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living a healthy lifestyle

Living A God-Glorifying Life Through Good Health.
(Featured on CNN)

When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s, there was no obesity epidemic, and children were not developing old-age maladies such as heart disease. Cancer, Alzheimer's, and autism were virtually unheard of. Living a healthy lifestyle was a lot easier. More...

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Exercise For Health is a Lifetime Commitment

Total health includes exercise for health. Concentration on nutrition alone without exercise is like rowing with one oar. You keep going in circles getting nowhere.

There have been numerous studies which have upheld the beneficial aspects of exercise. These studies have shown that exercise for health can increase insulin sensitivity, reduce blood pressure, strengthen muscles, improve balance, decrease risk factors for various cancers, control weight and more.

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Accordingly, exercise for health is beneficial for heart disease patients, people with multiple sclerosis, diabetics, people struggling with obesity, and others.

Exercise for health is for everyone. The young as well as the old will benefit. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as being too old to exercise.

And no matter your current health, there is a form of exercise for health with which you will be comfortable. Low-impact forms of exercise are ideal for people with arthritic joints. Yoga and tai chi along with walking are popular forms.

Contrary to popular belief, exercise for health will also energize you. It is a natural way to stop lethargy and depression in their tracks.

Ask most people what is needed in order to build strong bones, and most will answer calcium. Though not wrong-calcium alone will not do the trick.

Exercise for health is important for bone mass-as important as calcium. Studies show that children nowadays break their arms more often than they did 40 years ago. Girls break their arms 56 percent more and boys break their arms 32 percent more. Upon examination, children who break their arms have a lower bone density than those who don't.

Several factors are to blame. Adequate levels of vitamin D need to be present in order for the body to absorb calcium. Sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D. With the advent of video games, 24/7 television, and the worldwide web, children are not playing outside like they did 40 or so years ago.

Government researchers have also discovered that being overweight increased a child's risk of suffering a bone fracture. As obesity increases, exercise for health is decreasing!

Did you know that the dominant arm of a tennis player has 35 percent more bone mass than the non-dominant arm? Canadian researchers reported that postmenopausal women who had exercised more as teenagers had 8 percent stronger bones than their counterparts who were more inactive.

Here is an excellent introductory exercise for health program for women new to weight training.

Human Growth Hormone

Human growth hormone (HGH) is produced in the pituitary glands. It controls a number of body functions having to do with aging, and the production of other hormones like DHEA and melatonin. HGH tells the liver to produce insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1.)

Benefits of HGH include: (1) 14.4% fat loss after only 6 months (2) elimination of cellulite (3) higher energy levels (4) enhanced sexual performance (5) regrowth of heart, liver, spleen, kidneys (6) greater cardiac output (7) superior immune function (8) increase exercise for health performance (9) better kindney performance (10) lowered blood pressure (11) improved cholesterol profile with high HDL and lower LDL (12) stronger bones (13) faster wound healing (14) younger, tighter, and thicker skin and (15) hair regrowth.

Aerobic exercise for health can double HGH levels in the body. Weight training can increase HGH levels anywhere from 400% to 800%!

Belly Fat

According to a University of Pennsylvania study, strength training is one the best ways to compensate for accumulating belly fat as you age. Women ages 25 to 44 who were overweight lost approximately 4% body fat over a period of two years by lifting weights. They also avoided gaining 66% abdominal fat that less active women put on.

The remarkable fat loss came without additional exercise for health or dieting. (Read belly fat and death risk in women here.)

Shoulder Exercises

Shoulders, technically known as deltoids, is a complex, easily injured muscle. The key to building it up and strengthening it is to be familiar with its purpose.

The shoulders are composed of three separate muscles or heads. These heads are anterior (front), posterior (rear), and lateral (side.) As the names imply, the front delts (short for deltoid) are located at the front of the shoulders, the rear are located at the back of the shoulders, and the side is located at the sides of the shoulders.

The purpose of the front (anterior) delts (at right) is to raise the arms in front of your body. Stand up with your arms at your sides. Now slowly extend your arms in front of your body until they are parallel to the floor. Your front delts are raising your arms.

Exercise for Front Delts

Equipment: 2 dumbbells, exercise bands

Stand with a dumbbell in each hand (if you are using an exercise band, the movement is the same.) With your arms at your sides, grasp the dumbbells with the palms of your hand facing backward. Now raise your arms together until they are parallel to the floor without changing the position of your hands. Now lower under control to the starting position. Do 10 repitions.

