The Benefits of Sleep

Before you decide on what makes muscles grow, you'd better sleep on it

You work out with muscle-building weights three to four hours a day. You add weights, you increase reps, and you even increase sets. You eat like a horse, choosing wholesome and healthy food at every meal hoping to lose fat and turn it all into muscle. You look in the mirror every day and the same person always looks back at you. No change, except maybe you look a little more tired than the day before. Hey, what gives here?

One of the most overlooked aspects in muscle building is muscle resting. Even seasoned veterans, who know the importance of getting in their full workouts each week, often forget that resting muscles is equally as important as stressing muscles. And muscle rest doesn’t just come from allowing the body to be inactive— it comes from giving the body proper sleep.
Sleep is the time when the body repairs and rebuilds. Every living thing has downtime, a time to replenish, recharge and rejuvenate. Sleep brings about an increased rate of anabolism (the creating of new cells), and a decreased rate of catabolism (the breaking down of old cells). What this means to you is “more muscle.”

Maybe you have heard this around the gym, "You don't grow in the gym, you grow out of the gym." Sleep is not just muscle recovery time, but it's when your muscles repair themselves from the breakdown of the workout— and grow.

The average athlete gets between seven and eight hours of sleep at night. But, in fact, sleep requirements differ widely. If you wake up after only five or six hours of sleep, it may be as much sleep as your body needs. Most people tend to overestimate the amount of sleep they need, and underestimate the amount of sleep they got.

Some other sleep theories also describe sleep time as a dynamic time of healing and growth for organisms. Sleep research clinics have observed sleep-time behavior and electrical brainwaves. Sleep patterns show how the brain’s activity changes during a night’s sleep. Periods of REM (rapid eye movement), when dreams occur, alternate with sessions of slow-wave deep sleep, when growth hormone levels increase, changes in immune function take place and most muscle cell growth occurs.

For all of those reasons, you can see that getting enough sleep is mandatory to your goals of muscle building and fat loss. A lack of sleep can really impede your progress. A few potential problems associated with sleep deprivation are weight gain, aching muscles, faster aging, and slowed reaction time.

Short bouts of sleepless nights probably won't interfere with your gains, but long-term sleep problems will. Here are some tips: first, try to sleep only when you feel sleepy. If you take naps, nap no more than 20 minutes and not too close to bedtime. Always get up and go to bed at the same time on both weekdays and  weekends. Establish a sleep routine and stick with it. These tips won’t guarantee that you’ll be the next Mr. America, but at least you’ll sleep like a baby.

By Steve,FitnessFuture Expert

Last Updated (Wednesday, 05 May 2010 23:45)

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Using a Pedometer for walking or running

A pedometer is a battery-operated device that you wear clipped to your pants, belt or shoes. It measures your stride somehow, and then counts your steps by responding to the rhythm of your body’s movements. In addition to counting the steps you take, some pedometers give you a step-by step analysis of your activity and measure distance traveled in steps and miles, time it took to travel, the number of calories burned, and more.

Some models keep time and sound alarms; the deluxe models even play a selection of classical sonatas in cadence with your steps or relay messages to you with a stern female voice that sounds more like your conscience keeping track of your periods of missed exercise. Pedometers help you to stay motivated by letting you know the progress you’re making each day. Some models even have memories in them, to remind you of the progress that you haven't yet made.

Research has shown that getting that pedometer up to an extra 2,000 steps a day, which is about one mile, can help you prevent weight gain or keep off unwanted pounds. You get other benefits from walking as a regular activity as well: a better response to your body’s insulin, lower risk for heart disease and osteoporosis and lower blood pressure. It can also prevent or delay type-2 diabetes by lowering glucose levels, and improving blood lipids (fats).

If you have any serious circulation problems, don’t think your only option for treatment is with dangerous angioplasties. Walking can be very effective in opening up new blood vessels and relieving the stress in obstructed ones. And it’s a heck of a lot safer. The observable end result for you is more energy, less stress and a healthier, more vibrant life. So, get in step and count on making a difference in your life.

