Is Telomerase the Fountain of Youth?

Telomeres have been compared with the plastic tips on shoelaces because they prevent chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other, which would scramble an organism’s genetic information to cause cancer, other diseases or death.

Telomeres are actually sequences of DNA.

Telomeres prevent a chromosome’s DNA from being eaten away. Previous studies have shown that telomeres shorten with age and linked short telomeres with several diseases. What no one has yet been able to say is if truncated telomeres cause health problems or are a side effect of aging and poor health.

There is also an enzyme called telomerase which is a very important enzyme in the growth, shortening, and control over the size of the Telomeres.

The science and health hopes in the interaction between telomeres and the telomerase enzyme is very scientific adn very interesting to say the least.

The mapping of telomerase is an important discovery, because telomerase is one of the very basic enzymes in cell biology.

Telomerase relengthens the telomeres so that they get the same length as before embarking on cell division.

The Science Behind Telomerase

Telomere_caps

The white spots are the Telomere Caps

Stig E. Bojesen, a researcher at the Faculty of Health and Medicial Sciences, University of Copenhagen, and staff specialist at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, has headed the efforts to map telomerase — an enzyme capable of creating new ends on cellular chromosomes, the so-called telomeres. In other words, a kind of cellular fountain of youth.

The surprising finding was that the variants that caused the diseases were not the same as the ones which changed the length of the telomeres. This suggests that telomerase plays a far more complex role than previously assumed,” says Stig E. Bojesen.

Scientists are not yet sure. But they have been able to use telomerase to make human cells keep dividing far beyond their normal limit in laboratory experiments, and the cells do not become cancerous. Mice engineered to lack the enzyme, called telomerase, become prematurely decrepit. But they bounced back to health when the enzyme was replaced. The finding, published online in Nature, hints that some disorders characterized by early ageing could be treated by boosting telomerase activity.

Fountain of Youth in a Pill?

Advocates of human life extension promote the idea of lengthening the telomeres in certain cells through temporary activation of telomerase (by drugs), or possibly permanently by gene therapy. They reason that this would extend human life because it would extend the Hayflick limit.

So far these ideas have not been proven in humans, but it has been demonstrated that telomere extension has successfully reversed some signs of aging in laboratory mice.

Also, the Salk institute has released studies on Telomerase

Studies have found shortened telomeres in many cancers, including pancreatic, bone, prostate, bladder, lung, kidney, and head and neck. As a cell begins to become cancerous, it divides more often, and its telomeres become very short. If its telomeres get too short, the cell may die. It can escape this fate by becoming a cancer cell and activating an enzyme called telomerase, which prevents the telomeres from getting even shorter.

Most adult body cells, however, keep telomerase tightly controlled and not very active. As this happens, telomeres eventually shorten. When they have shrunk to a certain length, the cells can go into retirement and stop dividing. Cancer cells, on the other hand, often increase their levels of telomerase so they can divide indefinitely.

Some research has shown that the enzyme telomerase makes cancer cells immortal, could it prevent normal cells from aging? Could we extend lifespan by preserving or restoring the length of telomeres with telomerase? If so, does that raise a risk the telomerase also will cause cancer?

University of California Study on Telomere Length

To find out, researchers at Kaiser Permanente and the University of California, San Francisco measured telomere length in 110,266 people in northern California. The participants are part of an ongoing project that explores links between genetics and health. This study is the largest ever to examine telomeres’ role in health.

The 10 percent of people with the shortest telomeres had a more than 20 percent higher risk of dying than people with longer telomeres, Catherine Schaefer, an epidemiologist who directs the Kaiser Permanente Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health, reported November 8 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.

“It seems as though once your telomeres get critically short, your risk of dying goes up,” she said. The increased death risk is about the same as for people who drink 20 to 30 alcoholic beverages per week or smoke for 20 to 30 years. “It’s a modest increase, but it’s not nothing.”

Higher body mass index, or BMI, was associated with longer telomeres. The discovery is counterintuitive, Eisenberg said, because higher BMIs —those associated with being over or obese — are linked to a variety of health problems including diabetes and heart disease

The phenomenon of limited cellular division was first observed by Leonard Hayflick, and is now referred to as the Hayflick limit. Significant discoveries were made by the team led by Professor Elizabeth Blackburn at the University of California.

