Best Exercises for People with Arthritis

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Arthritis can strike any joint in the body. Often the joints in the hands, knees and ankles are affected, which may limit your mobility and seriously impact your quality of life. If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, it doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising. Regular exercise can help alleviate joint pain, increase flexibility and range of motion, and strengthen your bones and muscles. See your rheumatologist for a thorough check-up and personal direction. Your doctor can advise you about specific exercises that can help improve mobility and reduce pain while avoiding damage to your joints. Avoid high-impact activities like running, jogging and sports such as tennis and basketball. Walking, swimming and low-impact aerobics can help keep you fit and lessen joint pain. Pilates, tai chi, yoga and other stretching-type exercises can help increase your range of motion and strengthen muscles.

Range of Motion Exercises

Range-of-motion exercises stretch your muscles and lessen joint stiffness. Stiff fingers can be exercised by making a fist and then stretching the fingers as far apart as you can and then repeating the exercise. Make a fist and then rotate your wrists in to the right and then reverse and rotate your wrists to the left. Repeat the exercise with your fingers extended. Increase your elbow flexibility by raising and lowering your elbows. Sit at a table and place your elbows on the table with your palms turned up toward the ceiling. Turn your hands over palms down on the table while keeping your elbows in contact with the table surface. Turn your hands back over. Repeat this exercise 10 times. Try stretching your arms in front of your body and turning your palms up and back down. While you are sitting at the table, exercise your knees. Raise and lower your feet by bending your knees up and down to increase knee flexibility. Next, point your toes and then relax your foot several times. Rotate your ankles clockwise 10 times and the counter-clockwise 10 times.

Resistance Training

Resistance training exercise strengthens muscles, which can help relieve pressure on joints and reduce joint pain. Ask your doctor which strength training exercises are safe for you before beginning a weight lifting program. Perform some biceps curls with light weight hand-held dumbbells. Do some leg lifts while wearing ankle weights to help strengthen the leg muscles. Isometric exercises help strengthen muscles with little or no impact on the joints. Stand with your back straight against a wall and drop your shoulders slightly. Look straight ahead and slide down the wall until your knees are bent and your body is in a “seated” position. Slide back up the wall and then repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times. Strengthen your thighs and hips by sitting on a chair and squeezing a medium-size exercise ball between your knees. Squeeze and relax repeatedly for about 10 repetitions. Increase repetitions until you can do at least 20.

Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises

Low-impact aerobic exercise like swimming, biking and walking can strengthen all of your muscles, work all of your joints and improve your heart health. Try to walk, swim or ride a bicycle for at least 30 minutes every day. If you can’t set aside a full half-hour block of exercise time, get your 30 minutes of low-impact aerobics in 10 minute increments throughout the day. Swim 10 to 15 before breakfast or after work. Walk for 10 minutes in the afternoon and ride a bicycle for 10 minutes in the evening.

5 Key Components of a Full Body Transformation

When you begin a new diet and exercise routine, your goal is to see a full body transformation. However, for most people, this just isn’t the reality. They find themselves unable to reach their goals, and then they end up giving up and reverting to their old habits.

The reason that so many people struggle to reach their goals is that they are missing one of the five key components to reaching a full body transformation. Read on to find what the five key components are and how you can make them work best for you.

Diet

Perhaps the most important part of any body transformation is the diet that you are eating. A simple internet search is going to find you a wide range of options. Ultimately, you are going to want to select a diet that doesn’t cut anything out of your diet completely.

When you cut something out in its entirety, you are more likely to cheat because you are going to miss that food. Instead, focus on getting a healthy number of calories and ensure that those calories are coming from healthy food sources.

Find out what number of calories you are going to need to consume on a daily basis to meet your goals and work out where you are going to get those calories from. Remember to consider how much sugar, carbohydrates, fibers, and protein you are getting from your dietary choices, as well as the rest of your vitamins and nutrients.

Exercise

Like with diet, you are going to be able to find a wide variety of exercise routines and options by doing a little bit of research. Choose an exercise plan that you are going to be able to stick to. Start with small changes and work your way up.

If you aren’t exercising at all, walking for even fifteen minutes a day is going to help you to see results. Try to choose exercises that are going to work your entire body in a rotation, focusing on different muscle groups on different days of the week.

It is also important that you don’t forget about your cardio exercises. Remember to make exercising fun. Look for classes that appeal to you to make it easier to stick to.

Mindset

Your mindset is going to make the biggest impact on whether you are successful with your body transformation. If you are of the mindset that you aren’t going to be able to reach your goals, then you aren’t going to reach them. Telling yourself things like “I don’t have time to work out” or “I don’t know how to eat healthy” are going to sabotage your chances of success.

