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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Muscle Builder - Build Ab Muscles Fast

One of the things you get free as you get older is a bigger midsection. It creeps up on you and you only know its existence when your spouse/partner or friend points at it accusingly. 

The bigger midsection is sometimes referred to, amusingly, as pot belly, beer belly or relaxed muscle.

If we’re honest we’d all prefer the flat stomach we had in our youth. There are ways and means to achieve a flatter stomach without spending too much money, if any at all.

All you need is some space. You practice sitting upright without any support. Fold your arms while lying down, with knees bent, and slowly bring yourself to a sitting position with arms still folded and legs still on the round. Painful at first when you’re not use to it, but it gets easier with practice.

Spend a few pounds or dollars and get a gym ball. They take some getting use to because of their tendency to roll, after all they are just an oversized ball.

When you finally get the ball stable, sit on it in so that you can curl your back round the top of the ball  so you face the ceiling. Keep your knees at right angles. Slowly bring yourself upwards, while you keep your arms folded, so you’re sitting at the edge of the ball.  Do several repetitions. In a few weeks you may have lost much of the unwanted midsection.      

You got the extra midsection free, you can also get rid of it for free.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Free Home Gym Equipment - Staircase or Stairwell

Here's an exercise routine that doesn't require any special equipment, special gear to wear or monthly gym fees to pay. You could even says it's using free home gym equipment.

As you can guess from the title I'm referring to stairs. Yes, climbing stairs at home, or at work can help beat the struggle to get or stay fit.

In my office there are eight floors with around 14 steps between each floor. I’ve climbed from the ground floor to the eighth floor on about 10 occasions in the six years I’ve been at that office.

Each time I reached the top, I felt as if I'd done two rounds with mike Tyson and lost.

Like many people I find it hard to make time to exercise. A stair climbing exercise program might be a practical solution.

Here are some tips which would have helped me a few years ago during my painful climb of those eight flights of stairs.

If you usually take the elevator (lift to us Brits) rather than the stairs you may find yourself breathless after a few flights of stairs and/or leg muscles are ‘burning’. This is a sign to take it easy, and pardon the pun – take it one step at a time.

Each day or two or three days, increase the number of stairs so at the end of the month, give yourself a target, you can say climb X flight of stairs without feeling breathless or pain in your leg muscles.

Climb safely. Wear good supportive shoes. Drink water before, during and after the sessions. This is one mistake I made which soon made me give up stair climbing as an exercise strategy.

Take notice of your of how your knees and lower back feel after a few weeks of starting your stair-climbing exercise routine.

Stair climbing might not ignite your flame but it is can be an easy way to get or become fit, as long as it's not the only way.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Disabled and Fit, How?

Some of the fittest people around are in fact disabled

I'm not disabled but I do know people who are and you may too. And, life is full of uncertainties. We just don't know what's around the corner.

How you keep fit while disabled will depend on the extent of the disability.

I've seen disabled people take part in volleyball, basketball and swimming.

At first, watching these athletes I must admit made me feel uncomfortable. Obviously, the problem is with me not them.

As the volleyball and basketball progressed, the athletes were practicing for this year's Olympics, my admiration for them started to grow. These people made their disability work for rather than against them.

Steve Scott is Chair of the UK’s Dwarf Athletics Association quoted in a BBC special report on what disabled people do for exercise he says, “I find swimming and cycling are better exercise than running, although I have run a marathon in the past! Swimming and cycling are good cardio-vascular exercise, less aggressive on my joints, and less damaging on hips and spine”.

Michael Watson was a UK based middleweight boxer. He suffered brain damage during a boxing match with Chris Eubanks in 1991, leaving him in coma for 40 days.

In the same BBC special report Watson says, he starts each morning with a 15-20 minute stretch. This is followed with a 15-20 minute walk and then cycling in the gym.

Exercise Equipment for Disabled People.

