A message to my friends in Ukraine

Ukraine

To my friends in Ukraine. I accept that my knowledge of what is happening in your country is not helped by my lack of understanding of all the political, social and economic factors involved, and by the propaganda that is feed to us all through the media. But one thing is clear to me, you are ready and willing to fight for your beliefs and your rights, and make the ultimate sacrifice of dying for your country. When people in many Western countries are too lazy to even vote, we should all be inspired by your fight for freedom and democracy.

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The Exercise Paradox: Evolution’s Role

Chris Hunt Wellness

www.chrishuntwellness.com
Did you ever wonder why you can in theory blame our Neanderthal ancestors for the reason why you find exercising a chore? No? Read on then for a great excuse to justify your lethargy when faced with the prospect of a run.

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Run piggy, run
We are the best long distance runners on the planet, and there is an evolutionary theory as to why. This all starts with our ability to hold our heads still when we run. All animals, including humans, who are good at running are also very good at holding their heads still. For an example of an animal that is not good at running just watch a pig run with its head bobbing all over the place (it was not long ago that you would have had to trek out to the countryside to watch a pig run, but now thanks to the Internet it’s a simple task. You can probably find a dancing pig as well. Thank God for YouTube…)

The ponytail principle
Being able to run with the head still is important for gaze stabilisation. If you watch someone with a ponytail running, the ponytail bobs up and down because of the pitching forces acting on the head, but the head stays very stable. There are special mechanisms that help us do this. The semi-circular canals in human heads are greatly enlarged relative to apes, which gives us greater ability to perceive and react to rapid accelerations of the head. As our ancestors had no other reason to control head movements, running could be the explanation as to why.

Chris Hunt Wellness

From being able to run to marathons
We evolved from very non-active creatures (your average chimp walks 2 to 3 kilometres a day, runs about 100 metres and climbs a few trees) so where did our endurance come from? It is estimated that our hunter-gatherer ancestors walked or ran 9 to 15 kilometres every day, and it is argued that for that reason from our heads to our toes, we have all the features necessary for endurance running; short toes that require less energy to stabilise and generate less shock; Achilles tendons that stores and releases energy appropriately as we run; large gluteus Maximus muscles that steady the trunk; and the stabilisation of the head.

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Endurance was the key
It is hypothesised that the advantage for our ancestors was persistence hunting. We can run long distances at speeds that require other animals to gallop. That’s not an endurance gait for quadrupeds, because they cool by panting with short shallow breaths, but they cannot gallop and pant at the same time. So if we chase an animal making it gallop in the heat for as little as 15 minutes, on a hot day it will die of heat stroke.

From endurance athletes to couch-potatoes
It was only very recently in our history that a large proportion of humans have been freed from having to do physical activity. If you consider our evolution, not exercising every day is abnormal. So why do most people hate exercise so much? One answer might be that our ancestors didn’t run for fun. They didn’t pull on their Nikes and pound the forests for the buzz of exercise or to beat their personal best time. They had to run long distances everyday to survive. They had no option but to exercise and they probably avoided unnecessary exercise whenever they could. For sure they didn’t jog for the fun of it.

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The Evolution problem
Evolution has given us traits that are not always helpful. Surgery, fatty foods would have been advantageous for early humans but not so today. And we still are prone to avoid exercise whenever we can, using escalators instead of stairs. So we may have deep rooted evolutionary instincts that do not help a healthy lifestyle.

The consequences of a sedentary lifestyle Nearly all diseases are affected by physical activity. I have written before about this (I lost my father to dementia and Let’s talk about depression Part 1). Take the two major killers: heart disease and cancer. The heart requires exercise to grow properly. Exercise increases the peripheral arteries and decreases cholesterol levels, and by doing so it decreases the risk of heart disease by up to 50%.

Breast cancer and many other. Reproductive tissue cancers also respond strongly to exercise. Other factors being constant, women who have regularly engaged in regular vigorous physical exercise have significantly lower cancer rates than women who have not. There are also benefit for mental health including depression and anxiety.

