ask or tell a co-worker then get up and go to their desk. Make moving a habit throughout your day.

3. Get a Standing Desk
If possible, get a standing desk. These desks are easy to make. You can even simply stack boxes on your desk and position your computer keyboard at waist level for a while. (One of my co-workers does this on a regular basis.)

4. Pace
When you’re on the phone, get up and move. Pace. It burns calories and it gets your body moving. Additionally, walking when you’re talking has been shown to stimulate brain activity. You may have more productive conversations.

5. Be an Active Watcher

When you watch television don’t sit on the couch, at least not the entire time. Get up during commercials. Get on the floor and stretch or do strengthening exercises. Get a folding walking treadmill and walk while you watch.

A Frisbee player catches the frisbee.Image via Wikipedia6. Make Leisure Time Active Time

What do you and your friends and family do together? Does it involve sitting for hours at a time? If so, consider changing your habits. Go for a hike together. Play football, Frisbee or go bowling.

Sitting disease doesn’t need to be combated by exercising for hours a day. Instead, look for ways to simply move your body more often. Your body was made to move. You have amazing joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles all designed to move! Use them regularly and often so you can stay healthy and live a long life.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Video - Forza Workout Demo

If you've never heard of Forza, which I hadn't until recently, this is a hot new workout using Samurai sword moves. Forza classes are popping up at gyms and fitness clubs across the nation, but if you would like to try it at home, there are also a couple of DVDs available - just keep in mind that if doing this workout indoors, you will need high ceilings and plenty of space!

Check this out for an example of some of the moves involved in a Forza workout, and see below video for some resources for trying this fun new workout yourself.

Forza Volume 2
Clip from the DVD which is available below.

Try A Forza Workout:

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

What is Cy-Yo?

Cy-Yo is a type of workout that takes a holistic approach to unite your body, mind and soul into a single routine. Cy-Yo combines the best parts of indoor cycling (or “spinning”) with the numerous benefits of yoga. A typical one-hour session of Cy-Yo consists of 10 minutes of yoga, followed by 40 minutes of indoor cycling, followed by another 10 minutes of yoga.

A yoga class.Image via WikipediaThe initial 10 minute yoga session warms up the body, getting both the muscles and joints ready for the more strenuous workout to follow. This first 10 minute session also brings a higher level of awareness to the various “energy centers” of the body.

During the 40 minute indoor cycling portion, greater focus will be paid to the mind/body link. Your Cy-Yo instructor will help you with various visualization techniques and to learn how to take control of your breathing patterns. Unlike some indoor cycling classes, which seek to re-create a bicycle race or even a disco or dance club environment, a Cy-Yo class can actually help you increase your energy levels through relaxation.

Why Was Cy-Yo Created? 

The founder of Cy-Yo, a certified yoga and indoor cycling fitness instructor named Curt Dalton, created the workout in order to combine the best of both exercise worlds: the physical and muscular focus of Western fitness ideas; and the Eastern focus of uniting the body with the nonphysical elements of the person.

What Are The Benefits of Cy-Yo?

Cy-Yo is unique in that it provides the whole-body benefits of yoga, and the cardiovascular benefits of an aerobic exercise, in a single workout session. Too often, when we go to the gym we tend to focus on only one of these things. Worse yet, it’s human nature to get into a “rut” and do the same type of workout over and over. By integrating Cy-Yo into your workout routine, you’ll make sure to be exercising all aspects of your physical being.

English: Typical fixed wheel ergonomically adj...Image via WikipediaDo You Need Special Equipment?

The only required piece of exercise equipment for a Cy-Yo workout is an indoor exercise cycle. If you choose to do Cy-Yo workouts at home, you’ll be happy to know that suitable home exercise cycling equipment is relatively inexpensive. (See below for a couple of examples.)

How to Get Started with Cy-Yo

An increasing number of gyms and fitness centers are starting to offer Cy-Yo as an exercise option. If your gym or health club doesn’t offer it, then make sure to ask; if enough members are interested, the gym will likely consider adding Cy-Yo as an offering.

