Archive for Fitness

Why Women Should Lift Weights

women lift weights

Strength training increases women’s vitality and anti-aging goals by building bones and muscles, by helping lose weight faster and by fortifying the immune system to keep away illnesses. Weight training can take the form of lifting barbells, using a resistance band, using exercise machines like Nautilus or even working with your own body weight. Weight lifting is one of the three parts of a good exercise plan – stretching, aerobics and strength training.

Get Natural Anti-Aging Benefits with Resistance Training

Osteoporosis is a result of weakened bones as people age. The term for weakened muscles as one grows older is sarcopenia. When you cut calories to lose weight without strength training, your muscles will atrophy – become weak and flabby – just the opposite of the vigorous look women want. In addition, sarcopenia can contribute to poor balance and falls.

Lifting weights is anti-aging by developing a toned, younger-looking body that fits better into jeans. You will notice that lifting children or a sack of groceries seems easier as you build strength. Eventually, stronger muscles can even facilitate aerobic activities like jogging or tennis that you could not do before.

Lose Weight Faster with Strength Training

Michael Murray, naturopathic physician, has found through his research that building muscles with strength training, especially for women over 50, more effectively burns calories and enables one – while reducing calories – to lose weight faster. He notes that men, with more muscle mass, have an easier time of losing weight, even without reducing calories. Lifting weights by women drives weight loss.

Reported in 2006, a 2-year study at the University of Pennsylvania of overweight women ages 24 to 44, found that those who lifted weights two times a week for close to 60 minutes lost about 4% of their body fat. In this study, the women were told not to modify their calories, so the women did gain 7% belly fat, but that compares to the controls – the women who only received exercise advice – who gained 21% belly fat.

Fortify the Immune System While Lifting Weights

Barry Sears, Ph.D., of the Zone Diet fame, explains that immune cells that fight infections and keep you healthy need primarily an amino acid called glutamine that is stored in the muscles. Your body uses the hormone cortisol to break down the glutamine so it can be used by the immune system. However, if weak muscles do not support much glutamine, your immune system will suffer too and you will get sick more often.

Set Up Strength Training

Two to three times a week for 30 to 60 minutes, is the optimal time for strength training. Besides gaining strong bones and muscles, aiding weight loss and enhancing the immune system, lifting weights boosts mood, energy and self-esteem. Here is an introduction to weight lifting exercises.

This is an educational article. Always get a physician’s advice before beginning any exercise program.

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Clenbuterol Way To Healthier Life

clen for healthy lifeHuman body is that the most advanced machine on this earth. But, human mind is that the cleverest one. Human has conquered several diseases & phenomenon. The apace advancing bioscience has varied of medicine & techniques that may create any unwell disappear in no time. Take the instance of narcotics; such medicine boosts the stamina for a specific time. Several of them have positive side-effects too. Clenbuterol is one such drug. It does acknowledge as weight loss supplement.

Composition– The single molecule of this drug consists of a benzol together with halogen & methane series teams. Hence, it’s referred to as methane series in chemical language. Conjointly it contains AN alcoholic half in its carbon chain. It’s ordinarily on the market because the Clenbuterol coordination compound. Its formula is C12H18Cl2N2O.

Effects & functioningClenbutaxyl has long & persistent effects on human. Originally developed to treat respiration disorders, it’s currently wide accepted as weight loss supplement because it boosts up the speed of fats metabolism (BMR). Drug will this by increasing the aerobic capability of body & stimulates Central system nervous (CNS). Additionally, it enhances the vital sign that successively, raises the chemical element provide throughout the body, considerably. Because of this, this little size white pill is in style for enhancing the performance.

Doses & Recommendations– Although, there’s no legal transcription for the dose of Clenbuterol, one will follow the prescription provided by the trainer or doctor. In general, traditional dose of this button formed pill mustn’t exceed twenty mcg every day for girls & forty mcg every day for men. There ar several severe side effects of clenbuterol if not utilized in correct manner.

Side-Effects-Most of its facet effects are harmful in nature. In general, individual’s exploitation when they buy Clenbuterol online are detected to suffer from nervousness, high & low vital sign & sleep disorder. Additionally, individuals could have blockages in their bronchi resulting in respiration issues. Eruption in heart beats could be a common side-effect of this drug resulting in flow of blood in vessels.

