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Keeping Fit Includes Exercise For the Brain

When most people think of exercise, they envision working out to keep their bodies physically fit and healthy. But the brain – so important to living a full life — also needs an ongoing exercise regimen to stay agile and alert as we grow older.

Scientists used to believe that people were basically stuck with the brain they were born with – and that individuals naturally began to lose cognitive function as they aged. This old thinking allowed people to accept memory loss as inevitable and believe that nothing could be done about it.

However, recent brain research – conducted over the past few years – has shown that the brain constantly renews itself, providing new hope for those with cognitive decline. And, we now know that the brain can learn as much in the second half of life as it did during the first half. However, during the senior years this learning may require more repetition and it may take a little longer. The key is to give the brain a daily workout so that it will constantly generate new cells and neural pathway connections, thereby creating a higher level of brain functionality.

What can you do in your daily life to challenge your brain? Activities that stimulate thought and cause you to retain information as well as problem-solve are excellent activities. It could be as simple as daily hobbies like crossword puzzles, card games, reading, Sudoku number puzzles, or art projects — such as painting. Even planning a vacation or learning about a foreign culture will require the brain to process new information.

More challenging activities for the brain would be mastering a foreign language or learning to play a musical instrument – both will cause the brain to work hard. The end result will enrich a person’s life and help keep the memory sharp.

Good overall physical health is vital to good brain health. Be sure to get regular medical check-ups and follow your doctor’s advice. Make sure that together you review all of the medications and supplements you are taking to avoid any drug interactions. If you have any memory concerns, don’t delay, see a doctor immediately.

The brain will also benefit greatly by certain lifestyle changes that can make a tremendous impact. Constant stress, for example, can be a serious “brain drain” as can many underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease or a chronic illness. A prolonged lack of quality sleep will have a serious adverse affect on brain function.

Smoking isn’t good for the brain – or for any part of the body. Also avoid drinking to excess and overeating. In fact, a poor diet is as bad for your brain as it is your waistline. Eat healthy, drink plenty of water and focus on a balanced diet.

Your brain and your general outlook on life will benefit from positive social interactions. To avoid depression and isolation, it’s recommended that people have at least five meaningful social interactions each day. Take advantage of any opportunities to meet new people and stay in touch with friends and family. These important social interactions will help keep you alert and involved.

Finally, get moving. A brisk walk, an exercise class or a trip to the gym is essential for the brain as well as the body. Aerobic exercise increases the blood flow to the brain and will activate the repair formation and growth of brain cells. Regular exercise is one of the best activities for helping to maintain and improve brain function.

So, the next time you think of a workout, remember to include the brain. The overall health goal is to keep people physically healthy and mentally alert for as long as possible, so the quality of life is at its optimum.

For more information about brain health and dementia, visit us online at http://www.brainlc.com or contact the Brain Longevity Center at 805-497-7274. The Brain Longevity Center is a medical facility that offers proactive programs for those with mild-to-moderate dementia and those seeking to maintain a healthy brain as they age.

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Endurance Exercise – Improve Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular related diseases account for more deaths than any other Canada, The United States and most European countries. It is defined as a disease that affects the circulatory system, including the heart, blood vessels, veins and arteries through the body and brain. The most common diseases are coronary heart disease (which includes heart attacks, and angina – or chest pain), stroke (blockage of blood supply to the brain), heart failure and high blood pressure (which is also a risk factor towards other diseases) .

Physical activity is a major risk factor in developing a cardiovascular disease. Other risk factors include smoking, alcohol, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes. Therefore, reducing the risk of developing a disease is greatly increased by leading a healthy lifestyle that includes proper diet and exercise. Exercise, in particular, has many benefits, including reducing the risk for a heart attack by 35 – 55% (Heart and Stoke Foundation of Canada). In order to maintain proper circulatory function, the cardiovascular system must be trained. Exercise, especially endurance exercise, increases endurance which in turn improves the overall efficiency and strength of the circulatory system. Endurance exercise is achieved by performing low to medium intensity activities (for example walking, jogging, swimming, or working out at a health-club) for long periods of time.

