Diet Vs. Exercise: Which Matters Most?

In a perfect world, everyone would work out enough and eat right all the time. But that’s not always possible, so we turned to the experts to find out what really matters most–dieting or exercise–for losing weight, fighting disease, and boosting overall well-being. Here, we crown the champ in each category.

 

TO LOSE WEIGHT
The winner: Diet
The reason: As research makes clear, trimming calories from your diet is the most direct route to a smaller dress size. “It’s much easier to cut 500 calories than to spend an hour in the gym burning 500 calories every day,” says Timothy Church, M.D., Ph.D., director of preventive medicine research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. However, both diet and exercise are essential for keeping that weight off.

TO BOOST ENERGY

The winner: Exercise
The reason: Exercise causes the brain to pour out invigorating neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, says Patrick O’Connor, Ph.D., an exercise psychologist at the University of Georgia. People who train consistently report surges in energy, according to some 70 studies.

TO REDUCE RISK OF HEART DISEASE
The winner: Diet
The reason: ”If you had to focus on one nutrient that would lower your heart disease risk, it would be omega-3 fatty acids,” says William Harris, Ph.D., director of the cardiovascular health research center at the University of South Dakota. In studies, omega-3s from oily fish lower heart disease risk by up to 64 percent. That said, working out does strengthen your cardiovascular system.

 

TO PREVENT DIABETES
The winner: Exercise
The reason: Nearly 10 million American women have diabetes. Achieving a healthy weight through diet and exercise is the strongest defense against the disease, but physical activity has a slight edge. Active muscles gobble up glucose from the blood for fuel, which helps keep blood-sugar levels stable.

TO PREVENT CANCER
The winner: Both diet and exercise
The reason: Eating a mostly plant-based diet and exercising regularly remain the gold standard for warding off cancer. Keep in mind: Studies have found the more consistently you work out, the greater the protection

TO IMPROVE MOOD
The winner: Exercise

The reason: A 20-minute sweat session can be enough to perk up your mood for a whopping 12 hours, reports a University of Vermont study. It may also be as effective as medication for treating depression in some people. And exercise can lead to changes in the brain that strengthen your resolve against stress.

 

9 Fitness & Diet Myths Debunked

Think crunches are the answer to a six-pack? Or that lifting heavy weights will make you look like The Hulk? Trainer Sara Haley, creator of The Daily Sweat® workouts, Expecting More and Sweat Unlimited, debunked these fitness myths and more, so you can start your get-summer-ready routine in the right direction (heavy weights included).

MYTH: Fewer calories is always better. With Weight Watchers and nutrition apps like MyNetDiary now diet staples, calorie counting is still a big diet trend. But less isn’t always better. “You need to fuel your body, especially when you are working out,” says Haley. “If you don’t take in enough calories, your body may think it’s starving itself and actually holds on to weight as protection.” So fuel up often, and stash healthy snacks in your purse or at your desk.
MYTH: Lifting heavy weights will make you bulky. Lifting weights builds muscle, but strength training alone won’t turn you into The Rock. “It’s more likely that you will bulk up from eating the wrong foods (or too much food) in combination with not enough cardio,” Haley explains. “For example, body builders take in a ridiculous amount of calories and lift heavy weights, thus increasing their body mass (which some consider ‘bulky’). By eating a balanced diet, doing cardio and lifting heavy weights, you will be stronger and leaner.”
MYTH: Doing crunches will get rid of belly fat. Crunches create muscle, but they won’t eliminate any fat on top of the muscle (or that winter muffin top). “You need to combine cardiovascular work with your core training program (more than just crunches) to get rid of the belly fat,” says Haley. “Cardio will help you burn the fat. Core training will help create the muscle.”
MYTH: If you’re not sweating, you’re not working hard enough. You should never base your workout on sweating because everyone has different sweat glands and some sweat more than others. Instead, Haley recommends paying attention to your breath intake. “If it is becoming harder to breathe, you are working harder. If it never becomes harder to breathe, you will never see an increase in your cardiovascular endurance.”
MYTH: Heat and vigorous exercise helps you sweat out toxins. We’ve seen plenty of people layer on clothing in the summer heat, with the idea that sweating is the fitness world’s answer to a cleanse. But Haley explains why this idea just doesn’t work. “Sweating is a way for your body to release heat and even though it may contain tiny amounts of toxins, the amount is small enough to be almost insignificant.”
MYTH: You must stretch before a workout to prevent injury. Stretching can prevent injury, but it depends on the type of stretching! Our stereotypical static stretches (where we hold a position for a certain amount of time) can actually put your muscles to sleep. “Dynamic (active) stretches” – such as straight leg kicks – “are a better way to go because they increase blood flow and warm up the body, which ultimately helps you prevent injury.”
MYTH: Doings squats will make your butt big. “Doing squats will make your butt strong, give you a butt-lift (a perkier butt), and help tighten up your muscles,” says Haley. “It will not make your butt big.” So think firm, not pudgy.
MYTH: You can target trouble spots. “Every person is genetically different and can see changes differently on their body,” Haley says. So instead of focusing on your stomach or thighs, indulge in a well-rounded workout. “You do not want to just target trouble spots, but rather have a combination of cardio, strengthening and toning exercises to help create a lean strong body.”
MYTH: An empty stomach means more fat burn. If you work out on an empty stomach, you may not have enough energy to even get through it. “Your body needs fuel to burn fat. Working out on an empty stomach is just going to hinder your workout.” So eat, work out, repeat.