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So how can we fight against our evolution?
How do we make ourselves eat food we would rather not and exercise when we do not want to? The most obvious way if through socially acceptable coercion. There is a reason why we should be very concerned about the lack of exercise and poor foods being served up in our schools. Jamie Oliver has it right when he campaigns for a better diet for our children. At some point we must act in our own self-interest.

Did evolution help at all?
Yes it did. It’s important to recognise that the body isn’t adapted only in one way or another. There are multiple competing adaptations. Whilst many of our instincts do not like exercise, we have other adaptions that make us enjoy exercise.

The most obvious is the runner’s high. When we were running after animals for our lunch, we were also tracking, observing our surroundings, the environment. A runner’s high intensifies everything, stimulating our perception and our sensory awareness. I remember when I was getting close to the end of the Sydney Marathon, getting a euphoric rush when everything seemed brighter and larger than life. Then I remembered that my legs really hurt.

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Knowledge is power
Being aware of our evolutionary progress may seem somewhat irrelevant to the fact that you do not want to go running this morning in the rain, but knowledge is power. You now have more knowledge having read this article, so you have more power to do the things you want to do, achieve the goals you want to achieve. Just try to find a woolly mammoth to chase.

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How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Not good? OK, let’s talk…

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On January 1st, millions of people began the annual ritual of New Year’s Resolutions. Memberships at health clubs and diet programs soar, whilst sales of chocolate and alcohol decline. People take a long, hard look at their spending habits as they sort through the January bills.

Now we a few weeks into the New Year and despite all this good intention, most people will fail at their resolutions. Come February, most New Year’s resolutions will be a dim memory. How can such apparently strong determination fizzle out so quickly? What can we do to increase the likelihood that our desire for change will translate into permanent positive change?

Let’s first examine the psychology of the New Year’s Resolution. During the month of December people tend to overindulge in eating, drinking, spending money and neglecting exercise. Rather than moderate these behaviours, we promise ourselves that after the holiday season is over, we will definitely take control. In the meantime, we give ourselves permission to overindulge without guilt. Our resolve is at its peak when we feel full, drunk, or broke. It’s easy to think about going on a diet as we groan from a bloating holiday meal. It’s no problem to plan to quit smoking when we’ve just had a cigarette and replenished our nicotine level. At this point we feel confident about our New Year’s resolutions because we have not yet confronted any prolonged physical deprivation or discomfort.

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In early January, we are often so sick of rich food and drinks, and feeling so sluggish from lack of vigorous physical activity that it’s not difficult to abstain from overindulgence. In fact, some people look forward to more structure and discipline in their lives. However, a few weeks into the new discipline, our appetites have returned, and we start to feel deprived. It is at this point that we are most at risk for reverting back to old behaviours.

Soon we start rationalizing that this is not a good time of year, what with cold weather and our numerous obligations. When spring comes, we’ll really get into shape. Thus, we make another promise to ourselves, and, now free of guilt, put off habit change for another few months. Chances are that when spring arrives, we will have another temporary surge of motivation, only to abandon it within a few weeks.

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So why do people abandon their resolutions? One reason is that we become discouraged when results don’t come quickly enough, or when we find that we are not necessarily happier because of them. Behavioural change requires sustained effort and commitment. It is also typically accompanied by physical discomfort. For example, reducing food, alcohol or nicotine intake from a level to which you have become accustomed, results in cravings. Forcing yourself to get off your cosy chair to exercise is often difficult when you’re tired. And of course, it’s easy to procrastinate until tomorrow, so that you can rationalise not disciplining yourself today.

Therefore, if you are going to try to keep your New Year’s resolutions this year, be sure you are ready for the challenge. Here are some tips to maximize your success:

1. Examine your motivation for change
Are you just feeling full and bloated at this moment? Do you have a hangover from last night? Did your last cigarette give you have a hacking cough? Or is there a more enduring reason for your desire to change? If you can’t think of a better reason than the fact that you’re uncomfortable at this moment, then you’re better off not making promises to yourself that you probably won’t keep. However, if you are realistic and accept the responsibility of discipline required for change, your motivation will be sustained long after the discomfort from over-indulgence has passed.

