How #TaiChi can #help you

Tai Chi, which has its roots in Chinese martial arts, is said to have many benefits!

Tai-Chi-jpgTai Chi is essentially body movements done in a slow, flowing manner that is graceful and serene. It is a form of physical and cognitive exercise that can help one physically, emotionally, mentally as well as spiritually. Here are some benefits of Tai Chi…

- The main benefit is that it reduces stress. That’s because it creates a feeling of calmness and relaxes the mind.
– It can be practised as a form of meditation as it helps the intertwining of the mind and the body through rhythmic movements and breathing exercises. Also, one can get in tune with one’s body.
– Studies have shown that Tai Chi is beneficial in psychological homeostasis, which is referred to as emotional control or tranquillity. Another study says it improves upper and lower body flexibility as well as strength.
– It is known to aid in concentration, mental alertness, increased sensitivity towards one’s surroundings and circulation of positive energy throughout the body.
– It is relatively easy to do, especially for the elderly who cannot indulge in strenuous physical exercises or activities.
– Tai Chi is also known to improve balance. Experts say that proprioception, which is the ability to sense the position of one’s body in space, declines as one gets older. Tai Chi helps train this sense, which is a function of sensory neurons in the inner ear and stretch receptors in the muscles and ligaments.
– Tai Chi also improves muscle strength and flexibility.

6 #waste of #time #gym #workouts

With tight work schedules, you should be revving it up while working out. Here are things to not waste time on at the gym!

Gym-workout-jpgFor most of us, a hectic work schedule is the number one reason for being unable to find enough time to exercise. And when some of us do cut some sleep to squeeze in an hour of workout at the neighbourhood gym, we indulge in wrong exercise form and activities such as, excessive warm up, stretching before weight training and sitting down between sets for minutes, which not only causes harm to the body but also eats into your precious workout time.

Most fitness trainers are of the opinion that people, who spend about an hour at the gym, actually exercise for only 25-30 minutes. Therefore, it’s worth your time to weed out some of the habits that are eating up your precious time:

1. Focusing only on machines
Working out on machines is not a bad thing. However, if you are putting all your time and focus on these equipment, you are wasting your time at the gym. A machine workout does not even give you half the impact of freestyle exercises. Experts say that equipment were originally designed to supplement the last portion of your workout when your muscles are so fired up that you simply don’t have the strength to carry on further with free weight technique.

This is probably the reason why a lot of well-known actors such as Vidyut Jamwal, Varun Dhawan and Farhan Akhtar combine gym workouts with freestyle exercises such as yoga, martial arts, and TRX (which uses a system of ropes known as suspension trainers that hang from a height and allow one to work against gravity and body weight), or ViPR training (this is a rubber log which is more than a metre high and weighs between 10 to 20 kilos. It can be lifted, dragged, flipped and stepped on for a full body workout).

Many people have got it wrong that working out only on machines is beneficial for body building.

2. Indulging in static stretching
A recent study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that static stretching — stretching muscles while the body is at rest to gradually lengthen a muscle to the point of discomfort and holding that position for 30 seconds or more — before a workout actually decreases muscle strength by 5.5 per cent. The purpose of static stretching is to improve flexibility and cool your body down, and is therefore effective afterwards. To avoid injuries before a workout, you should be indulging in dynamic stretching — a techniques that closely mimic movements made during different exercises.

3. Doing excessive warm up
You do not need to warm up each time you start a new set of exercise at the gym. For instance, if you are combining chest, shoulders and triceps on a single day, you may warm up with chest exercises, such as push ups, and skip lateral raises and triceps extensions. The latter are unnecessary as your shoulders get worked all along with chest exercises.

4. Spending a lot of time on cardio
When you cannot afford to spend more than an hour at the gym, spending 45 minutes on cardiovascular exercises is a waste of time. Exercises such as cycling and running elevate your heart rate and burn calories. However, doing only cardiovascular workouts is not a balanced exercise routine, because they do not promote muscle strength and density. To have that you must indulge in equal amount of strength training. You can choose to alternate between an hour of cardio and strength training every alternate day during the week, or include two 30-minute sessions of cardio and strength training in an hour.

