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Tone Muscles using Resistance Training

While you can’t target fat loss in trouble spots, you can tone muscles in those areas for a more defined look.

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You can’t spot-reduce the parts of your body you don’t like (your body decides where the weight comes off first). But that doesn’t mean you can’t target the muscles in your trouble areas. But how? Incorporate resistance training into your workout. The best way to tone your muscles: Do each exercise with a higher number of repetitions (about 15 to 20) and a lighter weight than you could lift just eight to 10 times. You can also get a leaner look by lengthening your muscles through stretching and yoga.

source: the Cleveland Clinic Wellness site

 

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Proper form for Squats…

Hate squats? You may not realize it, but you probably do them as part of your daily activities. So it’s smart to know proper form.

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Many people avoid doing squats because they believe they’re going to hurt their knees. However, any time you pick something up from the floor (assuming you’re lifting safely from your legs and not your back), you engage in a squat. Knowing how to do the move properly will ensure that you don’t injure yourself. Besides, says Melissa Hendricks, MEd, manager of the Cleveland Clinic Fitness Centers, contrary to popular belief, adding squats to your exercise routine will actually strengthen, not weaken, your knees. “Squats target the muscles in the front and back of your legs, along with your gluteals and core. The stronger these muscles are, the more stable your knees will be. In fact, stronger muscles above and below your knees serve as shock absorbers for your knees. The fact that most people do not do squats correctly is what can lead to injury,” she says. Here, Hendricks offers a primer on how to perform squats properly.
• First, try not to bend forward at your waist; this is quite common and is usually a sign of a weak core. Bending forward while you’re squatting puts a lot of pressure on your lower back, and it also drives a lot of the strain straight into your knees. To prevent this from happening, keep your back as straight as possible. Try finding a spot on the wall to focus your gaze on throughout the exercise. You may also want to limit how low you squat until you gain more strength in your core and perfect your form.
• Next, make sure you’re not shifting your weight forward into your toes and lifting your heels off the ground. Not only does this put a lot of pressure on the knee joints, it also takes away a lot of the effectiveness of the exercise, since you aren’t using the strong gluteus (butt) muscles to lift you from the squat. When going down into the squat, make sure you can always see your toes. If your knees travel past your toes, then shift your weight back into your glutes more. Try putting a chair or bench behind you, and then aiming for the bench.
• If you are just learning how to squat or have very little lower-body strength, you may also want to consider placing a stability ball behind you, against a wall, and allowing the ball to guide you up and down. This will help you to feel more secure in the exercise, and it will train your muscles for when you’re ready to do your squats without the ball.

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Strengthen all of you Leg Muscles for Pain-Free Knees

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Work on strengthening all of your leg muscles — hamstrings to hips — for pain-free knees. This will prevent uneven strain on the joints.

Feeling weak in the knees? Well, it could be from falling in love, but it can also stem from out-of-whack muscles. Here are some tips for pain-free knees from yoga therapist Judi Bar, the yoga program manager at the Cleveland Clinic, and Sally Sherwin, a registered yoga teacher:
• Always keep the knees soft; avoid locking or hyperextending them.
• Keep your toes and feet pointed forward when sitting, standing and walking, with your knees hip-distance apart.
• Avoid sitting on your heels, especially with the feet turned out. This puts a lot of pressure on the knee joints and overstretches kneecap tendons.
• Before you exercise, warm up your leg and foot muscles as well as your hip and ankle joints. This will protect the knees and help prevent injuries. While standing, make gentle, circular motions with the hips to help warm and lubricate the hips, knees, and ankles. To tone your feet, try standing on tiptoe while you hold the back of a chair, if needed, for balance.
• Yoga can keep your knees strong and sturdy by helping to build and maintain proper alignment, strength and flexibility. Work on building strength and flexibility in your quads, hamstrings, abductors and adductors, because evenly balanced leg muscles keep the knees aligned. Chair pose is a great leg strengthener. Here’s how to do it: Stand tall with hips, knees and ankles in alignment. Knees should be hip-width apart with feet pointing forward. Gently bend the knees while leaning forward from the hips with a straight back (pretend you’re about to sit down in a chair). Once your back is at a 45-degree angle, hold the posture, keeping your knees hip-width apart (don’t let them roll in or out). Keep breathing gently and evenly. For a cardio benefit, raise your arms out straight at the same angle as your back. Try to build up to a longer hold.

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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Cleveland Clinic Wellness Tips

 

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Tone-Up Your Triceps

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Looking for a workout move to tone up your triceps? Transform your arms with the one-arm kickback.

Biceps aren’t the only muscles we need to focus on when it comes to building strong arms. To tighten loose underarms, do the tricep-toning kickback. Here’s how: Hold a hand weight in your right hand. Lean over slightly and put your left foot forward. Place your left forearm on your left leg, or on a sturdy chair or table if you need additional support. Keeping a straight line from the top of your head to your tailbone, turn your right palm upward and push your entire arm back so that your right elbow points toward the ceiling. With your elbow in this upward position, kick the weight back and twist your palm toward the ceiling. Breathe normally. Maintain the up position and don’t drop the elbow. Try to do 50 repetitions on each side.

