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Posts tagged ‘exercise’

Exercise ‘boosts academic performance’ of teenagers

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Those who did the most exercise did better academically according to the research

 

Intensive exercise improves the academic performance of teenagers, according to new research.

The study, of about 5,000 children, found links between exercise and exam success in English, maths and science.

It found an increase in performance for every extra 17 minutes boys exercised, and 12 minutes for girls.

The study by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee found physical activity particularly benefited girls’ performance at science.

The authors said this could be a chance finding or reflect gender differences in the impact of physical activity on the brain.

Children who carried out regular exercise, not only did better academically at 11 but also at 13 and in their exams at 16, the study suggested.

‘Low exercise levels’

Most of the teenagers’ exercise levels were found to be well below the recommended 60 minutes a day.

The authors speculated what might happen to academic performance if children got the recommended amount.

They claimed that since every 15 minutes of exercise improved performance by an average of about a quarter of a grade, it was possible children who carried out 60 minutes of exercise every day could improve their academic performance by a full grade – for example, from a C to a B, or a B to an A.

However, the authors admitted this was speculation given that very few children did anywhere near this amount of exercise.

Dr Josie Booth, one of the leaders of the study, from Dundee University said: “Physical activity is more than just important for your physical health.

“There are other benefits and that is something that should be especially important to parents, policy-makers and people involved in education.”

The authors of the study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, said further research backing the findings could have implications fore public health and education policy.

The study was funded by a grant from the BUPA Foundation to the University of Strathclyde.

via BBC News – Exercise ‘boosts academic performance’ of teenagers.

Exercise ‘can be as good as pills’

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Short, regular bouts of exercise could add years to your life, say experts

 

Exercise can be as good a medicine as pills for people with conditions such as heart disease, a study has found.

The work in the British Medical Journal(BMJ) looked at hundreds of trials involving nearly 340,000 patients to assess the merits of exercise and drugs in preventing death.

Physical activity rivalled some heart drugs and outperformed stroke medicine.

The findings suggest exercise should be added to prescriptions, say the researchers.

Experts stressed that patients should not ditch their drugs for exercise – rather, they should use both in tandem.

Prescriptions rise

Too few adults currently get enough exercise. Only a third of people in England do the recommended 2.5 hours or more of moderate-intensity activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.

In contrast, prescription drug rates continue to rise.

There were an average of 17.7 prescriptions for every person in England in 2010, compared with 11.2 in 2000.

For the study, scientists based at the London School of Economics, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University School of Medicine trawled medical literature to find any research that compared exercise with pills as a therapy.

They identified 305 trials to include in their analysis. These trials looked at managing conditions such as existing heart disease, stroke rehabilitation, heart failure and pre-diabetes.

When they studied the data as a whole, they found exercise and drugs were comparable in terms of death rates.

But there were two exceptions.

Drugs called diuretics were the clear winner for heart failure patients, while exercise was best for stroke patients in terms of life expectancy.


Health benefits

Doing exercise regularly:

  • Can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50%
  • Can lower your risk of early death by up to 30%
  • Can boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy as well as keep weight off
  • Moderate activity, such as cycling or fast walking, gives your heart and lungs a work-out

Source: NHS Choices

Amy Thompson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said that although an active lifestyle brings many health benefits, there is not enough evidence to draw any firm conclusions about the merit of exercise above and beyond drugs.

“Medicines are an extremely important part of the treatment of many heart conditions and people on prescribed drugs should keep taking their vital meds. If you have a heart condition or have been told you’re at high risk of heart disease, talk to your doctor about the role that exercise can play in your treatment.”

Dr Peter Coleman of the Stroke Association said exercise alongside drugs had a vital role that merited more research.

“We would like to see more research into the long-term benefits of exercise for stroke patients.

“By taking important steps, such as regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and stopping smoking, people can significantly reduce their risk of stroke.”

