Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fitness expert Leena Mogre shows you how to chisel your body, part by part

Ever since Barack Obama came into power, his first lady's toned arms have become the most sought-after accessory amongst high-fliers and the common woman alike. Michelle Obama, who is obviously proud of her big guns, is seen showing them off in sleeveless shifts. Recently an International news agency interviewed her trainer, Cornell McClellan, and revealed just how she manages to keep those 'bingo wings' at bay. If you want to mould your assets like her or an idol closer home, follow this guide. 

SQUATS: Stand with feet shoulderwidth apart. Bend your knees while looking straight ahead, back erect. You can hold a bar behind your neck on your shoulders to make sure your posture stays erect or hold your arms out in front of you. Carry weights depending on your fitness level. When bending, your knees shouldn't go further than your feet. To maintain this, jut your hip out at the back. Repeat a set of 15 squats three times. WALKING LUNGES: Take your right leg into a long stride and bend it at a right angle. Feel the stretch at the back of the left leg. Place the left leg in front of the right one and repeat. Cover the length of a long room by doing this. Repeat a set of five laps three times. BACK KICKS: On a functional training machine, put the strap around your ankle and start with 10 pounds of weight. Kick your leg back, all the way to your hips while squeezing your butt. Repeat a set of 15 kicks three times. 
Set the spinning machine on the highest resistance and spin while standing for short bursts of 15 to 30 counts. Repeat 3 times. SPRINTS: On an athletic track, intersperse sprinting for 15 to 30 metres with walking the same distance. Do this as part of your cardio work out. 
HIGH KNEE JOGGING: While spot jogging bring your knees up at right angles to your pelvis. Do this as fast as you can for 30 counts. Repeat thrice. 
It's not crunches that make the concave abs, it's the low fat per centage. So to tuck in the tummy you need to do power yoga for an hour on an empty stomach, preferably first thing in the morning. Also follow a kickboxing or Pilates routine three times a week and a low fat diet. Martial arts also tighten the core muscles.CARDIO: The importance of sprints and interval training cannot be underestimated if you want a flat stomach. Within 15 minutes of your cardio routine, sprint for one minute and jog for two minutes and break back into a sprint. You can even cycle or jog uphill three times a week or swim. AB CRUNCHES: Lie on your back and fold up your knees. Place your palms behind your head and come up from your stomach. Point your chin at the ceiling. The strain should be on your stomach muscles, not your neck. Repeat a set of 30 crunches three times. 
For good arms, pay attention to your shoulder muscles which give your arms definition. FRONT RAISES: Hold dumbbells of minimum poundage in both your hands. Now raise them in front of you, with your fingers facing downwards, up to 90 degrees. Do it slowly, concentrating on your muscles. Repeat a set of 15 raises, three times. LATERAL CURLS: Hold dumbbells of minimum poundage (2.5) with arms at your side. Raise arms to shoulder level, using your elbows to lead the way. Make sure your wrists face downwards. Do three sets of 15 repetitions. 
BENT-OVER LATERAL RAISES: Bend forward from your hips, bringing your chest parallel to the floor. You can even do this while sitting on a chair. Now repeat the motions of the lateral curls. Do three sets of 15 repeti
tions.HAMMER CURLS: Hold the dumbbell vertical such that it looks like you are hammering your fist down. Flex your elbow and bring the weights to your shoulder and back down. Do not move your upper arms. Do three sets of 15 repetitions. 
BICEP CURLS: Hold weights in both arms or on the bar. Lock your elbows and pull up to your shoulders. Weightage depends upon fitness levels. Do three sets of 15 repetitions. TRICEPS: Use a table or a chair. Push yourself off the seat, keeping your palms on the edge. Pull yourself up and down, legs outstretched in front of you. Do three sets of 15 repetitions. Also, push down the bar of a pulley machine to chest level and push it all the way down, while sitting. Do three sets of 15 repetitions. PREACHER CURLS: Sit on a preacher bench, lean forward and do three repetitions of 15 curls. Increase the weight with your fitness levels. 
For the thighs, start with 15 suryanamaskars. Also, weave walking lunges (5 laps) and interval training into your routine. STIFF LEG DEAD LIFTS: Hold a bar with minimum weight. Bend down from your hip, keeping your back straight and arched till you reach your knees/ankles. The bar should be close to your legs. This also works the lower back. Do a set of 10 to 12 bends three times. HAMSTRING CURLS: Do the curls on the hamstring machine. Three sets of 15 repetitions. CALF RAISES: Do standing and seated calf raises on the calf machine. You need to use 20/30/40-kg weights. You can do standing and sitting calf raises, with three sets of 15 repetitions. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Work out, but watch out for that extra bite

New Study By US Researchers Finds That Even Strenuous Exercise May Not Lead To Weight Loss If Diet Is Not Controlled

Aarti (name changed) opened a packet of salted peanuts when a colleague piped in: ''Why are you eating that when you are trying to lose weight?'' Aarti, a regular at the office gym, replied confidently: ''I'll burn them.'' She may just have fallen into the trap millions of other people the world over succumb to on a daily basis — the myth of ''burning calories'' by exercising. 

