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Yoga : For a Healthier You

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Yoga is fast becoming one of the most popular relaxation exercises. Yoga techniques include physical postures, body and mind discipline, breathing control and meditation. Allowing cancer patients to do simple yoga meditation exercises can help reduce stress and condition their minds for cancer treatments. Below are some of the benefits of practicing Yoga:

  • Promotes sleep
  • Reduces stress
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves breathing
  • Gives patient a sense of well-being
  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Enhances blood circulation
  • Strengthens muscles

Basic Yoga Techniques

Pranayamas are yoga breathing exercises designed to eliminate impurities in the body and improve the mind. All exercises must be performed while sitting with eyes closed. All breathing must be done with the tongue's tip touching the mouth's roof.

Deerga Swasam: Complete Breath

This is a type of breathing exercise which promotes proper breathing technique. Breathe slowly and deep thru the nose with the tongue's tip touching the mouth's roof. Direct the air to your diaphragm and slowly fill your stomach with air. Inhale until chest area is completely filled with air. Gently lift your shoulders as you slowly feel the air filling your lungs. Exhaling, pull your stomach in as deeply as possible while releasing the air. Relax all chest, shoulder and chest muscles as you expel air thru your nose. Total duration for each exercise should take 1 minute, 30 seconds to inhale and 30 seconds for exhaling.

Brahmari: Humming Bee

This breathing exercise teaches how to properly control exhaling and reduce stress. Students are instructed to enter a meditative state before each exercise and instructed to reduce their pace of breathing.  Perform complete breath exercise and produce a humming sound as you exhale slowly. Listen carefully to the pitch and tone of the hum produced and continue to perform the exercise until a pleasant sound is produced.

Kapalabhati: Skull Shining Kapalabhati is a relatively simple breathing exercise. It is based on the lungs natural property to fill itself with air when open. This breathing exercise doesn't focus on breathing but on moving your diaphragm. Abdominal muscles are used to move the diaphragm while you concentrate on keeping your lungs open. The diaphragm controls the movement of air in the lungs. Pushing the diaphragm up forces the air in the lungs to be expelled (exhalation), relaxing the diaphragm increases lung volume forcing air to be pushed in back to the lungs (inhalation). This breathing exercise is required prior to performing Bastrika.

Bastrika: Bellows

Practice rapid breathing movements similar to those in Kapalahati. Perform these movements as fast as possible with emphasis on more forceful exhalation. Perform inhalation slowly and hold breath for a few seconds. While holding your breath, lean forward to press your chin to your chest as far as possible. Gently raise your head as you exhale thru the nose.

Anuloma Viloma: Opposite Nostril Breathing Anuloma Viloma is a breathing exercise that aims to improve air movement thru nasal passages. It also promotes a smoother and slower movement of air while both nasal passages are equally trained. The breathing exercise also increases the amount of air that could pass thru to the lungs. Anuloma Viloma decreases and eliminates snoring and prevents sinus clogging.

First perform Kapalabhati or Bastrika to prepare body for a lesser oxygen supplies. Mild oxygen levels maybe experienced as covering one nostril constricts the flow of oxygen to the body. Perform the Vishnu mudra. Fold the first and middle fingers into the palm, taking note to keep the pinky, thumb, ring fingers straight. Perform complete breath technique thru both nostrils. Cover one nostril by using the pinky and ring fingers and exhale using the other nostril.

Still covering the other nostril, inhale thru the nostril which you just exhaled thru. Cover this nostril and exhale thru the nostril which was previously covered. Alternate nostrils and perform the exercise for about 10 minutes.

Safety Tips when Working Out in the Gym

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Going regularly to the gym is a great way for getting a toned, trim body.  But gym workouts should match with your specific fitness goals. Exercise can prevent diseases, reduce weight, lower blood pressure, lower high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, increase energy levels, improve endurance and make us live longer. However, exercising may also make us prone to injuries.

Injury increases with a lot of factors. Some of these factors include unqualified staff, equipment malfunction, improper exercise, falls, sprains and strains, and infections. We can avoid these risks for injury if we take certain precautions, as said in the tips that follow:

Train with a Professional

If you are new to the gym, walk around and familiarize yourself with the equipment. It is a good idea to meet with your trainer to discuss your personal goals and exercise programs, and the usage of specific pieces of equipment. With proper safety procedures for using gym equipment in mind, you can prevent injuries to your body and work on the correct set of muscles. Do not let go off machines too quickly as this may cause accidents.

