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size and shape

Unfortunately it's not easy for the majority of us to lose weight, especially when we're on a structured diet. Losing weight may involve more than self-discipline, exercise and watching every morsel that goes into your mouth. There are other things that affect your size and shape – things that are impossible to control.

Three Factors that Contribute to Your Body Shape and Size

1. Age. Most people round out a little as they get older, as a result of a decreased metabolism and less movement. Menopause can cause women to suddenly gain weight, and both men and women find that they can't eat as much as they did a few years back without gaining a few pounds!

2. Set point and metabolism. The set point of your weight is predetermined, which means that your body stubbornly clings to a certain amount of weight. For instance, my husband's set point dictates that he won't gain an ounce no matter what or how much he eats. My set point, on the other hand, is set a little higher than I'd like, causing me to gain pounds when I catch a whiff of French fries and bacon cheeseburgers. Evidently, physiological forces can prevent weight loss. However, I do know it's possible to be thinner than I am now because I once was – but it was a real struggle staying at my lowest weight. Perhaps that's the secret behind set points: it's still possible to lose weight, but just a little more difficult.

3. Genetics. Your body shape, weight, and size is affected by your genes. Studies have shown that adopted children are most similar in body shape and weight to their biological parents. You see examples all around you, every day, of people looking exactly like their parents or grandparents – for better or for worse. I have my mom's curves and tendency towards the bulge; my half-sisters have their mother's lean silhouette and long, slim limbs. It's part of our inheritance (for better or worse).

Food and Fitness Level Counts!
Watching what you eat, exercising, and keeping informed of health tips and low-fat recipes are still extremely important in losing weight and keeping it off. Remember to strike a balance between accepting and loving your body the way it is, and striving for health and wellness.
Feeling no fear naked and confident about who you are is possible – and it doesn't matter what your weight or shape is!

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diet tips for weight loss

The weight battle is a difficult challenge. Some have trouble losing the pounds while others have trouble keeping it off after they've lost the weight. Successful weight loss and maintenance still depends on diet and exercise. But there are certain tips and tricks that dieters can use to help them stay on track and stay thin.

Take Advantage of the Surge in Self-Esteem

Dieters who have reached their weight goals feel empowered. It may not last forever, but that initial feeling should be harnessed. Dieters who have reached that goal should do something they would have never done at their previous weight. An example would be signing up for a 5K race or entering a beauty contest. This helps celebrate the accomplishment and keeps the motivation flowing.

Getting Thin Doesn't Solve All Problems

Many people think that when they've conquered their weight issues that everything else will fall into place. Conquering weight solves the health issue but it won't fix marital problems or an unhappy career. Dieters who expect everything in their life to be perfect once the pounds are lost can sometimes be disappointed when they are still struggling with other parts of their lives after they've reached their target weight. This can lead to unhappiness and weight gain. Dieters need to realize that getting thin solves just the health issue and that there still may be other underlying problems that need to be addressed - just not with food.

Don't Expect Everyone to be a Supporter

Many may applaud their friends and family member's efforts at weight loss, but some may feel threatened or even try to sabotage a dieter. The reasons can be varied. Maybe a relationship was based around the bond of eating unhealthy meals together. Maybe one person hasn't chosen to begin their weight loss journey and the other has. The point is there will always be some people that won't applaud a dieter's success. The dieter must find ways to rebuild these relationships without having them revolve around food.

Can't Eat Like Before

Any dieter who has succeeded in losing the weight, will not to eat less food than they did before for the rest of their lives. They can't go back to eating pizza every night and expect to keep the weight off. The less a person weighs, the less caloric intake they need. So if a dieter continues to shrink, they'll continue to have to decrease their calories in order to maintain. Talking to a nutritionist is the best way to figure out what the right target calories are.

Focus on the Vegetables

Vegetables are very high in fiber and water so they help dieters stave off hunger while only contributing small calories to a person's daily intake. Research has shown that people who ate healthy salads before a meal ended up eating fewer calories during that meal. So dieters should make it a rule of a thumb to fill half their plate with vegetables if they want to keep the pounds off.

Recover Quickly From Lapses

No one expects a dieter never to taste a slice of pizza or cake again. But if the lapses happen too often, the scale will start to show it. Recovering quickly from these lapses is important in order to avoid regaining the lost weight. Many people have a range they like to stay in. Once they pass the range, it's time to hit the gym a bit harder or reign in the eating plan. Weighing in on a weekly basis shows dieters whether they are maintaining their healthy lifestyle or if they're losing a bit of control. If it's the latter, it's time to make some changes.

Vary Workout Programs to Avoid Plateaus

Dieters need to keep their bodies guessing in order to continue to see improvements and stave off boredom. The human body adapts to exercise and gets more efficient at performing that exercise. Therefore, dieters need to keep changing it up in order for the body to keep working at maximal levels.

Dieters May Still See Themselves Fat

This distorted view happens to many people who have lost a large amount of weight or have been a certain weight for a very long time. In their mind, they still see themselves as fat when looking in the mirror. To overcome this, dieters need to surround themselves with positive people who encourage them and reinforce how far they've come and how great they look. They should also take certain steps, like buying a new wardrobe or getting a makeover, to update their self-image.

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aromatherapy

Every diet and weight loss book, website and guru tries to offer something new to the debate about how to lose weight. The weight-loss industry is fast-growing, multi-billion dollar industry and shows no sign of slowing down. For decades there has been an assortment of outlandish and unhealthy fad diets circulating – the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Grapefruit Diet, the Brussels Sprouts Diet, even the Tape Worm Diet – but the fact remains that the most sensible way to lose weight is to watch what you eat and get regular exercise.

Individuality and Weight Loss

Every body is different and the amount of weight gained or lost will depend on such things as an individual’s metabolism rate, their genetics, their ability to exercise and their overall health.

Essential Oils and Weight Loss

Essential oils by themselves will not induce weight loss but they can help to support and be a comfort through a change to a healthy lifestyle. Essential oils, such as grapefruit essential oil, can be used as a diuretic and a digestive stimulant. Others, like lavender essential oil, are anti-inflammatory, which can help to reduce inflammation caused by exercise, and lemongrass essential oil, which can aid with circulation. It is commonly believed that both peppermint essential oil and pink grapefruit essential oil can help to reduce food cravings and suppress the appetite. Grapefruit is sometimes referred to as “the dieter’s friend.”

