3 Moves for Better Balance

3 Moves for Better Balance
News Picture: 3 Moves for Better BalanceBy Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Exercise & Fitness News

MONDAY, July 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Guarding against falls isn’t just for the elderly. The inner ear’s ability to maintain balance can begin to decline as early as age 40, according to a study in Frontiers of Neurology. So the time to improve your balance is now.

Strong legs and flexible ankles help prevent falls and allow you to catch yourself if you do trip, so target these areas through exercise. Here are three moves to practice regularly.

Ankle rotations: Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lift one leg out in front of you and use your big toe to make circles in the air. Move clockwise for 15 to 20 rotations and then counterclockwise for an equal amount. Repeat with the other foot.

Single leg balancing: Stand straight, feet together, arms at your sides. Lift one foot a few inches off the floor, bending that knee slightly, and balance on the other leg. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat. Aim for twice on each side. Keeping stomach muscles contracted will help.

The dancer’s pose: Better balance is one of yoga‘s benefits, and this pose is particularly effective. Stand straight, feet together, arms at your sides. Raise your right arm out in front of you, thumb toward the ceiling. Lift your left leg behind you, bending at the knee. Reach back with your left hand to grab your left foot and help bring it toward your rear. You can lift your right arm higher for better balance. Hold briefly, then return to start and repeat on the other side. Repeat up to four times on each side.

Ready for more? One of the best ways to strengthen muscles and improve balance as well as agility, flexibility and relaxation is with tai chi. It emphasizes footwork and teaches you how to balance in many positions. Look for local classes, which are often held outdoors to add to its feeling of serenity.

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How to Prevent Exercise Accidents

How to Prevent Exercise Accidents
News Picture: How to Prevent Exercise AccidentsBy Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Exercise & Fitness News

FRIDAY, June 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) — It’s great to challenge yourself to keep workouts interesting, but you need to take steps to avoid injury whether you’re new to exercise or a seasoned veteran.

This often means adapting exercise to your current fitness level and abilities. For instance, if you’re experiencing a problem with balance, swimming will be safer than running. If you develop joint pain from a condition like arthritis, avoid high-impact activities to avoid stressing those joints. If you take fitness class and are having trouble with certain movements, don’t hesitate to ask the teacher to help you modify exercises.

If you have a medical condition and are new to exercise, talk to your doctor about the safest options for you. Get instruction before you go it alone.

Always warm up first. Walking in place gets your circulation going and delivers blood to your muscles, prepping them for more intense exercise of almost every type. Afterward, cool down the same way.

To avoid overuse injuries, vary your exercise choices from one day to another. For instance, alternate between brisk walking and cycling. When you’re ready to challenge yourself, gradually increase intensity and length of workouts. A 5% increase is safe as you progress.

Don’t forget to make sure your equipment and any safety gear are in good working order.

Ease up or skip a workout when you’re not feeling well or are overtired and unable to fully focus on the activity. And if an illness or injury sidelines you for more than a couple of days, ease back into exercise after your recovery — don’t try to return at your previous level all at once.

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Walking can maintain your body weight and lower many health risks. True or false?
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What's The Most Effective Way to Tone Your Biceps?

What's The Most Effective Way to Tone Your Biceps?
News Picture: What's The Most Effective Way to Tone Your Biceps?By Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Exercise & Fitness News

WEDNESDAY, June 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The biceps, the very visible muscles in the front of the upper arms, are a target in every comprehensive strength-training regimen, but what exercise is the most effective?

To answer that question, the American Council on Exercise asked scientists from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse to evaluate eight popular biceps exercises.

Popular Biceps Strength-Training Exercises

  • Barbell curl
  • Cable curl
  • Chin-up
  • Concentration curl
  • EZ curl with wide grip
  • EZ curl with narrow grip
  • Incline curl
  • Preacher curl

At the very top of the list for effectiveness is the concentration curl, because it best isolates the biceps. Most of the other popular exercises also target other muscles, such as those in the shoulder called deltoids. But because the upper arm is pressed against the leg in concentration curls, the biceps is engaged the most.

To do this curl, sit on a flat bench with a dumbbell in front of you. Legs are apart, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. For the starting position, hold the weight in your right arm, arm extended toward the floor, palm up. Press the back of the upper arm against the top of your inner right thigh. Now, with control, use only your forearm to curl the weight toward your biceps as you contract that muscle. Bring the weight up to shoulder level, leading with the outside of your hand rather than your thumb for a better contraction. Hold briefly, then — always with control — lower the weight to the start position, and repeat. Build up to three sets of 12 to 15 reps each. Once you’ve finished all the sets with your right hand, repeat with the left.

If you’d like to add more biceps exercises to your routine, the next two in order of effectiveness are the cable curl and chin-ups, with the rest of those on the list very close behind.

