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FITNESS: TIPS FOR STAYING MOTIVATED (Mayo Clinic)

Fitness doesn’t have to be drudgery. These tips can help you add focus and fun to your routine. (By Mayo Clinic Staff)

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Have you ever started a fitness program and then quit? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Many people start fitness programs but stop when they get bored or results come too slowly. Here are seven tips to help you stay motivated.

1. Set goals
Start with simple goals and then progress to longer range goals. Remember to make your goals realistic and achievable. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up if your goals are too ambitious.

For example, if you haven’t exercised in a while, a short-term goal might be to walk 10 minutes a day three days a week. An intermediate goal might be to walk 30 minutes five days a week. A long-term goal might be to complete a 5K walk.

2. Make it fun
Find sports or activities that you enjoy, then vary the routine to keep you on your toes. If you’re not enjoying your workouts, try something different. Join a volleyball or softball league. Take a ballroom dancing class. Check out a health club or martial arts center. Discover your hidden athletic talent. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be drudgery — and you’re more likely to stick with a fitness program if you’re having fun.

3. Make physical activity part of your daily routine
If it’s hard to find time for exercise, don’t fall back on excuses. Schedule workouts as you would any other important activity. You can also slip in physical activity throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk up and down sidelines while watching the kids play sports. Pedal a stationary bike or do strength training exercises while you watch TV at night.

4. Put it on paper
Are you hoping to lose weight? Boost your energy? Sleep better? Manage a chronic condition? Write it down. Seeing the benefits of regular exercise on paper may help you stay motivated.

You may also find it helps to keep an exercise diary. Record what you did during each exercise session, how long you exercised and how you felt afterward. Recording your efforts can help you work toward your goals — and remind you that you’re making progress.

5. Join forces with friends, neighbors or others
You’re not in this alone. Invite friends or co-workers to join you when you exercise. Work out with your partner or other loved ones. Play soccer with your kids. Organize a group of neighbors to take fitness classes at a local health club.

6. Reward yourself
After each exercise session, take a few minutes to savor the good feelings that exercise gives you. This type of internal reward can help you make a long-term commitment to regular exercise. External rewards can help, too. When you reach a longer range goal, treat yourself to a new pair of walking shoes or new tunes to enjoy while you exercise.

7. Be flexible
If you’re too busy to work out or simply don’t feel up to it, take a day or two off. Be gentle with yourself if you need a break. The important thing is to get back on track as soon as you can.

Now that you’ve regained your enthusiasm, get moving! Set your goals, make it fun and pat yourself on the back from time to time. Remember, physical activity is for life. Review these tips whenever you feel your motivation slipping.

(Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20047624)

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THE BEST FLAT ABS MOVES FOR MEN (WebMD)

Train for Flat Abs: Bicycle
You want four to eight key moves in each workout. Be sure to target the upper and lower abs, the oblique muscles along your sides, and the back. The “bicycle” is one of the best. Lie on your back and “pedal” in the air. Raise one shoulder as if trying to touch the opposite knee. Repeat on the opposite side for two sets of 12 reps. Keep your elbows back, and your lower back on the floor.

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Classic Crunch
The crunch is a classic because it works. Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head, elbows facing out. With your low back on the floor, use your ab muscles to lift your upper body as far as you can. Hold the pose, then slowly return to the floor. Do three sets of 10-12 reps. Rest for 30 seconds in between all ab exercises.

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Reverse Crunch
The reverse crunch targets the lower abs, which are tough to tone. Keep your arms at your sides, palms down. Use the abs to lift the legs, bringing the knees directly over the hips. Contract the abs further, and raise your hips and lower back off the mat, knees toward your face. Hold briefly before lowering back to the mat. Don’t let your feet touch the floor. Do three sets of 10-12 reps.

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Wood Chop
Grab a dumbbell, medicine ball, or cable weight system. Choose enough weight to work the muscle to fatigue within 12 reps. Kneel on one knee with the other foot forward. Use both hands to lift the weight up over your shoulder, on the foot-forward side. Don’t turn your torso. Slowly lower the weight to opposite hip. Head, hips, and torso should face forward at all times. Do eight to 12 reps before switching sides.