By engaging in regular endurance exercise the heart becomes stronger and is therefore able to pump more blood throughout the body with each beat. This means that the heart of a trained circulatory system does not have to pump as many times per minute (heart rate) or work as hard as that of an untrained system. Oxygen is there more efficiently distributed to the working muscle groups of a fit individual than an individual individual during exercise. Furthermore, endurance exercise reduces resting heart rate (heart rate when not exercising) and the amount of time it takes for an individual to return to resting heart rate after physical exertion. Improving circulatory efficiency allows for the overall health of an individual to be maintained with less strain and difficulty.

Therefore the answer to the statement "Endurance Exercise: how it can help cardiovascular health" is summed up by the following: Regular endurance exercise is essential to the maintenance and longevity of an individual's overall health. The more an individual engagements in endurance exercise, the more he / she increases his / her endurance (efficiency and strength) which absolutely improves his / her overall health. This, combined with a healthy diet will lead you on your way to life-long health and well being. For those unsure about exercising, consult your health care professional or visit your local health club.

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Weight Loss Plateaus: How to Get ‘Unstuck’

Have you ever stepped onto the scale only to find that the needle isn’t moving in any direction at all, despite your weight loss efforts? It can be really frustrating! A weight loss plateau is actually more common than you think and will eventually happen to most people on a weight loss goal.

A plateau in your weight will usually happen because a person is focused too much on either dieting or exercising. When you are focused too much on dieting not only will you lose fat but you will also lose muscle as well! And as muscle helps burn fat the less muscle you have, the less fat you will burn. Here are a couple of tips to help you if you are struggling with a weight loss plateau:

Are your habits in check?

Take a look back at your diet and exercising habits, are you still in control? Or have you let them slip in the last couple of weeks by skipping out on your workouts or having too many cheat meals? This is a common problem because you don’t notice the bad habits creeping in until it’s too late!

Consume fewer calories

Unless you are already consuming only 1200 calories, try reducing your calorie consumption by 200 calories or so. Just make sure not to drop below the 1200 calorie mark!

Doing so could very well lead you to ‘binge eating’ which defeats the point of dieting in the first place. It’s important to make sure that you keep your diet sustainable or else you will lose fat in the short-term and will regain it as soon as you return to any sort of normal diet regime.

Increase your workouts

Try adding an additional 20 minutes of exercise to your workout routine and if it is possible, try increasing the intensity of your workout as well! This will help you to burn extra calories and you can even try adding new types of exercise to your routine like strength training. Just remember that more muscle equals more fat burning.

Add more activity to your daily routine

Think about what you can be doing outside the gym to add extra physical activity to your daily routine. You could try extra yard work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or even parking far away from your destination to get a couple extra steps into your routine.

A weight loss plateau doesn’t mean the end of your weight loss dreams, they are a part of any weight loss journey. It’s important when you are going through a plateau, to focus on your little victories like not cheating on your diet and sticking to your workout program. Just stick to your healthy habits and you will be burning fat in no time!

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Tips To Burn Body Fat Effectively

Getting rid of fat is the dream of a lot of people, in fact many of them try to cut fat on a specific place on the body, they then devote their attention on a single part, when they should focus on exercising the whole body.

Living with fat on the body might seem without consequences, but the reality is that excessive presence of fat on your body can cause you many medical complications, diabetes, heart diseases, high cholesterol, hypertension, breast cancer etc, fortunately you can get rid of the fat on your body with some tips.

-Get enough sleep every night:

Most adults feel good after 7 or 8 hours of sleep. Sleeping less than five hours or more than eight hours each night can increase your risk of accumulating fat in your body if you are under 40, according to a US study. Getting a good quality and enough sleep, can also help you improve your mood and reduce your stress level. This also reduces your risk of accumulating fat because people under stress tend to have a high level of the hormone cortisol, which is related with the accumulation of fat.

-Burn calories with a daily exercising:

Just combine a cardio training with 20-30 minutes of weight training at least 2 times a week will help you burn the fat throughout your body. Add a goal of at least 30 minutes of jogging, swimming or any other exercise more than 5 times a week. Alternatively, aim to do at least 20 minutes of vigorous physical exercising (such as running) three days a week.

