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Yoga and Strength Training: A Powerful Workout

Yoga has been known to provide a very complete workout – physically, mentally and spiritually. But when you ask a person which exercise is most effective in toning and building up muscles, the first thing that comes to mind is strength training. Many people believe that the simple yoga poses are just for relaxation and stretching and that it is not enough to tone the muscles in the same way that lifting weights can. Truth is, there are yoga poses that are very effective in building up muscles. Not only will they tone the muscles but they will give your body stronger and more flexible muscles. When these two are combined, the results will inevitably be impressive.

If you are not so familiar with yoga, the exercise requires a person to make different poses and hold it for a few seconds. In relation to strength training, yoga uses a person's own weight in each pose. Anyone can begin with the basic, essential poses and from there, work to advance to a higher level of capacity.

Weight lifting, in reality, can become a disadvantage because it may cause an unbalanced build up of muscles. The usual target muscle areas of weights are normally the muscles we see in the mirror, like the biceps, chest and abs. When a part of the body becomes stronger than all the other parts of the body, that will eventually create imbalanced muscle proportions and this will cause the spine to move out of its natural alignment.

Because the most basic principle of yoga is balance, the stretches and poses are guaranteed to provide your muscles equal amounts of exercise. So you see, using yoga as strength training will improve your body's overall physique without putting your body in real danger of deformity. Some yoga equipments can also be employed such as resistance straps that are very good for stretching tight muscles and sandbags that weigh 10-pounds can also be lifted in certain postures.

There is no need for equipment when you practice strength training through yoga because all that you need to make use of is your own weight. When you hold a pose, for example the warrior pose, for 5 minutes or even longer depending on your level of training, the leg muscles especially quadriceps are effectively toned. However, there are some other yoga practitioners who makes use of wrist or ankle weights while moving through postures or even lift dumbbells while doing some standing poses.

When you employ powerful strength training yoga poses such as upward facing dog, peacock-pose, plank pose and warrior pose during a sequence while increasing the duration of holding such postures, you will improve your core strength and tone the muscles in your body. Some of the other benefits of yoga strength training include prevention of osteoarthritis, improved flexibility, burning of fat, increased exercise endurance, stress reduction and improved focus and clarity.

For a person who wishes to tone and build muscles, it is highly recommended by experienced yogis that they practice strength training through yoga three to four times per week. This is to keep the momentum of the exercise going.



Article by David a staff writer for

The Best Ways to Increase Everyday Mobility

Exercise can often seem a daunting prospect,
especially if you are conscious of disability, increasing age or a medical condition. But a little gentle exertion can actually improve general health and help keep the body working as well as it possibly can. You don't have to be a gym member to stay fit and active as there are plenty of easy ways to increase mobility gradually and many can be done at home.

Improving Mobility at Home

Many types of exercise equipment can be used indoors or outdoors in the home environment where you may be most comfortable. Exercise bikes, step machines and dumbbells can all be used easily and don't require much space. Even small things such as wrist rotations and foot rolling when sitting down can make all the difference. Gardening is a good way to keep muscles strong and healthy and it gets you outdoors. Everyday activities such as walking up and down the stairs can also keep the body moving.

Mobility Support

Those who have been through surgery, are aging or have a disability may find their mobility decreasing and this can be very difficult when it comes to getting everyday jobs done independently. Thankfully, there are many ways to improve everyday mobility and to stay as active as you can, whether that means taking up a form of exercise or using one of the many special mobility aids on the market. Running bikes are one such aid which can be used by people of all ages and abilities and are incredibly flexible. Particularly useful for people with conditions such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease and muscular dystrophy, the strong rolling frame and low centre of gravity offers a great deal of stability and support while walking or running.

How to Begin

The key to any exercise is to start very gradually and build up to more as your stamina and fitness levels improve. Set realistic and achievable goals and choose a form of exercise you enjoy because it will be easier to persevere. Always warm up and cool down, as this prevents strain and injury and gives the muscles and joints a chance to adjust.

If you like being active and sociable at the same time, both swimming and walking are good forms of exercise and can be enjoyed with a friend. Both are good for increasing whole-body mobility and you can start as gradually or slowly as you wish.

Taking Things to the Next Level

To remain interested in any activity, you have to enjoy. This is why it can be good to exercise with friends or as part of a group to increase motivation. It may be necessary to alternate activities or to mix things up a little to keep up your level of interest.