Legal Use– Food & Drug Authority (FDA), worlds leading food & drug analysis Company, has illegal it for human use. Although, there aren’t any scientific reports proving it harmful for human use, effects on animals create federal agency to succeed in this conclusion. Also, it’s illegal for treating any animal that’s used for human consumption. But, it’s been used illicitly by many folks all across the planet. In step with, the web site of a well acknowledged organization a folk, Clenbuterol is generally employed by feminine athletes as a fats burner.

Availability – Well! Even when a ‘Banned’ label by federal agency, it’s brazenly on the market on-line beneath the name of Ventipulmin, Novegam, Oxyflux, etc. One will twig from the pharmacy company that gives it at terribly low price. Several weight loss supplement packages, also, embody Clenbuterol beneath completely different names or mixed with the other drug or food item.

Nutshell– Earlier, Clenbuterol 40  was used as medicament and tocolytic, When the invention of its fats burning property & its harmful side-effects, it had been illegal. Now, it’s our call to use this drug. Exploitation it beneath correct prescription & steerage will facilitate America magically; else, will hurt you drastically.

Minimize Your Middle

Who doesn’t want a slimmer waistline and flat abs? This is one area I have a lot of trouble with. Like a lot of women, I figured some simple crunches a few times a week would do the trick. Wrong! Power crunching alone is not the best (nor most enjoyable) way to flatten your belly. (I have proof!) Below are some activities (some of them actually enjoyable) that will slim your waistline:

  • Play tennis with a friend. Every time you turn to make a stroke, you strengthen the oblique muscles on either side of your abdomen.
  • Vacuum the house. Pushing the vacuum cleaner back and forth helps tighten your abs.
  • Practice yoga. Yoga will tighten and strengthen your ab muscles.
  • Summer is the perfect time to go for a swim. The crawl stroke is a great way to tighten abs, as well as the reaching forward and pulling backstrokes of the butterfly.
  • Play a round of golf. Swinging a golf club shapes up the oblique muscles on the sides of your abs, just like tennis. (Skip the cart!)
  • Dance your cares away.
  • Get out and garden. Weed, plant, trim, rake. It not only burns about 350 calories an hour (for women), but the bending and stretching help whittle your waist as well.
  • Sweep your garage, driveway, and sidewalks. Don’t use a push broom.
  • Discover “Pilates.”

There are also some habits that will shrink your middle. First of all, calm down. According to Jacob Seidell, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Public Health in Bilthoven, Netherlands, stress increases levels of cortisol, a hormone that seems to direct fat to the middle. To keep stress levels low, find a quiet comfortable place to sit. Next, take several slow, deep breaths to help clear your mind. Continue breathing deeply and repeat a calming word (“one,” “peace,” “God,” whatever word works for you) to yourself as you exhale. Practice this for five to ten minutes once or twice a day. Here are some other ideas:

  1. Put more fiber in your diet, as it prevents constipation, which can cause your tummy to bulge. To stay “regular,” you should eat 25 – 35 grams of fiber per day. To reach this quota, eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and oatmeal, or try a fiber supplement such as Metamucil.
  2. Cut back on alcoholic beverages. Alcohol also raises your cortisol levels, sending fat to your body, according to Dr. Seidell.
  3. Drink a lot of water. This will help flush away bloating, not make it worse.
  4. Do aerobic exercise. All the ab exercises in the world won’t do any good unless you get rid of the fat hiding your abdominal muscles! You can walk, run, bike, and/or do stair climbing.
  5. Watch your posture. Stand up straight and tighten your abs. Slouching makes you look heavier.
  6. Weightlift. Concentrate on keeping your abs tight and maintaining good posture, but don’t hold your breath.

Exercise Towards A Better Mood

Feeling down-in-the-dumps lately? How about anxious or irritable? If so, join the club. It is estimated that 17 million people in the United States suffer from depression. Women are at a higher risk than men due to a variety of biological, social, and psychological causes (infertility; sexual abuse; poverty; being a minority, lesbian, adolescent, alcoholic or drug abuser; and having the personality style of being passive, dependent, pessimistic or negative in attitude and thinking). Also, men have different coping styles. Men are more likely to involve themselves in work, sports or going out with friends, all of which distract them from their worries and give them a sense of control. Women tend to dwell on their problems, often with other women.