Dr. Blackburn has developed such a test and also founded a company to market it. There will be a test on the market soon. For a few hundred dollars, interested people could learn whether they have short or long telomeres.

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Lower Back Pain Causes

Are you thinking that if you knew more about lower back pain causes then you might be able to get rid of the pain that you have and prevent it from making you suffer again?

That may be true, so let’s look at a list of possible lower back pain causes.

Pain in the lower back or lumbar region of the spine (also known as lumbago) is very common. In fact, it affects around 80% of people sooner or later in their lives and is believed to be the cause of more sickness absence from work than any other condition.

Lower Back Pain Causes – Strains and Sprains

One of the most common lower back pain causes is a strain or sprain in the muscles of the back.

This type of back pain is often called non-specific lower back pain and it usually goes away without requiring specific treatment except for pain medication which may be required.

This type of pain will normally resolve within 4 weeks, and often in much less time than that.

If the strain has been caused by a sudden movement, lifting, or other obvious event, it often causes severe and immediate pain that may result in the person having very limited movement for a time.

Rest is essential and anti inflammatory medication may be prescribed to handle the pain.

Lower Back Pain Causes – Herniated Disc

In some cases the cause may not be muscle strain but a herniated disc (also known as a ruptured, bulging or slipped disc).

This occurs when one of the discs that act as cushions between the vertebrae (the bones of the spine) is pushed out of its usual position.

This can compress the spinal cord and the nerves around it, causing pain which is often accompanied by a feeling like an electric shock going down the legs, or numbness in the legs.

Arthritis is another of the common lower back pain causes. Either osteoarthritis of the spine or rheumatoid arthritis can be a direct cause of lower back pain.

People who suffer from arthritis in other joints such as the hips or knees may also have lower back pain because of irregular ways of walking to compensate for the joint problem.

There are some conditions that people may have had since childhood, which only develop into lower back pain causes in later life. These include a difference in the length of the legs, abnormalities of the feet, hips or pelvis, and spondylolisthesis (a slipped vertebra).

I love these guys and their videos on back and neck problems. Entertaining and full of knowledge

Besides this there are many other more unusual lower back pain causes. There may be an infection in the spine or a disease such as spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease.

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It is important to see your doctor about severe pain, any pain that continues for longer than you expect, or pain that is accompanied by other symptoms.

In particular, if you have difficulty going to the bathroom or numbness in the genital area, this could be a sign of a condition which requires immediate treatment as a medical emergency.

It is always safer to see a doctor than to try to figure out your possible lower back pain causes by yourself.

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The Causes Of Osteoporosis

The main causes of osteoporosis are reduced production of the hormones estrogen (in women) and testosterone (in men) as we grow older.

It is most common in women after the menopause. However it can also appear in older men and in younger people, usually as a result of hormone deficiencies, sometimes due to calcium deficiency or certain medications.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition defined as low bone mineral density – in other words, weak bones. Weak bones are likely to break more easily and the classic case is a senior lady who frequently falls and breaks wrists, hips and other bones.

The risk of these fractures occurring is increased of course if the person easily loses their balance. This is associated with certain diseases but also happens much more often in elderly people. Poor eyesight also results in more frequent falls.

osteoporosis

Broken wrists can make independent living difficult, especially as it is quite common to break both in the same fall. Fractures of major bones like the pelvis are more serious and often require surgery.

Anything which prevents the bones from getting enough calcium can contribute to the causes of osteoporosis.

This can either be because there is not enough calcium in the diet, or because something is preventing the absorption of calcium: for example, heavy smoking.

People are also at increased risk if they are underweight, bedridden or have been exposed to high levels of the metals lead or cadmium.

Osteoporosis can be both prevented and (to a certain extent) treated by two simple measures that will increase bone strength.

Exercise Often To Prevent Osteoporosis

Increasing -bearing exercise can prevent this condition and reduce its effects after it has started.

Weight-bearing exercise does not mean lifting weights, but exercise where the bones have to take the weight of the body. So for example, skipping, jumping, aerobics, walking, running.

Excessive exercise, for example in professional athletes and some anorexics, can have the opposite effect of weakening the bones.

But people who have maintained a good level of physical exercise throughout their lives are much less likely to develop this disease, and people who have been diagnosed can increase their resistance to fractures by gradually exercising more.