Instead, tell yourself that you are important enough to make time for and that you can learn how to make healthier food options. Then, follow through and prove to yourself that you can do it.

Motivation

What is your motivation to transform your body? Perhaps you are going on a trip, and you want to drop some extra weight, or maybe someone close to you was just diagnosed with a health disorder, and you don’t want to be next.

Your motivation is personal to you, and there is no right or wrong to what can motivate you to want to be healthier. Whatever your motivation is, remind yourself of it on a regular basis. Put up motivational pictures where you are going to see them or use motivational quotes.

If you can find someone who understands your motivation, that is a great person to rely on for support and to remind you of that motivation.

Support

You aren’t going to be successful if you don’t have some form of support during your journey to a body transformation. Changing your diet and exercise routines takes a lot of work, and it is easy to get discouraged. You might not have anyone who you know personally that would be a good support for you, but that is okay.

You don’t need to have someone who is physically present to support you. There are many online forums that are full of people who are taking the same journey as you and are going to be more than willing to support you.

When you have a bad day and eat something that you shouldn’t, and a day that you don’t work out the way that you meant to, having a support person to encourage you and help you through the bad days is going to be the difference between your success and failure.

Reaching your goal of a full body transformation isn’t going to be easy. However, there are some key components to ensuring that you are successful.

With a good diet and exercise plan in place, as well as good motivation and support, you are going to ensure that you are in the right mindset to achieve your goals and do everything necessary to meet them.

Is There a Connection Between the Stress Hormone Cortisol and Belly Fat?

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The Connection Between The Stress Hormone Cortisol And Belly Fat

Did you know that there’s a connection between the stress hormone, cortisol, and belly fat?

Belly fat is the fat hanging over your waistline above a pair of jeans that are too tight. It just isn’t attractive but more importantly it can shorten your lifespan, as visceral fat is the most dangerous type of fat that wraps itself around your internal organs.

Belly fat is much more of a problem than simply how you look.

Excess belly fat has been associated with stress, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. 

When you are suffering from stress, your adrenal glands release epinephrine, cortisol, and norepinephrine, which are the “fight or flight” hormones that cause your body to raise its blood pressure, increase your heart rate, increase blood glucose levels, and cause belly fat. When you are under stress, these hormones go into action.

Norepinephrine influences the body to stop making insulin so that you can have a large amount of quickly acting glucose available. Epinephrine will cause relaxation of the muscles in your intestines and stomach, and can decrease blood flow to your organs.

After the stressor has gone away, your body’s cortisol will tell the body to quit making these hormones and to go back to regularly digesting your food.

Normally, your cortisol levels go up and down during the day, but when you are stressed, the cortisol levels increase and remain there.

When your cortisol levels are elevated, the body resists losing weight. Your body believes that you are suffering from hard times and that you may starve. For this reason, your body holds onto the fat you eat or already have in your body.

Cortisol takes fat from the healthier areas of your body, such as your hips and butt, and moves it to your stomach, which has more receptors for cortisol. The cortisol acts on your body to create belly fat.

This process turns fat that was once peripheral fat and turns it into unhealthy visceral fat, which is the kind of fat that goes around your organs. It increases the insulin levels that, in turn, increase inflammation.

This belly fat then increases the cortisol level because it has a higher concentration of an enzyme that turns inactive cortisol into active cortisol. The more belly fat you have on your body, the more the active cortisol increases. This is another vicious cycle created by belly fat.

Here are some ways you can decrease belly fat:

  • Try to eat more protein. Your body spends a great deal of energy trying to digest protein. This means that if you eat snacks and meals containing protein, you give your metabolism a boost. In addition, protein is digested slowly, which helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time. You are less likely to overeat. In addition, protein is crucial for maintaining healthy muscle tissue, which is your body’s calorie and fat-burning machine. If you eat plenty of protein in your diet, your metabolism will keep going strong. Some good protein options include lentils, peas, beans, tofu, egg whites, fish, lean beef, white turkey, or white chicken.
  • Strength training. Your muscles continue to burn calories even while you are resting. The more you tone your muscles, the more calories you have to burn. For each pound of muscle you put on, you will burn at least 35-50 calories per day. If you are attempting to lose weight, you need to stay focused on your workouts, or on strengthening exercises, like using resistance bands, barbells, free weights, squats, abdominal crunches, and pushups.
  • Eat the entire day. You should never skip meals, believing that the calories you are saving will help you lose weight. The truth is that if you deprive the body of needed calories and necessary nutrients, it will conserve energy and store fat by decreasing your metabolism. This is why crash dieting that restricts your food intake doesn’t work over the long haul. Try to stick with regular mealtimes, and eat snacks and meals that combine fiber and lean protein, often found in many vegetables and fruits. Your best option is to eat a small meal every 3 hours. 
  • Reduce stress. Learn to relax your body with various stress management techniques, such as yoga, meditation, journaling, and breathing exercises.
  • Drink green tea. When you drink green tea, you are consuming catechins, which are substances known to increase your metabolism. In a recent research study, people who drank 2-4 cups of green tea on the days they were more active burned more calories than those who didn’t drink green tea. Research also indicates that the catechins found in green tea will help you break down fat.
  • Remain hydrated. Dehydration can result in hunger, leading you to eat more food when all you really need is to drink some water. Drinking water before meals and during meals fills your stomach and maximizes a feeling of fullness, leaving you satisfied without eating too much. Research has shown that when you drink cold water, you may increase your metabolism.