Essential Oils to Support Lifestyle Changes

Following are ten essential oils that are often used to support lifestyle changes such as increased exercise, reduced calorie intake and stress reduction. Each essential oil is chosen for its valuable properties:
  • Basil essential oil is analgesic, anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory, helping to uplift the spirit and reduce inflammation.
  • Fennel essential oil is a detoxifier, diuretic and stimulant.
  • Grapefruit essential oil is a detoxifier, digestive stimulant, emotional stimulant, and diuretic.
  • Juniper essential oil is a detoxifier, diuretic, and works well with cellulite.
  • Lavender is an analgesic, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, balancing and calming essential oil.
  • Lemon essential oil is anti-bacterial and anti-depressant.
  • Lemongrass essential oil is an antioxidant, digestive tonic and it is used to energize and stimulate the circulation.
  • Orange essential oil is anti-depressant, lymph stimulating, tonic and uplifting. It is thought to eliminate toxins.
  • Petitgrain essential oil is an antidepressant and a sedative. It is also known to help with insomnia and nervous exhaustion.
  • Rosemary essential oil is an analgesic and diuretic.
Use the essential oils singly or blend together. Try them in a bath, an aromatherapy diffuser or add them to a carrier oil and use in a massage.

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Patients who are obese and suffer from risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, could be candidates for treatment with Adipex, along with diet and exercise, for help with losing weight. Adipex-P is a short-term appetite suppressant that is used as part of an overall weight reduction program. Patients typically need to have a body mass index greater than 27 to qualify as a candidate for Adipex-P.

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Warning Before Taking Adipex-P

Adipex should not be taken with other diet medications such as Phen-Fen or Redux. This combination of drugs can cause a rare fatal lung disorder called pulmonary hypertension. Never take Adipex with any other form of diet medications without your doctors permission.

Do not take Adipex within 14 days of taking an MAO inhibitor. Life-threatening side effects can occur if the MAO inhibitor has not cleared out of your system.

Do not take Adipex if you are allergic to stimulants, if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis (hardening of your arteries), glaucoma, an overactive thyroid, if you are agitated, or if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.

Alert your physician before you take Adipex if you have problems with your thyroid, have an anxiety disorder, have a seizure disorder or epilepsy, or if you have diabetes. You may not be able to use Adipex if you have these conditions or you may need to undergo tests before taking this medication.

Side Effects of Adipex-P

Common side effects while taking Adipex-P could include: dizziness, diarrhea, dry mouth, changes in sex drive, constipation, exaggerated feelings of depression or elation, headache, hives, impotence, high blood pressure, inability to fall or stay asleep, increased heart rate, restlessness, overstimulation, stomach or intestinal problems, tremors, throbbing heartbeat, or unpleasant taste.

Discuss any side effects you experience with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Adipex-P.

Administration of Adipex-P

This medicine needs to be taken exactly as prescribed. Never take this medication in larger amounts or for longer than recommended by your physician.

Adipex-P is recommended for short term use, generally a few weeks at one time. Taking higher doses of this medicine over long periods of time cans cause you to experience insomnia, severe skin problems, irritability, personality changes, and or feelings of hyperactivity.

Adipex should be taken on an empty stomach before breakfast. It should be taken with a full glass of water. Make sure to take this medication at least 10 to 14 hours before bedtime. Never take Adipex in the evening because it can cause you to suffer from insomnia.

Never chew, break, crush, or open an extended-release capsule. Always swallow the pill whole.

If you start to have increased hunger or if you think the medication is no longer working, do not increase your dosage. Taking too much Adipex can cause life-threatening side effects. Contact your physician. You may need to stop using the medication but if you have used it for a long period of time, your physician may need to wean you off of the drug. Suddenly stopping this medication could cause withdrawal symptoms.

Considerations Regarding Adipex-P

Adipex-P is considered a drug of abuse and can be habit-forming. It should only be used by the person it was prescribed for.
It is not known if this medication will harm an unborn baby. Talk to your physician if your are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant before taking Adipex. Do not breast-feed a baby without checking with a physician.

Adipex-P will lose its effect after being on the medication for several weeks. Once this occurs, you should discontinue the medication on the recommendation of your physician. Never try to boost the effectiveness of the drug by increasing the dosage, this could result in serious side effects and a dependence on the medication.

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geocaching

Geocaching is hiking with a dual purpose. Hiking is a great weight loss activity and searching for the hidden treasures makes it fun.

What is it?
Geocaching is an interesting way to combine technology and exercise. People hide containers with “treasures” in them and track their coordinates using a GPS unit. To get started, visit a web site such as www.geocaching.com. This site explains how the game works and allows you to search your area for hidden treasures. It will give you the coordinates of the treasure and general information like which park it is located it.
Once you have the coordinates, input them into a handheld GPS unit. Then hike to the location to find the cache. Each cache is given a level of difficulty. The easiest ones can be done with a stroller or younger children and the more difficult ones may take days and include hiking over mountains or through caves.

The idea is to find the cache, take an item, leave an item to replace it with and sign a logbook to let them know who was there, when you were there and what you exchanged.

Who Can Go Geocaching?
Anyone. It’s perfect for children, beginners and experienced hikers. You choose the level of difficulty.

What Do I Need To Get Started?
You don’t need much as a beginning Geocacher. You will need a basic handheld GPS unit, a compass and other hiking essentials that depend on the level of difficulty. Be sure to carry water, snacks and a first aid kit for starters.

What Can I Expect To Find?
Caches are made up of various items. Most are small trinkets. Common items are toys, coins, collector’s items and maps. As they get more advanced, some people like to make themed boxes and will add that to the online description.

Others have traveling caches that they want to see make it across the country and may require you to move the item in a certain direction if you are going to remove it from the cache.

Is This Really Exercise?
Absolutely! Hiking through paths and wooded trails is a great way to get exercise and work towards your weight loss goals. You can go at your own pace. For beginners, there is no time limit, so pace yourself and have fun with it. For the more advanced hiker, however, you can choose more challenging paths and walk at a quicker pace for a better workout.

What better way to get exercise than to be hiking outdoors for several hours and not even realize it because your focus is on locating the cache.

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There are many fad diets out there that promise one the ability to lose weight fast but they often leave a dieter feeling hungry and frustrated. The key to losing weight is to expend more calories than a body takes in. It is a simple formula and one that is not hard to achieve if you make a few simple changes to your lifestyle.

To lose one pound of fat a person has to burn 3,500 calories. By shaving off a few calories every day weight loss will slowly occur.

Stop Eating at Night and Lose Weight

This is something that celebrities often do to lose weight and it is a great way to curb excessive snacking. If one can decide what time of the night to stop eating and after that time can stick to items such as low fat ice cream or yoghurt or a few candies it will limit the calorie intake for the day.

Once a dieter stops eating in the evening it will become easier to spot when one is eating when bored or for emotional reasons rather than eating to satisfy a hunger.

Lose Weight by Eating Breakfast

The worst mistake people make when they are trying to lose weight is not eating breakfast. When somebody wakes up it is important to realize that they have not eaten for least 12 hours and the body then holds onto fat as it hits starvation mode.