Increase Calcium To Prevent Osteoporosis

Calcium is present in the diet and is also easy to supplement. A supplementation level often recommended is 1200 mg calcium plus 800 IU Vitamin D.

However, some sources suggest that supplemented calcium may not be easy for the body to absorb. The same has been said of calcium from dairy products.

Research has yet to provide absolute proof of any of these claims but to prevent osteoporosis it seems wise to ensure that the body receives around 1500 mg of calcium per day from a combination of dairy foods, non-dairy foods and supplementation.

If you are already suffering from osteoporosis, taking other medication or have any condition where calcium supplementation is contraindicated, you should consult your doctor.

List of high calcium foods (source: US Dept of Agriculture Nutrient Database)

Dairy Sources of Calcium

  • Sweetened condensed milk – 869 mg calcium per cup
  • Ricotta cheese – 509 mg per cup
  • Plain skim milk yogurt – 452 mg per 8 oz
  • Skim milk – 300 mg per cup
  • Milk, 3.25% fat – 290 mg per cup
  • Plain whole milk yogurt – 275 mg per 8 oz
  • Cheddar cheese – 204 mg per oz

Non-dairy sources of  Calcium

  • Enriched self-rising cornmeal – 483 mg per cup
  • Enriched self-rising white wheat flour – 423 mg per cup
  • Frozen collards, cooked – 357 mg per cup
  • Frozen rhubarb, cooked with sugar – 348 mg per cup
  • Sardines canned with bone – 325 mg per 3 oz
  • Frozen spinach, cooked – 277 mg per cup
  • Green soybeans, cooked – 261 per cup
  • Fresh spinach, cooked – 245 mg per cup
  • Cornflakes – 237 mg per 1.33 cups
  • Fresh collards, cooked – 226 mg per cup

Any woman who wishes to stay young, active and healthy after the menopause will benefit from understanding the causes of osteoporosis and taking preventive steps now.

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Best Practices for Weighing Yourself

If you’re trying to lose then the very best way to stay motivated to meet your goals is to track your progress. The weighing scale is a great way to see progress, but you want to get accurate results.

Here are some tips for weighing yourself the right way.

Don’t Weigh Yourself Every Day

Even though you’re probably really excited to see results right away, it’s a bad idea to weigh yourself every day. Why? Because you might not always see a change.

Worse, you could find that your has even increased from one day to the next. This will interfere with your training and your progress, because it stops you feeling motivated to continue.

scales

Remember, just because the scale does not show it, your body can tell the difference.

Eating more healthily and exercising on a daily basis does a lot more for you than simply lowering the numbers on that scale.

It’ll make you look and feel better, not to mention the fact that you could be building muscle, which actually weighs more than fat!

Instead, try weighing yourself every seven days.

Pick a day of the week and don’t weigh yourself on any other day. That way, you’re still tracking your progress, but you won’t be doing it to an obsessive level.

You’re far more likely to see real results once a week than you are by weighing yourself every day.

Weigh Yourself When You Wake Up

A good time to weigh yourself is as soon as you wake up, firstly because you have no food in your stomach, so you’ll get a more accurate reading.

Did you know that you also lose weight by expelling moisture as you sleep?

This is another reason to weigh yourself in the morning. Note that when you do weigh yourself, it should be after urinating. You should stand on the scales naked, as the clothes you wear can also have an effect on the number on that dial.

Are you interested in learning about some weight loss foods you hadn’t though of before? Check the article here

fat loss 4 idiotsIn the morning, we’re also less prone to the circumstances that can make our fluctuate throughout the day. However, if you work on night shifts your body clock will be different.

Also, if you’ve been drinking the night before you may seem lighter the next morning due to dehydration. Or, if you’ve been eating in the night, you may appear heavier!

The scales never show 100% of the true story, so it’s a good idea to combine them with measuring your body fat, and also being in tune with the way you feel.

We run into issues like more muscle over time, dehydration, different amounts of food in your digestive system, and even having the scale on a slightly different spot in the bathroom

Weighing yourself regularly is a fantastic way to stay motivated, however, as long as you follow those tips above for the most accurate readings.

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How Bad is Junk Food?

How bad is junk food? Terrible.

