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Know More About Women Weight Training

women-weight-trainingPowerlifting is great for women as it encourages them to weight train correctly, using the three compound lifts to build overall strength,’ says Evelyn, who works as a personal trainer when she’s not competing. ‘It allows us to gain tone yet still keep a feminine appearance by reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass, which is a good thing – a pound of muscle alone burns nine calories a day while fat only burns two.’

Don’t fight the power A nice side effect to building your muscles? Supreme confidence. ‘As a woman, I find powerlifting so empowering,’ Evelyn says. ‘Being strong makes everyday life easier, too. It also makes the weights room seem a little less intimidating! I feel confident knowing I can train with a structure and understanding of my goals – something that powerlifting taught me.’
When you notice yourself getting stronger, you might also start to care less about the number on the scales, and more about the number on the weights. Measuring your progress this way can really feel like a huge achievement. ‘You don’t have to train solely for your one rep max, but you can use powerlifting to structure you gym workout and inspire a long-term goal of increasing strength,’ says Evelyn.

Slim and strong The great thing about powerlifting is that the moves target every muscle group, including the core. There are no specific abdominal exercises, but each move switches on your core and uses your abs to accompany the major muscle groups, teaching them to work in conjunction with the rest of the body. Because this is how you use your body in everyday life, it’s a far more useful way to train your abs than isolating your mid-section.
Training all your muscle groups helps to rev up your fat burn, not just while you work out but for hours later, too, thanks to its effect on your metabolism. ‘As well as getting you in shape, powerlifting increases skeletal strength and helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis,’ adds Evelyn.

How to do it Olympic barbells used for powerlifting in a gym are usually 20kg, but you can often find adjustable bars that weigh much less if these are too heavy for you. Gradually increase the weight you lift until you can manage the barbell. Make one of the powerlifts – that’s either the squat, bench press or deadlift – your main move in each workout, using as heavy a weight as you can while maintaining good form. Then you can perform the remaining moves with slightly less resistance to make up the rest of your workout. Three workouts a week will target your whole body, burning fat and strengthening both your muscles and bones.

Your powerlifting workout Try these workouts by Evelyn Stevenson to kick off your new body. Separate your powerlifting workouts into three weekly sessions consisting of five different moves, including your main powerlifting move. These should challenge you, but not prove impossible to complete. Finish performing every set of each move before moving onto another exercise. Take 60 to 90 seconds’ rest between each set.

Day 1 Main lift: squat (as heavy as possible with good form)
Plus, the following moves at around 70% of the maximum weight you’d usually manage:
Bench press
Straight-leg deadlift
Barbell row
Step-up

Day 2 Main lift: bench press (as heavy as possible with good form)
Plus, the following moves at around 70% of the maximum weight you’d usually manage:
Squat
Overhead press
Straight-leg deadlift
Deadlift

Day 3 Main lift: deadlift (as heavy as possible with good form)
Plus, the following moves at around 70% of the maximum weight you’d usually manage:
Bench press
Barbell row
Step-up
Overhead press

Benefits of Pilates

pilates# Breathing: Improved breathing nourishes the body and increases oxygen levels in the blood. It also helps the body rid any existing toxins and promotes a healthier skin tone.

# Relaxation: Tension release and relaxation is encouraged by a sense of calm and well-being experienced during Pilates.

# Body shape: Muscle definition sculpts your waist and shoulders while toning your abs, arms, thighs, and bum.

# Body alignment: Proper alignment decreases your injury risk and helps joints stay healthy as you age.

# Pregnancy: Pilates offers soon to be mums a safe yet effective form of exercise.

# Mental function: Pilates builds mental stamina and focus by requiring concentration on each repetition, exercise, and sequence.

