Top 5 Tips to Prevent Back Pain Later in Your LifeBack pain is often temporary. You pull a muscle, exercise improperly, suffer from poor posture or in some other way cause stress and strain on your back. The pain may last for a few hours, and then go away entirely. But studies have shown that over time, repeated back pain, even very mild in nature, can lead to chronic and debilitating back problems later in life.

Once you hit your 40s and 50s, your body is not as strong as it was when you were younger. This means that chronic back problems can have a bigger negative impact on your life and your body than when you were healthier. Practice the following 5 tips for a healthy and strong back now, and you limit your chances of suffering from back pain later in life.

1 – Stop smoking

I am sure you understand how unhealthy smoking is. But did you know it actually has been linked to higher instances of back pain than those who do not smoke? Scientists are not even sure exactly how smoking causes problems in your back. They believe it may have something to do with restricting the flow of blood which contains healthy nutrients. This leads to problems in your spinal discs, and a higher incidence rate of back pain in smokers.

2 – Stop sleeping on your stomach

Sleeping face down puts a lot of pressure on your back. Years of sleeping in this position can consistently and slowly damage your spinal alignment over time, causing serious back problems later on in life. When sleeping on your back, place a pillow under your knees. This cuts the amount of pressure on your spinal cord by half.

3 – Lose weight

If you can stay within about 10 pounds of your natural weight, you can drastically reduce your chances of suffering from back pain. Get more exercise and change your eating habits, and you can drop those extra pounds which cause back pain now and chronic pain as you age. Read the best ways to achieve this in Cheeseburger Abs.

4 – Stop stressing out

Stress, anxiety and depression can cause short and long-term back pain. Any type of stress causes you to flex and tense your muscles. Constant worrying means that you are putting extra stress on your back all day long. Take up yoga or meditation, tai chi or deep breathing exercises to learn to handle stress better.

5 – Adopt proper posture, especially if you work in a sitting position all day

Proper posture is so important for a multitude of health reasons. When you slouch over in your chair or on the couch, you put incredible pressure on your lower back and pelvis. Texting, which you probably do dozens of times a day, also causes bad posture. Back pain is more prevalent among office workers and those who make a living sitting in front of the computer for several hours each day, so stand instead of sitting whenever you can.

Of course this is a short post, but if you feel I have left anything out, be sure to add your comments below. Thanks

Business woman with her team at the officeThere are many benefits of walking during your workday. While most of them are physically health-related, a few have some mental health benefits too. Below is a sample of 6 of the more important benefit of walking:

1) Improve Your Circulatory System

When walking, your heart rate increases, thus moving more blood over a given period of time. More blood to the cells means a better transfer of oxygen in and carbon dioxide and wastes out. By strengthening your circulatory system, you reduce your risk of heart disease, along with lowering your blood pressure.

2) Lower Your Total Cholesterol Ratio

Walking also has another effect on your blood – it raises your good HDL while at the same time lowering your bad LDL. A better cholesterol ratio means less chance of developing plaque that narrows your arteries and causes a stroke. Continue reading

6 Things That Fit People Do DifferentlyIf you would interview a group of extremely fit people, you would see they all have these six things in common:

1. They Exercise

If you’re a person who absolutely dreads exercising, then you will never be fit. Exercising and eating right are two necessary components people use to get and stay fit. They are inseparable like a hand and glove, black and white, etc.

So if what you are doing in the gym or at home does not excite you, then it is time to try other forms of exercising until you find something that you look forward to doing.

2. They Eat Healthily

If you talk to extremely fit people about how they train, you’ll find they listen to their body as far as knowing what to eat. Over time, they have figured out what makes them feel good, what keeps them full between meals and what kinds of food gives them the energy they need to make it through hard workouts. Continue reading

Does Fitness Mostly Come Down to Mental Toughness?You have probably achieved some of the fitness goals you have set during your life. But you have probably failed to reach certain levels of physical fitness as well, haven’t you? You are the same person, so why did you succeed in one physical endeavor and fail in another? Was it because you were not “mentally tough” when you needed to be? Was your mindset to blame? And if it was, how can you change that?

Dr. Jim Loehr is a globally recognized performance psychologist. He wrote a wonderful book titled Mental Toughness Training for Sports: Achieving Athletic Excellence. In it he discusses and defines mental toughness, revealing that it is made up of the following 7 components:

• self-confidence
• attention control
• minimizing negative energy
• increasing positive energy
• maintaining motivation levels
• attitude control
• visual and imagery control Continue reading

Strength Training or Endurance Training - Which Do You Need?Hi, Al Bargen here. How and what you train depends on what you are trying to achieve with your body, conditioning, and health.  You’ve heard about strength training and you’ve heard about endurance training. You may be wondering which is the best for you, or which is right for you.

A lot of fitness experts often tout one or the other. This is generally due to their personal preference, the one they prefer to work on. Not all of them. Many will also give you well-rounded advice and a well-rounded work out. For your health and fitness, you can use both. If you’ve been away from fitness for awhile you’ll likely want to start with endurance training. If you already get in some fitness time, you may be ready to add some strength training to your workouts.

Let’s break down the difference and why each is important.

