Check out my two clips from the AYURVEDA Veria Living TV Show!!
Check out my two clips from the AYURVEDA Veria Living TV Show!!
Both Kevin and I have noticed that our readers seem to have less interest in fitness than in other topics, like diet. But this puzzles us because fitness is just as important for health as nutrition is, and our readers are interested in natural health.
I think it’s because fitness has been turned into some sort of “elite” pursuit that appeals only to certain people. If I talk about running marathons, only marathon runners or wannabes will read my articles. If I talk about lifting weights, I’ll turn off the people who don’t lift weights.
So I’ve decided to continue my series of articles, summarizing my findings in particular topics; I’ll share with you the most important things I have learned about fitness over the years.
Here we go . . .
Want to get fit? Don’t look for a plan that will give you “overall fitness.” Fitness training is always very specific. Focus on one goal at a time. For example: losing body fat, increasing cardiovascular endurance, improving muscle tone, building muscle, or developing weak areas.
Always start with a goal in mind. Then focus on that goal for a few months with specific exercises. After that, you can choose a different goal. Over time you will achieve a state of “overall fitness.” But it’s difficult to be a marathon runner and weight lifter at the same time if you want to get great results doing both.
How often do you exercise? How intense is the exercise? How long is the exercise?
You also want to improve these aspects in that order. Start by exercising more regularly. Then exercise with more intensity, but keep your sessions short. Only extremely fit people can exercise often, with high-intensity, and for longer periods of time. For most people that won’t happen.
As you increase the intensity, shorten the frequency and length of your workouts. You might work out intensely two or three times a week, but not every day. The same goes for the other elements. If you make your workouts really long, reduce the intensity and frequency.
If you don’t already exercise regularly, you’ll be happy to hear this. Science has discovered that almost all the health benefits of exercise come from the first minutes. According to Gretchen Reynolds, author of the book The First 20 Minutes, “The health benefits of activity follow, in fact, a breathtakingly steep curve at first.” “Almost all of the mortality reductions are due to the first twenty minutes of exercise,” says Frank Booth, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri and often-cited expert on exercise and health. “There’s a huge drop in mortality rates among people who haven’t been doing any activity and then begin doing some, even if the amount of exercise is quite small.”
Then why do people exercise for more than 20 minutes? The first 20 minutes will provide the most benefits for overall health, including disease prevention. But additional exercise will develop your overall fitness, which has other advantages.
When it comes to exercise, I’m pretty boring. I like two things: lifting weights and running. I just don’t see myself learning tennis or another sport. I like hiking, too, but that’s about it.
These are the exercises that give me the most rewards; I enjoyed the process of trying different things and discovering what I love doing the most. Some people try cycling and fall in love with it. So the best exercise for you is the one you’re willing to do!
You can keep the 20 minutes a day rule, or the 150 minutes a week rule (which averages out to about 20 minutes a day). But you can also break down the weekly requirement in any chunks you like. You could exercise for 20 minutes every day or for 50 minutes three times a week. It’s entirely up to you. Research has shown that the benefits for health are the same.
You can basically summarize the entire science of fitness in two words: stress and recovery. The “stress” is the exercise itself, which must put stress on the body for the neurological systems to react and improve functions through adaptation. Strength training causes stress by tearing down small muscle fibers, which will later be repaired and actually increase in size.
The “recovery” is the time between workouts and includes your nutrition as well. You must feed your body enough nutrients to recover and in the right quantities. That generally means eating when hungry.
If you’re not progressing with exercise, the problem is with one of these two factors: 1) Your exercise is not intense enough or you keep doing the same thing and your body has already adapted (not enough stress) or 2) You don’t take the time to recover properly.
If you start spending time with fitness trainers, you’ll learn all kinds of formulas; for example, how many carbohydrates you should eat during a run, or how soon you should eat after an exercise session.
For endurance activities (running, cycling, etc.), none of that information matters if you’re just exercising moderately for less than 90 minutes. You don’t need to worry about sports or recovery drinks and so on. But if you’ll be working out for at least two hours, or if you’re training for a marathon, then you will need to take in more fuel and also consume more carbohydrates during your exercise sessions.
According to research from The Cooper Institute, if you’re a man in your 40s and you can run an 8-minute mile, you’re in the highest fitness category. If you’re 30 or younger, running a 7-minute mile will place you in the same fitness category. For women in their 40s, running a 9-minute mile also shows they are quite fit. Middle-aged men who can’t run a 10-minute mile (a 12-minute mile for women) have the highest risk of heart disease later in life. So get out there and see how fast you can run that mile! For my Canadian and international readers, that’s about 1.6 kilometers.
