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GJ Fitness Tips

Fitness Articles:

Abdominals
If you want to achieve a flat, toned, and trimmed abdominal area, these two steps must be followed.
 
The first important step that you must do is to establish an exercise program that specifically targets the muscles in your abdominal area. The exercises that you include in your program must work on your rectus abdominis, or your six-pack muscle, and on the oblique muscles, which are found on the side of the sides of your six pack muscles. It is important to remember that both muscles must be worked out, otherwise, you will not obtain the results that you want.  

The following are the most recommended exercises for your abdominal muscles:
  • Sit ups. This exercise is performed while lying on the floor, with the knees folded and held together, and the hands placed at the back of the neck or across the chest area. When trying to lift your upper body, it is important to always keep it straight. It is up to you how many repetitions you want, although it is desirable to repeat it as many times as you possibly can. Never try to pull on your neck to avoid experiencing strain on that area.   
 
  • Twisting sit ups. This one is very much similar to the previous exercise, except for the position of the knees which are kept slightly apart. When lifting, the upper body must be turned in a way that the elbow on one side touches the knee on the opposite side. You can repeat this as many times as you possibly can, and even alternate it the conventional sit ups discussed above. Never try to pull on your neck to avoid experiencing neck strain.   
 
  • Crunches. This exercise is performed while lying on the floor, with the lower legs placed on a chair, and the thighs at right angle to the floor. Put your hands at the back of your neck. Elevate your head and shoulders, while keeping your lower back flat on the floor, towards the pelvic area to a level or height that is quite difficult to reach. Stay in that position for as long as you possibly can, then release and relax back to your original position for a couple of seconds. Repeat the crunch again and do more repetitions. Never try to pull on your neck to avoid experiencing neck strain.   
 
  • Leg lifts. This exercise is done also by lying on the floor with the knees bent enough to reduce the stress on the lower portion of your back.  Stretch your arms to your sides or under your lower back for support. When you are in position, elevate your legs slowly upwards, and as high as you can. When your legs are already perpendicular to the floor, start to lower it slowly to its starting position. Repeat it for as many times as you possibly can. And for added benefit, while taking your legs towards their original position, stop midway and stay in that position for about 10 seconds, and then proceed to completely lowering them.
 
  • One arm side push ups. This is performed by lying on one side on the floor, and supporting your body on your forearm, with your shoulder above your elbow and your arm directed away from your body. You can bend your knees, but make sure to keep your upper body and legs in line with each other. Rest the other arm on your side, and your hands placed flat on your upper leg. Lift your hips up to the point where your back is straight and stay in that position for about 5 seconds. Return to your original position after, and repeat for about ten times. Switch to the other side and repeat all the steps again.
 
  • Reverse crunches. This one is done with your back flat on the floor, your knees bent and held close together, and your feet on the floor. Put your hands at the back of your neck and breathe deeply. Lift your hips from the floor until your knees reach your chest area. You can also lift your shoulders and head. If you experience to much strain, it is just alright to not elevate your head and shoulders, but you still have to lift your knees in order to increase strength. Stay in that position for about two seconds, and then return your feetyou’re your head back to their starting position. Do this for 10 times.
 
  • Front Hold / Plank. To perform this exercise, put yourself into a push-up pose. Then, rest the weight of your upper body onto your elbow and lower arms. Make sure that your shoulders are above your elbows, and that your forearms are extending straight ahead. Maintain your body in such position, engaging the muscles of the abdominal area and keeping your body completely straight. Hold yourself in that position for as many counts as you possibly can. If you can take it for up to a minute, that would be great, but can be quite challenging.
 
  • Incline leg-hip raise. This exercise must be done on a padded, incline board. If you don’t have one, you can just make your own incline board, and that you will find out by emailing us. Nevertheless, if you got one, you can perform this exercise and do it properly, it can improve your lower back, lower abdominal, and butt muscles. To perform this, first, rest your back on the incline board. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Grasp the part of the incline board directly above your head (in some cases, the feet hooks or bars) for support. Flex your hips by lifting your legs and flexing your knees. Continue to lift your knees up towards your shoulders by flexing your waist, raising your hips away from the incline board. Stay in that position for five seconds. Slowly return to your starting position up to the point where your back, hips, legs, and knees are extended and rest on the board again. Do this for at least five times.
 
  • Sideways scissors. This is done by lying on your left side on the floor, and slightly bending your body on the area of the hip. Establish balance by extending your left arm forward. Put your right hand at the back of your head, with your elbow directed towards the ceiling. Raise your legs and then your upper body from the floor as far as you possibly can, without the help of your left arm. Do this for five times. Switch to the other side and repeat the steps. 
 
Once you have developed an exercise program, the next step is then to get rid of fats on the abdominal area. Exercising does not actually eliminate fat. If you want to tone your abdominal muscles and obtain great results, you have to formulate and stick to a diet plan that will aid in shedding excess fats. Many people have noticed that reducing carbohydrate in their diet produces faster results. Regarding fat loss, it is important to know that no diet plan has the ability to eliminate fat from a particular part of the body. The body uses up fats from energy when it doesn’t get enough calories from diet. And normally, body fat is burned up in an order opposite to how it was gained. To explain it further, for instance, if fats accumulate on your hips first, then that will be the last part that will lose fat. Or if you gained it on your abdomen first, then that will be the final part to lose fat. It is true that weight loss through elimination of fat happens in all parts of the body when dieting, although normally, those parts which gained fat the most recently will lose weight faster.