# Body awareness: Better body control and awareness enhances how you carry yourself and move every day.

# Internal organs: Pilates promotes optimal performance by your interior organs and helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

# Inner Harmony: Releasing endorphins naturally causes your mind and body to feel more positive.

# Physical Fitness: Every area of physical fitness develops from flexibility to endurance.

# Cross Training: Pilates is used by a variety of athletes to achieve their athletic pursuits.

 

Aerobic and Its Benefits

aerobicBenefits :

  • Mental benefits. “Aerobic exercise has been shown to increase your confidence, emotional stability, memory, and brain function,” notes Tripps. Studies show that about 19 million Americans experience depression every year. It is widely accepted that aerobic exercise improves the symptoms of depression.
  • Health benefits. Besides strengthening your heart and lungs, aerobic exercise can help lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, improve your immune function, and lower your blood pressure.
  • Physical benefits. Aerobic exercise burns up calories, which can in turn help you shed excess weight. Aerobic exercise also tones your muscles and improves posture.
  • Fitness benefits. In addition to looking better and being healthier, aerobic exercise increases your stamina, giving you more energy for both work and play. You will sleep better and handle stress better, and you’ll feel better about yourself.

Getting Started With Aerobic Exercise

Now that you are aware of all the reasons aerobic exercise should be part of your healthy lifestyle, how about getting started? Before beginning any exercise program, especially if you have health issues, talk to your doctor. Choose activities that you enjoy. Walking, biking, hiking, dancing, even raking leaves can supply aerobic exercise. Here are some tips to remember:

# As you get the recommended 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise five days a week, you should be exercising at a level that just lets you keep up a conversation during the activity.

# If you’re healthy enough to exercise at a high intensity, make sure you’re not exceeding your target heart rate. You can find your target rate by subtracting your age from 220, then multiplying that number by 70 percent (.70).

# Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your workouts.

# Include warm-up and cool-down periods in your aerobics exercise routines.

# Avoid high-intensity aerobic activity for one to two hours after eating.

# Skip your workouts when you’re ill or overtired.

Research shows that aerobic exercise is beneficial even if it’s done in shorter segments throughout the day. Even if you have a busy schedule, you can find time for several 10-minute periods of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.

Wanna Fit?, Follow These Tips

# Eat up

Make sure you’re properly fuelled up before you embark on a heavy cardio sesh. ‘You need enough energy to work hard,’ says Joslyn Thompson Rule, Nike Master Trainer and head PT at One Personal Training (onepersonaltraining.com). ‘You must be firing on all cylinders if you expect your body to be able to push itself.’

# Get fast ’n’ furious

Interval training can improve cardiovascular fitness by up to 13 per cent, according to a study by the University of Guelph. And the easiest way to get your sprint on is to follow the Tabata principle : 20 seconds of high intensity work, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times. It’s over in a flash!

# Get on the wagon

That glass of red won’t up your cardio fitness. Alcohol leaves you dehydrated and nowhere near ready for a cardio workout, saysdrinkaware.co.uk.

# Be realistic

Don’t try to increase your time or distance by more than 10-20 per cent per week, or you may feel discouraged when the going gets tough – and risk injury. Set achievable goals to maintain your morale.

# Vary it

Mixing up your routine is key. ‘If you do the same thing all the time, your body gets used to it, reducing the training effect,’ says Joslyn. ‘Changing things up every three to six weeks will be enough stimulus to continue getting results from your training.’ So if you regularly run 5k, try cycling 10k instead – or give a combat sport like Muay Thai or kickboxing a go.

# Be consistent

One-off sessions won’t cut it, but don’t overdo it. ‘Try to do at least one intense cardio session a week, but no more than two, as your body needs to recover,’ says Joslyn. ‘Lighter cardio sessions – like a slow and steady run, bike or swim – once a week are good to balance out the more intense training.’

# Get high

Pushing your body to the limit at a higher altitude is fab for cardio fitness – and you don’t have to head to Kilimanjaro to reap the benefits. The Altitude Centre (altitudecentre.com) offers cycling and running classes in a specially designed altitude chamber, so you can push your limits without jetting halfway around the world.