Your biggest challenge in eating a healthier diet will not be learning about nutrition, finding places to shop or finding affordable, tasty foods that are also healthy.

No, your biggest challenge will be in breaking your addiction to junk foods. If you have already broken this addiction, or have managed to never have acquired it, congratulations! You are more than halfway home.

Junk foods are so abundant in modern societies that they are almost invisible. No matter how much people hear about the need to eat healthier, and to consume fewer calories, it seems that the junk food industry keeps growing.

How bad is Junk Food?

How bad is Junk Food?

What Is ‘Junk Food?’

Before we go any futher, it might be a good idea to define this term. In general, junk foods are those foods that are mostly empty calories. They contain ingredients that are detrimental to your health, especially in large quantities and eaten regularly.

Most people today actually know that many of the ingredients in these junk foods, such as sugar, white flour, high salt content and hydrogenated fats (or trans fats) are unhealthy. Yet, many of the same people continue to consume these just because they are so difficult to avoid if you don’t make some effort to avoid them.

How Bad is Junk Food?

It would seem that it should not be all that hard to avoid such a short list of ingredients. The problem is, they are almost everywhere you turn in a supermarket, not to mention any fast food restaurant. Still more bad news –they are just as likely to be present in foods prepared in fancier or ‘gourmet’ delis and restaurants.

The problem with junk food is that there really isn’t much of a middle ground, which goes against my natural tendency to want to be moderate and not come across like some kind of fanatic

In other words, I don’t want to tell you that you should never (okay, hardly ever) eat at burger joints, fast food chicken places, submarine places and so forth. I

don’t want to say this, because I know how hard it is for many people to digest this kind of information (excuse the bad pun), but I really have to say it.

This stuff is not good for you. Most of it contains large quantities of the very worse stuff you can consume.

Salt Is One Enemy To Your Health

These foods usually have lots of salt (which helps make them addictive, so you eat too much of them). Unfortunately, the food you get at many ‘classier’ restaurants isn’t much better in many cases.

At least here, however, you have choices. At a diner even, and most restaurants, you have a fairly wide selection, some of it at least marginally acceptable. The outright fast food places, though, are almost 100% junk.

After fast food places, the main junk food culprits are snack foods and desserts.

With snacks like chips, pretzels and popcorn, the main problem is salt. You can sometimes find salt free chips in the natural foods store, but for many this takes away the appeal.

There is also the question of how the chips are cooked. If you have to buy these things, stick to the all natural kind and look for at least low sodium content.

Sugar almost deserves its own chapter. The word ‘desserts’ is misleading, because it suggests a treat you eat after dinner. The problem today is that many people munch on sweets all day long, from their breakfast cereal till midnight snack time. Even natural foods and organic foods often contain lots of sugar. More on this later.

So when it comes to junk food, I have to be a bit of a tyrant and say you should try to quit it. The main trick is to find replacements. If you need to snack, I will make suggestions later on that will be good substitutes to cookies, chips or candy. It may not be easy, and there will be an adjustment period, but it’s worth it. You simply can’t eat a healthy diet if junk foods are any substantial part of your regime!

‘Health Food’ Cautions

I cannot leave the Junk Food idea without issuing a warning about many foods labeled ‘healthy.’ Many are simply slightly less junky junk foods, full of sugar and salt. These are the two main culprits in this category of ‘junk health foods.’ For one thing, a product can be ‘all natural’ and even ‘organic’ and still contain high amounts of either.

Is There Any Healthy Sugar?

Health food stores, or the natural foods sections of supermarkets contain many highly sweetened items breakfast cereals, cookies, candy and other desserts even fruit juices. These are usually made with ‘good’ or all natural sugars.

Even though these are indeed preferable to the pure garbage sweeteners such as corn syrup and plain old white sugar, eating high quantities of ANY sugar, as modern diets easily tempt us into doing, is simply not good for you. One of the ways that many health food devotees get tricked is by juices. While fruit is great, fruit juices even those that are pure fruit juice with no added sweeteners- are highly concentrated forms of fruit.

You see, when you are eating fruit, an apple, a banana, an orange, you are getting sugar and fiber and other nutrients as well but one thing that is very under reported is the fact that fruit and vegetables have a very high amount of water. That means that when you are eating a pound of blueberries, which don’t seem very watery but in fact blueberries are 85% water.