Arms
Getting their upper arms toned is important for many women. Men, on the other hand, are keen on increasing muscle mass on their arms. For both cases, there are two considerations that must be followed when trying to tone or build muscle mass on the arms. 
 
The first thing that must be considered is that, exercising is not an excuse for having a poor diet. If you let fat build up above your muscles, no matter how much you exercise, you will never be able to tone and make it look more defined. So if you want to tone your arms, it is important to get rid of fats first. And you can do this by switching to a diet that helps reduce fat. Nevertheless, it is also important to note that no diet can target fats on a specific part of the body. Instead, diets work on eliminating fats not just on your arms, but on the other parts of the body as well. 
 
And then, the second point that must be kept in mind when trying to tone and define your arm muscles is exercising them regularly. Weight training exercises can help develop muscle endurance and strength. Women should not worry that doing such exercises will make them look very muscular like Arnold Schwarzenegger, as they will not develop muscles as much as men do. That’s of course, unless they’re planning to do so. What women will get from weight training exercises are just nicely-toned arms that will flatter her figure and appearance.
 
Recommended exercises that can help tone the biceps muscles of the upper arm:

Curls. This type of exercise can be done while standing, or even when sitting. With your head up and your upper body straight, get a weight with your hand and grip it firmly. Bend your elbows slowly and rotate your turn your forearm as you flex your arm up to your shoulder. After the upswing, your palm should be facing towards you. Lower the weight slowly and perform 10 more repetitions. Then, repeat all steps for the other arm. Note: You don’t have to buy dumbbells and weights to do this exercise. Something as simple as a jug filled with water weights around 8 pounds, and can be used as an alternative. As you improve in terms of endurance and strength, you can try to increase the weight you’re working on. Or instead of increasing weight, you can just do more repetitions. 
 
Push downs. To perform this, first get yourself into a push up position. Be sure to keep your back straight and your abdominal muscles in. Lower your body slowly up to the point where your upper arms and the floor are parallel to each other. Stay in that position for about three counts. Slowly lift yourself back to the original position. Do this for about 10 times.
 
Flyes. Position yourself first, standing with feet apart at about shoulder width. Grab a weight on your one hand-- you may use dumbbells, handweights, or even a water-filled jar or book. Engage your abdominal muscles, bend your knees, and bend forward from your hips. For balance and support, put your other hand (the one not carrying a weight) on your mid-thigh. Maintain your upper body steady and lift your weighted hand to the side, with your arm straight, until it is in a position that is parallel to the floor. Stay in that position for a count of ten. Lower your arm slowly, and do ten repetitions. Follow the same steps for the other side. 
 
Wall outs. This exercise is pretty much similar to the exercise involving push-ups, and can therefore be performed anytime and anywhere. To do this, position yourself first facing a wall, with your feet kept apart at shoulder width, at a distance of 12-15 inches from the wall. Hold your upper arms at the side of your body, while extending your lower arms towards the wall, with your palms flat against the wall and your fingers directed upward. Push yourself away from the wall until your upper arms are slightly stretched and are carrying your weight. Stay in that position briefly, then incline forward by bending your arms but making sure that you elbows are not bowed outward, until your nose come close to the wall. Stay in that position for a few seconds, and then return to your original position. Repeat for at least 5 times. For added balance, you can keep one foot back slightly when doing the push out. And always remember to direct your energy on your arms, keep your back straight and you hips tucked, and breathe! 
 
Bent-over flyes. Take a dumbbell or weight in your left hand. Flex your arm and focus the weight in front of your body, while keeping your abs in. Flex your knees and bend forward from your hips. To achieve stability, place your right hand on your right thigh. Hold your upper body in a steady position and extend your other hand on the side up until your arm and the floor is parallel with each other. Stay in that position for 5-15 counts, and return to your original position. Do several repetitions, and then repeat all steps for the other side.
 
Recommended exercises that can help tone the triceps muscles of the upper arm:

Tricep extensions. This exercise is done with your back flat on the floor, your knees flexed, and feet kept slightly apart. Carry the weights in a way where the palms of the hands are facing each other, and the weights directly above the chest and positioned apart at shoulder width. Once in correct position, lower the weights by flexing your elbows slowly, up to about 90 degrees. Make sure that the upper arm stays in an upright position as you flex your elbows and bring the weights down. The extension is said to be complete when the lower arm is perpendicular to the floor. Stay in that position for 10 seconds. After that, extend your arms slowly at the elbow until you reach your original position. Do this for at least 10 times. Relax for a minute and repeat for at least one more time. If you want to increase the tension on your triceps muscles, you can do that by increasing the weight or by allowing the weights to reach the floor near your ears. Note: You don’t need to buy weights or dumbbells to perform this exercise. Books can also be used, and you can even adjust the weight by using thicker ones. When you notice that there’s an improvement in your strength and endurance, then that would be the time when you should consider purchasing dumbbells so you can increase the weight gradually. Or an alternative to that would be just increasing the number of repetitions. 
 
Overhead press. This exercise is done while standing, with the feet set apart from each other and the knees slightly bent. Hold weights at level with your shoulders and your palms facing each other. Press the weights up until your arms are straight. Make sure to keep your back straight and avoid locking your elbows. Stay in that position for about 10 counts, then slowly go back to your original position. Repeat it for 12-15 times. For the weights, you can use handweights, dumbbells, or any other weight such as cans of vegetables etc. It is ok to use anything as long as you can safely use it. And then, once your muscles become stronger, you can increase weight and the repetitions to 20-25 times per work out.
 