Some investment may be necessary but the benefits can far outweigh any initial costs and the rewards will speak for themselves. Increasing everyday mobility can bring with it greater health, renewed energy, a better quality of life and a degree of confidence. Regardless of any additional needs, there are simple ways to help the body work to its full potential and increase independence and mobility for all.


Francesca is a freelance writer and blogger who enjoys writing about a variety of subjects from health and fitness to travel and food. She currently writes on behalf of All Ability Cycling.




Pregnant women often have many lower extremity complaints as they gain weight during their pregnancies. The most common complaints include: swelling, pain, varicose or spider veins, and cramping. The release of the hormones progesterone and relaxin, that get the body ready for delivery of the baby can contribute to lower extremity swelling and less stable feet and ankles. This can make the feet feel like they have grown, although the bones in the feet are actually not increasing in size. It is essential to wear properly fitting shoes during this time.

Swelling, also known as edema, usually will increase in severity later in the pregnancy. Fluid pools in the extremities because of the enlarged uterus, which does not allow for the veins to function as efficiently at removing this fluid from the legs, feet, and ankles. Helpful tips for reducing the swelling and corresponding discomfort include elevation of the legs, compression stockings, stockings without seams, stockings that are the correct size, and reducing standing or walking. It is important to note that pregnancy related swelling is usually symmetrical and involving both sides. If the swelling is only on one side, this could be a medical emergency known as a deep vein thrombosis or a blood clot. It is important to report to the nearest emergency department if you think you have this condition, as it can be life threatening.

Pain often occurs in the feet and ankles during pregnancy due to the swelling and increased weight gain. Bunions, neuromas, tendonitis, hammer toes, arthritis, and other foot or ankle conditions can become worse or develop with pregnancy. The release of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy can make the lower extremities less balanced and less stable, and this can lead to new injuries if the foot is not protected with supportive shoes or inserts. One common condition that can develop is heel pain or plantar fasciitis, and this is due to the weight gain. The heel pain with this condition occurs typically with the first steps after rest or sleep, and it involves irritation in the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot. The condition can improve with icing, stretching, supportive shoes, night splints, orthotics, and physical therapy. In non-pregnant patients, injections and oral anti-inflammatory medications can be used, but these are contraindicated in pregnancy.

Varicose Veins or spider veins are common in the lower extremities when pregnant and can be worse in women that stand or walk extensively during the day. Compression stockings can help with these conditions.

Night cramps in the legs are also a complaint of pregnant women. Some ways of preventing night cramps are stretching and getting exercise, maintaining adequate hydration, and taking the correct combination of vitamins.

In summary, it is important to protect the feet during pregnancy. Although exercise is usually great during pregnancy, it is important to rest and elevate, wear supportive shoe gear or orthotic devices, wear compression stockings, and maintain adequate hydration. Many of these conditions improve or completely resolve up to six months after pregnancy.

Chicago Bull, Derrick Rose, and Turf Toe

Many Chicago Bulls fans have been wondering why Derrick Rose has missed so many games with his turf toe injury. This is a common injury with soccer, basketball, and football players and in martial arts. Turf toe is an injury involving the structures that surround the big toe joint. It is a very common sports injury, and it frequently occurs in the following situations: play on hard surfaces, use of shoes which are not supportive and are too flexible on the bottom, and in sports that involve rapid change in direction and jumping. Turf toe involves rapid a hyperextension of the toe (or upward movement of the big toe joint) which then stretches and strains the soft tissue structures around the joint and can also irritate the joint surfaces of the big toe joint. This injury is often sudden and involves pain and swelling of the big toe joint.

This injury is diagnosed through a physical examination and radiologic testing. X-rays are ordered to rule out a fracture or break, and MRIs and CT scans may also be ordered to rule out further bone and soft tissue injuries that are not visible on the X-rays.

Turf toe injuries can take weeks or months to heal properly, but if untreated, the condition can be a chronic problem. Conservative treatments can include any or all of the following: ice, rest, anti-inflammatory medication, immobilization in a walking shoe or boot, strapping and taping, physical therapy, and orthotic devices. After the condition resolves, more supportive shoe gear and orthotic devices are utilized to prevent another injury of the area.

Dr. Bender has clinics at the Oak Park, Drexel, and 63rd Street locations of Advanced Physical Medicine. She is also a clinical instructor at William Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University.

How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep

Even though essential oils have been used for centuries in other cultures, they have only become popular in the states and the last few years. Essential oils for sleep are a powerful ally that can help you go to sleep without dependence on prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids, which often come with negative side effects such as addiction.