Warm Up Before and Cool Down After

These are the important steps of any exercise the regimen. Warm-ups and stretching increases blood flow, loosens your muscles, and prepares your body for a workout. If you do not warm up, you will end up putting a strain on your muscles, resulting in injuries. Similarly, once you have done a rigorous workout, you need to cool your body for 3 to 5 minutes so that your heart rate normalizes and your muscles relax.

Gradually Move to a Higher Gear

Do not let the drive for toning your body put you in a position of carrying on high intensity workouts when you are not used to it. You will merely end up hurting yourself and eventually falling back on your exercise schedule. Rather than burning up quickly, you should ease into your workout schedule gradually and listen to your body.

For strength training, you can start with lighter weights and increase the reps and sets before increasing the weights which shouldn't be more than 10% of what your body can handle. Cardio exercises require you to increase the work and time on your body before increasing your exertion level and speed.

Maintain a Straight Posture

When you are at gym, see if you can workout in front of a mirror. Doing so will help in maintain a good posture while you exercise. Straighten out your shoulder blades and do not hunch while exercising. Your knees and elbows should be soft through the workout so that they are not hyper-extended.

While Lifting Weights


Strength training exercises require certain safety tips including:

  • Do not hold your breath while lifting weights
  • Do not lock your joints as this would put them under strain
  • Keep both hands at an equal distance from the center of the bar when using free weights
  • Have a spotter tell you how well you are doing the exercise
  • Avoid putting pressure on your teeth
  • Pay attention to your breathing
  • When pick up the weight from the ground, you should squat down, bend at the knees and bring your butt down. When you lift up the weight, push it up with your legs. This will prevent you from any back injuries.

Before you can concentrate on exercising at the gym, get a check-up from your doctor to see which exercises would suit your health.

Choose Your Gym

Make sure that the gym that you go into has properly trained personnel. Some gym staff members who call themselves fitness trainers or instructors actually have no training. You should ask if their certificates and degrees are current. The staff should also have training on CPR and first aid.

Check Your Equipment

Injuries sometimes stem from improper equipment. Remember that there are a lot of people who use equipment aside from you so that these cannot escape every day wear and tear. Wear and tear may later on lead to malfunction, and you could be at risk for injuries. To avoid the risk for injury, ask gym staff if damaged equipment is repaired as soon as possible and whether they do quality checks on their equipment every now and then. You can also play a role by reporting to staff when you see damaged equipment.

Do Proper Exercise

Choosing improper exercise can also lead to injuries. Ask the help of a personal trainer in choosing what exercises are best for you and your goal. You should also warm up before exercise and cool down after exercising. Warming up should be done for 30 minutes and may consist of light exercises such as walking, jogging or stretching. Cooling down also takes up 30 minutes after exercising and also consists of light exercise. Also, talk to your doctor whether the exercises you plan to do are right for you and your health condition.

Be Prepared

You should wear proper apparel while exercising. Also, wear shoes which will prevent you from tripping over and getting sprains or strains. You should also bring a water bottle with you and hydrate before, during and after exercise. Be careful when you go around showers, pools and hot tubs. Keep keys or other objects away from you while you exercise.

Prevent Infections

The risk of infection may increase in crowded places. This is because disease-causing fungi or bacteria may breed in wet areas such as showers and swimming pools. Towels, locker room floors, cardio machines and benches may also serve as breeding grounds for these microorganisms.

Exercising indoors is not a guarantee that you will be safe from sprains, falls and other injuries. There are also some factors which increase injury even when you are working out inside the gym.  Following these simple tips however, ensures that you are able to

FinallyThe No-Equipment Workout!

Written by Lisa Jillanza

With the cost of gym memberships and work out equipment constantly on the rise, many people simply cannot afford to get some much needed exercise.  That is until now.

Fitness gurus have put together one of the best no-equipment workouts that require only a wall : yes, one wall : to firm and tone your entire body!

So what are you waiting for? Get started today! For free!

Do these exercises three times a week on alternate days.


Workout #1 : Sit and Squat

Squat with back to wall, right thigh parallel to floor, left ankle on right knee, arms against wall like a goalpost. Keeping arms pressed against wall, slide arms up until slightly bent (as shown). Lower arms for 1 rep. Do 12 reps. Switch crossed legs; repeat.

Workout #2 : Side Slimmer

Start on left side, left forearm on floor, right arm extended to ceiling, left foot pressing into bottom of wall. Lift hips off floor into side plank and raise right leg as high as you can until it is barely touching wall (as shown). Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Workout #3 : Climb the Wall

Start in plank, hands under shoulders, feet in line with hips and pressing into wall. Pull right knee toward chest (as shown), then return foot to wall. Repeat immediately on left side. Continue, quickly alternating legs, for 1 minute.