Fruit juices such as apple (which is also the main ingredient in many juice mixes) are certainly better for you than soda or those powdered sugar drinks, but they still are very sweet foods. In general, a good rule to follow is to think about junk food just as I started this article. How bad is junk food? Terrible.

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Fast Twitch and Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers

I have had a question that is interesting about the difference between different muscle fibers and tried to get a good answer. Here is the differences between fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers and the difference that they make to your workouts and fitness level.

One slightly confusing area of exercise is the idea that a muscle can do both push a lot of once or move many times. Look at the difference between doing a set of squats compared to running or the difference in the leg muscles of a bodybuilder compared to a triathlete.

All types of skeletal muscle are constructed from densely knit fibers. These muscle fibers can be looked at as Fast Twitch and Slow Twitch muscle fibers. Which kind are you looking for when you are doing s? Which ones do you want to have when you are running distance?

Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers (Type 1 Muscle fibers)

The slow muscles are more efficient at using oxygen to generate more fuel (known as ATP) for continuous, extended muscle contractions over a long time. They fire more slowly than fast twitch fibers and can go for a long time before they fatigue. Therefore, slow twitch fibers are great at helping athletes run marathons and bicycle for hours.

Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers Are:

  • Smaller in diameter
  • Red in color
  • Depend on oxidative phosphorylation for their ATP supply
  • Are highly vascularized (better blood supply)
  • Have more mitochondria
  • More myoglobin

Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers (Type 2 Muscle fibers)

Fast twitch fibers are responsible for the speed of muscular contraction, and a fast twitch response is the ability of a muscle to rapidly contract to a specific distance over a short period of time.

Muscle Fibers

Muscle Fibers

Therefore, any training program that conditions your muscles to go from a state of complete relaxation to an immediate state of contraction is a speed training program.

Because fast twitch fibers use anaerobic metabolism to create fuel, they are much better at generating short bursts of strength or speed than slow muscles. However, they fatigue more quickly.

Fast twitch fibers generally produce the same amount of force per contraction as slow muscles, but they get their name because they are able to fire more rapidly. Having more fast twitch fibers can be an asset to a sprinter since she needs to quickly generate a lot of force.

Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers Are:

  • Larger
  • White
  • Glycolysis is the source of ATP
  • Less vascularized
  • Less mitochondria
  • Less myoglobin

Say you were to help someone lift a heavy couch up a flight of ten stairs. You would use your hands as grips and let your legs do all the work. On the first step your legs will start to recruit type IIa fibers. By the 2nd or 3rd step your nervous system does not recruit more motor units.

This being the case the first set of fibers rest and more type IIa fibers are recruited. Along with these, a number of type IIb fibers are called into play (to maintain fluent motion up the stairs).

As your journey continues more type IIa and type IIb fibers are recruited until by the last step they have all come into play. Your muscle fibers weren’t twitching at maximum speed until the end of the stairs when they neared failure.

Force and Types of Muscle Fibers Needed

The faster a muscle fiber twitches the greater the force is. At the beginning, the fibers weren’t forced to twitch at maximum frequency to overcome the weight, but at the end they had to produce as much force as possible to overcome the . This is how recruitment is designed to maintain a certain amount of force.

Fast-twitch fibers are activated by their neurons at a rate ten times faster than the rate of activation for slow-twitch fibers. The distribution of fast- versus slow-twitch fibers in the muscles is primarily an inherited characteristic, determined by the genetic coding of each person.

While it is common for a person to have muscles with a relatively even distribution of fast-and slow-twitch fibers, some persons inherit a tendency to a significantly greater number of one type of fiber over the other. These people tend to excel in the sports best suited to their muscular composition.

I have to thank a couple of sites for some of this info. Especially bodybuilding.com and Sports Medicine about.com as well Wiki Answers.

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The Role Of Vitamin B3 Niacin

Vitamin B3 niacin is an essential vitamin for your body, and it is just one of the eight water soluble types of B vitamins. Nearly all of the B vitamin classes will help the body convert carbohydrates into sugar or glucose, which can then be burned to produce energy. Also known as complex B vitamins, B3 niacin are essential in helping the body break down protein and fat.