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Trunk Rotations
Choose a medicine ball or dumbbell. In a sitting position, lean back slightly and engage the abs, with your knees bent and heels touching the floor. Hold the weight close to your body, and slowly twist your torso to one side. Pause briefly before rotating to the opposite side. Contract the abs deeply as you twist. Work up to three sets of 12 reps.

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Abs and Pecs: Dumbbell Fly
To look good shirtless, you’ll want chiseled pecs along with flat abs. Here’s a move that targets both areas. Sit on a stability ball holding dumbbells. Walk your feet forward and lie back until your head and upper back rest on the ball. Hold the dumbbells directly above your elbows. Tighten the abs and push the dumbbells straight up. Slowly swing the arms out and in — extended but not locked. Do three sets of 8-12 reps.

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Abs and Back: Front Plank
As you build steely abs,  be sure your back keeps pace. The plank gets the job done. Lie on your stomach with your forearms on the floor. Keep the elbows bent and under your shoulders. Use your core muscles to lift your torso and thighs off the floor, tightly contracting your butt and your abs. Hold for 5 and work up to 30 to 60 seconds before lowering to the floor. Do three sets, resting 20 to 30 seconds in between. Stop immediately if you feel any lower back pain.

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Abs and Back: Bird-Dog
Kneel on your hands and knees, with your fingers facing forward. Tighten the core muscles, and raise the right leg until it is parallel with the floor, not higher than the hip. At the same time, raise the left arm until it is parallel to the floor. Hold briefly. Then lower to starting position, and repeat on the other side. One rep includes a full cycle of both sides. Do three sets of 8-12 reps.

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Abs and Legs: Knee Tucks
This move starts with your stomach on a stability ball, hands and feet on the floor. Engage the abs. Now walk your hands forward until you form a rigid plank, ankles resting on the ball. Don’t let the low back sag. Slowly, tuck your knees into your chest. Hold briefly, then slowly return to a plank position. Expect the ball to roll forward and back with your moves.

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Abs and Butt: Glute Bridge
If you’d like your rear view to be as buff as your abs, try this move for sculpting the gluteal muscles. Lie on your back, with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Contract your abs and glutes as you raise your hips off the ground. Press your heels into the floor, and avoid arching your back. Inhale and slowly lower yourself to the ground. Repeat for 12 to 15 reps.

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Abs and Butt: Frankensteins
Stand with your arms at your sides, feet hip-width apart. Tighten your abs, and raise your right knee up toward your chest. Keeping the knee high, try to cross your right leg over the left. Avoid rotating the left hip. Now bring your right leg back toward the right side of the room, opening the right hip. Return to starting position. Do five to 10 reps on each side.

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Abs and Butt: Side Plank
Side plank is a great way to work both the obliques and the glutes. Lie on your right side, placing the right elbow on the floor directly under the shoulder. Keep the legs straight, with the left leg resting directly on top of the right. As you contract your waist and glutes, raise your hips and knees. Keep the right foot in contact with the floor. Hold for 5 to 20 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat. Then switch sides.

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Abs and Legs: Lunge
The lunge is a great multitasking move — it targets the abs, butt, quads, and hamstrings all at once. With feet together, slowly lift the right leg and step forward, placing your right foot firmly on the floor. Lower the hips until your right thigh is parallel with the floor. Make sure your right knee doesn’t push forward in front of your toes. Slowly return to standing. Aim for eight to 12 reps, and repeat on the other side.

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Creating an Ab Routine That Works
For best results, do a targeted ab routine two or three times per week, resting at least one full day between workouts. Don’t try to do all the moves in this slideshow in one workout. Pick four to eight moves for each session, and spread the work across different muscle groups. To keep your muscles challenged, mix up the moves every few days or weeks. If you’re 45 or older or have a medical condition, check with your doctor first.

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Cardio for Flat Abs
If you can’t see your abs for your belly, you need more than an ab workout. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio on most days of the week. Crunched for time? Switch to vigorous aerobic activity — for 75 minutes each week. Besides burning fat, regular cardio protects against heart disease, depression, and certain types of cancer.