Before you go running for the Prozac, consider it’s been proven that a program of exercise, coupled with counseling, can reduce depression and speed up the healing process. Exercise will elevate your mood, increase your metabolism, give you a higher energy level, decrease your stress, reduce your blood pressure, and lower your cholesterol – all important factors of the complex puzzle of depression. Also, by increasing energy levels, you alter your body chemistry. This could eliminate the need for medication (though this depends on the severity of depression). Ultimately, the need for medication must be monitored by a doctor.

Studies have found that exercise, whether mild or vigorous, makes a big difference in mild to moderate depression. Three studies compared exercise to psychotherapy, concluding that exercise was at least as effective. One study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that emotional benefits from exercise are related to elevated feelings of self-confidence. When people believe they are capable of achieving more, it has a positive reinforcing effect.

Taking a walk when you’re anxious will reduce tension, while regular exercise encourages a calmer state of mind. One woman I know takes a walk through the grove of trees in back of her house, focusing on the chirping of the birds, the crunch underneath her feet, and the way the sun filters through the trees. She said when she was a little girl, she used to sing to the pixies and elves in this forest! A walk through these trees clears her mind and eases her mood instantly. A friend of mine in Canada takes a walk with her dog by the lake, sometimes going solo, other times bringing along another friend and her dog. An instant physical, mental, and spiritual booster.

Consider these other factors with respect to exercise and mood:

  • Exercise boosts the quality and quantity of sleep. (Now who doesn’t feel better after a good night’s rest?)
  • Exercise increases immunity, with regular exercise giving a 50% increase in the blood’s killer cell activity and up to 20% more virus antibodies. (You know – the mind-body connection thing.)
  • Movement increases the blood and oxygen to the brain, which boosts mental sharpness, vigor, and creative thinking. (Who needs Gingko Biloba?!)

So what types of exercise are the best for combating depression or anxiety? Speed walking, jogging, aerobics, hiking, bicycling, rowing, and cross-country skiing are good, as these activities use the large muscle groups in a rhythmical way and give you a good aerobic workout. Throw in three days per week of strength-training of moderate intensity, and you’re on your way to feeling and looking your best.

As for counseling, according to Donna Bellafiore, LCSW, CADC, and Katharine Huss, Fitness Consultant, counseling can provide a mechanism for venting feelings and reducing thoughts that deplete energy. New skills learned in counseling are used for the handling of stressful situations that occur daily. These skills give a person new perspectives and a fresh way of looking at situations.

You have the power within to gain control over your life. Take time to take care of yourself by getting regular exercise and seeking counseling, if needed.

Moments In Meditation

I’ll admit, I’m writing this meditation article because the subject intrigues me. Personally, I’ve never tried meditation, but I know of several people who do practice it and swear by its benefits. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure five months ago. My doctor gave me two months to try and bring my blood pressure down to normal-range. I lost some more weight, continued my exercise program, took certain vitamins and herbs under the counsel of a nutritionist, and strictly lowered my sodium intake. Two months later, my blood pressure barely budged. My doctor had no choice but to put me on medication. Not only did my father have high blood pressure, but I also tend to be the intense, anxious, perfectionist type.

Stephan Bodian, author of “Meditation for Dummies,” says if you’re like most people, you’re so caught up with what’s happening around you – the look in other people’s eyes, the voices of family and coworkers, the latest news on the radio, the messages appearing on your computer screen – that you forget to pay attention to what’s happening in your own mind, body, and heart.

So why try meditation? Numerous studies have proven that if you meditate regularly, you might lower your blood pressure (aha!) as well as your cholesterol level. Meditation also keeps stress under control, eases anxiety and even chronic pain. It provides your mind and body with a deep state of serene attentiveness.

Meditation can be practiced anywhere – home, office, on an airplane, or in a hotel room. It can also be done by anyone of any age, profession, culture or religion. Meditation will not conflict with your religion, as it doesn’t involve any belief, philosophy, religion or change in lifestyle.

