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Diet and exercise by Paige Johnson

Hello, dears!

Paige from Learnfit.org is visiting us again! She loves offering her advice on weight lifting and strength training. Today she´s here to talk about diet and exercise.

“Diet and exercise are oftentimes directly associated with a slimmer waistline and improved muscle tone, but the pair can affect your physical health in more ways than just physical appearance.

What Are You Eating?

The food you put in your body can reduce the occurrence of negative health issues and promote a healthy heart and prevent disease. High blood pressure, or hypertension, may result in heart failure and premature death, but by incorporating heart-healthy foods into your diet such as whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts, you can reduce your risk of developing hypertension.  Eating right can also boost your immune system to build up your body’s defense against communicable diseases, and even help combat depression and addiction.

However, eating right means eating the right foods such as fruits and vegetables, which contain key vitamins and nutrients. The following vitamins are essential to physical health:

  • Vitamin C – boosts iron absorption, enhances immune function, promotes healthy gums, resolves to bruise (citrus fruits, cantaloupe, mangos, kiwis, pineapple, strawberries, leafy vegetables, asparagus, avocados)
  • Vitamin A – prevents cell damage, heightens infection resistance, maintains skin of gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts (apricots, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, yellow squash)
  • Vitamin B-6 and B-12 – vital for central nervous system, essential for the metabolism of amino acids and protein synthesis, improves immune system function (dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds)

As you make changes to your diet, make sure you eat at least three meals a day or five small meals throughout the day, and avoid skipping breakfast. Aim for balance, and eat a variety of foods such as grains, lean meats, dairy, fruits, and vegetables.

Get Moving

According to research presented by the CDC, physical activity can strengthen your bones, build muscle, and reduce risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Your bones, joints, and muscles support your body and enable you to move, so it is important to protect them. Physical activity can slow the loss of bone density, help with arthritis pain management, and help you increase and maintain muscle mass and strength. By getting active, you can also reduce the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol and fat levels, keeping blood vessels flexible, and reducing inflammation of the arteries. Beneficial changes in cholesterol include a decrease in unhealthy LDL cholesterol, and an increase in healthy HDL cholesterol. Exercise directly affects the heart itself too. As you exercise, your heart grows stronger, enabling it to pump more blood with each beat, and work at maximum capacity with less strain. The resting heart rate of those who exercise is also lower, as the heart exerts less effort to pump blood through the body.

Blood pressure can be regulated through regular exercise as well, with sedentary people having a 35 percent greater chance of developing high blood pressure than those who are regularly physically active. Regular exercise keeps arteries flexible, benefitting blood pressure, but keep in mind that high-intensity activity may not lower blood pressure as effectively as moderate-intensity exercise such as walking, gardening, or dancing. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, ask your doctor before starting any kind of physical activity to maximize the benefit and reduce the risk of causing further damage.

As you find ways to get moving and active, think of creative ways to incorporate it into your daily life. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn archery or a new style of dance. Include your family and friends by having an epic battle of freeze tag, or working together on a home project such as building a treehouse or planting a garden. Diet and exercise improve your health, so you might as well have a little fun while you are at it.

Resistance Band Triceps Extension

We can work our triceps at home, using the resistance band.

Anchor the band at the top of the door and stand facing it. Your feet hip-width apart. Grab the handles and brace your abs to stabilize your spine. Keep your torso aligned and pull your shoulder blades back and down.

Exhale and contract your triceps, straighten your elbows and pressing the handle down toward the floor. Continue pressing until your elbows are straight but not locked.

Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat.

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Dumbbell Triceps Kickback

An easy exercise for your triceps is the kickback.

Hold a dumbbell in the right hand. Stand in a split-stance position with the left leg forward. Keep your weight distributed through the heels of both feet. Brace your abdominal and core muscles to stabilize the spine. Slowly lean forward, shifting most of your upper extremity body weight into the left side. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Your head should be aligned with your spine. Maintain these engagements throughout the exercise.

Bend your right elbow bringing your upper arm parallel to, and close to, your torso. Your forearm should hang perpendicular to the floor.

