Friday, August 1, 2014

Guest Article by Becky: Swimming For a Healthier Heart

Hey guys,

My friend Becky Flanigan, who already wrote a guest post about Aqua Aerobics for my blog, came up with a new idea that could be interesting for you (especially if you don't work out regularly or if you have/want to avoid trouble with your cardiovascular system). I know that activities in the water are really beneficial for your health but I am not an expert in the field of water activities. Therefore I'm proud to present you Becky's new article about how swimming could lead to a healthier heart:

My Dad was an athlete in college, and was always in great shape. Then he took a job as a salesman. That meant a lot of time sitting, either in the office, or at lunches with clients. He started having blood pressure problems, and it concerned me. I did some research and told him all about how swimming could make his heart stronger.

The best advantage of water. Everyone knows that swimming is a super form of exercise. But something I didn’t know – the resting heart rate is 10 beats per minute slower just being in the water, and the max heart rate can be from 10 to 30 beats per minute slower. There’s not a definitive answer on why this happens, but it is believed that the lower gravity, and the lower temperature of the water causes this effect. The bonus for swimmers is that while performing a vigorous workout that is guaranteed to strengthen the heart, they’re putting less stress on their heart. Here are some of the resources I found with more details:

· Health Benefits of Water-Based Exercise

· Take The Plunge For Your Heart

· Heart Health & Swimming Pools

Less risk of heart disease. One article I read stated that heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, is the number 1 killer in America. Over a million people a year suffer heart attacks. That’s a great reason to strengthen your heart. Many of the heart related problems occur because plaque begins to build up and constrict the walls of the arteries. This makes it more difficult for blood to flow, and if a large blood clot gets stuck in one of those arteries with smaller blood flow, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Even a small amount of exercise in the pool – and for short periods of time – can help improve the strength of the heart. By training the body to use oxygen more efficiently, it leads to a lower resting heart rate.

Swimming to reduce stress. My Dad has a stressful job, there’s no doubt of that. His doctor has told him the job contributes to his blood pressure problems. The doctor told him he needed more exercise. But while he ran track in college, his knees have been acting up the last couple of years. I suggested that one of the benefits of swimming is low impact – it wouldn’t affect his knees like trying to go out and start running. Besides, when I’ve gone swimming, there is a really soothing element to being in the water. The buoyancy of the water provides a lightness that I enjoy. When I’m swimming, outside noises are muted, and I just get into a rhythm where all I think about is the next stroke. My Dad liked the sound of all of that.

Start slowly if you’re new to swimming. Most of the research I did recommends that beginners start slowly – swimming is a vigorous form of exercise. The starting level is around 5 to 10 minutes of smooth lap swimming. Once that time becomes comfortable, swimming for longer periods will come around as the endurance builds. Trying different strokes – the freestyle, backstroke, or side stroke, can work different muscles.

See the impact. My Dad finally took my advice, and started swimming at the community pool when the lap lanes were open. He groaned about having to go at first, now he really looks forward to his swim sessions. I have seen his stress levels go down as he has continued. When he gets home after a swim, he is smiling, looks alive and energetic, and is looking forward to work the next day. He looked at me when I came over the other night, and just smiled and gave me a big thumbs up. He didn’t even say anything, but I knew what it was about.

Becky Flanigan writes for AnApplePerDay.com, and focuses on kids, parenting, exercise and health. She is avid about her workouts, which range from aqua jogging to marathon training. She and her husband Ed also enjoy entertaining and traveling with their three kids.

I hope you liked Becky's article! Feel free to share your thoughts down in the comment area.

Cheers,
Andi

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Guest Article by Cat Smiley - 4 Fun Tips to Restart your Fitness Journey

Hey guys,

I'm more than happy to present you a new guest article, written by amazing Cat Smiley, a professional health, Nutrition and fitness writer based out of Whistler, Canada. She’s been nationally syndicated in over 300 newspapers for over 5 years, and is an award-winning personal trainer and nutritionist. The topic that she covers is a very important one, because everyone has to start one day (and most of us have to start more than once in our lifetime ;) ).