-Start cycling more often during the week:

Cycling is a very effective way to cut some fat throughout your body, it can also strengthen and tone your lower body. With an hour of cycling, you may burn between 500 and 1000 calories, depending on the speed and resistance.

Try those tips to cut some fat and stay in shape.

Program Yourself For A Successful Fat Burn process:

The idea of the program is to be able for you to develop a consistent approach to weight loss as well as a healthy endurance when exercising. Of course the objective of that program is to get rid of the excesses in your body, the excess fat. Not the healthy and lean muscle tissues and body fluids.

The program first requires your focus and dedication, so therefore you need to be prepared in both mind and – of course – body.

It is important that when starting on any weight loss program, one should be positive enough to work for the results. Some people get impatient easily but long term effects are assured as long as one sticks to the weight loss plan at hand.

Stretch, stretch and stretch some more. Before actually doing those exercises and working out those muscles, a little stretching is needed in order to avoid any injury or soreness in your body.

It is also not advisable for anyone to try too hard. Everything should be done in moderation. Find the level of exercise and training that suits you. It should be enough for you to be comfortable in but not too convenient that it will not be much of a challenge.

The first week:

The first day of the program involves a long and steady walk in a little over twenty minutes. After the walk, follow it up with a good stretch. This takes so little of your time for the first day. In less than an hour you have taken that first step to a weight loss program that could work to your advantage.

By the second day, it is good to focus on an upper body workout. This maintains your strength to be able to go through the whole program for the week. On the third day, a brisk walk or jog for ten minutes is in order. For beginners, a lower body workout should be done in the evening.

In the fourth day, a good rest is in order, as well as a good stretch. This lag time should be used wisely though to sort out any negatives in your mindset. The fifth day starts with a good ten minute walk. Exercise the lower body in four sessions of workouts, follow this up with another ten minute walk, and another four sessions of lower body workout.

The sixth day should be spent on a low impact exercise such as swimming. To avoid boredom, do not be afraid to try something new. The last day of the week is a time to solicit the support of the people you care about. Spend time with them or get them to be with you in your long walk. Again, follow up your walk with a light upper body workout.

This is just the beginning though. If by this first week you are able to stick to the program, you have a great chance to further boost your weight loss and stay with the plan until you achieve your desired result. Try as much as possible to be unlike the people who give up easily just because they could not see the result they want at the time they want – like this moment, today, now! Patience is a virtue. The same way it took your body time to gain all that weight, think about it as the time your body will have to exert just to get rid of it.

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Obesity – 5 Success Tips on How to Lose "Fat Face" & Look Healthily!

One of the biggest hints that you have gained weight is the development of a fat face. While you can easily hide spreading hips or expanding thighs, it is just about impossible to camouflage your feature that is out there for al the world to see. It doesn’t matter which angle a person views you, having a fat face is a giveaway that you have gained weight.

Although plastic surgery seems like a viable option to help you lose fat face, there are some less extreme ways to rid you of your rounding features. Losing weight is always difficult to do, especially on a busy schedule when it often feels like worrying about food and exercise is the very last on your list of priorities. But there are ways to lose fat face and feel better about your body overall, the key factor in changing your daily routine and reducing fat intake is to concentrate on everything that you put into your body. After all you are only given one.

Just imagine how much better you’ll feel when you discover how to lose fat face and on the rest of your body.

If you have a fat face then you probably wonder why you have been cursed with not one, but two, chubby chins and a moon-like facial features. Fortunately, it is possible to get rid of facial fat and not only take on a thinner appearance but a more refreshed one as well. Lose fat face for good by following some easy steps to weight loss.

Although weight loss regime’s are often intimidating to follow there is a different way to look at it rather try making small changes to lose weight: If I diet or a complicated weight-loss system is just too overwhelming, try making smaller changes instead. For example, develop the habit of eating low-calorie food (celery/carrots) before any other snacks, so you don’t eat as much of the junk.

Follow these easy steps to weight loss, which will help you lose fat face:

  1. Park further away from the shops when you visit the store, this will force you to start walking and it makes finding parking a whole lot easier.
  2. Stay away from people that encourage you to eat too much.
  3. Don’t ever shop when you are hungry, you’ll buy more and more and this means you buy snacks you don’t need.
  4. Switch from carbonated soft drinks to water or flavoured water. If you find this impossible then substitute your usual soft drink with a diet or lite version.
  5. Start taking short walks every evening. Walk the dog (he will be so grateful) or make it social and walk with a friend.