Question of the day: Are you interested in fitness and do you want to learn more about it?
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This fat-burning yoga pose is great for targeting your abdominal area.
This yoga pose can help raise your heart-rate and burn calories.
Remember to keep breathing, then relax and repeat in the opposite direction.
Warrior I Pose
This yoga pose can work your abs, thighs and arms, and is most effective if used as part of a sequence like Sun Salutation.
How can you use yoga for weight loss?
With all the chanting and seemingly stationary poses, one might wonder how you can lose weight through yoga. But the truth is it can be an effective weight loss tool, if you practice it regularly and correctly.
The first factor you should consider is that not every type of yoga is conducive to consistent weight loss. Some types are better for reducing stress and helping relaxation but don’t provide the cardiovascular workout needed for weight loss. The second factor is consistency. As with any fitness plan, yoga needs to be done regularly and with intensity. Finally, it is important to remember to maintain a healthy diet in combination with any workout regimen.
Vinyasa: Flow yoga
One type of yoga that’s good for weight loss is Vinyasa, or flow yoga. This style of yoga is made up of a series of “sun salutations,” that you move through quickly, allowing for the increased heart rate required for caloric burn and weight loss.
The best part about Vinyasa is that its popularity has led to the production of many yoga weight loss DVDs. With so many options, it’s easy to find a Vinyasa DVD that matches your skill level that allows you to begin losing weight in the privacy of your own home.
Bikram: Hot yoga
If you want more of a challenge, try your hand at Bikram yoga. Similar to Vinyasa, it takes you through a series of poses, but, instead of a cool yoga studio, you are in a heated studio that is heated up to 105°F.
As you move through the Bikram poses, you not only burn calories and fat but temporarily lose water weight while eliminating toxins. But note that Bikram yoga for weight loss is extremely vigorous, and should not be undertaken if you arepregnant or have certain medical conditions.
Nowadays, many gyms are offering “power yoga,” which combines yoga poses with a cardiovascular workout by pushing you through the poses faster and with less rest time in between. If your gym doesn’t offers such a class, the good news is that power yoga is also offered on DVD.
These yoga poses also strengthen your muscles and, subsequently, increased muscle mass will increase your resting metabolic rate, resulting in greater weight loss throughout the day.
The final benefit of yoga is mental clarity. Yoga reduces stress and allows you to take a break from your busy lifestyle. This brief rest from the hustle and bustle of life can permit you to take a moment and reevaluate your lifestyle choices.
For instance, you may reflect on the health of your diet, as well as whether or not your activity level is sufficient to keep your body in good shape. Yoga’s meditative atmosphere can provide an opportunity for self-awareness, which is always the first step to a healthier and happier you.
Practice more fat-burning yoga poses with yoga for weight loss videos onGaiamTV.com!
Put simply, a multivitamin is a nutritional supplement that includes a combination of vitamins, and often minerals. Vitamins are good for you, right? So it should be a no-brainer: why not take a multivitamin.
The hitch is that there is no standard or regulatory definition for multivitamins, meaning that the composition and quality can vary significantly from product to product.
Originally designed to protect against micronutrient deficiencies resulting from inadequate dietary intake, multivitamins’ application has been broadened over time. Now not only do you have vitamins to supplement nutrient deficiencies, but products with specialized formulas which purport to meet a variety of goals, including: increasing performance, aiding in weight loss, protecting against cancer and other illnesses, and improving longevity. Can vitamins really do all that, or is it just a big marketing game?
As this is a long article, here are the key takeaways so you can quickly reference them:
I like to break down multivitamins into two broad categories: whole-food derived (found in natural, whole foods) and synthetic (created in laboratories). Without getting too technical, it is important to understand that just because something has been synthesized in a laboratory doesn’t necessarily mean it is not the same as what is found in nature. However, it is often different – for instance, synthetic Vitamin E is structurally unique from that of natural Vitamin E.
With both types of vitamin on the market, the argument against using synthetic – which include chemical distillates – is that they are not recognized and used by the body the same way vitamins from whole foods are. In research on scurvy (a disease defined by a Vitamin C deficiency), for example, it was found that whole foods containing Vitamin C quickly eliminated the illness while ascorbic acid (the distillate) supplementation had little effect.1 Whole food vitamins (in their highest quality form) contain the vitamin complexes as they exist in nature, and are theoretically recognized by the body as whole foods.
Although the FDA has established “current Good Manufacturing Practice” (cGMP) regulations (requiring that vitamin manufacturers evaluate their products by testing purity, strength, and composition), because vitamins are classified by the FDA as general food products under the category of dietary supplements, and no testing is required before the manufacturer brings a product vitamin to market.