# Weigh up

The weights room may not seem like the obvious place to work on your cardio. ‘People think you have to do one of the classic cardiovascular workouts, such as running, cycling or swimming, to increase cardio fitness,’ says Joslyn. ‘But exercises such as squat and press, lunges and step ups can all be taxing on the lungs.’

# Enjoy yourself

Slogging it out on the bike or treadmill may yield results, but it can be tough to push yourself to your max if you’re not enjoying it. Try boxing or sprinting against your friends in the park to raise the fun factor of your workouts.

# Take a break

‘There is too little emphasis on giving your body time to recover,’ observes Joslyn. ‘Your downtime is when your body reaps the rewards of your hard work. Taking the time to get sufficient sleep, eat well, stretch and do recovery sessions will pay big dividends.’

Women Gym Workouts

# Cardio

If you prefer using cardio machines but don’t fancy a spin class, why not combine various machines in one session to avoid getting bored? Try 15 minutes on the treadmill, 15 minutes on the bike and 15 minutes on the rowing machine. Interval training is a good option, but beginners can always start off with a steady pace.

# Tabata

From time-saving to fat burn, high-intensity exercise is one of the best ways to get more bang for your buck at the gym. And the fastest method? It’s got to be Tabata. Warm-up and cool-down aside, the workout lasts only four minutes including rest periods. There really are no cons to this no-frills, super-speedy method. Don’t forget to do some mobility exercises to warm up and stretches to cool down.

Perform 20 seconds of a resistance exercise such as squats, kettlebell swings or medicine ball slams, followed by 10 seconds complete rest. Repeat 8 times.

# Circuits

If you have a little more time, make use of the great equipment on offer at the gym. Good health clubs will have ViPRs, kettlebells and stability balls on offer, and you’d be a fool not to use them. Check out our Workout Routines for ways to work out using all kinds of gym equipment. Remember to keep rest periods short if your goal is to burn fat.

 

The Advantage to Nordic Walking

# Burn more calories: ‘Overall calorie burn can be higher in the cold as the body has to expend more energy to stay warm. The cold air forces you to work harder to overcome some of the natural body changes which occur when combatting the cold, so your body makes up for it by burning more calories and fat to energise your workout.’

# Boost your immunity: ‘Staying active during the colder months is your best defence against colds and flu. Outdoor activity can help boost your immune system and help immune cells circulate through your body more quickly so you can effectively fight off bacterial and viral infections.’

# Stay safe: ‘As the evenings close in and it starts to get darker, remember to prioritise your safety. It is not always wise to head out on your own, so try to find a local Nordic Walking UK group. These instructor-led classes offer a secure workout environment, so you can still get your fresh air fix alongside a full body, effective workout.’

# Avoid S.A.D: ‘Motivating yourself to exercise on a cold winter’s day can be difficult. You can combat this by finding a fun, sociable form of exercise that you’ll enjoy like Nordic Walking. Regular Nordic Walking sessions can help you to produce essential endorphins that can help to keep the winter blues at bay and increase your body’s production of vitamin D.’

About Treadmill Workout

In the gym but avoiding the treadmill? Don’t! When it’s rainy and grey, the treadmill can be a fantastic alternative to training outside. The trick is to tailor your gym workouts to mimic outdoor conditions. ‘Without obstacles like hills and wind, your heart rate will be lower on a treadmill,’ says AJ Perera, Fitness First personal trainer. ‘The treadmill also helps propel you forward by pushing your legs, instead of you pulling them forward, so running without an incline is similar to running on a slight downward slope.’ Set the treadmill to an incline of one per cent to simulate outdoor running intensity and have a better chance of adopting your natural stride pattern. Running without an incline is similar to running on a slight downward slope, making it difficult to maintain an efficient running form.