Tricep dips. Position yourself by sitting on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Put your hands near your body and grip the corners of the chair, with your thumbs directed forward. Lift your buttocks up and out from the chair by straightening your arms, then lower your hips below the level of the chair seat by bending your elbows slowly, as far as you can. Straighten your arms again to allow you to raise your hips back to the level of the chair seat. Repeat this for a couple of times. If a more intense tricep dips, you should spread your legs apart more and flex your knees less. Or if you want it to be less intense, keep your feet closer and flex your knees more.

Chest
Just like any other muscle groups, getting your chest muscles developed and toned will go through two phases—the fat loss and muscle toning phases.
 
The first phase involves losing fat in the chest area, in order to reveal the muscles and to help improve general health and appearance as well. Switching to a low calorie diet, with around 30% of calories derived from protein, will help you shed excess fat while increasing muscle mass. Again, it is important to remember that no diet has ever formulated to target fats on specific areas only. And as you get rid of excess fats, the body will use up it fat reserves from all parts of the body. So if you are aiming for a well-defined, nicely toned chest, you will get not just that but a more slim body as well.
 
The next includes performing exercises that will help you develop and tone your chest muscles. The exercises that will be enumerated below are meant to specifically target the largest chest muscle called the pectoralis major—the muscle that contracts when you are drawing your arms towards your chest, and when pushing things such as carriages and lawnmowers. The pectoralis major is also the one responsible for creating the toned appearance of women’s chest area, it is the muscle found underneath the breasts. If the breasts sag, it means that these muscles are not toned. Keep in mind that no exercise can reverse the effects of sagging, childbearing, breastfeeding, or the pull of gravity; but performing exercises that can tone the chest muscles will definitely help you improve your general appearance.

Recommended exercises that can help tone the muscles of the chest area:
  • Chest presses. Start by lying down on a weight bench, making sure to keep your abs contracted and your lower back straight. Put the weights directly above the chest, with the elbows positioned at 90 degree angles. Extend your arms up without locking the elbows, and bring the weights closer together. Then bend your elbows and lower your arms back to their original position. Do this for 10 times at least. Note: You don’t have to buy weight bench nor barbells to perform this exercise. Lying on your back flat on the floor is alright, and using something like books and jugs full of water (weighs 8lbs.) as substitute for the weights is just fine. As you improve, you can choose to purchase a set of barbells so you can increase the weight gradually, or you can just increase the number of repetitions that you do.
 
  • Push ups. This type of exercise is definitely not just for men, but also for women. To perform this, put your hands on the floor and place them apart from each other (probably at a greater distance than the shoulders). Stand on your toes or knees, and bend your arms slowly to lower your body up to when the elbows are at 90-degree angles. Then, unbend your arms and push up, but avoid locking your elbows. Also, keep your abs tight and don’t let it sag. Lower yourself back to its original position. Do this ten times, and rest for one minute after. Do another ten repetitions. When you’re improving in terms of conditioning and strength, you may do more repetitions.
 
  • Chest flyes. This are performed by lying on the floor, with the abs tight and lower back straight. Position the weights directly over the chest area, with your palms facing each other, and your elbows slightly flexed. Lower the weights out to your side, up to the height of the shoulders, and then lift the weights up again. Your motion while doing this exercise should be like “embracing a tree.” To avoid damage to your elbow joint, avoid locking your elbows while lowering the weights down to the shoulder level.  Note: You don’t have to buy barbells or weight bench to perform this exercise. For the barbells, you can just use dumbbells, books, or even jugs full of water (weighs around 8 pounds). Once you see improvements in terms of conditioning, you can choose to buy set of professional barbells so you can increase the weight little by little; or you can just increase the number of repetitions.
 
  • Wall ups. This exercise is done in a standing position, with a distance of about two feet from a wall. Position your hands flat against the wall, at the level of the shoulders. Slowly lean forward, up to the point where your nose touches the wall. Use the muscles of your arms and chest to support your body and regulate your motion. Push yourself back to your starting position, and repeat this for about 14 times more. If you want to intensify this exercise, what you should do is that, as you lean, when have gotten to the point that strains the chest muscles most, stay in that position for at least 10 seconds before finishing the motion.
 
Aside from the exercises given about, there are lots of other activities that you can do to improve tone and strength of your arm and upper chest muscle groups. Sports such as baseball, football, rowing, squash and tennis can help develop, toughen, and tone the muscles of you arm and upper chest.

Hips and Buttocks
One of the most challenging areas for women to keep toned is their hips. And with more factors such as work, busy lives, and driving everywhere adding to the weight that is naturally carried after childbirth, women are larger than ever. But the answer is just simple-- eating a healthy diet and regular exercising.
 
Losing weight is the first thing that women will need to do when toning their hips. This is vital for the exercise to deliver the kind of toned buttocks and hips women want. Eating a healthy and low calorie diet may require some dedication, but it really will pay off.
 
It is important to note that losing weight is the only way to get trim and toned hips and buttocks, and that there is no diet that will be able to specifically target that area. Once women get to their ideal weight, then the toning can begin.
 
Once women get down to the right weight, targeting the area of the body with exercises will help to firm the muscles. Losing weight is the first part of the process, but without an exercise regime specifically designed to tone this area, then you will be unlikely to get the results you want.
 
