10 Reasons to Strength Train

Reblogged from Healthy Bitch Daily

View the original post here: http://www.healthybitchdaily.com/2013/11/19/10-reasons-to-strength-train/

10 Reasons to Strength Train

You already know that push-ups make you want to puke, and that a few cans of peas can sub for a set of dumbells in a pinch.

But beyond that, do you really know squat about strength training? What is it, exactly? And why should you be doing it?

Well, strength training is any activity that causes your muscles to contract against weight, which leads to an increase in the strength and size of the muscles. Keep reading to learn more about how lifting weights and strengthening exercises can be beneficial to your bod and your overall health.

1. Strength training may stop the spread of belly fat

A study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that women who participated in strength training programs two times a week vs. women who participated in aerobics alone lost more body fat AND had less abdominal fat (which is linked to metabolic syndrome, heart disease) than the aerobics-only group.

2. Reduces blood pressure

A July 2009 study by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine confirmed that one hour of strength training can reduce your blood pressure enough to drop stroke risk by 25 percent.

3. Fewer sick days

People who participate in a strength training routine tend to have stronger immune systems.  By building muscle, your body has the protein it needs in reserve to draw upon during illness. Your body will use the protein to create white blood cells and antibodies to fight infection. Exercise also has an anti-inflammatory effect, which is good for overall immune health.

4. Healthier joints

According to the Arthritis Foundation, the leading cause of osteoarthritis is a sedentary lifestyle. Working out with weights increases the size of your muscles and gives you stronger joints. Strong muscles also help you achieve better balance and coordination. Doing regular endurance strength training can also defend your muscles from atrophy as you age.

5. Improves Balance

Weekly yoga classes can improve strength, balance, and flexibility, which can help prevent falls as we age. Strong muscles also help you achieve better coordination.

6. Builds Bones

Bone density peaks by age 30, but through strength training, it’s possible to increase bone density and help prevent osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise increases your bone density by encouraging the release of growth hormone in your body, and it promotes new bone cell growth. Becoming stronger through exercise also protects your bones by helping you prevent falls.

7. Increased metabolism

Experts say that strength training of any type can increase the number of calories your body burns by as much as 7 percent a day. Muscle occupies about 30% less space than fat, so even if the number on the scale isn’t moving, you may see a big difference in the way your clothes are fitting.

8. Improves insulin sensitivity

Strength training is effective for improving your body’s insulin sensitivity, which is important to help prevent and control diabetes. Extra muscle gives your body somewhere to store glucose, and building muscle mass can help keep your body’s glucose levels in normal ranges. It also improves insulin sensitivity in those individuals with diabetes to the same extent that aerobic exercise does.

 9. Increases metabolic rate

As you get older, your basal metabolic rate decreases, which means fewer calories burned while you rest. Strength training can increase your muscle mass and raise your basal metabolic rate. Increasing your metabolic rate enables you to burn more calories both while at rest and during activity.

10. Promotes Better Mental Health

Exercise increases blood, oxygen and chemicals in the brain that help you have more focus and less stress. It also helps reduce stress hormones such as cortisol, and helps relieve symptoms of depression. Getting regular exercise enables you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer which results in a better quality of sleep. An exercise programs that includes strength training has been shown to be as effective in treating depression as antidepressant medications – but without any negative side effects. Recent studies show that after a strength training workout, endorphin levels are increased by more than 60 percent – leaving you feeling happy and calm. Ahhh….

Holly Brown, Health Educator at Greenlite Medicine

Holly is a nutritional consultant and weight loss coach. Greenlite Medicine offers personalized, comprehensive weight loss and nutrition programs that provide fast and lasting results – without any of the gimmicks. With a passionate team of experts that provide accountability, support, and resources, clients learn how to implement lifestyle changes to transform their bodies, beliefs and attitudes about food. Like Greenlite on Facebook or follow them on Twitter for low-carb recipes, healthy tips and more.

We’ve Got Legs

eva marcille 311012

I have heavy legs.  I always have.  And although they’re strong and they’re full of muscle, I am still very self conscious about them.  I’ve always wanted long, svelte legs like a supermodel but I’ve sort of come to terms with the fact that, at 5’6″, that’s never going to happen.  So, I work hard to tone them and continue to build strong, muscular legs.  I run and I squat and I lunge.  I do all kinds of crazy things to build up the strength in what I’ve always referred to as my tree trunks.

I’ve accepted that my legs are a part of me and they are there to carry me through each day and I feel blessed and thankful for them, regardless of how thick or short I feel they are.  My best friend’s brother (and my good friend) was in an accident when we were 15 and he was left a quadriplegic.  He has struggled in ways that I can’t even imagine and he has come out strong, happy and successful.  So I am going to continue to be thankful and feel blessed for the abilities I have and for the legs that carry me.