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Food for Flat Abs: Lean Protein
To trim enough belly fat to reveal your developing abs, you’ll probably need to cut back on calories. But that doesn’t have to mean giving up meat. Lean cuts of pork, lamb, and beef are loaded with protein to help you stay full longer. Fish, beans, and nuts are also good protein sources. A healthy portion is about the size of your fist.

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Whole Grains
There’s good evidence for swapping refined grains for whole grains. The fiber in whole grains helps you have a healthy body weight. Get more whole grains by stirring shredded wheat into your favorite cereal, by making your sandwiches with whole-grain bread, or by ordering your sushi with brown rice.

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Greek Yogurt
In one study, dieters who ate nonfat yogurt lost almost twice as much belly fat as those who didn’t eat yogurt. If you find ordinary yogurt isn’t a satisfying snack, try the Greek variety — it’s thicker and has more protein.

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Good Fats
Fat is not off the menu when you’re trying to lose weight. You need some fat to help you build muscles. Just make sure it’s the right kind. Sources of good fats include avocado, nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish, such as salmon.

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Fruits, Veggies
Fruits and vegetables should take up half your plate. Aim for a wide range of colors to nourish your body with an assortment of plant-based nutrients. These phytochemicals are good for your heart and fight some types of cancer. Plus, filling up on veggies will help you cut back on higher-calorie foods.

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Why Focus on Flat Abs?
Yes, you want a six-pack. But that’s not all you get when working on your abs. The abs are some of the core muscles that support all of your body’s motions. Firm abs will raise your overall fitness level and help your athletic performance. What’s more, reducing your waist size may cut your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

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(Source: http://www.webmd.com/men/ss/slideshow-flat-abs-for-men)

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9 HABITS OF PEOPLE WITH A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP TO EXERCISE by Sarah Klein

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Much like the precarious line between thinking carefully about food and obsessing over it, exercise is also a highly beneficial component of a healthy lifestyle that can easily become problematic.

Especially among people with a history of eating disorders, a healthy relationship to exercise is “just as pertinent as having a healthy relationship with food,” says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and an American College of Sports Medicine certified Health Fitness Specialist. These days, we hear almost as much about the health risks of excessive exercise as we do lack of physical activity.

“One end of it is avoidance of exercise, versus the other extreme extreme, which is too much exercise,” says Jennifer E. Carter, Ph.D., the director of sport psychology and the Ohio State University Sports Medicine Center. “Balanced exercise finds the middle ground.”

Some of us need an extra push to get off the couch, or some reining in once in a while. For others, finding the balance between too much and too little physical activity comes easily. Below are a few things these people do differently.

1. People with a healthy relationship to exercise know the difference between a good burn and true pain.
“You hear so much about the whole ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude,” says Cohn. “I think we really have to redefine what pain is.” Yes, you want to feel like you worked hard, you want some fatigue, you might even relish your second-day soreness. But feeling discomfort in joints, or feeling so exhausted you just want to drop at the end of the day is not normal, says Cohn. Pain can be serious, and pushing through could cause worse injury. People with a health relationship to exercise know when to say when.

2. They take rest days.

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And when they are in pain or are exhausted, they know it’s time to skip a sweat session. “It’s the same as that chocolate cake,” says Cohn. “It’s delicious, you want to have another piece, but you know it’s not good for you, and you need to stop eating now.” No matter how much you love working out, there is such a thing as too much exercise, and the people with the healthiest relationships to exercise enjoy their off days. Carter recommends taking at least one a week.

3. They don’t exercise to eat, they eat to exercise.
Exercising purely to “influence weight or shape”, says Carter, can be a slippery slope into obsession and disorder. For a healthy athlete or exerciser, food is fuel, not the enemy. Our bodies require a bare minimum amount of calories simply to survive, and we need to provide extra energy for physical activity. Rather than exercising “to allow themselves to eat,” says Carter, people with a healthy relationship to exercise eat to allow themselves to exercise. Eating whatever you want just because you exercised today doesn’t cut it either, even if you just want to maintain weight, she says. Of course we’d never say the occasional brownie was completely off limits, but “‘occasional’ doesn’t mean every dinner warrants a dessert!” Carter says.

