Category Archives: Fitness

8 Surprising Energy Sappers

A large part of our mission here at Health.Fun.Energy is giving you exciting content that will help you feel better about the way you live. We thought this would be perfect because many of us do lead busy (and often exhausting) lifestyles.

Energy sapper: your breakfast menu
Missing a morning meal slows metabolism and depletes your body of the fuel it needs to function optimally, explains nutrition expert Joy Bauer, R.D. But what you eat matters as much as the fact that you eat something. Bauer suggests starting each day with a breakfast that contains at least 5 grams of protein. This nutrient activates the production of norepinephrine, a neurochemical that increases heart rate and alertness. It also digests slowly so blood sugar and energy levels stay stable. Some tasty recipes: a cup of cereal (with 3 g or more of fiber, no more than 120 calories per serving) topped with skim milk, 1/2 cup of blueberries and 1 tablespoon of chopped walnuts (10 g of protein per serving), or an omelet made with 4 egg whites, 1/2 cup chopped broccoli, 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1 ounce lowfat shredded cheese (22 g of protein per serving).

Energy sapper: your outfit
Those killer heels and pencil skirts may look polished and professional, but if you’re sacrificing comfort for fashion, they can also turn you into the office sloth. Workers took an average of 491 fewer steps on days they wore more formal business attire compared with dress-down days, according to research commissioned by the American Council on Exercise in San Diego. And using less energy leads to having less energy, says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer with ACE: “Sitting at your desk all day slows circulation, so less energizing oxygen is delivered to cells throughout your body.” Wear clothes that allow for movement and cushy footwear instead of uncomfortable heels to the office so you’ll be more likely to walk around. If you can’t part with your stilettos, keep them on at work, then slip into flats or low-heeled shoes for a lunch-break walk outdoors and your commute.

Energy sapper: your worrying
Credit card debt, a micromanaging boss—long-term stressors such as these can leave you spent. “Chronic stress increases heart rate and blood pressure, making your body work overtime,” explains Nieca Goldberg, M.D., director of the New York University Langone Medical Center Women’s Heart Program in New York City. “When you’re on edge, you also tend to tighten your muscles, which sets you up for aches and fatigue.” What’s more, worriers often take shallow breaths, so they don’t take in enough oxygen, Dr. Goldberg says. “You’re essentially hyperventilating and building up carbon dioxide in your blood, a waste product that can make you feel tired and dizzy.” When anxiety strikes, take three slow, deep breaths to give your body a big dose of energizing oxygen while slowing down a rapid heart rate. Then, as soon as you have a few minutes of downtime, do something distracting that feels good, like talking to a friend or watching a funny movie.

Energy sapper: your messy desk
Digging through piles of unorganized paperwork is a time and energy stealer in and of itself, but merely the sight of those stacks can stress you out, decrease efficiency and drain your brain, says Carol Landau, Ph.D., clinical professor of psychiatry and medicine at Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island. While a little disarray is OK, in general, your desk should hold only items that you use very frequently—your computer or stapler—and the paperwork you’re working on that day,” notes Laura Stack, author of The Exhaustion Cure (Random House). Nonessential items—a labeler and a three-hole punch—can go in a drawer. Tokeep your desk clear, spend five minutes at the end of each day putting documents you’re working on in a neat pile and filing away the rest.

Energy sapper: your Saturday sleep-ins
“Bingeing on sleep on weekends to catch up on missed zzz’s throws off your circadian rhythm, your body’s 24-hour clock that plays a key role in sleep and wakefulness,” says Amy Wolfson, Ph.D., author of The Woman’s Book of Sleep (New Harbinger Publications). Sleeping in—and hitting the hay that night later than usual as a result—also makes it hard to readjust to your workweek routine, so you start Mondays in a fog. Strive to get up within the same 60-minute range both days: Oversleeping by more than one hour significantly disrupts your body clock. Still wake up with a case of the groggies? Open your bedroom shades as soon as your alarm goes off. The sunlight sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to get up.