Eating breakfast will help to kick start the metabolism for the day. Try to have wholegrain cereals or fibers, they may not taste great but they help cleanse the system of fats.

Switch to Light Foods and Drop the Soda to Drop Pounds

light foods
Switching to the lighter alternative to the food in question will immediately cut down the amount of calories being consumed. Wise substitutions will mean the difference in the foods will not be noticed by taste. Also it would be wise to cut out soft drinks from one's diet.

When one is consuming high sugar sweetened drinks it is called empty calories. The reason behind this is that sweetened beverages do not fill a person up yet still contain a large amount of calories. Replacing these drinks with water will immediately cut down on the amount of calories consumed everyday.

Weigh up Portions and Weigh Less

Everybody has a hand. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everybody could use that hand to measure the portion size of their meals? Well, they can - a portion size should be about the size of a palm.

Now at restaurants they often serve more than this amount and large portions have become the norm. Just taking a little bit less food than normal at mealtime will reduce daily calorie intakes.

Stay Full and Avoid Temptation

Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day will keep a person full and will in turn stop them eating food that is higher in calories. A diet is not necessary, simply making the decision to eat more fruits and following through on it will mean there is no room left for another snack later on.

By avoiding places like restaurants that serve unhealthy meals and keeping the fridge stocked with healthy alternatives, it becomes easier to reach for the healthier option.

Another way to stay full is by choosing wholemeal alternatives or food that do have a lot of fiber in them it will become easier to feel satisfied on a smaller portion.

Yet another alternative is to eat protein at every meal. This will help keep a feeling of fullness so it becomes less likely to overeat.

Exercise Without Trying Too Hard

Exercise isn't so bad when it happens gradually and by adding extra steps to a person's daily routine it will hardly feel like exercise. This can be done by walking the longer way to go and get something or marching in place when watching television. It is a good idea to invest in a pedometer so progress can be tracked.

If that is not something that sounds favorable to a dieter there are many more ways to incorporate activity in their lifestyles. One way to start is by thinking about activities one likes or has to do and add to it, for example instead of using the dishwasher, hand washing the dishes will expend more calories.

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7 weight loss tips
The following is a list of seven weight loss tips that can help you lose weight fast without diet pills. You can lose weight fast in the beginning by following these easy tips.
  1. Drink water. The number one tip for losing weight fast is to drink more water. Drinking water helps your body to flush out harmful toxins that tend to prevent weight loss. Experts in the diet industry suggests between six and eight glasses of water per day, but the more he water you can drink the better.
  2. Skip the pop. Don't drink diet or regular pop. Avoid drinking soda of all kinds to quickly reduce bloating and take inches off of your waist.
  3. Increase your fiber. Whole wheat and whole grain foods, along with fruits and vegetables, fill you up without overloading your body with excess calories. Gradually increase your fiber intake to lose weight fast.
  4. Eat more vegetables. Aim for five vegetables a day and gradually add more to your daily menus. Natural, unprocessed foods are best in regards to losing weight. Swap your regular snacks with carrot sticks, cuts up celery and cucumbers or canned vegetables.
  5. Limit TV. Watching too much TV encourages you to eat more than you realize. Avoid the excess calories and mindless eating by cutting down on the amount of time you spend in front of the TV. Find other activities to enjoy that occupy your hands as well as your time.
  6. Exercise. Cardio is essential for weight loss. Initially 30 minutes a day is an appropriate amount of exercise. Over time you want to work up to 60 to 90 minutes a day in order to lose weight quickly.
  7. Strength training. Resistance training raises your metabolism, builds muscle and burns fat. Add strength training to your cardio routine for the perfect for the balance of exercise. Resistance training is the most effective and quickest way to achieve a slimmer body. You'll be able to see and feel the results from strength training almost immediately. Within six weeks you should start to see a difference on the scale.
You can experience quick weight loss by following all of these tips simultaneously. Diet alone cannot help you lose weight quickly, nor can exercise alone. Combining diet and exercise, along with streaking more water, increasing your fiber, eating more vegetables and making exercise a part of your daily routine is the only way to lose weight fast without using diet pills.

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weight loss plateau

Do the scales seem to be stuck every time you step on them, regardless of all the exercise and healthy eating you do? This is common problem, and it’s to do with falling into some common traps.

Portion Size

The first major trap for the unwary eater is portion distortion. This is simply dishing up too much food, then eating all of it. The body requires only a certain amount of food each day, and it’s easy to eat too much.

Re-educate your eye for a proper-sized portion. Take a smaller plate than you’d normally use and serve up a slightly smaller portion than you would now. Decide whether you feel satisfied once you’ve eaten it. Correct portion sizes are critical in losing weight. Other good tips, especially when dining out, are avoiding bread, staying away from buffets, and drinking water with your meal, which will help you feel full.

Snacking

Absent-minded eating is also a major cause of weight gain. Those mid-morning sweets, spoonfuls of sugar in your coffee and slices of birthday cake in the office all add to the calorie count, and it’s easy to forget you’ve had them.

Staggeringly, keeping a food diary doubles the average weight loss. If you record everything you consume, you can see exactly what you’ve eaten and hold yourself accountable for your calorie intake. Write down the time of day, which meal you’re having, the type and brands of food you’re eating, and the quantity of each. Noting your motivation for eating and the mood you’re in can also help you monitor your eating habits.

Under-eating

Perhaps surprisingly, not eating can also make you fat. Losing muscle mass, which you do on an extreme diet, burns calories so when you go back to a normal eating pattern, your metabolism will be slower and you’ll gain even more weight.

Eating a sensible, balanced diet means you’ll keep the weight off. Skipping meals and cutting out major food groups won’t help. Inadequate nutrition means your body won’t be able to maintain muscle mass, repair itself or protect you from infection. Understand your food and what it’s doing for you so you can make the right choices.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is an aggravating factor in weight gain for lots of reasons. It’s high in calories, the ethanol is a poison that your body wants to get rid of as quickly as it can so you store fat more readily, your food choices are distorted by alcohol and it makes you eat more. Not only that, but alcohol is a depressant and slows your metabolism down.

Drinking red wine and any other type of alcohol may have some benefits, so you don’t need to cut it out completely, but keep your drinking to a minimum if you’re serious about losing weight and controlling your weight long term. A small glass of wine or can of beer is fine, particularly with a meal, but try to keep it just to that each time you indulge.

Exercise Routine

If you use the same exercise routine for every workout, you won’t be gaining the full benefit because ou’re just too good at those exercises now. When you’ve been doing the same activity for a while, no matter how vigorous, your body gets really good at using the least amount of energy it can to get you to the end of the workout.