Exercise (or even relaxation) does not do the same thing for your mind and body as meditation. Yes, walking, jogging, fishing, golf, gardening, reading a book, etc., are all enjoyable activities and to some people are relaxing, but they don’t release the deeply rooted stress and tension because the body and mind are engaged in activity.

To get you going, here are some tips from Stephan Bodian and Jon Kabat-Zinn (author of “Wherever You Go There You Are”):

  • Vow to meditate every day, even if only for five minutes. Consistency is what’s important.
  • Find a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed. Eventually, just being there will be calming.
  • Find a comfortable sitting position. You can use a cushion, or lean back against a sofa.
  • Focus on your breath (deep breathing), a word (or mantra), or a visualized object.
  • Begin each session with a few deep breaths and consciously relaxing your body with each exhalation.

Stephan Bodian also says not to worry if you’re meditating the “right” way. There is no “wrong” way to meditate! One day you may feel full of energy, your mind will be clear and you think you’re getting the hang of it. The next day you might be so overwhelmed with thoughts or emotions that you sit for 20 minutes without even noticing your breath. The point is not to do it right, but just to do it – again and again.

Meditation, combined with an exercise program and a healthy diet, will undoubtedly improve your mind and your body. After researching and writing about the topic of meditation, I’m ready to try it. How ’bout you?

For further reading, look for “Meditation for Dummies” by Stephan Bodian; “Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn; and “The Best Guide to Meditation” by Victor Davich.

Fit And Fifty

Starting around age 50, women face a whole new range of health issues, including menopause. The aging process speeds up around age 50, especially since women’s bodies are producing less estrogen. Some people believe that exercise can’t help you once you reach a certain age, but that’s not true. A consistent walking program can help menopausal women in many ways, according to Alice Lesch Kelly, a writer for Walking magazine. Here are a few:

  • A loss of heart-protecting estrogen causes cardiovascular risk to rise, but walking – which raises HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) as well as blood pressure – offsets some of that risk.
  • The beta-endorphins that our brain releases during exercise can lessen mood swings.
  • Loss of estrogen can bring on insomnia, but exercise can improve both quality and quantity of sleep.

Menopausal women are also at risk for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. About 20 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, a painful disease that causes joint cartilage to degenerate. It mainly affects the hands, feet, knees and hips. A 1997 study funded by the National Institute on Aging found that people with moderately severe osteoarthritis of the knee who exercise in moderation have less pain than those who lead sedentary lifestyles.

About 28 million Americans (80% of them women) have osteoporosis, a loss of bone that can lead to fractures. Estrogen (the glue that keeps calcium and other minerals in the bones) protects our bones before menopause, but after menopause those minerals leak out, leaving bones brittle and porous. According to Dr. Warren A. Katz, chief of rheumatology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System Presbyterian Medicine Center, brisk walking is an ideal exercise. It can be done anywhere, requires no special equipment (except for a good pair of walking shoes), and carries minimal risk of injury. If walking is too difficult or painful, workouts on a stationary exercise cycle are a good alternative. The full benefits come from a regular schedule – at least 15 to 20 minutes of walking or cycling three to four days per week. If you haven’t been active for years, start at whatever level is comfortable for you. Five-minute walks are fine at first, but try to increase the length by one minute every other time you exercise, until you reach the optimal level.

Lifting weights or using strength-training machines every three days also strengthen bone. Strength-training is a slow process, so start at a low level and build up gradually over several months. As muscles strengthen, gradually add more weight. It is important to follow a program designed by your doctor or physical therapist. If you join a fitness facility, be sure you ask a certified trainer to show you proper techniques and form. Stiffness the morning after exercise is normal, but if you’re in pain, your joints are swollen, or you’re limping, stop the program until you are recovered, and cut your weights and repetitions by 25-50%. If bone, joint or muscle pain is severe, call your doctor.

Some benefits of muscular strength and endurance are not only being able to lift objects, but your own body weight as well. With lower body training, you will have improved ability to rise from chairs and the bed; be able to walk without a cane or less reliance on a cane; have increased ability to perform daily tasks; have improved walking speed, and better posture. Also, improved leg strength is an important part of maintaining balance and preventing falls. Balance is found to decrease with age and is one of the reasons elderly people have so many falls. Exercise and activity have been found to improve balance.