“Moderate physical activity, for example, can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 27%.”

via BBC News – Exercise ‘can be as good as pills’.

Top Picks: Get through in fine form

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Eat before visiting

Festive celebrations can be hectic and take a toll on our overall health. Sushma Veera offers some prudent tips for the weekend ahead.

Eat before visiting

1 – Eat something healthy before you leave home. It will not only stop you from eating excessively oily food later but also stop you from overeating at homes you’re visiting.

Manage your indigestion

2 – Don’t rush to finish your food. Take your time and chew each mouthful properly to combat indigestion. Rich foods, eating on-the-go and festive stress can all be overwhelming for your digestive system, and that means you pile on the calories. Stick to protein-rich snacks such as peanuts, rather than bread-based ones to prevent feeling bloated.

Rehydrate before bed

3 – Drink plenty of water. Hot weather can dehydrate you if your fluid intake is not adequate or too many caffeinated drinks are consumed without replacing the fluids lost. Always keep a water bottle with you — either in your car, handbag or in the living room. Seeing it will constantly remind you to drink up.

Remove your makeup

4 – No matter how tired you are, never neglect your skin. Be sure to remove makeup as it gives your skin a chance to rest, breathe and repair. Use a good skin cleanser to gently remove dirt, excess oil and make-up.

Sleep well

5 – Prioritise quality sleep by relaxing before bedtime. Lack of sleep can actually increase appetite and cravings so aim to go to bed by 10pm and enjoy eight hours of restorative sleep. Set aside some time in which you can lounge around with a good book, or soak in a lavender bubble bath.

De-puff your eyes

6 – Late nights will take a toll on your eyes. Cut a cold cucumber and put two slices on your eyelids. Keep them on for a couple of minutes — it helps to ease skin inflammation and irritation as well as reduce water retention.

Don’t neglect your feet

7 – During this festive season, people will be on their feet for extended periods. Don’t let sore, achy feet ruin your festive celebration. Show your feet some love by applying a good moisturiser to prevent blisters. If you want to wear high heels, invest in gel cushions.

Exercise

8 – Exercise will make you feel better. It’s the best way to relieve stress and boost your energy. If possible, go for an evening walk in the neighbourhood or play some backyard game in between feasting.

Manage your stress

9 – So there’s cooking, shopping, cleaning and some office work pending. Set your priorities  and eliminate superfluous activities. At home, try to delegate errands among family members.

Protection from the sun

10 – Sun exposure provides vitamin D but overexposure to UV radiation can also have adverse health effects. Make it a habit to wear sunscreen. If you are going to be outdoors for a long period of time, wear protective clothing. Wear a shade and be sure to carry an umbrella.

Read more: Top Picks: Get through in fine form – Health – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/life-times/health/top-picks-get-through-in-fine-form-1.333294?cache=03%2F7.212178%3Fkey%3DKuala+Lumpur%2F7.258558%2F7.286819#ixzz2bFSzgv7D

via Top Picks: Get through in fine form – Health – New Straits Times.

Life in the fasting lane

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Beware of overeating while breaking your fast, especially after a trip to the Ramadan bazaar. Overeating can lead to a spike in blood sugar, which can lead to hyperglycaemia. – GARY CHEN / The Star

Many Muslims with medical conditions such as diabetes observe a fasting period during Ramadan despite being religiously exempted from doing so. We break down the health risks, as well as preventive measures, to ensure a safe and healthy fasting season.

MILLIONS of Muslims in Malaysia are now celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, including those with medical conditions like diabetes.

In Islam, Ramadan is considered to be the most blessed and spiritually-beneficial month of the year.

For this reason, many observe a fast from dawn to dusk throughout the month, during which they must abstain from eating, drinking and smoking, amongst other practices.

There are however, no restrictions on the amount of food or drink they can consume at night.

According to religious tenets, fasting is intended to teach a person patience, humility and self-control.

This practice is also thought to be good for health, and provides a yearly routine of spiritual cleansing for Muslims.