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Why Exercise Shouldn’t Be Just One Thing

Because I work in different fitness environments, I see different approaches to health and fitness.

In one gym, the equipment and the personal trainers focus almost entirely on strength training. Cardio is secondary, and done while watching TV – with that level of intensity, and that level of discipline. Stretching is often skipped.

In gyms with classes, cardio may become the focus. Strength training may become secondary, and flexibility may be limited to a few stretches at the end of the class.

How’s This For ‘Old School’ Thinking?

I’ve always advocated full fitness programs that include C-V, strength, and flexibility work. This post will cover cardio programs.

The benefits of cardiovascular work are familiar:

• enhanced tidal volume, air to lungs

• greater blood volume

• greater stroke volume, blood ejected by the heart per beat

• expanded capillary network

• greater size and density of mitochondria

• improved sensitivity of muscle to insulin

• enhanced free fatty acid oxidation to spare muscle glycogen.

Moderate to moderately high cardio training feels great, is excellent for recovery days, and can be enjoyable, thus self-perpetuating.

Benefits of HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training

Higher intensity work can also improve most of the factors in the above list, along with a few others. The benefits of alternating HIIT with moderate to moderately high cardio are considerable.

Intensity improves VO2 max, increases glycogen storage capacity, and raises lactate threshold.

High-intensity training has been shown to increase HDL-cholesterol and decrease blood pressure.

HIIT offers a greater post-exercise metabolic boost than moderate cardio, and that can help reduce body fat.

Regular HIIT improves tolerance to high-intensity work and promotes faster recovery through more efficient removal of metabolic waste.

The human growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor stimulated by intense interval work can enhance muscle volume and definition.

Finally, the ability to do more work in less time may make it possible to maintain training when time is short.

And There’s Cross-Training

Varying activities may offer additional benefits on a localized muscular level. Cross-training can give overworked muscles a needed rest, while keeping the cardio work consistent.

Not every change of activity represents true cross-training, however. That’s one reason I’ve always been a huge fan of Kranking®.

Most cardio relies on the legs – and typically the same muscles – while the Krankcycle® gives the legs a complete rest. Adding Kranking workouts regularly allows training intensity to remain extremely high on the days of complete leg rest – and raises the overall workload throughout the workout week.

That last point combines cross-training and HIIT perfectly. It’s the best of both worlds.

My recommendation: Start nagging your fitness facility to buy a few Krankcycles. They typically don’t know the benefits, so they don’t have any.

What About Training Formats?

One way to incorporate different training formats is to focus 3-4 times a week on “serious” longer cardio, while incorporating 2-3 shorter workouts of high-intensity intervals. If you’re cross-training on the Krankcycle, the number of high-intensity workouts is up to you. Even daily might not be a problem.

Important note: Contrary to common belief, “cardio” is not necessarily easy. As I’ve mentioned before, well-trained individuals – both athletes and fitness enthusiasts – can go hard AND long.

Looking in a different direction, taking a class that “sounds” the same every day, week after week, may fail to offer variety. I’ve known good instructors with extremely limited teaching repertoires. Does every class include those “Come on, kill yourself!” comments? Is every class a ride through imaginary terrain, but never a real training? Would adding a different instructor occasionally – or a different type of class – work better for you?

Perhaps a future post can cover the benefits of both strength and flexibility work. I’ve long been an advocate of Active-Isolation Stretching (AIS) and weight lifting.

The older I get, the more important each of the 3 aspects of fitness feels.

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Are You Thinking About Exercising?

A recent survey by the British Heart Foundation has revealed that approximately half of all adults, 47%, do no exercise at all. This sedentary lifestyle is described as a silent killer, massively impacting on the efficiency of businesses and the resources of the NHS (to the tune of £1.2 billion), as well as our individual health and quality of life.

Lack of exercise contributes to heart disease, diabetes, obesity as well as mood and mental health conditions like lethargy, lack of motivation, laziness and depression. It’s calculated that some people spend 78 days per annum sedentary.