You can’t stop menopause, but you can lessen the risks that come with it by staying active.

Exercise will improve the quality of your life, as well as lengthen it.

Toil And Travel

During the past three weeks, I had the opportunity to travel to both England and Canada. (I live in the U.S. – the state of Illinois.) The trip to England was by air, of course, and the trip to Canada was a 10-hour drive each way! By the end of the three-week course, I was exhausted. I’m just now getting back to my normal routine, and I learned a lot about staying healthy and fit while traveling from personal experience. Now that I’m home, I’ve been reading and researching travel and fitness tips. I found you don’t have to arrive at your destination dehydrated, disoriented and too tired to enjoy yourself. There are creative ways to exercise, even while on the road (or on the plane!). Says Rebecca Johnson, co-author of Travel Fitness, “Travelers can easily incorporate their regular fitness programs or begin a new program when away from home. There are creative ways to be healthy and fit while on the road, with the added benefits of reduced stress and increased productivity.”

First of all, if you are traveling by plane, the following items would be helpful for your well-being and comfort:

  • Lumbar roll for your back (my lower back ached a lot during flight – I wish I had known this tip before I went!)
  • Eye shades
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye drops, lip balm & moisturizer (cabin air is very drying)
  • Large water bottle (very important to stay hydrated in flight, which means you need more than the standard 64 oz. of water per day. Add an extra 6-8 oz. of water for every hour you’re in the air. Limit your consumption of coffee and alcohol.)
  • Nutritious snacks, such as raisins and/or soda crackers
  • Order a special meal–low-salt, diabetic, vegetarian or kosher. It’ll be more nutritious than regular airline fare.

While you’re on the plane, get up every hour and walk the length of the plane to keep your blood circulating and decrease the pressure on your back. If walking around isn’t possible (flight attendants serving others, for example), at least go to the back of the plane, stand for awhile, and do simple stretching exercises.

When you arrive at your destination, get outside and take a walk, especially if it’s still daylight. Not only will the walk improve your mood, energy level and circulation, but you’ll recover from jet lag more quickly as well.

If you’re lucky, your hotel will have a pool and/or fitness room. Take advantage of both! Be sure to pack a bathing suit, walking/running shoes, and exercise clothes. Get up ½ hour early and take a swim or walk on the treadmill. If you have your evening free, you can do your workout and then treat yourself to the whirlpool or sauna.

When I was in England, I stayed with friends, not at a hotel. However, I quickly learned that the Britons rely on their feet a lot more than their cars! We only took the car when we absolutely had to. We walked so much during the week I was there, I lost three pounds! My one friend runs or bikes to and from work every day, even in the rain–five miles each way. The family swims together (at an indoor pool) once a week; sometimes bikes to church; and the children are in a running club. Errands are done on foot–they use a metal pull-cart to carry their wares home. It was a rare sight to see an overweight Brit. I think Americans could learn a lot from them in this regard!

Unfortunately, my trip to Canada didn’t go as well as my trip to England. It was an emergency road trip (two days after I arrived home from England!) due to a death in the family. By the time we drove 10 hours and arrived at our hotel in the evening, I was crabby and tired and didn’t feel like taking a walk. Now that I look back on it, I should’ve dragged myself outside anyway–it would’ve made me feel better afterwards.

According to Rebecca Johnson and Bill Tulin (the other author of Travel Fitness), to preserve your hard-earned fitness level, exercise at least every third day while on the road. Perform at least a third of your aerobic routine at your typical level of intensity and complete your strength-training program at least once a week, using the same amount of resistance.

Keeping at least part of your routine intact will keep your energy level up.

Time To Get Going

Last year, I wrote a similar article entitled, Time for Fitness.” I thought this topic was worth repeating, as time (lack of, that is) seems to be the number one excuse of why women don’t exercise.

Experts say the number one reason for midlife weight gain is reduced physical exercise. According to C. Wayne Callaway, M.D., associate clinical professor of medicine at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., “When we get less exercise, we start shedding muscle and adding fat.” It takes fewer calories to maintain fat than muscle, so metabolism starts to slow down.

