Saturday, 22 December 2012

Daily Yoga for Abs

When it comes to getting the perfect body, no workout technique is more effective than yoga.

While it can be used to achieve ideal health, yoga can also aid in sculpting the abs perfectly. Here are some yoga postures to help you achieve the perfect body you dream of. All you need is a yoga mat to get you started.

1. Hand and Knees Balance
The following posture tests core strengths, builds muscular mass, improves balance while building your abs at the same time.

a. Step One
Rest your body on all fours, with your hands placed directly under your shoulders and your knees resting directly underneath your hips.
b. Step Two

Extend your right leg out and keep it straight on the floor.
c. Step Three

Lift your right leg to the same height as your hips. Keep them in the same alignment as before.
d. Step Four

Lift your left arm to the shoulder level and keep it outstretched.
e. Step Five

Balance your body weight on the right arm and left leg and keep your spine straight. Hold this position for 10 counts.
f. Step Six

Exhale as you return to your starting position. Rest for 5 counts and repeat the posture with the other leg.

2. Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This posture is great for building resistance in the abdominal muscles, along with strengthening the spine.

a. Step One
Rest your body on all fours, with your hands underneath your shoulders and knees aligned under the hips.
b. Step Two

Keep your hands and feet on the ground and push your hips outward, keeping your feet straight.
c. Step Three

Balance your weight on the forearms and fingers and keep your head hung low.
d. Step Four

Balance your weight in such a way that the bulk is removed from the arms, thereby reducing muscular strain.
e. Step Five

Keep your legs as straight as possible and your heels flat on the floor.
f. Step Six

Exhale as you relax your posture and gradually sink to your starting position. Rest for 5 counts and repeat.

3. Plank Pose (Vashisthasana)
This yoga posture can be continued from the Downward-Facing Dog pose discussed earlier. This enhances resistance in the abdominal muscles and also improves the strength in the arms and shoulders.

a. Step One
Having assumed the Downward Facing Dog Pose, adjust your body weight such that your arms are directly below your shoulders.
b. Step Two

Lower your hips till your torso is in a straight line with the legs.
c. Step Three

Distribute the weight among your toes and hands such that you can comfortably rest in this position without straining your limbs.
d. Step Four

Keep your neck in the same line with the rest of your body and hold this position for 10 counts.
e. Step Five

Exhale and relax your posture gradually to lie on your stomach, on the mat.

4. The Boat Pose (Navasana)
This posture is excellent in building abdominal core strengths and creating greater muscular resistance among the legs, hamstrings and spine.
a. Step One
Sit on the floor with your spine straight, your legs parted and outstretched in front of you.
b. Step Two

Gradually bring the legs up to a 45 degree angle keeping them straight at the joints, all the way.
c. Step Three

Let the torso fall back as you raise your legs, but take care not to bend your spine. The resultant position will be a ‘V’ shape.
d. Step Four

Stretch your arms out in a straight line in front of you, perfectly aligned with the shoulders.
e. Step Five

Balance your weight on your pelvic bones for as long as you can. Try your best not to let the assumed position collapse. Hold this posture for 10 counts, while you inhale and exhale at an optimum pace.
f. Step Six

Exhale as you gradually lower your hands and feet on the ground, letting your torso relax. Rest for 5 counts and repeat.

5. Hand to Foot Pose (Padahastasana)
This posture renders spinal flexibility and muscular strength along with incredible abdominal toning.

a. Step One
Stand straight with your arms touching your ears and stretched outward.
b. Step Two

As you inhale, gradually lower your torso and hands, to touch your toes. Take care not to bend your feet or knees during this process. Keep your legs straight and distribute the body weight over the balls of your feet.
c. Step Three

Bend as low as you can, in your attempt to touch the toes. The ideal position would have your palm flat against the floor and your torso as low as possible.
d. Step Four

Lower your head as close to the knees as possible.
e. Step Five

Exhale as you release your muscular grip and gradually rise to your starting position. Lower your hands to the sides of your body and relax for 5 counts before you begin again. The key to master this posture is in holding the position for as long as you can. You can initially retain this position for a few counts and gradually work up the duration to a minute.

6. Half-Wheel Pose (Ardha Chakrasana)
This posture is extremely helpful in completely stretching the abdominal and spinal muscles and can be performed as the great precursor to the Hand-to-Foot Pose.

a. Step One
Stand straight on the mat, with your arms extended above your head.
b. Step Two

While inhaling deeply, gradually bend backwards with your arms still outstretched and you fingers interlocked.
c. Step Three

As you feel the tension in your ribs, bend as far backwards as possible forming an arch with your spine.
d. Step Four

Hold this position for 5 counts and return to your starting position.
e. Step Five

Once you are back to your starting position, lower your arms and let your body relax. Rest for 10 counts and repeat.
By performing the suggested postures regularly, you will be able to have the physique you’ve always dreamed of.