Stress your system

Doing the same run every week can have an undesired effect. Your body is pretty smart and quickly adapts to a running routine – becoming more efficient and using less energy. This means your speed and endurance gains level off and your running improvements dwindle. ‘To improve as a runner, you need to overload your system by asking it to do more,’ says Bud Baldaro, Asics distance-running coach. ‘This could be two miles as opposed to one, or 15 instead of 12. The key is to increase your distance regularly.’ Mix speed and distance by adding one- to four-minute sprints into longer runs.

A sample workout

Try doing this treadmill workout to mimic running outside. You can repeat the session as many times as you want, helping your body get used to different speeds and different incline levels. The key is to keep your body guessing, so that when you run outside your body is already conditioned to deal with unexpected changes in terrain.

Lose Belly Fat Tips

Shiftign that overhang and stomach fat can be a main problem. On the off chance that you fidn that you thin down effectively and feel fit yet still battle with that resolute paunch, it may be an ideal opportunity to approach your journey for a level tum from a couple of various edges.

While tummy and center activities like crunches, boards and leg raises will absolutely characterize and condition the midriff, only they don’t dispense with the fat. So by what means would you be able to soften away that layer of fat and uncover those abs underneath?

# Exercise

To torch the fat that’s hiding your toned tum, you need to adopt an intense fat-burning approach to exercise that targets the whole body, not just your stomach.

# Sleep

Could having a flat belly be as easy as laying in bed? In a way, yes! Health coach and founder of Definitive Health, James Driscoll, emphasises the effect that hormones have on belly fat: ‘Studies have shown that sleep-deprived people make poorer food choices and crave high-energy, calorie-dense snacks in an attempt to boost energy levels,’ he explains. ‘Important hormones are released during deep sleep, too, which aid muscle repair, detoxify the body and increase fat burn; directly impacting your physique.’

Make sure you’re getting enough good-quality sleep – 8 hours at least. If you have trouble drifting off, set aside some time to unwind before bed. ‘Drink valerian tea, dim the lights and avoid electronics one hour before bed,’ advises James. ‘Develop an evening ritual that works for you.’

# Eat

A healthy, balanced diet is crucial to keep belly fat at bay. Watchingwhat you eat is just as important as how much you’re eating, so make sure you’re getting the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. ‘High-protein diets have been scientifically proven to promote greater fat loss and keep you feeling fuller for longer,’ says James. ‘Aim to eat 2 grams of protein a day per kilogram of bodyweight, and include protein with every meal. Steer clear of sugar, which switches fat burn off completely – stick to 50-70 grams of carbohydrates a day, choosing those that are low-GI such as quinoa and fibrous green vegetables. Avoid starchy carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and potatoes. Avocado, oily fish, nuts, coconut oil and hemp oil are good ideas for quality fat sources.’

Lost Fat Tips

Forget the gym

Believe it or not, your 30-60mins sessions in the gym might not be the most important ingredient in your fat burning endeavours. Recent research has coined the term non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) referring to standing, moving, and even fidgeting during everyday tasks. Scientists have found that this can add up to as much as 350 calories per day, the equivalent of a moderate intensity 60mins studio class. So resist the phone and email at work, go talk to people face to face. Enjoy standing in queues and even on TV nights regularly get off the sofa and move around a bit. As one of the supermarket giants claims, every little helps!

Think big

Forget exercises for your arms – really, there’s no need to even worry about them! Press-up, barbell chest press and incline dumbbell press are all chest exercises that will also challenge and therefore tone your triceps. Similarly, bent over barbell row and lateral pull-down are intended to target your back but will also tax your biceps. Focus on the bigger muscles and the little ones will take care of themselves.

Running on empty

Exercising in the morning, on an empty stomach, is a great way to shed fat. Research shows that fasting (which is essentially what happens overnight as we sleep) leads to increased adrenalin and reduced insulin levels, creating an environment that is more conductive to the breakdown of fat for energy.

