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I hope that you will be able to use the information provided to make educated decisions about your health and fitness goals. All questions are welcome, so please ask! Also feel free to go to my website and learn more about my company.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Stress: Your Family, Health, Weight & Romantic Life

Everyday we are faced with stressful situations which can have serious consequences in all aspects of our life. There are various forms of stress but they all have two unique properties. There is stress which we have immediate control of and their are those for which we have no control of because there are external forces which directly influence certain outcomes. It is also true that we all have the ability chose how we will cope with it. We can let stress consume us or we could consume it by dealing with it. According to Ragan's Health Care Communication News, an infographic published in July 2013, 'Stress-related Health care and missed work cost employers $300 Billion each year. In a similar article published by Forbes in the same period, they reported $84 Billion in loss of productivity due to absenteeism attributed to chronic health conditions. Increased stress is a well know cause of a poor or weakened immune system. Stress causes many other problems such as withdrawal from socializing, poor appetite (in other cases increased appetite), reduced energy, poor sex drive, other health related problems, depression, skin problems, various other emotional problems and more. 
The foods we eat may exacerbate symptoms associated with stressful problems. Staying active can help reduce the affects of stress if we find the right type of activities. Taking on to much can make it worse. Below is an interesting infographic of foods you can eat to help your body cope with stress:
Although coffee was listed you should be careful about taking this tip. One of the hormones which is affected by stress is adrenaline which is released by your Adrenal Glands located just above your Kidneys. It may seem like a plus to feel more excited but keep in mind to much Adrenaline can affect your mindset and heart as well. Both Western and Chinese Medicine contribute increased stress on the Kidneys to increased stress on the heart. Since caffeine is a stimulate and diuretic the positive side of it is increase alertness and mood. At the same time for some, caffeine causes them to be fidgety and agitated which are both associated with stress. Increase urination can cause more stress, especially if you are forced to hold it. If you are the kind of person who becomes easily irritable it is probably best not to consume caffeine. This may hold true also if you already have heart problems. If you suffer from Anxiety, caffeine and coffee may also not be a good choice. If you are allergic to nuts, it's just common sense not to eat them. 
Amongst the top 10 jobs associated with the highest levels of stress were those in public safety, CEO's, public transportation and journalists.  We constantly see publications either from the media or individuals of how intolerant people are of police officers, top company executives and political leaders. These same folks take little time to consider the amounts of stress and pressure these type of people feel from not just their type of job, but the media, family and the public. A certain percentage of people in low-income brackets are more likely to complain about the job performance of these types of workers and at the same time deal with the stress themselves in much less reasonable ways like looting, rioting and public shaming as well as violence against non-responsible parties for the cause of their personal stress. 
We need to become more familiar with the way we deal with stress. Find out the root source and address the situation with a reasonable action such as improving daily choices of food, exercise, stress management through exercise, yoga or meditation; seeking counseling when necessary; seeking better inner personal communication with our family, loved ones and those around us on a daily basis and more time spent socializing with positive people. If anything do something everyday that will make someone around you feel great about themselves.
Check out this infographic below for more information:
Sources of information:
Infographic: Stress and your health

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Lower Body Resistance Training & the Elderly

It's been almost 17 years since I got into the health and fitness industry. It has been quite an interesting career considering the diversity of my clientele since May of 1998 when I got started. My youngest client was 12 years old and my oldest client has been 91 years old. I've worked with high school level athletes, college level and semi-pro athletes. My original intentions were to get into veterinary medicine. Like back then I have always been approached because of my considerable strength in comparison to my size. It may appear to other that I should have 21 inch arms because of my strength. My style of training and that fact that I don't use steroids separates me from these incredible hulk freaks of nature that work out about my parameters. I've always been invested in preventing weak muscles, poor health and disease. My favorite part of my career when it comes to the elderly has been the same reason. I've worked with elderly folks who's strength would embarrass a minor and middle aged populations. When ever I work with the elderly my main focus is flexibility, balance and then strength as well as endurance. The reason I put them in that order is because flexibility will always play an important role in both stability and strength. I could go into details about this but that would require me to write a book on the subject. Instead I will focus on the importance of strength training and the lower extremities of the elderly. 
We have all seen that 'I've fallen down and I can't get up commercial'. It's a harsh reality regarding aging. Many of the injuries associated with falling can be reduced but training must emphasize some of the causes. A loss of flexibility, balance, reaction time as well as strength and endurance are all a part of life as we get older. These factors play critical roles on the consequences of losing balance. Functional movements which require the lower body and are a part of (ADL's) activities of daily living in the elderly will include but are not limited to walking, sitting, standing and climbing stairs. 
Two of the most common things I've heard clients complain about is either back problems or weak knees even though they claim to have no history of injury. I usually tell them these issues may be due to daily patterns putting unnecessary stress on the lower back. I also explain to them that most knee problems are the result of weak hips. After some assessments and some hip strengthening they usually complain about less knee problems. When it comes to the lower back I inquire about their lifting patterns and the type of activities required by there jobs. These questions always lead to finding the underlying issues and addressing it with appropriate measures to reduce the complaints. 
Here are some tips for elderly people engaging in physical activity. If considering starting a fitness program make sure to see the doctor in order to make sure there aren't any underlying risks. Once cleared if you haven't done anything for quite some time, take it easy and start slow. Make sure you are following proper progressions. 
Always warm up before you start any type of physical activity. This can include a walk, jog or cycling according to your fitness levels and abilities. Elderly people should consider a slight incline on the treadmill, an elliptical trainer or a stepper which would make the hip muscles work harder during the warm up and thus would be more appropriate and targeted toward the muscles you intend to work out. 
Exercises which can help activate the muscles of the Glutes in preparation to higher intensity activity include Quadruped Hip Extensions, Dirty Dogs (a.k.a. Fire Hydrants) and Prone Bent-Leg Hip Extensions. 
Avoid trying to do what you 'used to do'. Consider starting off with 8 - 10 exercises which target all the major muscle groups. Perform 1 set for a total of 10 to 15 repetitions. The higher the reps the lower the resistance should be. The lower the reps the higher the resistance should be as well. Target the Gluteus Maximus and the Hamstrings before working out the Quads and Calves. In general target muscles from larger to smaller. 
My favorite exercise for increasing Gluteus and Hamstring strength include Romanian Deadlifts, Single-Legged Deadlifts and Valslide or Stability Ball Leg Curls. Split Squats are also very useful because they engage your Quadraceps and Gluteus Maximus muscles. If your balance improves to impressive levels you can add an Airex Balance Pad or Dyna-Disc for added balance and resistance training. As long as blood pressure is not an existing health problem you can add Isometric training to all these exercises. If you have good flexibility and have no physical conditions which would contraindicate your ability to perform Kettlebell training then you might even include some Swings into your regimen. Kettlebell Swings are part of the fundamentals of including Kettlebells into your fitness program. They are great when done properly because of the major emphasis on the hips, hamstrings and endurance. I hope these suggestions and guidelines will help. As always, when in doubt; hire a fitness professional.