Energy sapper: your lack of vitamin C
About 30 percent of women don’t get enough vitamin C, and too-low levels can zap your energy. That’s because vitamin C helps produce carnitine, a molecule that shuttles fatty acids into cells where they’re burned for energy, says Carol Johnston, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at Arizona State University at Mesa. “Lack of carnitine forces the body to use carbs or protein for energy instead. That can cause your body to produce lactic acid, a waste product that builds up in tissue and fatigues muscles.” Aim to get the recommended daily allowance of 75 mg of C daily bynoshing on naturally rich sources such as an orange or a kiwifruit (both have about 70 mg per fruit), broccoli (1 cup chopped: 74 mg) or strawberries (1 cup: 89 mg).

Energy sapper: your stuck-in-a-rut routine
Grandma was right: Variety is the spice of life. “We all crave diversity and challenge,” Steven Berglas, Ph.D and author of Reclaiming the Fire: How Successful People Overcome Burnout says. “When there’s no challenge in completing a task, you go on autopilot—it’s mind-numbing.” If job monotony is dragging you down, ask your boss for more or different responsibilities, or have lunch with someone in another department to find out if her type of job is something you’d like to explore, Berglas suggests. Blasé about your daily regimen? Simple change-ups can deliver some rut-busting benefits. For instance, find an alternate route home (and stop at a park or shop that grabs your eye along the way); sign up for a language, pottery or photography class to get your brain chomping on something new; or trade the treadmill for a fun circuit training class.

Energy sapper: your sluggish thyroid
Found at the base of the throat, this gland secretes hormones that help control metabolism, heart rate and more. “The less active your thyroid is in producing hormones, the slower your metabolism and the less energy you have,” says Stephen Richardson, M.D., an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. Other telltale signs of an underactive thyroid include constipation, menstrual irregularities and dry skin, hair and nails. A blood test can reveal whether your levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone are high—a sign that the thyroid isn’t working up to speed. If they are, your M.D. can help pinpoint and treat whatever is elevating them; a viral infection or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune disease) are potential culprits. If your gland can’t do its job, you may need to take a daily synthetic thyroid hormone pill. Fortunately, once those hormones are back in balance, your lethargy will disappear. In the meantime, try relaxation exercises (deep breathing or yoga). “If you have a thyroid problem, stress might add to the drain on your energy levels,” Dr. Richardson says. That’s one more good excuse to take it easy—and save your energy for something fun.

Content borrowed from:

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/healthieryou/8-surprising-energy-sappers

Beet Root Juice… Fitness in a glass?

We know you are wild about Beet Root Juice, so we figured we would give you some more information about it. This post was borrowed from a recent New York Times article called “Looking for Fitness in a Glass of Juice.”

Beetroot juice, as the name implies, is created from the knotty parts of a beet. Who first imagined that liquefying beetroots might improve physical performance is unknown. But he or she appears to have been on to something. In a series of studies in the past two years, beetroot juice has been found to enhance certain types of athletic performance. In a representative study published last year, for instance, cyclists who ingested half a liter of beetroot juice before a 2.5-mile or a 10-mile time trial were almost 3 percent faster than when they rode unjuiced. They also produced more power with each pedal stroke.

Since in the world of elite sports a 3 percent improvement in performance is enormous, athletes quickly embraced the juice as news of the studies spread. Today, beetroot juice is reportedly a staple among British track and field athletes at the Olympics, including Mo Farah, who won the gold medal this week in the men’s 10-kilometer race, and among several of the United States Olympic marathon runners, many other nations’ runners, swimmers, rowers and cyclists, and quite a few Olympic soccer players.

Although it isn’t clear just how beetroot juice improves performance, it seems to improve blood and oxygen flow to muscles, says Andrew Jones, a professor of applied physiology at the University of Exeter in England, who’s led many of the studies of beetroot juice and athletic performance. It also prompts muscles to use that augmented oxygen more efficiently. “There is a lower oxygen cost” to exercise when someone is drinking beetroot juice, he says. That may be one reason it allowed volunteers who drank it for a week beforehand to walk or run for significantly longer on a treadmill than those who had drunk a placebo juice.

But that advantage may not exist in all types of exercise, other new research suggests. A cautionary study published last month found that a single dose of beetroot juice ingested several hours before a one-hour cycling time trial did not noticeably improve the riders’ performance.