There are a number of exercises which can help with this, and those include:
  • The Fire Hydrant Lift.This exercise has been submitted by Oklahoma's C.R. and is really good for getting results around the thighs and the hips. The first motion is to get on to the hands and knees, and then to lower your torso so that you are resting on your elbows, with the arms going directly ahead of you along the floor. The next movement is what has given the exercise the name, so raise your right leg horizontally, as though you were a dog urinating on a fire hydrant. At the top of the lift, hold for two seconds, then lower the leg. Repeat either five or ten times, and then repeat the action on the left leg.
 
  • Stiff Leg Deadlift. Standing in a relaxed posture, with your feet apart and straight-legged, bend forward at the waist until your back is horizontal. You will need some form of weight, whether it be in the form of a barbell, dumbbell, or even jugs filled with water. Lift the weight and then return to a standing position. Repeat this exercise ten times. It is important to take special care when carrying out the exercise, and to follow each step exactly. This exercise is great for the lower back, buttocks and the rear of the thighs, but if you do not follow the instructions it can lead to lower back problems. If you suffer from back problems already, it is always wise to speak with your doctor about any change in an exercise regime.
 
  • Lunges. From a standing position bring one leg forward, around three feet in front of the other. Keep your back straight, and lower both legs by bending the front knee and also the back knee until it is nearly in contact with the ground. Hold the position for ten counts, and then pull yourself up. Repeat as many times as you like, before repeating the exercise on the other leg. When carrying out this exercise, you will want to make sure not to put stress on the knees, as this can do more damage than the benefit for the buttocks and thighs. If you suffer with knee issues, refer to a doctor before carrying out the exercises.
 
There are plenty of other things that can be done to help with toning this area of the body, which include:
·         Step Walking –Whether it is on a step machine or actual stairs.
·         Dancing Aerobically –Use your favourite music or put on a DVD.
·         Step Aerobics –The step itself can be raised as your condition improves, but make sure to look after your knees.
·         Swimming –This is ideal for people with muscle or joint problems, as it is low impact.
·         Cycling –Both the machine and the bike itself are excellent.
·         Walking or Powerwalking –Both provide great exercise.
·         Using leg weight machines.

Thighs
One of the realities that women have to accept is that they will have to work hard to achieve lean and shapely thighs. The thighs are one of the toughest areas of the body to improve, and there are a couple of steps to follow to do that.
 
Firstly, it is going to be impossible to get the nicely-shaped thighs you want if you are two stone over your ideal weight. And so, getting down to the perfect weight should be the first area to focus on. A low-calorie diet and regular exercise will help you to achieve that. The problem with weight loss is that, you will lose weight from across the body, rather than just focusing on the thighs which are such a problem.
 
Secondly, it is vital to use exercises targeting this specific area of the body. Exercises are created exactly for the thighs will improve the tone of the muscles and deliver firm and attractive legs.
 
Exercises such as these can help tone the legs:
  • Stiff Leg Deadlift.This involves standing up straight with feet slightly positioned apart. Bend forward from the waist until your torso is at ninety degrees to your legs. Pick up a barbell or dumbbell and return to the upright position. It is important to breathe out as you rise. Repeat up to ten times. This exercise is wonderful for toning the back, rear of the thighs, and buttocks. It is important to follow the instructions carefully to avoid back injury. Avoid putting strain on the muscles of the back when exercising, and stop immediately if you feel any pain. For those with existing back problems, refer to a physician before adding this to your exercise regime.
 
  • Lunges. From an upright position, move one foot forward by around three feet, and dip your body forward and downwards bending both knees. Keep going down slowly until the back knee is nearly in contact with the ground, and then hold for around ten seconds. Return to a standing position. Repeat this for a number of times before doing the same exercise with the other leg. It is important to avoid putting too much stress on either knee when doing lunges. If either knee starts to hurt, then it is likely you are lunging too low, and will need to reduce the dip. For those with historic problems with their knees, speak to a doctor before performing this exercise.
 
  • Standing Calf Raises. Stand on the balls of your feet, either on a step, block, thick book or any other raised surface, with your knees firmly held. Lower your heels towards the floor, maintaining your balance with the calves. Once you feel a little pull in the muscles, hold the position for ten counts. Then return to a raised position. Complete this exercise up to ten times. It is important to hold this exercise once you feel a tightening in the calf, as pushing the heels to low can cause damage to the muscle. If you are feeling unstable, then it can be useful to have a handrail or table to hold on to. As you become more confident, increase the number of times you do the exercise; you can even add to the exercise by holding some form of weight. If you have any muscle or joint problems in your legs or feet, refer to a doctor before using any new exercise.
 
  • Stretching The Hamstrings. Stand upright with one leg crossing the other, and the outside of each foot together. Bend forward, making sure to keep the back leg straight. Reach your hands towards the feet, until the stretch can be felt. Repeat this exercise on the other leg. This is ideal as part of a warm up for a longer exercise session, or as part of the cool down process. Keeping the back leg straight is vital.
 
  • Inner Thigh Toner. Lie down facing upwards. Keep both legs straight, and raise one up from the floor by around six inches. Make a small circular motion with that leg, keeping the toes pointed forwards. Once you've done 16 circles, bring the leg slowly down and repeat on the other side. This may seem like an innocuous exercise, but is very effective and you will feel the results. Try to do this at least once a day.
 