If you usually cycle for exercise, go for a run or swim instead. If you do cardio exercises at the gym, try the weight machines or take up a class. Anything that uses different muscles or the same muscles in a different way will have you sweating again and burning those recalcitrant calories.

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weight loss tips for dining out

When you are trying to lose weight, you have to make a commitment to yourself to make healthier choices in all areas of your life. Occasionally eating at a restaurant is a part of life for many people. When dining out with your friends and family, it should be part of your weight loss plan to eat healthy at restaurants as well as at home.

Trying to eat healthy at a restaurant doesn’t mean that you have to deprive yourself of your favorite food, but if your favorite meal is high in calories make sure to practice moderation. Eating a smaller portion of your favorite dish can help you cut out some of the calories and still provide you with the satisfaction of enjoying good food.

Make a Calorie-Cutting Plan for Dining Out

Having a plan in place for eating at restaurants can be a tremendous help with staying on track with your weight loss. When you have thought about some of your possible food and beverage choices ahead of time, it may make it easier for you to follow through with selecting healthier menu items when it is time to place your order.
  • Enjoy a Refreshing Glass of Water – Make water your drink of choice when dining out to cut down on calories. Choosing water or other low calorie beverages can help you save 100 or more calories that you may get from drinking soda, juice or other beverages.
  • Hold the Bread - Skip the bread basket or limit yourself to one piece. Save your calories (and carbs) for the main course.
  • Do Your Homework! – Find out if the restaurant you will be eating at has nutrition information available to the public. Taking a few minutes to look for nutritional information on the restaurant’s website can help you be better prepared to make a healthy choice when it is time to order your meal. Be careful though, there have been some recent studies that have shown that some menu items may contain quite a few more calories than the nutrition information shows.
  • Move a Little More – If you are planning on having a big meal or eating higher-calorie menu items, then adding some extra physical activity to your day may be a good idea. Exercising or being more active may help burn extra calories to off-set some of the calories you will be consuming in your meal.
  • Consider Your Options – Some restaurants offer “healthy” menu items for people concerned with their health or watching their weight. So, make sure to scan the menu for “healthy” or “low-calorie” meals. Some places even offer smaller portions of popular items that can help you save money and calories. Ordering your meal from the appetizer section may also be a help in practicing portion control.
  • Eat Less Throughout the Day – If you know ahead of time that you will be dining out, then try to slightly cut calories in your other meals to keep a moderate calorie total for the entire day.
  • Take it Easy on the Alcohol – If you decide to enjoy a beer, mixed drink or wine with your meal, limit your alcohol consumption to one drink. Alcohol generally carries a lot of calories and the calories might add up quickly without you realizing it.
  • Play it Safe - Try to be sensible about your selections. Look for lean cuts of meat that are not fried (preferrably baked or grilled). If your meal comes with sauces, then ask to have them on the side. Order vegetables without added butter, sauces or cheeses. Think about starting your meal with a salad (dressing on the side) and ending it with fresh fruit for dessert.

Making Healthy Restaurant Choices are Just a Piece of the Puzzle

To successfully lose weight and keep it off you need to make changes in your habits. Trying to make healthy choices when you occasionally eat out is just one part of your overall healthy lifestyle. Focus on the big picture when you are trying to lose weight. Remember to exercise regularly, eat moderately and celebrate your accomplishments on your journey to lose weight and improve your health.

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walking weight loss

If one is interested in shedding a few pounds, walking and weight loss go hand in hand. Walking is a great way to lose weight naturally, plus it also increases the body’s heart rate which will allow for the burning of more calories.

Walking at a Slow, Steady Pace

Beginners can start a new exercise program by walking regularly at a slow, steady pace. Walking for 30 minutes is better than no exercise at all. Calories don’t always have to be burned by running. Everybody needs to start somewhere. Walking and weight loss are also perfect for people who have injuries that may get further aggravated by more vigorous exercise.

Picking up the Pace

After about two to four weeks of walking regularly at a steady pace, it’s time to pick up the pace a bit. Increase the walking speed a little bit. The easiest way to do this is by using a treadmill. If the use of a treadmill isn’t readily available, just try walking quicker. One way to track walking speed without the use of gym equipment is by walking a certain distance at the slow and steady pace, then trying again at a quicker pace in order to beat the previous time it took to achieve the same distance.

Adding Intervals

Intervals are simply different speeds and intensities of exercise. Walking at a pace of 3.0 miles per hour for 60 seconds, followed by walking at a pace of 4.0 mph for 30 seconds is an example of walking intervals. More calories will be burned than if one were to keep a slow, steady pace for 60 seconds. Faster exercise helps increase the heart rate and an increased heart rate will result in more calories being burned. The more calories that are burned, the more weight can be lost.

Increasing Resistance

Increasing resistance will also aid in more calorie burning. Adding ankle weights is a way to increase intensity. More ways to add resistance include walking on uneven surfaces or walking up hills. Uneven surfaces include any kind of surface that isn’t flat, such as pavement. Grass, sand and gravel are great surfaces to walk or run on to increase resistance.
Gym equipment such as ellipticals and treadmills will have speed and resistance settings that can be changed with ease during walking workouts.

Walking and weight loss can go together. People don’t have to do fancy cardio dances or hours of running to lose weight. Walking burns calories too and that’s what people need to do in order to lose weight.

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walking weight loss

Walking is one of the best and simplest forms of exercise to burn calories and fat, improve circulation, strengthen bones and joints, manage stress level and boost energy levels and the immune system. It also helps to maintain metabolism and is a great way to tone and shape the legs and buttocks.

There is such a large number of complicated exercise regimes that it often becomes more of a challenge to choose the right one than it is actually carrying out the plan. Also, many plans do not take into account everyday responsibilities such as work, children and social appointments. However, this simple plan can be adapted to work for even the busiest schedules and can help you lose weight and improve health without breaking a sweat!

Getting Started - The Little Things Count!

The most important thing to remember when beginning a walking routine is that it is miles and not minutes that count. It is easy to become intimidated by the numbers thrown around but remember that these are ideals and can be used as goals to work towards. The easiest way to begin a walking regime is to increase the amount of walking you do in your everyday life. This could entail parking your car further away from the office and walking or even leaving it at home all together; walking to your local shop; physically seeking out a friend or colleague as opposed to using the phone or email or walking the children the school. Even climbing the stairs and walking to and fro while talking on the phone burns calories. Walking for just ten minutes extra a day can burn up to 70 calories with a walk of 30 minutes using a surprising 184 calories!

Make it a Group Activity

Walking with a partner, with children or friends can provide the motivation needed to maintain your new regime and choosing different routes and energising music are sure-fire ways to keep boredom at bay and after just a week or two of this simple plan, the results will already begin to show. Thighs, calves and the buttocks will be firmer and more toned if you walk regularly.