If you’d like to exercise in the convenience of your own home, you can purchase a Cy-Yo DVD that will safely coach you through a complete Cy-Yo workout. Some Cy-Yo DVDs offer multiple workouts, with each workout tailored to a different level of fitness and experience.

For individuals who already have some experience with yoga and cycling, a Cy-Yo class can also be a great way to get excited about going to the gym on a more regular basis.

What You'll Need to Do Cy-Yo At Home:
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

10 Fun Fitness Trends for 2012

One of the best ways to get and stay in shape is to find a fitness activity you enjoy. However, even doing something you love can get boring if you do it over and over. It’s important to keep your fitness activities interesting and fun. One great way to do that is to embrace new fitness trends. The new year is now getting underway, here are ten fun fitness trends to keep an eye out for. Some of these may be new to you, and some you may have already tried, but they're all great ways to mix things up with your fitness goals this year!

1. Forza– Forza is a fitness program that embraces the art of samurai sword fighting. It’s a full body workout that provides both strength training and cardio benefits. If you love the idea of swinging a large sword or wooden stick you can find classes and home workout DVDs to try it yourself.

English: Maria Moline, instructor, coaches her...Image via Wikipedia2. Dance FitnessZumba took the country by storm last year. All across the nation Zumba studios opened up and people began working out to a Latin beat. It’s spawned a whole new generation of dance fitness classes. They’re fun, much better than your mom’s jazzercise from the 80’s, and they’re a great way to get in shape.

3. Yogalates– Yogalates is a fusion of yoga and Pilates. The core moves of yoga are blended with the concepts of core strengthening and holding poses. Proper alignment is essential. If you love yoga or Pilates or cannot decide which class to take, consider a yogalates class.

4. CrossFit– CrossFit is a strengthening and conditioning program. It was originally created to help bodybuilders develop more flexibility and endurance as well as proper form. However, people and athletes from all walks of life have found that CrossFit is infinitely customizable to any level and fitness goal.

5. Cy-Yo – Cy-Yo stands for Cycle Yoga. Yes, you read that correctly. No, you’re not trying to do downward dog as you peddle. Instead, you warm up with a yoga class and then get on your indoor bike for a spinning class. It helps gym members get the best of both worlds.

6. Yogafit– Are you starting to notice a trend here? People are blending yoga with everything. Yogafit is a blend of yoga moves and basic fitness moves. A typical YogaFit class might move from downward dog to push ups, to get additional cardio and strengthening benefits in one fun workout that doesn't get boring.

7. Functional fitness. Using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. Functional fitness focuses on teaching your body to perform daily movements instead of being able to lift a 100 pound barbell over your chest. It’s practical strength training that you can use in your everyday life to help prevent injury and stay in shape.

8. Hiring a personal trainer or group training. More and more people are discovering the benefit of personal trainers. In this setting, you receive focused attention from a specialist, which helps you reach your fitness goals more quickly.

English: A senior practicing weight training a...Image via Wikipedia9. Golden oldies programs – More and more baby boomers are getting into the health and wellness trend. That’s opened up a market for senior programs. You can now find fitness courses dedicated specifically to the needs of older folks and retirees.

10. Fitness classes for children. As childhood obesity continues to increase, more and more fitness professionals are creating programs specifically to help motivate children to get healthy. If you have kids, keep an eye out for fun ways for them to get involved in more physical activities.

Fitness trends arise from demand. They help keep your workout interesting and fun, and motivate you to continue pursuing exercise and fitness throughout your life. If you're in a rut, check out one of these fun ideas to keep you on track with your fitness goals for the year!

Check Out DVDs Of These Trends You Can Do At Home:

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Video - 15-Minute Full-Body Balance Ball Workout

Here is a great 15-minute workout using a balance ball. While many people think of the balance ball as a tool to mostly work the core muscles, this video shows how you can really use a balance ball to work your whole body. You'll be surprised to learn how versatile this workout tool can be. From arms and shoulders, to calves and back, this short video will give you a full-body workout in just 15 minutes. All you need is a ball, and a yoga mat or towel for some of the moves. (If you don't have a balance ball yet, you can find some good ones listed below the video.)


SparkPeople Stability Ball Workout
A stability ball workout with SparkPeople's Coach Nicole!