Caution: don't swing the weights up; use light enough dumbbells so that you will raise them smoothly and without momentum.

If you are using dumbbells you can perform this exercise by alternately raising one arm at a time. Make certain to do 10 reps (repetions) for each arm.

Your side (middle) delts (at left) are responsible for raising your arms to your sides. Again, stand. Now raise your arms out to your sides until they are straight out from your body. Don't bend them. You have performed a lateral raise without using any weight.

Exercise for Side Delts Equipment: 2 dumbbells

Stand with a dumbbell in each hand and arms at your sides. Hold the dumbbells so that your palms are facing your body. Now slowly raise each arm out to your sides until they are parallel to the floor. Now lower the dumbbells under control to the starting position. Do 10 reps.

To use your rear (posterior) delts (at right) , take a standing position. Now bend at the waist until your back is parallel to the floor. With your arms hanging straight down, raise them up (to the sides of your body, not the front) until they form a straight line. Your rear delts are responsible for lifting your arms in this position.

Exercise for Rear Delts Equipment: 2 dumbbells, exercise bands

This exercise can be performed standing or sitting. Whether standing or sitting, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your body. Bend over at the waist until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Slowly raise the dumbbells until your arms are parallel to the floor. Lower to starting position. Do 10 reps.

The front, side, and rear shoulders raises are known as isolation movements or exercises. As the name implies, these exercises are meant to isolate a specific muscle without involving any other muscle.

An exercise which involves more than one muscle is known as a compound or multi-jointed movement. To illustrate a compound shoulder movement, sit down. Now raise your arms out to the sides of your body and bend them at the elbow. Your forearms should be straight up and the palms of your hands facing forward (away from you). Your lower arms should be parallel to the floor. This is your starting position. Raise your arms just short of elbow lockout.

This is known as a shoulder press. This movement involves all three shoulder heads-the side, front, and rear.

Compound Exercise for All Three Heads Equipment: 2 dumbbells, exercise bands

This exercise can be performed standing or sitting. If you have a bad back, I suggest a sitting position in a chair with a back for support. Grab a dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms with your elbows bent, palms facing forward, and with your forearms straight up. Your lower arms should be parallel to the floor. This is your starting position. Raise both dumbbells to just short of elbow lockout. Lower to start position. Do 10 reps.

Chest Exercises

The chest composes two muscles in the front of the body right below the neck. Its scientific name is pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.

The purpose of the chest is twofold. It pushes and hugs. When you hug someone, the chest muscles are allowing you to do it.

Exercises for the Chest Equipment: 2 dumbbells

The one exercise for health which targets the chest muscles fully is the bench press. Although most people are familiar with the bench press done with a barbell, it can be performed with dumbbells too.

Although this exercise for health can be performed on the floor, a bench is preferable because you can go slightly below the chest for a good stretch. Lay on a bench face-up with a dumbbell in each hand. Start the movement with the dumbbells at chest level and the palms of your hands facing your legs.

Press, which is the same as pushing, the dumbbells straight up. Stop just before you lock your elbows. You are stopping just short of lockout because you want to keep your chest muscles under tension. Now bring the dumbbells down (under control to eliminate momentum) to just below your chest. You have completed one rep. Perform 9 more reps.

Flyes: Flyes mimic the 'hugging' action. This is an isolation movement which targets the outer chest muscles. Again lay on a bench face-up with a dumbbell in each hand. This time you want your palms facing each other. Now bring both arms out as though you were preparing to hug a big, round tree. Stop the downward movement when the dumbbells are level with your chest. Now bring the dumbbells up 'hugging' the imaginary tree. Stop before the dumbbells touch each other. That's one rep. Do 9 more.

Interval Training

A Japanese study discovered that walkers who varied their pace experienced greater exercise for health benefits than those who didn't. Women over 50 who incorporated interval training increased lung capacity almost 10%, improved knee strength twice as much, and lowered blood pressure by 2-1/2 times!

Although the Japanese study used women over 50 as study participants, anyone will increase their health benefits by including interval training. I used to incorporate interval training when I jogged in the mid to late 70s. I'd jog at a leisurely pace for awhile and then I'd run as fast as I could.

