Thursday, 10 May 2012

Exercise for Cancer Prevention and Management (Guest Post)

I'm honored to publish this guest post by David Haas who is a cancer support group and awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Image: Stock.xchng - johnnyberg
Everyone knows that exercise is good for general health and well-being; this is no new revelation. However, many people are unaware of the important role exercise plays in the battle against cancer. It is a powerful weapon that patients need in their cancer-fighting arsenal.

As researchers conduct studies and reveal their findings, the link between exercise and cancer grows evident. The latest studies show that physical activities may prevent certain types of cancer. This is likely due to the natural management of certain body chemicals through exercise and activity.

Cancer Prevention

Physical workouts manage various body chemical levels, including those of insulin, hormones, lipids and bile acid. When these chemicals are out of balance, they may encourage the development of gastric, pancreatic and other cancers.

Exercise keeps the heart rate down and improves lung functioning. As a result, workouts may prevent respiratory illnesses like mesothelioma and lung cancer. The National Cancer Institute says other studies have examined the correlation between exercise and cancer prevention. These studies have focused specifically on prostate, colon, breast and endometrial cancers.

While exercise may prevent the development of an original cancer, it may also reduce the recurrence of cancer after treatment. Exercise has been shown to improve the survival rates of active breast cancer survivors when compared with sedentary women. Studies also show a reduced risk of recurrence for colon cancer survivors. 

Cancer Management

Of course, exercise is not only about cancer prevention. For people currently undergoing cancer treatments, workouts are an effective way to manage side effects and hasten recovery. Although it can seem intimidating to some patients, exercise has huge benefits.

Increased serotonin levels are one of the most important advantages of exercise for cancer patients. Physical activity boosts self-esteem, builds confidence, improves outlook and enhances life. This can make all the difference during grueling treatment sessions.

Despite the physical energy required for workouts, exercise actually boosts energy levels while building strength and stamina. Regular workouts help patients battle fatigue, nausea and other symptoms associated with cancer treatments.

Cancer Workouts

Cancer fitness programs are most helpful when they are designed to accommodate cancer type, treatment method, fitness level and personal preference. While exercise is not appropriate for people facing lung cancer surgery or mesothelioma treatment, most patients can handle moderate physical activity.

The American Cancer Society encourages doctors to discuss exercise with all their cancer patients. Since each case is different, patients should get heed their doctor’s instructions and get approval before working out. Unless they are already active, patients should take small steps toward their fitness goals. They can increase the intensity and duration of their workouts as they build their confidence and fitness levels. 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

10 Six Pack Abs Myths

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Many of us strive towards getting those much desired 6 pack abs or flat tummies. We try different methods and strategies to get them and just end up feeling obsessed and frustrated. The cause of having to feel this way is usually due to misinformation, unrealistic expectations or unreasonable goals. Examining the myths about six pack abs is a step in the right direction.

#1 - The best way to a six pack is through crunches
One of the most widely known myths is that the best way to get abs is to do a high amount of crunches. Crunches help to strengthen the muscles but do not make them visible. In other words, crunches do not burn the fat layer that is covering your abs.

#2 - Ab muscles are not the same as other muscles
Your abdominal muscles are the same as any other muscle in your body. That means you should train your abs the same way you would train your biceps, triceps or any other muscle in your body. The same physiological principles apply to your abs.

#3 - High reps is the way to six pack abs
Just like I have stated above, your abdominal muscles are the same as your other muscles, and therefore need to be exercised in the same manner. You need to load weights where possible.

#4 - You don’t need to exercise a lot once you have abs
One common myth is that once you have and see your abs, you don’t need to do anything anymore. You still need to watch your diet, and train, but not as much as you did when you were exercising to reveal them.

Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
#5 - You have to train abs every day
Rules of weight training states that you should give your muscles rest after you have trained them. This rule applies to your abs as well. Give your abs a day or so rest before exercising them again. The thing to remember is that you need to train them hard, and that is where the secret lies.