Many Muslims with legitimate health concerns also fast despite being religiously exempted from doing so – some even going against their doctor’s advice.

Hence, it is imperative for medical professionals, and even more so for those who are fasting, to be aware of the potential risks associated with fasting, and take steps to fast in a safe and healthy manner.

Rising numbers

Diabetes is a condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to rise too high.

It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin to function properly, or when the body’s cells do not react to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and affects up to 90% of diabetic patients around the world.

It usually affects those over the age of 40, although increasingly younger people are also being affected.

Its growing prevalence is associated with rapid cultural and social changes, and is often attributed to unhealthy lifestyle and behavioural patterns such as a poor diet coupled with physical inactivity.

 

Professor Dr Nor Azmi Kamaruddin explains that factors such as taking too much insulin or other diabetes medications, skipping a meal, or strenuous exercise can cause a dive in blood sugar in diabetic patients.

Prof Nor Azmi explains that factors such as taking too much insulin or other diabetes medications, skipping a meal, or strenuous exercise, can cause a dive in blood sugar in diabetic patients. –Filepic

In 2010, the National Health and Morbidity Survey revealed that an estimated 3.4 million Malaysians suffer from diabetes.

The survey showed an increase in diabetic cases among Malaysians aged 30 and above, from 8.3% in 1996, to 14.9% in 2006. This marks an 80% increase over a period of just 10 years.

The same survey revealed an even more dramatic increase in diabetic cases among the nation’s youth. Between 1996 and 2006, the number of diabetic cases in Malaysians aged 18 years and above rose from 4.4% to 14%, a 200% increase in just a decade.

More alarmingly, it is believed that an estimated one-third (or 36%) of the diabetic population remains undiagnosed.

Fasting is not meant to create excessive hardship on the individual, but Muslims who are diabetic may face significant challenges in managing their condition, as fasting requires abstinence from all foods, fluids, oral medications, as well as IV fluids, which may be required to keep their blood sugar level in check.

Among the problems to look out for include:

Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Low blood sugar is a well-known risk associated with daytime fasting, especially for diabetic patients. It occurs when there is too much insulin and not enough sugar (glucose) in your blood.

If left untreated, low blood sugar can lead to serious medical problems, including loss of consciousness, and convulsions or seizures that require emergency treatment.

Professor Dr Nor Azmi Kamaruddin, head of the diabetes and endocrine unit at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), explains that factors such as taking too much insulin or other diabetes medications, skipping a meal, or exercising harder than usual can cause low blood sugar in diabetics.

Not eating enough during sahur, the meal consumed before dawn, can increase the risk of hypoglycaemia, he explains.

The logic behind this is simple. Most diabetic patients are required to take insulin or other diabetic medications to decrease their blood sugar levels. However, consuming less calories than what your body needs naturally will lower your sugar levels. This, compounded with the use of insulin or diabetic medications, could cause blood sugar to plummet to dangerous levels.

“Most people do not eat enough during sahur, because they are not used to eating at that hour. Hence, appetite tends to be poor,” says Prof Azmi.

“Diabetics, in particular, need to consume the same amount of food they usually consume, to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.”

He stresses that reduction of insulin or medication is not recommended because if you do not have enough insulin to cover the extra sugar in your blood, ketoacidosis can occur.

Ketoacidosis itself is a severe, life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, rapid breathing, and in some cases, unconsciousness.

Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar)

Conversely, high blood sugar also affects people with diabetes. Contributing factors include excessive food intake, illness, and not taking enough glucose-lowering medication.

High blood sugar can become severe and result in serious complications such as diabetic coma, which requires emergency care. In the long term, persistent hyperglycaemia, even if not severe, can lead to complications affecting the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.

During Ramadan, most people usually consume two meals per day – one before sunrise and one after sunset.

“However, some people have the tendency to binge-eat when they break fast. That’s when the problem arises,” says Prof Azmi.

