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Fitness Activity

Dumbbell Benefits

Dumbbell training is one of the most common courses in fitness and weight training. It is not generally better than all the other weight training courses, but it has some of the advantages that other weightlifting trainings lack. For example, dumbbell training enables you to exert more force on your muscles especially when doing unilateral training. When using only one arm, the muscles on the other side of the body are recruited to help stabilize the weight. It produces more force on the side that is being trained. Thus, you can lift more than what you normally can with that limb than what it can lift in bilateral training. You can lift 40 or 50 pounds on one limb easier than you can lift the same weight simultaneously on both limbs. With this advantage available to dumbbell training, you build stronger and bigger muscles. Unilateral training with dumbbells also help increase metabolism to burn more fats. The routine is twice as long and each side is given enough focus one at a time. The exercise on one side is repeated on the other side. This helps develop not only the muscles but also power and endurance of the body.

Dumbbell training is also one good way to shape up our abs. When doing exercises with the dumbbells, the muscles of the abdomen are also recruited to help maintain the balance. As the upper limbs carry out the training, the muscles from the body are also used to provide greater force and maintain balance so they are also included in the training.

Power and endurance are increased as both muscles and cardiovascular organs participate in the training. The other training courses in weightlifting may require another course of training for cardiovascular workout but if you are not at liberty to do all the courses, the cardio workout of the dumbbell training may be enough. Probably one of the best advantages of dumbbell training is that a lot of the routines are applicable in everyday life. Some of the range-of-motion exercises using dumbbells follow the natural movements of our upper limbs as we normally move. With dumbbell training, the everyday activities of sports, work and just ordinary movements are made easier.


Sprinting as Workout

If you’ve been doing long, slow cardio, such as jogging, cycling, or swimming, for awhile without losing much weight or becoming much leaner even though you keep increasing your workouts, there is a simple explanation: too much cardio actually makes you fat. Excessive cardio increases stress hormones and down regulates the hormones, such as growth hormone and testosterone, that preserve muscle. In additon, elevated stress hormones make you insulin resistant, which leads to overeating as well as to eating foods that contribute to insulin resistance, such as sugars and starches.

Despite their appearance, many joggers and cyclists are not really lean. They may be slender because they have little muscle mass, but their body fat percentages are often surprisingly high.. In contrast, sprinters are lean and muscular with low body fat percentages. They have high human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone levels–good for both females and males. Think back to the last track meet you saw. Who would you rather look like: the sprinters or the distance runners?

Benefits of Sprinting
1) Sprinting will reduce body fat and strengthen you far more than long, slow cardio because sprinting requires maximal recruitment of muscle. After about 8 seconds, sprinting sends acid signals to the muscles, which activates the fast twitch fibers. Fast-twitch fibers are thicker than slow twitch fibers, and it is fast twitch fibers that grow in size when activated by the right training.
2) Sprinting naturally increases human growth hormone. Human growth hormone increases muscle mass, thickens and adds flexibility to the skin, enhances the immune system, promotes weight loss through fat redistribution and loss, and increases stamina.
3) Sprinting strengthens your cardiovascular system with brief bursts of high intensity followed by long periods of recovery. You strengthen your skeletal muscles by doing heavy, low-repetition sets with long recoveries. You should strengthen your heart the same way. Sprinting doesn’t cause the continuous stress on the heart that long, slow cardio does.
4) Sprint workouts are short and a lot more fun than long, boring cardio workouts.

The Definition of Sprinting
Based on the misleading articles and workouts I’ve seen posted all over the web, I’d better define what sprinting is. Sprinting is not just running faster than a jog. You cannot “sprint” for 30-60 second or even more with an equal recovery for 6-10 repetitions as some fitness “experts” advise. This is an anaerobic or interval workout. It’s far better for you than plodding along the road or on a treadmill, but it’s not sprinting and won’t give you the benefits mentioned above. Sprint means “to race or move at full speed.” Think playing tag or running to first base after a hit. Sprint workouts feature short, high-intensity repetitions and long, easy recoveries.