When choosing essential oils, select aromas that are pleasing to you since aromas that you do not like are unlikely to bring about the desired effect. However, sometimes a professional blend or even one that you have created yourself will contain an ingredient that you do not like on its own but is acceptable in the blend, much like individual ingredients in a recipe for cooking. Essential oils often differ in their effects on each individual, so a little experimentation may be in order.

While essential oils are safe, there is a potential for an allergic or unwanted reaction, so if you are sensitive to many substances, add only one or a few types to your regimen at a time. If you are trying to get pregnant, or are pregnant or lactating, many essential oils have contraindications for use. Nearly all the essential oils must be diluted before using them on your skin, but there are some exceptions.

A good book written by a knowledgeable author on essential oils can help you achieve the greatest benefits by advising you about how a particular essential oil affects most people. With some experimentation, you can learn how the various aromas and properties of essential oils affects you. The best way to learn quickly is to pay attention to your body, and be ready to take a break, even from aromatherapy blends that are very effective for you.

How to Choose a Quality Essential Oil

While there are many brands of essential oil, only a few are of therapeutic grade. If an oil is not of therapeutic grade, then it usually has inferior ingredients to dilute it, or even synthetic ingredients. The price of an oil is determined by what parts of the plant are used, the rarity and difficulty of growing the plant, the extraction method used, the packaging, and whether or not the plant is grown organically. The bottle or the accompanying literature should state the botanical name of the plant in Latin, the country or region of origin, the extraction method used, and if applicable, the USDA or other governing body's organic seal. Quality oils are also bottled in amber or cobalt blue to lessen the amount of light entering the bottle, since light degrades the properties of the oil. Keep essential oils in the refrigerator or in a dark, cool place to extend their useful life.

Essential Oils for Sleep

Many essential oils have been proven to be relaxing and conducive to sleep. There are many recipes online as well as professional blends, but you can just use a single ingredient. Choose an essential oil for its aromatherapy qualities depending on what issues are causing your lack of sleep.

Lavender (Lavendula) essential oil is one of the more popular aromas to induce sleep. It is typically one of the less expensive varieties, since the whole plant is processed for its essences. There are many varieties of lavender with different properties, and some smell more medicinal whereas others have a sweeter aroma. Experiment with several types until you find one that you like and respond to well.

Neroli (Citrus aurantium amara) is used for insomnia, stress, and grief. Neroli is extracted from the blossoms of sweet orange or bitter orange trees.

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) may be familiar to you from the 1960s. Patchouli has been prized for hundreds of years for its sweet, musky aroma, and its ability to bring about a meditative and serene state of mind.

Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) is for its sedative qualities for insomnia, tension, nervousness, and general well-being. Its somewhat floral, musky, or the aroma is often mixed with other essential oils.

Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) has a calming and grounding effect. It has a sweet and balsamic aroma this often mixed with other oils, especially lavender, thyme, and rosemary. Since it is harvested from several types of cedarwood from different parts of the world, different brands may have different aromas.

Valerian Root (Valeriana fauriei) has been used for sleep, relaxation, and calming effects since Hippocrates time. It has a musky, woody, balsamic aroma that is often blended with lavender, cedarwood, pine, and patchouli.

Essential Oils For a Cold or the Flu

For cold and flu symptoms eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) essential oil has proven effective to loosen mucus and soothe the throat.

Fir (Abies siberica) has anti-infectious and antiviral properties and is used to alleviate cold and flu symptoms.

Both fir and Eucalyptus can alleviate aches and pains associated with colds and the flu.

Aromatherapy is as much an art as it is a science, so it may take a little experience to bring about the best remedies. If you invest in several essential oils, investigate recipes to use them for other purposes besides sleeping, such as skin care, first aid, odor elimination, and for cleaning your home.

Our website provides great resources on choosing essential oils in order to fall asleep faster.You will find many resources on how to go to sleep better by visiting our website. Please visit us today to learn more about different ways on how you can sleep better, faster, and more

Interval Training for Maximum Fat Burn

When people imagine going to the gym it fills many of them with dread, thinking it has to entail an hour or more slugging your guts out on the treadmill, cross trainer or bike in order to burn enough calories to see the scales drop at the end of the week.


But how wrong they are and how poorly educated this country is. Speak to anyone who has lost a lot of body fat or any decent Personal Trainer and ask them the very best and scientifically way to burn body fat fast and effectively and with minimal time in the gym and they will all say……interval training.


