Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Sleep tips for losing weight

Did you know that getting enough sleep could actually help you lose weight? It may sound like a crazy concept, but there have been numerous recent studies that show a strong link between good sleeping habits and weight loss.

Whilst it may sound strange, there are a number of common sense reasons why sleeping well can help you lose weight. One of the most obvious is that our body craves more sugary foods when we are feeling tired and listless. Not only that, but being tired makes us lazy and therefore much more likely to reach for a packet of crisps for a quick pick me up, rather than taking the time to make a healthy and nutritious meal or snack.

The Importance Of Your Bed

One of the first steps to getting a decent night's sleep is to make sure you are sleeping in a decent bed. Nowadays, even our guest beds come with comfortable, supportive mattresses that will help you head off to dream land and wake up refreshed. Mattresses should be replaced every 10 years to ensure they are at their most comfortable. After all, it's difficult to get to sleep when you have bedsprings sticking out all over the place.

It's not just having a decent bed that can help you get that all important night's sleep to aid weight loss. There are a whole host of hormone factors too, which can stop your metabolism from working at its optimum. Lack of sleep not only raises the appetite, but it can also produce levels of a hormone called ghrelin to rise. This hormone stimulates the appetite and can leave sufferers wanting to eat far more than they actually need. Not getting enough sleep will also drive down levels of a hormone called leptin. This hormone is the one that helps you feel satisfied after you eat, so when the two factors are combined, it is little wonder that lack of sleep can result in weight gain.

Do You Have a Sleep Condition?

Another factor that affects restful sleep and has been linked to weight gain is a relatively undiagnosed condition called sleep apnea. This condition causes the airways to become blocked during the night, meaning the sufferer is constantly waking up every time they need to breathe. They will usually snore pretty loudly too, making a good night's sleep difficult for everyone else in the house.

Naturally, this disrupted sleep pattern leaves sufferers feeling exhausted and interferes with the hormone levels that control appetite. It is definitely a good idea to visit your GP if you think you are suffering from sleep apnea, as this condition can lead to diabetes or a heart condition.

The Right Routine

There are a few simple tips you can use to help you get enough sleep and boost your weight loss. Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine or alcohol before you go to bed will help you get to sleep that much earlier. Having a good bedtime routine that starts about two hours before you go to bed can also help you wind down, relax and prepare your body for a good night's sleep. Try not to go to bed on an empty stomach, but don't eat a large meal before bedtime either. A simple snack like a bowl of cereal or a turkey sandwich (which is rich in the sleep inducing chemical, tryptophan) is one of the best things you can have. Finally, creating a cleansed and relaxing space to be in, away from the TV, will help you drop off in next to no time.

Important Things To Remember When Cycling

Cycling is a great way to stay fit. Done on a regular basis it can lower high blood pressure, improve your heart rate, strengthen your muscles, and protect your joints as the circular motion helps transport energy to your cartilages which reduces the risk of arthritis and other joint problems. The posture that is used when cycling improves your sense of balance while also strengthening your spine. A strong spine is less likely to suffer from pains or be afflicted by slipped discs.

As shown above cycling comes with many benefits, but there are also some bad points that you need to be aware of. Cycling, especially cycling in a city can be very dangerous. You are more at risk of injury on a bike than in a car, but there are some simple things you can do to reduce this risk.

The first is to make sure you can be seen. Even if you’re travelling when it’s dusk, you are still harder for cars to see than you think, so be sure to wear light-coloured clothing or a fluorescent jacket. For extra visibility consider wearing a reflective belt, or arm and ankle bands.

The second vital thing you can do to keep yourself safe when cycling is to wear the right equipment. A helmet is a must when cycling, as even a small fall can end in a serious head injury. Be sure to wear the helmet in the correct manner, otherwise it can’t protect you. The right manner is for the helmet to sit just above your eyebrows and not be hanging down your neck. When adjusting your helmet be sure that the straps are straight and that you can fit two fingers between the bottom strap and your chin. Shake your head around including up and down and side to side. If the helmet wobbles and moves, then it is not on tight enough, or you may need a better fitting helmet.

The third thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to cycle in a forward looking manner. Be aware of your surroundings and the dangers ahead, and always follow the Highway Code. If there is a red light ahead, stop in the middle of your lane. Don’t sneak forwards and stop to the right of the first car, as you will be in their blind spot and this could lead to an accident if they are turning right and you are going straight on, with neither of you knowing where the other is going. It is often forgotten by both motorists and cyclists that a bike is part of the traffic and must be treated, as well as behave as any other vehicle. For motorists this means overtaking bikes with plenty of space, and for cyclists it means to only overtake cars from the left.

Clear signals are vital for city cycling, and it’s best to avoid hesitant manoeuvres as these will confuse other vehicles. A confident and decisive cycling manner is needed. Also, be respectful to others on the road. If someone lets you enter a main road from a side road, then thank them for this. If you are cycling on a cycle path, which is adjacent to a pavement, be sure to warn pedestrians of your approach by using your bell. Always slow down when passing pedestrians as they may not be expecting you to pass them so quickly.