Where to Do a Sprint Workout
A track is the best place to do sprints because it’s marked (in meters), and its surface is ideal for sprinting. A grass or dirt surface is next best; however, check your course for gopher holes and such before starting your sprints. Twisting an ankle will end your sprint workouts for awhile. The one place not to do your sprint workout is on concrete. Your back will thank you.

How to Do a Sprint Workout
Start your workout by warming up for about 5 minutes. Measure out a course from 50-100 yards (or meters) long. Remember that you need to sprint at least 8 seconds before your body sends the signals that produce human growth homone. Do 5-10 repetitions. The total distance of your sprints should not exceed 400-800 yards or meters. Between repetitions, walk slowly at least twice the distance that you ran. This should take from 1-2 minutes. Don’t jog to “keep your heart rate up.” You need to recover so that each repetition can be run at close to full speed. No matter what workout you planned, if you reach a point where you can’t sprint because of fatigue, quit. Jogging to “finish” the workout won’t do you any good since intensity is the objective, not volume.

If you’re out of your teens and haven’t been sprinting for a year or more, you will probably not be able to sprint at full speed right away. You should allow yourself at least a week for every decade you’ve lived to build up to full speed sprinting. In other words, if you’re 40 and haven’t been doing any sprinting in the past year, allow at least 4 weeks of gradually increasing the speed of your sprints before trying to go full speed in your workout. Even then, it doesn’t hurt to hold back a little on the first repetition or two of each session.

How Often to Do a Sprint Workout
If you’re running, cycling, swimming, etc. in addition to sprinting, limit your sprint workouts to twice a week with at least 48-72 hours between. If you’re not doing anything else but strength training, you can go to 3 times a week if you want.

Sprinting is a natural and valuable human activity. If you think back to when you were a kid, how many times did you jog for miles? Almost never, right? On the other hand, you probably sprinted nearly every day on the playground, the athletic field, or just down the street. If you want to maintain a youthful body, you have to continue to do the things that youthful bodies naturally do. Sprinting is one of those things.

Sprinting Is Actually One of The Best Butt Exercises 
Do You Know What the Gluteal Fold Is? The gluteal fold is the area where the butt meets the hamstring. A person with a well developed glute-hamstring area would have a smooth transition between these two muscle groups. A person with less development here would almost be able to hold a pencil at the junction between the hamstrings and butt muscles. Sprinting is an amazing way to develop definition and firm up the glute and hamstring area. The nice thing about sprinting is that it seems to build proportionate muscles in the legs, hips and butt over time. I always recommend Sprinting builds great definition and tone in the lower body that can’t be duplicated with resistance training.

Tips On Sprinting Form
When you sprint, you need to relax your shoulders. There is a tendency to shrug the shoulders up as you sprint. The problem lies in the fact that if your shoulders start to rise, your hips lock up a bit…this decreases your ability to sprint quickly. Also, over time you will notice that your feet are barely contacting the ground for more than a split second. This is what you are aiming for. As you get better at sprinting, you will fly over the pavement in a way that is much different than jogging. 

Other Major Benefits of Sprinting
Sprinting creates major metabolic changes in your body. Research has shown that high intensity exercise will burn calories long after your workout is complete.  If you only do low intensity exercise, you probably won’t cause your body to increase HGH release. Consequently, you burn less body fat if you only include low intensity exercises in your workout routine.


Get In Lean Shape With Little or No Equipment

Two common barriers for people who want to exercise and get in shape are a lack of time and money needed for fitness.

Who has the time to go to the gym, or buy expensive equipment, or take long bike rides?

Well, if those are the things stopping you, you’re in luck.

It takes no equipment to get a great workout and get in shape, and with one or two pieces of simple equipment, you can turn that great workout into a fantastic one, you magnificent beast, you.

And with little or no equipment required for a fantastic workout, you can do it at home, or wherever you are. Even if you’re in solitary confinement.

It’s hard not to find time for this type of workout — you can do it while watching TV, for goodness sake!

The Pros and Cons of Bodyweight Exercises

Using just your bodyweight, you can do a large number of challenging exercises. I designed a workout that I do when I can’t make it to the gym, for example, and I can testify that it’s incredibly challenging (more on that below).