In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to tone up your legs – female or male (O.M.G. – a man’s calf muscle will catch my eye quicker than anything else – unless it’s Norman Reedus’s arms**).

man-running-calves-main

so here you go, your Sexy Legs Workout.  Do this 3 times a week (incorporate it into your regular fitness routine or do it as a routine on its own).

legs

You should definitely do this workout while listening to ZZ Top’s “Legs”:

~Fit Bitch

** Norman’s arms – I mean, can you blame me?

Norman Reedus and ....some dude

Norman Reedus and ….some dude

 

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

CautionThe holidays are upon us which means that many of us will be going to parties and dinners and spending time with friends and family surrounded by beautiful feasts and scrumptious treats.  It’s the time of year when it seems almost inevitable to avoid gaining a few pounds – especially when it seems so easy to gorge ourselves on the delectable treats available.  So, here are just a few tips that may help prevent you from overdoing it this season.

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Eat Before You Go – Never arrive to a party hungry.  If you have a meal (or even a healthy snack) prior to leaving for your engagement you’ll be less likely to pig out on the goodies provided.

Use a Smaller Plate – If you do hit a party hungry  or if you’re invited to a buffet-style dinner party, choose a smaller plate.  This will help with portion control and will also limit your options (so choose wisely).  You may be eyeing that chocolately goodie but the sugar will make you crash quickly, so be sure to pick foods (if available) that will keep you full longer – veggie and fruit trays, nuts, soup (soup is a great way cut calories and get full!), even crackers and cheese.  Or if it’s a well rounded buffet you can choose a “meal”: salad, meats, etc.  Also, choosing wisely should help you limit yourself to one plate.

Down Some Water – Filling up on water will keep you hydrated and feeling full.  If your tummy if full of water there’s not much room left for food.

Stay Away from the Kitchen/Don’t Nibble – Offering to help a host is a lovely gesture but try to stay out of the kitchen where the food and temptations are.  If you’re hosting the event do your best not to nibble while you’re preparing.  Don’t nibble/test/snack/lick your fingers/beaters/spoons.  There’s no need to sample every (any) dish you’re making.

Nurse a Drink – Alcoholic beverages contain “empty calories,” offering little to no nutritional value and contributing to excess weight gain.  Aside from that, excess drinking will limit your control on what you eat.  If you get tipsy you’re more inclined to get the munchies.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a celebratory drink (glass of wine, martini, beer) but 10 of those is too much.  Nurse your drink (aka sip slowly) or even switch up every other drink with a glass of water (hydration!!), tea, cider or something else low cal.  And if possible, choose a smaller glass.

Wear Something Fitting – This tip may seem lame but it works.  If you wear something fitting your figure you’re not going to overeat or overdrink.  You want to continue to feel great in your outfit and not want to feel like you’re going to burst thru your pants/dress/shirt.

Santa Claus Measuring Fat Belly

Share – If you really want to try that turtle square and that slice of cheesecake and that new champagne, try sharing it.  Split your treats/drinks with a spouse or a friend…or two.  That way you can get a taste of the treat without all the excess calories and fat and sugar.  Plus, isn’t it nice to share.

Stay Away from the Food Court – When out shopping and hunger hits, it’s super easy to stop at the food court or some other unhealthy snack shack (pretzels, donuts, etc.).  If you know you’re going to be at the mall for quite some time and will need a meal you can pack a snack – veggies and hummus, fruit, yogurt, a healthy wrap.  Or if you absolutely must hit a food court or other fast restaurant choose the healthiest option – Pita Pit, Subway, or some place that has salads or healthy soups or sandwiches.  Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to chow down on fried crap.  Also, limit your Starbucks or other liquid treats (mochas, cappuccinos, etc.).

Don’t Skimp On Your Workouts – The holidays obviously get extremely busy with work and shopping and parties/concerts/dinners/events and prep work (baking, wrapping, decorating) so it seems the perfect time to excuse yourself from exercise.  Uh, no.  Exercise is important – not only to maintain your fitness goals but also for maintaining your sanity (exercise is an excellent stress reliever) – and you should never omit it.  Plan your day or week in advance and figure out when the best time of day is to get your exercise in and stick with it.  Even if you can only fit in 20 minutes a day – 20 minutes a day can change your life.  So, plan for a run or a video at home or even if you can fit in a class early in the morning or late in the evening (my evening yoga classes begin at 8:35pm).

holiday yoga

You do what you gotta do to keep fit and healthy and make time for yourself.  And if you’re at a holiday party and the opportunity is there to dance – take full advantage of it and burn off some of those calories.