Workout #4 : Arm Fat Fighter

Stand facing wall about a foot away, arms extended and hands on wall, left knee raised to hip level. Keep elbows in line with shoulders and lean forward until forearms rest on wall as you extend left leg back (as shown). Reverse for 1 rep. Do 10 reps. Switch legs; repeat.

Workout #5 : Pike Position

Start in plank, hands under shoulders, feet in line with hips and pressing into wall. Engage abs as you lift hips until body forms a wide inverted V (as shown). Return to start for 1 rep. Do 15 reps.


Workout #6 : Booty Bridge

Lie face up with head away from wall, right knee bent and foot on floor, left knee bent 90 degrees with foot pressing into wall. Extend right leg toward ceiling and lift hips until body forms a straight line from left knee to shoulders (as shown). Pause, then lower hips for 1 rep. Do 15 reps. Switch legs; repeat.

Workout #7 : Pumped Up Plank

Start in plank, hands under shoulders, feet in line with hips and pressing into wall (as shown). Hold for 1 minute. Make it easier: Lower legs, place toes on floor with feet pressed against wall.

Workout #8 : Torch Some Serious Calories

Face wall and squat deeply. We're talkin' thighs-parallel-to-floor deep! Then spring up. As you jump, look up and lightly touch the wall as high as you can with both hands. No rest between reps!

As mentioned, try to do these exercises at least three times a week, alternating days so as to let your body rest in between workouts.  Soon you will see that you will be toning your entire body and burning calories like never before : and all without spending a dime on gym memberships or clunky home workout equipment!

Fitness for the Elderly: Why Exercise is Important as We Age

Written by Lisa Jillanza

elderly exercise 2 Health experts are constantly conducting research in order to learn more about the benefits of exercise for the elderly. Studies have shown that sedentary adults are more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and joint and muscle disorders.

To help ward off these conditions and to deal with the everyday wear and tear that aging has on our bodies, experts suggest that individuals over the age of 50 should consult their physician and a personal trainer to come up with a fitness plan that works for them.

According to MSNBC, Joe Scott, a NATA member who is outpatient orthopedic team leader for South Coast Hospitals Group in New Bedford, MA says, “If we continue to exercise, especially strength training, we decrease the loss of bone density. Just by working on strength training, you're working your muscles to keep strong.”

Elderly adults who do choose to maintain an exercise regimen experience the same benefits as their younger counterparts including weight control, the ability to manage daily stress and improved self-confidence. In addition, experts say regular exercise can lower blood pressure, increase strength and stamina, enhance flexibility, improve balance and coordination in senior citizens, curb depression, reduce the risk of premature death and minimizes the development of brittle bones. A 1994 Tufts University study showed that even at age 98, exercise and strength training can significantly reverse a loss of strength.

Many people think that beyond a certain age, you become too weak to strength train or benefit from it. But research shows the complete opposite. Without adequate muscle exercise, most adults lose 20 to 40 percent of the muscle they had as young adults. With too much muscle loss people have difficulties performing daily activities that allow them to live independently.

Experts say that even small gains in muscle : too small to see : can make significant differences in how seniors live. Strength training can affect whether an older person can get out of a chair without help. It can also influence their sense of balance, risk of falls and fractures, and the ability to climb stairs or carry groceries. Strength training can even make bones stronger and weight control easier.elderly exercise

One recent study of seniors showed that after six months of strength training, strength in a variety of muscle groups increased 31 percent for the duration of the two-year study. Other studies show benefits for the frail elderly living in nursing homes. People who had formerly needed walkers to get around could use a cane instead.

As found on MSNBC.com, the National Institute on Aging recommends strength training of all major muscle groups: arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, hips and legs, as well as exercise to enhance grip strength. The NIA has even developed a free exercise guidebook to help seniors train safely. It includes 12 strength-training exercises, equipment options, safety cautions (especially for those who have had hip replacements) and resources for additional free information. View it at www.nia.nih.gov/exercisebook .

Seniors often identify access to appropriate equipment as a barrier to strength training. While free weights or Nautilus-type equipment at fitness centers are one option, elastic bands or resistance tubing, which are sold at sporting good stores and discount chains, are effective at keeping seniors strong. Even cans of food or water bottles filled with beans or sand can work.

The American Institute for Cancer Research emphasizes regular exercise, ideally an hour a day, as a vital part of a lifestyle to lower cancer risk and promote good health and a healthy weight. Aerobic exercise like walking, biking and swimming can be the mainstay of your activity. But we all need to include exercise that maintains our flexibility, balance and strength. And that doesn't change as we age.