How Exercise Can Help You Sleep Better

The amount of physical activity that you expend during the day is a key ingredient to helping you sleep restfully at night.

The more active your body is during the day, the more likely you are able to relax fully at night and fall asleep easily.

With regular exercise your sleep quality is improved and the transition between the cycles and phases of sleep becomes smoother and more regular.

Keeping up your physical activity during the day may also be help you deal with the stress and worry in your life.

Studies indicate that there is a direct correlation between how much we exercise and how we feel both emotionally and physically by changes in our brain chemistry that occur from regular exercise.

Try to increase your physical daily activity during the day. The goal here is to give your body enough stimulation during the day so that you are not restless at night.

Our bodies require a certain amount of physical activity in order to function in a healthy manner.

It is important to note that you should not be exercising three to four hours before bed.

The ideal time for you to exercise is in the late afternoon or early evening. You want to expend your physical energy long before it is time for your body to rest and ready itself for sleep.

Attempt to exercise at least three to four times a week for a continuous period of 20 to 30 minutes. This can include something as simple as walking or something as strenuous as running.

The goal is to increase your heart rate and strengthen your lung capacity. Adding a regular exercise activity to your daily schedule will improve your overall health and benefit you emotionally. This is can help promote a natural remedy for your sleeplessness.

Besides walking and running there are many physical activities that you can add to your life to increase your activity level. Aerobic exercises seem to work best to battle sleeplessness.

Your goal is to increase the amount of oxygen that reaches your blood. There are many types of aerobic activities to choose from. These include running, biking, using a treadmill, jumping rope, and dancing.

Some non-aerobic activities may be beneficial to you as you attempt to solve your insomnia problem. The following activities are relaxing and have other healing properties:

– Yoga has a stimulatory effect on your nervous system, particularly the brain. Yoga uses breathing techniques and yoga postures to increase blood circulation to the brain centre, promoting regular and restful sleeping patterns. Regular practice of yoga will relax you as well as relieve stress and tension.

– Tai Chi is a form of breathing and movement that was developed by ancient Chinese monks. The movements involved in Tai Chi are precise and slow, which is ideal if you have joint pain or are unable to participate in high impact aerobic exercises. Studies have shown that Tai Chi may help people with insomnia by promoting relaxation.

If you find that you have no time to exercise on a regular basis try sneaking extra moments of activity into your daily schedule. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.

Try parking your car around the corner and walking that extra block to your appointment. There are many small ways that you can incorporate some added activity into your life. Your goal is to have a healthy, well balanced life…

Walking for Fitness

It’s a fact, America is becoming obese at an alarming rate and the rest of the world is following close behind. We are eating more (and more of the wrong stuff) and exercising less or getting no exercise at all. Our health is in steep decline and doctor and hospital visits are at all time highs. Just a brisk 30-minute walk a day can begin to turn that around.