What are B Complex Vitamins Needed For

Complex B vitamins also play an important role with maintaining muscle tone within the digestive tract, along with the health of the skin, nervous system, live, eyes, hair, and mouth. Even though a lot of people associate creative with the aspect of muscles and muscle tone, vitamin B3 niacin is as equally important – if not more important.

B3 niacin is also important with getting harmful or toxic chemicals out of the body. It can also help the body produce different sex and stress related hormones within the adrenal glands, among other parts of the body. The vitamin is also useful for helping with sexual dysfunction as well. This can be great news for those who have problems with pleasing their mate.

Niacin is Good for Circulation

Vitamin B niacin

Vitamin B niacin

Also very effective with improving circulation, B3 niacin can also help to reduce cholesterol levels found in the blood. Even though vitamin B3 niacin is great as a stand alone supplement, it should also consumed with foods that contain protein, due to the fact that the body is able to convert the amino acid known as tryptophan into niacin.

The higher doses of B3 niacin, which are available only through prescription, have been proven to prevent and also improve a variety of different symptoms and ailments. Due to the high risk of toxicity, individuals should always consult with a doctor first, before they decide to start higher doses of B3 niacin.

There are also niacin skin care products that are being developed as well, which contain anti-aging products, helping to treat acne and also aid in the prevention of skin cancer.

A lot of dermatologists expect that these products will become really popular over the next several years. Even though they are still in development stages, research has proven them to be very effective when compared to the other types of products.

Sources of Vitamin B3 Niacin

The best sources for vitamin B3 niacin include beef, pork, turkey, beets, veal, fish, chicken, salmon, tuna, and peanuts. You can also get supplements that contain B3 niacin as well, which can give your body the amounts it needs.

This is a very important vitamin, as it does a lot more for the body than most think. By consuming foods that contain it or taking the proper supplements – you’ll get the amount of B vitamins that your body needs on a daily basis.

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Getting 30 Minutes Of Exercise A Day Could Save Millions Of Lives

A new study was released today that showed the incredible change in cardiac conditions that can be prevented by people just getting 30 minutes of exercise a day.

When I talk about 30 minutes a day it is not some kind of leg breaking, winded, exhausting workout. No the baseline was just doing 30 minutes of walking. This is as much as I get just in our evening walk of the dog.

Tracking 130,000 people in 17 countries, both rich and poor, the Lancet study found that whether it’s going to the gym, walking to work, or tackling household chores like laundry or gardening, being physically active extends life and reduces illness.

The researchers, led by Scott Lear, a heart specialist at St Paul’s Hospital in Canada, also found a so-called dose response: The more people exercise, the greater the reductions are in their risks of getting heart disease or dying early.

For most people this small change would make a huge health difference. Not only to cardio levels but even for decreasing stress and living a better more balanced life.

Findings Of The Lancet Study

 The study found “no ceiling effect”, the researchers said, and “no risks associated with extremely high levels of physical activity,” defined as more than 2,500 minutes, or more than 41 hours, per week.

Cardiovascular disease is the world’s leading cause of death and a major economic burden in treatment and care for those who develop it. It killed 9.48 million people globally in 2016.

“Walking for as little as 30 minutes most days of the week has a substantial benefit, and higher physical activity is associated with even lower risks,” Lear said in a comment about the findings, published on Friday in The Lancet medical journal.

Exercise Is Common Knowledge Not Commonly Followed

This is not the only study obviously that shows these kinds of results and The World Health Organization recommends that adults get 5, 30 minutes session of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout each week, as well as some kind of weight lifting twice a week.

I know that sometimes I post about long running or biking, big and bad weight workouts, but really the most important thing is just to get moving every day in some way. It is not any kind of magic that gets you in better cardio shape but instead all those walks and good decisions that you make throughout the day everyday that lead to much better health over time.

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Benchmarking Your Fitness Level

You never know where you are going if you did not benchmark where you started and know where you are today. Therefore it is  critical to make sure that you know where you stand today so that you can make plans for tomorrow.

There is truth in those statements but it is important for you to make sure that you are following certain numbers, and not just weight on the scale, but I have run into a couple of people over the last few days that are not sure if they are moving forward or not.

One Benchmark you can use is BMI

One girl that I know says that her stays in a five pound range and she started working out a couple weeks ago and says she is at the high end of her five pound range.