Ditch the boyfriend

Don’t panic – it’s only for the workout. Men usually burn more calories than women in the same workout due to being heavier, in addition to which Mother Nature acts to protect women’s role as child bearer, which means we maintain adequate body fat for nourishing healthy babies. Doing your partner’s workout, then, might end up with him shedding pounds but you only shedding tears. Go solo, girl!

Turn on the afterburners

Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) is the term given to the body’s attempts to recharge and restore itself immediately after a workout, a process that results in additional calorie burn. Research has shown that high-intensity interval training leads to greater EPOC than steady cardio workouts, so turn up the dial with alternate bouts of maximum effort and rest for serious results. Try the Tabata format – eight periods of 20 secs full-out work followed by 10 secs recovery.

Refuelling hazard

The more you exercise, the hungrier you get and so you might eat more or believe you ‘deserve’ to eat more after a good workout. In some cases you might just want to eat more as a reward for having survived the session. It’s important to eat according to our whole day’s activity level, not just according to how hard you’ve exercised in the gym, particularly if you have a sedentary job.

Muscle up to slim down

Lifting heavier weights for fewer reps will promote muscle growth, but don’t worry, you won’t end up looking like a novelty circus act because women lack the necessary testosterone to get bulky. The important thing to know, here, is that a kilogram of extra lean tissue will burn an additional 100 calories in 24 hours. If you consider that a resistance training programme can reasonably be expected to add 3kg of muscle mass to your body, this equates to using up an extra 300 calories a day, just by doing your everyday activities. This adds up to a whopping 14kg of fat loss over a year!

Team tactics

Working out in the gym can sometimes be a lonely experience, and it’s possible to get into a rut when you attend the same studio classes every week, so give your fat loss hopes a sporting chance by joining a netball, hockey or tennis club, or try football or rugby which are both sports growing in popularity for women. Not only will variation keep you motivated, these sports incorporate the need for repeated bursts of speed (interval training) that we know burns fat.

Heart attack

Alternating your exercises between upper and lower body results in an extra calorie burn because your cardiovascular system has to work harder. Peripheral Heart Action training, as this is known, challenges the heart to keep pushing blood from one extreme to the other, in order to deliver oxygen to fuel the muscles. A routine like this also allows you to move straight from one exercise to the next, as muscle groups get a chance to rest, so you can get your workout done quicker.

Don’t get isolated

Compound exercises require several muscle groups to work together in harmony, as opposed to moves that specifically target one muscle. The beauty of these exercises is that they are more demanding and so will tone your muscles but at the same time burn more calories. Try 15 repetitions of each of the following: squat, chest press, deadlift and lateral pull-downs. Rest for 2-3 mins and repeat once or twice more.

Explode the fat

Also known as jump training, plyometric exercises, which developed in Eastern European athletic training in the early 1970s, involve stretching the muscles prior to explosively contracting them. This type of training mimics the motions used in sports such as skiing, tennis and volleyball so if you enjoy dodging moguls, chasing down ground strokes or charging the net, you’ll love these. And now for the good news – because this type of training is so intensive, it results in high calorie expenditure so is a valuable weapon in your fat loss armoury.

Bear the load

Weight-bearing activities, such as walking and running, use more calories than those in which your weight is supported, like swimming and cycling, because you have to support your own body weight. To optimise your calorie burn in the gym, swap the cycle and rower for the treadmill or stepper.

 

Workout Tips from Expert

# Make Over Your Running Routine
“Unless you’re training for a marathon, skip long, slow, distance running — sprinting builds more muscle. Add a few 10- to 60-second sprints to your run, slowing down just long enough to catch your breath between them.”
—Stephen Holt, 2003 ACE Personal Trainer of the Year

# Tone Up on the Treadmill
“Save time at the gym with this 10-minute cardio/sculpt session: Hop on a treadmill holding a three- to five-pound dumbbell in each hand, and set the speed to a brisk walk. Do a one-minute set each of shoulder presses, biceps curls, triceps extensions, side laterals, front laterals and standing triceps kickbacks one after another as you walk. I’s an amazing upper-body challenge that also gets your heart pumping. Do this series two or three times each week. As you improve, work up to doing four-minute sets.”
—Michael George, trainer and owner of Integrated Motivational Fitness in Los Angeles