Source: Yahoo!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Drop a dress size without dieting

Top tips to tone up and lose the fat

Dieting may be a short-term fix to dropping a dress size but it will prove unsustainable in the long-term. Instead, why not drop a dress size through exercise and not dieting?

Does this sound at all familiar? You’ve tried lots of different diets but in the end, they’ve all failed. Now you feel frustrated and you wonder if you’ll ever fit into that dress from several years ago. Well, help is at hand because the basic fact is that diets don’t work. Embarking on a diet to lose weight typically follows the pattern below:
  • Initial successful weight loss when the diet starts
  • A plateau where your weight stays the same
  • It becomes harder and harder to lose weight
  • The diet is abandoned
  • The weight is rapidly regained
  • A further weight increase occurs
Calorie counting forever is not sustainable, either for dieting goals or good health but if the diet is dead, how do you drop a dress size without dieting? The solution is to gradually introduce a structured regime of exercise that burns calories, makes maintaining a healthy weight easy and also tones up problem areas.

Super six toning areas

The 'Drop a dress size without dieting' plan focuses on training six key problem areas. By toning the ‘Super six’, specific muscles will become firmer and everything will be ‘pulled in’, resulting in an all-round leaner physique.

Super six toning areas

  • Stomach
  • Obliques
  • Thighs
  • Bottom
  • Underside of upper arms
  • Core
To target the super six, complete the following exercises:

Drop a dress size exercise 1: Stomach exercises

Upper stomach muscles: Sit-ups and crunches
Lower stomach muscles: V-sits and leg extensions

Drop a dress size exercise 2: Obliques (Sides of the abdomen)

Oblique crunches on a stability ball

Drop a dress size exercises 3 & 4: Thighs and bottom exercises

Any aerobic activity such as cycling, walking, jogging, running, rowing etc, which uses the legs.

Drop a dress size exercise 5: Underside of upper arms

Any triceps exercise, for example:
  • Tricep dips
  • Tricep extensions
  • Tricep kickbacks

Drop a dress size exercise 6: Core exercises

Core exercises train your inner postural muscles. These muscles aren’t visible but are fundamental to holding you in and keeping you upright.

Drop a dress size exercise 7: Good core exercises include

  • The plank
  • Sitting on a stability ball
  • Stability ball floor bridge
When targeting specific areas, it is extremely important not to neglect the opposing muscle and ensure that the body remains in postural balance at all times.
Example 1: If the triceps are being exercised to tone up the upper arms, exercises for the biceps muscles should be included.
Example 2: If stomach exercises are carried out, back extensions for the lower back should also be completed.

Drop a dress size, question 1: Bulking up through exercise?

Many women focus solely on cardiovascular exercise (working the heart and lungs) because they are concerned that if they start weight-training, they will bulk up their muscles. Women are not naturally predisposed to building large muscles and will find it virtually impossible to develop anything remotely like a muscular physique. What training with weights will achieve, will be a lean, toned, slim body, with additional spin-off benefits including:
  • Increased calorie burn 24 hours a day due to the higher ‘energy cost’ of toned muscles compared with body-fat.
  • Reduced risk of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) as the skeleton is strengthened when resistance training is carried out.

Drop a dress size, question 2: How often should I train?

To optimally tone muscles, training for a minimum of two sessions per week is necessary. After 72 hours, the physiological improvements that occur following a training session begin to ebb away, so a single weekly session reduces training gains. However, by completing two sessions per week, (with a suitable rest period in between sessions), you ensure that improvements are maintained. It is also important to note that training for seven sessions per week will not produce seven-fold improvements. Rest is the key ingredient in any training programme and it is vital to allow time for the body to recover following training. A minimum of one day’s rest between sessions is necessary to facilitate recovery and the rebuilding that occurs after training. If rest is omitted, fatigue and over-training can occur, resulting in reduced gains because the body is still tired from the previous session.

Drop a dress size, question 3: How many times should I complete an exercise?

Frequently, advice is given that to tone up muscles, lots of repetitions with light weights are necessary. This advice is suitable for basic maintenance but to reactivate dormant muscles, challenging the body with fewer repetitions using a higher weight will bring about quicker and more improved results.