  • Leg Lifts. Another exercise where you begin on your back, keeping your legs together, and making sure that your arms are by your side. Raise both legs from the floor, then after a few seconds, split the legs. After another few seconds, bring the legs back together. KEEP YOUR LEGS ELEVATED AT THIS POINT! Raise the legs further so that they are at least 24 inches from the floor. Hold for a few seconds again before separating the legs to a 'v' shape, hold, and then bring the legs back together. Bring back to the first raised position and hold for another few seconds. Afterwards, repeat this exercise. This is certainly not an easy exercise, and was provided for us by Zip. They advise that it is quite difficult, and that it is a development over time. Some people may not be able to fully complete the exercise first time. It is important to keep going, and to add more steps as you improve. The complete workout once you are fully up and running will see three sets of 10 of these exercises, which will really end up in highly toned shapely legs, thighs and buttocks.
 
The Science –After receiving an enquiry from K.R. Who lives in Memphis TN, we asked USMC to send us some more information about the leg muscles and how to improve them.
 
Their reply raised these points: 
·         The quadriceps and the adductors are the main muscle groups in the legs. The quads have four connections to the rest of the body, and flexing the knee or extending the hip will add to the tension in these muscles.
·         The general rule is that, any exercise that see the hip staying still but the knees bending and straightening will target the vastus muscles, which are the medialis, the lateralis and the intermedius. One exercise that targets this area is the leg extension.
·         Exercises that move at the hip without using the knees will work the upper part of the quadrice (rectus femoris). An exercise for this group is the weighted front kick.
·         A good way to work out the muscles of the inner thigh will be to use exercises that bring the thigh across the front of the body. These can include machine and cable adductor pulls.
·         For the exercises that see movement in the knees and in the hips will see the workload spread over the whole area, and will be less focused in their impact. These will help to tone the whole area. Exercises from this group are leg presses, squats and lunges.

Getting Started
Getting started is probably the hardest part of executing an exercise program. To help you with this, listed below are some tips that will aid you in starting off right:
  • Get yourself in the proper state of mind: start everything by telling yourself how exercise will help improve the way you look and feel, and how you deal with other people.
  • Think of why exercising can be good for you: you’ll feel more motivated to follow your exercise program if you imagine that it can make you look and feel better after.
  • Know your priorities: you should know that you must prioritize exercising over watching the latest episode of your favorite TV show.
  • Take it easy: you don’t have to perform every exercise in your plan at once. It is actually more recommended to take everything step by step.
  • Consult your physician prior to starting any exercise program, particularly if you are overweight or are suffering from heart disorders.
 
Executing Your Workout Plan
To help your body cope or get used to your workout plan quickly and easily, what your must do is to perform the activities in a progressive manner. Doing so will prevent you from overworking your body and eventually giving up.

Level 1
  • Refrain from relying to machines when doing something. For instance, when you want to go to the grocery store, instead of riding in your car, just walk. Or when going up to the next floor, use the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.
  • Try to look for nice places where you can take walks.
  • Purchase some instructional dance or workout videos or CDs.
  • When you are already comfortable with the activities given above, you can now proceed on executing the Level 2 activities.
 
Level 2
  • Exercise by walking or swimming for about 15 minutes a day. Do not try to perform those activities for more than that designated time.  
  • If the weather is bad and you cannot perform walking or swimming, try using the CDs or videos that you bought, and dance for 15 minutes.
  • After around one month, if you are comfortable enough, you can now move on to level 3 activities.
 
Third Level
  • Increase the duration of your daily exercise from 15 minutes to 20 minutes. 
  • Do not attempt to exercise for up to 40 minutes in one day just to the next day. Remember that exercise, when done on a regular basis produces the most desirable results. Ideally, you to stick to a daily schedule to get the most benefits.
  • Try exercising at different times of the day. Most people find that exercising in the morning provides them energy to get through all their activities for the day. And there are those who prefer exercising in the evening, since according to them, it helps relieve stress brought about by office or household works.
  • To help tone the muscles of the chest and arms, you can also consider adding light weight training exercises in your routine. While performing your walking exercises, you can use hand weights and do arm curls.
  • To strengthen and tone the muscles of your legs, you should consider using ankle weights while swimming or walking.
Health Clubs: After reading the previous articles, you now know why regular exercise should be included in your daily routine. And most people do this by going to a health club or gym in their area. Many of these are usually located in the large cities, although small towns may also have fitness programs set at specific venues.
 
When choosing the gym or health club where you plan to work out, there are lot of factors that must be put into consideration, aside from the fees, location, and popularity. The following are the two important things that you should check:
 
Cleanliness: Observe the club or gym during their working hours. It is recommended to do this a few hours after the opening, when the clients have already used the facilities and equipments.
  • Are the equipments clean?
  • Do they clean the equipments after a day’s use? Do they make sure that all sweat, germs, etc. are removed?
  • Are the shower rooms clean, orderly, and well-maintained?
  • Are the bathrooms clean, orderly, and well-maintained?
  • Do the employees look tidy and well-groomed? (perspiration is acceptable, of course)
 
Safety: This is of extreme importance for all people (regardless of age), particularly for those aged 35 years old and above, who usually are suffering from systemic conditions such as heart diseases and diabetes. Strenuous exercise can lead to exacerbation of the condition, so they better be careful to avoid this. 
  • Are the equipments in good condition and are working properly?
  • Does the gym or club have medical workers who can perform CPR in case of emergency?
  • Do the instructors have certifications from appropriate agencies or organizations?
  • Are they aware on what they need to do in case someone suffers from injury or heart attack?
  • Do they require you to accomplish a health questionnaire before they accept you as their member? If they do, is it well-detailed and complete? Do they also require you to get medical clearance (usually for heart and respiratory diseases, and diabetes) from your physician?
 