2. Set realistic goals
Habits and behaviours that are changed gradually have a greater chance of success.

3. Focus on the behavioural change more than on the goal
For example, if you decide to control your eating, your goal for the day is not to lose a specific number of pounds, but to stick to your program. Such focus on your behaviour will help you feel in control of your life. You will gain satisfaction from making sensible choices several times throughout the day.

4. Learn to redefine physical sensations of discomfort
Whenever we restrict ourselves, we have both physical and mental reactions. For example, a smoker feels bodily sensations when his nicotine level drops. However, he has a choice as to how he interprets these symptoms. He can define them as extremely unpleasant, or alternatively he can interpret them as his body cleansing itself of the drug.

5. Make tasks non-negotiable
People who are most successful at implementing such changes are those who make their tasks non-negotiable. For example, if you debate with yourself at 5:30 a.m. whether you feel like getting up to exercise, you will probably opt for staying in bed for another half hour. But if getting up for exercise is no more negotiable than getting up for work, then you’ll do it regardless of how you feel about it. The same goes for organising your closet or taking charge of your finances. One can almost always find an excuse not to do these things. However, if you make a non-negotiable decision that’s based on a sound logical reason rather than on how you feel at the moment, you will be successful.

6. Allow for imperfection.
No one is exactly on target all the time. In fact you should expect to falter every now and then. If you give in to temptation, do not use this as an excuse to abandon the whole program. Learn from your mistake and move on.

7. Do it now.
If you’re waiting for a more convenient time to begin behavioural change, it won’t happen. It’s almost never convenient to change ingrained habits. Now is just as convenient as any time.

So I could say good luck, but we all know that it has very little to do with luck. It has everything to do with commitment and planning.
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Depression Part 2: Positive thinking

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Yesterday I published Part One of my blog about depression. As promised, here is Part Two.

I said yesterday that I am a fitness professional, I do not pretend or try to be an expert in everything I write. But I do mean everything I write.

I want today to talk about staying positive. We live in troubled times. How can we stay positive and deal with negative thoughts? Here are some ideas that you can try.

1) The first thing to realize is that negative feelings and emotions can’t be stopped, they arrive without invitation and that’s natural.  Everyone feels down sometimes as it’s the normal ebb and flow of our physiology.

2) While you can’t control what type of negative emotions show up, you can control your reaction. You have a choice.

3) A negative emotion loves a negative thought, the more negative and dark the better. The two can then conjure up negative images, creating an unholy trinity. This barrage of negativity can trigger hopelessness.

4) We start to believe our circumstances can’t change, that we will never find happiness, and everything looks bleak. Hopeless individuals can’t see the opportunities, only the failure and disappointments of yesterday. A vicious circle begins, with negative emotions causing negative actions, which cause more negative emotions. We start to act and talk negatively.

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So, how do we stop it? At Number 2. A negative emotion is normal and can be connected to an event such as a relationship breakdown or loss of a job. You can’t and shouldn’t run from it. But, you should take charge of your thoughts and prevent yourself from thinking and seeing negative images.

First acknowledge if something negative happened. You can’t delude yourself. If you lost your job you’ll feel terrible, but if you begin to think that you are a loser and see yourself as becoming homeless, you are going way too far. The emotions can’t be stopped, but this is how you stop and take charge of a negative thought before it goes further:

1. Stop or interrupt the negative thought (it’s your mind, you can change it) even if you have to say “Stop” out loud. You might get some strange glances but who cares?!

2. Challenge the thought. Ask yourself, “is this really true, is it realistic to think like this?” Most of the time you will realise what you are    thinking is not the truth or not realistic.

3. Change the thought by choosing a more realistic one. If you lose your job and think, “Oh no, my life is over,” change it to “This is a big setback for my life” or “I’m faced with a significant challenge.” If you feel rejected after a breakup, don’t think “my life is over; I will never find someone again.” Stop it, challenge it, and change it to “I’ve had a loss and it hurts, but I will get through this.”

4. Change the image connected with the negative thought. We think in images; for every thought we create images. If you fall prey to hopeless and despondent thoughts you will begin to see yourself in that position. Instead, choose another image of hope, the most   powerful of all emotions. Everything that’s   accomplished is based on hope. Give yourself hope, then you have the ability to accomplish any goal as long as you follow through.