The key to interval training is to vary your pace. There is a high intensity, burst of energy phase coupled with a low intensity, slower phase. The high intensity phase is anaerobic (without oxygen.) The low intensity phase is aerobic (with oxygen.)

The anaerobic phase uses the fuel stored in the muscles for fuel called glycogen. Glycogen is also stored in your liver. This phase is of short duration and builds up lactic acid in your muscles. This acid produces a burning sensation.

What are the benefits of interval training? You will burn more calories. Because of the high intensity, anaerobic phase, you will continue burning calories after you've finished exercising. You will also build up your cardiovascular system. You will be able to exercise longer, and with more intensity.
Read why cardio is counterproductive

Weight Loss

Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine conducted a study to compare the weight loss from diet alone, exercise for health alone, and diet plus exercise. 127 overweight men and women were assigned to each of the three groups.

After one year, the group who combined diet with exercise lost the most weight--almost 20 pounds. The group who just dieted lost 15 pounds while those who exercise alone lost over 6 pounds.

Dramatic results were seen after two years. The group which didn't exercise regained all the weight they had lost plus an additional two pounds. The group who combined diet with exercise kept off 25% of their weight loss. They remained on average 5 pounds under their beginning weight!

Exercise builds muscle mass which increases the body's metabolic rate. The higher the metabolic rate, the greater the number of calories burned.

Fit 'N Fat?

Is it possible to be fit yet fat at the same time? A new study says no.

A Harvard study which was published last month followed 38,987 women with an average age of 54 for 11 years. The researchers looked at the body mass index (BMI), exercise patterns, and incidence of heart disease. Compared to active, normal-weight women, the active, overweight women had a 54% increased risk of heart disease; active, obese women had a 87% increased risk.

Although exercise did help, without it the risk for heart disease jumped to 88% for the inactive overweight and 250% for the inactive obese, it did not eliminate heart disease risk altogether.

Even with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, obesity by itself raised the risk of death by heart disease by 43%. Fat cells produce harmful chemicals which trigger inflammation, accelerate atherosclerosis, and contributes to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, and some cancers.

Lymph System

It is the lymph system's job to remove the body's accumulation of waste products. Waste buildup makes the immune system weak making cancer development easier. Toxins accumulate in the organs and other body systems. Breast cancer, lymphatic cancer and lymphoma are often the result of a clogged lymph system.

The lymph drainage system doesn't have a pump to keep waste moving. It depends solely on human movement in order to keep the lymph fluid moving.

The majority of the filtering of lymph fluid takes place in the upper body. Although exercising the lower body should not be ignored (running, climbing stairs, etc.), don't neglect your upper body. Get your arms moving. (Orchestra leaders have the greatest longevity of any profession.)

Strength Training and Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas and its job is to shuttle nutrients into the body's cells. When the body detects a rise in blood sugar (which happens after a carbohydrate rich meal), the pancreas releases insulin to inject nutrients into cells.

Insulin lowers circulating blood sugar (blood sugar naturally rises after a meal.) Type 2 diabetics are insulin resistant. That means the insulin receptors on their cells have a hard time sensing and responding to insulin. This normally happens when excess carbohydrates are eaten and blood sugar levels constantly rise and fall.

A study of centenarians revealed that they have low insulin levels for their age. These studies show that insulin sensitivity is a major indicator for long life. If a person's cells are not sensitive, insulin levels skyrocket. Hence the term insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the cause of the disease of aging. The symptoms of the disease of aging are what the medical profession looks upon as the disease itself-cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.

Whenever the cells of the body are exposed to insulin, they become more resistant. This is normal and cannot be stopped. The rate however can be controlled. When insulin resistance increases, we age.

Whenever insulin rises (or blood sugar levels become elevated), fat is not burned. When the body doesn't burn fat, it stores it.

Experiments have shown that resistance (weight) training increases insulin sensitivity. And it does so much more effectively than aerobic exercises (running, jogging, etc.) Insulin sensitivity is determined by how blood gets to an area of the body. The greater the blood flow to a muscle, the greater the sensitivity.
(Read also...)

Transversus Abdominis (deep ab muscle)

Everyone knows about the abdominal muscles covering the front of the belly. These muscles are targeted by traditional ab exercises such as crunches, sit-ups, and leg raises. However there is another abdominal muscle lying deep within the body. This muscle is known as transversus abdominis, or simply TVA.