And yet exercise doesn’t have to mean running a marathon or climbing a mountain. No one wants to experience the humiliation of turning up at a gym feeling like an inelegant blob amongst a room full of lycra-clad fitties. Exercise can be fun and really add value, friends and a breathing space to your life.

Let’s look at how exercise can become an enjoyable part of life;

At home, simple things like going upstairs to put something away, rather than waiting until a pile’s accumulated at the bottom of the stairs can start the commitment to exercise and becoming more mobile. It’s too easy to settle, unmoving for hours in front of the TV. Go outside as soon as you need to put something in the recycling bin, walk to speak to a family member rather than shout across several rooms; all simple ways to become a little more active.

– Another option could be to put dinner on slow-cook and go for a walk with your partner. It allows you both to talk and freely discuss your days, share your thoughts and enjoy the opportunity for a conversation, rather than hastily exchanging updates about the children or that you need more toothpaste. A regular walk could give you time to reconnect in a loving way.

– Encourage the children outside for a game of football or rounders. Maybe even invite neighbours or friends to join in. Children need breaks from studying and from their computer games. It’s important for them to exercise and interact with others, be reminded that they’re part of the family and have to spend time some together. Social skills, learning to de-stress and unwind as well as staying fit are all important parts of their education and life skills.

At work, try to take regular water-cooler breaks. Get up and go for a drink. Try to get fresh air at lunchtime and include a walk around the local park. Some offices are introducing standing desks, regarding sitting as ‘the new smoking’.

– Set off for work a little earlier so that you can cycle in, or disembark from the bus a stop sooner, both great ways to start the day feeling energised and alive. Many people like to beat the rush hour traffic, exercise before work and grab a quick shower. It can start the day with a buzz.

At the gym, it can be motivational and indeed some people feel committed as soon as they’ve handed over their membership fee. They like the routine of regular classes or meeting up with the same people and working out together, but a gym can feeling daunting to some people.

– If a gym doesn’t work for you, how about independent fitness classes? They’re often held in community centres or village halls and frequently operate a pay-as-you-go system. They may offer yoga and pilates, dance classes like zumba or more high energy aerobics sessions. A bonus to attending fitness classes regularly is that you’ll see the same faces, gradually get to know people and potentially enhance your social circle. Independent fitness lasses can be fun, sociable and supportive, chosen to suit your needs. Definitely an added bonus.

– Joining a team sport can be a great way to exercise regularly. Knowing that others are relying on you to turn up so that they can have a game can provide motivation, responsibility, as well as close relationships to enjoy. Watch how the runners in the Marathon supported each other. They had individual dreams and positive mindsets, whilst encouraging others to achieve their goals.

If you’re tentative about exercise remember that there’s no need for expensive memberships or kit. Use what you have; the local park, beach or countryside, maybe arrange with family or friends to walk or play games. Even if you’re on your own you can go for a walk or join a local club and exercise with other like-minded people.

Two and a half hours of exercise each week, at a level where you breathe faster, feel warm and raise your heart level is enough to make the difference to your health and wellbeing, both mentally and physically. And those times when we don’t feel like exercising? Most times if we persevere we feel better afterwards. The endorphins, or feelgood hormones, kick in to lift our spirits.

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Tight Hamstrings – Why Stretching May Not Work

As a trainer, I have found that clients seeking to improve their flexibility complain about tight hamstrings more than any other muscle group. Time and time again, clients are consistently surprised to find that hamstring flexibility can be improved without stretching at all.

Before I can talk about flexibility, we need to define what a “tight muscle” really is. A very big flexibility misconception is that muscles need to be physically lengthened and the best way to lengthen muscles is through stretching. This is simply not true! Muscles already have all the length they need and attempting to change that length via intense stretching is liable to cause ligament damage rather than actually increase the range of motion.

Riddle me this: If muscles need to be lengthened, then why are people incredibly flexible when unconscious or under anesthesia? If a normally stiff man who can not touch his toes is put under anesthesia, he will become as flexible as a professional ballerina. The key concept here is that the flexibility of a muscle is determined by the central nervous system. The human body is wired for survival, and the brain only doles out as much flexibility as it thinks is safe to use.