5. Choose your behaviour, and act positively and proactively. Instead of isolating or mixing with other hopeless people, decide upon at least three positive and proactive things you can do every day, and then do them.

6. Be thankful for all the good things you have in your life. Stop worrying about things you don’t have. Write down things you have to be thankful for. You may be surprised. The key is to stop the vicious cycle of hopelessness    before it becomes a pattern and forms a stronghold in your life. You have the power to stop and change your mind. That is the wonderful thing about your mind.

Now, think about this. The only moment in which we can truly be happy is the present moment. The only moment that we have control of is the present moment. So let go of negative thoughts, and be happy now!

Because if not now, then when?

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Let’s talk about depression… Part 1: Is it real?

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One of my aims for this bog is not to write all pretty and happy articles, but to try to talk about real issues however uncomfortable or taboo they are. I am a fitness professional, so I am not an expert on all the topics I talk about, but what I say comes from my heart.

So, the “season to be jolly” is fading fast. But the sad fact is that this time of year is also a desperate time for many people. I wrote recently about dementia (see my blog “I lost my father, don’t lose yours”) and how it is still for many people a taboo subject, whilst for many other it is totally misunderstood. The same could be said about depression, so let’s try to blow the lid on that as well.

It’s been reported recently that as many as three quarters of a million young people in the UK may feel that they have nothing to live for. A study for the Prince’s Trust charity says almost a third of long-term unemployed young people have contemplated taking their own lives.

The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index was based on interviews with 2,161 16 to 25-year-olds. The report found 9% of all respondents agreed with the statement: “I have nothing to live for” and said if 9% of all youngsters felt the same, it would equate to some 751,230 young people feeling they had nothing to live for. The research found that long-term unemployed young people were more than twice as likely as their peers to have been prescribed anti-depressants.  One in three (32%) had contemplated suicide, while one in four (24%) had self-harmed. The report found 40% of jobless young people had faced symptoms of mental illness, including suicidal thoughts, feelings of self-loathing and panic attacks, as a direct result of unemployment. Three quarters of long-term unemployed young people (72%) did not have someone to confide in, the study found.

I talked from personal experience about dementia having lost my father to the disease. I can also talk from some personal experience of depression, as I have several family members and friends who have in the past suffered from this debilitating illness.

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First and most important, no one should be ashamed or embarrassed to be talking about depression. If you think worse of anyone who has or is suffering from depression, then with respect this really is your problem, and you should definitely read on! If you still think that depression is just an excuse to stay in bed and be lazy, a pathetic reason to feel sorry for yourself and wallow in self-pity, and that people who say they have depression should “man-up”, pull themselves together and stop feeling sorry for themselves, then again, please read this blog. It might make you begin to realise that you are totally wrong. In fact hopelessly wrong.

I do have sympathy for people who do not understand depression because it is difficult to empathise with something you have never suffered from. I mean, how can it be a real illness when you cannot see it? So let’s get one thing clear from the start. It is an illness. A real, bonafide illness that can be clinically proven. At its worst, it is as totally debilitating as any physical illness, making what most people consider a “normal” life impossible.

The worst thing you can say to someone suffering from depression is to “pull themselves together”, “stop being so pathetic”, “stand up for yourself”, “snap out of it”, and many other nuggets of similar ignorance that I have heard in the past. Why is this such a bad approach? It’s simple if you stop to think. Most people who are depressed already feel useless and hopeless. For you to point out and confirm that fact to them only reinforces their negative self-belief. It makes them feel even more inadequate because they know they are incapable of doing any of those things for them self however much they want to.

The roots of depression are varied, and it’s not my intention here to go into details as to causes. What I want to do is get people talking and thinking. And to stress that people suffering from depression need your support, not your judgement or criticism. It’s not easy not to judge, not to have a holier than thou attitude. In fact I think it’s the mark of a real man who does not judge, who can offer a hand of support and understanding.

As a fitness professional, I cannot stress enough the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise to help deal with many mental and physical issues. As my dementia article pointed out, there is a proven link that what’s good for your body is also good for your brain. By exercising regularly and eating healthily, many people can really improve their physical and mental condition. But this is not always the only answer, sometimes people need professional help.