“When you starve yourself for some 14 hours, and then consume a significant amount of food, your blood sugar levels will shoot up if you’re diabetic.”

“This occurs especially when people go to bazaars hungry. They tend to overbuy, and subsequently overeat.”

Dehydration

When you have diabetes, excess glucose builds up in your blood. As a result, your kidneys have to work harder to filter and absorb the excess sugar.

If your kidneys can’t keep up, the excess sugar is excreted through your urine, along with fluids drawn from your tissues. This causes frequent urination, which may leave a diabetic dehydrated and constantly thirsty. As they drink more fluids to quench their thirst, they will urinate even more.

This is where the problem arises. Says Prof Azmi: “During Ramadan, diabetic patients tend to suffer from dehydration because they don’t drink enough water to replenish the fluids that have been lost.

“To make things worse, Malaysia is situated in the tropics. On average, we lose up to half a litre of sweat everyday due to the heat.

“Those who work outdoors could lose over a litre every day.”

 

Mobile applications such as Ramadan, Diabetes and Me (as shown in the picture) allow diabetic patients to keep track of their blood sugar levels throughout the day. .

Mobile applications such as Ramadan, Diabetes and Me (as shown in the picture) allow diabetic patients to keep track of their blood sugar levels throughout the day.

Fasting tips for diabetics

During Ramadan, your regular day-to-day dietary habits get thrown out the window. Health problems can arise from an insufficient diet or as a consequence of overeating.

To avoid this, it is essential for diabetic patients to maintain a healthy and balanced diet throughout the holy month. The aim should be to maintain a consistent body mass.

Nutrition

At the predawn meal, consuming foods rich in “complex” carbohydrates (slow-digesting foods) is advisable because of the delay in digestion and absorption, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

In addition, increase your fluid intake during non-fasting hours to avoid dehydration.

When breaking fast, Prof Azmi advises diabetic Muslims to start off with a glass of water, before moving on to dishes, starting from vegetables, protein, and finally to carbohydrates, to avoid overeating.

Ingesting large amounts of foods rich in carbohydrates and fats should be avoided, he says. “About 70-80% of the Asian diet consists of rice. However, the high glycaemic index (GI) in rice could cause blood sugars to spike.

“Also, try to avoid sweetened or carbonated drinks. You might also want to go for whole fruit options instead of fruit juices.

“Ingestion of fruit juices leads to a rapid absorption of glucose in the bloodstream, resulting in a sudden spike in blood sugar.

“In comparison, eating whole fruits involves processes such as chewing and digestion. This will result in a more gradual and stable increase in blood sugar.”

Frequent monitoring of sugar levels and medication

It is important for diabetic patients to monitor their blood sugar levels multiple times a day.

This is especially critical for type 2 diabetes patients who require insulin.

Mobile applications such as Ramadan, Diabetes and Me allow diabetic patients to keep track of their blood sugar levels throughout the day.

Developed by MSD, the app (which is currently only available on IOS devices) feature a blood sugar tracker that offers an easy and convenient way to monitor your daily blood sugar levels.

Meanwhile, those who are on oral medication may have to adjust the dosage or switch to short-acting medication, which can be taken along with their main meal of the day.

Similarly, patients who are on insulin will need to switch to a twice-a-day regime of short-acting insulin, with the larger dose timed before the main evening meal.

Exercise

Normal levels of physical activity may be maintained. However, Prof Azmi advises against strenuous exercise, as it may lead to a higher risk of hypoglycaemia.

“If a diabetic patient has already been exercising regularly, he should continue, but stick to mild or moderate-intensity exercises,” he says.

“I would suggest exercising just before the break of fast, rather than in the morning, so they will be able to recover from their workouts by replenishing their bodies with food.”

He also points out that diabetic patients should try to avoid sun exposure to avoid further fluid loss.