Excerpted from YOU: The Owner’s Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger by Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet C. Oz.

 

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High Heel Hazards

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10 Ways to Start Exercise: Part 2 of 2

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Yesterday’s blog focused on the first five ways to get ready for exercise. Today is the second and final piece of advice on the 10 ways to start exercise.

6. Don’t Do It If You Don’t Love It
The perfect exercise is something you enjoy, according to Gordon Blackburn, MD, director of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at the Cleveland Clinic. He recommends doing something you can fit in on a daily basis and something you can continue doing. Walk briskly, run, bike, use a program like Wii Fit. As the saying goes, it’s all good. Once you find what you love, aim to gradually increase the duration and intensity of your activity. As you get more fit, your functional capacity increases, so you really can do more. If you love your daily walk, add distance and build up speed. If you love bicycling, add another few miles or tackle that big hill. It all adds up, and getting going today will keep your heart going in the long run.

7. Don’t Stretch Too Soon
You probably learned to stretch before exercise in elementary school PE. But science has determined that holding stretches for 20 to 30 seconds prior to the start of a workout actually makes it more difficult for your muscles to perform. A University of Nevada study found that athletes who performed traditional hamstring stretches before working out generated less power from those muscles than athletes who did no stretching at all. For a good-for-you warm-up, do moves that raise your heart rate and promote flexibility, such as a straight-legged march: Kick your right leg straight out in front of you, keeping your toes pointed up. As you kick, reach your left fingertips to touch (or nearly touch) your right toes. Step your weight forward onto your right leg, then repeat on the left side, bringing your right hand to touch your left toes as you kick. Keep going for eight to 10 steps. As for those static stretches from your school days, there’s still a time and a place for them — after you’re done with your workout.

8. Don’t Forget Your Core
It’s no coincidence that core training and balance training are often grouped together. A strong core — which consists of your abdominal, back and pelvic muscles — can function like an insurance policy against balance-related injuries. “When your core is strong, then your protective stabilizing muscles kick in and protect you,” explains Dallas-based Pilates expert Karon Karter, author of Balance Training: Stability Workouts for Core Strength and a Sculpted Body. Studies have shown that taking a holistic view of balance training is probably the most effective route. That means changing up your exercise routine to challenge both strength and balance, and pairing it with core training. Use balance exercises to warm up for things like walking, running or biking. After establishing your balance on one foot (just holding still is a good first step), try raising and lowering your body on one leg, keeping your torso erect while bending at the knee and waist. As you get more confident, add repetitions, go lower, or move your free leg into different positions.

9. Don’t Walk With Weights
Though it may feel like you’re working harder, strapping on hand or ankle weights while you walk won’t give you the extra burn you’re looking for. And it may just increase your risk of joint problems or injuries. To burn extra calories, you would need to carry at least three- to five-pound weights — and that’s a definite no-no. When you swing the weights, it exponentially increases the force on your shoulder and elbow joints if using hand weights, or knee and hip joints if using ankle weights. For people with heart disease or high blood pressure, using weights can also cause a temporary spike in blood pressure. Leave the weights at home and boost your burn by walking up hills instead.

10. Don’t Focus on Appearance
If you can’t seem to muster the motivation to hit the gym, it may be time to rethink your reasons for going. Working out for the sake of how you look can actually discourage you from exercise. Instead of viewing physical activity as a means to a better-looking body, think of it as a way to stay healthy and feel great. Though you will burn calories, melt fat and build muscle, regular physical activity can also reduce stress, banish bad moods, ramp up energy levels and boost self-esteem. So even if a single workout doesn’t give you a Heidi Klum or Matthew McConaughey body, all that sweat and those endorphins can still make you feel like you look almost as good as they do.

source: Cleveland Clinic wellness website

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Did You Know..., What's New

 

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10 Ways to Start Exercise: Part 1 of 2

Walking, strength training, running, swimming, biking, yoga, tai chi — the possibilities for exercise are endless. The good news is that it doesn’t matter which one you choose — it just matters that you do some form of exercise.

“If you have a choice between not moving and moving — move,” says Heather Nettle, MA, coordinator of exercise physiology services for the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Center. “Ultimately it will help with overall health and well-being.” So go ahead, find an activity you love and get moving with these 10 do’s and don’ts for starting an exercise routine.

1. Do Anything — It’s Better Than Nothing
Experts are quite clear on this point: Get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise three to five days a week for improved energy, as well as to help prevent heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. If you can’t dedicate that amount of time, any exercise, any movement for any amount of time is better than nothing.