My experience of depression was one of the reasons that led me to discover meditation, and I thoroughly recommend this to everyone whether you are suffering from depression or not. It doesn’t require hours of sitting in the lotus position either. 20 minutes a day is a good start.  As the saying goes, if you do not have enough time to do 20 minutes meditation, then no problem, do 30 minutes. 🙂

If you know someone who is suffering from depression, don’t judge or offer them advice. They don’t need that and it doesn’t help. They need your understanding and support. Question is, can you give them only that?

In tomorrow’s blog I will give you some ways to deal with negative thoughts, and ways to try to stay positive. So, see you tomorrow.

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Extreme TRX Training

Chris Hunt Fitness TRX 2

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Here I am using TRX to do an extreme chest push-up completely suspended off the ground.

if you have not yet used TRX, you should give it a go. It’s excellent for all Fitness Levels because it so versatile. It will help build functional strength, but will also help you improve anaerobic cardiovascular endurance. You have the choice to perform any exercise at a rapid pace or with a slow and controlled motion. Of course, the faster you go, the greater cardio training potential you will have. There are literally hundreds of different variations of exercises you can use to target every muscle of the body, and it’s really portable.

Suspension training is an excellent way to improve muscle imbalances primarily because of the amount of balance you must have to perform any of these exercise. Because of the constant instability, your body will perform as single unit to maintain the necessary balance. Many training injuries are a direct results of muscular imbalances throughout the body. As previously mentioned, TRX will help correct such imbalances, and can be a great tool for people who are recovering some injury.

Chris TRX

From my perspective as a Pilates presenter I love the way that TRX is an extremely attractive training technique because of its ability to active the core. This is due to the constant instability that the straps provide. You must be able to balance and keep your core tight throughout every movement. TRX can strengthen all muscles of the core including the rectus abdominis (front of abs), transverse abdominis (sides of abs), and lower back.

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All TRX exercises are very low-impact and are excellent for people looking to give their joints a break. This is especially true for runners who tend to get overuse injuries due to repetitive movements. You don’t need to worry about being crushed by heavy weights because the only resistance you use is your own body.

Most of all for me this is a really fun way to train indoors our outside. Give it a try. Let me know if you want any more information or tips, I am here to help.

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How to gain muscle and then keep it!

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For many men and women, the toning, creation and retention of muscle mass is a mythical journey shrouded in gossip and hear-say. It is a complex issue dependant on many factors that vary person to person, but let’s try to simply some things.

So many myths… 

I am often asked by worried people, especially ladies, that they will quickly gain muscle size and look unfeminine. It takes time for a muscle to grow in size and strength. It also takes the right combination of muscle stress, recovery time, nutrition, hormones, and genetics. It typically takes people dedicated to muscle growth a lot of time and effort to reach their goals, so relax, you are not going to sprout bulging muscles over-night, although you might notice some quick improvement in strength in the beginning.

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Another common comment is that muscle weighs more that fat. This one is true, so if you add muscle and lose fat, you can add weight, but the muscle will take up less space than the same amount of fat so you’ll look better. Muscle also speeds up your metabolism so you burn more calories day and night trying to maintain that muscle mass. With this is mind, it is clear that no weight loss plan is complete without strength training as well.

When it comes to the number of repetitions, there are some things to consider. Using lighter loads does not necessarily mean longer and leaner muscles. You can lift a weight 40 times without feeling tired, but you’re not challenging the muscle enough to develop good muscle tone or get significantly stronger. Doing high numbers of reps doesn’t get your heart rate up either, so you’re certainly not burning much if any fat. If you use a weight that will cause muscle fatigue after no more than 15 repetitions, this can get the best results in endurance, muscle tone and strength. Also it’s important to mix up your workout by using a variety of weights (from 50% to 90% of maximum capacity) and repetitions (between 5 to 20 per set). Doing higher reps with lower loads helps build endurance; lower reps with higher loads helps build strength. Variety is, as always, the spice of life.