Those are things that you must examine when selecting your gym or health club. If you think that your chosen place does not satisfy these tests, you can suggest these to them, or better yet, you should go look for another place to work out. Anyway, majority of health clubs are actually clean, safe, complete in equipments and facilities, and well-maintained. You should treat yourself well and never settle.

Judo, the form of combat sport and martial art developed by Jigoro Kano in 1882, literally means the "gentle way." It was founded upon the fighting styles of ancient Japan, specifically during the feudal era. Judo is created based on the principles and movements of another, more ancient Japanese martial art called jujitsu.
 
The art of judo consists of a combination of throwing (nage waza), grappling (katame-waza), and striking (atemi-waza) techniques. Although those may sound really intense, the use of physical, brute force is not actually the key to achieving success in judo. Instead, a practitioner must learn how to harness his or her agility and flexibility in order to get the results desired.
 
Judo promotes general physical training, through enhancing flexibility and muscle tonicity. The techniques or styles do differ slightly from one studio to another, but generally, all teach self-discipline, mental training, history, and philosophy, apart from the physical training from this martial art.
 
Judo promotes respect and self-discipline, not just for yourself, but for others as well. It provides an environment perfect for developing confidence, focus, mental alertness, and physical training. And while learning all of that, the practitioner will also be able to learn self-defense.
 
Just like other workout or exercise plans, judo has a wide range of techniques, each one having its own principles and history. And every studio that offers judo training also teaches these, along with the physical aspects of the sport. You can go to the studios in your place to learn about the forms of judo that are available.
 
Keep in mind that judo does not take into account your physical condition at the start of the training. It doesn’t matter if you are not in your ideal shape-- this sport will help you achieve a trimmed, well-built body. And most importantly, judo can be practiced by anyone- young or old, fat or thin, and also handicapped people.

Karate, the traditional Japanese form of unarmed combat, literally translates to "empty hand." It is an ancient art that involves conditioning of both mind and body, while allowing the practitioner to learn an excellent method of self-defense.
 
This form of martial art involves several techniques-- strikes, throws, blocks, dodges and manipulation of joints; and is practiced in three main aspects—basics (kihon), form or model (kata), and sparring (kumite).
 
Karate’s history and philosophy are equally important as its physical aspect. What differentiates karate from other forms of exercise such as pilates and aerobics, is that, aside from the physical conditioning, it also aims to develop the mental concentration and alertness of the practitioner. By eliminating the weak and uncertain movements in the karate steps, practitioners are also able to get rid of the weakness and indecisiveness in their minds.
 
Although often considered an exercise program and as a means of self-defense, karate is actually more like a way of life. Definitely, there are a lot of health benefits that can be learned from this martial art, but its main purpose is to promote the development of a healthy mind and body.
 
At the beginning, karate makes use of slow, yet accurate movements to enhance the body’s agility and flexibility. Once the body improves on those aspects, faster movements can be practiced. The sequence of movements performed in a precise manner is otherwise known as kata, or forms. These forms, if already learned or mastered, can be carried out independently.
 
Just like other workout or exercise plans, karate has a wide range of techniques and styles. Many “dojos,” or studios, teach a specific form of karate, particularly one which was developed by their “sensei” or master. Each form of karate has its own principles and history. And every dojo that offers training in karate also teaches those, along with the physical aspects of that martial art. You can go to the dojos in your place to learn about the forms of karate that are available.
 
Keep in mind that karate does not take into account your physical condition at the start of the training. It doesn’t matter if you are not in your ideal shape-- this sport will help you achieve a trimmed, well-built body. Most importantly, as you develop muscle and improve flexibility with karate, you can benefit from the lifetime physical conditioning that it offers, and you can intensify your training as your body gets more fit.

Kung fu is the term Westerners use to refer a form of martial arts which originated from China. Actually, “kung fu” refers to the skill that can be achieved through training, and not exactly to the martial arts itself (in fact, kung fu literally translates to “human achievement”). Nevertheless, kung fu involves conditioning of both mind and body, while allowing the practitioner to learn an excellent method of self-defense.
                     
Kung fu highlights fast and powerful positions and movements along with a variety of techniques like grabs, animal strikes, kicks, punches, and throws. The hand techniques are meant to work out the upper body, while the kicking techniques and footwork work out the lower body. In general, kung fu offers an excellent training that conditions the entire body.
 
The kung fu techniques that are also used in wrestling—grabs, grappling, throws, etc. are done to improve flexibility and to make the muscles of the upper body stronger. The intensity of your work out always depends on how fast your skills develop when practicing the different kung fu techniques.
 
Just like other workout or exercise plans, kung fu has a wide range of techniques and styles. Many studios teach a specific form of kung fu, particularly one which was developed by a certain “master”. Each form of kung fu has its own principles and history. And every studio that offers training in kung fu also teaches those, along with the physical aspects of such martial art. You can go to the studios in your place to learn about the forms of kung fu that are available.
 