    The answer to why your weight does not budge despite all those hours spent on the treadmill, in the swimming pool, on the yoga mat... the list goes on — may lie in a new study conducted by US researchers which says that people who work out for long durations often tend to lose the advantage through ''compensation'' of the predicted weight loss by increased calorie intake. Think of the umpteen times you rewarded yourself with that post-exercise piece of pizza. 
    The study, conducted by re
searchers from Louisiana State University, University of Missouri and University of South Carolina on 464 postmenopausal overweight women, randomly divided the women into four groups. While three of the groups 
were assigned various doses of exercise, one was the control group. 
    The first two groups — which did 72 and 136 minutes of exercise per week — showed the same weight loss as predicted but the third group which exercised for more than 194 minutes per week showed only half of the predicted weight loss. All the women though showed reduction of waist circumference. The study was published 
in the peer reviewed journal PloS One (PLoS stands for Public Library of Science). 
    What the researchers in their staccato scientific terms call ''compensation'' may actually mean the oily samosa, worth 150 Kcal, which can be 

offset by 25 minutes of running on the treadmill or that one scoop of ice cream, worth 120 calories, that may be neutralised with 30 minutes of table tennis that you occasionally reward yourself with. Predictably city experts do not appreciate what they call an attempt to undermine the importance of exercise but at the same time accept the inherent finding of the study that diet is as important as exercise in achieving 
weight loss. 
    Says Dr Anoop Misra, head of the department of diabetes, obesity and metabolism, Fortis Hospital: ''I have seen the study. It does not take away in any way from the known advantages of regular exercise like prevention of diabetes, heart disease fatty liver etc. As for weight loss, we are always very clear that diet and exercise go hand in hand and there are various combinations of the two that work for different people. It is a fact that exercising does not mean the licence to eat what you want and unhealthy eating will show.'' 
    He added that for Indians who are prone to abdominal obesity, the international standards of exercise of 30-40 minutes a day have been revised to 60 minutes. ''It is true that exercise enhances the appetite but adjustments have to be made in the diet for that. For example, instead of a bar of chocolate, drinking a glass of nimbu pani with salt with five almonds is far healthier and it has calories too,'' Dr Misra adds. 

    Clinical nutritionist Ishi Khosla who accepts that the study reinforces the message that diet is as important, however, says that she would take the findings ''with a pinch of salt principally because it does not deal with the quality of weight loss. There is no mention of the changes in metabolic rate. In fact, for people who are obese because of a hormonal imbalance — a condition which is called metabolic obesity — weight loss is impossible without exercise. In case of simple obesity, merely watching your diet can cause weight loss but then you would also end up losing a lot of muscle mass in the process which will lower your metabolic rate because muscle spends more energy.'' 
    According to figures published in medical journals, a kg of muscle burns about three kilo calorie a day in the resting body while fat burns just a third of that. Which means 5 kg fat replaced by muscle will help you burn just 40 kcal extra per day. One small glass of cola has 110 kcal.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lose inches, have fun

Do you equate weight loss with boring, mundane gym routines? It's time for a change. Rachel Fernandes tells you some fun ways to not only cut the flab, but also learn a new skill