Interval training along with heavy compound resistance training is a phenomenal way of burning lots of fat with only a short time in the gym each week. In fact some studies even showed people who undertook intervals rather than slow steady state cardio (sssc) burnt off 9 times more calories.


So what is interval training and who can do it? Well that’s the beauty of intervals, anybody can do it! Literally anybody as it can be adapted to an individuals exercise history, experience, fitness and injuries.


Interval training involves slow periods of exercise with short bursts (intervals) of speed to speed up the heart rate but not for long. This means you will raise your metabolic rate due to the increases of intensity and is manageable for everybody due to the ‘recovery’ periods.


An example would be a 15 second sprint then a 30 second recovery repeated 10 times. This of course can be adapted to the individual as it is very challenging and the main obstacle is the mental challenge of getting motivated to do it, but when you give someone the choice, 15 minutes cardio or 45 minutes?  Then the motivation is easy especially when the 15 minutes of cardio will yield greater results!


A beginner would be advised to start on a piece of kit that supports their body such as a bike or x-trainer, then once their basic strength and fitness increases they can move onto more challenging pieces of kit such as treadmills and rowing machines. It is also extremely important to ensure a thorough warm up is completed before high intensity training is undertaken.


So interval training can yield excellent fat loss results and in limited workout time and not only that but due to the increased yet manageable intensity will produce better fitness levels, lung function and stamina and decrease in blood pressure and stress levels.


But….yes there is a but, it is important to remember that interval training is much harder on the body and isn’t for everybody, if someone doesn’t have the mental strength or motivation to do intervals to lose fat, but would prefer longer slower cardio then this can still be beneficial as they are more likely to continue a training regime that they feel they can cope with.


The point of this article is train smarter not longer!

Slow Down Your Brain’s Aging Process with the Food That You Eat

Our brain is one of the body’s five vital organs. These five organs are the most essential for the body’s survival and normal function. Because of this, you must maintain your brain’s health and youth. Though aging is inevitable, there are ways that you can do to slow down your brain’s aging process.

Your lifestyle has a great impact on how fast your body cells will age. Unhealthy lifestyle practices like smoking, chronic stress, unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle can all contribute in speeding up your cells’ aging - and brain cells are no exception. To slow down your brain’s aging process, you must make modifications to eradicate these unhealthy lifestyle practices. You can take brain supplements and brain boosting supplements but most importantly, you must modify your diet. When preparing for your everyday meals, make it a point to include those types of food that are known to slow down your brain’s aging process.

To preserve your brain’s youthful aptitude, you must be more selective in the food that you eat. Studies have proven that some foods can enhance your mental ability, as well as prevent your brain to age rapidly. Among those that were found to slow down your brain’s aging process are the following:

Foods that decrease free radicals in the body

In preventing your brain’s aging process, you would never go wrong if you include in your meals the different foods that can fight the free radicals present in your body. Free radicals are by-products of your cell’s processes. When these free radicals accumulate and increase in concentration in the blood stream, they can cause harmful effects in the body such as cancer, chronic diseases and rapid aging.

Thus, to prevent these harmful effects, especially if you want to slow down your brain’s aging process, you must take in foods that are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to be effective in reducing the formation of free radicals. They can also prevent the existing free radicals in oxidizing the body’s normal biologic components. Thus, to prevent the harmful effects of free radicals, especially accelerated aging, you can eat this selection of foods that are rich in antioxidants:

Eggs – they are rich in the antioxidant, selenium, which can help in maintaining your brain’s health

Blueberries – they are rich in Vitamins C & E, which are powerful antioxidants

Mustard – they are rich in the antioxidants, turmeric, which can also help to slow down your brain’s aging process

Spinach – this is very rich in Vitamins C & E and also beta-carotene

Foods that protects the brain cells’ myelin sheath

Myelin sheath is the covering of the brain cells’ axons. It is the component of an axon that helps to speed up nerve conduction, thus, speeds up the brain’s functioning. It also helps the brain’s cells to function effectively with less energy expenditure.

Studies have shown that bee pollen can help protect the neuron’s myelin sheath. In that way, bee pollen helps in maintaining the brain cells’ health and it also helps to slow down your brain’s aging process. Take a few tablespoons of bee pollen daily. As you do this, you can also prevent neurologic disorders related to myelin degeneration, such as Multiple Sclerosis.

Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids help to slow down your brain’s aging process by maintaining a good flow of blood supply going to the brain. When the brain cells receive ample blood supply, then it also receives enough amount of oxygen, an important substance in all the body cells’ function. Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to contain DHA, a molecule that aids the brain in transmitting impulses. Among those foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are the following: salmon, tuna, walnuts and beets. Appropriate natural brain supplement can help as well, if you know how to choose it wisely. Opt for natural, effective and affordable brain supplements that have undergone extensive clinical trials.

Most of the recommended brain foods above come from vegetables and fruits. There are more essential nutrients derived from this healthy food group, so you could eat generous servings of these “glow” foods. With their beneficial action, they would definitely slow down your brain’s aging process.

Alex Vandyke is author of this article and has a great deal of expertise and experience in many health areas, particularly brain supplements and brain boosting supplements

What Is Osteoporosis And How You Can Prevent It

Osteoporosis is a condition resulting in the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone mass over time. It is caused by excessive loss of calcium from bones. As a result, bones become fragile and break easily. During childhood, calcium is actively deposited in the bones to support growth and development. The bone stops growing in length and density at approximately age 20 for men and 16 for women. This is the point we achieve peak bone mass.


The greater the peak bone mass, the lower the risk of Osteoporosis. Women are generally at higher risk of Osteoporosis as they achieve peak bone mass at an earlier age. Pregnancy and menopause also increases calcium losses from the bone.

Calcium and bone health

Osteoporosis can be prevented through proper bone nutrition especially ensuring adequate calcium consumption. The best time to increase intake of calcium is during the developing years of a child when the bone is still actively growing and has yet to achieve peak bone mass.  However, adults can also benefit greatly from increasing their calcium intake to maintain adequate calcium supply preventing the body from dipping into the calcium reserves which is the skeleton.


The recommended daily amount (RDA) of calcium is as follows:

Age group Male Female Pregnant & Lactating
0-6 months 200mg 200mg
7-12 months 260mg 260mg
1-3 years 700mg 700mg
4-8 years 1000mg 1000mg
9-18 years 1300mg 1300mg 1300mg
19-50 1000mg 1000mg 1000mg
51-70 1000mg 1200mg
71 and above 1200mg 1200mg


The main dietary sources of calcium include milk and milk products e.g. cheese and yoghurt. Calcium can also be found in soy products, sardines, nuts, dark leafy green vegetables and calcium fortified foods. As part of a healthy diet, it recommended to consume 2-4 servings of calcium-rich foods daily.  Choose low-fat/reduced-fat dairy as much as possible as dairy products are naturally high in saturated fat. As a guide, refer to the calcium content of the following calcium-rich foods:


Food Amount Calcium content
Dairy & Soy
Milk (skim, low-fat, whole) 1 cup 300mg
Buttermilk 1 cup 300mg
Nonfat milk powder 5 tbsp 300mg
Low-fat yoghurt 1 cup 450mg
Soy milk, calcium fortified 1 cup 200-400mg
Hard cheese (cheddar, jack) 1 oz 200 mg
Mozzarella cheese 1 oz 200mg
Parmesan cheese 1 Tbsp 70mg
Soft tofu 4 oz 200mg
Firm tofu, calcium set 4 oz 300mg
Broccoli 1 cup 180mg
Kale, raw 1 cup 55mg
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 240mg
Swiss chard, cooked 1 cup 100mg
Sardines, canned with bones 3 oz 370mg
Mackerel 3 oz 250mg
Nuts & grains
Almonds 1 oz 80mg
Sesame seeds 1 oz 280mg
Brown rice, raw 1 cup 50mg
Cereals, calcium fortified ½ cup 200-300mg


Tips to incorporate more calcium into your diet

ü  Use bones (e.g. chicken, beef, fish)  for homemade soup stock

ü  Add shredded reduced-fat cheese into pastas, salads & sandwiches

ü  Add minced dark greens such as kale and spinach to casseroles, soups and stews

ü  Use calcium fortified soy milk, non-fat dairy milk or buttermilk in your recipes instead of water in recipes such as pudding, oatmeal and mashed potatoes

ü  Add a hearty dose of legumes such as pinto beans or soybeans into your pastas and salads

ü  Enjoy sesame or almond spread on toast instead of your usual peanut butter and jelly

ü  Toss some fresh fruit into low-fat yoghurt as breakfast or even dessert


Calcium supplements

One can also consider calcium supplementation if there is difficulty in meeting the calcium requirement through food exclusively.  Calcium in the form of calcium citrate has a much higher absorption that calcium carbonate. However, they are generally pricier as well.