Stability Ball Workout Tools:

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Balance Ball for Beginners

Balance balls are excellent for improving strength, stability and balance. However, they can be tricky to use. If you’re not accustomed to stability exercises or your core muscles need strengthening you’ll find a balance ball workout extremely challenging. But don’t miss out on the benefits of a balance ball just because it’s tricky! Use these tips to help you get started successfully.

An exercise ball.Image via Wikipedia#1 Make sure you have the right sized ball. If your ball is too big or too small you’re going to have a tougher time. Use the following guidelines to make sure you have the ideal size and fit.

If you’re:

4'11" - 5'4" choose a 55 cm ball.
5'5" - 5'11" choose a 65 cm ball
6'0" - 6' 7” choose a 75 cm ball

#2 Make sure your ball is properly inflated. If your ball is hard and very inflated it will be more difficult to balance on it. A softer, less inflated ball will be easier to work out on. As you gain confidence and skill, you can add pressure to your balance ball.

#3 Sit on it. Start becoming accustomed to your balance ball by simply sitting on it. Sounds easy, right? It’s not as easy as you might think. When you sit on a ball the ball wants to roll. You’re going to have to use your core muscles to keep the ball in place and to stay on top of it. Make sure you’re practicing with bare feet or tennis shoes. This will give you some extra support and friction so you don’t slip off.

You can also gain a little confidence with your exercise ball by using a balance ball for beginners workout DVD. The Balance Ball® For Beginners Workout DVD with Suzanne Deason is a great place to start. This workout provides a full 100 minutes of balance ball exercises. It blends yoga, Pilates and strength and flexibility training all into one easy to use beginner workout. Once you’ve mastered this DVD you’ll not only have lost weight and toned your muscles from head to toe, you’ll also be an expert with the balance ball. You’ll be ready to move onto more advanced balance ball techniques.

The DVD comes with an explanation of how to perform the balance ball moves for maximum results. It also comes with a bonus daily stretch for health and a sixty minute workout. All you need is the right sized balance ball and you’re ready to start toning, shaping and losing weight - and it won't cost you much more than a large cup of coffee. Also check out Suzanne’s other balance ball DVDs including Balance Ball For Weight Loss.

Balance Ball Workout Resources:

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Many Benefits of Stretching

In many exercise programs, be it weight lifting for building and toning muscles or cardiovascular exercises for increasing stamina and to lose weight, most people do not perform enough stretching exercises even though stretching exercises can be performed by anyone at any age unless that person has some physical restriction to stretch. What is worse, many people do not even stretch before and after exercising. Unknown to most people, stretching also has anti-aging benefits.

Benefits Of Stretching Exercises for Muscle Growth

English: Waipahu, Hawaii (April 6, 2006) &ndas...Image via WikipediaStretching is an important aspect of exercising and should be a part of any exercise routine and program. There are many wonderful benefits when you perform regular stretching exercises. Stretching exercises not only help you to warm up and cool down before and after your workouts, it can and will actually help your muscles to grow bigger and stronger too. Don’t believe me? Then read on.

Stretching exercises help muscle growth because stretching lengthens your muscles and thus giving your muscle fibers a greater range of motion when lifting weights. So in effect, it recruits more muscle fibers and thus causing your muscles to grow stronger and bigger from your weight training.

By stretching your muscles after an intensive workout will reduce muscle soreness commonly known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle sore) which usually occurs a day after your workout.

Performing stretching exercises before your workout or before a physically demanding sporting activity will also decrease your chances of sustaining injuries and muscle cramps which will certainly destroy the joy of your activity.

When you stretch regularly, stretching exercises will help you gain agility which will make your daily chores much more pleasant and if you play sports, you will notice your agility is much better than others who do not stretch. This will put you in a more beneficial position against your opponents.

Anti-Aging Benefits Of Stretching Exercises

English: An elderly at stretching exercises in gymImage via WikipediaIf you are a baby boomer and age is catching up, this agility will make your life so much more pleasurable because you will be able to avoid stiff muscles and stiff joints unlike your peers who do not stretch. You will be more mobile, agile and suffering from less pain associated with aging and stiff body parts. These anti aging benefits from stretching regularly are priceless - benefits that money can never buy.