2. Keep Track
Tracking your steps with a pedometer is one key to success if you like to walk, says Michael F. Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. Another is recording some basic health information before starting a new routine. “Keeping track of how your body changes inside and out over the weeks and months gives you proof of the healthy changes you’re making,” he says. A few ways to do it:
• Before your first workout, check your blood pressure at your local pharmacy. Then recheck once a month.
• Time yourself at a track or on a treadmill. See how many minutes it takes you to walk or run one mile. Retest yourself after one month of consistent exercise.
• Measure your waist circumference and your weight. Take these measurements once a week.
• Schedule a visit with your physician and request these tests: lipid panel, vitamin D and C-reactive protein. Check these levels again after six months of consistent exercise.

3. Weight-Train
There’s no question: You’ll shed pounds faster if you lift weights. That’s because strength training builds muscle, and the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be. And women, hear this: You will not bulk up! What you’re doing by lifting weights is preventing muscle loss. Strength training also improves overall body composition, giving you more lean muscle tissue in relation to fat, so you look toned and trim. To experience the most benefit, lift more weight than you think you can. Dashing through your repetitions doesn’t take as much effort because it allows your muscles to rely on momentum. Instead, focus on your form by practicing slow and steady movements on both the contraction and the release. This will help you strengthen every muscle fiber.

4. Head for the Hills
Do you follow the same flat path day in and day out when you go for your walk or run? Look for hills along your route that you can slip into your routine. If it’s too much for you to tackle all at once, start by going only halfway up. Walking or running up inclines boosts the intensity of your workout: It burns more calories and helps build muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. Switching between flat surfaces and hills is a form of interval training, a type of workout that involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise in between moderate activity. This kind of exercise, practiced by elite athletes, can supercharge your workout. It can also help keep boredom at bay. If you have joint problems, go easy on the downhill — slow your pace and shorten your stride.

5. Think Outside the Box
Even if you can’t engage in rigorous, high-intensity sweat sessions, there are plenty of other ways to improve your physical health. According to a review in the American Journal of Health Promotion, mind-body practices like tai chi and qigong may help promote bone health, cardiorespiratory fitness, physical function, balance, quality of life, fall prevention and emotional well-being. Described as “meditation in motion,” tai chi and qigong involve a series of flowing, gentle movements — similar to but much slower than yoga. Interested? Get the Gaiam tai chi for beginners DVD in our clevelandclinicwellness.com wellness store.

Check back in tomorrow for the remaining 5 ways to get started on exercise!

 

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Gentlemen…

protect your prostate by eating olive oil and nuts. Choosing healthy fats over the saturated kind can help you live longer.

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Men, improve your chances of a long and healthy life by choosing olive oil and avocado over butter and mayo. Research shows that men who swapped 10 percent of their daily calories from animal fats with healthy fats like olive oil, seeds, avocados or nuts were 30 percent less likely to die from prostate cancer and 25 percent less likely to die from any other disease compared to those who did not make the switch. Even a single daily tablespoon of oil-based salad dressing, such as balsamic vinaigrette, resulted in a noticeable drop in mortality risk. To protect your health and enjoy delicious flavor, use oil and vinegar instead of cream-based dressings and cook your food with extra virgin olive oil instead of mystery “vegetable” oil.

 
 

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Deep Tissue Massage too Expensive? Try a foam roller instead…

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Can’t afford a deep-tissue massage? Use a foam roller after your workouts to increase circulation and ease knots in all your muscles.

Ever wondered about those foam logs you see people rolling around on at the gym? They’re called foam rollers, and they’re an effective — and inexpensive — addition to your workout. Used as part of a warm-up, rolling improves circulation and gets the body ready for movement. It also helps with recovery after your workout. Like a deep-tissue massage, foam rollers help break up knots that tighten your muscles, helping you stay injury-free. Use them to loosen up tight areas in your quads, calves or outer thighs.

“The basic technique for using a foam roller is to slowly roll the targeted area over the foam roller. Once you hit a trigger spot, hold at that spot for a few seconds, slowly working yourself away from the spot,” says Melissa Hendricks, MEd, manager of the Cleveland Clinic Fitness Centers. “Use a foam roller with caution,” advises Hendricks. “When you hit the trigger spots, they can be very painful, and sometimes the foam rollers can cause mild bruising. Have a physical therapist show you how to properly use the roller when you’re trying it for the first time.”

 

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Everyone Needs a Pedometer

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Need a new way to motivate yourself to be active? Put on a pedometer to move more, weigh less and monitor how much you move each day.

Researchers have found that the simple act of wearing one encourages people to walk more and be more active when they would otherwise be stationary for hours at a time (like at work or in front of the TV). Even if you exercise for 30 minutes a day, you may also spend a lot of time sitting. Taking breaks to stand up, stretch and move around at least once an hour can go a long way toward keeping you healthy and fit. According to Dr. Mike Roizen, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic, a pedometer is a must-have for everyone. In fact, he recommends owning two. “Buy a backup pedometer, and overpay for it. It is one of the four things in life for which you should overpay: chef’s knife, great walking/exercise shoes, an engagement ring and two pedometers,” he says. That way, you’ll never have an excuse for not using one. Your ultimate walking goal is 10,000 steps per day. No excuses, says Dr. Mike.

 

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