Pre-Ramadan medical assessment

Ideally, all diabetic patients who wish to fast during Ramadan should undergo a medical assessment and engage in an education programme to undertake the obligation as safely as possible.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with type 2 diabetes undergo a medical assessment at least two months prior to fasting.

South-east Asian guidelines for management of endocrine disorders during Ramadan advise planning for the period at least three months in advance.

During this assessment, individual patients need to understand the potential risks they may face if they decide to fast.

Specific changes in diet or medication regimens should be tailored to a patient’s needs, so they can fast on a stable and effective programme.

Such assessments should also extend to those who do not wish to fast due to the heightened risk of hypo- and hyperglycaemia.

via Life in the fasting lane – Health | The Star Online.

Exercise sessions have ‘little impact on child activity’

Children playing on climbing frame

Children may spend less time outdoors at the playground if they go to after-school exercise clubs

 

Extra-curricular exercise sessions have little impact on children’s overall daily physical activity, research in the British Medical Journal suggests.

Researchers from Plymouth University found attending these sessions was only equivalent to doing an extra four minutes walking or running per day.

Children who attended did less physical activity at home afterwards, they said.

They looked at 30 studies, each lasting for at least four weeks, that monitored the bodily movements of the under-16s.

Eight studies involved overweight and obese children only, while the rest involved children who were a range of different weights.

Their results came from controlled trials that took place between 1990 and 2012.

The researchers looked at the effects of extra exercise sessions on total physical activity during waking hours as well as on overall time spent doing moderate exercise.

A PE lesson can be 10 minutes of running, 10 minutes of walking and 20 minutes of standing around…”

Brad Metcalf Plymouth University

Minimal impact

Despite the extra sessions, they found there were only “small to negligible” increases in children’s total activity and small improvements in time spent doing moderate or vigorous exercise.

They calculated this would have minimal impact on children’s body fat or BMI (Body Mass Index), equivalent to a reduction of 2mm (0.07in) in waist circumference.

“It could be that the intervention specific exercise sessions may simply be replacing periods of equally intense activity,” the study said.

“For example, after-school activity clubs may simply replace a period of time that children usually spend playing outdoors or replace a time later in the day/week when the child would usually be active.”

Brad Metcalf, lead author of the study and a medical statistician from the department of endocrinology and metabolism at Plymouth University, said extra-curricular PE lessons could often be far from energetic.

“A PE lesson can be 10 minutes of running, 10 minutes of walking and 20 minutes of standing in a queue waiting for your turn.”

Children may also end up eating or snacking more at home afterwards because they feel they have been more active – or parents may decide not to take their children to the park because they believe they have already had their exercise for the day.

‘Realistic’

Obesity is estimated to cost the NHS £4bn a year.

Mr Metcalf suggests any initiatives to combat obesity should emphasise diet and healthy eating, rather than relying solely on physical activity to solve the problem.

In an editorial in the same issue of the BMJ, Mark Hamer and Abigail Fisher, from the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, said the devices used to measure the total activity of the children were a more reliable tool than questionnaires.

“The small effects reported by Metcalf and colleagues are probably more realistic and provide the best evidence to date on the effectiveness of activity interventions in childhood.”

But they added that the accelerometers could not measure activities like swimming or cycling.

Looking to the future, they said it was important to identify how best to promote exercise to children, “because a wealth of evidence supports the association between an active lifestyle and many facets of child health”.

BBC

Exercising in midlife protects heart, says research


Gardening counts as moderate exercise

Making sure you get enough exercise in midlife will help protect your heart, according to research.

Even those who make the switch in their late 40s and 50s can still benefit, the study of over 4,000 people suggests.

And it need not be hard toil in a gym – gardening and brisk walks count towards the required 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week, say experts.

But more work is needed since the study looked at markers linked to heart problems and not heart disease itself.

And it relied on people accurately reporting how much exercise they did – something people tend to overestimate rather than underestimate.