Enjoy Cat's article about restarting your own fitness journey:


Nobody can lead, motivate or inspire you to shape up unless you have made the decision to do so. But if you’re tired of starting again, try not giving up. Or at least not giving up completely! Starting points are not permanent; you will progress from this stage quickly. It’s better late than never – some people ride on the ‘never’ for way too long until health risks start rearing their ugly head. Don’t wait for a health scare to kick-start your workouts because you may not have the same kind of choice to exercise then, as you do now.

If you need a reason to get started, numerous medical studies have shown that an active lifestyle prolongs and improves the quality of life. Here are a couple of things you can do to keep your kick start light and enjoyable.

1. Get Medical Clearance 
The ‘fun’ part of this tip is hearing the doctor clear you for exercise. It’s a privilege to be given the stamp of approval especially if you’ve been running in the wrong direction for the past few years. Spin the doctor visit positively no matter which way the cards turn – if you’re obese they will likely tell you that this means disease risk factors have increased drastically (hyperlipidemia, coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, hypertension and chance of a stroke) since you hit this body weight, however he or she will give you guidelines on how to turn things around through exercise. Consider the benefits of taking control of your health, cleaning up your diet and starting to move more. Wahoo!

2. Move it or Lose it 
Find something you like and you’ll be more likely to do it often. Daily movement is essential for the body to function efficiently, physiologically speaking. You might think you can get away with no exercise, but sooner or later it will catch up with you – not necessarily in the form of weight gain.

3. Think Happy 
Something as simple as a regular walking program (30 to 60 minutes, three to four times weekly) can improve your circulation and breathing, boost your body image while at the same time conditioning your body. This all leads to a more positive state of mind – and when you feel positive, you look and feel better… from the inside out!

4. Take Baby Steps 
Start by going for a walk tonight, and finding your running shoes in the back of your closet. Get used to drinking as much water as you can, get a training journal and tell all your friends about your exercise intentions so that they can hold you accountable.

Recognize that you are negatively affecting your health by not exercising or eating a proper diet. Getting out of this stage has to come from you, no matter how difficult it is to admit it, so stop kidding yourself. You CAN feel more energized, you CAN start changing your mindset – find your power today! Many mistakenly try losing the weight first before starting to exercise, but even fifteen minutes of gentle walking per day will boost your confidence, mood, range of movement and desire to eat healthy foods. Consider it to be movement, not exercise. All mammals need to move, and guess what. You’re a mammal!

Author's Bio:
Cat Smiley is the owner of Whistler Fitness Vacations, located in B.C. Canada. Her live-in weight loss retreat combines hiking, personal training and outdoor training with gym workouts in a luxury boot camp environment. Buy her book The Planet Friendly Diet to follow her program at home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Awesome Fennel Curry Soup - The healthy bomb for your body

Hey guys,

Over the last months I tried out some new recipes and the following one is one that I can really recommend because it's unbelievable tasty and healthy!
Fennel has so many health benefits that I haven't enough space in one article to describe all of them in detail, but it should be mentioned that it could help to prevent cancer, reduce inflammation, fight intestinal problems (like the formation of too much gas ;) ), lower blood pressure and it could help to improve the milk supply of breastfeeding mothers. It is also very high in antioxidatives and fibres.
The bottom line is that fennel is really, really good for your body! Onions, ginger, garlic, chili, curry and fennel seeds support the health benefits of the fennel even more, so that this soup becomes a healthy bomb that'll support you in getting or staying fit and healthy.

That should be enough about the benefits...here's how you can cook it:

Ingredients:


- 1 red onion
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 34 fl.oz. (approx. 1 liter) organic fluid vegetable stock
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 fresh chili pepper (or 1-2 dried chilis)
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 1 thumb-sized pc. fresh ginger
- 7 oz. (approx. 200g) cream
- 2 tbsp. (approx. 30g) butter
- 1/2 fl.oz. (approx. 15 ml) olive oil
- salt and pepper

Preperation:
- Chop the onion and braise it lightly with some olive oil in a saucepan.
- Wash and cut the fennel bulbs into small pieces and add them to the saucepan and sautee them for approximately five minutes.