The other person was watching the X-Weighted TV show and wanted to know how they exactly did the testing at the beginning of the show.

So here is a few things to look at today that will help you in benchmarking your fitness goals.

Most people trying to change their habits and get in better shape have a few things that they care about, Weight, food intake, strength, flexibility, and fitness stamina.

So when you start or even starting today you need to start a diary or journal where you can do weekly updates of a few things to know where you are today and tomorrow.

Weight Gain and Weight Loss

Easy enough here, you should weigh yourself once a week and see where you are at. This to me is only one thing that you should take into account when measuring your fitness.

Of course weight will change over time sometimes muscle will go up or down and sometimes fat levels will go up or down. So the important thing to consider with your weight is that when it changes you need to relate that to your food intake and types of exercise you are doing.

Food Intake – How Much, How Often, And What Kinds Of Food

Food journaling is something that every big diet from the Zone Diet, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers all have you do. It is important to know from one day to the next what you are eating and why. If you track your food intake then you can tell where your weaknesses are and always able to look back to see what you were doing bad and well in the past.

The best things to look at are the macro nutrients. Checking how much protein, carbohydrates, fats you are taking in and how they will relate to each other. How often you are eating and when during the day that you are eating are also very important benchmarks for now as well as for the future. This is best done on a daily basis and an app like MyFitnessPal is a great way to get started with this.

Strength – How Much Can You Lift, Push, Or Pull

Strength is a very easy to measure stat. Find a range of exercises that you can do. You can do the easy things like number of squats, crunches, push ups or calf raises.

If you have weights available to you then you have a huge range, you can do bench presses, bicep curls, tricep extensions, as well as many other weight bearing exercises.

There are two ways to track. The number of reps that you can do at a certain weight, or the amount of you can do for 10 reps. To me there is no difference in these two types of benchmarking and you can do one or the other or mix them up. If you are working out on a regular basis then your strength and muscle mass will increase. This affects your weight as well.

Flexibility – Improving How You Move Through Life

Flexibility is one of those things that no one seems to care about but is incredibly important to your overall fitness and your lifestyle.

Having flexibility is hard to test at times so this one is single reps and seeing where you are.

Some examples of flexibility are stretching your calves down and see how far down you can stretch your calves, also stretching over to one side and the other at your hips and in front to see how far down you can reach to touch your toes. If you do not do much exercise and then jump right into it your muscles will become sore and for a short period of time your flexibility will suck, don’t worry, your flexibility will get a lot better over time

Fitness Stamina – Moving Faster While Keeping Your Breath

Fitness stamina is another easy to track set of exercises. How fast can you go a mile, running or walking? How long can you stand on one leg? if you are in the top of a pushup how long can you stay up? How many miles can you bike in an hour?

You have to start tracking the changes in your life if you have not already started doing so. Wouldn’t you love to know in a month or a year or 5 years how much better your stamina has become?

You do also have bad days as well as good days and on those bad days you need to be able to look back and see that you are doing great and pick yourself up again.

So today, tonight, or even tomorrow make sure that you have done some of these tests for the first time so that you can have a starting point. Once you do all of these tests a few times over the next few weeks and months you will have discovered what a great tool that benchmarking your fitness level is  for seeing progress in your health lifestyle.

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Change Your Life With A Bunch Of Little Questions

If you want to make changes in your life you need to look at two places, where you are today and where you want to be in the future. The trouble with these two questions is that they are far too wide ranging, are these really fair questions or is there an easy way to break them down.

I have asked this question of myself many times because it seems that some people make great strides in changing their life and some people seem to be stuck in a rut for years at a time.

I myself have occasionally made big changes but my life but just like most people these changes are a bit more random than I would like.

So what is the secret to making changes in your life that are lasting and are what you really want? What do you really want?

Well a little while ago it dawned on me, the real secret is to make the small decisions in all parts of your life and then incorporate those changes.

What Do You Want In The Future?

Look through your day and see what you want to get out of it. Go through your weekend and see what you want to get out of it. Go through your workday and see what you want to get out of it.

Take a look at your life in general today. How does it look? What are you happy with? What are you disappointed about. Take a day and write these things down (You didn’t think nirvana was a 10 minute process did you?).