This research highlights the positive impact changing your exercise habits can have on the future of your heart health ”

Maureen TalbotBritish Heart Foundation

In the study, which is published in the journal Circulation, people who did the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise a week had the lower levels of inflammatory markers in their blood.

Inflammatory markers are important, say experts, because high levels have been linked to increased heart risk.

‘Get active’

People who said they consistently stuck to the recommended amount of exercise for the entire 10-year study had the lowest inflammatory levels overall.

But even those who said they only started doing the recommended amount of exercise when they were well into their 40s saw an improvement and had lower levels of inflammation than people who said they never did enough exercise.


UK exercise recommendations

  • Under-fives (once walking independently): three hours every day
  • Five to 18-year-olds: at least an hour a day of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, plus muscle strengthening activities three times a week
  • Adults (including over 65s): 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, plus muscle strengthening activities twice a week

The findings were unchanged when the researchers took into consideration other factors, such as obesity and smoking, that could have influenced the results in the group of UK civil servants who were included in the study.

Dr Mark Hamer, of University College London, who led the research, said: “We should be encouraging more people to get active – for example, walking instead of taking the bus. You can gain health benefits from moderate activity at any time in your life.”

Maureen Talbot of the British Heart Foundation, which funded the work, said: “Donning your gardening gloves or picking up a paint brush can still go a long way to help look after your heart health, as exercise can have a big impact on how well your heart ages.

“This research highlights the positive impact changing your exercise habits can have on the future of your heart health – and that it’s never too late to re-energise your life.

“However it’s important not to wait until you retire to get off the couch, as being active for life is a great way to keep your heart healthy.”

BBC

Vary your workout

A little variety is just the thing you need to prevent an exercise plateau.

ARE you an avid jogger or hiker who finds that despite decades of exercise, you can’t progress to the next level? Your triceps waggle when you wave goodbye to your friends, and your spare tyre refuses to disappear.

Chances are, your muscles have hit a plateau because your body has adapted to the repetitive training stimulus. What you’re doing is no longer effective, and you’re not gaining any benefit from your workouts.

You’ve entered the lull zone, and have stopped seeing results in your fitness routine – so it’s time to shake up your exercise regime. Unless you’re a professional athlete or entering a marathon or cycling event, consider varying your workouts to up your fitness level.

I’m always amazed when I see gym members laboriously running on the treadmill or riding the bicycles day in day out. Then they lift some weights, do some crunches, guzzle a Gatorade, and go home with a satisfied grin.

Muscle memory registers certain muscle movements, and these movements can be performed flawlessly even after a decade-long break. Walking, driving and swimming are a few common examples of muscle memory.
Muscle memory registers certain muscle movements, and these movements can be performed flawlessly even after a decade-long break. Walking, driving and swimming are a few common examples of muscle memory.

They do this every time they hit the gym. With due respect to factory line workers, my body will be screaming for mercy out of boredom if I had to perform the same routine everyday.

An acquaintance once lamented that he does 200 sit-ups daily, but yet, couldn’t seem to lose his whiskey belly. He probably wasn’t doing the exercise correctly, his workout had reached a plateau, or his nutritional intake was questionable.

Of course, following the same workout is not necessarily a bad thing, but many of us need ways to stay enthusiastic and motivated about our workouts.

Some people enjoy a predictable, consistent routine. They don’t mind the possibility of experiencing a training plateau, and are content to maintain their health and fitness levels with a comfortable exercise habit.

If you’re one of them, then you can stop reading this article.

Personally, I’m a big believer of trying new workouts to stimulate my mind and learn something new. Whether it’s trying out a boot camp class, surfing, swinging from the trapeze, or finding new ways to lift weights, varying my workouts provides a challenge and helps eliminate muscle memory, which is the ability of the mind to capture a particular activity or movement.

Our muscle memory registers certain muscle movements, and these movements can be performed flawlessly even after a decade-long break. Walking, driving and swimming are a few common examples of muscle memory. For example, when a baby learns how to walk, it will never forget for the rest of its life.