Hormones also play a role. Estrogen levels start to drop a year or two before menopause, which pushes our bodies to store fat. If you’re thinking you’re “doomed” come middle age, take heart. It doesn’t take an hour at the gym everyday or going on a too-strict diet to keep in shape. If you think of exercise as something you are doing for yourself, you’re off to a good start.

To stick to an exercise regime (and it doesn’t need to be grueling!), make it part of your everyday routine – just like taking a shower every morning. Take a look at your calendar to see what’s taking up a lot of your time, and put exercise high on your priority list. If you write it down, just like an appointment, it will be hard to break. Don’t put exercise on your general “to do” list; that’s too easy to stretch out into the next day (and the next, and the next – you get the idea).

If you think you don’t have time to exercise, you can probably find small stretches of time here and there that can be used to fit in some kind of fitness. When you’re on the phone, you can do stretches, sit-ups, lunges, etc. If you’re on the phone to a neighbor, suggest a walk around the block together – that way you can talk and fit in some exercise at the same time. Climb the stairs at work instead of taking the elevator. Take a 15-minute walk on your lunch break. Lift free weights at home for 10 minutes in the evening. All this counts!

Ideally, you should strive for 30 minutes of exercise per day. This can be broken up into segments, such as 15 minutes of brisk walking in the morning or on your lunch break, and another kind of physical activity in the evening – biking, playing soccer with the kids, or even taking another walk. Remember – any kind of exercise is better than none, and once you develop a routine, you’ll find yourself looking forward to this time for yourself, as you’ll feel better both physically and mentally.

I recently read some reasons (besides fitness benefits) why some women like to walk. See if you can relate to some of them:

  • Time to think.
  • Reduces stress.
  • Time to be with God.
  • Sweat out toxins.
  • Get a suntan.
  • Keeps me from eating during that time.
  • Makes me realize there is a world outside my house.
  • It refreshes my spirit about life.
  • More energy for everyday activity.
  • The dog loves getting out, too!

When you’re at home, the chores you do all count toward your fitness goal and well-being. Take the garbage out yourself. Haul the laundry basket up and down the stairs. While you’re watching TV, do some sit-ups and push-ups. During the warm months, get out and garden. Trim bushes. Rake the leaves. In the winter, shovel the snow off your porch and driveway – or at least help your husband or kids! All indoor chores – vacuuming, reaching and bending to dust, washing windows and floors – all these activities help burn fat and increase your metabolism.

Make time for yourself – you deserve it!

The Pilates Craze

You may not have even heard of Pilates, much less be able to pronounce it. (It’s pronounced puh-LA-tees.) I heard of it only a few months ago, when some fitness magazines starting publishing articles about this “new” craze. I know yoga has made a big comeback, but after researching Pilates, I think this is going to be ranking high as the popular new exercise.

Pilates is more like yoga than aerobics and has been a popular “secret” with dancers since the 1940’s. The exercises can be done on mats or machines (created in the 1920’s by founder Joseph Pilates). The classes are taught in studios, hospitals, universities, and health clubs.

The Pilates Method is a system of movement and therapeutic exercise designed by German-born Joseph H. Pilates. He used this fitness regime bearing his name to overcome his disabilities as a frail and sickly child. Obsessed about the perfect body, he was trying to find something to combine the physique of the ancient Greeks and the meditative strength of the East. The result was 500 exercises requiring intense concentration, and focused mainly on a strong abdomen, as well as deep stretching. These controlled movements engage the mind and body in developing strong, flexible muscles without building up bulk. Pilates, himself, was a boxer and dancer studying yoga and meditation.

Pilates uses the center of the body for strength and resistance to tone other muscles. No force is placed on joints or ligaments. Each movement is repeated a maximum of 10 times. It is not considered as an aerobic exercise, but as you are able to perform each move in sequence, you will notice an increase in heart rate.

Exercises are usually performed on a padded mat on the floor, though they can also be done using different handholds, supports, bands, tubing and bars, allowing the body to stretch even farther. Pilates exercises can also be performed on machines with names such as “Cadillac” and the “Barrel.” Repetitions are low, but concentration is intense. You squeeze your stomach and glute muscles, and stretch out your legs and arms. Pilates promises that you’ll feel better in 10 visits, look better in 20 visits, and have a new body in 30 visits.