 Ladies and gentlemen, this one's for all you gym haters. If you are among those who dreads the sight of the treadmill and can't bear to get onto the exercise cycle and are still dying to lose those extra inches, don't worry. We give you a lowdown of some fun activities that you can indulge in. Now here's the catch. Not only will these activities help you in your weight loss quest, indulging in them will also help you learn a new skill. So are you ready to burn those calories and have fun too? 
    Read on. 
Bollywood Aerobics 
Step aside plain, simple aerobic routines, this is the day and age of Bollybics — that's what Bollywood Aerobics is popularly called. Have you realised, those super sexy jhatkas and matkas our Bollywood heroines do with so much ease can indeed make for a perfectly fun workout. "Adapted to the beats of popular filmi music, Bollybics is an aerobic workout that helps burn intense calories while dancing to your favourite 
songs," says Anchal Gupta, owner of a popular Sion based dance studio. The sequence consists of a warm up and aerobic routine — using signature movie dance steps — targetted at specific body parts and then, a cool down session. "The music is fast paced and non stop, and if done right, one can burn upto 700 calories per session," says trainer Rupesh Pednekar. 
    While ghazals are used for the warm-up and the cool down sessions, fast paced movie tracks are used for the aerobic routine. This dance cum exer
cise form uses signature movie dance steps. "It's a fun and exhilarating workout. And, when you do it in a group, you feel motivated to go on, even if you get tired," says Anchal. So put on some rocking movie songs and adapt a few regular dance steps to it and lo behold, it's Bollybics you're doing. 
Martial arts have always been very popular. But the newest rage in town in kickboxing. Whoever's into it swears by how amazing a workout it is. A part of the martial arts family, kick
boxing combines the style of boxing with kicking. A full contact sport often practiced as self-defence, it also makes for a perfect workout. And here's why. "Kickboxing is intensive cardio. Also, unlike a gym workout, it is a total body workout. Kickboxing involves both, cardio and contact which helps in increasing flexibility and toning up. Besides these, there are various stretching exercises and abdominal workouts that one is made to do," explains kickboxing trainer Amit Lalwani. Another form, Muay Thai, meanwhile, is the art of eight limbs which uses the whole body especially the hips and core. "A Muay Thai workout helps increase not only agility, speed, strength but also, cardiovascular endurance," says Amit. And while this exercise form is a great stress reliever, you can also pick up a few important self-defence techniques. 
This is a fun activity that consists of half an hour of an intensive workout and half an hour of a dance routine which includes steps from hip-hop and jazz. And the routine is simple. 
The first half of the session consists of warm ups including stretching which helps tone up the muscles and burn away the inches. The second half meanwhile is a cardio session which helps give the body a total workout. "Apart from the exercise that one gets, this is also a good way to learn a form of dance and develop a sense of style. The routines are never repeated making it a perfect option for people who detest going to the gym," says participant Purvi Shah. 
Power Yoga: 
While you may extol the 
benefits of practising yoga daily, if weight loss is your goal, it may not be enough. The solution? Step it up a notch with power yoga. Put simply, power yoga is yoga adapted to the beats of music. This form of yoga is fast paced and quite a strenuous exercise. How's it done? There are no fixed poses to be followed, the variations depend on the instructor. "In power yoga, the emphasis is on strength and elasticity of the body. A 45-minute power yoga workout done even just thrice a week will show wondrous effects on your body," says Laxmi Wagle who is learning this yoga form. 
What do you get when you combine elements of martial arts, games, music and dance? The Afro-Brazilian art form called Capoeira. And why is it a good workout? That's because as a form of exercise, Capoeira engages all the muscle group and offers significant toning and cardiovascular benefits. It also helps develop flexibility, balance, coordination an endurance. 
This is a form of exercise that emphasises on the balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility and awareness. As a form of exercise, it works well for everyone. Pilates training focuses on core strength as it trains the body as an integrated whole. The workouts promote strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion for the joints. If practiced regularly, Pilates helps improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports beautiful posture, teaches you to move with ease and grace and also, improves one's posture. 

TIME FOR A STRETCH! Rupesh Pednekar (left) and Anchal Gupta (right) at a bollybics class

GETTING THEIR KICKS! Amit Lalwani (left) at a kickboxing class

Unhealthy habits can spoil your memory


If you're having trouble remembering where you left your keys or recalling a word, mull over the number of times and how many years you've continued unhealthy behaviour. 

    Previous research has linked declining thinking and memory skills with unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, abstaining completely from alcohol, not getting enough physical activity, and not eating enough fruits and vegetables daily. In the current study, Dr Severine Sabia and colleagues found the more each of the 5,123 adult participants reported these behaviours the greater their "risk of cognitive deficit," said Sabia. 
    Over a 17-year period, adult men and women who accumulated the most versus the least number of unhealthy behaviours were nearly three times more likely to show poor thinking skills, and about two times more likely to have declining memory, Sabia and colleagues report in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Sabia, of Hospital Paul Brousse in Villejuif, France, and fellow researchers surveyed health behaviours of civil service office 
workers in London, UK, when the workers were 44 (earlymidlife), 56 (mid-life), and 61 (late-midlife) years old. 
    After allowing for the impact of age, gender, and social and economic status, the investigators found current smokers more likely to show the lowest memory, verbal, and math-related thinking and reasoning skills at each survey. 
    The investigators noted similar findings among non-drinkers versus those who had between 1 and 14 alcoholic drinks a week, 
and those who ate fewer versus more than 2 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Men and women who reported lower levels of physical activity during mid-life and late-mid-life also showed greater risk for cognitive deficit. Considering the unhealthy behaviours assessed in the current study are modifiable, Sabia's team calls for greater promotion of healthy lifestyles to protect against later-life cognitive deficits. REUTERS

WATCH THOSE SMOKES! Habitual smoking takes a toll on brain cells