However, to maximise your fitness level, your muscles should not store memory. Once the memory is stored, unlike the computer, it’s hard to delete and send it to the recycling bin.

If you only use dumbbells for weight training, work in some moves with a kettlebell or use resistance bands.
If you only use dumbbells for weight training, work in some moves with a kettlebell or use resistance bands.

If you’re been doing squats, repeating it for years doesn’t offer any benefits because your muscles have gotten used to the exercise. Consider doing squat jumps to shock the muscle into doing something different. It’ll become more efficient over time.

Similarly, doing sit-ups daily isn’t going to help get you a six pack. Replace it by doing a plank or do crunches on a stability ball.

Research has shown that adding variety to an exercise programme can improve adherence. According to an article published by the American Council of Exercise (ACE), exercise scientists at the University of Florida observed that individuals who modified their workouts every two weeks over an eight-week period, appeared to enjoy their workouts more, and were more inclined to stick with their exercise programmes, when compared to individuals who followed the same workout regimens week after week.

Varying your exercise routine can also help you stay physically challenged. Many of the body’s physiological systems (eg the muscular system) adapt to an exercise programme within approximately six to eight weeks.

Hence, to spice up your workout and to get better results, consider varying your routines every six to eight weeks.

For example, if you like running, incorporate some intervals of sprinting into it. Run for five minutes, sprint for 30 seconds and repeat the cycle. Or add incline or jog uphill for a few minutes. Six weeks later, do some backward runs. Or cross-train and perform different activities to provide your body with a new challenge.

By fatiguing the muscles in a new order or pattern, you are requiring them to adapt to a new training stimulus.

Varying your workout is also important in helping prevent injuries and keeping your body structurally balanced – besides preventing boredom. Everyone improves at a different rate, and even a subtle change in the routine can prevent a plateau.

Here are some tips provided by ACE to help avoid a fitness plateau:

·Consider cross-training

If you’re looking to change your current routine, determine the different muscle groups you’re working in each of your exercises and replace these with alternate exercises that target the same groups.

For example, replace pushups with bench presses or dumbbell presses.

·Increase the intensity

If you hope to see more results in your current strength training workout, know that your physical intensity is a major factor in success. Contrary to what many think, the most effective way to increase strength is to make your muscles work harder, not longer.

So, the next time you’re at the gym, try using heavier weights, but be careful not to overdo it and get injured.

·Diversify your cardio workout

Cardio workouts are a crucial aspect of maintaining a strong and healthy lifestyle – it aids in weight loss, lowers cholesterol, helps prevent certain diseases, and has even been proven to slow the aging process.

Yet, running the same route daily won’t offer your body the challenge it craves, and chances are high that you will get bored and possibly even give up. Make sure you incorporate hills and flat planes into your walks or runs, and remember to vary speed and intensity each time to get the most out of your cardio workout.

·Try something new

Trying new fitness classes or a different form of exercise is the easiest way to change your workout and put the fun factor back into fitness.

If you typically jog to satisfy your cardio needs, try a step training or kickboxing class. If you only use dumbbells for weight training, work in some moves with a kettlebell or use resistance bands. Not only does this keep your muscles challenged, it keeps your body guessing, and the results coming.

If your workout leaves you more tired and sore than before, then it’s an indicator that you need to vary your workout. Exercise should give you more energy, not leave you feeling rundown.

If you’re feeling overly tired or perpetually sore, you could be overtraining. Your body needs time for rest and recovery. It is during this down time that you build strength and endurance by allowing your muscles to rebuild and repair.

If you don’t give your body ample recovery time, you’ll become weaker instead of stronger.

Exercise isn’t something that should be a chore. Yes, it’s hard work, but it should also be pleasurable. All the feel-good endorphin hormones released during exercise should leave you feeling high, and eventually, you’ll be on your way to a good-looking, fit body.

The STar

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