#6 - You can spot reduce abs
Spot reduction on its own is a myth. You cannot train a muscle underneath fat, and expect that the fat will be burned. The only way to burn fat is through lengthy exercise sessions and a good diet.

#7 - Ab exercises gets rid of abdominal fat
This myth actually forms part of the above myth but has become a misconception on its own. Once again, training your abdominal muscles will not burn the fat around your tummy. You need to follow a prolonged exercise program and a healthy low calorie diet.

#8 - Training your abs if you have a bad back will worsen it
It’s actually quite the opposite. Opposing muscles in your body assist each other. So when you have weak abs, more strain is put on your lower back to compensate. Strengthening your abs will take off some of that strain from your back.

#9 - You must follow a low carb diet to get abs
Low carb diets are quite popular, and even though it is one of the most effective ways of losing weight, it does not mean that it’s the only way to get to six pack abs. Some people have a negative reaction to low carb diets and then can’t follow them. This leads them to think that their chances of getting six pack abs are gone.
Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


#10 - You can eat low fat foods to reduce tummy fat
Fat alone is not the culprit. To lose belly fat, you need to exercise on a regular basis as well as reduce the number of calories you consume on a daily basis. When you consume fewer calories than what your body uses on a daily basis, your body will seek another source of energy, namely fat. This does not mean it takes the fat from your belly only, but from various parts of your body.

Conclusion
Don’t fall victim to the countless myths surrounding six pack abs. Now that you know some of them, change your routines and exercise programs to actually get you the results you are so badly looking for. Try mixing up your exercise routines by including functional training, high intensity cardio and resistance training. Also change to a healthier lower calorie diet and soon you will not only be amazed at the way you feel, but also the way you will look.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Toning: Light vs. Heavy Weights

Source (Complete-Change)
So many people have it all wrong! Almost every day there’s people doing their “toning workout” in the gym over and over for months, just to see that their bodies haven’t changed a bit! Eventually they stop going to the gym. I would have stopped too, if that was me!


The term ‘toned’ implies leanness in the body (low levels of body fat), noticeable muscle definition and shape, but not significant muscle size ("bulk"). Toning can be broken up into two aspects; developing muscles and burning fat.

The Pink Dumbbell Myth – Don’t be fooled
Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In a lot of magazines and infomercials we see that we should use lighter weights (e.g., the pink dumbbells) for higher reps to tone our bodies. They also believe that this somehow burns more fat and that women shouldn’t lift heavy weights because it leads to getting big and bulky.
These pink-dumbbell women believe that more reps with lighter weight will tone their bodies. The problem is you have to weight train to get a body that fits most people’s definition of “toned”. You generally have to go heavy, put on muscle mass and you’ll have to drop your body fat ratio. That’s the secret! You can’t tone what you don’t have. Don’t be afraid of building muscle. Being thinner, does not equal being toned and if you’re afraid of building muscle, then your chase after a lean and toned body will end up in failure!

Step 1: Use heavy weights for gaining muscle
Using lighter weights for higher reps will help you increase muscular endurance but won’t form and build the muscle in order to see those ‘lines’. This doesn’t matter whether you are a male or a female; it applies equally regardless of gender. 


Whether you're a man or a woman, wanting to bulk up or slim down, you'll do the same kinds of exercises and training methods. The difference lies in the amount of reps, sets and the amount of calories you take in. More calories if you’re building muscle, fewer calories if you want to lose weight.
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Your muscles will stay the same if you choose low resistance and never push them for results. Doing fewer reps with higher resistance will actually give you the results you are seeking. Muscles need to be trained, and if you keep working them out in the same way, your muscles will stay the same, just like your workout. Increase your resistance and push yourself even if it is only for a few reps each time.