# Power Up Your Runs
“Adding wall sits to the end of every run will strengthen your quads, hamstrings and glutes, improving your speed and endurance. Lean against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart, then squat until your knees are bent at 45 degrees. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds; work up to doing 10 sets. Add a challenge by including heel raises: Lift your left heel, then the right, then lift both together twice.”
—Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of the Running Center, New York City

# Break Out the Shovel
“Why pay someone to clear snow from your driveway? Besides burning nearly 400 calories per hour, shoveling snow develops muscular endurance and power. But be safe: Minimize the amount of snow on each shovelful, and bend from your knees and hips, not your back.”
—Tom Seabourne, Ph.D., exercise physiologist and sports psychologist at Northeast Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant, Texas

# Chart Your Progress
“Stay motivated using a fitness report card. Jot down these subjects: Cardio, Muscle Conditioning, Flexibility and Attitude. Set goals (for example, doing 10 “boy” push-ups) and grade yourself A through F at least four times a year. When you see how much you improve, you’ll want to stay in great shape.”
—Ken Alan, Los Angeles—based personal trainer

# Try This All-in-One Toner
“A side-step squat with wood chop works your arms, torso, abs, back, legs, inner thighs and butt. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a three- to four-pound medicine ball in your hands. Bend your arms up so that the ball is at eye level over your right shoulder. As you bring the ball toward your left knee, step out with your left leg and bend it no further than 90 degrees, keeping your right leg straight. Return to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 reps and repeat on the other leg.”
—David Kirsch, trainer and author of The Ultimate New York Body Plan (McGraw-Hill, 2004)

# Take This Jump-Rope Challenge
“The best cardio workout is the jump-rope double-turn maneuver. It’s intense: You’ll burn about 26 calories per minute! Do a basic jump for five minutes, then jump twice as high and turn the rope twice as fast so it passes under your feet twice before you land. This takes timing, patience and power. But you’ll get in great shape just by working at it.”
—Michael Olajide Jr., former number one world middleweight contender and cofounder/trainer at Aerospace High Performance Center in New York City

# Give Yourself a Break
“You don’t have to be a fitness saint to get results. Follow the 80/20 plan: Eighty percent of the year, you’ll exercise regularly and eat well. Know that you’ll slip 20 percent of the time due to holidays and work deadlines. When you accept that fitness isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition, you’re more likely to stick with it for life.”
—Maureen Wilson, owner/personal trainer/instructor, Sweat Co. Studios, Vancouver, B.C.

# Work Out During Your Workday
“Sit on a stability ball to strengthen your core, and keep dumbbells or exercise tubing at your desk. Squeeze in 12 to 15 reps of exercises like dumbbell curls, overhead presses and ab crunches; aim for two or three sets of each. This gives you more free time to fit in fun workouts like biking or tennis.”
—Gregory Florez, personal trainer and CEO of Salt Lake City — based FitAdvisor.com

# Get a Jump on Weight Loss
“Add plyometric box jumps to your workout to improve your cardiovascular stamina and leg strength — you’ll really sculpt your hamstrings, quads and glutes. Find a sturdy box that’;s at least one foot high [like a Plyo Box, $139.95; 888-556-7464; performbetter.com]. Starting from a standing position, explosively jump to the middle of the box, then jump back down. Repeat 20 times.”
—Michael George

# Paddle Your Way to Flatter Abs
“Go kayaking to get a taut stomach — it’s ideal because much of your rowing power comes from your core. Mimic the motion and resistance of the water at home by looping an exercise band around the bottom of a table leg or other fixed object. Sit on the floor with legs extended, knees slightly bent; grasp one end of the band in each hand. Rotate your torso to one side as you bring the elbow back slightly, then switch sides. Do three sets of one to three minutes each.”
—Barbara Bushman, Ph.D., associate professor of health, physical education and recreation at Southwest Missouri State University