Exhale and slowly straighten your elbow. Your upper arm should remain stationary next to your torso. Do not allow the upper arm to rise during the movement. Do not allow the low back to sag or your torso to rotate.

Inhale and slowly bend your elbow, returning to starting position.

Repeat and change sides.

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Dirty dog

The dirty dog involves your abs, butt, and hips. It´s a great exercise to prepare the body for activity.

Come to a hands and knees position. Engage your abs. Keep your spine in a neutral position; avoid any excessive sagging or arching. Pull the shoulder blades toward your hips.
Exhale. Keeping the knee bent, slowly lift the knee outwards and upwards toward the side. Try to move the leg without causing movement in your torso. Hold this position briefly, while keeping a stable torso and head level with your spine.
Inhale and slowly lower your knee back to the floor.
Repeat and switch legs.

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Contralateral limb raise

This exercise is one of the best ways to target your back, particularly the muscles that help to stabilize your spine.

Lie on your stomach on a mat or the floor with your legs outstretched behind you. Your toes are pointing toward the wall behind you. Reach your arms out overhead with your palms facing each other. Keep your head aligned with your spine.

Exhale and slowly stretch one arm and one leg out and lift them off of the floor. Keep your leg straight and your toes reaching to the wall behind you. Keep both hip bones and pubic bone in contact with the mat. Avoiding any rotation in your leg or pelvis. Keep your arm straight and try not to rotate your arm or shoulder. Your head and torso should not move, avoiding any arching in your back. Hold this position briefly. Return to your starting position.

Inhale and return to the starting position.

Repeat and switch sides.

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Inclined dumbbell press

The incline dumbbell bench press is a great exercise for building mass on the upper chest.

Sit on an incline bench angled between 45 and 60 degrees,  grasping a dumbbell in each hand at the top of your thighs.

Then, use your thighs to help push the dumbbells up, as you lay back on the bench.

Your feet should be firmly on the floor, a raised platform, or on the bench in order to allow your spine to be in a neutral position. Pull your shoulder blades down and back so that they make firm contact with the bench.

Press the dumbbells to a position over your eyes or slightly higher, with your elbows straight. Wrists should be in a neutral position and palms facing forward.

Inhale and lower the dumbbells toward your upper chest, but slightly wider toward the armpits. Gently touch the dumbbells to your chest. Keep the elbows under the wrists and the wrists in a neutral position. Performing the exercise with the elbows close to your torso emphasizes more triceps. Performing the exercise with the elbows flared out from the body emphasizes more pectorals. Maintain all points of contact with the bench and keep your feet firmly on the floor throughout the exercise.

Exhale and gently press upwards to full elbow extension with the dumbbells over your eyes. Maintain your points of contact with the bench and floor. Do not allow your back to arch. Keep the wrists in a neutral position throughout the movement.

Repeat.

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Standing Barbell Curl

The barbell curl is a pure biceps mass builder. This is very simple exercise to perform but as with all other exercises, the form is very important. To get the most from this exercise, you must learn to use your biceps to move the weight. Learn how to use your biceps to move the weight without using your body weight and you’ll start to build well shaped biceps.

Hold a barbell or E-Z bar with palms facing forward. Your grip should be shoulder-width apart. The bar should rest on the front of your thighs with your wrists straight, not bent.
Stand in a split-stance position with knees slightly bent to stabilize your body. Brace your torso by contracting your abs. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Your head and neck should be aligned with your spine.

Exhale. Contract your biceps, bending your elbows, and raising the bar toward the front of your shoulders in a slow and controlled manner. Keep your torso erect and the wrists in neutral. Do not allow the shoulders to shrug, the back to arch or the elbows to move forward throughout this movement.

Inhale. Straighten the elbows and lower the barbell back to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner. Do not bounce the bar off the front of your thighs.

As some of us show structural differences at the elbow, we may not be able to grip the barbell with our arms against our sides in the lowered position unless we force a bend at our wrists. The grip position you select should be the one that is most comfortable and enables you to keep the wrists aligned with the forearm.

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