Resistance exercises (triceps, obliques and stomach)

Build up to completing three sets of 12 repetitions, with a 60 second recovery between sets.

Core exercises

Build up to holding each exercise for 60 seconds.

Cardiovascular exercises

Build up to completing three, 20 minute sessions each week.

The end results of dropping a dress size without dieting

Simply by carrying out the specific exercises outlined above, within six weeks, you will notice that your body has become noticeably leaner and firmer. Additionally, you will have broken out of the yo-yo diet syndrome and by sticking to your new-found healthy regime, you will see your dress size falling instead of rising!

Source: realbuzz

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Top 10 health mistakes to avoid

How to be healthier

There are many different things that can be detrimental to your health — but here are 10 health mistakes you really need to avoid.

Health mistake 1: Binge drinking

Given that government guidelines allow you to have a drink every day of the week, you might think that having several alcohol-free days is better. That’s true, provided you stick to the recommended daily limits on the other days. The trouble is, many people ‘save up’ their units during the week and neck them all at the weekend. Evidence suggests that this is more harmful than a more moderate but regular alcohol intake, yet among women in their 20s, 60 per cent of the alcohol consumed is in bouts of heavy drinking (more than six units in one sitting) — while for men, half the drinking is done in binge bouts (more than eight units). As well as putting your liver under extreme stress — as it can only metabolise one unit of alcohol per hour — binge drinking puts you at risk of accidents and dangerous situations, and in the long term is linked to hypertension, stroke, heart disease, some cancers and poor bone health.
Binge drinking puts your long and short term health at risk

Health mistake 2: Substituting the gym for daily activity

It’s great that you go to the gym three times a week, for an hour a time, but overall, that amounts to three hours a week of activity out of a potential 168! It’s not so great when you put it like that, is it? In a fascinating study at the University of Maastricht, researchers found that gym-goers burn fewer calories on an overall weekly basis than people who are generally active (walking and cycling to get around and performing normal daily activities) but do no ‘official’ exercise. The researchers speculated that gym goers in the study subconsciously used less energy the rest of the time, believing that they had ‘done their bit’ already. So by all means, keep up the gym visits, but don’t think it gives you carte blanche to spend the rest of the day on the sofa!

Health mistake 3: Thinking ‘low fat’ means ‘low calorie’

If more of us made ‘always read the label’ our mantra, we’d be a healthier nation! Lots of us scoff down foods flagged up as ‘reduced fat’ or ‘low fat’, believing that they must be low calorie. But here’s the thing: firstly, just because the fat has been ‘reduced’, it doesn’t mean the product is actually low in fat. For example, if the original fat content of a standard product is 20g, and in the reduced-fat version it has been reduced to 15g, it is still five times higher than the ‘3g of fat per serving’ that officially qualifies a food as ‘low fat’. Secondly, lost flavour is often replaced by sugar in reduced fat products, and calorie count remains high. Don’t diet in denial — read the label!

Health mistake 4: Social smoking

You might think that the ‘odd cigarette’ that you have with a few drinks on a night out is pretty harmless, but you are treading on dangerous ground with a drug as addictive as nicotine. It only takes seconds for nicotine to reach the brain, but its effects — including increased nervous system activity, elevated heart rate, blood sugar elevation and narrowing of the blood vessels — can last for an entire day. And it doesn’t matter if you smoke only one cigarette a week or one pack — the damaging effects start right away and get worse as you continue smoking. Also, people who only smoke occasionally are less likely to ever stop smoking than heavier smokers. And what if your occasional smoke is a joint? Well, while it’s unlikely that you would smoke as many joints as cigarettes, marijuana has three times the amount of tar as tobacco and three to five times the amount of carbon monoxide.

Health mistake 5: Drinking too much caffeine

There is nothing wrong with the odd cup of tea or coffee, but if the staff in Starbucks know you by name, you may be overdoing it! Excessive caffeine intake overstimulates the adrenal glands so that they become ‘switched on’ all the time, and therefore make you feel constantly nervy or edgy. Caffeine also increases the heart rate, affects sleep patterns and can cause headaches and tummy upsets. Also, bear in mind that if you drink cappuccinos or lattes, you are taking in quite a considerable number of calories in every cup. The best advice is to go for quality rather than quantity and to really savour a few cups of tea or coffee, rather than to drink it mindlessly throughout the day.
Drinking too much caffeine is bad for your health

Health mistake 6: Failing to set up your workstation properly

A chair that’s too low or too high, a flickering screen, a desk set-up that means your spine or neck is twisted — all these workstation faux pas take their toll on your musculoskeletal system, causing everything from headaches and neck pain, to hunched shoulders and backache. The thing to bear in mind when setting up your workstation is right angles. You want your hips and knees at a right angle, with your feet supported by the floor or on a footrest, then you want your elbows at a right angle, forearms supported by the desk or keyboard support. Your eyeline should be level with the top of the screen. No matter how perfect your desk set-up, you should also get up at least once an hour to walk around and stretch.