What that finding suggests, says Naomi Cermak, a researcher at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands who led the study, is that beetroot juice, while effective at improving performance in short, extremely strenuous bouts of exercise, may have less effect during longer, relatively less intense types of exertion. In other words, the juice might help an 800-meter runner but perhaps not a marathoner.

Based on the currently available science, Dr. Cermak adds, it’s also likely that benefits will be most evident in someone who drinks the juice regularly, not someone who tries it for the first time on the day of a race.

So if you wish to experiment with beetroot as a performance booster, begin at least a week before a race or strenuous event. In many experiments, volunteers drank a half-liter of the juice per day. (Some studies have used smaller, concentrated beetroot “shots.”) And be prepared for a period of acclimation. Beetroot juice is “an acquired taste,” says Dr. Jones.

Beet Root Juice... Is it "Fitness in a Glass?"

Beet Root Juice… Is it “Fitness in a Glass?”

Have you tried it? What did you think?

-Health.Fun.Energy

Showing Some Love to Our Followers

From time to time, we would like to show some love to our loyal followers. We appreciate each and every one of you taking time to visit our blog. We are glad that you like the awesome content and hope you continue to return.

Today, we would like to highlight our very first follower Bradley Smith. Bradley’s blog highlights his journey to fitness and he has achieved some incredible results. Congratulations on your success Bradley and keep up the great work!!

Go check out Bradley’s Blog at:

http://dbathletics.wordpress.com/

-Health.Fun.Energy

Mom is Gonna Run

Hello all,

We wanted to share a fabulous “sister” blog. It is titled  “Mom is Gonna Run”. If you enjoy running or want to know how to get started, this is a great blog to check out.

Here’s the link:

http://hncotton.wordpress.com/

Best,

Health.Fun.Energy

Benefits of Beet Juice

Beet Juice, Health Benefits

Beet Juice
Graphic from: http://www.cookingrecipesguide.org

Who knew Beet Juice had so much potential?

Posted on May 18, 2012 by 

An ever-growing number of products on the market claim to enhance athletic performance by manipulating various biological systems and functions. A relatively new group of supplements use certain nitrates to improve muscular endurance, and these nitrates – in addition to several other beneficial compounds – are present in high concentrations in beet juice.

How effective is beet juice at increasing endurance, and how does it work?

Role of Nitrates
The nitrates contained in beet juice are converted by the body into a vital gas called nitric oxide. This should not be confused with nitrous oxide, which is laughing gas. Nitric oxide (NO) is produced by the body and acts as a neurotransmitter, meaning that it carries messages from the brain. These messages involve making sure that increased amounts of blood and oxygen reach the areas of the body that need them most.

The way NO operates makes it particularly well-suited for use as an athletic supplement. Picture it like this, as “The Walking Ecyclopedia” suggests: If you were trying to force a large amount of water through a narrow tube using only your breath, you’d probably struggle to provide enough pressure. But if you switched out the narrow tube for a wider one, your job would be much easier.

This is essentially what nitric oxide does. The gas expands and relaxes the blood vessels to increase the amount of blood – and therefore the amount of oxygen and nutrients – that reach active muscles. In addition,  the nitrates in beet juice actually decrease the amount of oxygen your muscles need, helping them work more efficiently.

Benefits of Beet Juice
Several studies have been published since 2009, when the research on beet juice began in earnest, that illustrate a wide spectrum of potential applications. A recent study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise  tested the effects of beet juice on club-level competitive cyclists during time trials. After drinking the juice, the cyclists had a great power output with the same amount of effort, and were an average of 11 seconds faster. This study strongly supports benefits from beet root juice for endurance athletes.

Beet juice may also have uses for non-athletes who have difficulty carrying out even low-intensity activities like walking. Research published in 2010 in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that beet juice reduced the amount of oxygen test subjects needed to walk, and reduced the amount of effort required by 12 percent. These findings suggest that beet juice could be useful for older adults and other populations with conditions that limit everyday activities, although more research is needed to fully understand the effects.