A more effective way of consuming calcium supplement is in spilt dosages. It is advisable not to exceed 500mg of calcium per dose as anything above 500mg cannot be effectively absorbed by the body.  Bear in mind that supplements as the name suggest are meant to supplement the diet and not intended as the only calcium source. It is very important to incorporate calcium-rich foods into your diet to protect your bones.




Vitamin D & bone health

Vitamin D is essential for bone health as the body requires vitamin D for calcium absorption in the intestines.  It also maintains the balance of calcium levels in the blood to prevent calcium depletion from bones. The general recommendation for vitamin D is 400-600IU daily for adults under 50 and 800-1000IU for adults over 50.

Vitamin D is present in very few foods. Foods rich in vitamin D include: Cod liver oil, animal liver, oily fishes and vitamin D fortified foods e.g. vitamin D fortified milk. Most of our vitamin D is produced by our own skin when exposed to UV rays in sunlight.  In general, 10–15 minutes exposure of hands, arms and face 3–4 times per week under moderately strong sunlight if climate permits is recommended for optimal vitamin D production.

Individuals who live in climates with low sun exposure or those who wear covered clothing are at risk of vitamin D deficiency.  They may consider taking a vitamin D supplement to achieve their daily recommended intake.  Most calcium supplements and multivitamins do contain vitamin D.  Alternatively, there are also pure vitamin D supplements available.

Dietary risk factors for increased calcium losses

(i)                  High phosphoric acid intake

Found mainly in carbonated drinks, phosphoric acid increases urinary calcium excretion. In addition, due to the acidity of phosphoric acid, the body uses calcium to neutralize the acid in order to maintain the blood pH. On a side note, carbonated soft drinks are loaded with sugar, so it is probably a sound choice to limit the intake of these beverages.


(ii)                High protein intake

Protein is essential for health. Be aware of how much protein you require and consume enough but not excessive. The metabolism of protein generates acids which again require calcium to neutralize. If the calcium supply is inadequate, the body will tap on the bone for calcium leading to bone depletion.


(iii)               High caffeine intake

For coffee addicts, it may not be good news to know that caffeine increases the excretion of calcium from the body. An intake of >300mg of caffeine per day has been shown to significantly increase calcium loss. To minimize the effects of caffeine on bone loss, it is advisable to limit yourself to not more than 2 cups of caffeine-containing beverages per day.


(iv)              High sodium intake

Like caffeine, high salt intake increases excretion of calcium in the urine even though the specific biological mechanism is different. Studies show that every extra gram of salt consumed per day will produce a 1% increase in bone loss yearly.  Sodium has a large potential to influence bone depletion. High salt intake is also associated with increased blood pressure. For both the bone and cardiovascular health, a low-sodium diet is highly recommended.


A nutritionally balanced diet is essential for the maintenance of healthy bone mass. However, diet is only one part of the equation. Exercise also plays an important role in supporting bone health. Weight-bearing exercises help to increase the strength of bone and support calcium deposition in the skeleton. There are many simple weight-bearing exercises that one can do in the comfort of your own home. One does not have to be a nutrition expert or a fitness instructor to build strong and healthy bones. All it takes some discipline and commitment.


About the author

Kelly Kims is a certified dietitian and nutritionist who has practiced as a clinical dietitian in major tertiary hospitals. Her clinical interest includes nutritional therapy for weight management, diabetes, cardiovascular  disease and  cancer. She is also an accredited sports dietitian who has experience in counseling athletes and fitness fanatics about sports nutrition. She is also co-owner and writes about nutrition and diets at




5 Reasons Why Your Abdominal Muscles Aren’t Toning Out

Do you struggle with a stomach that just won't tone out the way you want it to? I personally struggled with that for so long and I just had no idea why. There are countless reasons why someone might not be able to reveal their abdominal muscles, but I'm going to cover the most prominent ones in this article.

Whether your body type is skinny and thin (like I am) or your body type is more heavy-set, these five powerful tips will help you achieve that flat, toned stomach. Everyone is different in body type, energy levels, and exercise knowledge, so these tips are designed to help each one of these different individuals as opposed to one specific audience.

I can personally attest that these different pointers will not only help you in the long run in developing that strong stomach, but will give you noticeable differences within the next day or two. Now this doesn't mean you'll see differences in your stomach appearance, but you will see differences in your overall health and ability to lose fat or gain muscle (depending on your body type and goals). So, without further delay, allow me to walk you through each of these different tips and show you how you can change them to maximize your results while decreasing your workout time.