Let’s say that you now have a broad idea of what you would like to keep and what you would like to change in your life. This is a very broad list so do not get hung up on it. The list is a general direction that we can look at and then apply then next step to try to put our life into alignment.

A Lot Of Little Questions

The next process is 100 questions or so that you need to ask yourself in a deliberate manner from the moment you wake up in the morning until the moment you go to sleep at night. Some of these questions you ask too often and some of these questions you never ask yourself.

This is the stuff of your life and once you question it you can make 100 little changes and your life will never be the same

Here Is The Question List

Morning

  • What time did you get up?
  • Should you get up earlier or later?
  • When you woke up what did you think, and I mean the very first though? Positive or negative?
  • What did you do next? Shower? Eat? Exercise?
  • What do you want to do?
  • Get in shape?
  • Sleep more?
  • Organize before work?
  • How long is the time that you take to get from bed to leaving for work?
  • Would you like some relaxing time?
  • Do you get too much relaxing time?
  • Do you eat at home?
  • Do you read the paper?
  • Watch TV?
  • Listen to the radio?

Going to work

  • After leaving for work do you stop to eat?
  • Do you go to a restaurant for breakfast?
  • Do you have enough time to get to work?
  • How do you get to work?
  • Do you take a bus?
  • Do you drive?
  • Do you walk?
  • Do you carpool?
  • Do you go to the home office/ desk and work?
  • Once you get to work do you plan your morning?
  • Surf the net?
  • Have a meltdown because everything hits you at once?
  • Look at email?
  • When you get into work do you eat breakfast?
  • Do you drink coffee?
  • Do you have a donut or Danish?

The Workday

  • As you go through your day at work do you get hit with tasks or do you create your schedule?
  • Do you go to meetings or set meetings?
  • Do you allocate your time or do you just get hit with whatever is someones bad planning?
  • Lunchtime hits, do you go out for lunch?
  • Did you bring lunch?
  • What kind of food do you eat?
  • Do you have lunch at your desk?
  • Lunch with others?
  • How long is lunch, 30 minutes? An hour? 2 hours?

After Work

  • After you get off work do you go straight home?
  • Out for drinks?
  • Out to a park?
  • Out for dinner?
  • Stay at the office until you are too tired to work?

Evening Schedule

  • In the evening do you stay home to watch TV?
  • Do you go out to the bar?
  • Do you go to a hockey or baseball game?
  • Do you rent a movie?
  • Do you have friends over?
  • Do you go over to other peoples homes to visit?
  • Do you go to a gym or fitness center?
  • At night do you read a book?
  • Watch TV some more?
  • Fall asleep watching the tube in bed?

Sleep and rest

  • Now that the day is over do you sleep 6 hours, 8 hours, 10 hours?
  • Do you get enough sleep?
  • Do you pack the sleep in on the weekends and sacrifice weekday sleep?

Was that a lot of questions or what? Actually that is only about 63 questions so you could ask a lot more if you would like. Now in answering all of those questions do you think that you have a better method of changing than just using an affirmation of  “I want to lose ” or thinking about exercising? This method should really give you a better set of ways in which change can be made

Time Is On Your Side

I think that realistically we all have about 16 hours of time between the time we wake up and the time that we go to sleep and even if you go to work for 8 or 10 hours a day this still leaves a lot of time that we have a lot of control over. These are just all of the questions for a weekday. You can probably do the same for the weekends, or planning vacations, or changing jobs to something that you want to do more.

The essential thing is that if you are not happy with the answer to anything in your life then ask yourself more and smaller one or all of the questions what do you do about it? You have the opportunity to change any part of your life and just by asking a lot of small questions you will make those big changes that you want to make but do not know how.

I am sure that this process is the easiest way towards change. If you want to lose ask all those eating questions and exercise questions and research a good answer. If you are single and want to change that ask all the questions of the things that you do yourself and get others involved in them. If you want to take more control of your life ask all of those questions for work and home that you let others dictate and answer them the way that you want.

The real key to all this is to go to those first few questions that I said to ask about your life and what you want. The really broad questions are a direction and get hints from all of these little questions as to what you do next to make that big thing happen.

After 40 years of living a happy as well as unhappy life I wish someone had told me to ask as many of these small questions as I have laid out here. I hope that all these little things do in fact change you life into the type of life that you are looking for.

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