We’re all accustomed to gyms and sports equipment shops and what they offer. But what was new to me was the specialist exercise equipment available for disabled people. There is a Chair Gym, not too sophisticated, but allows users to exercise their arms while in a wheel chair.

Then there is something called VitaGlide. A wheelchair user positions their wheelchair between two horizontal arms that meet at the front in the shape of a ‘V’. The arms are pulled and pushed, similar to the movement on a Cross Trainer. While wheelchair users may get exercise simply by manoeuvering their wheel chairs, this adds another dimension to their exercise routines.

Lastly, there’s the HUR Chest Press. Again catering to people bound to their wheelchair. This offers a range of exercise routines for:


-Deltoids (shoulder muscle)

-Chest press;


-Lateral pull.

With life’s uncertainties, you don’t know what’s round the corner. And, like the paralympic atheletes should we ever suffer a disability we should make it work for rather than against us.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

How to Stay or Get fit with a Cross Trainer

The cross trainer, aka elliptical trainer, is my favourite item in the gym, to the extent I bought one for the home.

The appeal of the cross trainer is that it simulates walking (exercise your legs)and pulling (exercise your arms). It’s easy to use and there’s no impact on your joints. Knee sufferers will find the cross trainer a great piece of equipment.

Don’t get a cross trainer to build muscle strength, although it can help. If you are going forward, it will work out the thighs and quads. If you reverse the direction, it will give you a really good glut workout.

The aim of the cross trainer is to give you a good cardio workout, strengthening your heart and improving blood circulation.

Here’s a calculator to estimate the calories you’re likely to lose exercising with a cross trainer:

The belt driven cross trainers should be the cheapest as the engineering behind them is less complicated. Belt driven cross trainers are used for basic exercise routines.

Magnetic resistance cross trainers offer more exercise routines or training levels to increase your fitness. And, can be quieter than belt driven versions.

Depending on how varied your training levels need to be e.g. from simulating level walking to mountain climbing will guide your choice of a belt driven or magnetic resistance cross trainer.

Don’t make the mistake I made when selecting a cross trainer and overlook the dimensions. I ordered my cross trainer, new, from Ebay and was surprised or shocked at the size.

I placed it in the dining room where it soon became the dominant feature. A cross trainer is not something you want as part of your dining room furniture.

In the end it was relegated to the garage and that's when its use declined. I stopped using it and had to scrap it because it no longer worked. I could have bought another, though much cheaper cross trainer, for what it would cost to fix. I didn't

The lesson from my experience is - if you buy a cross trainer make sure you put it where you can see it. You then stand a greater chance in beating the struggle to become or stay fit.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Sleep In to Stay Fit?

Sleep in to stay fit? I've got several choices tonight - retire to bed early, scout around for gym gear and head of to the gym, go for a run or cycle a few miles round the neighbourhood?

Let me see. After a long busy and stressful day at work, I admit the option to retire to bed early has the greatest appeal.

I was surprised to find out that there is an academic publication called the - Sleep. The research published in this journal showed that more, rather than less sleep can help you lose weight. So, if one of your goals for getting or staying fit is to lose weight, getting more sleep is worth exploring.

I admit this novel way to lose weight has some appeal for me. Sleep comes naturally at the end of the day, doesn't take any effort and costs nothing. And it's something we all have to do.

The study, based on 1,088 pairs of identical and non identical twins found that heritability of body mass index (BMI) - a measurement relating weight and height - was twice as high for short as for long sleepers. For twins sleeping less than seven hours a night, genetic factors accounted for 70% of differences in BMI. In the case of twins averaging more than nine hours of sleep, only 32% of weight variations could be attributed to genes.

One of the conclusions suggested by the research, according to Dr Nathaniel Watson from the University of Washington, was that shorter sleep provides a more permissive environment for the expression of obesity related genes.

I can’t say I was entirely convinced by the research so did a little more digging and found that University of Michigan researcher, Michael Sivak made some calculations to show that replacing one hour of inactive wakefulness—such as watching television—with sleep can result in a 6 percent reduction in caloric intake.