Escalate and Intensify

Remember that when you become comfortable, it is time to intensify your regime in order to gain the best possible results. This can be done in a number of ways: increasing your speed, increasing the distance you walk, walking on a range of differing inclines (level ground, uphill and downhill walking) and adding ankle or hand weights. You can also increase the number of times a week or a day you take planned walks or begin interval training (a method where you stroll for two minutes and speed walk for one and so on) which is arguably the most effective form of fat burning exercise.

However, the most important key to success is to have fun!

It is no secret that exercise is a big part of weight loss. However, it is sometimes difficult to find the time or summon the energy or motivation to exercise. Walking is the perfect way to kick-start a new fitness regime, shift excess pounds, tone up and improve long-term health. There are no hefty gym bills to contend with and it’s an easy way to produce long-lasting results.

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Fat-Blasting Exercises

The most common reason for taking up an exercise routine is to lose weight. Yes, we all want to be fit and healthy, but losing weight is still the number one motivator to exercise.

With this goal in mind, there are certain exercises and activities that will help you reach your goal faster. Here are my top five fat-blasting exercises.

Clean and Press

The clean and press is considered a power lift so a lot of everyday exercisers (especially women) don't do it, or even know about it. However, you can do the clean and press in a manner that turns it into an awesome fat-blasting exercise.

The reason it is such an effective exercise is because you utilize many of your major muscles including the back, thighs, shoulders, and glutes. To perform the clean and press, hold a barbell in both hands at your thighs. Squat down, allowing the bar to slide down your legs and almost touch the ground. Push through your heels to power back up and simultaneously clean the bar so it rests at your shoulders (palms facing forward). Finish the motion by pushing the bar overhead.

Using lighter weight allows you to do more reps and get your heart rate up on this one! Pick a weight that you can complete 10-15 reps with good form.

Deadlift

Like the clean and press, the deadlift is often considered a power lift. You use almost every major muscle in the body while doing the deadlift so it should definitely be included in your weight loss routine.

Start with a barbell on the floor in front of you. Squat down and grab the bar. Power through your heels to push yourself into a standing position using your legs. The bar should slide up your legs and end up in front of your thighs at the top of the movement.

Keep your back straight throughout the motion. You can generally use heavier weight on a deadlift than other leg exercises such as squats. Start out lighter and slowly increase your weight over time. Perform 8-12 reps with good form.

Hill Sprints

For some reason, most people associate running or jogging with losing weight. However, this is one of the least effective ways to burn fat and lean down. Sprints are a much more effective weight loss activity.

Performing sprints up a hill burns more calories and is an awesome workout! Sprint up the hill, walk down. Repeat for 15-20 minutes.

Squats

Squats are probably the most well-known exercise, as well as the least understood. Like clean and presses and deadlifts, squats are an excellent weight loss activity because you use many different muscles when performing squats.

The standard barbell squat consists of placing the barbell behind your head - it should rest on your traps, not your neck. You then begin the motion by pushing your hips back as if you are going to sit down. The mistake most people make is they push their knees forward to start the motion. This will put extra tension on the knee joint.

By pushing the hips back and allowing your weight to stay on your heels (not your toes) you will keep the tension on the thigh muscles and off your knees. The knees should stay stacked over your ankle; they should not protrude past your toes.

Performing a squat with a stability ball behind you or on a Smith machine will help keep your body in the proper form.

Tabata Intervals

Intervals in general must be a staple of any effective weight loss program. Tabata intervals are a fun, short, intense twist that can be used to ramp your routine up a notch.

You can use most any activity or exercise with Tabata intervals, including the exercises listed above. A Tabata interval is four minutes: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, repeated 8 times. For example, you could sprint for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, and repeat for four minutes. You can also mix up different activities. Clean and press for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, sprint 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, squat 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, back to clean and presses. Continue for four minutes.

The main criterion for a Tabata interval is that the 20 seconds of work is intense. You must work hard during those 20 seconds. High intensity will mean different things to different people. Make it intense for you!

Include these five fat-blasting activities in your weight loss routine to help you reach your goal more quickly and effectively.

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Rates of obesity continue to skyrocket in the United States. But health experts say regular exercise can turn these numbers around dramatically and help Americans achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

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From 2007 to 2009, the number of U.S. states in which 30% or more of the residents qualified as obese tripled, according to the CDC. Just seven years earlier – in 2000 – not a single state had an obesity prevalence of 30% or more.

The problem of obesity is serious enough to merit the attention of the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama has kicked off a campaign called "Let's Move" that aims to turn around the trend of childhood obesity by encouraging kids to get more activity and to eat better.

The Department of Health and Human Services also has made increased activity among all groups a focus of its anti-obesity efforts as part of the "Communities Putting Prevention to Work" program.

But does exercise really help reduce obesity?

How Exercise Fights Obesity

A person who exercises has a much better chance of maintaining a healthy weight.

Exercise helps burn calories, and the key to losing weight is to burn more calories than the body takes in through eating. This concept, known as a "calorie deficit," is the cornerstone of weight management.

Of course, exercise will not yield the hoped-for weight loss unless the exerciser also eats the right foods, stops eating unhealthy foods and cuts back on portion sizes.

How Much Exercise is Necessary?

How much exercise is needed for effective weight loss? The CDC recommends exercisers gradually try to achieve the following exercise target:
  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent mix of the two each week.
However, the CDC also cautions that some people may need more exercise than this to maintain a healthy weight.

The CDC also offers a list of activities as examples of "moderate-intensity" aerobic activity, including brisk walking, casual biking and yard work. Examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity include running, swimming laps and most competitive sports.

Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health offers the following definitions:
  • Moderately active: a lifestyle that includes activity equal to walking 1.5 to three miles per day at a pace of three to four miles per hour.
  • Active: a lifestyle that includes activity equal to walking walking more than three miles per day at a pace of three to four miles per hour.

Recent research also indicates that the time of day that a person exercises can help speed the weight loss process.

Obesity is a continuing and growing problem in the United States. But regular exercise and a healthy diet can help obese people lose weight and keep it off.

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childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is a problem. It is an epidemic with severe consequences and life altering effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity increased from 5 to 10.4 percent among children ages two to five years between 1980 and 2008. Children ages six to 11 increased even more at a rate of 6.6-19.6 percent and adolescents from 5-18.1 percent during the same period. With more and more schools banning or at least discouraging activities such as tag, football, tetherball, and other activities that can be viewed as being aggressive or dominating, what can parents do to fight the growing obesity problem? Below are some activities and suggestions parents could and should use to get children back on track to living healthy and productive lives.