4. They can go with the flow.
Many experts recommend scheduling exercise into your day like you would any other appointment to help you stick with your fitness plan. But there also needs to be some flexibility in the scheduling. One sign it’s become too restrictive is if straying from the usual routine causes extreme upset. Take traveling, says Carter. Someone with a healthy relationship to exercise won’t panic if her day-to-day routine is a little off. Someone with an unhealthy relationship to exercise might skip out on important events or exciting moments or wake up drastically early to fit in a workout. “The exercise becomes number one,” says Carter.

On those days where a regular workout gets bumped from the schedule, Cohn helps clients keep things in perspective by focusing on other ways in which they are physically active. Even walking just a few more steps a day — whether it’s by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or commuting by foot — is still physical, and can help ease anxiety over skipping a sweat session.

5. They know what they like.

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“Balanced or healthy exercise is exercise that you like, not exercise that you dislike,” says Carter. “If you’re doing something that you hate, you’re not going to keep doing it.” That might mean running marathons for some and practicing Bikram yoga for others, but what’s important is that you don’t feel like you’re torturing yourself — and that you don’t feel obligated to try every single fitness fad.

The same principle applies to exercise intensity, says Carter. Some people love high intensity workouts like CrossFit, and others will simply find moderate intensity movement more tolerable, she says.

6. But they still mix things up.
“Doing the elliptical every day at the same intensity level is just a repetitive motion,” says Cohn, not one you’re going to see huge results from. People with the healthiest relationships to exercise balance their workout routines with a mixture of activities, whether that’s high and low impact, cardio and strength training, or arm days and leg days, she says. And it doesn’t require pricey sessions with a personal trainer or a degree in exercise science to add a little more balance to your regular routine, she says. Simply reading the directions on a machine at the gym you’ve never tried before, for example, can be surprisingly helpful, she says.

7. They do it on their terms.
Along with finding a fitness plan they enjoy, people with a healthy relationship to exercise also work out when and where they like. Yes, there are big benefits to a morning workout, like fewer cravings and greater energy, but it comes down to personal preference, says Carter. “Some people like to exercise in the morning, some people hate mornings,” she says. “You don’t have to force it.”

8. They seek support.

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Everyone has their off days, even people with a healthy relationship to exercise. Whether it’s a lack of motivation to stick to healthy exercise or a compulsion to overdo it, Carter says one of the most effective safety nets is having a workout buddy. “It’s harder to do the compulsive thing when you’ve got someone with you to encourage something a little more moderate, and it’s a great motivator for [others],” she says. Of course, if exercise — or lack of it — is truly interfering with someone’s health, it may be safer to consult a dietitian, a physician or a mental health professional, “or a mixture of all three,” says Carter.

9. They do it for the mental benefits.
“We know so much about the mental health benefits of exercise,” says Carter, and yet many unbalanced exercisers only consider breaking a sweat helpful for altering weight or shape. For many, exercise is an effective coping method for stress, anxiety and depression, and healthy exercisers harness these powers for good.

(Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/12/healthy-relationship-exercise-habits_n_5290153.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular)

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COCA-COLA TO REMOVE CONTROVERSIAL DRINKS INGREDIENTS (BBC News)

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The world’s largest beverage-maker, Coca-Cola, plans to remove a controversial ingredient from some of its drinks brands by the end of this year, following an online petition.

Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, is found in Coca-Cola fruit and sports drinks such as Fanta and Powerade.

It will be replaced after concerns that an element of the additive is also found in flame retardants.

Rival Pepsi removed the chemical from its Gatorade sports drink last year.

A Pepsi spokesman said it also had wider plans to stop using BVO and had “been actively working to remove it from the rest of our product portfolio”.

Pepsi uses the ingredient in its Mountain Dew and Amp Energy drinks.

Coca-Cola spokesman Josh Gold stressed the move to remove BVO was not an issue of safety.

“All of our beverages, including those with BVO, are safe and always have been – and comply with all regulations in the countries where they are sold,” he said in a statement.

“The safety and quality of our products is our highest priority.”

BVO has been used as a stabiliser in fruit-flavoured drinks as it helps to prevent ingredients from separating.

The health concerns stem from the fact BVO contains bromide, which is found in brominated flame retardants.