5. Sitting down
It’s a good idea to rest for a few minutes between sets. But you must make sure you do that while standing up and not sitting down and chatting. Sitting down immediately after a rigorous set will lower your heart rate in a hurry. Experts suggest that indulging in light activity between sets such as walking about, is a great way to improve recovery. However, passive recovery techniques such as sitting to cool the body down lead to regression rather than recovery.

6. Improper form
Whether you’re engaging in cardiovascular exercise or strength training, if your form is not proper, you’re doing yourself more harm than good and ultimately wasting your time. It’s a good idea to do a few low resistance practice reps before you indulge in heavy weights. While you do so, pay attention to your form so that you can get most from movement when lifting heavy weights for chest, biceps, back or legs.

Essential #running #tips for #beginners

Running is the easiest workout ever. You don’t need a gym membership, take time from a busy schedule, lift weights or hire trainers.

Woman-running-jpgJust pick a pair of comfortable sports shoes, a bottle of water and hit the track, with or without a music player. For first time runners though, here are a few things to keep in mind to avoid making mistakes and run correctly.

- Avoid eating any heavy food before a run. The ideal thing is to not have heavy food at least two hours before a run. You can, of course, grab a snack before the run, like a small portion of salad or a protein shake. However, running on a full stomach is not a good idea as it will slow you down and make your run sluggish.

- If you are running on a busy road, try and run against traffic, so you can easily spot oncoming vehicles. In fact, in some countries, there are laws which require you to run against the traffic.

- Running doesn’t require extensive warming up. However, practise light stretches like knee lifts, side stepping or climbing down the stairs before you begin running. They need to not be longer than five minutes. Even brisk walking before breaking into a jog is fine.

- Avoid wearing flat soled shoes while running. Your heel needs support, so look for decent quality running shoes which will help you avoid injury and unnecessary strain on your feet.

- In between a run, there is no harm in stopping for a quick break. You can briskly walk, or do light stretches if there’s a stitch in your side. A run-walk approach is also quite effective if you are a first timer.

- After a run, cool off by taking a warm shower. A mild pain in your calves and thighs is no cause for concern. That’s because your muscles have been stretched with the activity. Also, don’t worry if your body heats up. Just hydrate yourself and stretch out your legs, until you start feeling relaxed.

- Make sure that you eat a protein rich meal after a run. This will help in repairing your muscles quicker. Also, include some greens so that you can load up on the minerals and vitamins your body has lost because of sweat.

Did you know?
– Physically active people have a 60 % lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease than couch potatoes.
– You can burn at least 10 calories per minute with running. A 20 minute run will burn off a bar of chocolate.
– Sprinting for 8 seconds and jogging for 12 seconds over 20 minutes, burns up to five times more fat than 40 mins of jogging at the one speed.
– The bone mineral content in the shins of a male sprinter is 15.2% higher than that of a non-runner
– The average exercise life of a running shoe is about 650 kilometres.

Good #night’s #sleep key to learn new #skills

Know what does it take to learn guitar or piano faster? A good night’s sleep.

Good-nights-sleep-key-to-learn-new-skills-jpgNew research has provided great insights into the role of sleep in learning motor skills requiring new movement sequences.

According to scientists at University of Montreal, the regions of the brain below the cortex play an important role as we train our bodies’ movements and, critically, they interact more effectively after a night of sleep.

“After a night of sleep, we found that brain networks were more integrated, that is, interaction among these regions was greater when consolidation had occurred,” said Karen Debas, a neuropsychologist at University of Montreal.

A network refers to multiple brain areas that are activated simultaneously.

According to Debas, a night of sleep seems to provide active protection of this network, which the passage of daytime does not provide.

“Moreover, only a night of sleep results in better performance of the task,” Debas added.

To get these results, researchers led by Julien Doyon from Institut universitaire de geriatrie de Montreal Research Centre, taught participants a new sequence of piano-type finger movements on a box.

The brains of the participants were observed using functional magnetic resonance imaging during their performance of the task before and after a period of sleep.

The same test was performed by a control group at the beginning and end of the day, without a period of sleep.

They observed improved performance of the task after a night of sleep and not the simple passage of daytime.

The findings could lead us to better understand the mechanisms that take place during sleep and ensure better interaction between key regions of the brain, researchers concluded.