Don’t be afraid of heavy weights, it takes a lot of hard work to bulk up, even men can find it difficult, never mind women (who don’t even have enough testosterone to get bulky muscles).
  • For strength gains: 1-6 reps, heavy weight
  • For gaining muscle and size(TONING): 8-12 reps, medium-heavy weights
  • For endurance: 12-16 reps (or more), light-medium weights
No matter what range you choose, you should use a weight which allows you to ONLY complete the target reps. if you're doing 12 bicep curls, choose a weight that allows you to do 12 reps with good form. If you can do more than that, increase your weight. Using all three ranges, whether you use them each week, each month or change them every few weeks, is a great way to challenge your body in different ways

Source (Chase Fear)
Step 2: Do cardio to burn the fat around your muscles
If your goal is to see your muscles, your goal isn't just toning/doing weights, it's to also lose body fat! The firming-up or toning is due to an increase in muscle tissue as well as a low enough body fat percentage to see the definition and shape of the muscles and to get rid of the flabs. You have to get rid of the fat around your muscles, i.e. there’s no sense in doing 1000 crunches every week in order to get a toned, flat stomach, the layer of fat will still be there for as you only train the muscles under the fat.
You must burn body fat as part of your toning process. Body fat will get in the way of a toned body every time. To help get the definition you want, you must also burn body fat. The best way to burn body fat is through intense cardio exercise.


We have to do cardio, doing 20-30 reps on weight machines won’t make us burn fat, this only teaches our muscles endurance! We have to do cardio and we have to sweat!


Cardio and Weight training exercises that use large muscle groups e.g. gluts, quads, chest and back exercises, with a progressively greater resistance, have the most potential for restoring lean body weight, rising the metabolism hours after exercise, thus, burning fat.

Conclusion: Do full body workouts
The problem with the idea of toning is that it leads to the myth that says “if you want to tone the back of your arms, you must do tricep extensions.” Okay fine, you can and should work your tricep muscles, but that’s not going to get rid of the fat around them. The fat is what keeps you from seeing those muscles!
Overall to lose body fat you need 3 key elements: Regular cardio exercise, consistent strength training for all your muscle groups and a healthy, low-calorie diet. Instead of focusing on individual body parts, you need to focus on the whole body (i.e. working your whole body with weights and cardio).
Women go to the gym to 'tone up' while men go to the gym to lift weights and build muscle but, the truth is, they are the exact same things. Men get bulky because of their high testosterone levels while women won’t get big bulky muscles because we don’t have those hormones that make our muscles go bulky. Our muscles will only become hard and defined.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Can I turn fat into muscle?

photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I get this question a lot, and no, fat and muscle are two completely different tissue and very separate!

Fat tissue is a layer of fat cells that covers the muscles. When you exercise, you build up muscle tissue. When you stop exercising your muscles actually shrink, which we don't want because muscle tissue actively burns calories throughout the day! When you eat fewer calories than you normaly do, your fat cells shrink. If you overeat, your fat cells enlarge!

So keep training your muscles by doing weight training, cardio and eating less calories than you normaly do, and your layer of fat tissue around your muscles aswell as your belly will shrink, and your muscles will be harder and stronger, burning more fat cells than before! Exercising a specific muscle won't burn fat at that area, but your body as a whole!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Fat is excess energy waiting to be used..

Get rid of bigger clothes.

If you struggle to get leaner, get rid of bigger clothes! Wearing big clothes won't always make us feel bad about ourselves, but wearing our correct sizes should tell and remind us that we have to work harder, concentrate more on our weight and to eat smaller, more healthy portions.. Simple lifestyle changes can be the beginning of changing your life!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Low-carb, weight-loss diets. Its effective.

Clients

I must say im so proud of my clients! Motivating them to keep on with their good and healthy lifestyles. Its up to me in the gym to make sure that their bodies burn fat throughout the week (even burning fat and losing weight 24-48 hours AFTER their gym session)! Its hard work and a lot of sweat, but it pays off! Well done!!! :-D

Monday, 6 February 2012

Bigger muscles burn more fat!


Always train bigger muscles when exercising. Bigger muscles have larger stores of energy that constantly need to be replaced when training. The harder/longer you train, the more energy is burned from your muscle's energy stores, the more fat gets replaced in the empty stores to be used as energy again.
Start training smart and exercise your bigger muscles (quads, back, gluts, chest) to burn more fat! :)

Simple question: Which exercises would use more energy; bicep curls or lunges?

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep will affect your training program more than anything else!