According to medical researchers at the Mayo Clinic, excessive consumption of soft drinks containing BVO has been linked to negative health effects, including reports of memory loss and skin and nerve problems.

BVO was dropped from the US Food and Drug Administration’s “Generally Recognized as Safe” list of food ingredients in 1970.

However, drinks companies are allowed to use BVO at up to 15 parts per million.

In Japan and the European Union, the use of BVO as a food additive is not allowed.

FOOD ACTIVISM
Coca-Cola said it would switch to using sucrose acetate isobutyrate or glycerol ester of rosin, which is commonly found in chewing gum.

The Atlanta-based company said two flavours of its Powerade sports drink – fruit punch and strawberry lemonade – have already replaced BVO with glycerol ester of rosin.

Coca-Cola’s decision to remove BVO from its drink reflects a growing move among companies to reconsider certain practices due to public pressure. The campaign against the use of BVO was begun by Sarah Kavanagh, a teenager from Mississippi, who questioned why the ingredient was being used in drinks targeted at health-conscious athletes.

Thousands of people have since signed her online petition on Change.org to have BVO removed from drinks.

Following Monday’s announcement by Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Ms Kavanagh was quoted as saying: “It’s really good to know that companies, especially big companies, are listening to consumers.”

(Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-27289259)

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DOING THE PERFECT PUSH-UP By Colette Bouchez

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Could the push-up be the “perfect exercise”? Here’s what it can do for you, and how to get it right.

By Colette Bouchez (WebMD Feature)
(Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD)

While fitness fads may come and go as fast as their late-night infomercials, some types of exercise transcend trends. Among them is the push-up, which uses your own body weight along with gravity to tone and condition muscles. Some fitness experts have called the push-up the closest thing there is to a perfect exercise. And with good reason.

“One of the reasons the push-up has endured so long is it’s cheap, it’s easy, it doesn’t require any equipment, it can work multiple parts of the body at the same time — and pretty much everyone, from beginners to athletes, can derive benefits,” says personal trainer Jonathan Ross, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

What kind of benefits? If you’re thinking the push-up is the best upper body exercise, many fitness experts agree. But, personal trainer Jessica Bottesch tells WebMD, the push-up benefits many muscle groups body-wide.

“The primary movers [the major muscle groups that produce the motion of a push-up] are the chest and tricep. However, if you look at the form your body takes during the perfect push-up, you’re typically suspended from your toes all the way to your neck, so in reality, every muscle between your shoulders and your toes is engaged,” says Bottesch, co-owner of Empower Personal Training in Durham, N.C.

This includes the all important core muscles of the trunk, as well as the abdominals, legs and hips, she says.

And for women, Bottesch tells WebMD, the push-up has an extra benefit.

“A push-up is considered a resistance exercise, so in addition to muscle strengthening, you also get bone-building effects. It can be as effective as working out with weights,” says Bottesch.

The Perfect Push-up: Mastering the Basics
Although there are many variations on the push-up, the basic principal remains the same: Engage your upper back, shoulders, and arms to lift your body weight off the floor, then slowly lower it back down. While that sounds simple, experts say there’s plenty of room for mistakes.

“The biggest mistake people make when doing a push-up is to try and take some of the stress off their arms by using other muscle groups to help lift their body, so they don’t get the full benefits,” says Todd Schlifstein, DO, a rehabilitation physician at the Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Institute at New York University and assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine.

Ross agrees: “Body weight should be lifted by your arms, and don’t use your butt or stomach or the lower half of your body to pull you up,” he says.

The correct movement for the perfect push-up, he says, is smooth, “with no swaying of the hips as you go up and down.”

Bottesch adds that it’s also important to keep a straight line from your head down to your ankles when you’re in the lifted position.

Another tip to get the most out of your push-ups: Don’t let your chest actually touch the floor when you come down.

“Your chest should come within 2 to 3 inches of the floor. Put a textbook, a sneaker, a rolled-up sock underneath you, and when you touch it, it’s time to go back up,” says Ross, who was named ACE’s 2008 personal trainer of the year.

Now if all this sounds a bit daunting for your out-of-shape body, fear not. There are ways to make push-ups easier while still gaining the benefits.