You name it, we have it, and it’s getting worse. Heart and cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, out of control blood sugar levels, diabetes, obesity, and more. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends getting at least 20-30 minutes of moderate activity each day and many of us are falling far short of even that.

Studies show the average person takes about 3000 to 5000 steps a day, and some even much less. Let’s face it, we just do not get the exercise our ancestors did a hundred or so years ago and we tend to eat more refined foods. For some of us, most of steps we take are from the easy chair in front of the TV to the fridge so we can fill up on snacks. For others, like me, we sit at a computer all day as part of our jobs.

Many fitness experts recommend we walk 10,000 steps a day to maintain our weight and overall good health. 10,000 steps are approximately 5 miles, give or take depending on the length of your stride. You will need to purchase and wear a pedometer to count how many steps you take each day. Follow the directions that usually come with the pedometer. Do this for a week or two and you will get a good average step count. Your goal is to reach 10,000 or more steps each day. There is nothing magical about 10,000, but it will put you in the right ballpark.

As a general rule, a person will burn about 100 calories walking a mile, depending on age, size, and fitness level. The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn.

Become creative on ways to increase your steps. At work, go for walks at lunchtime. Go for walks with your spouse or children. Walk the dog. Walk to the store instead of driving, or park at the far end of the parking lot. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. For me, I take brisk 2-mile walks around the neighborhood twice a day everyday (aerobic walking). Just do whatever works best for you, but do it! You will need good walking shoes and socks to prevent injury when walking for exercise (like aerobic walking).

Review of Kettle WorX

I started watching and using the Kettle WorX DVD set a few weeks ago. I like my work out short and to the point and Kettle WorX fits that description. Most of the workouts are under 20 minutes, and by the end you will be sweating and out of breathe. I highly recommend working out with kettle bells and if you want to work out in your home and get results check out the Kettle WorX’s DVDs.

The only complaint i have is that after a while the host get kind of annoying. But the work outs are great.

Knowing Your Personal Trainer

At the boom of the present generation people of all ages have been in one mind set and that is to keep the mind and body healthy. It has been a realization over the past years that the world is being gradually and consistently plagued by all sorts of nasty stuffs. The pollution on land, air, and water is at an all-time high. Stress has been given emphasis as s contributing factor to all sorts of disorders and ailments.

Over the years a lot of new diseases just pop out in the open and kill many before it is even recognized. The fact of the matter is the fitness industry is on the right track. It has been aiding people who want to ensure that they are safe, strong, stable, and healthy all the time. Alongside the era of fitness is the birth of a modern day profession. It’s time to get into the groove while knowing your personal trainer.

Basically a personal trainer is someone who is certified and competent to aid you during your exercise regimen. Let’s face it not all of us are alike in terms of having knowledge about our anatomy and other bodily functions. Not many people can say that they function on their own when it comes to the performance of various exercises. That is why personal trainers came into being. They are by your side to make sure that you get the job done and especially without doing damage to your body.

Now let’s get things into a more proper and clearer perspective. Fitness has a more specific definition of who is healthy. You are definitely healthy if you can perform various types of exercises and aerobic routines without being stressed or dealing trauma or injury on your body. In other words you can stand on your own and no known disease is hindering you from doing prescribed routines. Now if you’re not this kind of person then a personal trainer as recommended by medical and fitness experts come into the scene to make the ordeal easier for you especially nowadays that more and more elderly need attention and rehabilitation in order to maintain proper physiology and bodily mechanism.

Nowadays due to the growing trend of fitness and health, people are starting to exercise at an early age but normally the population that comes into fitness centers are at around the age of 18 to 50 years. Males go about 45 years and younger while the females do their thing at about 55 years and younger. During your encounter with a personal trainer you may come in contact with the five fundamental components that make fitness as it is.

These include cardiovascular capacity, flexibility, total body composition, overall muscular endurance, and of course strength. These are the aspects that are to be targeted with the help of your personal trainer. You may also be advised to adjust in terms of speed and power during the routines that are part of your program.

It’s really a good thing that man was created by God with a lot of problem-solving and adaptive skills. Think about the time when personal trainers were so much accessible and only the ones that can really pay can get their competent services but now due to innovations and proper development in the field of fitness you get the chance to know your personal trainer.