1. You Aren't Hydrating Yourself Properly:

Many people forget to hydrate themselves and this can cause numerous problems. You won't just see problems during your exercises, but you'll see problems with your overall health if you don't hydrate correctly. This doesn't mean drinking a glass of water or two now and then throughout the day, but it means treating your body like a giant, refillable water bottle. As you're working out performing different exercises, you're losing those liquids that your body once had, and you need to constantly be replenishing those liquids so you don't pass out.

Without proper hydration your muscles don't get the maximized results they could be if you were providing healthy liquids for your muscles to rely on. Not only that, but your body relies on electrolytes and proper hydration to provide you with the energy needed to blast through exercises. This is why hydrating yourself constantly isn't enough. You need to be sure you're hydrating yourself the right way with the proper liquids.

The wrong kinds of liquids include energy drinks (Monsters, Red Bull etc.), caffeine (coffee, shots, etc.) and yes, even "electrolyte-replsnishing" drinks (gatorade, powerade etc.). You may agree with me when I say caffeine and energy drinks are absolutely terrible for workouts, but I bet you didn't guess drinks like Gatorade and Powerade aren't the best for exercising.

I could go deep into detail, but the main point is that drinks like Gatorade DO replenish you with electrolytes, but what comes associated with the electrolytes (food coloring, high fructose corn syrup etc.) is what tears your body down in the long run. The main point is that you need to hydrate yourself constantly and properly. Everyone is going to have to replenish their liquids differently because we all have different body types and workouts, but the main point is that you absolutely NEED to stay hydrated both in and out of the gym.

2. Don't Settle For Average With Your Workouts

I don't know exactly what you do for your workout plan or what different muscles you work each day, but I do know one thing: that you need to push your body and not just settle for average during each exercise. There are so many things that incorporate into this amazing tip, but I'm only going to cover the absolute necessary points.

First off, we tend to get used to exercises after we've performed them for so long and it just becomes a second nature routine. When you reach this kind of "plateau" in your exercises, you need to increase the power of that exercise. How do you do this? You need to perform each exercise in a harder way that tests your body's limits even more than it used to. Here's an example: let's say you have been doing the same abdominal exercise everyday for the past month and feel as if it doesn't give you much of a workout, but you still perform it anyway just to get it out of the way for that day; now instead of just going through the motions, make it harder and turn it into a weighted exercise that fully concentrates all of the weight and tension straight to your abdominals. This is what it means to push your body past its usual limits and explore harder ways to make that specific exercise work you harder.

Secondly, switch up your exercise instead of going through the normal everyday routine. Mix up your workouts, make it fun, and create some new exercise that work best for you by exploring different options. For example, individuals tend to get bored of their boring cardio workout that consists of jogging, jump rope, and some jumping-jacks. Well, instead of making your workout seem like a chore, have fun with it and explore different variations to each exercise that make you think more and work harder. This might include turning a normal mile-jog into a fun 15 minute run where you pull one of your kids in a wagon up and down your street. Things like this will make it fun and you'll get exhausted way faster without even realizing your body is getting an insane cardio workout.

3. You Aren't Consistent With Your Diet Plan

Diet plans can be hard to follow, I understand that. However, when it becomes a normal thing where you "cheat" on your diet and have a cupcake or doughnut here and there, this becomes a problem. You need to write out your goals, post it on the cupboard door of your junk food cabinet, and remind yourself what this whole diet thing is meant to accomplish whenever you're about to cheat yourself.

Also, its hard to stay consistent with your diet whenever you don't have any idea what the upcoming day will bring your way. My suggestion is to write out a diagram or outline of your day to prepare yourself for whatever your day may bring your way. Plan your meals out the night before, all the way down the snacks in between. This can do huge things for you so you don't hit any unexpected "bumps" in the road and ruin your diet.

Remember, your goals are what's going to help you stay consistent with your diet plan, because your diet plan is meant to help you accomplish things you otherwise couldn't. Whether you're aiming to build muscle or lose body fat, everything starts with your internal environment. This means everything you eat or drink has some kind of effect on your body's internal environment, whether good or bad.

Let's make a healthy, good environment for your body to naturally accomplish whatever goal it is you're trying to reach.