Using Beet Juice
In the above-mentioned studies, the test subjects were given 16 fluid ounces of beet juice to achieve the documented results. As with many other aspects of personal fitness, it’s important to have realistic expectations. If you do use beet juice, you may get different results than you would from commercially available nitric oxide supplements. People with kidney problems or low calcium should talk to their doctor before drinking large amount of beet juice. Also, a harmless but somewhat startling side effect of drinking the juice in large quantities is red or pink urine, so don’t panic if you experience that.

Research continues to suggest that beet juice may provide the nitrates necessary to improve muscular endurance in both athletes and non-athletes whose activities are limited by various conditions.

Have you tried Beet Juice? Tell us what you think.

Borrowed from: http://www.livestrongfitness.com/blog/potential-benefits-of-beet-juice/

A Woman’s Week At The Gym

Hilarious Story About The First Week Working Out!

by DUSTIN MAHER on

A WOMAN’S WEEK AT THE GYM

I wanted to thank Arika for sending me this funny email!  I bet some of you can relate
If you read this without laughing out loud, there is something wrong with you This is dedicated to everyone who ever attempted to get into a regular workout routine.

Dear Diary,

For my birthday this year, I purchased a week of personal training at the local health club. Although I am still in great shape since being a high school football cheerleader 43 years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try. I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer named Christo, who identified himself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear. Friends seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started! The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.

____________________________
MONDAY:
Started my day at 6:00 a.m. Tough to get out of bed, but found it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Christo waiting for me.
He is something of a Greek god– with blond hair, dancing eyes, and a dazzling white smile. Woo Hoo!!  Christo gave me a tour and showed me the machines.. I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which he conducted his aerobics class after my workout today. Very inspiring!
Christo was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time he was around. This is going to be a FANTASTIC week!!
________________________________
TUESDAY:
I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door. Christo made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air then he put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile. His rewarding smile made it all worthwhile. I feel GREAT!
It’s a whole new life for me.
_______________________________WEDNESDAY:
The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn’t try to steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking lot.
Christo was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered other club members.. His voice is a little too perky for that early in the morning and when he scolds, he gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying.

My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Christo put me on the stair monster. Why the heck would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by elevators? Christo told me it would help me get in shape and enjoy life. He said some other crap too.
_______________________________
THURSDAY:
Christo was waiting for me with his vampire-like teeth exposed as his thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl. I couldn’t help being a half an hour late– it took me that long to tie my shoes.
He took me to work out with dumbbells. When he was not looking, I ran and hid in the restroom. He sent some skinny witch to find me.
Then, as punishment, he put me on the rowing machine– which I sank.
_________________________________
FRIDAY:
I hate that demon Christo more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anemic, anorexic, little aerobics instructor. If there was a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat him with it.
Christo wanted me to work on my triceps. I don’t have any triceps! And if you don’t want dents in the floor, don’t hand me the stupid barbells or anything that weighs more than a sandwich.
The treadmill flung me off and I landed on a health and nutrition teacher.
Why couldn’t it have been someone softer, like the drama coach or the choir director?
________________________________

SATURDAY:
Satan left a message on my answering machine in his grating, shrilly voice wondering why I did not show up today. Just hearing his voice made me want to smash the machine with my planner; however, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel..
________________________________

SUNDAY:
I’m having the Church van pick me up for services today so I can go and thank GOD that this week is over. I will also pray that next year my husband will choose a gift for me that is fun– like a root canal or a hysterectomy. I still say if God had wanted me to bend over, he would have sprinkled the floor with diamonds!!!

If you liked this, please share it with some friends who might need a good laugh!

Borrowed From: http://dustinmaherfitness.com/2010/01/26/hilarious-story-about-the-first-week-working-out/

5 Ab Exercises You Can Do At Work

You don’t have to leave your desk to exercise your abs.
Image credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

1: Core Leg Lift

Office work often resembles Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion: An object at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by an external force. Though her work as a columnist requires her to spend hours at the computer, Yeager employs a number of subtle exercises to keep her muscles, and particularly her abdominals, engaged. “We need those little bursts of activity (throughout the day),” she said.