Promote Healthy Dietary Habits
What does this mean exactly? Encouraging fat free foods, diet drinks, and smaller portions will not help curb childhood obesity. Actually, relying on just these changes in diet can be even more detrimental to the health of children. Providing sugar-free snacks and diet drinks in an effort to avoid sugar or calorie intake can be a sheep in wolf's clothing. Sugar-free foods and diet drinks are high in other unhealthy chemicals such as aspartame, sodium, and phosphorous. Artificial sweeteners can increase appetite and the desire for real sugar, according to new research published in the International Journal of Obesity. This should not be interpreted to encourage sugar or higher fat intake, but rather to use common sense and practice moderation.

Another important aspect when dealing with diet choices is knowing when to eat. An old adage says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day; however, it is still the most neglected. Breakfast is not only meant to be the first meal of the day but should be consumed soon after waking to break the fast from the night before (hence the name "breakfast"). This is very important for the metabolism and how the body stores fat, burns protein, and processes nutrition for the rest of the day.

As daily life gets busier and busier, more families are eating on the go. This means convenience foods, meals out of a box, and frozen dinners are becoming evermore popular. However, these foods are usually made of processed foods and are very high in sodiums and preservatives. Since convenience can be a necessity, take the time one day a week to prepare fresh meals at home with healthy ingredients, then portion and send along with children to school for lunch or snacks.

Encourage Physical Activity to Increase Energy and Metabolism

The popular Wii has its benefits for utilizing more than just a child's thumbs; however, nothing will replace the health benefits of outdoor play. Childhood games such as tag, hide and go seek, foot races, and hopscotch should not only be encouraged but revered. Benefits other than just exercise are recognized with these games. Not only are hand, eye, and foot coordination developed and increased, but social interaction is also practiced and developed from these fun activities.

During the summer it is very easy to encourage outdoor play activities, but what about during the dead of winter? Keep the snow blower in the garage and have children help with shoveling the walk. Put on a coat and take a walk around the block to try and find animal tracks in the snow. If cold weather and outdoor activity just doesn't sound good in the winter, making a family trip to the local community gym can be a healthy bonding experience. Intramural sports are also very beneficial to the physical and social health of a child. Basketball, volleyball, wrestling, dance, and indoor soccer can all be practiced during the colder months for exercise and entertainment.

Be Honest With Children Regarding Their Overall Health

What is more important to the well being of a child, their feelings or their health? Society at times can be so afraid to hurt one's feelings, it will find a way to blame and penalize another entity that does not posess emotion to save the feelings of another. A child that is obese, rather fat, is unhealthy and at risk for serious consequences later in life. A child whose parents continue to ignore their weight problem can live a shorter life, risk being bullied in school, or not have the ability to participate in activities to the level a healthier child can. This can result in decreased confidence and self esteem levels that could affect other areas of their lives such as their academic performance. Rather than protecting a child's feelings due to their obesity, parents should confront the child directly. To help a child conquer his or her obesity and give that child a better chance at a healthier life can provide a much more stable confidence level and higher self esteem than ignoring the obvious problem of obesity.

Most importantly, adults need to lead by example for children to truly become healthier. Simple practices such as taking the stairs instead of an elevator, parking in the back row and walking to the building entrance, or going on family walks, hikes, or bike rides can teach children the benefits of exercise from an early age and discourage laziness with the added benefit of providing quality family time. The human body is a physical organism and needs physical exercise or play to be as efficient as possible in fighting childhood obesity. Get fit and be well. A child's health depends on it.

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Evaluate Your Weight Loss Strategy

Evaluating your current behavior is a good starting point to figure out why you have stopped losing weight. Since many experts agree that healthy weight loss is best achieved through a combination of diet and exercise, you should review both your eating habits and your physical activity. Make sure that you keep logs for both food and exercise to make it easier to monitor your progress. There may just be a minor adjustment to be made to get you back on track and help you lose more weight.

Review Your Eating Habits

Eating balanced meals, choosing healthy snacks and drinking water are all typical parts of weight loss, but you should also be aware of how many calories you are consuming. As your weight changes, your calorie requirements will likely change also; so don’t forget to take that factor into consideration. You may need to consume fewer calories throughout the day but be careful not to restrict your calories too much. Watch your portion sizes and be aware of the calories that you consume in your beverages because they can easily add up fast.

Fine-tune Your Workout Using the F.I.T.T. Principle

If you have been doing the same workout for a while, then you may need to switch things up a little to continue to make progress. Making small changes in the frequency, intensity, time or type (F.I.T.T. Principle) of exercise might be the key to help you break through your weight loss plateau. Making adjustments to your workout may also help to keep you interested and enthusiastic about exercise.
  • How frequently do you exercise?(Frequency) – If you usually exercise three days per week, then maybe adding an extra day per week may help get those unwanted pounds off. However, make sure to give your muscles enough time to rest and recover in between workouts.
  • How intense is your workout?(Intensity)– Making the exercises more difficult can also be beneficial in helping you to get more out of your workout. Try increasing the amount of resistance during your strength training or shorten the rest period between sets to add intensity. Circuit or interval training may be another option to help make your workouts more challenging and help you lose those remaining pounds.
  • How long is your workout?(Time) – Increasing the length of time you exercise may also help you get back on track with your weight loss efforts. Gradually adding more time to each workout might help you burn the extra calories needed for your weight loss to resume.
  • What type of exercises are you doing?(Type) – If you have been using a treadmill, then maybe switching to an elliptical machine or jump rope may benefit you. If you have been using only free weights for your resistance training, then adding body weight exercises to your workout may help improve your results. Playing sports for recreation might be another possibility to shake things up a little.

Make Your Lifestyle Healthier

Keep your focus on improving your health as well as achieving your weight loss goals.Try to make gradual improvements in your healthy lifestyle on a consistent basis and don’t let minor setbacks get you down. Some research has shown that even losing a small amount of weight can have a big impact on improving your health.

Remember, the number on the scale is not the only measure you should be concerned with. Pay attention to how you feel, how your clothes fit, your body measurements and body fat percentage to provide additional indications of fat loss and improved health.

Take pride in the success that you have achieved so far. With patience and an honest effort, you can continue on the path to accomplishing your goals. As always, please consult your physician before making any changes to your diet or beginning an exercise program.

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fighting flab
Dieting is often viewed as the easy option to losing weight, after all, it doesn't take up much more time than your regular daily routine and just involves maybe a little bit more painstaking preparation of your food intake. Exercising, on the other hand, requires valuable time spent involved in raising the heart rate and burning calories, but it's time well spent in the fight to lose weight and generally restore the "feel good factor." However, exercise seems to be the missing link in many diet plans.

Dieters Feel Cheated By Lack of Success

Dieting in all its various forms from the Atkins Diet, through the Cambridge Diet and beyond has its success stories, but for every person who claims that a particular diet worked for them, there are thousands who feel cheated that nothing actually works for them and that their bodies will never lose the excess weight that they so passionately desire.