Health mistake 7: Performing unsafe sex

We might be living in the enlightened 21st century, but more people are having more sex with more partners — and much of this sexual activity is unprotected. The number of new cases of STIs such as chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea is increasing while diagnosed cases of HIV are also on the rise. It’s not that we don’t know the risks of unprotected sex — it’s just that in the heat of the moment, we’re failing to take the appropriate action by forgetting to use condoms. Taking responsibility for your own sexual health — and that of your current or future partners — is one of the most important health changes you can make.

Health mistake 8: Not checking yourself out

Ladies — when did you last check your breasts? Guys — when did you last check your testicles? Sorry to be so personal, but performing these simple self health-checks could save your life. For example, research shows that the majority of breast cancer symptoms are first spotted by the women themselves. The best time to check your breasts is just after your period, when they tend to be softer. Use the flat side of your hand to move gently over each breast in a circular motion, checking under the armpits as well as across the entire surface of each breast. Also, look in the mirror with your hands on your hips and then on your head to check for symmetry, and look for any dimples, bulges or other irregularities. Men should regularly check their testicles in the bath or shower, feeling for any lumps or swelling, tenderness or change in size. And see your doctor immediately if you spot blood in your semen or urine. If testicular cancer is caught early, it is relatively easy to cure.

Health mistake 9: Keeping water in a re-used plastic bottle

Drinking plenty of water contributes to good health, but re-using a plastic bottle to store water in isn’t a good idea. While the jury is still out on whether there is any danger from potentially carcinogenic substances ‘leaching out’ from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles after they have been opened, a University of Calgary study found bacteria thriving in water samples taken from students’ bottles that had been used and then refilled without being cleaned. If you do choose to re-use a plastic bottle — or use a sports drink container — wash it out with hot soapy water and dry it thoroughly between uses to keep germs at bay.
Keeping water in a re-used plastic bottle is a common health mistake

Health mistake 10: Bottling up stress

A life without stress would be a life lived in a sealed, sterile box — but there are ways of learning to deal with stress which work better than the ‘stiff upper lip’ approach. And learning a few coping mechanisms is well worthwhile, as the evidence that stress can be detrimental to your health is now irrefutable. ssed people exposed to a cold virus were more likely to catch a cold than non-stressed folk.
Source: realbuzz

Benefits of Papaya

Whilst it may not be a popular fruit or rank amongst your favourites, the papaya is nature’s gift to a healthier mind and body. Beyond its buttery sweetness, the effects of its regular consumption are amazing. Here’s what is there to know:

1. Digestion

Stomach disorders are quite a common problem but not with a regular intake of papayas. The fruit is rich in proteolytic enzymes, the active one being papain. Also prescribed for patients of cystic fibrosis, the papain takes care of digestion and keeps the tummy light.

2. Aging

Papaya helps maintain vitality of the body if taken daily. This reduces the various signs of aging, and also leaves you feeling more fit.

3. Virility

Papaya happens to be rich in the enzyme called arginine that stimulates blood flow in the male reproductive organ. So, do not miss out on this fruit which will keep you active in the game.

4. Antioxidants

The fruit is a wonder as it has an abundance of antioxidants. The presence of beta-carotenes and essential vitamins like C and E are known to act crucially in inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells.

5. Inflammation

These could possibly be the most traumatic problems of the human body but with papaya as part of your diet, inflammation is not to be worried about. The very active protein-digestive enzymes chymopapain and papain help reduce inflammation in cases of burns, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, while speeding up the recovery process.

6. Cleanser

What better way to treat your skin than to go natural! So, just take a pint of papaya juice, mix it with any other herbal combination and treat your skin to some miraculous cleansing within minutes.

7. Heart

Papaya is definitely a boon when it comes to the heart. The antioxidants fight the cholesterol present in the blood and prevent it from building into plaques that clog the arteries. Apart from that, the rich fibre content of the fruit breaks down toxic substances like the homocysteine into easily absorbable amino acids, reducing chances of heart stroke.
Well, who could have known that this humble looking fruit could contain so much goodness? Now that you know, let your mornings include a healthy helping of the fruit. Enjoy your breakfast!

Source: Yahoo!