# Don’t Skimp on Carbs
“Your body needs them to fuel a workout, so reach for fruit or high-fiber crackers an hour beforehand. If you’e exercising for 90 minutes or longer, include some protein so that the carbs break down more slowly, giving you longer-lasting energy. Your best bets: low-fat cheese and crackers, trail mix or half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
—Cindy Sherwin, R.D., personal trainer at the Gym in New York City

# Maximize Your Crunches
“Don’t relax your abs as you lower your chest away from your knees during a crunch — you get only half the ab-toning benefit! To get the firmest abs possible, you need to sustain the contraction on the way down.”
—Steve Ilg, founder of Wholistic Fitness Personal Training and author of Total Body Transformation (Hyperion, 2004)

# Intensify Your Push-Up
“Squat-thrust push-ups get you in great shape because they work your upper body, core and lower body and improve agility, strength and endurance all at once. From a standing position, bend down, put your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, and jump your feet back into plank position. If you’re strong, cross your ankles; otherwise, jump your feet wide apart. Do a push-up, then jump your feet together or uncross your ankles. Jump your feet back to your hands and stand up. Do eight reps total, rest for one minute, and repeat.”
—Keli Roberts, Los Angeles — based trainer

# Super-Sculpt Your Butt
“Get great glutes by targeting the muscles and connective tissues buried deep in your body. To hit them, do high-intensity squats, such as jump squats. Then, blast off butt flab with cross-country skiing, bleacher running and stair climbing.”
—Steve Ilg

About Tai Chi and Its Benefit

Tai Chi, or “moving contemplation,” is a moderate, agile, and loose arrangement of developments that joins high impact exercise, adaptability, adjust, and weight-bearing activity with profound breathing and reflection. Yoga goes back to twelfth century China and it is trusted that the Taoist minister Chang San-Feng built up the practice as a military artistic expression. It is said that the developments were gotten from watching a snake and a crane in fight. Chang San-Feng trusted that these animals were the ones most ready to conquer a more grounded rival.

Tai chi is based on the theory that your mind, body, and spirit must be in balance. Chinese philosophy holds that all of us and everything in the universe contain elements of “yin and yang.” Yin has the qualities of water — stillness, coolness, and femininity. Yang has the qualities of fire — brightness, activity, and masculinity. To maintain health, these inner forces must remain balanced so that your life energy, called qi (pronounced “chee”), can flow freely in your body.

The main elements of tai chi are movement, breathing, and meditation. Here’s how these practices can benefit health:

# Fitness and flexibility. Because tai chi is a weight-bearing form of exercise and will use all your major muscle groups, it improves strength and endurance. Its movements also enhance balance, agility, coordination, and flexibility.

# Heart and respiratory health. Tai chi is an aerobic form of exercise, which means your heart works harder and increases the flow of oxygen in your blood. Aerobic exercise has been shown to benefit your heart and may lower your cholesterol. Tai chi breathing exercises increase your lung capacity and improve circulation of oxygen.

# Mental health. Research shows that meditative aspects of tai chi can help relieve stress, improve concentration, and lower blood pressure and reduce your heart rate.

# Overall well-being. Tai chi may improve your digestion and your immune system, and help you sleep better. People who practice tai chi regularly often report an overall feeling of improved wellness. Results of two randomized controlled trials found that older adults who participated in a 16-week or 6-month tai chi program reported greater psychological well-being, life satisfaction, and perceptions about their health than a control group not participating in tai chi.

If you want to learn tai chi, taking a class is a good option. Talk to your doctor first if you have any significant health problems. Tai chi is very safe and can be adapted to most any health issue, so discuss any condition with your teacher before you begin. One note of caution is that the practice of tai chi is not regulated in the United States, so be sure to ask about your teacher’s experience and qualifications.