- Pour the vegetable stock into the saucepan and add the fennel seeds.
- Cut garlic and ginger to pieces and add them to the saucepan.
- Cook everything for around 15 minutes.
- Now add curry, butter, cream and chili and let it cook for 2 more minutes.
- Finally purée the soup with a blender and add salt and pepper to taste.
- If you want to you can arange the soup in a bowl with some greens of the fennel.
- As always...Enjoy your healthy soup!


Cheers,
Andi

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Guest Article from Alfred: Matcha Green Tea - The magic bullet for your physical and mental health

Hey guys,

Last week I got an offer for a guest article from Alfred who's passionated about matcha green tea and its health benefits. I was always curious about green tea and its benefits, but hadn't the time to research for writing a good article about it here at my blog, so I was very pleased to recieve Alfred's mail. After reading his post I was convinced that it really is a fitting topic for my blog and that you should learn more about it as well.

Have fun with Alfred's awesome article:

Tea has always been popular (in fact, only water is drank more often than tea in the world) and recently I’m sure you’ve noticed an explosion in the popularity of green tea, a magical elixir renowned for it’s innumerous health benefits. While green tea is getting popular outside of Asia, Matcha green tea, which has been the drink of choice for the Japanese for almost a thousand years, has been shown to have more than 137 times the amount of antioxidants that regular green tea has - yep you’ve read that number right! Made from grinding down the most tender and premium shade-grown green tea leaves, when you drink matcha you ingest the full tea leaf where most of the antioxidants are instead of just drinking boiled water of a regular tea. This simply means…. more antioxidants and benefits!


Matcha green tea is arguably the healthiest “superfood” on earth due to it’s high antioxidant levels. Compared to other “superfoods” such as goji berries and spinach, this drink blows them all out of the water when it comes to the amount of antioxidants per gram! Studies have also shown innumerous health benefits to drinking matcha green tea, from better looking to skin to an improved immunity system, it’s no wonder why the Japanese have considered it a sacred tea for so long!


Aid in Weight Loss:
It’s long been held that green tea aids in weight loss and according to a study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, green tea increased the body’s rate of caloric burning by almost 4x! Unlike synthetic “fat burners” which has tons of side effects and can even be dangerous for your health, matcha green tea is a natural way to increase your metabolism as well as your body’s ability to burn fat off.

Boost Your Immune System:
The antioxidant catechins in matcha tea have been shown to have antibiotic properties that overall promote good health and strengthens the immune system. By protecting your body from damage by free radicals and similar compounds, matcha green tea helps keep the immune system running well and a healthier immune system is better equipped to fight against bacterias and viruses. Also, matcha is filled with potassium, iron, calcium and vitamins - essentially goods for your body. According to a study by the National Institute of Health with regards to green tea on the body, “The health benefits of green tea for a wide variety of ailments, including different types of cancer, heart disease, and liver disease, were reported.”

Improve Your Skin:
Green tea has been documented to reduce signs of aging including the reduction of wrinkles and giving an overall appearance of healthier skin. The antioxidants in the tea helps stop harmful substances attacking your skin and also reduces lipid damage and inflammation which will leave your skin glowing! Be aware, however, that these benefits are in large part preventative. Drinking matcha tea will not turn back the clock but will help keep you looking younger for much longer.

Prevent Depression and Improve Brain Function:
In a recent study, it was found that drinking green tea for more than a month helped improve cognitive learning ability and also symptoms of depression. According to the authors, “We propose that green tea would probably have the potential for normalization of anhedonia through improved reward learning and have implications for the prevention of depression. On top of that, matcha green tea has been found to be a calming agent as well as an energizer. Monks in Japan drank the tea so they could stay awake and concentrate but do it in a peaceful state during meditation. Research has now shown that the Theanine amino acid, found naturally in the teas, is the reason for this amazing combination.