“If you’re having trouble … lifting the whole body in the proper alignment, you can do the same exercise, but do it on your knees,” says Schlifstein. While you still need to keep a straight line from neck to torso, by engaging the knees you’ll reduce your lifting load by about half.

For those looking to minimize tension on the wrist, Ross says a variation called the “knuckle push-up” can help. For this type of push-up, you close your hands and put your weight on your knuckles instead of your palms, avoiding the wrist extension motion. But be sure to do this type of push-up on a padded mat or carpet.

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“Because there is clearly less fat on this part of the hand, you really do need to add some type of padding if you are going to try this,” says Ross.

The Perfect Push-up: How-to’s for Beginners
If you haven’t done any kind of push-up — let alone a perfect one — since your high school gym teacher stood over you with a whistle and a scowl, don’t worry. There are several ways to ease into doing push-ups.

One option is to use a low bench to prop up your arms, and then do either a regular push-up or the knees-on-the-floor version, Bottesch says.

“If you put your feet on the floor and put your hands on the bench, you can work on getting the body form right with much less strain,” she says.

If even a kneeling push-up with a bench is too tough for you, there’s an even easier way to begin.

You don’t have to lie down at all, Ross tells WebMD. Instead, do your push-ups standing against the wall, which dramatically reduces the pressure on arms and upper back. To make it simpler still, stand closer to the wall.

“With your feet very close to the wall, there is almost no strain, but it still allows you to keep your body in alignment so you get a real sense of how it should feel,” says Ross. As you gain strength, keep moving your feet further away until you feel confident enough to try push-ups on the floor.

The Perfect Push-up Gadgets: What Works
Although the push-up doesn’t require any equipment at all, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t found its way into a late-night infomercial or two. There are a variety of push-up gadgets on the market, designed to put variety into your routine. Most are based on some of type of handle you hang on to during the exercise — and it might surprise you to learn that experts say they can work.

“They provide variation in your workout, plus the basic handle design is especially good for anyone who has an issue with keeping their wrists fully extended,” says Ross.

Taking the handle concept a step further are devices like the one called the “Perfect Pushup,” which incorporate a swiveling action. By rotating the arms while lifting the body, you may be able to increase your range of motion, which in turn increases benefits, Schlifstein says.

Even without gadgets, experts say, you can put variety into your push-up routine by changing up your positions. For example, there’s the one-handed push-up, though experts say it’s not for the faint of heart.

“This requires not only upper body strength, but also a very good sense of balance, so you really have to be in pretty good shape to try this,” says Schlifstein.

Another advanced option: With your hands on the floor, elevate your feet on a low bench behind you as you do push-ups. “It’s an amazing workout, but I don’t recommend anyone try this unless they have really mastered a regular floor push-up,” says Bottesch.

A word of caution: If you feel pain while doing any type of push-up, particularly if the discomfort is focused on one joint, stop working out and talk to your doctor, Bottesch says. And if you have shoulder or elbow issues, including any previous injuries to those areas, Bottesch says push-ups may not be the exercise for you.

6 More Perfect Push-up Tips From the Pros
Here are six more tips from the exercise experts to help you perfect your push-up technique:

  • Keep making small changes in your routine, like angling your hands or changing how far apart they are. This will ensure that you keep gaining benefits.
  • When starting out, use a “spotter” — someone to watch the angle of your body. If that’s not possible, do your push-ups next to a mirror where you can turn your head and catch a glimpse of your form.
  • As you lower yourself toward the ground, the first thing that should graze the floor is your chest. If your hips or legs come down first, you’re doing it wrong.
  • For toning muscles (and for smooth, jiggle-free upper arms) you need more repetitions with less body weight, so go for push-ups on your knees or standing at a wall.
  • To build muscle mass in your upper arms and back, go for fewer reps with maximum weight load. Do push-ups with your legs straight out, and bring your chest no lower than 2 inches from the ground.
  • Remember that while a push-up helps tone muscles body-wide, it doesn’t offer much in the way of cardio benefits, and it won’t help develop the “pull” muscles in your back. So be sure to include other exercises in your regular workouts.