Truth is, if you burn more calories than you consume, you have to lose some weight. Or course, there are some people who can't take regular exercise due to health problems and dieting is therefore their only refuge in the weight loss stakes. However, for most people, exercise is not only beneficial, it can also be fun.

Don't Run Before You Can Walk

The key to any exercise regime is to start slowly. Don't go out and attempt to run a marathon when you've been sitting on the couch in front of the TV all your life. Start by walking as much as you can. Leave the car at home and walk to the office, or if that's not convenient, park the car a few blocks away from your workplace and walk the rest of the way. Take the stairs rather than the elevator and go for a walk around the block during your lunch break. This may be a small step in the battle to lose weight, but, it's a huge leap in changing your mindset about exercise and weight loss.

Finger on the Pulse is the Key Measurement

Taking a step up from this, keep a finger on your pulse. Take your pulse before you start your walk by holding two fingertips against the underside of your wrist below the thumb. Count for 15 seconds and then multiply the total by four, this will give you your resting pulse per minute. Take your pulse again after you've finished your walk. For a fit person there will not be much discrepancy between the two figures. The unfit will notice a huge difference in the figures, but with time and effort, the difference between those two figures will begin to narrow.

Taking another step further down the road is then simple: start by walking 100m and than jogging the same distance; alternate several times and then up the amount of exercise gradually. Exercise may not be a miracle cure in the fat fighting arena, but it works, it can be enjoyable and all you need is a pair of decent training shoes to start you on the road to a more lithe and fitter you.

Once you achieve a certain level of fitness, don't stop there. Enter a local race over a distance you feel comfortable with. Just jog around the course and enjoy the atmosphere; no one will laugh at you, but you will get plenty of encouragement to go and achieve more goals. Taking the first step is the hard part, but go on, you can do it!

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resistance training
Resistance training is by no means only for professional bodybuilders or weightlifters looking to gain weight, though this is a common exercise misconception that has persisted for some time. Instead it has been proven a safe and effective method for achieving a desirable body composition, as well as promoting an individual's overall health and wellness for men and women of any age. Resistance training has been linked to numerous positive effects including benefits in strength, posture, and flexibility.

In addition, it boosts the immune system and improves cardiovascular health. It is frequently overlooked by those seeking to lose weight or reduce body fat, but in actuality, resistance training is far more effective at achieving these goals than it is given credit for, and is even superior to basic aerobic exercise methods.

Resistance Training Explained

The basic structure of resistance training typically consists of a series of repetitions between six and 12, followed by a short period of rest. This operates on very different principles than those of aerobic activity which utilizes a consistent state of an elevated heart rate . The traditional method is to use free weights, or dumbbells, but most modern gyms contain a variety of alternatives. The preset machines are an easier and quicker method of teaching one the basic movement that should be followed and as such is an effective introduction to weight training which can avoid injuries. Another option is to use cables. These can range from simple elastic bands, that can be wrapped around a pole or stepped on while performing the motions, to a complex setup of pulleys and cables that many modern gyms offer.

The advantage of cables is the superior range of flexibility they offer over machines, and as such they are ideal for complex whole-body movements and warm-ups. Free weights, on the other hand, offer the least restricted range of motion and the most comprehensive expanse of resistance, but at the same time they can lead to a higher potential for injury if performed incorrectly, so a good tip is to start light and slowly increase weights as the motions become easier. Although an ideal advanced regimen would incorporate all three methods, any option is an effective way to burn fat and improve wellness while avoiding the potential joint injuries associated with long bouts of running or biking.

A Problem with Many Current Weight Loss Programs

The fact that so many individuals insist on the use of low intensity aerobic exercise to achieve their goals represents a flaw in the information available to them, a flaw that must be amended in order to achieve the results one desires. One reason why such cardio is so widely advocated is the ease with which it can be performed. It is often true of human nature that one is more likely to succeed at a task that requires minimal effort when compared to one that is difficult. For this reason, low intensity aerobics are advanced as a way to begin exercising, an initiation of sorts. The dilemma is that few people are aware of the moment when it is no longer effective and continue to exercise the same way with few results. This often leads to a lack of motivation to persist and thus constitutes a failure in the exercise regimen.

Ideally, one must continually increase the difficulty of their activity in order to keep progressing. This is due to the body's ability to adapt to the pressures placed on it and respond accordingly. Thus, as time progresses, one's physical activity must increase just to continue to elicit the same response it once did. Eventually the time one must spend engaged in such activity becomes almost counterproductive and as few calories will be burnt by the activity in question as by doing nothing. This is especially true when considering the stress that is placed on the joints in contact, potentially leading to pain in the knees and back.

There is an easier solution; the calories burned - and thus the success of an exercise session - are based on the total energy expenditure. This is calculated, not just by the duration of the session but the intensity as well. It is for precisely this reason that the results of resistance training far outweigh those of conventional steady-state aerobic exercise.

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After age 30 or so, as the years creep up, often the pounds do as well, sometimes by as much as 10 or 15 pounds a year. The distribution of weight is different for men and women; men tend to put on more around the middle, while women gain first in the hips and thighs. As menopausal hormone and metabolism levels change, women are thrilled to find that they gain a bit of a spare tire just above the belt as well.

It's not clear how many of these changes can be directly attributed to a lessening of activity and how much is genetic. What is clear is that it is not irreversible – nor is it inevitable.

The Carb Connection

Dr. Zane Andrews, Ph.D of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia is principal investigator in the metabolic neurosciences group in the Department of Physiology there. His research findings suggest that as we age, the appetite-suppressing cells are attacked by free radicals (which are found in everyone's bodies), most especially after eating meals consisting of mainly carbohydrates and sugars.

This is not to suggest that carbs are bad. Just that as a result of eating lots of meals filled with nothing much but carbs (much of it simple carbs – sugars and highly processed foods), free radicals can have their way with the aging body. The dietary solution is, of course, to eat more fruits and vegetables, which contain antioxidants to counter those effects and bring balance back into the picture.

A diet high in sugary and processed foods appears to be one culprit. That's easy to change. Whole wheat and whole grain versions of pastas and rices are more readily available in the grocery store now. Don't give up foods – replace them with new favorites! Search out delicious ethnic dishes filled with vegetables, beans and grains.

All is Not Lost - You Can Lose This Weight

Though it's been proven that losing weight is tougher to do as one gets older, it's a long way from impossible. In fact, aside from the small percentage of the problem that is genetic, it's relatively easy to do when one just makes up one's mind to do it.

The muscle to fat ratio changes as aging occurs, but a simple regimen of resistance training for 20 minutes three times a week can produce noticeable results in less than a month.

Remember when mothers everywhere would all chant the same mantra – "Go on outside and play!" The message is the same today. Go outside and play! Hike, ride a bike, go swimming or play tennis.