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Is Interval Training the Fountain of Youth?

Is Interval Training the Fountain of Youth?
News Picture: Is Interval Training the Fountain of Youth?By Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Exercise & Fitness News

TUESDAY, June 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) — High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an exercise technique done by alternating short bursts of all-out effort in an aerobic activity with periods done at a very slow pace.

HIIT has many benefits, not the least of which is being able to get the results of a regular 30-minute workout with less heavy exertion and making exercise more enjoyable.

Mayo Clinic researchers found an even greater plus. There’s nothing like HIIT to stave off the aging process, thanks to changes it creates at the cell level, effects that can’t be achieved with any kind of medicine. What’s more, as positive as the changes were for younger people studied, they were even greater among people over 65.

Gauging the level of intensity needed for the HIIT intervals isn’t difficult. A person’s maximum aerobic activity (220 minus your age) can be rated on a scale of 0 to 10. High-intensity intervals are done at an exertion level of 7 or higher, around 80% to 95% of your maximum. (As a comparison, moderate activity is 60% to 70%, and vigorous activity is 70% to 80%.)

You can decide on the length of the segments. But, in general, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the high-intensity intervals should last between 30 seconds and 3 minutes. The low-intensity intervals can be anywhere from two to four times as long. While HIIT can be done with any type of aerobic activity, walking on a treadmill, running and cycling are particularly easy to adapt to the sequencing.

Sample HIIT Workout

  • Warmup: 5 minutes
  • High-intensity activity: 1 minute
  • Low-intensity activity: 2 minutes
  • High-intensity activity: 1 minute
  • Low-intensity activity: 2 minutes
  • High-intensity activity: 1 minute
  • Low-intensity activity: 2 minutes
  • High-intensity activity: 1 minute
  • Low-intensity activity: 2 minutes
  • Cooldown: 5 minutes

Experts at ACE suggest getting your doctor’s OK first and using the technique for only one or two workouts per week. Note that interval training is not an alternative to strength training for improving muscle strength and mass, so be sure to include both types of exercise in your weekly fitness plan.

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Exercise Rates Rising for Urban, Rural Americans: CDC

Exercise Rates Rising for Urban, Rural Americans: CDC
News Picture: Exercise Rates Rising for Urban, Rural Americans: CDCBy E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Exercise & Fitness News

THURSDAY, June 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The trend towards Americans getting off their couches and into gyms is hitting city and country folk alike, according to a new report.

Overall, the percentage of all adults who now meet or exceed federal exercise guidelines rose from 18.2% in 2008 to 24.3% by 2017, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

And the study finds that trend in both rural and urban areas. Among adults living in rural America, 13.3% were exercising in 2008 at recommended rates, but by 2017 that number had risen to 19.6%. And in cities, rates went even higher — from 19.4% to 25.3%.

Federal physical activity guidelines advise at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, as well as at least a moderate-intensity muscle-strengthening workout two days per week.

The rise in exercise rates is heartening, the CDC team said, but of course more progress is needed, because “in 2017, only 1 in 4 urban residents and 1 in 5 rural residents met the combined [exercise] guidelines.”

The new study was based on 2008-2017 federal health data involving sample sizes of up to 37,000 adults surveyed nationwide each year. Researchers were led by Geoffrey Whitfield of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Two health care experts offered theories on why more Americans are getting more active.

It could be due to “increased stress with social, political and financial strains increasing over last few years,” suggested Dr. Theodore Strange, associate chair of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City.

“Additionally, more gyms have popped to meet that need as well as other group exercising facilities, like martial arts centers, CrossFit and spin classes,” he said. “Even employers are encouraging wellness and well-being by offering their employees opportunities to exercise daily and even offering financial/perk incentives.”

But another expert noted that not everyone is benefiting equally.

“In particular, Americans who live in rural areas exercise less than Americans that live in urban areas,” noted Dr. Teresa Amato. She directs emergency medicine at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Forest Hills in New York City. She also noted that the study found lower exercise rates in the U.S. South versus other regions.

Amato agreed that sometimes workplaces can play a big role in boosting exercise rates. Large employers often sponsor “employee wellness and employee well-being initiatives,” she said.

“Many of these come in the form of forming exercise “teams” that have friendly competitions and awards for meeting certain exercise goals,” Amato added.

“Studies do conclude that individuals are more likely to begin and sustain exercise habits when they are done with an additional partner or ‘exercise buddy.’ In addition, exercise in a group may lead to longer exercise times and more mental well-being,” she said.

The study was published June 14 in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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SOURCES: Theodore Strange, M.D., associate chair, medicine,Staten Island University Hospital, New York City; Teresa Amato, M.D., chair, emergency medicine, Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, New York City; CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 14, 2019

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