With that said, over the years as a trainer I have encountered three common presentations of tight hamstrings:

In the first situation, you have someone who once was very mobile but simply experienced a loss of range of motion (ROM) due to inactivity over the years. For this group of people, traditional static stretching is often enough to quickly return ROM to normal levels. However, if you were in this group, you probably would not be reading this article. This group is also one of the reasons why static stretching remains popular; for this particular subset of the population, it works quite well and acts fairly quickly.

In the second situation, there is the person who has a marked difference between active ROM and passive ROM. Active ROM is the range of motion a person can actively control their hamstring through (think trying to touch your toes). Passive ROM is the range of motion a hamstring can be moved by an outside force (like when a partner stretches you out). To test your active ROM, lie on your back and lift one leg up as high as you can without bending the knee. To test your passive ROM, perform the same test but have a partner move your leg up and back as far as she can. Differences of more than an inch or two between active ROM and passive ROM are a very undesirable trait and come along with a high risk of injury. This essentially means that your brain is allotting more range of motion than it can actively control. A lack of motor control is an injury risk; if you were forced into a position in which you had no muscular control (falling for example) an injury is likely to occur. In my experience, this is most common in females.

If you are in this group, an easy fix is proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching. It is a mouthful, but it is not as difficult as it sounds. This basically is stretching interspersed with muscular contractions. Here is how to do it:

– Lie on your back, and have a partner lift your leg (with a slight knee bend) in a traditional partner hamstring stretch.

– Once you reach the end of your range of motion, push down into your partner’s hand to contract the hamstring. Start the contraction slow and build up to a strong contraction over the next 10 seconds.

– Release the contraction, and have your partner push your leg back a little further.

– Repeat this process for a few more repetitions.

This is effective in fixing discrepancies between active and passive ROM because the muscular contraction in combination with stretching builds strength in the stretched position, thereby increasing involvement of motor neurons. This practice will lead to improved motor control over time and as a result, more active flexibility.

The third group consists of people who have had “tight hamstrings” since birth. This group has never been able to touch their toes. This group can stretch, get professional massage, therapy – the whole nine yards without seeing the hamstrings budge more than an inch or two.

As mentioned before, this is completely neural in nature. Not everyone was born as a gymnast. In this situation, for whatever reason, the brain is not comfortable with allowing too much range of motion from the hamstrings. There is a myriad of reasons why this could occur, the discussion of which is far beyond the scope of this article. In this situation, PNF stretching is sometimes effective, but usually only results in a few inches of ROM increase. The most effective way to improve flexibility in this situation is through various motor control drills. As motor control improves, the brain will loosen the reins and allow for more flexibility on a whole body level.

Conclusion

If you wish you could get a little more range of motion out of your hamstrings, rather than just stretch, try to figure out which group you belong to and act accordingly. You will not be disappointed!

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Six Ways Stairs Can Boost Your Health

Did you know that regularly using stairs could save your life? Studies show that climbing just eight flights of stairs a day can improve your health and lower your risk of early death by as much as a third. So popular has this form of exercise become that you can even get free smartphone apps to count the number of steps you climb and record how many calories have been burned off.

Here are six ways that climbing stairs on a regular basis can benefit you:

1. Builds bone and muscle strength

Stair climbing is basically a more strenuous form of walking. Because you have to pull against gravity, it demands greater effort, so you get more of a workout. The exercise is great for your body, increasing your bone density, strength and muscle tone – so the likelihood of developing osteoporosis is considerably reduced.

2. Helps your heart

By raising your heart rate, stair climbing helps prevent blocked arteries and high blood pressure. This boost to your cardiovascular system lowers the risk of succumbing to serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and vascular dementia.

3. Aids weight loss

This surprisingly vigorous form of exercise actually burns more calories per minute than jogging. And the good news is that the heavier you are, the more calories you will expend. Even when you go upstairs at a normal pace, you’ll use at least double the amount of energy than if you were walking briskly on level ground – so you may soon find your waistline shrinking if you use the stairs regularly.

4. Relieves stress

Going up stairs will also improve your mental state, as the physical exertion releases pain-killing endorphins – the feel-good hormones that release tension and give your spirits a lift. The regular exercise will raise your energy levels, making you generally feel better about the world.