What's more, you can stretch anytime and anywhere as and when you like. Stretching exercises need not be limited to a pre- and post-workout activity. So start a stretching exercise routine soon and make it part of your everyday lifestyle. You will surely enjoy the pleasures and anti aging benefits that a regular stretching routine can bring you.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Video - 15-Minute Core Abs Workout

Here is a quick 15-minute ab workout which will work your core muscles, including central, upper, and lower abs and obliques, hips, and lower back. All you need is a mat, and warmup and cool down are included, so grab your mat or just a blanket, and let's get started!

15-Minute Abs Workout
From www.sparkpeople.com, a 15-minute abs workout with our own Coach Nicole! We have a new account at http You'll see all our current videos, and all new videos will be posted there.

For More Great Ab Workouts Click Here....

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why "Isolation Training" With Weights Is A Bad Strategy

This week we have a special guest article for you, by a certified personal trainer. Read on to find out how to get the most out of your workouts, and why this popular method of working out may not be as beneficial as you'd think.

What you need to know about Weight Training for a strong lean body that both looks good and is injury resistant
by Mike Geary - Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer

Wrist straps allow lifting heavier without hav...Image via WikipediaWorking as a personal trainer & fitness professional, there is one type of question I get all the time that shows that many people are missing the big picture regarding the benefits of strength training. This popular question usually goes something like this:

“What exercise can I do to isolate my _______ (insert your muscle of choice – abs, quads, biceps, triceps, etc)?”

It doesn’t matter which muscle someone is asking about, they always seem to be asking how to ‘isolate’ it. My first response to this question is always – “Why in the world would you want to isolate it?” 

The first thing I try to teach my clients is that the body does not work well in muscle isolation. Rather, it works better in movements along a kinetic chain; that is, large portions of the body assist other portions of the body in completing a complex movement. In fact, there really is no such thing as true muscle isolation. There is almost always a nearby muscle group that will assist in some way with whatever movement you are doing. However, this article compares attempting to ‘isolate’ body parts via single-joint exercises to the much more effective strategy of performing multi-joint complex movements.

When you attempt to ‘isolate’ muscles by performing single-joint exercises, you are actually creating a body that is non-functional and will be more prone to injury. Essentially, you are creating a body that is a compilation of body parts, instead of a powerful, functional unit that works together. 

Click Here For Rest of Article....
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stomach Exercise All-Stars

There are plenty of stomach exercises out there for those who want to shape their core and strengthen their midsection. This may be both a blessing and a curse. It is easy to find plenty of exercises and routines that work the midsection, but how does one know which ones are any good?

Muscles of the trunkImage via WikipediaWell, listed here are what appear to be some of the best around, according to recommendations by fitness experts. If you want to work on your stomach, but are not sure where to start, then this "all-star team" may be a good jumping off point. As with any workout routine, be sure to consult a professional before beginning and always warm up properly to avoid injury.
Crunchless Crunch
Regular crunches are great for working the rectus abdominus (the muscles at the front of your stomach), but they do very little for the transverse abdominal muscles deeper in the midsection, plus they tend to put strain on your back and neck. This first exercise corrects that, working the transverse muscles with no back or neck strain. Essentially, it involves trying to pull the belly button in towards the spine. This can be tricky, as it involves using muscles which you may not be used to activating.
  1. To start, either lie or on your stomach or kneel. You might want to try both ways and see which helps you feel the exercise better. 
  2. Relax your body as much as possible, then try to use only the lower abdominals to move your belly button toward your spine. 
  3. Hold for ten seconds. If holding for ten seconds feels easy, hold for a longer period. The goal is to hold the contraction until you either cannot feel it, or you feel other muscles working harder than the transverse abdominus. When you feel this, let the contraction out.
English: Abdominal muscles on a woman's belly.Image via WikipediaHip Lift
Remain on your back for this stomach exercise.
  1. Put your arms at your sides with palms facing up to the ceiling. 
  2. Put your legs straight up in the air so that the soles of your feet are facing the ceiling and your legs make about a ninety degree angle with your torso. Keep your knees unbent and as straight as possible. 
  3. Now, contract your ab muscles so that it feels like your belly button is being pulled toward your spine, while at the same time gently lifting your hips off the floor. 
  4. Raise your hips to height of a few inches, keeping your legs extended straight upward. 
  5. Hold this position, then slowly lower your hips back to the floor. Repeat for an entire set.
Long Arm Crunch
For this stomach exercise, remain on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat.
  1. Lie back and extend your arms straight back on the floor as though you are reaching above your head. 
  2. Contract your abs and slowly lift your arms, head and shoulders off the floor to about a thirty degree angle. 
  3. Hold it, then slowly lower your shoulders back to the floor. Repeat for an entire set. Be careful not to lead with your arms, keeping them straight and alongside your head.
Some other honorable mentions include the vertical leg crunch, torso twists, and any Pilates routine that emphasizes the core. Feel free to research some of these exercises more once you have mastered the three above. Now that you are armed with some of the better stomach exercises, you are on your way to a trimmer tummy!