4. You Are Focusing On One Abdominal Muscle Group

Whether you're meaning to do this or not, you may only be targeting one specific abdominal muscle group with your workouts. This is not a good thing when you're trying to tone out your entire stomach and get rid of abdominal fat. It's hard, and almost impossible, to develop a toned, flat stomach, when you only workout your upper abdominals group, or whatever muscle group it may be. You need to be sure you balance out your workouts and find exercises that tone all of your abdominal muscles at once, or at least workout one group after the other, making sure to balance it out.

For example, you could perform two exercises that target your upper abdominals, then perform two exercises that target your lower abs, and finish it off with two oblique abdominal exercises (love handles). This way you even out your exercises and don't strengthen certain abdominals more than the others. You may be able to prominently see your upper abdominals, while your lower abs are hidden by abdominal fat. This would be due to your unbalanced abs workouts.

Be sure to fix this to prevent an oddly-shaped stomach, because I actually use to struggle with this at first. I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did.

5. You Aren't Performing Weighted Exercises

If you are aiming to develop six pack abs, but don't know how, listen carefully. This is one of the easiest things to adjust and can do massive things for your stomach. Not only will you see faster results, but you'll honestly see abdominal fat diminish as you see your abdominals begin to unveil.

Here's my final tip: perform weighted abdominal exercises. More weight means more muscle is being developed and muscle is the one natural thing that destroys fat the fastest. When you have more muscle built being developed in your stomach area, you'll notice drastic differences as that abdominal fat will begin to become overrun by muscle. This is where your abdominal muscles begin to unveil themselves.

So, my tip to you is to add comfortable amounts of weight in each of your abdominal exercise, and perform those exercises until you know you blasted your stomach. This is my most helpful tip not only because you can easily begin to implement it right now, but because you'll notice drastic differences as opposed to the regular old "non-weighted" exercises. I recommend you start off with light weights for each exercise and slowly progress to heavier weights to build more abdominal muscle. Remember, muscle is the one thing that naturally destroys fat and you'll get awesome results if you implement this one powerful tip.

Well, there they are. These are 5 powerful tips you can easily begin to utilize the moment you're done reading this article. These aren't just applicable techniques, but these are ones that will allow you to see noticeable, maximized results. Yes, we're trying to develop a toned stomach, but you'll see an increase in overall health and energy when you constantly implement these tips into your workout plan.

Jason Camacho is the guest author of this post and is also the owner of Ultimate Abdominals, which also contains Three Powerful Ebooks at no charge. Gain knowledge, implement secrets and tips, and optimize results instantly and permanently.

Peripheral Vascular Disease/Peripheral Arterial Disease

Poor circulation to the legs and feet is a very serious condition that has recently gained publicity.  PAD (peripheral arterial disease) or PVD (peripheral vascular disease) are common ways of referring to poor circulation or blood flow to the lower extremities (legs/feet).  There are two main arteries that supply the feet: posterior tibial artery and dorsalis pedis artery.  These two arteries are checked when you have a foot exam.

Poor blood flow means that there is either a blockage in one or several blood vessels or narrowing of the vessels so that blood does not flow easily through the vessels.  Sometimes, blood does not flow at all, if the vessels are completely blocked, and this is a very serious condition which often leads to limb loss.

Causes of PAD:  common causes of poor circulation include the following:  smoking, hypertension or high cholesterol, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, and other chronic, serious conditions.

Signs of PAD:  pain, color changes to the toes, cramping after walking a certain distance, toenail changes, thinning of the skin of the feet, lack of hair growth to the feet, and in the worst case, pain with rest or sleeping that is only relieved with dangling the foot out of the bed or walking around.  Often, the pulses of the feet are weak or not present.

Testing for PAD:  circulation tests or arterial doppler exams are ordered to assess the blood flow of the legs and feet. This test uses blood pressure cuffs to monitor the blood flow, and the blood flow of the ankle is often compared to the blood flow or pressure in the arm to determine an ankle brachial index or ABI.  The waveforms created by these measurements and the number of the ankle brachial index or ABI determine if a person has poor circulation and whether they need to be referred to a vascular surgeon or interventional cardiologist for a more extensive work up.

Treatment:  often, podiatrists refer patients to other doctors for treatment of severe cases of PVD/PAD.  Early forms of the disease are often treated with medication, exercise, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar levels, and cessation of smoking.  More serious disease may require surgery.

If you think you have poor circulation to your feet, please called Advanced Physical Medicine for an appointment with Dr. Bender, Oak Park and Chicago's premier foot and ankle specialist!

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