Archive for the ‘Good Health’ Category

CrossFit

Posted: February 26, 2013 in CrossFit Workouts, Good Health
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crossfit

The benefits of exercise cannot be overstated. Exercise strengthens bones and may be the best treatment for osteoporosis. Exercises builds and tones muscles which support joints.  It builds confidence and self-esteem. It is a super stress reliever and antidepressant. With all of its benefits, many of us find that even with hours spent in the gym, we do not achieve the strength and tone we would desire from an exercise program. Perhaps we are doing the wrong things. The program CrossFit may be a great fit for those of us looking to take our exercise program and fitness to the next level.

CrossFit is a program geared to prepare the body for better fitness by not focusing on any one activity. Rather, CrossFit wants the body prepared for any and all activities or sports. It focuses on core strengthening and conditioning. It is not the same routine everyday, but a regular mixture of activities designed to activate and strengthen various core and major muscle groups from a variety of tasks. CrossFit has attracted elite athletes, military personnel, police officers and now regular people who are wanting to achieve higher levels of fitness. The CrossFit program seeks to achieve this through balance in ten fitness categories: heart and lung endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy [Source: CrossFit].

The benefits of CrossFit are many. I compare these benefits of CrossFit to previous routines a person like me may have tried. Many have tried to build muscle and get in shape by spending 60 minutes or more in the gym several days a week, working several sets of each muscle group. This means curls for the biceps, extensions for the triceps, sit-ups, pull-downs for the upper back, seated rows for the mid back, and on and on…leading to long workouts. One of the major problems here is time. It is hard to allow 60 plus minutes 4-5 days a week. Something has to give, and for me it was often the workout. It is hard to get the results you want when you don’t exercise, and even a couple days a week never got the job done for me and many fellow patients trying to do the same thing. CrossFit, on the other hand, is not found to be a lengthy trip to the gym.  In fact, many CrossFit routines are based on programs timed to be done in 20 minutes or less. For those of us who can only commit a couple of hours a week to the gym, 20 minute workouts multiple days of the week provide a more consistent program then once or twice a week. Success, challenge and fun are other benefits of CrossFit. The variety of exercises each day keeps the workout interesting. Instead of going to a gym or home workout area and doing the same sets of exercises every day, CrossFit provides a different routine that may challenge you with a whole new set of exercises. These exercises work core muscles, challenge fitness levels and strengthen the major muscle groups. This equals better fitness and stronger muscles in a more reasonable amount of time.

How does one get started with CrossFit? A simple way to start is to go to the CrossFit website: http://www.crossfit.com. Each day a new exercise is posted that is the WOD, workout of the day. These exercises are posted on the center of the page. On the left side of the site is the navigation bar which includes a “start here” link and an “exercise & demos” in addition to many other links. The “start here” will provide much of the background information to get started. The “exercises & demos” link will provide video demonstrations for the workout of the day. Also, consider searching out a personal trainer in the area who has had training the CrossFit program.

Anyone can use the CrossFit program. The program has a gained a lot of momentum among elite athletes. This attests to the success of the thinking behind CrossFit. CrossFit can be adapted to any skill level. The program can also be scaled to the abilities of those with chronic illness such as heart disease or diabetes. Remember that the “workout of the day” is scaled for the well-conditioned, elite athletes. Start very easily.  This is a powerful program and the muscles will get tired. Do not try to become a world-class athlete in one or two days. Utilize a friend or personal trainer using CrossFit along with the CrossFit website. The exercises run on a cycle so that an exercise set done several weeks ago can be compared to the present level of fitness.

CrossFit is a different type of exercise routine. It is a well-rounded and very efficient way to achieve a higher level of fitness. It is a program that does not need a whole lot of fancy equipment, but does offer a nice variety to keep the interest level up and provide the challenge needed to keep the exercise fun.

walk

 

Posted in: Natural Movement  on Tuesday, January 10, 2012

 

My wife’s 103-year-old grandmother lived in a third floor walk-up apartment in New York City. Every day she walked up and down those stairs several times to go shopping, to the post office, the dry cleaner’s and do other little errands. At 103, she was as sharp as a tack. She never forgot a birthday, an anniversary or a single holiday. And God forbid you forgot to send her a card or call her on her birthday — you’d hear about it for ages. The exercise she got on those stairs and errands may not only have protected her heart so she could live past 100, it may also have protected her brain.

Walking is one of the safest and easiest ways to get an aerobic workout. How much walking or exercise each person needs depends on their baseline fitness level, age and other health factors. And getting short amounts of cardio workouts throughout the week is more effective than being a weekend warrior who only exercises on Saturday and Sunday.

In a study of more than 18,000 older women, Harvard researchers found that 90 minutes a week of brisk walking, or approximately 15 minutes a day, was all one needed to delay cognitive decline and reduce possible risk for future Alzheimer’s disease. University of Pittsburgh scientists found that the more that older people walked, the better their cognitive abilities and the larger their brain. A larger brain is associated with a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Many studies have demonstrated that a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease is associated with almost any form of physical activity, whether it’s gardening, housework, swimming, or tennis. When sedentary people start a fitness program, their brains get larger in key memory regions like the frontal lobe and hippocampus.

Equally convincing evidence of the brain benefits of physical exercise comes from studies that have monitored volunteers in exercise programs and compared them to sedentary control groups. Dr. Arthur Kramer and colleagues at the University of Illinois recruited volunteers aged 58 to 77 years, and assigned them to either a walking group or a group that did stretching and toning. After six months, the walkers hadincreased blood flow in brain circuits controlling spatial ability and complex thinking, compared with the stretching and toning group. Although stretching and toning are important components of a comprehensive physical fitness program, Professor Kramer’s findings demonstrate the added value of cardiovascular conditioning for maintaining brain health.

Aerobic conditioning may be improving our mental acuity in several ways. Exercise gets the heart pumping more blood to the brain, which appears to reverse cellular deterioration associated with aging. It also stimulates the growth of new synapses — the connection sites between neurons — and makes brain cells more responsive to external stimuli.

Gary Small, M.D., is director of UCLA’s Longevity Center and co-author of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life