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Video - Yoga Zone Workout - Weight Loss for Beginners

Here is a great yoga workout from the Yoga Zone collection. This one is a beginners yoga workout, focusing on the weight loss benefits of yoga. It is designed for beginners who might not be that flexible yet, but if you are more flexible, feel free to stretch a bit more than the video demonstrates, as long as it is safe and comfortable. It's only about 20 minutes long, so clear a space, and remember you can always maximize the video to full-screen by clicking on the four-cornered square at the bottom of the video.

And for more great Yoga Zone videos, see resources below.

Yoga Zone - Yoga for Weight Loss (Beginners).2
Yoga Zone - Yoga for Weight Loss (Beginners).2

More Yoga Zone Videos:

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beginners’ Yoga Video Offers Good Instruction

Trying to find well-produced fitness videos that are truly suitable for beginners can sometimes be a daunting challenge.

Most videos these days aim at intermediate exercisers, the ones who know a grapevine from a box step and a lateral raise from a biceps curl. These DVDs may offer a few easier moves here and there, but the instruction clearly is geared to people who already know what to do.

The few videos that are marketed for beginners often are unspeakably repetitive, as if flabby muscles always mean a flabby brain. And too often, they provide no way to add extra challenge or difficulty to the routine, as if beginning exercisers are going to remain beginners forever.

It's nice, then, to discover Yoga Zone: Flexibility and Tone, a beginners' video that offers the depth of instruction and easy pace that true beginners need.

The instructor here is Alan Finger, a genial-looking middle-aged man who wears a polo shirt, rolled-up cotton pants and a chin-length bob. His physique is not the standard chiseled form of exercise videos; he looks as if he might carry a few extra pounds around the middle.

But he has a lovely voice (with a hint of a brogue) and a calm manner, two essentials for a yoga tape, where relaxation is key. And he has a true gift for instruction, combining the nuts-and-bolts details of positioning with what it feels like to stretch and balance.

When he describes how the muscles of the feet ought to rotate through to the little toe, you'll know -- and be able to feel -- just what he's talking about.

Although sometimes each move contains so many of these instructions that it can be a little overwhelming to try to master all of them at once. But you will improve your technique with each watching.

Downward Dog Yoga Pose - Adho Mukha Shvanasana...Image via WikipediaIf you have tried yoga before, you'll recognize some of the moves -- the down-on-all-fours stretch called the cat, the inverted V that forms the down dog, and the corpse, which requires little more than lying flat on one's back, completely relaxed.

In another nod to beginners, Finger also provides true modifications and tips for those who may not be as flexible as they'd like.

Finger shows how a folded blanket can be placed under the knees or for better support while performing seated postures. A folded towel also is used for several poses, although Finger doesn't announce that in advance.

The 50-minute session ends with stretching and relaxation, set to gentle New Age music that might lull you to sleep.

If you're new to yoga and looking for a good introduction to the practice, or just looking to add another yoga DVD to your collection, this is a great place to start. You can find this Yoga Zone video, and many others, very affordably priced on Amazon.com.

Yoga Zone Videos:

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