Strength training helps build muscle. Over time that adds to your endurance. You can also use the same method of strength training as you can for some endurance training. We will discuss that in a bit, but first I want to impress upon you the importance of strength training. Continue reading

Finding Your Motivation to Lose WeightHow Do You Benefit From Strength Training?

While there are many benefits derived from strength training, no one is quite as beneficial as what it does to improve your health.

Research and numerous studies have all shown that one of the biggest benefits of strength training is improved health. Not only does a well-balanced strength training program lower high blood pressure, the risk of cardiovascular disease and your cholesterol ratio, it also reduces the risk of osteoporosis, symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome, stress and anxiety, and decreases the frequency of colds and illness. If for no other reason, the health benefits alone derived from strength training are worth doing it. But there are also five other great benefits:

1) Increase Muscle Mass

By building larger muscles, you will have more power, endurance and size which make doing everyday tasks much easier. Suddenly lifting a full laundry basket, walking up stairs and carrying an armload of groceries is much easier. And with increased muscle mass, your metabolism will increase to fuel your larger muscles, meaning you will burn more calories.

2) Flexibility

Effective strength training routines work muscles through their full range of motion. By having the increased flexibility, your risk of muscle pulls and injuries decrease.

3) Body Composition

If you have been doing weight training for a while, you’ll notice your body composition changing. You may not see much of a change on the scale, but over time, you will gain muscle mass and lose body fat meaning you’ll see a change in body measurements and body fat percentage, respectively.

4) Reducing Injuries

Without strength training, muscles can give out when under more stress than they are used to resulting in injuries. But by routinely practicing strength training, you develop stronger muscles, tendons and ligaments thereby greatly reducing the risk of injury. Routines that work on abdominal core development help strengthen the back and improve posture meaning your weight is distributed better over lower body joints such as hips, knees and ankles.

5) Improving Self-Image

As said earlier, after doing strength training for a while you will start to see changes in your body, such as better muscle definition, a more erect posture, and a better ability to handle stress. This gives increases your self-esteem and gives you a better outlook on life in general.

These six strength training benefits are only a sampling of what an effective weight lifting program can do for you. These benefits, and especially an increase in health, are all good reasons for you to start a strength training program today for a better (and healthier) you tomorrow.

Image Courtesy of GraphicStock 

Cheeseburger Abs - Exercise AddictionDefined as “an unhealthy obsession with physical fitness and exercise”, it is often a result of degraded body image and/or an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Exercise addicts exhibit behavioral compulsive traits similar to other types of addicts.

However, many times exercise addiction flies just under the radar when compared to other types of addictions. The challenge is defining what is “unhealthy” and “obsessive”.

But make no mistake about it, it can be just as destructive as any other type of addiction in that the mind forces the body to do more than it can eventually endure. The result – injuries, which further fuel the obsession to exercise even when the body is incapable.

Who is at Risk?

Exercise addicts may also be susceptible to other types of addictions. A study done by the University of California determined that 15% of exercise addicts were also addicted to cigarettes, alcohol or illicit drugs; they estimate 25% may be addicted to sex or shopping. It is interesting to note that some former addicts turn to exercise as a method of filling a void. However if not controlled, it can come down to trading one addiction for another.

Signs of Exercise Addiction

Like most forms of addiction, there are some telltale signs that you may be hooked: Continue reading

Man exercising outdoorsThe question of how quickly you can improve your fitness is not an easy one to answer. Why, because it depends on many different factors! And some people may see results faster than others.

The good news, however, is that if you stick to a consistent training program throughout a four week period, you’ll be surprised at just how much you can achieve!

Starting From Scratch: What You Need to Know

 If you’re starting from scratch – that is, you really wouldn’t call yourself “fit” at all – then it’s important to know that you’re not going to able to run a marathon after just four weeks. However, it might be possible to run a 5K in four weeks, if you’re careful and you’re not completely unfit to begin with.

Even if you have a base level of fitness, one important thing to remember is that your body needs to adapt to whatever kind of exercise you’re doing. Even if you don’t get too out of breath running, for example, you might find that if you run too much, you’ll get a leg injury that’ll set you back weeks while you recover. Continue reading

Cheeseburger AbsSick of your sagging booty? Tired of trying to tone your tush and getting no results? If you are looking for some quick and simple to perform exercises to tone your bottom that really work, this is your lucky day. Regularly performing the following 7 exercises will get your gluteus maximus firm, toned … and noticed. A quick YouTube search will give great direction on the following.

Barbell Deadlift Hip Thrust

This is a marvelous exercise for tightening your tail section. Load a barbell, and position it on the floor right over your feet. Using an overhand grip and your hands a little wider than shoulder width, grab the bar. Without bending your back, rise up from the waist and thrust your hips forward. Squeeze your posterior as you do so, and return the bar to the floor while keeping it as close to your body as you can. Continue reading

Picture from traileffect.comDon’t you just love a sunny day? The weather gets so nice here in the Okanagan during the spring and summer. It’s such a treat to be able to go for a nice walk or run as part of your healthy living routine. Do you have parks or nice places to take your fitness outdoors where you live?

Some days, I don’t even bother with training indoors. I get a complete workout and conditioning session right in my own backyard so to speak.  Interested?  This is what you can do.

– Start out with brief stretch of legs and hips, and some general warm up stretching: 2 – 3 minutes

– Walk and increase your pace: 1 – 2 minutes Continue reading

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