Choosing the Fitness Program that Works for You

In a sense, current fitness landscape is very reminiscent of a kaleidoscope. It is intriguing, it’s impressive to look at, and it’s a horrible mess. Don’t believe us? Just look at the things that are considered “fitness” – power yoga, BodyPump, CrossFit, swimming, power lifting… The list goes on and on. What makes this confusing situation even worse is that each of these activities represents a viable fitness approach. Which one will work the best for you depends entirely on you. So, let’s see how to make the right choice.

Make the list of things preventing you from exercising

These would be the common roadblocks people face on a daily basis. We won’t preach you that it’s all in your head – some of these obstacles are legit. Instead, we’ll try to offer the solutions.

  • You don’t have enough time – Try focusing on the bodyweight options you can do at home or at work. This approach can be applied if you can’t stand the gym environment as well.
  • You are way out of shape – It’s better to start late than never. But, don’t expect the changes to occur over night. Start your fitness journey by introducing casual physical activities like walking in your daily routine, and work your way up.
  • You find working out boring – Just find a fitness partner or sign up for a group activity and turn a physical activity into a social activity.
  • You are on a tight budget – Though hiring a professional trainer or at least enrolling for a program that offers a certain level of mentorship, extensive research and a couple of fitness DVDs will do sufficient of a job at filling your blanks.

Determine your fitness goals

Now that you have a somewhat clearer picture about your future approach to fitness, let’s take a look at another huge determining factor – your fitness goals. They can roughly be divided into three groups:

  • Endurance – The most common endurance-building activities are running, swimming, cycling, and rope exercises. When you are building endurance, you are burning calories that would, otherwise, be spent for muscle building, so we can say that building muscles and building endurance are two mutually exclusive processes. However, you can combine strength days and cardio days, cut the rest between sets, and do fast-paced lifting and marry the best of both worlds.
  • Bigger muscles – Building muscles means eating more, so you’ll find combining this approach with losing fat reasonably hard. Also, the most conventional way to build muscles is in the gym. If you have a natural aversion to the gym, you can build your self-confidence and make your stay there more pleasant by finding a gym companion, buying quality gym wear or bringing your headphones.
  • Burning fat – The thing with losing fat is that you simply need to outrun your fork so as long as you’re burning more calories than you are ingesting you’re good to go. The most efficient way to do this, on the other hand, is through high-intensity interval training. The good news is that you’ll also be able to pack some muscles along the way. Not as much as with plain old body-building, but you’ll definitely look leaner.

Special affinities

Last but not least, you have to take into consideration your special affinities. For instance, if you are impressed with nature, you may put the fitness goals on the backseat and simply go hiking. Spiritual persons may find the most enjoyment in yoga or tai chi, while people who like music will probably appreciate dance lessons the most.

All you have to do now is to put these three categories together and find the lowest common denominator that works your needs. Every one of us has a distinct personality and distinct needs. You don’t need to force anything upon yourself. Just find the approach that suits your goals and your qualities the best.

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in fitness and alternative medicine. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

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Fitness for Recovery: 15 Workouts That Saved My Life

Exercise can be an incredible asset to those who are recovering from substance abuse and addiction.

As a recovering addict and as the owner of several successful rehabilitation facilities, I know the importance of exercise. Below I share my responses to some of the frequently asked questions I receive about recovery and fitness and explain how exercise helped me and countless others recover from addiction.

proper-running-form
Photo Credit: http://strengthrunning.com

How does exercise help addicts in recovery? Research has proven that a fitness routine can benefit recovering addicts. Substance abuse wreaks havoc on the mind, body, and spirit. Exercise is one of the few treatment options that helps mend all three of those aspects at once.

Exercise relieves stress, which in turn, helps create a positive outlook on life. When addicts begin to see and feel improvement, they gain a sense of pride and confidence. This feeling of wellbeing can produce similar effects to meditation, creating the right state of mind for recovery. Additionally, research shows that exercise helps rebalance brain chemistry. Often, drugs and alcohol have altered the brain’s functioning, and exercise can return the imbalance to normal levels.

What exercises would you recommend for recovering addicts? I have seen the benefits of exercise for recovering addicts, first hand. The following workouts played a role in my recovery and the recovery of countless others:

  1. Walking: Starting out slow is essential to any fitness routine, especially for individuals have experienced the trauma of substance abuse. Start with a brisk 20-30 minute walk every day.
  2. Jogging: Once you have built up enough stamina, start jogging. Getting your heart pumping will help return the body to its natural state.
  3. Swimming: The fluidity and weightlessness of swimming helps addicts find an inner peace and calmness after each workout.
  4. Yoga: helps individuals concentrate on every small movement of their bodies, while focusing on proper breathing techniques. For many, this helps restore balance to the mind, body, and spirit.
  5. Tennis: is a great way to work out any inner feelings of anger. Importantly, you don’t always need a partner, just a ball, racket, and a solid wall.
  6. Abdominal Exercises: Focusing on the abs is a great way to strengthen your core. This produces a sense of vigor that can radiate throughout your body.
  7. Hiking: Nothing is more soothing than connecting with nature. Hiking can be a great cardio workout, but can also help build a relationship with the outside world.
  8. Kayaking: Kayaking combines the weightlessness of swimming with the peacefulness of hiking, creating inner strength and a sense of calmness.
  9. Weight Lifting: Weight lifting is a great way to track physical progress and, therefore, build self-confidence.
  10. Team Sports: Sports such as soccer or basketball are a great way to improve communication skills and become part of something that is bigger than yourself. It is also a good way to introduce healthy competition into your life.
  11. Martial Arts: There is no better way to built discipline and focus than through martial arts, such as karate or Tae Kwan Do.
  12. Pilates: Like yoga, Pilates can help create a sense of calm, while also strengthening your body.
  13. Biking: Cycling is a great way to build muscle, while also satisfying your sense of adventure.
  14. Golf: While it may not seem very strenuous, golf helps build discipline. It is also a great time to practice stress control.
  15. Dancing: There is no better way to introduce fun into your fitness routine than with dance.

Per Wickstrom is the founder and CEO of Best Drug Rehabilitation, one of the top holistic rehabilitation centers in the country. He found sobriety after a decades-long struggle with addiction and has since dedicated his life and career to helping others find the same life-affirming success he has. For more information, visit PerWickstrom.com, check out Per’s blog or connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

The Many Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients

Exercise has long been believed to be a great health benefit aside from just improving cardiovascular strength and controlling weight. It has also been shown to improve a person’s overall mood and help fight a wide range of other diseases including depression, allergies and IBS. Of course exercise does not actually cure diseases, but research has determined that the way the body reacts to exercise can help combat illness.

Recently, some studies have shown a link between adults getting regular exercise (i.e., thirty to sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day) can significantly reduce one’s chances of developing certain types of cancer including colon and breast cancer. Exercise can also be quite beneficial for people who have already developed cancer or pre-cancerous tumors. Health care professionals believe there are certain reasons for this phenomenon. For example, exercise releases a large amount of positive endorphins in the body that can help increase one’s positive mood and reduce any pain that was being felt. Additionally, being physically fit gives the body more strength to fight off disease.

activity-infographic
source: http://www.aicr.org

It is important to understand that though the national guidelines recommend a fairly ambitious plan of exercising close to an hour every day, even a small amount of light exercise can make a difference in a person’s life and help fight off disease. This is especially important for people who already feel very sick or have trouble breathing or moving, like when receiving mesothelioma treatment. Simply walking around for a few minutes everyday can help a person build physical strength and also improve a person’s mood and outlook on life. Modern medicine is finally beginning to embrace the idea that a person’s mental state has a great impact on their physical state. Since exercise releases certain endorphins that create a natural “high”, the brain will help to body react more positively to traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. Exercise has also been shown to help reduce the negative side effects that are often associated with these treatments.

For any person with higher risk factors for cancer or an existing cancerous tumor, they should talk to their doctors about how they should work exercise into their normal routine. Of course, during cancer treatment is not the ideal time to begin a rigorous exercise routine or intense training program. This is why it is important to work closely with a doctor to understand one’s physical limits and create a routine that meets their needs without introducing additional harm to their body. For a person that does not currently have cancer, this information can serve as another reminder of the overall benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and continuing to participate in some type of physical activity on a daily basis.

This guest post was written by David Hass, you can follow David’s posts at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance page. His goal is to help others going through their battle with cancer.

Intensity Level is the Key to Your Cardio Session

speed-walking2There are many training variables that ultimately ensure that your workout will be an efficient one. When it comes to walking and health benefits, however, the intensity level during your exercise session is paramount. A 2013 study followed subjects over a nine year period from the National Walkers’ Health Study. Williams and Thompson looked at the intensity level used when walking in more than 16,000 individuals ranging in age from 18 to 80 years old, with the majority of subjects in their 40’s and 50’s. The researchers were trying to assess the dose-response relationship between walking intensity (minutes per mile) and the risk of all cause and cause-specific mortality. They eventually found that the risk for mortality actually decreases in association with walking pace (intensity) and increases substantially when walking pace is greater than a 24 minute/mile pace (which is equivalent to <400 meters covered during a 6-minute walk test). Subjects who walked slower than the 24 minute/mile pace had a 44.3% greater risk for all-cause mortality and increased mortality due to CVD, diabetes, nervous system diseases, and dementia.

The take away from this study is the faster you walk, whether it’s on the treadmill or outside, the better off you are. Long slow walks are still OK but try to mix in some faster pace walks as well. Subjects were placed into one of four groups depending on how fast they could walk (mile/min. pace) and those speeds were:

Women – Walking pace (mile per min.)* <13.47 (fastest group), 13.47-14.87, 14.88-16.80, and ≥16.81 was considered the slowest group.

Men – Walking pace (mile per min.)* <13.49, 13.49-15.12,  15.13-17.05,  ≥17.06

Reference

Williams PT, Thompson PD (2013). The Relationship of Walking Intensity to Total and Cause-Specific Mortality. Results from the National Walkers’ Health Study. PLoS ONE 8(11): e81098. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081098