Easy Six Pack Abs: Tips for Easy Workout

You are always busy. You don’t have enough time to go to the gym. You don’t even have time to stand up away from your computer. But you have a dream. A model’s body. A six pack abdominal glory. Want to get that dream?

There are some easy abdominal exercises that you can do even at home. Here are some exercises that can easily be done:

– Crunches

Almost all people know how to do this. This exercise targets the upper abdomen. It’s one of the basic but effective exercises. To perform crunches, you need to lie on a flat surface with your hands in your chest or behind you head. Contract your abs, then hold for 2 seconds, then return to your lying position. Proper crunches are in a continuous and controlled fashion. Concentrate on your abdominal muscles to pull your upper body up. Avoid using the neck or shoulders to push yourself up. This incorrect practice will cause stress and strains.

– Side Crunches

They are basically the same as regular crunches, except that the main focus is on the oblique muscles which are also called love handles. It also uses the same technique, only that you are crunching to either side of our abs. This would burn the sides of your abs.

– Lying Leg Lifts

This exercise targets the lower abs. with this kind of exercise, you are on the same position as with the crunches, you lie flat on your back and lift your legs six to twelve inches of the ground. This would exercise the muscles in the lower part of the abdomen. When performing leg lifts, place your hand under your buttock. It adds leverage and helps you get your feet elevated.

If you want to add more weight into the exercise, attach padded weights into your ankles. These weights can be purchased at the local sports store. If you do not want to buy weights, you can simply fill up old tube socks with enough clean, unused cat litter to make one or two pound weight.

– V- Crunches

It’s almost like lying leg lifts except your chest is at a 45 degree angle starting out. Sit at the edge of a bench and reach back just enough to support yourself from completely lying on the bench. Once you’ve stabilized, bring your knees toward your chest. You would be creating a V motion. The base of the V would be your abs.

– Cat stretch

It’s the same with the movements made by a cat when they stretch their back. This simple action is a quick and easy exercise. Get down on the floor with your hands and knees, with muscles relaxed and looking straight ahead. Next, tighten your abdominal muscles while thrusting you back upward as far as you can. Maintain the position for five counts before lowering your back.

– Bicycle Crunch

To do this, start by lying flat on the floor. Put your hand beside your head then raise knees up to 45 degrees angle and them perform a pedaling motion like what you do when you ride the bicycle.

– Standing Side Bends

Standing side bends encourages the loss of fats in the oblique muscles. To start, stand up straight with the stomach sucked in, legs straight and hands on the sides. Simply lean the body from left to right being careful not to rotate the hips and while keeping body facing front. There is a variety of side bends, this is the torso twists. Instead of bending side to side twist or rotate the upper body from left to right while keeping the legs straight.

You can remove your flabby stomach and replace it with six pack abs, as long as you have disciplined and of course the will to do so.

Diet or Exercise: Which is Better for Losing Weight?

One way I make it through my work out when I’m huffing and puffing on the treadmillis to tell myself that after it’s all over, I can reward myself with a little extra food. That’s because exercise revs up metabolism, right? Wrong. For years the common refrain from fitness gurus and diet books has been that if you exercise regularly you’ll keep torching those Big Macs all day long–and even at night (“It’s a miracle! Lose weight while you sleep!”).

Related: The Best Fitness Advice from Olympians

The “boost your metabolism” chorus makes many people scratch their heads when they start an exercise program and step on the scale a few weeks later to discover their weight hasn’t budged, or maybe they have even gained a pound or two. To help understand the relationship between activity and weight loss, a team of researchers studied the Hazda, a hunter-gatherer tribe in Tanzania, and published the results in an article in the most recent volume of the journal PLoS One.

Related: Most Americans Ignore the Truth about Obesity

Walking miles a day to find food, the Hazda’s lifestyle is far more active than the average American couch potato’s. The researchers outfitted the tribespeople with GPS devices and meticulously measured their energy output and metabolic rate. Surprisingly, what they found was that the Hazda burned only about as many calories a day as a typical Westerner. The team concluded that the primary cause of the obesity epidemic that is plaguing countries like the United States is not our sedentary lifestyles. They also point out that more exercise without a major diet overhaul will not solve the problem.