The Exercise Pay-off

Certain activities give bigger and faster results than others, but every exercise gives some result. The one muscle that must be exercised more than any other is the consistency muscle. Working out like a mad-person for a couple of weeks before reverting to old ways is not the answer. Putting exercise on the "must-do" list is key.

Don't know where to start? Incorporate little things into everyday life – park at the back of the lot and walk to the store, walk to work if it takes half an hour or less, take a couple of flights of stairs briskly. Enlist the help of a friend to partner up, and just get moving. Make lifestyle choices that support movement, and make it non-negotiable.

When regularity is enforced the effects will be good and almost immediate:
  1. The metabolism awakens and runs more efficiently.
  2. The immune system strengthens and wellness follows.
  3. The mood lifts. Happiness can't be far away.
  4. And the weight comes off - who can argue with results like that?
This is an obstacle that can certainly be overcome. Remember, it uses more calories to stand than to sit. More calories to walk than to stand. More to run than to walk. And as they say in the commercials – you're worth it!

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losing weight

Now, the goals of the providers of these programs are not always the same. Some are providing legitimate services and products while others are simply trying to capitalize on your desire to be thin.

This site is dedicated to helping you educate yourself on the fundamentals of nutrition and exercise so you know how to separate the winners from the losers.

However, losing weight, and keeping it off, is not accomplished through quick fix or ‘fad’ diets and usually create what we like to call ‘yo-yo’ dieters.

If your body is not well how can the mind be? It can’t.

Don’t be a victim of the ‘hype’ and subject yourself to this emotional roller coaster ride. Do it right – the first time – by following the guidelines on this site.

It goes without saying that the most efficient method of losing weight is one where we are able to conserve all, or almost all, of our lean muscle tissue while achieving a steady reduction in body fat, and body fat percentage over all. This is best accomplished through a balanced combination of guided and sensible nutrition and exercise.

This type of approach will cause a dramatic ’shape’ shift in your body rather then just creating a smaller version of your previous body. It’s muscle tissue that leads to that long lean look you desire. However, don’t be confused and think that you can ’spot’ reduce and lose weight only from one particular area of your body.

You can’t. But, don’t worry you can change the ’shape’ of your body if you abide by the guidelines we’ve set forth. Calorie restriction is one of the only validated ways of achieving weight loss.

What You Need to Know about the Roll-Up Exercise

In particular, the Roll-Up gives the joints and muscles of your spine and back a valuable “massage” that stimulates your circulation and the portion of your nervous system housed in the spinal column. This massaging action helps the Roll-Up promote the essential mind/body connection that’s such an important benefit of the Pilates method of conditioning.
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Joseph Pilates devised the Roll-Up to promote deep, healthy Pilates breathing, making it an important tool for oxygenating your blood and improving your circulation, as well as to strengthen the Powerhouse muscles, and to build a strong, flexible, and well-aligned spine.

The Roll-Up is similar to an old-fashioned style of sit-up, but it emphasizes stretching and articulating your spine, rather than heaving your torso off the floor. In a basic Roll-Up, you lie flat on a workout mat with your legs straight and your arms and hands extended above your eyes. In most versions of the Roll-Up, you hold a bar or rod in your hands, and with straight arms you slowly roll your spine up and forward, one vertebra at a time, stretching your head and arms toward your toes while you maintain your scooped belly. As you reverse, you once again scoop your abdominals in and up the front of your spine and articulate vertebra by vertebra until you return to the original position. With each repetition of the Roll-Up, your spine is more flexible and your abdominals are stronger than before.

What the Roll-Up Does

As mentioned earlier, the Roll-Up offers a number of important physical and mental benefits:
  • It is a key part of any Pilates warm-up, and it’s especially effective for promoting deep, healthy breathing and getting your spine and legs ready for the Pilates work ahead.
  • It is also an important Pilates tool for articulating the spine and increasing its strength and flexibility.
  • It gives the muscles and joints of your spine a massage, promoting increased circulation, and awakening your nervous system.
  • It stretches tight hamstrings and muscles in the calves, neck, and armpits, while it promotes strong, flexible hip joints.
  • It increases shoulder range of motion, strength, and flexibility
As with all Pilates exercises, in the Roll-Up you work to lengthen all your muscles, even as you contract them. For instance, you don’t allow your abdominals to shorten, bunch, or crunch as you curl forward. Instead, you keep your abdominals long and scooped in and up along the front of your spine, even as you challenge them to lift the weight of your upper body This action demonstrates the unique Pilates guiding principle of oppositional energy, and it’s an essential technique for developing powerful, supple muscle tissue and building a strong and flexible body.

Tips and Precautions for Doing the Roll-Up

The Roll-Up is a safe, effective exercise, but you do need to keep a few things in mind as you’re learning the proper Roll-Up technique:
  • Be sure to use your belly muscles (scooping them in and up along the front of your spine) to lift your head, spine, and arms up and over toward your feet; do not overuse your back.
  • Keep your arms and wrists straight but not locked as you reach forward with them. This will help alleviate any strain on your shoulders and neck.
  • Make your movements sequential and smooth, yet strong. Don’t heave your torso up. You may find that one area of your spine is less flexible than the rest. To keep your Roll-Up smooth and flowing, try timing your exhalation at different points in the Roll-Up to give your abdominal muscles more uniform strength as you lift the less-flexible portion of your spine from the floor. If you exhale at the most difficult moment of your curl, you can gain more articulation there.
  • Tight muscles need to be coaxed and massaged, not strained and pulled. Use the exercise to stretch your back and hamstrings gently over time. You aren’t competing with anyone to see how far you can stretch toward your toes.
  • Remember to reach forward with your head and spine as well as your hands. Don’t strain your neck or shoulders.

The Ultimate Version of the Roll-Up

When you’ve mastered the basic intermediate version of the Roll-Up, you’re ready to try some advanced modifications. Here are some ideas for taking the Roll-Up to new levels:
  1. Gradually lower the starting position of the bar and arms until you can lay them flat on the mat above your head. Keep your shoulders wide and flat, and don’t allow your ribcage to arch off the mat.
  2. Next, begin the Roll-Up by raising your arms until they are perpendicular to the floor, curl your head and shoulders off the mat until your head is between your arms, and then continue to roll up and down. Keep your head between your arms the entire time until your arms are again perpendicular to the floor. To finish, lower your shoulders and head, then reach your arms back to the mat above your head.
  3. Finally, curl your head, shoulders, and arms simultaneously Keep your arms next to your head throughout the entire exercise, but (especially at the beginning and end) remember that your shoulders must remain relaxed down away from your ears and you still have to articulate one vertebra at a time! Keep your legs firmly anchored together and reaching down along the mat.