How does it work? A person who sleeps seven hours a night and consumes 2,500 calories during the remaining 17 hours of the day can cut 147 calories by simply sleeping an extra hour instead of watching TV.

Admittedly, you’re not going to end up with huge drop in weight as Sivak calculated you’re likely to lose 14 pounds over a year.

But, if your goals are realistic and achievable for you, try to sleep off the weight. Weighing a stone (6 .3 Kilos) less at the end of the year is better than weighing a stone more.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Do You Want to be Fit, Just like Me?

I’m not too sure if fitness videos are out of fashion or whether, as I don't watch late night satellite channels that advertise them, they just aren't promoted on TV anymore. In any case, I still maintain my cynical belief that these videos are no more than a promotional tool for some celebrity whose star attraction has gone dim or, they’re generating as much light as a burnt out candle.

Looking through some old video tapes to throw out (do you remember videos?); I found several fitness videos my wife collected over the years. I don’t ever recall seeing her exercising while watching any of these tapes.

Three such celeb video tapes that seemed to excite the media at the time were:

Former Spice Girl’s - Get Totally Fit with Mel B,

LaToya Jackson’s - Step Up Workout, and

Jane Fonda’s -Workout Videos Series

Were their videos and others before and after them any value? Is it worth the effort resurrecting any of these videos from the exercise DVD/video tape graveyard to practice one of the workouts at home?

I did a little unscientific research to find out if these videos, if not life changing, could help in the struggle to get or stay fit. I found as you’d expect opposing views...

“No - I am not saying they don't work but if like me it is just something else to add to my DVD collection that will gather dust. Walking is the best exercise you can get, my doctor said if I walk 30 minutes per day for at least 5 days a week I will get fit and lose weight but like the DVD's I will do it one of these days” or;

“Definitely yes. It's cheaper than a gym, you can do them in private in your own home and they have amazing results. Once I started doing workout videos at home, I got better results than going to a gym and I haven't gone back since. Try Jeri Love's 1000 video, it works amazing … it's hard work but worth it”

There were of course dozens of opinions in between. I guess the right answer is - if you can faithfully and routinely follow the guidance in the video then they work for you.

But, they're not the golden bat to beat our struggle to get or stay fit. I'd use YouTube, it's free and at least you you’re not adding to the exercise DVD/video tape graveyard.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Walking to Stay Alive

Struggling to get or stay fit by walking, cycling, swimming or other type of exercise is mainly a voluntary or in some cases an economic necessity. It’s always cheaper to walk or cycle than get the bus or taxi.

But, we should spare a thought for those who walk not to get fit but do it to stay alive. Around 1.1 billion people live without clean water. And the average distance walked by women and children in Africa and Asia (what do the men do?) to get water for their families is six kilometres per day. Or, put another way, women in countries like Tanzania spend 3 hours a day walking to collect 40 litres of water. In some countries where it is very dry, the women and children can spend the whole day collecting water for their families.

40 litres a day feels like a lot but if this has to be shared amongst one family where there are extended family members living in the same household, there’s very little water to go round.

I was surprised to learn that water consumption per person in the Western world is several times greater than in the developing world. Here are some stats taken from the World Water Council, and these are per person per day:

350 litres - USA and Japan

200 litres – Europe

10-20 litres Sub-Saharan Africa

As well as walking to keep fit there is an awareness and fundraising initiative called Walking for Water. These special walks take place around World Water Day (22 March). School children aged 10-13 are sponsored by friends and family to walk 6 kilometres, while carrying 6 litres of water in a backpack. Pioneered in the Netherlands in 2003 by a Non Governmental Organisation – Aqua for All, 25,000 children from the Netherlands, South Africa, England, Scotland and Malta took part in the walk last year.

Whenever we think walking is too much trouble to stay fit so we’d rather take a bus or taxi, spare a thought for millions of people who walk just so they can stay alive. True, sparing a thought takes no effort and costs nothing, but it’ll help us appreciate what we sometimes take for granted – water.