The primary safety concern with multivitamins is toxicity from over ingestion of a vitamin, or mineral, leading to increased risk of illness. For example, ingesting too much zinc interferes with copper and iron absorption. Since people do not need to consult a doctor before ingesting vitamins, you can potentially take vitamins that interact with one another in ways that can hurt, rather than help, your health.
Additionally, as with any nutritional supplement, there is a risk of impurities in the product, which can have severe consequences. For example, a contaminated batch of tryptophan from a particular manufacturer in Japan was linked to 37 deaths and 1500 cases of permanent disability.2
Diets high in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and a host of other medical conditions.3 4 5 It’s hypothesized the high concentrations of anti-oxidants & fiber reduce inflammation and protect against chronic disease. So, the natural progression from this is the belief that supplementing with isolated forms of the anti-oxidants and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables would confer the same benefits.
The research, however, on the benefits (and harms) of vitamin supplementation in the general population is inconsistent. Supplementation of a nutrient confers health benefits if a person is deficient in that nutrient. That should be obvious, but that is not what this article is about. The question we need to know the answer to is: will taking a multivitamin make us live longer or perform better?
The gold standard of research study design is a randomized, placebo controlled trial, in which subjects are divided into experimental and “control” groups, with the experiment group receiving a placebo, or inactive substance, and the experimental group receiving the substance to be studied.
Last year, the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of the first large scale, placebo controlled trial examining the long-term effects of multivitamin supplementation on cancer. The researchers found an 8% decrease in total cancer incidence in men taking a multivitamin. However, other observational studies find no association between multivitamin use and lower cancer rates, and some even find evidence that supplemental intake of certain vitamins may actually increase risk of certain cancers.
To further complicate matters, the few randomized controlled trials that have been done have produced conflicting results. Some show decreased cancer incidence6 and others show no effect or elevated risks.7
As far as improving performance, the research is also equivocal. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Clinical Nutrition shows no performance improvement in runners after 3 months of multivitamin supplementation. Similarly, a study entitled “Chronic multivitamin-mineral supplementation does not enhance physical performance” concluded just that.8 A study from 2006 in Research and Sports concluded that a liquid multivitamin supplement had no effect on “Anaerobic Exercise Performance” in people consuming an adequate diet.
Herein lies the problem and its resulting million dollar questions: What is an adequate diet and does the definition change depending on exercise habits and goals?
The research on multivitamins is lacking overall and even the research that has been done shows conflicting results. So what are we to do?
Ideally, an individual should strive to eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (10+ servings) every day. Few people would disagree that this is the best way to get nutrients, improve energy and performance, and guard against disease. There is certainly a synergistic health effect from the contents of fruit and vegetables (both the things we know about and probably things we don’t know about), as nature’s design is most likely the best. The problem lies in executing this type of plan over the long run.
This is especially true for people who are trying to restrict calories to lose body fat, as 10 pieces of fruit would provide about 1000 calories per day. So what is the next best thing to eating that much produce? The makers of Centrum will say that taking a Centrum a day is the best alternative. Companies that sell whole food vitamin supplements will tell you that taking Centrum will do more harm than good, as the body doesn’t recognize and utilize synthetic vitamins the same way it does natural micronutrients. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer provided by research.
If eating 10+ servings of fruit and vegetables per day is not feasible for you, the next best thing is a product that most closely approximates it, namely, a “super greens and reds powder,” which is essentially fruit and vegetables concentrated down into a powder to be taken daily. This bypasses the issue of poor use of isolated nutrients and the idea that nutrients in real food exist in combinations impossible to replicate in a lab. There are many of them out there, but Lindberg Fruits & Greens+ is my choice.
If using a super foods powder is not feasible, the next best thing is a whole food multivitamin. It is very important to scrutinize the label of whatever product you’re thinking about buying, as often times products label “whole food multivitamins” are actually synthetic compounds combined with yeast (a whole food).Megafood, makes a good product, as does Garden of Life.
I recommend against the routine use of traditional multivitamins, unless you are part of a special population that research has shown to benefit from them. Still, if you are a hard training athlete, or are at risk for deficiencies due to restricted nutritional plans, you will likely derive more benefit from supplementation with traditional products than none at all. It is, however, a much better idea to use a preparation that more closely mimics eating real food.
In conclusion, there are no clear answers, and in the end the decision to supplement with multivitamins needs to be tailored to the situation of each individual. For most of the population, and especially athletes and people looking to improve body composition, a whole food derived nutrition supplement is a solid bet.