Dancing is a Fun and Exciting Way to Lose Weight

Lose weight dancing!

Lose weight dancing! Doesn’t it sound fun? Dancing is beneficial for many more reasons than one. It’s not only a fast way to lose weight, but it’s fun and allows you to learn a new skill that will simply catapult your social quotient. Dancing as a form of exercise is also much less monotonous than boring gym routines.

Dance is not just a seductive movement of the body aimed to charm a room full of people, or merely an art form designed to express oneself. Dance is so much more; it’s a way of life, and a way of attaining perfection in the body and the soul.

 

Benefits of Dancing for Weight Loss

There are many ways in which dancing promotes weight loss. Here are a few of them:

  • A lot of people stop exercising because it becomes monotonous and boring. With dancing, that does not really happen and many people are able to stay on track and achieve their weight loss goals.
  • While we lose weight dancing, we also acquire a new skill that helps us to gain greater self-confidence and self-worth.
  • Some people may find traditional workouts like sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups strenuous and hard on the muscles. Dancing, on the other hand, is relaxing and helps burn a lot of calories.
  • Apart from losing weight, dancing also helps develop concentration, patience and relieves stress.

Types of Dance Workouts

These popular dance workouts can be done at home with videos or taken with a group of friends at a fitness class.

  • Fusion dance is for those who are not biased to any particular form of dance. This dance form takes the good parts of many other dance forms, along with their own innovative steps and makes your workout time worthwhile. Highly recommended for people who get bored quickly.
  • Piloxing is a blend of Pilates, boxing and dance. Ideal for those looking to burn calories fast, as well as build and tone muscles. Recommended for the sporty individual.
  • Ballet is an art and fitness routine fused together. Apart from sculpting a svelte figure, it increases flexibility like no other forms of exercise. It also helps in personality development by promoting gracefulness.
  • Zumba is a high energetic Latin inspired dance routine that includes cardio workouts in its routine.

The benefits of dancing for weight loss are endless. Most gyms nowadays offer variety of packages to help you lose weight dancing. Research the form of dance that you like and select a package accordingly, or you can simply tune into the home dance videos and dance your calories away.

 

Can a 10 Minute Workout Be Effective?

Many people find it very difficult to find time to work out, especially for 30 to 60 minutes or more. If this describes you, then you will be pleased to know that you can break up your exercise sessions into 10-minute segments and still receive the same or even greater health benefits than a longer, moderate session.

To achieve optimal results from a shorter workout, you need to increase your exercise intensity. Many studies have shown that shorter, higher intensity workouts are actually better than long, slow endurance exercises at the gym because you can burn more total calories in less time, according to the American Council on Exercise. However, shorter exercise sessions of 20 minutes or less are only more effective than longer workouts when the intensity is high enough. Meaning, your maximum heart rate is equal to or greater than 70 percent during high intensity exercise.

Ideally, you should try to squeeze in at least two to three 10 minute workouts every day. For example, you could workout 10 minutes before work, one on your lunch break and one after work. Or, you might be able to take 10 minutes off to do your routine during your work day and possibly squeeze in two separate sessions or more if time permits.

Your 10-minute workouts should be based on your health goals. Some people may start with one or two cardio-based workouts, such as jogging for 10 minutes in the middle of the day for a mental boost and then maybe do a 10-minute invisible jump rope session in your office in the afternoon when you are running low on energy.

To burn even more calories in less time, add in some interval training. A 10 minute interval workout might look something like this: jog for one minute, push-ups for one minute, jump rope for one minute, squats for one minute, plank for one minute, burpees for one minute, alternating lunges for one minute, chair dips for one minute, jumping jacks for one minute, and then finish with bicycle crunches for one minute. Above all, make sure you do a thorough warm-up and cool-down to avoid injury and improve flexibility.