The transversus abdominis cannot be targeted by traditional ab exercises. This muscle is a core muscle which wraps horizontally around the midsection like a girdle. It is located underneath the front and side torso muscles. You can feel this muscle in action when you sneeze.

Exercise For Health- Fast Twitch/Slow Twitch Muscles

Muscles are composed of two types of fibers--fast twitch or type II and slow twitch or type I. The average person has 50 percent fast twitch muscle fiber and 50 percent slow twitch muscle fiber.

Slow twitch fibers are efficient at using oxygen (aerobic) to make fuel for muscle contractions. These contractions are continuous and extended over a long period of time. Slow twitch fibers fire slower than fast twitch. These muscle fibers are used by marathoners and other distance athletes.

Fast twitch muscle fibers are anaerobic (firing without oxygen.) These type II fibers generally produce a similar amount of force per contraction as does type I, but they fire more quickly. Sprinters and weight lifters use fast twitch fibers.

Tests show that olympic sprinters have approximately 80 percent fast twitch fibers while marathoners have about 80 percent slow twitch fibers.

Weight loss can be achieved by targeting fast twitch muscle fibers. These type II fibers are not only faster, but they are denser than their type I counterparts.

Fast twitch fibers quickly become useless (use them or lose them) because most strength training doesn't recruit them. This is especially true as we age.

Research performed at Salisbury University in Maryland discovered that by lifting weights faster, more muscle is engaged. This results in an increased calorie burn of about 32 percent.
Recent findings on fast twitch/slow twitch muscle fibers

Exercise For Health- Vibration Exercise

Vibration exercise is a therapy and exercise whose concept extends back to ancient Greece. The principle of vibration exercise is to make the muscles expand and contract continually. This process pumps extra oxygen into the cells which alternatively relaxes and stimulates the body. The vibrations assist the body in healing itself, and its grows muscles at an accelerated rate.

Vibration exercise is currently being used by NASA (National Aeronautics Space Administration) as a part of the astronaut training program. Stanford University in California and several professional sports teams also utilize this specialized exercise technique.

Whole body vibration is based on the original research of Dr. Biermann on the use of cyclic oscillations on the human back in former East Germany. His therapies used a process called Rhythmic Neuromuscular Stimulation (RNS.) At about the same time, a Russian scientist named Vladimir Nazarov used this principle on athletes. This resulted in better strength and flexibility in their muscles.

Whole body vibration was then used in the Russian cosmonaut training program. The zero gravity of outer space causes muscle atrophy, loss of bone density, and blood clotting during extended space stays.

The motion of the vibration platform causes the brain to tell the muscles to actively contract to maintain equilibrium. Over the course of time, researchers discovered that vibration therapy increased flexibility, strengthening muscles, and augmenting bone density.

How does whole body vibration work? A person stands on the platform of the machine from 2 to 10 minutes and lets the muscles' interaction with the machines' vibrations do the work. Some vibration machines move up and down like a piston while others rock from side to side like a teeter totter.

Because of the low impact form of the vibrations the machine can be used daily. In addition, since it takes so little time out of the day you are more likely to stick with a regular routine.

Whole body vibration has successfully been used to build bone density, lose weight, pack on muscle, relieve back pain and alleviate stress and arthritis. It also helps people with asthma, emphysema, and other respiratory problems to keep up a consistent workout routine.

Exercise For Health- Overtraining

When I began weight training at a gym as opposed to home, I became even more obssessed. I trained more frequently.

Exercise is Power

Do yourself a favor. Watch the above video - especially if you are in your senior years. It was created by the University of British Columbia Department of Physical Therapy.

The video makes plain the case for strength training. Strength training is using the progressive resistance of weights to build strength and muscle mass.

A natural consequence of aging is the slow and steady loss of lean body mass (muscle). This results in frailty, weak bones, and loss of independent living.

Need an inspirational story to motivate you? Read the story of 75-year-old Sandy Palais.

Stress Abdominals Triceps for Women Walking Exercise is Essential Benefits of Exercise Shoulder Exercises HGH Chest Exercises Interval Training Weight Loss Pregnancy Fit 'N Fat? Lymph System Strength Training and Insulin Sensitivity Transversus Abdominis (deep ab muscle) Fast Twitch/Slow Twitch Muscles The Necessity of Strength Training For Living Independently Into Your 70s, 80s, and Beyond

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