If you add just one or two pieces of equipment: a dumbbell, a kettlebell, a jump rope, a medicine ball, or a chinup bar, for example, you can increase the challenge even more.

Now, I’m not putting down lifting weights — I truly believe in lifting heavy weights when you can, but there are tremendous benefits from bodyweight exercises as well:

No gym fees or need to buy expensive equipment.
You can do the workout anywhere, anytime.
Most exercises involve many muscles working in coordination, resulting in great overall fitness and strength.
For people who are just starting with strength training, bodyweight is often more than enough to begin with. And it gives you a good foundation of strength you can build on later.
Bodyweight exercises aren’t the only thing you should ever do, however, for several reasons:

After awhile (a couple months perhaps), they aren’t all that challenging. You’ll need to continue to build your strength by adding weights. You can do that with some simple equipment (see below).
If you don’t have at least one or two pieces of equipment — a chinup bar or a resistance band perhaps — some muscles don’t get worked out as much as others. That’s not a problem over the short term, but over the long term you’ll want to make sure you get a balance.
I suggest starting with bodyweight exercises, and then slowly transitioning to a combination of bodyweight and weight training to get a good balance. And even if you’re doing a complete weight training program, you can always use bodyweight exercises anytime you can’t make it to the gym.

A few suggestions:
Choose a variety of exercises that work out all the parts of your body. Don’t do all variations of pushups, for example. You should be doing some pulling exercises (like pullups), some lower-body exercises, like lunges and squats, and others that work out all of your body, like burpees.
If you want a real challenge, mix cardio exercises (see below) with the strength exercises.

If you have some of the equipment listed below, definitely use them. Or buy one or two pieces of equipment … but there’s no need to rush out and buy a whole bunch of things. You can get a great workout without equipment, at least for awhile.

If you’re just starting out, take it easy and gradually build up. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t overdo it!

As you get stronger, gradually add weights. Dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and medicine balls are some good ways to do that. It’ll take a couple months of bodyweight exercises, though, before you really need to move to weights.

Basic bodyweight exercises There are many, many variations of bodyweight exercises, but here are some of the more common ones:
– Pushups (there are many variations — Hindu pushups , dive bombers, diamond pushups  and others)
-Burpees 
-Squats  (variations: jump squats , Hindu squats )
-Lunges  (variation: jumping lunges, side lunges)
-Chair dips 
-Planks  (variation: side plank)
-Crunches – my favorite: bicycle crunches 
-Bear crawl – crawl quickly on hands and feet 
-Lateral barrier jump – jump sideways, over an obstacle 
-Isometrics
-Plyometrics

Exercises requiring minimal equipment
You don’t need to buy all of this equipment, but if you have any, these are great. Or buy one or two pieces in order to add an extra challenge to your workout:
-Pullup bar: Chinups, pullups, hanging knee raises (here’s the one I use)
-Resistance band
-Medicine ball
-Kettlebell 
-Dumbbells
-Tractor tires — there are lots of exercises where you flip tires, jump through them, etc.

Cardio exercises
Jumping jacks
-Jump rope – requires jump rope, of course, but it’s a great workout 
-Side shuffles
-Touchdowns
-Run 800 meters (or a mile)
-Interval running
-Rowing (requires a rowing machine)


Tai Chi Chuan

It ss easy to tell people to make exercise part of their daily routine. It’s not so easy to tell them what to do. Some folks like to run marathons or climb mountains. But if you would rather care for your body without risking life or limb or increasingly creaky joints, you might consider Tai Chi Chuan, the ancient martial art that looks like a cross between shadow boxing and slow-motion ballet.
Not to be confused with Falun Gong, a quasi-religious and political movement that uses similar exercises, Tai Chi combines intense mental focus with deliberate, graceful movements that improve strength, agility and — particularly important for the elderly — balance.