5. Fits in with busy lifestyles

Unlike going to the gym, climbing stairs is convenient, flexible and time-efficient. You can begin with just one or two flights if you like, and increase gradually. Even if you’re a busy commuter, you can use staircases in public places such as train stations, office buildings and multi-storey car parks. Of course, unless you live in a bungalow or ground-floor flat you will also be able to practise in the comfort of your own home.

You don’t have to be a fresh-air fiend to enjoy climbing stairs. No special skills, sporting ability or training is required – and you won’t have to share a sweaty changing room with strangers.

Because stair climbing is relatively easy to build into your life, you should be able to incorporate it into your routine without too many problems. Regular exercise can make a real difference to people’s long-term health, so finding an activity that you are able to sustain over the years will be invaluable for your fitness levels.

6. Costs nothing

One of the best things about stair climbing is that it’s free. No sports club fees or gym subscription, no equipment or special clothing to buy… it’s just you, and as many steps as you feel able to tackle.

A few tips…

So, which types of stairs are best for climbing? Any long flight of stairs provides the opportunity for a good workout, although some are better than others. Wooden stairs are more comfortable than metal or concrete ones as their treads provide more shock absorption, and carpeted staircases are better still. Curved stairs are just as good as straight ones for providing exercise. Even loft stairs and space saver staircases have their uses, as long as you hold on to the handrail and don’t try to go too fast. If you have to use an escalator, walk all the way up it. As the steps are deeper than those in an average staircase, it will still do you good.

Aim for between three and five stair-climbing sessions a week to get the most from your new regime. If you’re not used to exercise you should start slowly, perhaps just climbing for five or 10 minutes at first. You can work up to 30 minutes or even an hour eventually, if you feel confident.

Can anyone exercise this way?

People with knee or hip problems are not advised to climb stairs unnecessarily as the stepping action can aggravate their condition. This is particularly true when going down, as the joints come under extra strain. Anyone concerned about their health should have a word with their doctor before going ahead.

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The Weight Loss Resolution Wobble

How’s your weight loss resolution going this year? Have you reached the point where your resolve wobbles? Let’s be honest. Does this happen every year?

Don’t worry, there are ways to get back on track easily. The first thing to realise is that you are only human. Most people are not perfectionists who can sustain a regime of eating and exercise that they do not completely enjoy.

When you tell yourself you can’t have something what happens? You want and crave it even more. That’s the body’s natural reaction when it thinks it is in a starvation situation. So here are a few tips to help you stay on track…

  • Don’t think of it as a diet – they don’t work!
    • Consider how you can love yourself more – you deserve it.
    • Do not demonise food by labelling it ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ – you’ll crave the ‘bad’.
    • Tell yourself that all food is fuel, only some works better for you than others.
  • Make sure your new eating habits are sustainable by:
    • Create a lifestyle change with new foods and eating habits.
    • Eat food you love and that loves your body back.
    • Enjoy the food you eat.
    • Eat consciously switching your mind onto your body – eat until just full.
    • Have fun with food – try out new foods and menus to increase enjoyment.
    • Cut down on your portion size – use a smaller plate.
    • Cut down sugar or cut it out for long periods to stop your cravings.
    • Cooking from scratch will dramatically reduce your sugar intake.
    • Cut down your carbs to once a day.
    • Try eating brown rice instead of white, sweet potato or quinoa
  • Create an exercise routine that is sustainable:
    • Plan activities that are fun and that you love – the gym is not for everyone!
    • Challenge yourself by using a pedometer to increase your activity.
    • Find a friend to do it with.
    • Park further away from work and walk more.

Don’t worry if your resolve and motivation wavers. That’s natural. Have a plan of action that gets you back on track easily. Plan to very occasionally eat foods you love that do not love your body. Enjoy and savour every mouthful without any guilt. You will eat less of it and by not fully restricting it you will not crave it.

Finally, watch your stress levels they will lead you back to comfort eating. Find ways to reduce your stress such as exercise, mindfulness, laughter and talking to a trusted friend or counsellor.

Make this you’re a resolution revolution by creating the lifestyle change that loves you back!

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