One of Yeager’s favorite office exercises is the core leg lift, which works the deep abdominal muscles, the quadriceps and the hip flexors. To try it:

  • Sit up tall in your seat. Contract your abs and lift one foot off the floor about six inches, so the knee comes straight up with the foot directly underneath (maintaining a 90-degree bend in the knee).
  • Hold for 10 seconds and slowly lower it while relaxing your abs.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Alternate throughout the exercise.

Up next, we’ve got your suitcase … but you’re staying at work.

2: Chair Suitcase

April Bowling, a Level 1 certified coach with USA Triathlon and owner of TriLife Coaching, knows a strong core improves performance in all three disciplines of swimming, cycling and running, in addition to overall fitness. The chair suitcase, she says, targets all the main abdominal muscles except the obliques. You’ll need to:

  • Sit on the edge of the chair seat and lean back until your upper back touches the back of the chair. Tuck your tailbone under, and hold onto the arms of the chair for support.
  • Bring your knees up — with your shins parallel to the floor — so that your torso and thighs make an “open suitcase.”
  • Close the “suitcase” by bringing your chest and knees toward one another.
  • Open and close for 10 to 20 repetitions, two to three sets.

The sole caveat, she says, is to maintain good posture and keep your back straight, supporting your upper body on the arm rests.

“You never want to arch your back,” Bowling said. “As soon as your back begins to arch, it means you need to take a break and rest.”

3: The Plank

According to Boston-based strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle, who has worked with athletes ranging from national collegiate champions to Hollywood celebrities, the key to safe abdominal exercises is minimizing flexion.

“Sit-ups and crunches are not something you should be doing,” he said.

“They’re probably contributing to more back issues than helping.”

Instead, Boyle recommends doing planks, which require holding a static position on your elbows:

  • On the floor, get into a position where you’re on your toes and on your elbows, as if you’re going to do a push-up from your elbows.
  • Simply hold that position.
  • Start with 10 seconds, and then gradually increase duration, being mindful of maintaining good form (primarily a straight back and straight legs).

To work your obliques, do a side plank. Start on your right side, on your right elbow, with your feet on the ground, holding steady, keeping the spine straight. Then switch to the left side.

4: Seated Bicycle Pedal

The late, great Jack LaLanne, who passed away in January 2011 at the age of 96, was the original television fitness guru, and he enjoyed simple exercises that got big results. “You’ve got 640 muscles,” LaLanne said in a 2008 interview.

“They all need a share of work.”

For LaLanne, core strength set the tone for the rest of the body. Though a tireless advocate of weight training and swimming, LaLanne also was a big believer in isometrics, or using the body’s own weight to provide resistance. One of his favorite exercises was the seated bicycle pedal:

  • Sitting in your chair, scoot down to the edge of the seat.
  • Support your upper body on the armrests.
  • Pretend you’re riding a bicycle, bringing each knee near the chest, keeping the abdominal muscles contracted.
  • Concentrate on “pedaling” in smooth circles.

Variety, LaLanne said, was the key to making this, or any exercise, enjoyable. “Every 30 days, I do something different,” he said. “So, for 30 days, I’ll do everything real fast. The next 30 days, I’ll do everything real slow.”

According to Bowling, the most important element to doing the Seated Bicycle Pedal safely is to keep your back straight. “Tuck the tailbone to prevent arching,” she said

5: Desk Russian Twist

To incorporate more of your office furniture, Bowling likes the desk Russian twist, which also targets all the major core muscle groups, but primarily the obliques.

You’ll need to:

  • Sit on your desk with your knees over the edge.
  • Lean back to a 45-degree angle, or as far as you can while maintaining a neutral spine (no arch).
  • Rotate your torso and touch the desk beside your right hip with both hands.
  • Repeat to the left.
  • Begin with 8 to 10 repetitions to each side, two to three sets.

Proper technique, like most core exercises, is essential in the Russian Twist. If you can get to that 45-degree angle without arching your back, great. If not, don’t. The moment your back begins to arch, you need to come forward to a point where you can hold that angle.

Borrowed From: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/diet-fitness/exercise-at-work/5-ab-exercises-you-can-do-at-work5.htm

How do you make time for exercise in your busy life?

Tell us below.