Kung fu is a martial art that conditions both mind and body. What can be obtained from practicing such art are strength, coordination, stamina, and overall mind health. Although kung fu can be difficult for those who are extremely overweight or obese, it is just fine to practice it slowly at first, since that’s how studios will do it anyway. Along with that, you can consider beginning a weight loss program that can help shed excess pounds. You can also do stretching exercises to improve your stamina and flexibility. 

Read as "pih-LAH-tays", Pilates refers to the fitness program started by the German-born Joseph Pilates. It is a system that conditions the entire mind and body and, being low impact, it is ideal for those who have recovered or are just recovering from certain disorders or injuries.  
 
The Pilates fitness program works out all muscles of the body. To make it effective in providing overall body conditioning, each exercise included in the program targets specific, small muscle groups. Pilates is somewhat similar to yoga, particularly in terms of the toning and stretching positions and exercises. Nevertheless, the primary goal of Pilates is to develop all the muscles of the body, with focus on the back and abdominal muscles. And this can be done effectively without bulking up or building large muscles, unlike when you do weight training.
 
Deep breathing is the one of the most important method used in Pilates. It helps reduce stress, calm the mind and body, and make the individual feel good about him/herself by inducing the brain to release positive chemicals. By practicing Pilates, you will get the benefit of strengthening and toning your muscles, while at the same time allowing you to feel good and relaxed.
 
Majority of Pilates workouts are performed while sitting or lying on the floor. And due to the light nature of this fitness program, one can notice that Pilates are widely-used in the field of physical therapy and in many rehabilitations centers across the nation.
 
With the exception of the more advanced programs, Pilates programs are quite simple and generally do not require any specialized equipments or paraphernalia. It is recommended, though, to use videos or instructional manuals that teach how to perform Pilates properly, in order to achieve the results expected. You also check your local directory in order to find out if there are any Pilates studios in or near your location. If you want to condition your body; enhance your agility, flexibility, and strength; and relieve stress, then Pilates is perfect for you.

Total body conditioning, also referred to as “cross training,” is a fitness program formulated to enhance flexibility, promote muscle growth and strength, and offer aerobic benefits. By focusing on an exercise which only offers a single benefit, chances are, you’re missing the advantages offered by the other two categories.

If you are exercising to attain total body fitness, then what you will need is a complete fitness program which includes different sets of activities that you can perform every day.


Cross training comes with lots of benefits, but included in the list below are just some of those benefits:
  • Condition and develop the whole body rather than targeting a particular area
  • Sustain motivation to follow the fitness programs through the wide variety of activities included in it
  • Avoid repetitive strains to particular joints
  • Decrease the chance of injury through enhancing flexibility and strength
  • Improve blood circulation and the health of the heart
  • Improve health in general
 
Four fundamental classifications of exercise exist. And as much as possible, each one should be incorporated in your exercise program. You can do this by choosing one activity from each type, and then creating a program using those four activities. This is better compared to trying to perform all activities in each group, which if you don’t succeed, can only lead to frustration. Definitely, as you progress, meaning when you are already in good shape and are comfortable to exercising regularly, instituting additional activities, or alternating between the different activities from each group can provide variety to your program, and hence, will keep you driven.

Group 1: Aerobic Exercises (activities that promote cardiorespiratory health)
  • Aerobics (will be discussed further in the Aerobics article)
    • dance-style aerobics
    • step aerobics
  • Biking
  • Cross-country skiing, aka XC skiing
  • Jogging or running
  • Rowing
  • Skating or rollerblading
  • Swimming
  • Walking
 
Group 2: Stretching and Flexibility Exercises (each one will be discussed further in the next articles)
  • Martial Arts
    • judo
    • karate
    • kung fu
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
 
Group 3: Endurance Exercises
  • Calisthenics (e.g. sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks etc.)
  • Stationary exercises or isometrics (pushing against a fixed object—wall, etc.)
  • Weight lifting exercises (using light weights and many repetitions)
 
Group 4: Strengthening or Resistance Exercises
  • Stationary exercises or isometrics
  • Weight lifting exercises (using heavy weights and few repetitions)
Yoga refers to the group of physical and mental workouts that have originated from India thousands of years ago. The main goals of this program are to improve flexibility, calm the mind by reducing stress, promote a sense of well-being, and maintain overall health.
 
The two major components of yoga include breathing techniques and exercises, which are known as “postures.” Yoga is usually performed while sitting, standing, laying down, or while in headstand positions. When doing a posture, the person should also do breathing exercises. This is to help calm the muscles, hold the posture longer, and improve concentration.

Yoga is absolutely non-impact and does cause muscle strains; rather, its main purpose is to improve flexibility, which results from repeating the different yoga postures daily. Another benefit is improved breathing resulting from enhanced lung capacity, making it ideal for individuals suffering from asthma.

Unlike other exercises or fitness programs, yoga does not require the use of any special equipment, except for a thick mat which you will use to cushion your body while performing floor exercises. You can even use the cushions from your chair or couch, if you are not yet ready to invest in a nice yoga mat. A blanket can also be used—just make sure to fold it for a couple of times so it can provide enough cushioning for your body.

You can practice yoga techniques on your own, with the aid of books and instructional videos on that subject. Make sure, though, that your are performing all the postures correctly; otherwise, you will experience stress pain on your muscles and joints. Also, you don’t need to force yourself to learn all the postures at once—it is just fine to learn and develop them slowly, one by one. That way, you are allowing your body to adjust and have greater flexibility, without experiencing injuries.
 