Those with complications from knee, shoulder cuff and hip injuries, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, car accidents, spina bifida, whiplash and stroke, have had great results using the Pilates method. It is considered a great complement to physical therapy, massage therapy, and chiropractic because it serves as both rehabilitation and a wellness program.

A news item in “The Detroit News” (1996) states that Pilates has been used to rehabilitate spine problems. The method strengthens, lengthens, and balances spinal musculature, thereby aligning and decompressing injured vertebrae and helping to relieve nerve and disc pressure. This decompression facilitates and stimulates healthy circulation to the damaged spinal tissue. This pelvic and spinal stabilization work also helps prepare the body for rehabilitation of other weak or damaged areas more effectively.

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch Newsletter states, “Because Pilates exercise is taught one-on-one or in small groups, instructors can tailor it to people of any age or with previous injury, even joint surgery. In fact, they go on to say, “the exercises are well-suited for women.” After childbirth, there may be weakening of the pelvic floor from pregnancy, and incontinence that many women experience after childbirth. Pilates helps restore abdominal strength, which helps with these conditions. In fact, most fans and devotees of Pilates are women. They say the exercises make them feel better, stronger, more in control, and less prone to injury.

Exercise Pain – Definitely No Gain

Last week, I ended up in the Emergency Room with severe pain and swelling in the area behind my right knee. My thoughts immediately went to “blood clot,” but an ultrasound of my leg ruled the blood clot out. The doctor wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but thought it might be a pulled hamstring. He put me in an 18″ leg brace and sent me home.

By the end of the next day, my leg was fine–no more pain or swelling. But after walking on the treadmill again a few days ago (and only one mile, to play it safe), my leg started bothering me again. I wasn’t in severe pain this time, but had a general “soreness” in the same area.

When I saw my general practitioner today, she basically dismissed these complaints, and didn’t even bother to look at my leg. (Time to find a new doctor?!) I will be talking to the exercise physiologist at the health club tomorrow, and if the pain or soreness continues after a couple more weeks, I will seek out a sports physician.

Whether you’re new to exercise or have an established exercise routine, you should know how to prevent injuries associated with exercising. The American College of Emergency Physicians offers the following tips for exercise safety:

  1. Warm up! “Warming up is the most important thing you can do for yourself,” says Helen Connolly, MD, FACEP, an emergency physician in Chicago, Illinois. “A good 5-10 minute warm up brings the body’s temperature up and makes you less prone to injury.” To warm up, start out with a 5-minute walk, followed by another 5 minutes of stretching exercises.
  2. Maintain your exercise routine. “Don’t overdo it. Be sure to exercise at a level that you feel comfortable. Talk to your doctor before you begin any new exercise routines,” says Dr. Connolly.
  3. After exercising, be sure to cool down. This is just as important as warming up to keep muscles from being injured. Again, you can do the same thing for cooling down (short, slower-paced walk, followed by stretching) as you did for warming up.
  4. Invest in quality footwear.  Improper or worn-out shoes stress your hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Buy the right type of shoes for your fitness category (cross-training, walking, running, etc.). Replace athletic shoes on a regular basis (every year or 400 miles of walking/running, whichever comes first).
  5. Vary your activities to prevent favoring certain muscles. An imbalance between the trained muscles and weaker, tighter muscles increases your risk of injury.
  6. According to the physical therapists of the University Health Service at U.C. Berkeley, it is also important to cut down on the intensity of exercise if you are tired or have had insufficient sleep.

Despite all of the above precautions, what if you DO end up with a sports or exercise-induced injury? For a sprain, follow the RICE treatment:

R: Rest the involved extremity from any strenuous activity for the first 48 hours.

I: Ice the injury for 15-20 minutes, six times daily for the first 48 hours.

C: Compression bandages should be applied well above and below the injury site.

E: Elevate the extremity to 45 degrees to reduce swelling.

With your doctor’s “OK”, you can also take an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen, to control pain and inflammation.

Seek medical help for severe pain or numbness, an injured joint, loss of movement, a minor injury which doesn’t improve or heal in three weeks, or when intuition or experience tells you that you have a serious injury.

Remember, pain does NOT equal gain. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Practice prevention!

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