(Source: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/doing-the-perfect-push-up)

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7 WAYS TO GET FIT IN HALF THE TIME by Jeremey DuVall

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Don’t have time for the gym? You’re probably not the only one. Lack of time is one of the top reasons most individuals skip out on their sweat session. Despite the numerous benefits like reduced stress and improved mood, workouts often get moved to the back burner, replaced by chores and errands. Between packing a bag, driving to the gym and actually getting moving, workouts seem to take a large chunk of time. But with the proper tactics, it’s more than possible to get an effective workout in a short amount of time. Rather than skipping out on a workout when running short on time, use the following tips to get in and out of the gym in 45 minutes or less.

Time-Saving Workout Tips

1. Try superset exercises.
Supersets are one of the oldest tricks in the book — because they work. By performing two exercises back-to-back, lifters can not only get a workout done in a shorter amount of time, but they can also bump up the amount of calories they burn. To maintain a high intensity and get the most out of pairing exercises back-to-back, alternate between upper and lower body movements. That way, one muscle group is always recovering while the other is working.

2. Time your rest periods.
With so many distractions in the gym — including television, friends and cell phones — it can be hard to stay on task. Try bringing a timer to your next session and start it during rest periods. Typically, most gym-goers will want to limit rest periods to 90 seconds or less, though times should be adjusted up or down depending on specific goals. Determine the appropriate rest time for you and stick to it. When the timer goes off, it’s time to get back to work — no excuses!

3. Keep it moving.
A rest period doesn’t have to mean sitting idly on a machine. If you’re not supersetting exercises, stretching and foam rolling — often-neglected aspects in most workout routines — are perfect to include in-between sets. When incorporating stretching, focus on targeting areas not incorporated in the current workout. For instance, during an upper body workout routine, stretch the hamstrings and hip flexors during short breaks. Foam rolling is also a great mid-set activity — provided there’s adequate space to roll out.

4. Try high-intensity interval training.
Interval training has seen a huge surge in popularity with workouts like the Tabata protocol, which has users working all-out for 20 seconds with only a 10-second rest in between sets. Although these workouts may be shorter than usual, don’t mistake them for a walk in the park. By ramping up intensity, they promise huge improvements in cardiovascular health. To get started with interval training, begin incorporating some short, intense bursts during a normal cardio session. Push the pace for 20 to 30 seconds before recovering for the same amount of time at a lower intensity. Start by repeating that sequence three to four times and build up as you get comfortable with the high intensity!

5. Plan your workout ahead of time.
Of all the distractions in the gym that compete for attention after a set, perhaps the biggest time-waster is simply wondering what to do next. Not having a workout planned out can kill efficiency. To solve this problem, jot down a workout in advance. Plan out exercises including the order you hope to do them in. If the workout requires special equipment like TRX straps or a stability ball, try snatching them up ahead of time to speed up transition time.

6. Have a back-up plan in case machines are taken.
Particularly during busy hours after work, finding an open machine can be difficult, especially in a smaller gym. Instead of waiting on a fellow gym member to finish up, have a back-up plan in mind for each exercise. For instance, if the squat racks are busy, substitute with dumbbell goblet squats or walking lunges. Both work the same muscle groups but in a slightly different way. The key is to keep moving rather than stand around waiting!

7. Ditch technology.
Although apps and music can be a key companion when it comes to tracking workouts and pushing through hard sets, technology can also be a major distraction in the gym. Instead of carrying a phone or tablet throughout a workout, consider wearing a simple watch to time sets, and bring along an iPod or music player that doesn’t have Internet access. That way, there’s little temptation to check Facebook (or post a selfie to Instagram!) in between sets. Still want to track sets and reps? Try using a pen and paper or switch electronics to airplane mode if they have to come along for the ride.

Workouts shouldn’t have to gobble up hours of time in order to be effective. With the right methods in place, lifters can get in and out of the gym in record time so they can tackle the rest of their to-do list feeling refreshed and invigorated!

(Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/02/get-fit-fast-half-time_n_5065113.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular)

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DOES A JUNK FOOD DIET MAKE YOU LAZY? PSYCHOLOGY STUDY OFFERS ANSWER (University of California)

SourceUniversity of California – Los Angeles
Summary: A new psychology study provides evidence that being overweight makes people tired and sedentary, rather than vice versa. Life scientists placed 32 female rats on one of two diets for six months. The first, a standard rat’s diet, consisted of relatively unprocessed foods like ground corn and fish meal. The ingredients in the second were highly processed, of lower quality and included substantially more sugar — a proxy for a junk food diet.

 

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The rat on the left ate a junk food diet; the one on the right ate a more nutritious diet.
(Credit: Image courtesy of University of California – Los Angeles)

A new UCLA psychology study provides evidence that being overweight makes people tired and sedentary — not the other way around.

Life scientists led by UCLA’s Aaron Blaisdell placed 32 female rats on one of two diets for six months. The first, a standard rat’s diet, consisted of relatively unprocessed foods like ground corn and fish meal. The ingredients in the second were highly processed, of lower quality and included substantially more sugar — a proxy for a junk food diet.

After just three months, the researchers observed a significant difference in the amount of weight the rats had gained, with the 16 on the junk food diet having become noticeably fatter.

“One diet led to obesity, the other didn’t,” said Blaisdell, a professor of psychology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science and a member of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute.

The experiments the researchers performed, Blaisdell said, also suggest that fatigue may result from a junk food diet.

As part of the study, the rats were given a task in which they were required to press a lever to receive a food or water reward. The rats on the junk food diet demonstrated impaired performance, taking substantially longer breaks than the lean rats before returning to the task. In a 30-minute session, the overweight rats took breaks that were nearly twice as long as the lean ones.

The research is currently online and is scheduled for publication in the April 10 print edition of the journal Physiology and Behavior.

After six months, the rats’ diets were switched, and the overweight rats were given the more nutritious diet for nine days. This change, however, didn’t help reduce their weight or improve their lever responses.

The reverse was also true: Placing the lean rats on the junk food diet for nine days didn’t increase their weight noticeably or result in any reduction in their motivation on the lever task. These findings suggest that a pattern of consuming junk food, not just the occasional binge, is responsible for obesity and cognitive impairments, Blaisdell said.

“There’s no quick fix,” he noted.

What are the implications for humans? Do people who are overweight become less healthy or do less healthy people become overweight?

“Overweight people often get stigmatized as lazy and lacking discipline,” Blaisdell said. “We interpret our results as suggesting that the idea commonly portrayed in the media that people become fat because they are lazy is wrong. Our data suggest that diet-induced obesity is a cause, rather than an effect, of laziness. Either the highly processed diet causes fatigue or the diet causes obesity, which causes fatigue.”

Blaisdell believes the findings are very likely to apply to humans, whose physiological systems are similar to rats’. Junk food diets make humans — and rats — hungrier, he said.

In addition, the researchers found that the rats on the junk food diet grew large numbers of tumors throughout their bodies by the end of the study. Those on the more nutritious diet had fewer and small tumors that were not as widespread.

Blaisdell, 45, changed his diet more than five years ago to eat “what our human ancestors ate.” He avoids processed food, bread, pasta, grains and food with added sugar. He eats meats, seafood, eggs, vegetables and fruits, and he has seen dramatic improvements in his health, both physically and mentally.

“I’ve noticed a big improvement in my cognition,” he said. “I’m full of energy throughout the day, and my thoughts are clear and focused.”

An expert in animal cognition, Blaisdell conducts research that addresses the relationship between health and lifestyle (diet and exercise) and the relationship between a junk food diet and cognitive impairments it may induce.

“We are living in an environment with sedentary lifestyles, poor-quality diet and highly processed foods that is very different from the one we are adapted to through human evolution,” he said. “It is that difference that leads to many of the chronic diseases that we see today, such as obesity and diabetes.”

Co-authors of the research are Yan Lam Matthew Lau, Ekatherina Telminova and Boyang Fan, UCLA undergraduate students in Blaisdell’s laboratory; Hwee Cheei Lim, the manger of Blaisdell’s lab; Cynthia D. Fast, a UCLA graduate student in the lab; Dennis Garlick, a postdoctoral scholar in the lab; and David Pendergrass, a biology professor at the University of Kansas.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and by entrepreneur Cameron Smith.

(Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140404221904.htm)

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