Practitioners praise Tai Chi’s spiritual and psychological benefits, but what has attracted the attention of Western scientists lately is what Tai Chi does for the body. In many ways, researchers are just catching up to what tens of millions of people in China and Chinatowns around the rest of the world already know about Tai Chi. Scientists at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene reported last week that Tai Chi offers the greatest benefit to older men and women who are healthy but relatively inactive. Previous studies have shown that Tai Chi practiced regularly helps reduce falls among healthy seniors. The next step, from a scientific point of view, is to determine whether Tai Chi can help those who are already frail.

TaiChi

 

There are several styles of Tai Chi, but most of them start with a series of controlled movements, or forms, with names like Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail and Repulse the Monkey. There are many good how-to books to get you started, or you can choose from among the growing number of classes offered at rec centers and health clubs across the U.S. (These have the added benefit of combining instruction with a chance to meet new people.) Either way, the goal is to move at your own pace. As Tai Chi master Martin Lee of the Tai Chi Cultural Center in Los Altos, Calif., puts it, “Pain is no gain.”

It can take a few months for the effects to kick in, but when they do they can act as a gateway to a new lifestyle. “Once people start feeling better, they often become more active in their daily life,” says Dr. Karim Khan, a family-practice and sports physician at the University of British Columbia.

Any form of exercise, of course, can do only so much. “For older individuals, Tai Chi will not be the end-all,” says William Haskell, an expert in chronic-disease prevention at Stanford University. “But Tai Chi plus walking would be a very good mixture.” Younger people probably need more of an aerobic challenge, but they can benefit from Tai Chi’s capacity to reduce stress.

The best thing about Tai Chi is that people enjoy it, so they are more likely to stick with it long enough to get some benefit. It helps when something that’s good for you is also fun.


Orienteering – Mental and Physical Workout

hikingteam

Here is a little known sport that is a workout on the body and mind. It can be typified as a running sport that involves a timed race, a map and other navigational equipment to complete a running route. The activity requires both fast and slow-paced running, and can be a great calorie-burning workout. Orienteering is a popular European sport that is typically played by two or more teams.  Check it out, Just don’t get lost 

Orienteering consists of navigating on foot between points on a pre-defined course drawn on a map. The aim is to navigate round all of the points in the correct order and in the fastest possible time. Attributes that make a good orienteer include running speed and strength through sometimes rough terrain, and accurate navigational skills. You will find that events tend to take place in areas of natural beauty, often forested, but also on open fellside.

The course normally consists of a series of points marked on the map. At each point there is an orange and white ‘control kite’ and some equipment that is used to check that you have passed through that point. To aid you in finding each point there will be a ‘control description’ briefly detailing what feature the control is located on.

There are two types of equipment used to record your passage through the controls. The more modern version used at most events consists of a small electronic card that you take around the course with you. At each control site there is a small box which records on your card what time you passed through. After you finish you are then able to see what your total time was and how long you took for every leg of the course. The older version, used at a few smaller and more informal events, consists of a pin-punch which is used to make a unique set of holes in the ‘control card’ carried by each competitor. At the finish the control card can be checked to make sure that you have visited all the controls. You will be timed around the course and results will be displayed near to the car park. As people running the same course do not normally start at the same time, results are not finalised until the last runner finishes. Although orienteering is a competitive sport, many people come just for the challenge of completing the course and enjoying the scenery.

The large scale maps (1:10,000 or 1:15,000) are drawn especially for orienteering and show everything from large hills down to the smallest pit. One thing to be careful of when you first see the map is that white doesn’t represent open fields (as on an Ordnance Survey map) but instead, runnable forest. If you are not sure what a symbol means there is usually a key on the map to tell you. To make things easier when using a compass the North lines on the map point to Magnetic North so there is no need to make any complicated adjustments.

  
Equipment
Initially no specialist equipment is required. Any old clothes and trainers will do as long as you don’t mind getting them a bit muddy. Long trousers are a good idea to stop your legs getting scratched or stung and full leg cover is required at many events. Lightweight running trousers and tops are available from the club. A large poly-bag is a must in keeping the map dry (although frequently maps are already bagged or printed on waterproof paper). At some events whistles are compulsory. As you progress onto harder courses a compass will become useful though the club will be able to lend you one to begin with.

Find an Orienteering Club in your area by visiting www.us.orienteering.org