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Some athletes I work with are initially worried that if they grow muscle mass then they will lose their speed. It’s obvious that for some sports too much mass is not required, but weight training, especially at a high intensity or with explosive movements, can actually help sports such as running and cycling by building strong, powerful muscles that can rapidly react when called upon to accelerate. Also, a well-rounded weight training plan can also reduce injuries by balancing key muscle groups and reinforcing vulnerable joints.

One thing that my Pilates clients learn is that doing exercise slowly makes a big difference. It’s not always necessary to load on more and more weight to get stronger. By slowing down the speed while lifting and lowering weights stresses the muscle and forces it to get stronger.

Here is the mother of all myths when it comes to muscles. How many times have I been asked if by stopping weight training, will my muscles will turn to fat? This question does have a simple answer. No! Muscle and fat are two distinct types of tissue, so it’s physiologically impossible for one to “turn into” the other. Muscle will lose tone, however, if it’s not used, which may result in a flabby appearance where you used to be solid, and if you don’t adjust your diet and workout after you quit training, some of that food you’re eating could turn to fat.

Old age comes to us all

Getting older doesn’t mean giving up muscle strength. Not only can adults fight the battle of strength and muscle loss that comes with age, but the Golden Years can be a time to get stronger, says recent research from the USA.

ImageResistance exercise is a great way to increase lean muscle tissue and strength capacity so that people can function more readily in daily life, Through resistance training, adults can improve their ability to do anything that requires manipulating their own body mass through a full range of motions.

Normally, adults who are sedentary beyond age 50 can expect muscle loss of up to 0.4 pounds a year. That only worsens as people age. But even earlier in adulthood; the 30s, 40s and 50s, you can begin to see declines if you do not engage in any strengthening activities.

Recent analyses of current research show that the most important factor in somebody’s function is their strength capacity. No matter what age you are, you can experience significant strength improvement with progressive resistance exercise. This means that the amount of weight used, and the frequency and duration of training sessions is altered over time to accommodate improvements.

Evidence shows that after an average of 18-20 weeks of progressive resistance training, an adult can add 2.42 pounds of lean muscle to their body mass and increases their overall strength by 25-30%.

Recommendations for those over 50

Anyone over age 50 should strongly consider participating in resistance exercise. A good way for to start, especially for people who are relatively sedentary, and after getting permission from their doctor to do so, is to use their body mass as a load for exercises. Such exercises you can do include exercises that progress through a full range of motion, such as Pilates and Yoga.

Transition to the gym

After getting accustomed to these activities, you can move on to more advanced resistance training in a gym, with the help of a fitness professional. You should feel comfortable asking a trainer whether they have experience working with aging adults. I suggest that you participate in strengthening exercise two days per week as the minimum.

Don’t forget to progress

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As resistance training progresses and weights and machines are introduced, you should keep in mind the need for increased resistance and intensity of your training to continue building muscle mass and strength. A good fitness professional can help plan an appropriate training regimen, and make adjustments based on how you respond as you progress. Progressive resistance training should be encouraged among healthy older adults to help minimize the loss of muscle mass and strength as they age.

So there you have it, a quick and simple guide that I hope will help and encourage you to reach greater heights this year than ever before. Good luck. Let me know if you need any help.

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Weight loss the basics: Calories, exercise and Pilates

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Weight loss for most people is not easy. There is a reason why people weigh the amount they do, and that reason is usually years and years of consistent over-eating and not enough exercise. Those are not easy habits to change at all, let alone over-night. This is one of the reasons that most diets fail within the first few weeks.

So start simple. In this article I want to give you some simple concepts and explain why I believe that Pilates is the perfect place to start and incorporate into your weight loss program.

The clients of Pilates teachers notice that their clothes start to fit differently. I am often told that trousers feel a little looser around the waist and thighs, and arms feel more toned. But I am often why is it, if this is the case that overall weight can remain at a similar level?

If you want to lose weight, we need to consider some basics. We can (and  I will in my next blog) talk about fasting, the 5:2 diet, the 4:3 diet, but nothing changes the following basic facts.

