From the category archives:

exercise

Get Started With Aqua Aerobics Today!

by Ed

Guest post by Kaitlin Gardner
Aquacise

One of my friends asked me the other day how she could get started with aqua aerobics. She knows it’s a regular part of my exercise routine, and thought I could show her how to go about it. I gave her some insights on what I have learned about water workouts.

It’s not that complicated. The key word is aerobic – if you’re in the water and moving, it will be giving your body an aerobic exercise function. Whether you just walk around in the water or put your arms on the side of the pool and raise your legs to do crunches, you’ll be getting aerobic exercise. There are a lot of ways to learn how to do water exercises – go to a group class to see what the instructor does, or just read about aqua aerobics online to get an idea of how to work out in the water. Here are some great resources with more information about water exercise:

Lots of variety. One of the things that is great about water aerobics is that it’s not just doing gym exercises in the water any more. There are a number of different options, and you can decide which one to do a particular day, depending on your mood. If you really want a vigorous workout to release some stress, go for the kick boxing class, or go to the Zumba dance class in the water, with all those wonderful sexy hip swinging moves that you might hesitate to try on land. If you really want to relax or unwind, go to the aqua yoga class, or do the slow and rhythmic moves of a tai chi class in the water. There are also weight workouts specifically designed for the water.

Great cardio options. A favorite cardio choice, particularly for runners, is aqua jogging. This workout is suggested as a great cross training option. It’s pretty simple. Just go to the gym when the lap lanes are open, and begin pushing up and down a lane, using your best running motion. In the water, the element of resistance provides a super addition to what you are doing – you have to force your body to push through the water. It doesn’t take long to start breathing like you are on the running trail.

At the beginning. The basic recommendation to start with an exercise program is 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 5 days a week. If you are doing the less vigorous water workouts, you can do more – for instance with aqua tai chi, it is more mellow and not as much cardio. But if you try a kick boxing class in the water, it might be good to only stay for part of the class at first. You want to attain a reasonable goal, and let the endurance build over time. Don’t overdo it with exercise initially – you might discourage yourself and not continue.

The fun of the water. Our bodies are made up mostly of water, which might explain why the water feels so good – it just feels natural being in the water. Plus, the buoyancy of the water provides a wonderful light feeling. In the water, your body only has to support a fraction of its own weight, which provides a noticeable lightness. It makes exercises in the water very gentle, and easy on the joints and muscles.

I took my friend to an aqua aerobics class to let her see how it all works. After a few minutes I looked over at her, and she had a big smile on her face. I knew she had become a fan of aqua aerobics, just like I am.

Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her college sweetheart and lives in Pennsylvania. She and her husband enjoy going for long hikes, to get out and enjoy nature. She is working on her first book about ways to live an eco-friendly, healthy, natural life.

Yoga Practice May Help Ward off Cold and Flu

by Ed

A recent story on NPR sheds some light on evidence that may help keep you from one thing that everyone dreads- catching a cold or flu this season. The British Journal of Sports Medicine study cited found that people who exercised 5 days a week got sick for 40% fewer days than those who did so one day or less. While the exact reason why this is the case is still only speculation in the scientific community, there seems to be a clear correlation here. A similar study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found results that mirror these findings as well.

Dr. David Neiman of Appalachian State University adds another layer to this, saying that after 90 minutes of high exertion- like long distance running- our defenses instead go down, opening us up to sickness for up to 24 hours following exercising. So the key here is not to wear yourself out and inhibit your body’s defenses.

Yoga is a great option for reaping these benefits, since each person practices to his or her own ability so as not to be hard on the body. The meditative aspect of practice serves as a one-two punch by helping to manage stress, which we know only impedes the immune system further. In addition to lowering stress levels, yoga has been lauded for centuries for improving strength, posture, flexibility, concentration, heart and lung health, and so much more.

The implications of the study are that one is exercising for at least 20 minutes on each of those 5 days, so whether you can attend an hour class or practice at home for only a half hour, most of us can certainly find the time. Even 15 minutes at the beginning and end of a busy day is great. Alternating days of yoga and cardio is also a great option to vary your routine, and in return, your fitness benefits.

Where else besides yoga class can you go to stay in shape, flu-free, and sane this holiday season? There’s nowhere better.

In peace and health,

Sasha Britton

Written on behalf of Gym Source, America’s #1 exercise equipment provider. Find treadmills, ellipticals, and all of your workout needs here.

Turn Every Movement Into A Qi Gong Exercise

by Ed

Qi gong is a Chinese form of exercise that is really more than exercise. The therapeutic effects of qi gong go beyond what you would expect from the movements. Most forms of qi gong exercise involve a number of movements that move the joints through all or most of their range of motion, but it is the way that the movements are done that is really important. If you know the principles of qi gong, you can turn almost any movement into a qi gong exercise.