Yoga studios are usually located in large cities. You can always check your local directory in order to find out if there are yoga studios in your location. It is important to remember, that performing yoga in a studio is not really required since you can do it at the comfort of your own home, and still get all the benefits that it offers.

The term aerobic means “needing or requiring air (pertains to oxygen).” An aerobic exercise refers to any activity that conditions the lungs and strengthens the cardiovascular system by increasing respiratory and heart rates. A strong and healthy cardiovascular system enables the heart and blood vessels to deliver blood, hence oxygen, in the entire body more efficiently. Aerobic exercises work out large groups of muscles.
 
Two primary types of aerobic exercises exist—the dance style aerobics and the step aerobics.

The first type of aerobics is the dance-style aerobics. This type includes a set of movements that works to increase heart rate and exercise large muscle groups. Dance-style aerobics are usually performed with a dance beat that sets the pace. You can create your own movements, or you can just follow an instructor if you’re on a gym or if you have an instructional video at home. The goal of the dance-style aerobics is the maximum conditioning of the heart and lungs, and toning the large muscle groups.

The other type of aerobics, the step aerobics, is somewhat comparable to dance-style aerobics, excluding the fact that the former works more on the lower body. This type is a low-impact exercise that uses a step to promote muscle conditioning. Compared to dance-style aerobics, step aerobics needs smaller floor space, making it more suitable to be performed at home, or anywhere where there is limited space. Lastly, just like dance-style aerobics,instep aerobics, you can create your own steps or you can just follow your instructor if you’re on a gym or your instructional video if you’re at home.

To properly perform step aerobics, you need to maintain a good position in order to prevent injury.And this can be done by keeping your head up; both shoulders down; and your abdominal, back, and butt muscles tight. When performing step aerobics, it is important to remember that you should lean at your ankle, and not at your waist. This is to prevent putting unnecessary strain on the lower back. Then, your foot should completely touch the platform. Injury to the tendon of the heel can be prevented if you ensure that your heel is down, and that your foot is positioned in the middle of the platform. And when stepping down, move near the platform and make sure that the ball, toe, and heel of your foot rest flat on the floor. Also, it is important to note that, if you are just starting the program, the platform that you will be using should not exceed the recommended height of 4 inches. You can increase the height to around 10 inches once your feel that your conditioning has improved. Remember, in order to avoid injury to your knee, the step height should not force your knee to go beyond a 90-degree angle.

Warming up prior to beginning your aerobic exercise is recommended, so as to ready your body for the work out and to minimize the chances of injury. Stretching of the major muscle groups, particularly those on the lower back is strongly advised. A slower pace of your aerobic workout can also be used for warm up, as it can start increasing your heart rate and heat up your muscles. You should never skip this step or otherwise, it can lead to injuries or damages that can prevent you from exercising, for days, or even for months.

As important as warming up before an aerobic activity is cooling down after you’re finished. This is done to return heart rate to normal, and to get blood back to the general circulation. Cooling down involves relaxing the muscles and increasing flexibility through stretching. Just like in the warm up periods, a slower pace of your aerobic workout can be used for cooling down. This helps free chemicals that have accumulated in the muscles during the intense workout. Failing to do this step will result to sore muscles, heart stress, and fainting.

Regarding the duration of the workout, it should be consistent and progressive. For instance, you can start working out at around 20 minutes every other day, then gradually increasing the duration to like 1 hour daily, once your heart and muscles have become used to your workout.

Exercising will make you thinner
Exercise will not make your body thinner. It does aid in shedding excess weight by increasing your calorie requirements, but cannot do so on its own (in extreme situations, maybe). You should couple exercise with a clean eating diet in order to achieve body fitness. 
 
It is better to exercise a little than nothing at all
Although it is true that a little is better than nothing, it still isn’t that much favorable. Exercising a little will not give that much results, particularly in terms of muscle development and speeding up the metabolism. And for instance, working out every day for around 15 minutes is still much better than exercising for at least an hour on Saturdays only.

Exercise burns up excess fat
This is not entirely true. Exercise does not burn fat; rather, it helps build muscle tissue which leads to faster metabolism. Muscles derive energy through metabolism of fats, which hold more energy compared to other types of cells. When exercising, you tend to develop muscles in certain areas (e.g. thighs), which cause you to look bulkier. If you are aiming to have a lean, fit body, then what you must do is to perform moderate exercise and stick to a low-calorie diet.
 
If little exercise is good, then a lot must be better
This is not necessarily true. Let us take for instance the case of women who work out in order to make their fat thighs look thinner. More often than not, they tend to perform thigh exercises a lot, since they think that doing so can decrease their thigh size. What they don’t how is that, their thigh size increases instead. And so, the right thing to do to this is to exercise the whole body, establish a constant schedule, and switch to a healthy diet.  

Exercising will make you feel tired
On the contrary, exercising actually makes you feel more energized and lively. Regular exercise conditions your body and helps your brain release good chemicals. A regular exercise routine will give you more energy to deal with all your daily activities.

Exercise is time-consuming
A well-planned exercise program normally requires around 15-20 minutes of your time every day. This already includes activities that can help improve the health of your heart, increase your muscle tone, and condition your entire body. Moreover, you can even add at least 5 minutes of exercise to your daily routine by doing simple things such as walking when going somewhere, using the stairs instead of the elevator, and adding some stretching or bending in your household work—all of this can be done without severely affecting your busy schedule.