How To Lose Weight
The principle of weight loss is a complex issue involving many factors, but to help simplify matters, for the purposes of this article we will think that you need to burn more calories than you consume. Your caloric intake needs to be less than your calories exerted. This idea helps many people to begin to understand what they need to do to lose weight. But the key is of course, how do you achieve this? 5:2? 4:3? Maybe. But let’s talk about exercise. Good, old fashioned exercise (in a later blog I will talk about High Intensity Interval Training, but for now let’s keep it nice and basic). So why exercise? It’s possible to consume less calories than you are exerting without exercise, but it’s quite difficult, and exercising gives many benefits.

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Why Exercise?
Exercise is divided into two different groups: aerobic and anaerobic exercise. You need to understand the difference before we move on.

Aerobic exercise is moderate exercise performed for a long duration of time. 

Anaerobic exercise is used to build power and/or muscle mass. These muscles generally have a greater performance under a short duration/high intensity situation.

Aerobic and Anaerobic exercise have numerous benefits, besides helping to burn of those calories to increase weight loss or weight maintenance. These other benefits include strengthening the respiratory and heart muscles,  toning muscles in the body, improving your overall circulation, reducing your blood pressure, and boosting your immune system. Some say aerobic exercise is better for weight loss than anaerobic and vice versa. But the key is to make your caloric intake less than you caloric output. How you achieve that is up to you.

Calories Burned: Pilates vs. Other Exercises

I’ve listed below some popular activities and how many calories they burn during one hour of exercise. These figures are based on someone weighing around 145 pounds.

  • Badminton 288
  • Bicycling : outdoor 512, indoor 448
  • Dancing : general 288, aerobic 416
  • Gardening 256
  • Golfing 288
  • Jogging (5 mph) 512
  • Rope Jumping 640
  • Running (8 mph) 864
  • Skiing: cross-country 512, downhill 384
  • Stair Climbing 576
  • Swimming 384
  • Tennis 448
  • Walking: 2 mph 160, 3.5 mph 243

Studies suggest that a 145 lb person doing Pilates for one hour would burn the following calories:

  • Beginner level Pilates 241 calories
  • Intermediate level Pilates 338
  • Advanced level Pilates 421

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Pilates and Exercise: The Answer

Someone doing a regular form of exercise like jogging (512 calories burned) would still need to watch what they eat because a Big Mac with cheese is 740 calories! This applies to all activities, including Pilates. When Pilates is compared to the general exercise list, the calories burned are in-between both extremes. It is possible to lose weight while using Pilates as a source of exercise, but you have to watch how many calories you ingest.

To put it bluntly, if you are only doing an hour of Pilates exercise each day and no other exercise and you wanted to lose weight, you would really need to seriously count your calories. Remember, calories exerted needs to be greater that calories ingested for weight loss. Not many people eat less than 338 calories a day, which is the amount of calories you will burn in an intermediate level mat workout! So you get my point? Doing Pilates alone is not a viable option. But the beauty of Pilates is that it gives you a foundation from which to go forth and exercise more. And this is crucial for many people, from those exercising for the first time to elite athletes who want to stay on the top of their profession.

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Pilates and Extraordinary Effects on the Body
Pilates does change the shape of your body and your clothes will fit differently. Pilates can tighten your waistline, even if you do not lose so much weight, and it builds muscle without bulk and improves posture, making you seem taller and slimmer. It tones all of your muscles because each Pilates exercise session is a full body workout. All of these benefits perfectly compliment a program that considers calorie intake and exercise.

So the key is that if it is paired with the right program, Pilates will help you to lose weight whilst also keeping your body strong, flexible and toned. There are other benefits too;

  • Creating lean muscle mass, as Pilates does, is one of the best ways to increase your calorie-burning potential.
  • One of the best ways to look and feel thinner is to have beautiful posture.
  • Pilates creates a leaner look by emphasizing both length and good alignment.
  • Pilates promotes deep and efficient respiration, which is essential for calorie burning and tissue regeneration.
  • Engaging in an exercise program, like Pilates, promotes self-esteem and heightened lifestyle consciousness. Both are associated with weight loss.

So my advice (completely unbiased coming from a Pilates educator of course…) is that everyone should incorporate Pilates into their weight loss regime.  It makes sense doesn’t it?

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