Qi Gong Principles

  1. Relaxation is always the first and most important principle. Before you even begin practicing qi gong exercise, you need to relax your entire body. As you continue practicing relaxation regularly, over the months and years, you will discover that, in the beginning, you really did not know what relaxation was. You can continue taking it to deeper and deeper levels.
  2. Breathing helps to facilitate relaxation as well as concentration. The breathe should be even and smooth. Breathe into the abdomen, rather than the chest, but never force it. Coordinate your movements with your breathing.
  3. Awareness. There is a saying use in qi gong, martial arts, and Chinese medicine: “Qi follows Yi.” It is often loosely translated as, “Where attention goes, energy flows.” The same principle is used by Tibetan and Indian yogis, as well as hypnotherapists, to heat the body, temporarily stop the heart, stop a wound from bleeding, and other so-called miraculous feats of bodily control. Allow your awareness to rest in the joints that are being moved, or through the limb that is being moved.
  4. Grounding. Feel the weight of your body as you stand and move. As you relax feel as if you are sinking into the ground.
  5. Coordinate the movements with your breathing. All movements should be slow and smooth. Feel as if the movement is coming from the center of your body or even from the earth. It can take a very long time to get that feeling, especially without a teacher, but it makes a big difference in the effects on your physiology.

You will notice that many of the principles affect each other. Eventually you will find that it is all one principle, and when you are doing that, you are doing qi gong. If you do range of motion exercises before your your workout, slow them down and do them as qi gong. As you slowly shuffle forward in a long line up, become aware of the principles and turn your shuffle into qi gong. There are many times throughout the day when you can focus on the principles and change the way you move, which will improve blood flow, open your joints and increase vitality.

How Qi Gong can help with Fibromyalgia and CFS

by Ed

Getting enough sleep and exercise is crucial to the wellbeing of those suffering with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Qi gong can be very helpful in both areas. Qi gong is a Chinese form of therapeutic exercise and meditation. There are many different styles that have developed over the centuries.

According to Chinese Medicine, FM and CFS are due to a deficiency and a stagnation of the body’s vital energy. There may also be latent toxins (viruses, bacteria, etc.) in the body. Qi gong, which means energy work can increase our store of vital energy, improve it’s flow and strengthen the immune system, which can help expel the latent toxins.

The movements in most forms of qi gong are gentle and flowing like the movements of tai chi, making it easier for people with low energy reserves to do them. They provide the body with needed exercise while slowly building strength and stamina. Meditative forms of qi gong help to calm an agitated mind and body, improve sleep, and strengthen the immune system. Most practitioners also report an increased pain tolerance.

If you live near Berkeley California, check out Dr. Bingkun Hu. He is an excellent teacher of the Wild Goose style of Qi gong. Wild Goose includes both active and meditative qi gong forms. You might also want to check out Ken Cohen’s The Essential Qigong Training Course.

One of my favorite qi gong meditations is the inner smile meditation. If you would like to download a free mp3 of the inner smile meditation, mention it in your comment, below.

Wave goodbye to frozen shoulder

by Ed

Time To Run
Creative Commons License photo credit: blentley

Frozen shoulder is limiting and it can be painful. In Chinese medicine it is called 50 year shoulder because people tend to get it at middle age. Now you can learn how to avoid it, and how to to recover from it.

The most important thing in avoiding frozen shoulder is keeping it moving. Do gentle range of motion exercises every day, to keep the shoulder joint fully mobile. If you injure your shoulder, get treatment to heal it quickly. Avoid putting ice on it. Ice, though popular in the West, is considered harmful by the Chinese medical practitioners. It causes blood to coagulate and tendons to stiffen.

Treating Frozen shoulder

If you already have frozen shoulder, the therapy obviously changes. Exercise to increase range of motion, although painful, is vitally necessary. See an acupuncturist who specializes in injury management, or a physical therapist, for a good set of exercises targeted to your limitations. Regular deep massage, to break up the adhesions is very helpful. Use moist heat on the shoulder joint, daily. Wrap a hot moist towel around the shoulder and leave it in place for about 15 minutes.

Using Chinese herbal plasters and liniments: There are many liniments and herbal plasters designed for

701 Plaster

701 Plaster

various stages in injury management. 701plasters are the best plaster for frozen shoulder. It comes in a long roll, and you can cut off a piece with scissors. You may want two or three pieces at a time, as it won’t stick as well going around the joint. Peel off the plastic and place the plaster on the joint. You can leave it on for 24 hours. After a break for a day put another one on. Some people don’t like to walk around smelling like Chinese medicine, so they only leave it on over night.

The most easily available liniment that is useful for Frozen shoulder is Zheng Gu Shui. Like 701 plaster, Zheng Gu Shui is very warming, it panetrates the muscles and improves blood circulation. Massage the liniment in to the shoulder and the tight muscle around the shoulder, twice a day.

Click image to buy

Click image to buy

As both 701 Plasters and Zheng Gu Shui are very warming, they should not be used on acute injuries, or

when inflammation is present. However they are useful other chronic injuries and arthritis, and other aches and pains that are worse when it is cold.

Acupressure Points for Frozen Shoulder

There are a number of points on the body that you can press or massage, that speed the healing of frozen shoulder. Generally it is best to use the point on the opposite side of the body from the frozen shoulder.

TH3 is on the back of the hand, between the last two bones of the hand, just above the fingers. The point should be tender.

TH3

ST38 is on the shin, just outside of the crest of the shin bone, half way between the knee cap and the ankle.

ST38

GB39 is one hands width above the outer ankle bone, just in front of the leg bone that runs down to the ankle.

GB39

Press or massage each of these points for about one minute, two or three times a day. Do it immediately before massaging liniment into the shoulder.

Check out Tom Bisio’s book, A Tooth From The Tiger’s Mouth, for more on treating yourself for frozen shoulder and other chronic and acute injuries.