As long as you cycle in a sensible and forward thinking manner then you will gain all the great health benefits from cycling on a regular basis.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Bodybuilding - do's and don'ts

Many people turn to bodybuilding to get in shape and develop a better physique. Some people will even pursue it competitively. It may initially be difficult to understand what works and what does not work when beginning a bodybuilding programme.

Here are some things a bodybuilder should do to get the most effective results:

• Make sure to incorporate healthy food high in protein to nourish muscles as they grow. High calorie foods are also needed for optimal muscle growth.

• Always stretch and perform a warm-up prior to lifting heavy weights.

• Stay consistent with training. Any lapses could prove to be a determent to a training programme.

• Get a good night of sleep. Muscle growth occurs when they are at rest after training.

• Always make sure to use proper form when performing lifts.

• Change strength training methods periodically so that strength and muscle growth do not plateau.

Here are some things a bodybuilder should not do when training:

• Do not exercise on an empty stomach. The body needs the nutrition for energy to effectively compete a workout.

• Do not overtrain. Muscles need time to recover and grow, so exercises should be alternated on certain days to only heavily train certain muscle groups at a time.

• Do not lift excessively heavy weights. Every person has their strength limitations. It is good to increase weights to give muscles a good workout, but weights that are too heavy for a person’s strength level can put undue strain on the joints and result in injuries.

• Avoid the use of steroids. Even though using these performance-enhancers may be tempting for faster results, the overall outcome could be devastating to a person’s health.

• Do not bench press without a spotter.

• Avoid heavy cardio. Some cardio exercises are good, but performing high levels of cardio (like marathon training) can actually cause the body to break down muscle building protein to use as energy.

People can achieve the results they desire by simply following many of these key points when performing their bodybuilding workouts. Exercising wisely can allow the muscles to grow to an impressive size while improving physical strength and health.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

How to train for a Marathon

1. Think about Why You Are Running

Chances are you have watched at least one marathon, either in person or on television. Maybe you felt so inspired and happy from what you saw that you wish to try it for yourself. However, before you even start training, you should think about why you would be running. Would you be doing it to impress your neighbours and loved ones? Would you be doing it because you can? Your reasons should come from the right place.

2. Train Well Ahead Of When the Marathon Takes Place

You may not believe that it is necessary, but if you want to properly prepare for a marathon of any size you will need to start months ahead of time. It is not enough to do a few practice runs a week before the event; to truly be successful you will need to prepare your body long before the official time. When you do this, you will be less likely to feel tired or otherwise stressed, or at least feel it at a less intense rate. It is important to have a coach or training group to help you.

3. Make Special Sacrifices to Get In Shape

If you want to get in shape for your marathon, you need to be willing to make sacrifices. Running to the nearest pub for a round of drinks is not going to do you any favours. Eating a great amount of sugary foods is not going to help you, either. If you want to give your body the nutrients it needs in order to gain energy, take on a healthier diet. You may want to talk to your doctor about a diet that would work best for you.

4. Determination Is Not Enough

No matter how determined you may be it does not mean a lot if you do not put actual work into your goal. You can spend your days sitting at home and telling people that you are going to win, but you will also need to train to make it possible. This is not to say that you should feel discouraged or wish to give up before you have even really started. However, it is important that you put work into your preparation; you should back up your claims with actions. If you need help, consult those you trust. You should not work yourself until you are sick, but you should not be too lenient, either.

Monday, 6 February 2012

7 Triathlon Training Tips

Once you have decided that you want to participate in the triathlon it is time to start training. Since you are a beginner, there is some specialised training tips that you will want to keep in mind. It is important to take a look at and enact them so that you will be well prepared for this event.

(1) Do A “Test Drive”

Do a practice event at least one week before the event. This will help you learn how to pace yourself. It will also ensure you that you will actually be able to finish the event.

(2) Work on Your Swimming

Find a pool where you can train. The ideal pool will either have a swim coach or a masters swimming program. They will be able to help you get into shape for the triathlon.

(3) Practice Transitions

Make sure you practice your transitions, especially your bike leg transition. Do this by completing a bike workout and then going for a run before cooling down. This will also help you ensure that you can get your gear on and off quickly.

(4) Practice on Similar Terrain

It is important to practice on terrain that is similar to that which the event will occur upon. You don’t want this terrain to surprise you the day of the race. This is also why you really need to know the course. Make sure you know how to enter and exit transition areas, where the turn-around are and what rules you must follow.

(5) Don’t Over Train

Don’t over train, regardless of how strong an athlete you are. Spend most of your time working on your weakest event but make sure that you can finish the other events. After your first race you can begin working on speed.

(6) Check out Your Bike

Make sure that your bike has good tire pressure that the brakes aren’t rubbing, that the handlebars, profile bars and seat are all on tight and that the bike is shifting properly. Put the bike in the gear that you want to start off in so that it will always be ready whenever you grab it.

(7) Train in the Gear You’ll Use on Race Day

You don’t want to try anything new on race day. Use the same gear that you’ve been practicing on and the same clothing you’ve been wearing while training for the triathlon. While you may be tempted to try a new breakfast or new outfit, it can totally throw your entire game off.