With all the purported health benefits of drinking this wonderful tea, it is almost a no-brainer to pick up in your daily routine. From the boost of energy (without the crash and jitters of traditional caffeinated drinks) to the load of antioxidants filled in every sip, it is no surprise why matcha green tea has been so popular and sacred to the Japanese for so long. Although not yet extremely popular outside of Japan and still a bit difficult to find, matcha can be found at large whole food retailers and online at Amazon.com or specialty tea stores like teaglad.com. Go pick some of it up and see why the tea is getting so popular!

Author's Bio:
Alfred grew up drinking tea as part of his upbringing and has always enjoyed trying out all the different types of tea available in the world. After a trip to Japan and falling in love with Matcha tea there, he came home to beautiful San Francisco excited to share it with his friends and family but had an extremely difficult time finding it in the city. With his background in online marketing, Alfred finally decided to start an e-Commerce store to bring the world's tea to the front steps of everyone's' home at www.teaglad.com.
I hope you liked Alfred's article and share it and its information with all of your friends (maybe while drinking a cup of matcha green tea or a green smoothie with matcha ;) ).
Cheers,
Andi

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Chaos Training - A way to shock your body and boost muscle and strength growth

Hey guys,

I don't know if you've ever heard about chaos training days, but I guess everyone who exercises regularly should think about it every now and then.
Let me first explain what chaos training actually means in the context of fitness training. If you are like most people who work out on a regular base then it is very likely that you have a fixed training plan (either written down or just in your mind). You probabely have some exercises that you do over and over with a more or less fixed sequence. If you are kind of experienced in the field of fitness training (cardio and/or resistence training) it might not be a new thing for you to change your workout plans every 8-12 weeks to give your muscles some new impulses for further improvement and to fight familiarisation effects (that lead to plateaus, where your body won't adapt any further).That's already a big benefit compared to those who follow the same routine week after week and year after year.

To be clear about it, I'm not just refering to the same exercises but also to the same training principles you might follow like" always 3 sets with 10-12 reps in the same speed" or "always with a heart rate around 140 beats".

To give your muscles, strength and endurance an additional healthy shock with an enormous strong impact during your 8-12 week periods there is an effective method called "Chaos Training".

Actually it's pretty easy to explain and even easier to implement it into your "normal" workout periods. "Chaos Training" means in that matter, that you should do a totally different workout session that your body is not used to once or twice per month to set back the "system" and give it new improvement signals. To get a better insight let's look at some examples:

If you are doing a workout plan (like mine here) which is supposed to stay for 12 weeks with several superset exercises in a "3 sets of 8-12 reps, moderate speed"-style then a chaos day after 4 weeks could look like this:
Go to the gym and do whatever exercise comes into your mind (no matter if it's in your regular plan) and do it with a much higher weight than you're used to (maybe as a pyramid) with 4 sets of 3-5 reps (less reps because of the higher weight). Or you do the exercises in super slow motion (e.g. 10 sec per rep), or you can do just one set of each exercise you feel like doing with 30-40 reps (of course with a lower weight) as fast as possible, or you do just bodyweight exercises instead of free weight training (maybe a freeletic session like Aphrodite) or, or, or...

I, for example, do normally 3 sets of 10-12 reps with 176 lbs. (approx. 80 kg) deadlifts during my current workouts. On my chaos day I felt like doing deadlifts as well, but I did 1 set of 20 reps with 110 lbs (50 kg) as a warm up, 1 set of 8 reps with 220 lbs (100 kg) followed by 1 set of 3 reps with 264.5 lbs (120 kg) and a last set of 1 rep with 275.5 lbs (125 kg). This not only shocked my body and gave my muscles some new growing impulses but also showed me of what I'm actually capeable of (chaos days can help you overcoming psychological barriers as well). In the next training session I felt confident to raise the weight to 198.5 lbs (90 kg) for the 3 set of 10-12 rep scheme and it worked out very good.

Out of my experiance I can tell you that an out-of-plan chaos training day is totally worth a try every now and then to boost your confidence and your improvement!

To give yourself an effective workout without letting your body get used to a special treatment, I recommand you to change your training plan every 8-12 weeks and to implement 1-2 chaos trainings each month.

So just give it a try and I'd love to hear about your experiances with chaos training as well!

Cheers,
Andi