Now if your health goal is to develop firmer abs or to tone up your whole body, then starting with one or two sessions of muscle toning work would be ideal. You may choose to use an exercise band or do simple, yet challenging body weight exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, planks, squats, lunges and tricep dips. Throwing in your favorite 10 to 20 minute workout video is another good option. The key is to keep your workouts intense and fun to eliminate boredom and get better results.

The only way to know for sure if working out for 10 minutes, up to three times a day, will work for you is to try it for 30 days consistently and see how it affects you. You should also keep a journal and write down how you feel, as well as your eating habits and how your body is changing. For instance, make a note of how you feel mentally, emotionally and energetically after roughly two weeks of doing these workouts. Also, keep track of how fast you get out of breath. Do you find that you can push yourself further over time? Do you feel like you’re getting healthier, and are your clothes fitting better? After 30 days, check your weight to see what these 10 minute workouts have done for you. More than likely, you’ll find that it was a success.

Easy Snacks for Kids to Eat at School or Home

Easy snacks for kids.

Coming up with quick and easy snacks for kids can become an arduous task as your children grow up and become bored of the snack options at home. However, there are a wide range of choices available when it comes to putting together snacks for kids, some of which can even be prepared with their participation. Here are some simple snacks for kids that will tickle their taste buds and provide them with the nutrition they need for growth.

Get Creative with Healthy Options

Interesting salad bowls, open sandwiches, and frozen yogurt are just a few examples of delicious, filling, and healthy snack options. Salad may not sound very appealing, especially to a child who is accustomed to junk food; however, you can always blend fun elements such as colored fruit and vegetables in order to attract their attention. In the same way, easy snacks such as frozen yogurt combined with a variety of chopped fruit would make excellent after school snacks since they are both a snack as well as a dessert option.

Try to create snacks for kids that are mostly healthy, as it will help them to develop a taste for healthy food as opposed to unhealthy food in the future. Some healthy easy snacks that you can have fun preparing with your child include open sandwiches with grilled turkey and cheese, which your child can help make; a fun way to involve them in the snack-making process would be to let them decorate their sandwiches with condiments.

Indulge Once in a While

It is okay to treat children to easy snacks that are not high on the nutrition factor once in a while. Kids will constantly crave the less healthy snack options, and rather than depriving them of their treats, it is okay to let them indulge once in a while with easy snacks that are tastier and incorporate more flavor.

There are ways to add a healthy twist to the most popular and simple snacks for kids. Slider burgers and pizzas are universal favorites and can easily be made healthier by incorporating whole wheat bread and pizza base, and fresh vegetables for toppings rather than processed meat.

By balancing the kind of snacks you feed your kids, you are not only enabling them to lead healthier lives, but are also helping them in developing a taste for making healthier meal choices as they grow older. By enabling them to participate in the snack preparation process from a young age, you are also enabling them to become more independent when it comes to making their own meals.

3 Morning Rituals That Give Your Metabolism a Boost

Photo credit: Petr Kratochvil [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

The path to health is filled with all sorts of detours. This is particularly true when weight and energy are concerned. A lot of people want to do things like be able to play tennis, go for a hike, and so forth, but many don’t have the energy to do so. Much of this is due to having a poorly functioning or inefficient metabolism, but what can a person do about their metabolism? This article will be sharing a few methods to help improve your metabolism.

Eat Some Breakfast

There used to be a saying that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. It turns out that this is partially true, because eating in the morning kickstarts your metabolism. Studies have shown that just eating a bit of breakfast can help to improve your metabolic function by about 10%. This, of course, also means that it should be something healthy. When you do this, your body knows it’s time to start the day and it begins the process of preparing to remove waste from the previous day. Something simple with carbs and protein can wake up your mind and make you ready to face the day’s challenges.

Morning Exercise

One of the best things that a person can do for themselves is to take on some kind of exercise routine in the morning. This doesn’t mean that it has to be an intense, pulse pounding exercise, just that you do a small amount of movement enough to get your heart rate up. Morning stretches can be a great example of that. If you stretch your limbs and engage the muscles in your core each morning, you’re far less likely to sustain injury from minor twists, turns, and reaches that you do during your work day. Or, maybe you would prefer a quick morning walk around your neighborhood. The activity you choose should be enjoyable and help you to get fired up and ready to tackle your day.

B Vitamins

When your body has the right nutrients, it will function on a more efficient level. B vitamins can help to stimulate your metabolism. They do this by giving your body the ability to metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into energy that you will need throughout the day. This is why it’s great to have some eggs with whole grain toast in the morning. Taking just a little bit extra can help you to convert that food into energy, so you can be productive and burn calories from morning until night.

Give these simple rituals a try to see if it makes a difference with your metabolism and weight loss efforts.