If you’re not very active now, but you’re convinced that it’s healthier if you were-- there are a few steps you can take to get started. The first is to figure out how to fit a 15 to 20 minute walk into your daily schedule. Do you walk before coffee, after breakfast, or before dinner? Second, figure out how to add more steps to your normal routine. Can you use the stairs instead of the elevator? Can you park further away when you reach your destinations?

Change that old mindset from “why walk when you can ride” to “why ride when you can walk.” You’ll also need a sturdy, well-fitting pair of walking shoes, preferably rubber-soled for better cushioning and a place to walk where you enjoy the surroundings. Next, get yourself a decent pedometer.

Pedometers require very little upkeep. Just feed it a little watch battery every other year or so and it’s good to go. It helps motivate you to go the distance by making it easy to track your step-by-step progress. Besides, it’s very user-friendly and we promise-- you’ll never have to call a support person to get it working. Just start walking.  (read more about walking)

Want to buy a pedometer?

by Bruce Heath, DnC

Your Health and Medical Consultant.


Last Updated (Wednesday, 05 May 2010 23:46)

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Yoga – an exercise - technique for the body, mind and soul

Lots of us have heard the word 'Yoga' more than a few times, but the word might have a lot of different ideas, images and connotations associated with it. What is yoga, and what can it do for you? That's something you can learn with a little research into this popular fitness art.

Not all yoga exercises are the right ones for you. Your needs may be different from those of the people you see enjoying yoga on a regular basis, and you may find it difficult to focus on certain types of yoga.

Every technique of yoga tames your mind, spirit and body. Many yoga techniques concentrate on a particular area. There are some yoga techniques that target mind, some aiming at body and some more on a 'spiritual' plane.

We are here to explain in brief, some famous yoga techniques that benefit human beings and their areas of focus:

Yoga techniques that focus on the body:

Ashtanga yoga also known as A POWER YOGA. This is the type of yoga that helps with working on developing the strength of muscles through soft and powerful movements – it's body focused.

Bikram yoga is known as THE HOT YOGA. This yoga is practiced in a hot room that promotes sweating; it helps in detoxification of the body. Flexibility increases with increase in temperature. This yoga also focuses on the body.

Iyengar yoga is referred to as the BALANCING YOGA. This is the yoga that advises users to keep a physical balance of the body and also the breathing technique. It focuses on respiratory benefit with the body as the prime target.

Vinyasa yoga – Though basically this yoga relies on body movements, the uniqueness of this style comes with the idea of combining breathe and motion to improve muscular tone.

Yoga techniques that focus on the Mind:

Bhakti yoga is a spiritual way of getting the human mind to focus on the divine grace of god. This yoga is also known as devotional yoga.

Mantra yoga is practiced to achieve a calm state and to get rid of fluctuations bothering the mind. It involves rhythmic repetition of sounds or Vedic scripts to keep the mind focused. It extracts the stress in the mind and cools down the user.

Raja yoga is a meditation. Meditation helps people concentrate closely on the mind and helps develop a healthy life style.

Vini yoga is normally different in every individual based on his/her need. With this yoga, you learn to focus on breathing and motion. This yoga differs based on the skill levels of every human being.

Though the different types of yoga provide different benefits, the basic formula for each of them remains the same, i.e. concentration on body, mind and spirit with benefits to each of them. But the proportion of the focus between these varies in every level.

These vast varieties of yoga offer users the comfort of selecting types that suit every individual based on their requirements, their needs and what they want to achieve. Yoga techniques can be individualized for every person.

If you are looking for toning up your body, there are separate yoga techniques for different goals. If you want to achieve mental peace and improve spirituality, there are different ones as well. Based on your requirements, you can finalize some types of yoga. Yoga typically offers different benefits to different people based on the way each style is practiced.

Yoga enhances the divine drive in you. It brings in peace and harmony. Yoga reduces stress and related illnesses. Some physical problems like arthritis, joint pain, aging and mobility are among the long list of possible things yoga can help cure.

It is a great pleasure in knowing the yoga varieties and their uses, and a little in-depth knowledge helps new users find the styles they are looking for. This knowledge is critical in enhancing the physical, spiritual and mental stability and fitness. We strongly recommend the practice of various and individualized styles of yoga for a peaceful and healthy life.

By Steve,FitnessFuture Expert

Last Updated (Wednesday, 05 May 2010 23:46)

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