A second study, also recently published, goes further in detailing the relationship between exercise, diet, and metabolism. “There’s this expectation that if you exercise, your metabolism won’t drop as you lose weight or will even speed up,” Diana Thomas, a professor of mathematics at Montclair State University in New Jersey, tells the New York Times. Instead, she and her team measured that, if you are on a diet, your metabolism drops even if you are exercising every day.

The human body is incredibly efficient at conserving energy. Essentially, the Hazda don’t eat much so their metabolism is slow to counterbalance their higher energy expenditure.

Thomas says that current weight loss calculators don’t accurately factor in metabolic slow down and some even over predict based on exercise. Dr. Timothy Church of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana who oversaw the research adds, “It’s been known for some time that, calorie for calorie, it’s easier to lose weight by dieting than by exercise.”

The bottom line: while exercise has many important health benefits, it won’t significantly help you lose weight unless you cut calories.

By Sarah B. Weir, Yahoo! blogger | Healthy Living

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Awesome Abs Without Crunches

So you think you can’t whittle your middle? So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley shows you how abs-olutely amazing your midsection can look with these multitasking moves. And if you want more slimming power, sign up for our free Drop 10 plan!

Your Trainer

Tight-in-the-abs and easy-on-the-eyes Joshua Lipsey, a fitness pro from Toronto who created the tummy-honing program TransCoremation ($150; C2CoreConcepts.com). The brilliance of his belly buffers: Unlike classic crunches, which target only the rectus abdominis (running from the center of your chest to your pubic bone), these moves work the transversus abdominis (deeper muscles that wrap around your trunk) as well as the obliques along your sides. Translation: a tinier waist, a flatter middle and sexy definition—fast!

Your plan Add five ab-firming minutes a day to your workout, doing any combo of the six moves here. Or if you’re in the mood for a flat-ab-athon, try this entire lineup.

1. Swizzle Reach

swizzle reach

WORKS TRANSVERSUS AND RECTUS ABDOMINIS
Lie faceup, hands behind head, elbows out, legs together with knees bent, shins parallel to ground. Engage abs, lifting upper body and reaching elbows to knees. Hold crunch as you straighten legs, lifting right leg high and lowering left leg to a 45-degree angle. Extend arms (as shown) and hold for 1 beat. Return to start. Repeat, reversing legs, for 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

2. Scissor Tap

scissor tap

WORKS TRANSVERSUS AND RECTUS ABDOMINIS, OBLIQUES
Lie on right side, right forearm propping up upper body, left arm raised and legs splayed wide with right leg in front (as shown). Engage abs to lift torso, keeping weight on right hip, and reach right hand to tap between shins. Return to start. Scissor legs so left is in front of right, and tap again for 1 rep. Do 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

3. Twist and Tighten

twist and tighten

WORKS TRANSVERSUS AND RECTUS ABDOMINIS, OBLIQUES
Sit with feet planted, right hand on ground about a foot behind right hip, left hand on head, elbow out; lift hips. Hold tabletop pose as you bend torso and raise right knee to touch left elbow over midsection (as shown). Do 12 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

4. Super Cinching Sit-Up

cinching sit up

WORKS TRANSVERSUS AND RECTUS ABDOMINIS, OBLIQUES
Lie faceup, arms overhead on ground. Engage abs as you sit up, bending knees and twisting torso to right as you extend arms past knees (as shown). Return to start. Repeat on opposite side for 1 rep. Do 20 reps.

5. Side Slim-Down

side slim down

WORKS OBLIQUES
Kneel on right knee with arms overhead and leaning toward left, left leg extended out to side, foot on ground (as shown). Shift to right, placing right hand on ground to support upper body, as you raise left leg level with hip, foot flexed. Return to start. Do 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

6. Beggar’s Plank

plank

WORKS TRANSVERSUS AND RECTUS ABDOMINIS, OBLIQUES
Start in plank position on forearms, palms down, feet together. Flip right palm up as you move right forearm forward a few inches; repeat on left (as shown). Reverse movement: Move left forearm back as you flip palm down; repeat on right to return to start for 1 rep. Do 15 reps.

By Lucy Danziger and the staff at SELF